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L’avventura

My friend, and fellow Hitchcock fan, thought the houses in this scene from The Man Who Knew Too Much looked strangely familiar and figured out it was filmed here, on our very own streets. How it has changed! Great move to tear down those town houses and build estates, really, well done! At least the house on Royal College Street is still standing, they shouldn’t dare touching it, I hope. Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud lived there briefly in 1873 (a relationship which ended when Verlaine was imprisoned for shooting Rimbaud in the wrist). Well, it sure sprinkles some star-dust upon our block, God knows these dingy Camden streets need it.

Italy – the only place where romance isn’t cloying.

Was not poetry a secret transaction, a voice answering a voice?

For what more terrifying revelation can there be than that it is the present moment? That we survive the shock at all is only possible because the past shelters us on one side and the future on the other.

All had grown dark. The tears streamed down his face. Looking up into the sky there was nothing but blackness there too. Ruin and death, he thought, cover all. The life of man ends in the grave. Worms devour us.

Virginia Woolf, Orlando: A Biography; movie stills from Sally Potter’s Orlando

Despite being a hard-core Ishiguro-fan, I’m not too keen on Never Let Me Go and, frankly, found it quite bland. Someone said he does not do female characters very well and that might just be the case. It lacks those hidden, suppressed layers that makes his other novels so compelling.  I know most people disagree with me and think it is a most clever book (which it is, only that’s not necessarily a good thing, is it?).  They have now brought the novel onto the big screen and judging by the trailer, it is actually looking quite promising.

So people, what’s happening? I can tell you. Spring has sprung and oh my day, what a nuisance. People are walking around smiling. For nothing I’m sure, except that the sun is out. They gaze at the roof tiles glistening in the sunshine from their office windows and cram themselves into nasty little parks with their prêt sandwiches and sushi on their lunch hour. I have nothing against sunshine per se, it is just depressing to see how people let weather control their lives. Evenings are better here in da hood. The sun sinks below the buildings and the air, vibrant with car fumes, fills with smells of the Mediterranean as the Greek restaurants open up their doors to the world: “Come, come, souvlaki and tzaziki awaits you. Meze with ouzo, with wine, red and white. Come, come, let us relive our old nights of bacchanalias” I ignored their calling, went home and made porridge instead (to the great delight of my bank balance) but had to chuck it because the milk had gone stale. Isn’t life grand?

I’m trying to get on with my work (it is only three or four weeks left now, I have stopped counting) but I keep getting distracted. First I was slightly inconvenienced by Easter. I’m not complaining, not at all, it was a marvellous Easter. But more in the shopping-dinner-park-pub kind of way than in the intelligible-relevant-words-producing way, which is the only activity I should be engaged in. Then I watched the BBC-biopic of Enid Blyton which has kept me upset for a few days. Not because it shattered my childhood delusion of Enid Blyton as a Mary Poppins like creature of flawless character, no because it shattered my adulthood delusions of the absolute ingenuity of the BBC. I get that they want to tell the ‘untold’ story, draw out the dark secrets, tell the truth behind success etc etc. But no one, I mean no one, deserves to have a film made about them where they are portrayed so narrow and unsympathetically. Satan himself would have been treated with more consideration. Appalling, BBC, appalling.

The one good thing was to see Helena Bonham Carter (who I don’t hold responsible at all) back in her old style a la Merchant/Ivory.

Finally, to the most disturbing thing I happened upon. Collateral Murder. I have no words. It makes me want to dig a hole in the ground, crawl down and never surface again.

O sweet spontaneous

    O sweet spontaneous
    earth how often have
    the
    doting
    fingers of
    purient philosophers pinched
    and
    poked
    thee
    ,has the naughty thumb
    of science prodded
    thy
    beauty      .how
    oftn have religions taken
    thee upon their scraggy knees
    squeezing and
    buffeting thee that thou mightest conceive
    gods
    (but
    true
    to the incomparable
    couch of death thy
    rhythmic
    lover
    thou answerest
    them only with
    spring)
    e.e. cummings

YouTube Channel of the week: FutureShorts

There are shallow rollers, and there are deep rollers. You can’t breed two deep rollers… or their young, their offspring, will roll all the way down… hit and die. Agent Starling is a deep roller, Barney. Let us hope one of her parents was not . – Hannibal Lecter

This is such a great piece of dialogue, I have always wondered whether it is true or not. And whether it applies to “real” rollers as well or only domesticated roller pigeons. Because how would the roller know whether they’re a deep roller or not?

.

Clearly lacking basic aviation skills, Mother Nature or God or Fortuna

or whoever made all this stuff at least had a good sense of colour.

Durer thought so too.

And McQueen.


Another day, another essay.  The weekly structure I once had (if there ever was such a thing) is a fast fading memory. Today is Monday but it could just as well be any other day.  The days seem to blur together, accumulating into a chloroform silhouette that moves slowly towards something we refer to as ‘the end.’ This motion might be an illusion;  there might be no movement at all. I feel I am at a standstill. Hypotheses form a web around my consciousness, isolating it to a timeless interim in a geographical void.  You could also say I’m in the library and I’m bored.

Well, Monday or not, it is International Women’s Day today. Hurray! And yesterday’s Academy Award saw to it so that Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman EVER to win an Oscar for Best Director. Hurray!  And an Oscar to Sandra Bullock (up against Meryl Streep and Helen Mirren)! Hurray! Hurray! I love Sandra Bullock; I think she’s amazing; she just does a lot of films that aren’t so amazing.

style.com

All female solidarity aside…what on heaven’s earth is this woman wearing and why in god’s name has no one steamed it for her? No, not Sandra, she looks divine, the other one (Yes, when you haven’t seen any of the films you are allowed to judge and objectify. And possibly at other times too, as this argument works both ways).

Education is dead! Long live education! I am highly anticipating this documentary, should be released soon methinks, also, can I add; I ♥ Ken Robinson.

Ok, I have seen it now so I can moan as much as I like. Yay, let’s go!

Not only have I been to see Dorian Gray but I have also been to a sort of panel talk with the director Oliver Parker and the writer Toby Finlay. Oh, and double bonus; the guy who painted the portrait of Dorian Gray/Ben Barnes and the painting itself was there (I might explain here that this event took place at the National Portrait Gallery). It was so much fun! Although it was a bit fawning, like, of course all the Wilde-experts that were there and had seen the film gave their approval.

Afterwards we went up to Tottenham Court Rd to see the film and, unfortunately, that’s where the fun stops. Parker was saying (when being asked about the casting of Ben Barnes…’because in the book Dorian is blond with blue eyes’…yawn) that the biggest mistake you make with a film version of Dorian Gray is to actually show Dorian himself. Because no matter how it is done, he will never live up to the version you created in your head while reading it. Paradoxical but true, of course I judge this film partly based on how well it corresponds to my reading experience. But at the same time I don’t think interpolation is a bad thing. Exclude, flesh out and re-invent all you want as long as it is motivated and makes a good film.

See, I really don’t mind that Dorian isn’t an angelic fair-haired boy (I pictured him dark anyway). I don’t mind the invention of Lord Henry’s daughter, even if it is a little bit silly and unnecessary; at least it made a role for Rebecca Hall. Turning the painting into some devilish entity breathing horror was fine too, in fact all the gothic elements worked very well indeed. What I do mind is omitting vital scenes that would explain why these people behave as they do. Darling, darling Sybil never gets the chance to kill his love with bad acting (something I am sure Rachel Hurd-Wood would have pulled off terribly well). Instead they have sex and then Dorian dumps her. Basil never gets to confess his obsession with Dorian and his fear for this showing in the portrait. Instead they have sex and then Dorian kills him. And while there’s nothing wrong with an abundance of kinky sex per se, it shouldn’t be used only to cover up the complete lack of substance  Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril. I wish. The philosophy is not a part of Dorian Gray, it is Dorian Gray. And this is nothing but an intolerably flimsy film where everything feels rushed, underdeveloped and looks like it has been butchered in the editing with a chainsaw.

Am so psyched about this. It’s been Wolverine, Star Trek, Terminator and now Transformers, all on top of each other. Feels like my brain is slowly deteriorating. Nice.

I have finally managed to get my ass down to the cinema to see Star Trek and absolutely loved every single second of it. Sci-fi at its very best and I would almost go as far as saying it is one of the best films I have ever seen.  OK, I know I’m exaggerating slightly, but there has been way too little action involving aliens and spacecrafts in my recent life due to the complete absence of a TV for the past year. And in my vain attempts to discover high culture, I seemed to have neglected the things that truly matters in life, like V and Quantum Leap. But seriously, all Trekkie-partiality aside, this film is good.  And more-over, as an origins-film, I think it managed to do what Wolverine did not; sufficiently develop the characters and their relationship with each other, and doing so without compromising the high paced action (fist fight, sword fight, phaser fight, exploding spacecraft, exploding planet, exploding solar system, etc. etc.).

Although I have to say I am a bit sceptic towards the way time-travelling is presented in the film (because I obviously know enough about black holes and worm holes and white holes to give a valid judgment, so would you after a few seasons with Stargate). And it does complicate the process of piecing the film together with the original story-line (which I guess is the point) but here is also where my sci-fi-TV-geek-knowledge fails me anyway. Because I have only watched reruns of Star Trek at random, I have never seen any of the series in sequence. It has been The Original Series, The Next Generation and Enterprise all jumbled up together. So I have no idea who succeeded who, how many years apart or how many different types of Enterprises there are.  One day Captain Kirk would be bravely jumping around an extremely dangerous, unknown planet made out of papier machiéwearing a velour jumper (fashion choice of sexy in the 60’s?) and the next day Captain Picard would celebrate with a nice cup of Earl Grey after having saved humanity from destruction wearing a practical jumpsuit (fashion choice of sexy in the 80’s). So for me, it doesn’t matter who is commander in chief or what Starfleet uniform he is wearing. As long as there is enough teleportation, phaser-action and spaceships going into warp drive, I’m happy.

Oh and also, as long as there is Spock; my suppressed Vulcan-crush has resurfaced. Isn’t he the most adorable half-alien you have ever seen? He looks a little bit like a cross between Dracula and Gargamel topped with a bad haircut.  Love it.