Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Digital Burn

There's always been that gap in my life that I thought was for a woman, but I think it might actually be for one of these:

I now have one. It's small and blue and curvy. If the law and a suitable socket allowed, I would take it as my wife.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Revolution Rock

After a suggestion by me, Tom's band will be playing their next gig in Beijing under the name "The Privileged Few" (or "享有特权" in Chinese. Apparently.) So that's my place in rock history taken care of.

I just hope Tom remembers me whan he enters the cocaine-and-hookers stage of rock-stardom.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Batman Begins! And Takes A While Doing It!

Batman Begins would be a great film if it wasn't so bloody long. It's got everything that a good Batman film should have, taking the character back to his 1930s pulp-hero roots. This is "Batman is a detective" rather than "Batman is a superhero".

Actually, the first half of the film is "Batman is a Ninja", which is tedious. Just because The Matrix had cod-Eastern philosophy and The Last Samurai had endless scenes of people being hit with sticks doesn't mean we needed them here.

After the Ninja wet-dream we get the technophile wet-dream. Look: no-one needs to know precisely what the origins of Batman's car are. All that we need to know is that Bruce Wayne is really rich, and can afford really cool gadgets. Even cooler than that pen with a clock in it that you want.

One the film manages to wade past all this, though, and Batman starts doing Batman-type things in Gotham (mostly standing of the edges of buildings looking all brooding and cool), then it becomes much more exciting and fun. Best of all though, is the mood and the (for once) deliberately muddled morality. Like a lot of 1930s pulp-heroes, Batman has a worryingly fascistic approach to the world. This slightly noirish Gotham is the only thing that can make you root for Batman: he's not good, he's just the least-bad force in the city.

The over-long running time is a consequence of a great cast, including Michael Caine (who seemed to be having tremendous fun), Gary Oldman, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman, and Rutger Hauer. All it needed was Elliot Gould and Michael Madsen, and I'd have been ecstatic. Christian Bale is a perfectly serviceable Bruce Wayne/Batman, although I'm not sure he was as good as Michael Keaton. At least he realised that Batman should probably have a different voice to Bruce Wayne, if he was going to be a secret identity.

So I'm saying go and see it, if superheroes are your thing. You might want to doze through the first half though.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Not So Much "Forgotten" As "Insignificant" History

As many of you will have realised, I'm a frequent visitor to the forums over at In the "Tangency" (genral discussion) area, there was recently a thread called "Classic Tangency: The Cliffs Notes", in which people wrote brief histories of particularly memorable arguments and events. The following was my own contribution:

Unhelig & The Nazi Playwrite

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Liberty And Justice For All

I Should Send You Away
Where You Can't Kill Or Maim Us
But This Is L.A.
And You're Rich And Famous
- The Simpsons, "Checkin' In"

Friday, June 10, 2005


For six years, Lenton Lodge, Nottingham has been my dream home. Now it's on the market, and I am separated from it only by my lack of £750, 000.

Look upon it and weep.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Smart-Alec Kill

Sin City is probably the best-looking film that will be released this year. It’s also the most hard-boiled film to come out of Hollywood in quite a while.

Given those facts, I should love it, and be telling you to see it. Instead, I’m calling it an interesting failure. Why? A whole host of reasons.

Part of Sin City’s problem is that it’s too attached to its graphic novel roots. While the resulting stylisation can often be excellent, it can also be jarring and spoils the audience’s suspension of disbelief. The script lacks real finesse, too, with a lot of very stagy dialogue.

Maybe the biggest, problem, though, is the queasy mixture of cartoonishness and extremely graphic violence. They don’t sit well together, and one detracts from the other quite frequently. There’s also the question of the female characters: at what point does referencing the misogyny of classic film noir turn into just being really misogynistic? Don’t even get me started on the “Oriental Ninja/Whore” archetype.

But for all that, there is a lot still to like about Sin City. There are places where the script is suitably Chandleresque, and there isn’t a bad performance in the film: Clive Owen, Bruce Willis and Mickey Rourke are superb, especially Rourke. The visuals are good, and the film’s cynical attitude is very refreshing after endless clean-cut action films.

So I can’t unequivocally recommend this one. Don’t go and see it if you aren’t OK with film violence, but do see it if you’re a fan of hard-boiled crime drama, or just want to see an interesting experiment in bringing graphic novels to the screen.

Friday, June 03, 2005