Saturday, March 25, 2006

This Vicious Cabaret

Films of graphic novels do not have a good reputation. Films adapted from Alan Moore’s graphic novels have an even worse reputation. Nonetheless, I went to see V For Vendetta with some pretty high expectations.

By and large, I wasn’t let down.

The film takes place in a future authoritarian British state, in which a terrorist known only as “V”, and taking on the persona of Guy Fawkes, is conducting a war against the government. Perhaps the best aspect of the film is the highly convincing way in which this British fascism is portrayed. The low point is probably the usual Hollywood inanities regarding British culture. Yes, of course, we say “bollocks” every other word, and Benny Hill is regarded as cutting-edge satire.

There are also problems with the script. There are several places where the political points being made are as subtle as a tactical nuclear strike. Perhaps more damaging is the entry of V into the script: he comes across as a hammy eccentric rather than dangerously unstable individual, and the film takes quite a while to recover.

When it does recover, though, the results are excellent, helped along by a cast of quality British actors (Steven Fry steals just about every scene he’s in). While the film is nowhere near as clever as the graphic novel, and not as clever as it thinks it is, it’s certainly head-and-shoulders above most action films.

If you see it, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

I just got back from Worcester. My grandmother died yesterday evening. She was 95 years old, so this wasn't unexpected. It's still sad though.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

On Archaeological Service East Of Constantinople

The Kocatepe Mosque, Ankara

I still find it remarkable that you can start a day in the north-west of England and be in central Anatolia by mid-afternoon. Never let it be said that archaeology doesn’t take you to interesting places.

Some places, however, are more interesting than others. The thing about Ankara is that there isn’t really much there. It’s only the capital because Mustafa Kemal (I refuse to use “Atatürk”: I don’t care if you did win a War of Independence, taking the title “Father of Turks” is the sure sign of an incorrigible twat) was based there during his war. So, apart from the Old Town, Citadel, and Museum of Anatolian Civilisation, the city is really just a bland administrative centre.

Turkey still made for a pretty interesting experience, though. It was the first time I’d been to a Muslim country, and it proved to be a cliché-defying experience: I never expected to hear the call to prayer coming from hundreds of mosques while simultaneously wading through snow. It did surprise me how much the city felt like the rest of south-eastern Europe. The other possible title for this blog entry was “Europe With Added Pointy Bits”.

The other thing that occurred to me was that this was really the first time I’ve travelled abroad alone, as before I’ve always been with family or friends. That being the case, things went remarkable well, although my usual mixture of incompetence, paranoia, and cowardice served to keep things interesting.

I’ve got this far without saying anything about the conference. My paper went well, and although there weren’t any questions, I had several people come up to me afterwards and tell me that they’d enjoyed it. There’s a very good chance that it’ll be published, too, so expect me to ask you to buy the volume at some point. The one downside was the slightly low attendance, which was probably down to the hard-to –reach location.

I was glad I went though. I must look for more conferences to go to.