Saturday, November 29, 2008


BBC putz Mark Kermode's recent smug patronising non-review of Zero: An Investigation Into 9/11 is beyond grating - to think little old ladies are going to jail for non-payment of the annually extorted licence fee to keep this lard-arsed wanker stocked up in hairgel and his belly full of beefburgers. Ever since 9/11 there's evolved a whole new unpleasantly aggressive breed of what you could loosely describe as conspiracy-deniers who get worked up about anything (even mildly) critical of the anthologically nonsensical official explanation of what transpired and the subsequent justifications for wars and serious incursions into personal freedom.

Just conflate things with various other assiduously handpicked examples such as faked moon landings, Area 51 alien abductions, Princess Diana assassinations and the like. Combine this varsity playground rhetoric with the dubious theory that to question orthodoxy is somehow more 'reassuring' (despite being quite clearly the contrary). It's a strategy used to belittle disapproved-of ideas, and one that also conveniently deflects from directly having to address the issue at hand.

It's as if the very notion of a 'conspiracy' could not by definition exist.

And of course there are fucking conspiracies and conspiratorial cultures at play within all strata of society, constantly. Conspiracies to make things happen, conspiracies to make things not happen, conspiracies to cover up mistakes, conspiracies to cover up embarrassing or sensitive information. Participants can be involved knowingly and unknowingly, and they can occur spontaneously based on shared objectives. Some conspiracies are completely or partially successful, some are completely or partially
bungled. We're all involved, all the time. It's a mess. And getting clear retrospective answers, as even in the simplest court cases, is extremely challenging.

Personally, I admit to still finding the 9/11 case fascinating primarily because so little is still known about what was an extraordinary set of events. The Italian documentary cited above is an exceptionally good one (barring some unnecessarily melodramatic stylistic flourishes); not that it provides many new answers, but because it asks the questions so cheerily well, with some heavyweight contributions by the awesome Gore Vidal and others.


Romantic special.

In Search Of A Midnight Kiss (**)
styled as a quirky romantic indie comedy, Midnight Kiss is definitely quirky, occasionally funny, but most certainly not at all romantic - the dull characters are so damned wet and their forced scripted dialogue so artificial; in its favour, you do get to see a lot of old downtown LA which is nice and unusual

P.S. I Love You (****)
if the weird premise of Saw's parallel universe was one of romance, then P.S. I Love You is what might result - actually, I'd been put off watching this based on trailers and others' reviews and on a night of feeling maudlin decided to give it a shot; and what a revelation! less romantic comedy than a study in loss with some of the lighter moments that bereavement requires - the cast is strong, the script has surprising depth at times, the soundtrack is well chosen, and I loved the pervading Irishness; a wonderful treat

Catch And Release (*)

A Walk To Remember (****)
anyone reading this review might think I've taken leave of my senses: I loved this film - and I don't care how old-fashioned, syrupy sentimental and square it is; maybe that and Mandy Moore and the homoerotically engaging Landon is what makes it so damned enjoyable; fuck, I even got off on the songs

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


This article by Macca rivals Ringo's video. With its liberal smattering of anachronistic '60s language like groovy, far out, out there etc, and the fact that The Guardian's subeditors have chosen to leave in the typos, it's tempting to wonder if Chris Morris is the real author. McCartney's PR people have for a few months now been trying to seed this notion of his being 'the most experimental Beatle' and whether it's to push his dodgy new album, or just to bolster his galactic ego in the wake of Heather Mills, I'm not sure.

Some choice extracts below, but do read the whole thing for the full effect.

When it comes to music, enthusiasm is what drives me.
Enthusiasm enthuses you, you mean?

We grew up as a couple of kids in Liverpool and I think we were both as earnest and experimental as each other.

I fail to see the connections; in fact, this is such a nonsensical sentence that it must be an example of the influence of Burroughs' word cut-ups which McCartney later refers to.

...whereas John was in the countryside in Weybridge and married so he was a little bit more pipe and slippers!
In the context of his shoddy self-aggrandisement, this is a pathetically cheap shot by McCartney.

I was out in the clubs and Wigmore Hall, catching people like Cornelius Cardew. I was into Stockhausen and stuff.

In fact, the whole project was quite like improvisational theatre, which I've never been involved in.
Reading McCartney's article is just like extraterrestrial travel, which I've never experienced.

And that idea of losing your bearings, as long as it's not in deepest Africa, is something I like.
Further commentary unnecessary.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


While not exactly of the glamour of Pirates Of The Caribbean, there's still something rather old school romantic about those audacious rapscallions off the coast of Somalia who buzz around in their tiny speedboats tooled up with trusty rocket launchers on the look-out for bounty. That these guys could brazenly capture a giant oil tanker in this day and age is hard to believe. But there's something reassuring knowing it can be done. Have a look at the amazing gallery of photography by Veronique De Viguerie.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Michel De Montaigne
Despite an insistence on his being ordinary, at least in the philosophical sense, Montaigne is a remarkable figure from the Middle Ages whose philosophical insights are still as inspiring and relevant and provocative as they were in the 16th century. If you're not familiar with his essays, I really recommend their reading. Full of wonderfully idiosyncratic anecdotes, metaphors, all highly quotable, there's ever the disdain I love that he shows for dogmatic social systems that rule out theses where we might be free of others' eyes; there's no resentful holding out to others, but a joyful celebration of one's own special selfness while accepting how trapped we are in our own biology. He loathed the authorities that separate people, making them appear intrinsically different from one another - and it's that rejection which in turn allows for our capacity for greater individuality and presence in an apolitical domain that some might have you believe cannot exist.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


The wind is loud up where you're standing, arms outstretched, at the top of the tall tower ready to jump because, where once you had vertigo, you now believe you can fly. Yes, what a beautiful view. This is going to end bad and there's nothing that really can be done and so why try prevent it? A dream of flying high in the sky is so seductive, so alluring, so precious, that it shouldn't be broken. If only to feel the betrayal of the ungodly weight of your own arousal, once again.

Monday, November 10, 2008


As threatened, the documentaries special...

Roman Polanski: Wanted And Desired (***)
this interesting documentary has lots of great archive footage and the machinations of the trial are well narrated, yet is disappointingly superficial with regards to Polanski the human being, and what actually happened with Samantha Gailey that day

Zeitgeist: Addendum (*****)
the sequel to the already excellent original Zeitgeist: The Movie is more focused, more polished, and this time reveals a clearer agenda - it'd be easy for people to pick holes in this and that stylistic detail, but for me it's an easy 5 stars for fearlessly delivering its rare commodity of thought-provoking iconoclastic rhetoric

Global Metal (*)
Scot McFadyen's follow-up to Metal: A Headbanger's Journey is a tour around the world and how heavy metal has evolved in countries such as Brazil, India, China, Indonesia, and the Midldle East: it's only marginally less depressing than would be a documentary about the fucking global spread of McDonald's hamburgers - the visited countries with their amazingly rich and diverse cultures all deserve a lot better

Heckler (****)
I really enjoyed this on a number of levels - has a great variety of talking points, along with personal insights from professional performers (even when they're bitching about getting bad reviews); also includes an extraordinary clip of an outburst from stand-up legend Bill Hicks

... oh, and...

Quantum Of Solace (*)
incoherent, boring, poorly acted, worse orchestrated, substandard generic action flick - easily the worst 007 of all time


In recent weeks I've got myself into some fun and passionate debates regarding human versus animal intelligence - and naturally, taking the side that chimps and birds (for example) are more intelligent than us lot. Having now built up some incontrovertible arguments in defence of said thesis, both philosophical and physiological, of which even a student of the great Socrates would be proud, I think it's only fair to share with you from whence some of my best source material is derived. Still waiting for National Geographic to make More Stupid Than An Amoeba, but give them time, we're getting there.

Sunday, November 09, 2008


A good mango can never be too ripe. The one to be obscenely plundered last night was at its juicy best - I might even have left the little beauty yet another couple of days if it hadn't been a Saturday night. A deserving reward.

Saturday, November 08, 2008


What is the nature of the stories that you tell about yourself? The purpose they serve those who listen to them is not at all obvious, while themselves serving as the building blocks of who we think we are. Thus, the belief is the being, as is the reiteration. An old man once told me about the time he was shocked to be told by a doctor that he was dying and that there was no cure, and at that point he began to profoundly wonder what it meant to be a person who was dying as opposed to one that was living. And the further he entered the domain of that inquiry, not to seek answers but to just look around, the more he lived. As indeed would you and I.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


A posting with special reviews of several recent documentaries coming soon - look out for Global Metal, Heckler, Zeitgeist Addendum, and Roman Polanski: Wanted And Desired. In the meantime here we settle for the decidedly more prosaic.

Eden Lake (**)
the unnervingly realistic gang of hoodies along with their all-too-convincing family members give Eden Lake some notable potential, but unfortunately there's little else to commend, take away the few odd gruesome moments and it's more Famous Five than Deliverance - silly, derivative, implausible 'thrills'; TV-quality cinematography; plus a cheesy incongruent soundtrack all combining to ruin what could (and should) have been significantly more special; in addition, and as happened with My Little Eye, director Watkins tries so hard to be topical and so down with what the kids are into that, in the process, he forgets to make a meaningful film

Saw V (*****)
5 stars of course, what do you expect?! we reach the point where only genuine connoisseurs are going to appreciate these films as so much knowledge is presumed of the audience - Tobin Bell is imperious in his role as John ('Jigsaw') and this is yet another classic, expertly teased though it leaves us - do we really have to wait 12 months for VI?

Gomorra (*****)
intensely powerful and utterly compelling throughout - makes all the fake goodfellas posturing of your typical glamorised Hollywood gangster film look like the cartoons they are (and I include The Godfather et al); the tone of this unsettling tragedy is captured brilliantly by the non-formulaic documentary style and the feast of language that never once is tempted by cheap one-liners or unnecessary exposition

Tropic Thunder (*)
Tropic Thunder contains about 10 minutes of decent comic sketches padded within an overblown exercise in male bonding by Stiller and his Hollywood buddies who are clearly having a great time at the moviegoer's expense - new low points in the careers of Cruise, Coogan, Downey Jr., and, needless to say, Jack Black

Transsiberian (****)
the setting, pacing and unfolding paranoia of the first hour is of the highest quality, and although the final act doesn't quite deliver on the huge promise of that, this is still a most enjoyable thriller