Posts from 5th July 2004

Jul 04

Some Fathers Do ‘Ave ‘Em

Do You SeePost a comment • 363 views

Some Fathers Do ‘Ave ‘Em or Troy.

So, I finally got round to seeing Troy, and the one thing that struck me was how much Paris came across as an ancient Frank Spencer. He was always getting things wrong, then trying to put them right and making things even worse. He even had the pretty wife (okay, someone else’s wife) who would forgive him everytime, I was really hoping he’d say “Oh, Helen”. The one time he did get something right, everyone ignored him, to their cost.

I felt sorry for poor old Hector, who came across as more put upon than heroic. Why didn’t anyone notice that Briseis was missing? Achilles’ Mermen (or whatever they were called) were like Sharpe’s Rifles – “it’s been an honour to serve with you sir”. I also liked how they used the same sad “you’re gonna die” music as they did in Gladiator.

Overall, there was way too much fighting, but I kinda enjoyed it.

The Cooler is exactly the kind of film my parents would like

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It has romance (for my Mum). It has violence (for my Dad). And it does not have much swearing in it.

At least that is what I thought when I left. I enjoyed it too for what it is worth. But then i remembered that Alec Baldwin only really has one line, repeated over, and over, in the film. “What the fuck?” Or as said in proper gangsterese “Whadafug?” Now I do not consider whadafug to be swearing, obviously as I consider this to be a good film for my parents. But is it? Can fug be distinticively pulled out as fuck to the degree that my mother will wince? I don’t know, but I am interested to try it out.

Oh, and yet another film where Maria Bello holds the film together with a cleverly understated performance. Couple this with plot wandering into the idea of people who are “naturally lucky” (liek Intacto last year) and it makes the whole film a real joy. But is whadafug swearing.


Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 218 views




TMFDPost a comment • 309 views

HURRAH!! I’m not last in the ILX Fantasy Euro2004 League. I’m sure “mymble” and “blueski” (whoever they could be) would agree that making no subs due to being at glastonbury was the major cause of our downfall (although perhaps N, who was in the same boat, would disagree). Also, well done Ken for finishing fourth overall as well as top of our league.

Right, when does the next one start, can anyone find one for Copa America?

Dracula (Part Two – Transylvania)

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 204 views

Dracula (Part Two – Transylvania)

The fictional Dracula is a composite character drawn from diverse sources. One part Jack the Ripper, two parts Romanian folklore, but the name Bram Stoker borrowed for his creation belongs to a barbaric and very real individual.

Vlad Tepes was the son of a warlord known as The Dragon, Dracul in the local vernacular. The ‘a’ ending denotes ‘son of’ and hence, Dracula, Son of the Dragon. The Impaler suffix came later, synonymous with Vlad’s favoured method of execution. Those who displeased him such as thieves, the disabled, the workshy, or particularly the Turks were bound to a cross, legs prised apart and a sharpened stake hammered where the sun don’t shine. Vlad was tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime. Surprisingly, in Romania, Vlad is celebrated as a patriot, a leader who restored order in lawless times.

I headed out from the charmless concrete centre of Bucharest. The initial view from the train window was bleak, endless dormitory towns of drab utilitarian housing amid battered industry and smoking chimneys. It made the North London line look leafy. Eventually, Tyrolean prettiness replaced suburbia and we threaded through a narrow pass in the Carpathian Mountains and into the fields of Transylvania.

Transylvania’s number one tourist attraction is Dracula’s Castle at Bran. It’s called Dracula’s Castle purely on its looks. In reality, Vlad didn’t live there at all, although he may once have attacked it. Filtered through Hollywood eyes, it has the trappings of the gothic imagination, all hidden doors and secret stairs. Low beams and my clumsy nature resulted in several painful head-smacks. Outside was a ‘tourist market’ full of overpriced tack. I bought a small painted box with a blue handle. I pulled it back and a green wooden serpent sprang out to bite. For teeth, read a sharp tack. It caught me unawares and the point speared my finger. I yelped and dropped it. A spot of blood pooled around the knuckle. I stemmed the bleeding and decided I’d had enough of Bran, taking the evening bus through the hills to Sighisoara.

My finger was throbbing as I watched the England vs Portugal game. I slept badly that night, my dreams populated with hissing serpents, missed penalties and the undead apparition of Darius Vassell.

Sighisoara sits on a bluff enclosing narrow cobbled streets too tight for cars. A mustard coloured building attracted photographers. This was the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler. Currently, it houses a restaurant with typical Romanian service. I sat there for ten minutes while the waiter finished his paper. Finally he wandered past. I asked for a coffee. He looked at me with incredulity and returned with a Fanta.

In Ceaucescu’s era, agriculture drove the town’s economy, now it is tourism. Pastel painted houses leaned in drunken directions, many with chipped plaster and dark green shutters. Sighisoara was a 16th century town but with useful modern additions. How do you measure the change since the 1989 revolution? Pizzerias and internet caf’s.

A bust of Vlad sat atop a stone pedestal. His eyes were mean and cold. His hair unkempt and in need of a trim. Laid around the base were a collection of offerings; ground saltpetre overlaid with flowers. The petals were bound tightly in cotton and the stems handbroken and twined into a circle. Shockingly, in the middle lay a dead sparrow, its tiny feet pointing upwards. A trickle of blood was congealing besides it. I couldn’t begin to guess the significance, but it made me shudder. I later saw two goths and silently blamed them.

I found sleep difficult, my finger ached and my knuckle had grown to twice its normal size. My dreams were a confusing mix of serpents kisses and bad refereeing.

I left Sighisoara and bussed north to Bistrita along bumpy roads. I was heading away from the historical context and back into the imagination of Bram Stoker. Like Jonathan Harker in the novel, “it was on the dark side of twilight when I got to Bistrita.”

“Dracula directed me to go to the Golden Crown Hotel, which I found, to my great delight, to be thoroughly old fashioned.” Well, the Lonely Planet guidebook suggested the same and old fashioned it is not.

The hotel was built during the eighties. Nearly 100 years after the events described in the book. Stoker never visited Romania, but the book is a fine example of diligent research, descriptions of real towns overlaid with Romanian mythology and his own imagination. I ate dinner in the Jonathan Harker suite, drinking Golden Mediasch as the man himself did.

The hotel doesn’t play up to the Dracula connections as much as it once did. Staff used to jump out of chests to frighten guests, until a Canadian guy died of a heart attack and the practice was abruptly stopped.

Jonathan only managed two glasses of Golden Mediasch, the lightweight. I finished the bottle off surrounded by stuffed bats and red velvet drapes. The waitress pulled a rope and the drapes opened to reveal a widescreen television. I sat back and watched Euro 2004.

I’m not sure if it was the alcohol or the change of scenery or the Greece vs France game, but I felt much healthier. My finger was returning to its usual size and my dreams were unmemorable. I read about Bistrita from Dracula, “the women looked pretty, except when you got near them.” I laughed and thought of Stoker writing his book back in Britain. The women looked fine to me.

Look on our works…

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 255 views

Look on our works… This confirms all my prejudices. Creators of the idea (I refuse to say “brand”) of “world” music ‘fess up: every record made to fit into that genre has been pants (which is not to mean that good music hasn’t been sold as “world” music). Not sure what the moral of the story is though.

FT Top 100 Films 70: THE FIFTH ELEMENT

Do You See1 comment • 1,089 views

FT Top 100 Films

Anthony Easton Says:

Its a beautiful film, one of those sound and furies that signify nothing, i am not even sure it has a plot or even that the plot matters–its a series of sci fi set pieces, some of them ripped off from his previous work and the rest of them ripped off from everywhere else. It doesn’t matter, though because its a haunting and fantastic spectacle. The Krsna Blue Alien singing Lucia D’Lamour like Callas, Chris Tucker as drag queen, the butch saviour that is Bruce Willis, Mila Jovovich mute and pining, Jetson style yellow cabs, and Gary Oldman as villain, dressed as if the Bauhaus designed Ming the Merciless. Who cares of its vapidness when it entertains so well.

Pete Baran says:

Science fiction film is too American. The banalities built up from the future of that shared culture still exist in Luc Besson’s New York sequences here. But the rest of space is a much more continental vision. The mere fact that the most popular singer in the Universe is an opera singer underlines this. Elsewhere there are visions out of Moebius. None of this makes The Fifth Element any good of course, but at least it dresses its nonsense up in a differently beautiful way.

Besson based the script on screeplay he wrote when he was in high school. You don’t imagine watching it that it changed all that much. The naive simplicity of the initial concept (there is a fifth element and it is love) seems out of date in a modern action movie. And yet The Fifth Element stradles a number of interesting intersections. Bruce Willis redefining his image as bald action hero. The whole gaudy colourfulness of the film. Extreme violence versus a hippy peace and love philosophy. Perhaps Chris Tucker’s turn completely blows the film out of the water, but it is an amazing piece of campery and worth the admission alone (as some might say is Milla Jovovitch’s minimalist dress). Only in a European film could the hero and villain never meet. The Fifth Element might only be laudable for its difference, but that makes it interesting enough. It bangs to a slightly different drum, which is still a pretty lousy drum, but it makes a change.

Lazy Links For Idle Hands

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Lazy Links For Idle Hands

Fat Planet – MP3 blog, wide-ranging like a (slightly) less pop-friendly Fluxblog.

This story made me think of Robin C.

“It’s a very sexy statement.”

Where does it start, where does it begin?

TMFDPost a comment • 359 views

Where does it start, where does it begin?

So, the Euros finished with a Greek victory. Does this mean that the season has ended? Because if so, tell that to the Hibs players who started their inter-two bob cup campaign this weekend

I am currently reading Gould’s Book Of Fish, by Richard Flanagan,

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 457 views

I am currently reading Gould’s Book Of Fish, by Richard Flanagan, which won the Commonwealth Prize for literature in 2002 (though Amazon suggest there was a version of it knocking about since 1998). A beguiling work, it puports to be a reweitten recently discovered annoted version of the real Book of Fish, a selection of drawings of fish for scientific purposes done by a convict in Tasmania. The first chapter is an introduction about the discovery of this slippery artifact, with the rest of the novel being an imagineering of the life of the otherwise unknown Gould. Its rollicking good fun too. And contains a lot of ampersands.

It made me go and look at some other period novels. These have howeve rbeen subject to recent printings and hence do not use ampersands in their text. A unfocused eye on the page picks up these &’s magically & suddenly one is aware just how often and is used on a page. Can people who have older books than me verify if the & was used often in direct prose in the nineteenth century. The effect here is to make the text look period (although the introduction does explain that this is all rewritten from memory). A quirk of printing which leapt out at me. Much like a fish.