Posts from 11th November 2004

Nov 04

You cannot just film any old documentary,

Do You SeePost a comment • 245 views

You cannot just film any old documentary, put it on screen and expect people to kow-tow to your factual genius. Nothing will kill the current trend of on screen documentaries than badly argued documentaries. In many ways this is why the personality led documentaries such as Michael Moore’s or Supersize Me have worked, as any flaws in their arguments can be linked to the person, rather than the form. Perhaps too connected to the person in Michael Moore’s case.

The Corporation is a disappointing film in this respect. Not celeb led (though stuff with lots of famous talking heads) its argument is delivered by a sultry voiced Canadian woman. However its actual argument is hard to define. Instead after a strong start it does devolve into “and one more bad thing about corporations”. A lot of the individual segments could heve been expanded, plenty could have been taken out. There is a good film, and a good documentary hidden inside the bloated excess of The Corporation. Which is frustrating.

Just what the world needed!

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 381 views

Just what the world needed!

“This was a Royal fellowship of death”

Blog 7Post a comment • 567 views

“This was a Royal fellowship of death”

Maybe it’s inappropriate to have a favourite war memorial. If so, I apologise. Working at Hyde Park Corner I pass several of the things every day. Most are appropriately solemn but never really provoke thought or remembrance. The Royal Artillery memorial, made in 1925 by Charles Sargeant Jagger, is different. Standing next to the (ridiculous IMO) Wellington Arch, it’s a great chunk of marble in the shape of a Howitzer, with its crew depicted in bronze, standing by it or leaning on it. The soldiers look weatherbeaten and exhausted – next to their great, implacable, bleakly solid gun they seem horribly ephemeral.

As pieces of public war art go, it does a superb job. It avoids the euphemism of abstraction (at the same time its chunkiness feels modern, reminding me a lot of Rachel Whiteread’s similarly-scaled pieces). It also feels unsentimental – its artillerymen are machine-workers doing a job. In this it captures the essence of twentieth-century warfare, conscript armies at the mercy of huge and terrible technologies.

The First World War memorials you see walking from Hyde Park to Victoria were all designed as finished articles – bronzed full stops on an unspeakable time, their lists of names a warning and a closure. At Victoria Station itself, for instance, the memorial to railwaymen killed in the Great War is a vast panel of names – but then a newer panel has been added, with no names, commemorating the numbers killed in World War II. In the War Cloister at Winchester College the marble walls list every Wykehamist killed in military service, and the list ends with ample space for more names, an evil echo of the space on the wood panels in the main halls to list future Head- and Housemasters. “Remembrance” is maybe the wrong word for today – why remember things that haven’t finished?

When ILX – or rather Steve M on ILX

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 484 views

When ILX – or rather Steve M on ILX – came up with the now all-conquering poll format (nominations then votes then drawn-out interactive countdown) I will admit my thought was “too much fannydangle”. But it works, and works well – yesterday I briefly skimmed the gargantuan ILM ’90s poll’ thread and thought how lively it seemed. The nominations system means that the terms of engagement are well-defined before the poll starts, and gives people a stake in it (“how well will my picks do?”). But it’s the countdown where things really get going – a community deciding what it has in common and thrashing out what it doesn’t, and individuals forced to talk about the stuff they value in direct competition with the stuff they don’t. I can’t imagine it working away from a messageboard format but on a messageboard it’s the second most fun I’ve seen Top X Lists generate.

(The MOST fun being a bunch of people shouting in a pub, obviously.)

All of which is to remind interested parties that voting in the I Love Comics poll closes at lunchtime GMT tomorrow – the full nominations list and the voting procedures can be found on that board. It’s not so much that I think you should vote – though if you’ve ever posted on ILC, you should! – but to give you a heads-up that the countdown will be starting at the weekend, and that should be worth looking out for.

I don’t remember much about the year 1984

TMFDPost a comment • 314 views

I don’t remember much about the year 1984. Apart from that bloody Eurythmics song. I blame this.

It’s been updated (20th anniversary) and remains as notoriously difficult as memory serves. It’s a standard text adventure (with a few linear graphics), but where your Level 9s offered po-faced responses and treated errors with incomprehension, this game tried to anticipate where you might go wrong and when you did, laugh at you.