Posts from 23rd June 2004

Jun 04

Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter…and Spring.

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Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter…and Spring. Well the title tells you everything. Do you get the hint – this is one of those cyclical, history repeating itself things. So past Autumn, do not look for any surprises. Instead look for a nice piece of nature photography as the film contemplates slowly the nature of existence (when you have a scriptwriter who wants to make a point about the cyclical nature of life). Which, ifaith, does not really tell us an awful lot about the lives of the viewers which tend not to be quite as blatantly cyclical.

The plot contortions to show us how cruel boy monk becomes infatuated with a girl, murders her, goes to prison and then returns as an older monk to teach another abandoned child who turns out gleefully cruel are no more exploitative than the average romantic comedy. Just do not think that with its Buddhists trappings that it has any unique observations on life. What it does have that might make your life better is its simplicity, and two hours watching the seasons change in a particularly beautiful Korean lake valley. Nice when you have been knocking about on Shaftsbury Avenue on a hot sticky night.

Relatively Fashionable Gastropub Report #1: The Anchor And Hope

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Relatively Fashionable Gastropub Report #1: The Anchor And Hope

Having missed out on the ‘4 Ox Heart sandwiches which were my planned breakfast on Saturday, I was pleased to return to the Anchor & Hope for some St John related goodness. I wasn’t going to post this here – I’m not sure why you’d be interested – but the UberPumpkinGruppenFuhrer said I had to. Maybe this is because he has seen the A&H getting citations and tips and awards left, right and centre. He’s a fashionable sort of fellow.

So we started by sharing a cuttlefish risotto: it was very black (do cuttlefish have ink too? Our Dutch friends seem to call them inktvis – I suppose this means ‘inkfish’ – so I suppose they do) with flecks of green parsley. Quite a lot of lemon made it sharp but there was also a bitter flavour in there, maybe lemon zest (“delicieux casseron…”) or even a bit o’ bitter gourd. The cuttlefishmeat itself was outrageously good, tender, and it’s always a treat to find a tentacle in your meal.*

Talking of tender: SLOW COOKED LAMB SO TENDER YOU BARELY HAD TO CHEW IT, served with minky old aubergines. I hate aubergines, but I’m assured they were very nice. Or: a lovely big roast leg of rabbit as part of “rabbit chorizo and peas.” The chorizo added a certain smokiness to the coney and the peas were chickpeas and other crazy pulses as well as actual peas. There was a pancetta element to this music also, and the juices this came in may have been the highlight of the meal. Lastly: “greens”. “What greens are they?” “Spring Cabbage.” “BRING US GREENS.”

A sweet would have been an insult.

’40 inc (surprisingly good) pint of Eagle and two glasses of wine. Seemed fair.

*I’m sure there are exceptions to this rule but I can’t imagine what they might be.

FT Top 100 Films 77: THE LOST BOYS

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Corey? Really? That’s not a name.

The Lost Boys is the definitive 80’s vampire movie. That’s not to say it is any good. But it bundles the Reaganomics and brat pack ideologies into a big ball and spews them out with all the usual messy vampire mythology nonsense. The tagline for the film: “Sleep all day. Party all night. Never grow old. Never die. It’s fun to be a vampire“. The problem that many vampire movies have, especially when they vaguely humanise the vamps, is why is so bad to be a vampire? Are vampires themselves any more evil than humans noshing down on a chicken? They are superior (if physiologically confusing) beings and we should be glad that they don’t kill us all off. It is fun to be a vampire.

The Lost Boys digs itself into this hole ridiculously quickly, the mystery of there being vampires in this neck of the woods is dealt with almost perfunctorily. What is left is ho-hum vampires as a metaphor for puberty, highlighted by the ridiculousness of the pre-pubescent vampire (“Holy Shit, its the attack of Eddie Munster”). A dull metaphor the film tries to articulate what might be bad about being a vampire, and fails until we see who the leader is. And when it turns out to be the remarkably bland Edward Herrmann we are supposed to think that Keifer Sutherland is going to grow up into him. No, it does not hang together.

Of course even in the eighties it was next to impossible to do anything with the vampire genre, but the Lost Boys does not even try. It marks the end of the brat pack, and the end of the Corey’s too. Corey Haim is okay but I always though that Corey Feldmann never really matched up to the genius of his father Marty. The Lost Boys might be his best film, but its not great claim to fame.

Politics and film. Can a film really effect an election?

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Politics and film. Can a film really effect an election? A question worth asking about Fahrenheit 911 – but a question that perhaps Julio Medem’s film The Basque Ball. A documentary of mainly talking heads about the Basque people, culture and most pertinently its political status. The film – subtitled The Skin Against The Stone – is long, detailed and appears to not have any direct political agenda regarding Basque self determination. It is clearly against violence, from ETA or the Spanish authorities. In teasing out the often contradictory ideals of everyone living together and what the Basque culture is (often boiled down to the unflattering cause of persecution) is not unlike many a hand wringing BBC doco from the late eighties re: Ireland.

The large number of contributors often repeat each other and soon get unmanageable, sociologists against widows, musicians vs philosphers. So much so that it is hard to notice that two groups are not represented. ETA, and their political wing Batasuna, and the banning of both groups by the government is certainly part of the reason for their absence. However there is also no contribution from the Spanish Popular Party, the government which banned Batasuna and has, according to the film, been much more draconian since in power. And here is how the film may have swung an election.

After the Madrid bombings, in the week before the Spanish elections, the Popular Party blamed ETA: a knee jerk reaction which nevertheless was in complete tune with their previous actions. ETA was the Popular Party’s boogeyman, allowing it to impose laws on stop and search and improve its own profile at the expense of the Basque region. This is one of the few theses of The Basque Ball, the demonization of ETA was primarily to improve the ratings of the PP. The question is having been demonstrated this on film (and possibly more in the discussions about the film which the PP wanted to ban) did this push the electorate over the edge. The Popular Party were supposed to win the election safely, but lost. And the loss seems to be put at the door of the wrongful attributing of the blame to ETA. Did the Basque Ball help?

You are hot. You want cooling.

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You are hot. You want cooling. You buy a Magnum, aware that it is the premiere ice cream chocolate combo.Butwhat is this? Oops, you have accidentally bought another one of the four hundred special edition Magnum’s that come out every year. Still that pistachio one you had last year was not all that bad. You examine the wrapper, you have bought a Magnum with a truffle invermiddle.

Okay, get the obvious out of the way. This is a truffle like you used to get at school, therefore a pig would not cock its snout anywhere near it. No hyperexpensive fungi for your one pound thirty, unsurprisingly. Instead that dry, supersweet gunge which, I had not previously known before, seems to have the finest insulating property known to mankind. Basically, it does not get cold. Plus point, you Magnum stick is not subject to falling apart due to melting ice cream. Downside, the lolly is not really very cold. Leaving you with a cloyingly over sweet chocolate bar which does not do what you wanted it to do. Boo.

By the way, I bet the people at Magnum hate it being called a lolly.