Friday, 20 March 2009

VIRTUAL PANADOL FRIDAY

Most of the obituaries for Natasha Richardson* have focused on her stage performance as Sally Bowles in "Cabaret" and her most recent appearances in blandly forgettable blerk like "The Parent Trap" and "Maid in Manhattan".

However, Richardson, in 1990, appeared in one of my favourite films from a favourite writer and director,
"The Comfort of Strangers" from Paul Schrader, a very faithful, often word-for-word adaptation by Harold Pinter of Ian McEwan's short novel.

Someone I worked with back then who had always struck me as a bit precious had seen the film and announced that "it made him want to have a shower afterwards to take the grime off".

Which was all the encouragement I needed to rush out and see it and, lordy lordy me, I took me a right shine to that there fillum, yessiree.

I even went out and bought the book. And the soundtrack. And I haven't showered since.

Schrader's not exactly prolific, the last film I saw being his 2007 straight-to-dvd
"The Walker", about which I remember absolutely nothing beyond being thoroughly confused as to what the fuck it was about. Woody Harrelson was in it. I do hope he had a nice time, and was paid properly and the catering was acceptable.

That was Schrader's first film since he was tossed off
"The Exorcist: The Beginning" in 2004 and then tossed back when that film tanked and finally allowed to present his version of the story, "Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist".

I've seen neither, and have no desire to.

But I loved Schrader's film about Bob Crane,
"Auto-Focus" and he also did a fine job with a little seen adaptation of a very uncharacteristic Elmore Leonard novel, "Touch" in the late '90's. Then there's his fine and justly praised work as screenwriter for Scorsese during the 70's and 80's.

However, "The Comfort of Strangers" is still my favourite film from Schrader and nothing he's done since has approached it's lushly indulgent wallow in the multitude of perversities that bedevil us odd mortals.
Angelo Badalamenti wrote the excellent score ...

*A more comprehensive obituary of Richardson is
here.



From 1990, Angelo Badalamenti "Theme from The Comfort of Strangers"

Thursday, 19 March 2009

F*CK OFF, FIELDING

I like the idea of a Senate where the balance of power is held by a mix of smaller parties and independents. I've liked the idea ever since the late Don Chipp formed the Democrats with the concept of "keeping the bastards honest" being high priority on their initial agenda. And so I’ve split my vote in the Senate on a regular basis, at least since the mid 1980’s, with only a couple of exceptions.

It used to be I’d split it to the Democrats but, since
Meg Lees did the deal with John Howard over GST, I began to split it to the Greens. Fuck you, Meg.

And, for the most part, aside from a few crackpots and embarrassments over the years, having a Senate where no one major party holds an absolute majority seems to work okay most of the time. Regardless of the central ideologies and platforms of those who hold the deciding votes, most have managed to be adult enough in their dealings and negotiations to realise that their job is to review and revise, and advise and assist in the implementation of government legislation, the government having a popularly elected majority in the House of Representatives to implement legislation as was either flagged in an election campaign or as it is generally known as a matter of policy. Certainly, many of these minor party and independent senators will “earmark” certain pieces of legislation in such a way that furthers their own policy agendas to their favour, and we’d be fools to think they would not – if they didn't, they’d pretty much fully negate their reasons for being there in the first place.

But Steve Fielding really is a fool. He’s Forrest Gump gone full retard. A village full of idiots in one goofy little package.

If life’s a box of chocolates, he’s the
Ram’s Bladder Cup with Lark’s Vomit.

This simpleton appears to be under the impression that he has been charged with some sort of sacred duty as Protector-General of the People and that, in this position, he and he alone will decide which legislation shall pass in the upper house and what form that legislation will take. This, despite the fact he represents 2/5ths of fuck-all of the population and has done little more than engage in
witless stunts and babble incoherently on occasions in the manner of a Pentecostal preacher with Alzheimer’s on speed.

Bob Brown’s assessment of Fielding as
“silly and immature” is just a trifle timid, I think …

… Out of his depth, naïve, ignorant, willful, childish, unintelligent, dimwitted, selfish, self-absorbed and awe-inspiringly, jaw-droppingly stupid, dense and thicker than a two-by-four decking plank are a few more suitable terms that come to mind. Among many others …

Regardless of what one may think of the Federal Government’s obsession over alcohol and the endless reams of studies, reports and findings on its allegedly horrid effects or the lurid headlines about drunk teenagers fucking and fwowing up, the tax hike on ready-mixed booze wasn’t exactly unpopular with
some and seemed to be having the desired effect, according to some others.

Was it just a
tax grab as Fielding claimed?

When is a new or increased tax not? Let’s not kid ourselves.

Do I care?

No, I don’t.

I don’t consume these drinks but I’m also not inclined to buy the breathless hysterics and increasingly dire warnings about this allegedly overwhelming crisis of teenage binge-drinking that’s supposedly sweeping the nation. As David Marr noted in his book about the
Henson case, it’s the media’s business to maintain a constant sense of crisis about something, whatever that thing may be. If it has to do with “thinking about the children”, you’re assured a winning ticket that’ll run for months if you play your cards right. And it’s a governments business to maintain an illusion of crisis management by being seen to do something about it.

The current “crisis” fad just happens to be alcohol. It’ll be coffee and tea next. Or we’ll go back to pot and fat people again. Everything has its cycle and all these are proven hardy perennials, a hunnert-percent guaranteed to generate a comfy snuggle of horror-story headlines whenever we run out of “foreign threat” things to ‘lert and ‘larm ourselves about.

But what outs Fielding as an infantile loon of the first order in this business is his inability to grasp the concepts of “negotiation” and “bargaining”, to understand that in affairs of government, “all-or-nothing” holdouts of the type Fielding is indulging in are not the mark of men or women holding steadfast to a cause, but rather the mark of idiot children who, when asked why they won’t eat their vegetables, simply reply, “Don’ wanna!”, then pout like cane toads and kick their legs under the table.

Poor Steve wants to be consulted with and listened to. He wants to be seen as an important fellow, a man to know, and he wants to be taken seriously and he wants to be thought of and paid attention to. In a nice way, that is. He wants to be invited to a few Christmas parties and Easter egg hunts and get birthday cards from his classmates and have a jolly old time with everyone all together on excursions to the zoo.

It’s just that Steve hasn’t quite cottoned on yet that his classmates think he’s weird ‘cause he tucks his singlet into his underpants and keeps his snot in jars and he still has stuff stuck to his teeth from last Thursday’s play-lunch. And he smells like curdled milk and cat poo and makes weird noises in the toilet blocks on sports days.

As
Bob Brown remarked on ABC, “He has to be much more communicative. You can't get a good outcome without the flow of information open. And, yes, it's very testing.”

Fielding can’t just issue ultimatums and expect the rest of the cast and crew to throw down their guns and toddle off to the county jail with nothing more than a shrug and a chorus of “aw-shucks”.

For the Senate is not about Steve Fielding. Government and governance is not about Steve Fielding. The country is not about Steve Fielding and what he may want.

Many people seem to be making that fact perfectly clear to him
right now.

He should either grow up and learn to accept this and live in the world or simply shut up and fuck off and stop giving everyone else the shits.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

THE REMAKING OF PELHAM ONCE-TWICE-THRICE

Curse you, Richard Widmark! Curse you to hell!

The giggling psychopath, the smirking sniper, the chuckling chopper of children, all these and more have been trademarks of the various villainous characters of screen ever since a hugely amused
Richard Widmark shoved a woman in a wheelchair down a flight of stairs in Henry Hathaway’s “Kiss of Death” way back in 1947.

“I am bad. I tee-hee at your torments. Let us banter to and fro’ a while as I red my herrings and lace my deadly threats with urbane witticisms and clever punning, the pith of which is sure to convince you I am no mere common criminal, but, rather, a mastermind, an evil genius to be seriously reckoned with in a seriously sweaty and urgent fashion. Bwah-ha. Ha-ha. Ho-ho.”

For God’s sake, give it up now. We’ve seen it. It's been done. Okay?

The latest actor to make this rather hackneyed and silly choice (judging by the trailer, below) would appear to be
John Travolta, taking the Robert Shaw role in Tony Scott’s theatrical remake of Joseph Sargent’s 1974 “The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3” (there was a television remake in 1998, about which, the less said the better).

Either Travolta’s made one of the laziest choices an actor could ever make with such a character, or else he’s been directed up that weedy little dirt-trail of cackling cliché by Scott, which would come as no great surprise given
Tony Scott has been making fucking awful films most of his life, the barf-worthy “Top Gun”, “Days of Thunder” and “Beverly Hills Cop II” three items among the many in his oeuvre that I can offer up as evidence to his spectacularly crappy (but, to be fair, successful) career in film to date.

And if there’s one surefire thing you can always count on in a Tony Scott movie, it’s GONNA BE VERY FUCKING LOUD, OKAY?!.

WITH LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS OF JUMP-CUTS AND EDITS, OKAY!? BUT MOSTLY, IT’S VERY, VERY, VERY, VERY FUCKING LOUD!!!

In the trailer below (which is VERY, VERY, VERY, VERY FUCKING LOUD, OKAY?!!!), you will notice Denzel Washington’s character, the good-guy, has been given a partner who asks him to bring home some milk at a somewhat inopportune moment of frantic activity, and, like a loving husband is wont to do, he agrees, but he’ll only bring home this much, not that much. And then, off he skedaddles to do some good.

Awwwwww.

What a good guy ...



From 2009, “The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3”, Directed by Tony Scott

... Well, of course he’s a Good Guy, he’s DENZEL FUCKING WASHINGTON AND HE’S PLAYING A FUCKING NEW YORK TRANSIT OFFICER TRYING TO STOP A BUNCH OF WHACKO’S FROM PLUGGING A BUNCH OF PEOPLE ON A FUCKING TRAIN!!!!!

I know it’s grossly unfair to critique a film based on nothing but a trailer, but for Christ’s sake. Enough with the padding. It’s just silly.

So what else may we expect to be thrown at us from the scummy slush bucket of colour-by-numbers Hollywood ooze-making that seems to be on display here? Some flashbacks perhaps? Something to help us understand the Travolta character’s icky badness and its genesis?

He accidentally sat on a kitten and killed it when he was 4 years old.

It was all downhill from there.

What’s the point of this movie? Why bother? It’s not as if great leaps and bounds in technology and effects work demanded an update of what is, essentially, a pretty basic and very efficient and economical heist film. The only thing you could conceivably do with it is make it longer by filling it with shit as per that stupid milk dialogue. And make it louder. MUCH, MUCH, MUCH FUCKING LOUDER, OKAY!?

No one could ever claim that
Joseph Sargent, the director of the original 1974 version, was, or is now, a visionary or exceptionally original talent. He directed “Jaws: The Revenge” in 1987 and won a Razzie for worst director (the film was nominated for 7 altogether), and he’s done little else but television movies since. In the early 1960’s, Sargent cut his teeth on television shows like "Gunsmoke", "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." and, of all things, "Lassie". And an episode of “Star Trek”.

Yet perhaps it was this background in the economies of scale, the tight schedules and turnarounds of sixties television production that helped drive Sargent to direct what is arguably his best work. There’s not an ounce of fat on it. From start to finish, it bullets along, tight, taut, perfectly acted, a first class exercise in pulp at its prime. It has a
100% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes. How about that?

Remaking this movie is completely pointless. There’s nothing that can be added to it that would improve upon the original, nothing at all. You can bring a different technique, but big fucking deal. You can add gadgets. You can bring big name star actors. And you can make it VERY, VERY, VERY FUCKING LOUD, OKAY!?

But there’s nothing you can do to the story to make it better, unless you introduce a bunch of new twists and turns, throw in some additional characters and change the ending in some way, in which case, you’re making a whole different movie.

What’s next, a makeover of
“Dirty Harry”? With Vin Diesel?

Sshhhhhhhhhhhh. Don’t let that get out.

Oh.

Fuck.

I’d almost bet money that, when this rehash of “Pelham” is released locally,
David Stratton will begin his review something like this ... “This pointless and unnecessary remake …”

Go on, David. Make my day.

Make me a clairvoyant. I could do with some extra cash.



From 1974, “The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3” Directed by Joseph Sargent.

Monday, 16 March 2009

DANGER! WHITEGOODS!

Noted in today’s New York Times ...

“The Last House on the Left” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). Characters are raped, stabbed, shot, mangled and fed to labor-saving devices.

Sweet.

NORMAL SERVICES SHALL RESUME SHORTLY ...

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

I WISH I'D WRITTEN THAT ... PT.2*

Never a truer word has been written …

From "The Onion"'s article of August 6, 2008
"Local Idiot To Post Comment On Internet" ...

HAZEL PARK, MI—In a statement made to reporters earlier this afternoon, local idiot Brandon Mylenek, 26, announced that at approximately 2:30 a.m. tonight, he plans to post an idiotic comment beneath a video on an Internet website ...

... Mylenek, who rarely in his life has been capable of formulating an idea or opinion worth the amount of oxygen required to express it, went on to guarantee that the text of his comment would be misspelled to the point of incomprehension, that it would defy the laws of both logic and grammar, and that it would allege that several elements of the video are homosexual in nature ...

... "We are blessed to be living in an age when we have a global communications network in which idiots, assholes, and total and complete wastes of fucking human life alike can come together to give instant feedback in an unfettered and unmonitored online environment," Mylenek said. "What better way to take advantage of this incredible technology than to log onto the Internet and insult a complete stranger?" ...

According to media critic Judy Turner, this type of behavior is not uncommon among idiots.

"Brandon's comments in particular contain a degree of unoriginality and stupidity that you only see in the most muttonheaded and imbecilic Internet commenters," Turner said. "In fact, I've seen him use at least a dozen variations of the word 'gay.' Suffice it to say, Brandon Mylenek is a truly stupid, stupid idiot."

Mylenek concluded his press conference with a solemn vow to uphold the awful, unintelligible, anger-inducing quality of his past Internet comments.

"I promise everyone that this post will be exactly what you have come to expect from an idiot like myself," he said, "and that I will check my comment regularly so that I can call everyone who says it's stupid a fag.

Sums up the so-called "blogosphere" quite nicely, don't it?

Interactive technology. Feedback. Your say. Your comment.













IT ALL SUKS G!R!E!E!N!I!E FAGGETS WHAYLE DIK!!!!!!!!.

LOLS!!!!!!!!!!!#!#!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)D




*Part 1 is
here, if you could be arsed. I couldn’t. That’s why this is such a lazy bloody excuse for a blog post. Anyway, I’m very busy …

… Well, it’s my fuckin’ blog! Oh yeah? Fuck off. Go on!? Fuck off! You can’t answer me, can you? You’re a fucking liar! Come here and say that! Oh, yeah? YEAH?!!!

Cross this line. Come on, cross it …

_____________


You won’t, will ya?

Gutless cunt.

Huh? Who? Your mother?

Lol.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

OUT OF OFFICE, OUT OF MIND

I know President Obama is not Muslim, but I am tempted nevertheless to think that he is, as are most Muslims I know.

Most of the Muslims you know are Muslim?

Well, bugger me. What a shock.


The things you learn from the interwebs.

Friday, 6 March 2009

IT’S ONLY A MOVIE, GERARD DEAR …

Writes Gerard Henderson in the Sydney Morning Herald of February 3rd, 2009 …

Anthony Beevor is one of the leading historians in the English-speaking world ... Writing in the London Sunday Times on January 18, he complained that "over the past dozen or so years television and movie-makers have managed to blur the border between fact and fiction to an unprecedented degree" while pretending "increasingly that their film is based on a true story" ...

... Beevor argues that "it should be the duty of not just every scientist and historian, but also of every writer, publisher, movie-maker, TV producer and ordinary citizen to fight all attempts to exploit the ignorance and gullibility of audiences".

Well, it should be. But, clearly, it is not.

Bullshit.

Firstly, let's dispense with Beevor's arrogant and elitist assumption that cinema audiences are ignorant and gullible, that is, dumber than a box of hammers (unless of course you happen to think
David Spade is the 21st century equivalent of Groucho Marx, in which case, you are dumber than a box of hammers).

"Based on" on a thing does not mean it is the thing.

I know that, have always known that, and do not believe I am unique in that respect.

People go to the cinema to be entertained, not educated. For an education on a topic, that's what books are for. And universities and schools. We go to cinema to sit in the dark with strangers and involve ourselves in the lives of characters, both fictional or drawn from and based on history, and the events and experiences those characters find themselves a part of. This is called “storytelling”.

As David Mamet writes in his book of essays about the movie business
“Bambi vs. Godzilla”

“The film’s precursor is the story around the campfire. In that story we hear and we imagine; in the film we see and we imagine. The structural nature of film allows the imagination to reign. When the film turns narrative rather than dramatic, when it stands in for the viewer’s imagination, the viewer’s interest is lost. The dramatic structure relies exclusively upon the progression of incident … The rule, then, in filmmaking, as in storytelling, as in writing, is “leave out the adjectives”.”

If films based on historical incident were made according to Henderson’s preference, they would come in two parts: Part 1 would last 600 days, and Part 2 would be a 600 day forum of debate about the accuracy, or inclusiveness, of Part 1, a back-and-forth wankfest comprising tediously elitist trainspotters such as Henderson and Beevors. And possibly Robert Manne.

And no one would bother to go for fear of dying of boredom.

A filmmaker has one primary responsibility to his or her audience, and that responsibility is to evoke the desire to know, to demand to know, as Mamet has written many times, “What happens next?”.

If a filmmaker is basing his or her work on historical incident and historical characters, he or she must leave out the adjectives if it is to succeed.

The filmmaker must distill and compress all that is known about the events and people portrayed in order to present us with the essence of the thing. I could not give a flying fuck at the moon if, as Henderson writes, Richard Nixon in
“Frost/Nixon” “is presented as a binge drinker who consumed so much liquor during an evening that he had memory lapses about phone conversations the following day” and that the scene is a fiction.

As Anthony Summers revealed in his book
“The Arrogance of Power”, Nixon was a drunk and an abuser of prescription drugs. Bringing this facet of his behaviour into play in the film and the scene in question goes to establishing “character” which leads us, the gullible and the ignorant, to an understanding of the man as a “character” and becoming interested in his actions.

And if we become sufficiently interested, we may find ourselves encouraged to learn more about the man himself by reading books about him that present us with facts that are history, and not based on history.

Mamet again:

“The garbage of exposition, backstory, narrative, and characterisation spot-welds the reader into interest in what is happening now. It literally stops the show.”

I suspect that Henderson, as well as lacking a sense of humour, also lacks the imagination necessary to suspend disbelief while watching a film and simply enjoy himself.

In which case, he should stick to running his
ballroom dinners where toxic bores can deliver toxic lectures to a toxic and boring cluster of middle-aged stuffed shirts and leave the rest of us well enough alone.

Frankly, I’d rather go see a movie.

They’re fun.



From 1983, Steve Martin "The Man With Two Brains" (not based on fact)

Thursday, 5 March 2009

DEPP DOES DILLINGER

Do you ever find yourself randomly clicking about the intertubes and all of a sudden you wind up clicking something that leads you to a trailer for a movie you knew nothing about but when you see it the hairs on the back of your neck stand up in anticipation?

Fuck
"The Watchmen".

I practically busted a zipper when I learnt this is gonna hit our screens in July ...

TENDER MEMORIES OF MERCIES SHOWN

If I were to nominate my favourite film of all time, it would be Bruce Beresford's "Tender Mercies" from 1983, a film I must have seen now about 30 or 40 times since its initial release.

I would not argue it as the best film ever made, as such arguments are only for the stupid to puddle about in, but, for me, watching it is akin to slipping into a warm bath after a ragged day of listening to, and reading about, the bizarre obsessions of the multitude of
imbeciles we seem forever besieged by.

Robert Duvall won an Academy Award as Best Actor for his portrayal of Mac Sledge. The rest of the cast are faultless, not a false note struck, no mawkish slips into cheap sentimentality, no displays of flappy histrionics, no "acting" in other words.

Horton Foote wrote the screenplay. He, too, won an Academy Award for his work.

Mr. Foote died on March 4, 2009 ...

Mr. Foote, in a 1986 interview in The New York Times Magazine, said: “I believe very deeply in the human spirit and I have a sense of awe about it because I don’t know how people carry on. What makes the difference in people? What is it? I’ve known people that the world has thrown everything at to discourage them, to kill them, to break their spirit. And yet something about them retains a dignity. They face life and don’t ask quarters.”

His inspiration came from the people he knew and the stories he heard growing up there. “I’ve spent my life listening,” Mr. Foote once said.

And my life has been made far better by listening to him. Thank you.

NETWORK NINE ... STILL THE SCUM PT.2

So I'm flicking around the glass teat last night to see what variation on the usual themes of frauds, freaks and fatties our so-called "current affairs" programs are going to bang on about when Channel Nine's "A Current Affair" begins and host Tracy Grimshaw starts a story about the Lahore attacks with ...

"World cricket's underbelly
..."

Are there no depths these shitheads will not plumb to promote or link a story to their crappy fucking television series?

No. No, there aren't.

Honestly.

Belief beggared.

Monday, 2 March 2009

WE'RE GONNA NEED A BIGGER OCEAN

Oceans are big.



And they're full of water.



Fish live there.



Sharks are very big fish.



Learn to fucking
live with it, okay?

UPDATE: The above was published in the Sydney Morning Herald March 3rd (minus the dots and expletive.)