getting behind…

so here’s a list of what i had intended to write up in random pairs

one day

burger (carol adams’ book on the beef-based foodstuff)

mclibel (the film of the trial)

quiddities (quine’s philosophical dictionary)

hot fuzz (pegg II)

american graffiti

the seven-year itch

vale royal

the secret life of nicholas quinn

worlds end

taxi driver

plebs

the thick of it

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denial & shaun of the dead

denial

timothy spall’s brilliant portrayal of hitler-admiring and holocaust-denier david irving, tom wilkinson’s patrician barrister, andrew scott’s arch lawyer, and rachel weisz’s deborah lipstadt: all reasons to remember this film

it’s about holocaust-denial, of course, but in terms of genre it’s more a mixture of courtroom drama (what’s the judge going to say at the end?) and comedy of manners, as lipstadt is faced with quaint english traditions like our wicked libel system, fried breakfasts and rain

it also turns nicely on two senses of ‘denial’: irving’s denial of the holocaust, and lipstadt’s reluctant self-denial in complying with the lawyers’ wishes that she (and holocaust-survivors) don’t take part in the trial (the legal team insisted on this to deprive irving of the chance publicly to cross-examine these witnesses, and to ensure that the focus on everything was on irving himself – his racism and his deliberate distortions); it worked

shaun of the dead

my first of the pegg/frost trilogy: lovely, rich and fun; enjoyable cameos from familiar luvvies, and cleverly, ostentatiously, self-consciously, well made

insubstantial, but hey – i suppose a film purely about film has to be at least a little celluloidal

How they are related

Zombies are the easy meat of horror films; they look good, heighten the gothic, and are perpetrators of, as Mark Kermode puts it in his recent BBC minidoc on the genre, the ‘slow chase’. How they can be ‘killed’ when they’re already dead is a question of paradox and controversy – I think in Shaun it involves splitting the brain.

The Nazis’ victims, including the actually living survivors, are denied a living voice in Denial, but through their tenacious representative, and (hurrah) jolly old English legal expertise and sense of fair play, what, effect a powerful victory over those who would change the past to suit their present prejudices.

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a cuckoo calling (jk rowling) & julia shaw’s the illusion of memory

a cuckoo calling

really enjoyable – hard to put down (or a delight to pick up); cormoran strike and robyn are great characters, and the story unwinds and retangles in the manner of the best whodunnits

that’s all it is really – a whodunit – but none the worse for that; a clear love of london shines through, the unfulfilled semi-erotic tension between strike and robin is fun, and there are many ‘makes you think’ moments, particularly about what strike has had to live through and (as in a casual vacancy how the other half live (that’s both halves))
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othello & moby-dick

othello

everyone (including me) went to see mark rylance’s iago; for the first scene or so i was confused as he spoke so fast i missed lots of the content

but we settled, and really enjoyed rylance’s nervy subservience, running around, shooing one manipulee off the stage one way while other victims of his plan were coming on from the other side; one review described his costume as (US?) civil war soldier; i saw it more as hotel bellhop – ridiculous and boyish, indicative perhaps of the way he felt treated by his master

moby-dick

a poem more than a novel

and what a surprise ending {spoiler} – i was convinced along that Moby Dick and Ahab’s final confrontation would be internecine; the cataclysmic destruction of the ship by a whale head-butt was an amazing finish, especially as Moby Dick (we are led to believe) survives

How they are related

Which one is Ahab and which Iago? Iago and the whale win, so let’s do it that way round. But Ahab pursues the whale in vengeance, so let’s swap and start again. Ahab, littler, consumed with a cancer of anger and humiliation, pursues the dignified, differently-coloured, greater being – but the outcome is the opposite. The novel is no tragedy, therefore, but a moral fable telling of the power of nature, and the impotence of (human) hatred.

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romeo and juliet, & mahler’s 8th symphony

romeo and juliet (south woodford odeon, live-streamed from stratford (the other one)

like the rory kinnear macbeth, the dead rise and walk – and not just the scripted banquo; this romeo and juliet has first the slain mercutio and tybalt, and finally all the dead, facing us like zombies with a message – the cost of i) parental inflexibility and ii) a ‘culture of knife-crime’ Continue reading

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the town hall affair & the turn of the screw

the town hall affair

a live dramatic reconstruction of a real, filmed, public debate in early-seventies new york between writer and critic norman mailer and representatives of ‘women’s lib.’ notably germaine greer

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philosophy for life by rupert read, and bamford quaker community

philosophy for life: a series of essays by the green quaker norwich-based (uea) philosopher, chained together skilfully by editor m.a. lavery, this book is a serious, witty, and unashamedly intellectual attempt to take dame philosophie from her ivory tower and put her to use in the world of politics and political activism; for read, philosophy is a way of thinking critically, of unpacking and exposing the sleights of language with which the governing elites keep our thinking enchained Continue reading

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