Monday, February 13, 2006

not the post i meant to write.

What a great weekend. The sum total of my activity can be mathematically expressed thus: bugger all.

On Friday, I watched Batman Begins - a big sledgehammer of a film, with no space for nuance, character development, or indeed any characterisation outside hoary blockbuster stereotypes. Oh look, it's an inaccessible martial arts monastery thing. Cue the plinky plonky music and lots of impressive fights in the snow! What's this now? He was frightened of bats as a child? Ah, in finest Oprah fashion he's 'confronting his demons' by dressing up as a bat. (I realised, on this rationale, I would be the much-less-impressive superhero RecorderGirl, or possibly PE Lesson Woman.) What's that, Skippy? He's in love with a girl, but to know his true identity would put her in danger?

Actually, to be fair to the film, they dispatched that one pretty quickly, as poor old Bruce couldn't bear the thought that Katie Holmes thought he was just a shallow playboy, a lifestyle which He Did Not Enjoy At All. You could tell this, because Christian Bale's single facial expression, surely learnt at the Keanu Reeves School of Acting, was a mixture of ANGER and REGRET. Look, it seemed to say, you might think that driving a big nitrous-injected tank over rooftops is fun, but I am VERY SERIOUS.

I personally felt this was a real shame - I like a bit of breathless exuberance in my blockbusters. But it seems that ever since the disastrous cheesy Batman efforts of the 90s (Stand up, Arnold "The Iceman Cometh" Schwarzenegger, I'm talking to you) the only way to achieve credibility is to deny fun. As a result, cool fighty stunts which would make the average 10-year urinate with glee are tackled in the most irritatingly po-faced manner.

Strangely enough, po-facedness was quite lacking from the other film I saw this weekend, despite there being far more occasion for it. Cry Freedom is, like Gandhi, a sweeping Dickie Attenborough human rights epic. It tells the story of anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko, and a white journalist's attempt to publish his life story after Biko's extremely suspicious death from a 'hunger strike' in police custody. My companion, and indeed the instigator of watching the film (after I had waxed lyrical about my previous viewing of it, aged 15) was my housemate, who for the purposes of this blog shall be known as Max. I found him on the sofa on Saturday morning, clad in his distinctive weekend apparel of electric blue bathrobe and houmous, and the main character already dead. This being a Richard Attenborough film, that meant there was about two hours left to go.

Anyway, Cry Freedom is too good (and important, and worthy) a film to be flippant about. The music is fantastic, the scenery beautiful, and the story almost unbearably sad. It's handled with skill and sensitivity and the largest number of extras I've ever seen, and it resists the temptation to overplay the tragedy for cheap tear-jerking effect, recognising that the story itself is strong enough to be deeply affecting.

Well, look at that - a proper post. Imagine my excitement. That means I had better save Parte The Seconde for a bit later, as it's about Valentine's day. Don't worry, I shan't be writing about how I'm the First Person Ever to realise it's all a commercial enterprise, where makers of cards, chocolate and disgusting oversized stuffed toys cynically manipulate our collective paranoia (In other news, Christmas isn't just about the birth of Jesus). It'll be about laughter, and the good times, and playing Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now and Jeff Buckley's version of Hallelujah over and over at my dinner guests until they cry.

PS. Props to Dr Feelgood for realising, as I have, that Richard Hammond is taking over television. The pint-sized sexpot has been an obsession of this blog for some time - ever since topping Heat's Weird Crush Poll - and I too saw him on Petrolheads, the lamest panel show of all time (apart from that mental arithmetic one with Marcus du Sautoy on BBC4) and I felt a little piece of his soul die.

The man's a TV whore! He'll do anything - dog shows, pop-science programmes, health scare shows. I can't shake off this feeling he's having Alan Partridge's career in reverse. I note from his wikipedia entry that his next live gig is presenting... oh, no, you'll be glad I made you wait for this... here it comes... The British Parking Awards. At the Dorchester. And that noise you hear, as Bill Hicks would say, is the sound of him sucking Satan's cock.

Thankfully, it was obvious from last night's Top Gear that James May and Jeremy Clarkson are willing to stand up to him, referring to him as "TV's Richard Hammond" and keeping up the teeth-whitening gags for the fourth successive month. On that note, I should add that the Top Gear Winter Olympics special is one of the best pieces of TV I've seen recently, featuring as it did both James and Jeremy eating pissed-on snow. TV bigwigs take note - that's prime time entertainment.


Blogger Paul B said...

Petrolheads was crushingly weak. Chris Barrie has the unfortunate ability to suck all of the atmosphere out of anything he's involved in.

Although the sight of two blindfolded men trying to parallel park with only verbal instruction was briefly amusing. They should have had that round in Knightmare.

2/14/2006 4:37 pm  
Blogger bleakspouse said...

I liked Batman Begins - particularly the Scarecrow. Katie Pug Holmes tried her best to ruin it, but I consider her to have failed. All Bruce Wayne has is ANGER and REGRET (with a smattering of LUSTFUL VENGEANCE), so we can't blame Christian Bale.

I also saw Cry Freedom. Denzel Washington sounded like a Scots-Irish-Welsh-Australian.

Nice blog though!

2/14/2006 7:09 pm  
Blogger Artegall said...

The Hammond was supposed to be doing his show with several other celebs, but threw a big hissy fit at the fact that he was having to share air time with people 'not as talented' as him, and so they all told him to fuck off and did other things. That's sleb gossip, that is.

2/15/2006 3:35 pm  
Blogger Nkem said...

Hammond is everywhere, especially Q-list everywhere. Bravo +1, Sky 4, Reality TV, Gameshow TV, etc. Okay, I exaggerate, but you get the point.

Batman Begins, I only wish Christian Bale had remembered his British accent. Batman with a British accent, it's not as bad as you imagine.

2/15/2006 5:16 pm  

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