'That's right, that what I said...'

Life Taking things easy this final weekend of my holiday. You should know that I'm guest blogging for an absent Tinka so you should look here for a special Scene Unseen and there for everything else.

A Grand Day Out


A Grand Day Out
Originally uploaded by feelinglistless.

Apart from the logistics of getting all of these people in both cars, doesn't this look like an advert for margerine from the Seventies? I like that they've pitched up their own private picnicing space between the vehicles although again not everyone seems to be happy with their lot. Is the one in the middle thinking: 'I wish I was in Aya Napa ...'

'Are you Santa Claus?'

Life I can't remember the last really good Christmas film I saw. There have been some good examples were the time of year is incidentally or happens as part of a larger canvas. It's always a risk -- assumings its a Hollywood product, once it's a hit over there the distributor has to wait at least a year for an effective release elsewhere. Which is what happened to Bad Santa. I'm surprised this was released anywhere at all, because it's the least smaltzy Christmas film I've seen breaking many taboos and generally portraying the season as a horrible time of year. Imagine the darker recesses of an early 90s indie film. It's about a drunk who along with his dwarf buddy gain employment in department stores and malls as a Santa and an Elf in order to learn about then rob the place on Christmas Eve.

A black seasonal comedy then. It's brave. It's unusual. But if there is a problem with Bad Santa it's that it feels like it should be funnier than it actually is. Which isn't to say that their aren't some blissfully amusing moments, it just doesn't go for the jugular when you would expect. For example when the kids meet the 'Bad Santa' you would expect there to me a vast stream of material. Instead we just get his increasing impatience and ours because we aren't seeing enough of anything. The timing of some of the editing doesn't quite work. There are scenes in which characters bounce dialogue off one another but a cutaway at just the wrong second cuts through a punchline or reaction shot flattening the effect.

It's also not helped at times by Thornton's performance which has a habit of being inexpressive when it needs to be. This part would have been perfect in the hands of Steve Buscemi or Bill Murray who can do pain as well as comedy. Thornton fails to react at important moments when we need to know what his character's motives and when he needs to be charming -- for example in his romancing of Lauren Graham's barmaid. More often than not you're wondering what she's in this guy other than his Santa hat.

It's not a complete disaster though. Bernie Mac is amazing as the manager of a shopping centre. Tony Cox (who once played an Ewok) carries many of his scenes. And the late John Ritter (in his final live action film role) is unrecognisably oily and demonstrates how missed he will be. It's just not an easy film to love. And unfortunately that's what your looking for as Christmas starts to bite.

Three women, interior scene


Three women, interior scene
Originally uploaded by feelinglistless.

Now this reminds me of a European film from the 1970s. Rather than focusing entirely on the figures, the scene is balanced out by the glass door/window. Ironically it's that which stop the sunlight entering the room producing what is quite a ghostly scene. Again, the woman in the centre of the picture looks deeply unhappy to be there much as she has previously. Perhaps she's clairvoyant and realised that the Bush kid is going to be in power for Eight whole years.

"He's the American Neil Kinnock."

Politics As we all sat watching John Kerry's concession speech, Mum said: "He's the American Neil Kinnock."
"Except not Welsh." I said.
"No. But he was the best Prime Minister the country never had."
It's a good parallel. Even if you weren't a life long Labour supporter, even I can remember that you dredded the idea of another four or five years of the Conservatives in power expecially Thatcher. There was hoping and praying that the your fellow countrypeople wouldn't back down at the last minute, but yet it happened and Kinnock chances of power evaporated and the country was set on the political rollercoaster which carries on today.
"I'm too depressed to type anymore..." -- Neil, 'Tachyon TV'
John Kerry will indeed be the best president the US never had. Within his closing speech you could tell that he wouldn't be trying again in four years. He'd tried his best, the American people had rejected him and he was going to stand aside and let someone else try. The assumption is Hilary Clinton, and who would bet against her becoming the first woman president?
"I think lots of people just like George W Bush. When you like someone, you tend to trust them. I think the press has enabled this to a large extent, with its unwillingness to clearly indicate when the President and his surrogates have misled or even lied to the American people, but maybe that wouldn't have made as much of a difference as I think." -- Rebecca Blood, 'rebecca's pocket'
In the UK, the result has been met with genuine disbelief and sadness. For me it reflects an idea that a majority of Americans lack the critical faculties necessary to look at a person, look at their personality, their record, ethos, lifestyle and career and decide that in fact it wouldn't be in their best interests to have them as their representative in the world. That they lack the ability to question. Can it really be that the man got re-elected because he uses his own religious beliefs to guide policy choices in a way which led to the Spanish Inquisitions centuries ago and potentially hold back something so 'repellant' as progress.
"One likely factor in the Bush win was his silly but effective use of homophobic fear mongering over the right to marry. Ohio, the decider, came out in force to favor an amendment to their state constitution banning not only gay marriage, but any legal recognition of any union of any two people outside the marriage of a man to a woman, in essence telling everyone else to literally go fuck themselves. Thanks, Ohio!" -- Lance Arthur, 'Glass Dog'
The only real consolation is that this wasn't a landslide. That it was a very close run race which means that in fact the majority of Americans don't feel that way. Even if in Texas, Republican voters out classed Democrats by two-to-one, at least it wasn't three, four or even five-to-one. We can be thankful that people even in those states voted for change. Looking across this excellent results map at the BBC, in many states, even those which should have easily fallen to Bush, Kerry voters came very close to victory. That popular vote which will be thrown about as a ringing endorsement in the weeks ahead has mainly been propped up by voters in what you can comfortably call forgone conclusion states.
"I still don't understand why people voted for Bush, and I don't know why people had to take such underhanded tactics in this race -- I guess I'm just an idealist and trust in the underlying principles of democracy in respect to the latter. A co-worker who lives in Florida told me that residents were getting phone calls, telling them polling places were destroyed in the hurricane and to wait until the day after Election Day, when they'd be told where to go. The Election Committee had to go on TV there, telling people that wasn't the case at all and they weren't calling anyone and that polling places were open." -- Keith, 'Reality Remixed'
So yes I'm looking for the preverbial silver lining in a very dark cloud. But what I'm trying to say is that we can still look across the pond in hope. George Bush Jr might well be the president, he might well have a strong showing in Congress and the House of Representatives and he will no doubt feel like he can push though whatever policies he likes in the next four years. But the questioning process will continue. But more that ever people will be looking for the joins in the mask he puts on whenever he's trying to look and be presidential. His actions are going to be criticised more than ever and he's going to have to be extra-ordinarily careful about any indiscretions which his administration may have commited in the past or present, because an increasing sceptical media and bruised but intact Democratic Party will be waiting for their moment to pounce. Look at Nixon.
"i want so badly to remain hopeful, but at three in the morning i find myself in tears, filled with an outrage that i had not known possible. when all the world was full of possibility, this country bankrupted of a sense of justice folded under the weight of their own ego. what a disappointment you have become." -- anna kiss
When Mr Kerry finished speaking and his family and supporters joined him on stage, my Dad turned to me and asked: "How did Nader do?"

'Some random.' 'It's on random.' 'Oh.'

Life Met Suw Charman today. I was a bit nervous beforehand, and in fact when I telephoned her to see if I was in right place when her train didn't arrive in Birmingham quite on schedule, I contracted temporary amnesia and forgot which station I was standing in when she asked. Perhaps it was some previous experiences, and those differences which sometimes happen between how people are together online and then in the real world. The last thing I wanted after we'd both traveled half the way up or down the country to get together for us not to gel.

I needn't have worried. It was a really good day. Because it felt so easy. I can be a bit isolated at times because I don't tend to meet people who share the same interests -- who want to talk about film production or weblogging or for that matter even know what the latter is. There is something extraordinarily theraputic about being able to talk to someone for hours and hours without hesitation, with some repetition and lots of deviation, especially if they know what they're talking about. Sometimes as we walked about we got lost in the city or hit dead ends in shopping centres because of all the talking. I can't wait to for us to get together again soon.

Back in Liverpool by 8:30. Caught a taxi to Fani's place so that I could see her for the final time before she leaves tomorrow. It was emotional. Even though I know I'll see her again (either because I'll visit her home in Greece or because she'll be back here soon studying something else) I do feel like I'm letting a really good friend go. She's effected the who-I-am in ways I wouldn't be able to put into words and continues to do so. It's just going to be different in the future and I'm getting those guilty pangs about all the times when we didn't get together because work or tiredness got in the way. If there is something I've learnt from today it's that it's always worth making the effort to do anything because quietly unforgettable things can happen.

Links for 2004-11-01 [del.icio.us]

Links for 2004-11-01 [del.icio.us]

  • National Geographic asks an important question,
    and gives the only logical answer. Talking about hitting the nail on the head.
  • People Like Us (a PBS USA documentery)
    The spirit of Roy Mallard continues.
  • Film of the Day: Bob Roberts (1992)
    Watching this earlier. It's funny how the messages from this film are still prescient and still being ignored by a large proportion of the US population. Don't forget to vote tomorrow, please don't vote for another four years of that.
  • The Withnail and I Resource
    " This website features a comprehensive list of over 100 categorized links to the classic British comedy film - Withnail and I - Bruce Robinson's 1987 cult comedy."
  • Hippies (Off The Telly discovers)
    One of those sitcoms which seems ripe for re-appraisal considering the writers and the cast.
  • 'Thankerverymuch.'

    Film The real triumph of Bubba-Hotep is that is that it turns what could have been an extra-ordinarily camp idea -- Elvis battles The Mummy and turns it into a heartfelt and touching discussion of the aging process and how it quietly, slowly, reduces all the choices available to us, to the point that eventually we'll start generating our own. If this is supposed to be comedy drama I found it heartbreaking, especially that ending. Mission accomplished, but at what price?

    Outside The Mouse Hole


    Outside The Mouse Hole
    Originally uploaded by feelinglistless.

    We don't know what The Mouse Hole is. Gift shop, restuarant, pub, actual mouse hole? Am I the only one looking at this picture who could murder an ice cream right now?

    'Oh, now where is it?'

    Life For some time now, my little 40 gig hard disk has increasingly become a very cramped place. It's because my entire cd collection is on there, not really leaving much room for anything else. So with my birthday money I decided to invest in a new secondary hard disk. 120 gig. Which is were the modern world rears it's ugly head. Because my little computer is now variously ignoring its existence or else says it's only 8 gig across. I've Asked Mefi about it and they've various suggested that I hack the BIOS or go and buy a whole new computer, both of which sound a bit drastic. Anyone else got any ideas?

    Links for 2004-10-31 [del.icio.us]

    Links for 2004-10-31 [del.icio.us]

  • Peel Unplugged
    Simon Garfield, writer of 'The Nation's Favourite' collects together John Peel's best stories about himself.
  • Copyright and the Mouse: How Disney's Mickey Mouse Changed the World
    Who says that corporations aren't a law unto themselves?
  • Camera Photos
    I like cameras too
  • Jewel: Live At Humphrey's By The Bay
    I've never seen Jewel play live before (well live on dvd). I don't think I was prepared for how deadpan funny she is.
  • Brimful of Asha, Explained
    Extraordinary piece of research.
  • The Tribe (1998)
    Underrated Stephen Poliakoff film in which Jeremy Northam tries to keep himself away from a modernist hippy commune populated by people like Joely Richardson, Anna Friel and Laura Fraser. Basically impossible then.
  • The Esquire Cover Gallery since 1933
  • Teatime of the Dead
    Suw Charman meets Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright at a 'Shaun of the Dead' masterclass. Don't worry, when I finally met Gina McKee all I could say was 'I Liked The Passion' which thankfully was a mini-series she was in and she knew what I meant.
  • girl with a movie camera
    "diary of the making of a feature-length film, in production in Italy in the summer of 2004"
  • 'Tis the very witching time of night...'

    That Day Happy Halloween. There was a lantern parade through Sefton Park tonight as three hundred children strolled along the pathways, the way lit by Jack O'Lanterns, Unicorns and other mythic beasts. It ended at the lake with a fire display, and I could see it all the from the window of the flat vua the binoculars. I imagined to be another fragment from Jim Carrey's mind in Eternal Sunshine.... along with the elephants and beach covered in snow.

    So yes, I'm that age and thanks for all your greetings. As well as some money towards a new hard disk, I now have a Konica Minolta Zoom 80c 35mm camera which looks particular impressive when its 35-80mm lense is fully extended. Its a mid-range compact conventional. I'll post some pictures when I've taken some had them developed and scanned them in. We didn't go out to a restaurant this evening. Halloween is notoriously a nightmare anywhere so instead we stayed in for a carvery -- Dad cooked joints of beef, ham and lamb in the way only he seems to be able to. Pretty perfect day all around really and just what I needed.

    'I wan't to see the sea...'

    Blog! Viewropa launches. It's a collaborative weblog about my neck of the woods and multi-lingual. Innovative.