Sunday 13 November 2016

ELLE Review
"Elle" starring Isabelle Huppert
           Director: Paul Verhoeven       

Make no mistake about it, "Elle" is a great film, in the truest sense of the word. It returns substantial dividends over multiple watchings, provokes productive and frequently profound conversations and (no less importantly) fascinating trains of thought. Better than that though, like all true works of art "Elle" does all these things on multiple levels, simultaneously. Like a highly- faceted jewel "Elle" rewards close scrutiny from many angles. Simplistically, "Elle" is the story of  the  female  CEO/founder of a software company which develops and publishes games; as a woman in a very male environment, Elle has developed very thick skin and a self image so armoured that it has become borderline sociopathy. She runs her company the way that Patton ran the third Army. She is either an object of terror or hopeless adoration to the young nerds who work for her.
Unexpectedly (several members of the audience screamed) She is raped, at home, on her living room floor, violently. It is not pretty or "erotic", in fact you should join the front of the queue for castration if you find you like it. So far so normal. In fact to this point "Elle" bares strong resemblances to the standard "cookie cutter" rape schlockers that are almost a fetid genre in their own right. But here "Elle" changes the paradigm; in fact the film grabs it and twists it almost out of recognition, and most unexpectedly, it does it intelligently and with real artistry. Elle does not call the police. After a while she tells her family and friends at a dinner that is rather rich in dark satire for those so inclined. They are surprised by her "no police" stance, but know better than to push their luck by arguing with her. 

So far so good, Elle has gotten her way, but the tension starts to ramp up when she starts getting clues that she is being stalked in her big house with "20-something" windows and its big, dark garden. You can see the skeleton of a conventional thriller here, can't you? But "Elle" has stripped out the conventional from the genre; gone is the handsome and reliable police detective who may be falling romantically for Elle even as he protects her and who can be guaranteed to get the lion's share of the limelight at the climax. Gone are the two uniformed police ordered to protect her "Around the clock" - only to fail (one way or the other) at the last gasp. 

No. Putting it another way "Elle" isn't crap. Elle's  remarkably complicated character is on her own. This realisation is written clearly on her face. It is horrible to see, but she carries on functioning effectively in spite of her fear, in one of the most inspiring characterisations I've ever seen on film. And you can forget the barge-loads of  'gunplay revenge on the man that done her wrong' films that the Americans have been churning out for years - like, for example 'MS.45' aka 'Angel of Vengeance' or more recently 'Nocturnal Animals'.  'Elle' is above all, gloriously realistic, Elle's unique character drives her initial unique decision and as the stresses on her continue, we learn more about her as she learns more about herself and the people around her until to audience is left with a completely faceted and perfectly polished tragic heroine. At the end of the film you feel that you *know* Elle - you may not like her much, but as sure as dammit, you'll respect her, and probably quite a lot and, by extension you may be slightly more forgiving to the hordes of other Elles who inhabit the real world inadvertently (or blithely) offending most of the people they meet, even as reality chews on them and spits them out.

Alex Rieneck

Sunday 11 September 2016

Probably the thing I do most on the internet is look at porn. I don't know that I actually enjoy ity much but I certaibly seem to do it enough, to the point where  to some extent, I actively hate it. I don't mean I'm especially conflicted, convinced that looking at people fucking is "wrong" or Heehee"sinful" -no I just hate how much f(ucking) time it takes up-time when I could be doing something useful like writing or drinking tea or contributing to wesites, or stuff-you know; and to make matters worse a lot of the time that porn takes up is time waiting for the fucking ads to download. and to make matters even worse the ads are just so fucked they make your eyes bleed so you can't even see the porn. The was one ad-and I mean, what fuckwit came up with this? A small yellow-on-black animated gifwould appear saying "my Penis Exploded" the word "exploded would vibrate violently so you got the idea Now *this* is an inducement? Or a warning? I, for one, don't want my penis to explode, I mean, consider the wallpaper! And I find my penis quite useful, and over the years I've grown quite attached to it and I'd pretty sure I don't wan't it exploding-especially while I'm wanking it.I mean I remember all those horror stories from back before they banned firecracker night-back when people were blowing biits and pieces offf themselves and other people with the explosives we lovingly knew as "bungers" -and can you imagine nowadays? Some mad, porn equipped ISIS crazed by Allah and some sort of radish Mullah, wanking under his robes until his penis *exploded*-blood and bodies everywhere- Tony Abbott finding the carnage slightly harder  to describe as the work of a "death cult"considering the way that the casualties have been fucked- and if you're still with me; considering the apocalyptic power contained within his own body- sine he is of course the largest penis in the world

Friday 1 April 2016

Eye in th Sky Review

I hadn't heard of  "Eye in the Sky" until I found it inadvertently on the "Fliks" App on my phone at about 10am. Helen Mirren *and* Alan Rickman put the film miles ahead of any number of computer generated animals in the desirability stakes and I put my money on a 12.20pm session at the Palace Norton Street without anything in the way of qualms and I must admit without having read any reviews. I figured that any project that could attract two actors of the calibre of Mirren and Rickman had to have something to offer and since the trailer didn't imply the doling out of vast salaries, I figured I could expect a good script, the opportunities for decent acting and, likely, good direction. As it turned out my bet on the desirability stakes paid off, but it was a closer race than I would have expected and had it been an actual race at the finish I might well have screamed myself horse, Or hoarse, of course.

The subject is bloody interesting and pertinent. A remotely piloted drone flies around over a war-torn hellhole of a city. ten thousand miles away laundered, pommaded bureaucrats sit around discussing the most efficient way they can use it to kill people to get what they happen to want. Thats the gist of it, there is some emotional knee-jerk McGuffinry thrown into the mix to get the audience to take sides, but as far as I was concerned the "fact" that the target was planning a suicide bombing and other similar blather rather failed to interest me, instead what interested me was this pack of upper crust  British sociopaths in the true J.G. Ballard vein doling out unexpected death on the other side of the planet and weighing up the benefits against the consequences in the same way that a small company fine-tunes an advertising campaign. 

In fact in that image I am drawing close to what I see as the main flaw in "Eye in the Sky." - throughout the film, the leads never falter in their overpowering respect for human life; voices vibrate with gravitas at the responsibility of their power at blowing the crap out of somebody on the far side of the planet- but there is never much doubt that the targets at the other end of the chain are going to get fucked up - after all, they're a different colour and wear a different kind of hat, and you can't buck those sort of disadvantages- just look at the weight of history. And as far as history goes, just look at YouTube - the people who *really* do this for a living seem to have a  far more exuberant attitude to the job - or at least they did until most of the "offensive" videos were redacted, and "Eye in the Sky" appeared.  In their absence I am left weighing up the bathos of the feature film against the evidence of "Collateral Damage"  (,  But that "Eye in the Sky" is basically propaganda is neither here nor there, given the tenor of the times it could hardly be anything else, but as propaganda goes, it is restrained, and for the most part keeps its bias almost imperceptible. 

Its a difficult line to tread and it treads it well, as a film "Eye in the Sky" is consistently engrossing withe the acting, skill and direction  of an impressively high standard. Helen Mirren particularly ticked my boxes and I feel no qualms in saying that I gained almost as much pleasure from the sight of her trim camo clad butt as I did from her acting - which is no criticism of the film (or her) but rather an admission of  craven fandom for the great Ms Mirren who has been a movie star almost since before I was old enough to appreciate trim bottoms. Alan Rickman too is here in what will probably prove to be his last work and, rather like Peter Sellers he appears to have performed the rather neat trick of capping a good career that had a lot of crappy films in it, with a good performance in a good solid film though while this is no "Being there" neither is it a "Die with a Stiffie" episode and offers some credibility as a serious work. I have every intention of seeing it again and paying more attention to Alan Rickman and perhaps the script than thegenteel magnetism of Ms Mirren, if, in these benighted times, such a thing is actually possible.

Sunday 21 February 2016

Once upon a time....

once upon a time, a very long time ago, Apple was out in the dark, benightificated, all it had to eat was the grindings of it's increasingly blunt teeth and the bits of profit it could pick off Newton's head.(That's a JOKE boy! I keep pitching 'em and you keep missing them!) Then Steve came back and squeezed the Apple brand so hard it changed colour and became see-through. He kept on squeezing, longer than was wise some smarties said, until the imacs went all spotty, went"e" and were reborn, as white as ghosts  with a new CPU

In the process, on the shoulder of a wave of multicoloured iMacs, Apple produced the iphone 1 and the world simply shat. In truth it wasn't that wonderful and now five generations later, it'd only be an interesting museum exhibit (and one I'd like to play with but never mind) but the phone was so much in the way of "new" that the world could barely believe it, it was as if aliens had given the human race a pocket-portable wipe-clean internet complete porn machine. With one giant lurch (I would hazard a guess) birthrates dropped, eyesight got worse, emoticons mutated into colour and 3d, people got (It*was* possible!) Even stupider, and Apple shares bulked up, went green, announced "Hulk angry!" and just headed north.

Then Steve Jobs found that herbal tea didn't cure cancer but that Cancer cured just about everything, especially gullible illusions about herbal tea and the hubris of headstrong genius billionaires, and Steve died and the jackals at the other phone companies started feeding on his rotting body. Apple shares started smelling funny, and dropped in value. People started telling me that (for example) Samsung Phones were "just as good as Apple ones" and *standing their ground* even after I vomited on them! Night seemed to be falling again. Then Apple announced the apple watch and it all happened again. The world freaked out, the stock tickers overheated and caught fire, and it was the turn of the watch companies to see their stocks drop in the esteem of our fickle, fickle world.

It's interesting, I bought an Apple watch - it replaced the Pulsar that I could no longer fit on over my dysfunctional left hand, which replaced the Seiko automatic I'd worn for years for no rational reason.  

Review: How to be Single

the strangest thing, I found, about "How to be single" was that I kept getting the title wrong. I had laughed out loud at the trailer several times and my carer and I had started calling the film "the tit-punch film" after a line of dialogue in the trailer - we both knew it wasn't called that, but in the interests of communication we didn't care. We talked it over and I asked the ticket girl at the multiplex for two to "Learning to be Single" and she did a double take and corrected me, giving me tickets to the right film there being, due to some failure, only one film on with "single" in the title. 

The film started, I laughed a few times, true the jokes weren't especially witty but neither were they retarded and I wasn't ashamed to acknowledge the humour with a laugh. The film went on, tracing a indirect course between shallow and rubbishy on one hand and misplaced attempts at depth on the other. The film has a running time of ten minutes short of two hours and by the hour -and-a-half mark I was fatigued, fidgety and becoming crotchety. I  found myself starting to channel Kurt Vonnegut and mutter things like "If they think they can fob us off with *that* as an ending they can take a flying fuck at the MOON!" (I didn't shout "moon" but I may have muttered it more loudly-out of respect for Kurt Vonnegut). In any event I was very pleasantly surprised; the film saved up it's philosophical big guns to the very end and actually moved me to tears in the last few minutes of its running time and better than that  explained its own title in a sensible adult manner. 

It was weird. for about 107 minutes I thought I'd been watching a fairly trite RomCom then I found the reverse was the truth.

Thursday 21 January 2016

"Carol" Review.

Its probably for the best if I admit it right up front, from the shoulder, a goodly percentage of the reason that I ponied up the cash for a ticket to see "Carol was simple  prurienc e- I wanted to see Kate Blanchett "do" lesbian sex.- An admission which is rather sad in itself but which I had been able to justify to myself in various ways. The film had excellent reviews, a highly regarded director and was obviously not going to bea cheap perve, either to make, or to watch. In any event "Carol" promised to be an interesting experience, on several levels. First (which I should have expected) the course of true love does not run smooth Carol is in the process of divorcing a creepy bloodless vampire of a man who does his best to derail Carol's new life as much as possible. To give the film it's due I found myself frequently wishing that the character would simply drop dead and let the more pleasant aspects of the plot have free rein, Which is of coutse to bring us back to the core of the film; Carol (Kate Blanchett) a wealthy woman in the process of  a passionless divorce, meets  Therese Bliviet (Rooney Mara) when she serves her in a department store while she is christmas shopping. She is strogly (and beautifully minimistically) attracted to her By "Happy accident" they meet outside the store and inexorably a romantic connection develops between them. This part of the film is simply beautiful; Tentative, kind, light of touch and, from my personal experience, exactly like the first stages of a love affair. It made me feel quite nostalgic for happy times past One scene in particular tickled my fancy Therese (theyoung girl) sits at a piano and pick out a series of what sounded to me like random atonal notes there "proving " an inability to play. Carol, standing behind her listens and says "that's beautiful" with the rose-tinted ears of the early stage besotted. I giggled. I've been there, on both sides of the piano.

Carol's husband embrace's his inner arsehole and starts demanding sole custody of "their" child. This is the 1950's and women who love other women are opressed-disqualified from motherhood by reason of "low morals." Rather late in the day the film has found an axe to grind and grinds it with gusto- but mercifully, not for long. the film ends with long soulful glances that had this romantically amputated reviwer weeping with nostalgia and hope not unalloyed with simple wonder at the intensity of Kate Blanchett and Roony Mara's acting

Do I recommend Carol?Unreservedly- unless you are so sort of Christian/Muslim who has abandoned beauty and humanity for your sociopathic version of the "truth"-not that youu would haveread this far anyway