Monday, 31 July 2006

All Apologies

Joe Queenan once set up a small website to apologise to all those people he'd been unnecessarily mean to. It was mostly just a chance to replay all the really mean things he'd said about some celebrities or other and keep them all in one, handy place. Unfortunately it's not there anymore and I can't find a copy anywhere, but as a non-apology masquerading as an apology it was one of the funniest. I attempted a similar trick myself when I'd spent a previous night thinking up ways a holidaying American's girlfriend could be cuckolding him and then apologised the next day for being harsh eg. "You know when I said she was probably on all-fours right now being taken from behind by some muscly black guy with a cock the size of a baby's arm holding an apple. Yeah? Well I'm sorry I said that". Sadly in his apology to Keefer Sutherland in The Guardian Queenan doesn't take this approach, although he does take a side-swipe at Bridget Fonda:
Though I stand by my criticism of his early films, which were putrid, there is no doubt that I allowed my hatred of nepotism to blind me to the potential Sutherland clearly possessed. I still doubt that Sutherland would have succeeded had he not been Donald Sutherland's son. This does not alter the fact that he has succeeded. This is a lot more than you can say of Bridget Fonda.

A couple of non-apologies do slip in, though, Anthony Quinn, film critic for The Independent, is sorry he didn't make it clearer that Life Is Beautiful stinks and Jim Shelley, TV critic for the Mirror is sorry he wasn't harsher on Lindsey Corkhill.

Thursday, 27 July 2006

Reasons I Don't Understand Ann Coulter

From the News Blog comes this exchange where scary pundit Ann Coulter tries to suggest that Bill Clinton is gay because he can't keep off the pussy...

Ms. COULTER: I think that sort of rampant promiscuity does show some level of latent homosexuality.
DEUTSCH: OK, I think you need to say that again. That Bill Clinton, you think on some level, has — is a latent homosexual, is that what you’re saying?
Ms. COULTER: Yeah. I mean, not sort of just completely anonymous — I don’t know if you read the Starr report, the rest of us were glued to it, I have many passages memorized. No, there was more plot and dialogue in a porno movie.

Steely Dan Are Higher Than You'll Ever Be

Apparently they're pissed off that new Owen Wilson comedy "You, Me & Dupree" is a rip-off of "Cousin Dupree" from Two Against Nature, which, it seems, they wouldn't mind so much if it didn't suck or they'd got paid or something. Anyway they wrote an open letter to Luke Wilson:
Your bro may be creating an extremely retrograde reality matrix for himself with his whole sellout moveistar game and there may be some righteous dudes to pay, amen.

Wednesday, 26 July 2006

When You Put It Like That...

Not Coming To A Theatre Near You's review of Lethal Weapon:
Is it possible that Mel Gibson is the world’s most conflicted, self-hating homosexual? There’s the rampant, uncontrolled homophobia, a good first sign. Then of course we have his celebrated obsession with flagellation and torture, a good Catholic boy’s desperate atonement for some unnamed, unforgivable sin. In this film alone he gets to use the word ‘fag’ more than once, refers to lesbianism as ‘disgusting’, shows his naked backside, gets brutally tortured and finally beats Gary Busey almost to death, the hapless bad guy pinned betwixt Gibson’s heaving thighs until he cries for mercy. Hell, even the title is questionable. It all points to a man wrestling not only with special forces terrorists but with his very nature, an apocalyptic battle, God and parentally instigated notions of propriety duking it out with Gibson’s deepest desires. Let it go, Mel! Don’t live a lie! We will all be forgiven in the end, even you.

Monday, 24 July 2006

Pretentious? Moi?

Ten-Bob Dylan holds the opinion that when people describe a movie as pretentious it almost always means that the reviewer didn't get it and that, as such, pretentious is useless as a critical description.

If nothing else it's an idea that stops you from using it without thinking, at least a bit, about whether the word is appropriate.

Well, I watched Stay and a bigger load of pretentious twaddle I couldn't imagine. It's Jacob's Ladder with pretentions to Mulholland Drive, but so wholly worried with how the next scene transition is going to be achieved that everything else seems secondary. It doesn't help that Ewan McGregor seems to act even less here than he did in Phantom Menace, being content to look mildly confused while wearing yellow trousers, which were, no doubt, significant of something.

In Praise Of The Hoff

Shrug over at MSN's Music Filter lays out MSN's policy on The Hoff:
So, with this axiom uppermost in our minds, we will not be mentioning anything regarding David Hasselhoff, unless the item can be objectively described as:
  • An artistically historic item which will be seen by future generations as a milestone in the development of future aesthetics; or

  • A grave, catastrophic federal emergency.



Before find an example that qualifies as both...

Wednesday, 19 July 2006

It's A Thin Line Between Stupid And Clever

Via Fark comes Top 10 Dumbest Online Business Ideas That Made It Big Time.
3. Doggles
Create goggles for dogs and sell them online? Boy, this IS the dumbest idea for a business. How in the world did they manage to become millionaires and have shops all over the world with that one? Beyond me.

Monday, 17 July 2006

Eric Clapton Never Did Shoot A Sheriff...

That tends to be my generic answer to any argument about how violent some music (sub) culture that the speaker doesn't really understand is. Though pedants will then point out that it's a cover of a Bob Marley song, which combines astonishing pedantry with a high level of point missing. Most notably due to Bob saying this about the song:
"I want to say 'I shot the police' but the government would have made a fuss so I said 'I shot the sheriff' instead... but it's the same idea: justice."

That is, Bob Marley realised he could be in a lot of trouble for the song. I doubt it ever troubled Eric in quite the same way.

Anyway, notable humanitarian Bono is caught up with a lot of similar silliness about a computer game, Mercenaries 2. The original Mercenaries was an addictive GTA-alike, but with better weapon control, that involved blowing up large parts of a fantasy version of Korea. It's a lot of fun when it's not being totally frustrating — the boss levels ramped up the difficulty while not allowing you to save. Bono bought into the company that made this game and now they are making a sequel that will involve blowing up large parts of a fantasy version of Venezuela.

Naturally any number of leftys have called foul:
The Case for Impeachment co-author Dave Lindorff [...] say[s], "This kind of right-wing war game plays to the propaganda message that the Bush White House has been pushing for years: that Chavez is a dictator oppressing his people... Bono should use his financial interest in the company to kill it, or better, he should pull out entirely as an investor, and condemn such imperialist garbage."


Penny Arcade get to the root of just why this is so daft, only using a different kerfuffle over Las Vegas' protrayal in game.

Reasons I Don't Understand America Part 8

Via Roy at alicublog, comes a post from someone called Josh Trevino. He's decided to pontificate on 7/7 and how the British somehow seemed to regard it as just something that happened rather than any excuse to level Leeds, or something:
One year later, there is still the same madness and denial in the mother country. Iqbal Sacranie is still a knight of the realm. The Labour party still wants to ban the public mockery of Islam. The intelligentsia still indulge in pro-Islamist lip service whenever the subject of Israel arises. One can’t murder enough of them to change their minds, it seems. It’s almost as if they didn’t notice.

Roy re-casts this succinctly as:
The terror attacks of July 7, 2005 did not break the will of the British People. Well, better luck next time!

Even beter, though, is in the comments, Josh feels the need to futher explain:
Europe is not a lost cause, and even if it were, we should not stop fighting for it. I really do think that piety, in the classical sense, demands this much.

You're fighting for us, Josh? Well I hadn't noticed, but if you're ever in Austria there's a cold Guinness waiting for you in thanks!

Vince Noir

I'm still not sure what the etiquette is on this, and I certainly don't want to be overly gushy or anything, but one of my daily must-reads Vince Keenan linked to me recently. This made me very happy and boosted my Technorati rank to around 700,000, which, given that they track 48 million sites, I figured was impressive.

My site meter, though, didn't get the mighty boosh I expected from this, so I'm guessing not everybody is reading Vince on a the same daily basis as me. My handful of readers, you should. He has a way with a review that reminds me a bit of David Thomson, in that, after setting out the basics of a film, or book, he tells you simply, and to the point, how he felt about it. No disappointed fan-boy nit-picking, no over-written analysis of every scene in minute detail and no breathless gibbering over whatever it is they get so excited about over at AICN, just how he felt. He has a taste for the hard-boiled, but if this doesn't make you want to watch The Devil Wears Prada, nothing will:
Meryl Streep has somehow unearthed whole new reserves of joy in performing. Watching her now is like watching the late-career Brando, both of them utterly at ease and yet fiercely committed, relishing their craft enough to toss it off. Only with Meryl there’s no sense of squandered opportunity. Just the opposite.

Go. Enjoy.

Thursday, 13 July 2006

Laughs In The USSR

Via Boing Boing comes an article in Prospect Magazine about jokes as resistance to communist regimes:
In the 1960s, the Soviet bloc was deluged by a flood of new jokes. There were around 20 subcategories. The most popular theme was the economy: One housewife to another: "I hear there'll be snow tomorrow"—"Well, I'm not queuing for that." There were jokes about Soviet propaganda: The capitalists are standing at the edge of the abyss. Soon communism will overtake capitalism. There were gags about Marxist-Leninist theory: Why is the individual placed in the centre of socialism? So it's easy to kick him from all sides. There were jokes about communist art: What is the difference between painters of the naturalist, impressionist and the socialist realist schools? The naturalists paint as they see, the impressionists as they feel, the socialist realists as they are told. There were jokes about communist-style democracy: When was the first Russian election? The time that God put Eve in front of Adam and said, "Go ahead, choose your wife." And, of course, there were Jewish communist jokes: "Hey Hymee, how's your brother Joseph?" "He's living in Prague and building socialism." "And didn't you have a sister, Judith—how's she doing?" "She's well too—living in Budapest and creating a communist future." "And your older brother Bernie?" "Oh he moved to Israel." "And is he building socialism there too?" "What, are you crazy? Do you think he'd do that in his own country?"

Wednesday, 12 July 2006

All Over

Everyone and his blog is linking to this solution to Sudoku. I always figured it was a mechanical process to beat it and that where a crossword can pass the time by being clever, witty and frustrating, Sudoku just managed the last of those. Now it comes down to just being boring...

Tuesday, 11 July 2006

One For Ten-Bob

Via 3 Quarks Daily comes an interesting article on Poker odds. In particular that the odds on a hand winning can reverse depending on how many players you are up against:

Which of the following has the best chance of winning against somebody else’s (unknown, obviously) cards at a showdown?

Jack-10 suited
Ace-7 unsuited
Pair of 6’s.

[T]he miracle is that the relative strength of the three hands reverses when we go from one opponent to four. Against one other player, the sixes stand the best chance, followed by the A7, followed by the JTs (where “s” stands for “suited”). But against four, JTs is the most likely of the three to win, while the sixes are the least.


Head-ache inducing stuff.

Monday, 10 July 2006

Review by Reviewer

Stephan Metcalf doesn't like The Searchers. It's a problematic movie, to be sure: it's difficult to feel sympathy for a racist, some of the humour is dated and Wayne acts the way he always did which is good or bad depending on how you view that -- and I'll go out on a limb and say I like it. It seems though that Metcalf mostly dislikes the movie because of the people who rate it:
[I]t is widely considered, by the initiated, at least, to be among the four or five best movies of all time. At his maiden screening, a young Cahiers du Cinema critic named Jean-Luc Godard wept, later adding, "How can I hate John Wayne … and yet love him tenderly … in the last reel of The Searchers?" Martin Scorsese and Paul Schrader routinely name The Searchers as one of their favorite films[.]

And also those who don't:
Not coincidentally, pop critics like Pauline Kael, who found much in the film "awkward," "static," and "corny," and Roger Ebert, who finds the movie flawed and "nervous," have been the most vocal dissenters in the cult of The Searchers.

This being the blogosphere someone has already penned a much more thorough take-down of Metcalf's review, in this case Bryan McKay, who I mostly agree with even if he spoils it with the last, insanely pompous, paragraph:
Well, I'll take my small, challenging films any day over a piece of commercial fluff. Let me endure three hours of von Trier's torturously beautiful melodrama; let me stew over Godard's intentionally distanciating and difficult pictures; let me take all these films off your hands, Metcalf, because I'm guessing they weren't meant for you.

Robert Farley over at Lawyers, Guns & Money spots another flaw in Metcalf's argument:
The problem I have with Metcalf is that he seems to think that because The Searchers leaves open questions that can be talked about, it's a failure as a movie.

Yeah, I totally hate it when movies just leave questions hanging there and fail to explain everything properly...

Thursday, 6 July 2006

Unmovies

Bright Lights Film Journal has an article by Robert Castle on what he calls unmovies:

All movies have the potential to become a non-movie, particularly when the movie showcases a cause, a disease, a celebrity, an actor’s virtuosity, a play or musical. The movie becomes an exhibition and stops moving, the cinematic version of a blood clot. An aesthetic stroke or heart attack results. The movie rigidifies into a carcass I shall call an Un-Movie.

Un-Movies are everywhere and often cleverly disguised to pass for movies, even enormously popular movies. They are not necessarily unenjoyable, as the exhibition or showcase might favor a popular cause or entertainer or both.

He first cites Ladder 49 as a recent example, a movie that only exists to praise fire-fighters in a post-9/11 world. Castle is right about it, because the movie's higher purpose allows it to eschew plot it becomes a series of scenes and clich├ęs strung together for whatever length the producer felt the movie should be.

Castle points out a couple of other moies that this happens to too, and by the end of the article you will probably be compiling your own list. I, for example, ended up thinking how The Negotiator (1998) only seems to exist to have Sam Jackson and Kevin Spacey act at each other making much of the rest of it seem superfluous, despite quite a number of fine support players (David Morse, Ron Rifkin, Paul Giamatti, JT Walsh).

Tuesday, 4 July 2006

A Couple Of Links To Drive You Insane

The Original 1969 Sesame Street version of Mah-Nah-Mah-Nah
Piero Umiliani - Mahna Mahna

From The Mind Of Russell T Davies

QS: Well, the UK has Tom Baker, and we have William Shatner.

DAVIES: (laughing)! Do you think we’re better off?

QS: You know what, I’d like to see the two of them go head-to-head for an interview program.

DAVIES:
I’d like to see the two of them kissing. (laughing)!

QS: You know what? You need to produce When William Shatner met Tom Baker…

DAVIES:
Can you imagine? That would be brilliant! (laughing)!

QS: "One came from the US, one from the UK. They met. They fell in love..."

DAVIES: (laughing) It’s a classic boy meets boy story.

QS: I think you’re sold on this...

DAVIES:
(laughing)!

QS: Forget Torchwood - here’s your spin-off.

DAVIES:
Exactly.

From a very charming interview on Quick Stop Entertainment (via Tachyon TV -- where fanboys go to be disappointed). Apparently the US are just getting the Boxset of the first of the new series of Doctor Who and this is a bit of promotion for it.

Monday, 3 July 2006

So, That's That Then

Did Rooney get the red-card for stamping on the other bloke or for pushing Ronaldo? Does it matter now? Which is worse: Rooney's temperament or Ronaldo being a tool?

Anyway it's all over now. I will watch the rest of the matches and probably cheer on France because they can play quite well when they want to...