Friday, 29 August 2008

Sleep is for the weak...

...and those who are tired and wish to rest themselves before the new day begins.

However I don't have that luxury today.

After coming back from York, where I was a holidaying, on Wednesday, so I could be in work for 6pm to do a late shift, of which I got back home at 1am, I then embarked upon another late shift this fine eve, where I got back home at half 3. I am currently supping beer and contemplating my next move, which is to return to York for the rest of Friday and come back from York Saturday morning.

Now this may seem like a silly idea seeing that I will only get to spend one day in York, to which I say "Pushawww!", for a few reasons. Firstly because it's fun to say and secondly because it'll be spent in good company and in a beautiful city. To ensure that I get the maximum amount of time possible in York I'm going to get a train from Raynes Park at the most excellent time of 5:49, whereby I shall arrive in York at 8:55, get upon a bus of mostly unknown origin which will hopefully take me to Heslington, where the rest of those I was holidaying with reside. With luck this will mean that I shall have an enjoyable morning, afternoon and with luck evening in York before I have to return the next morn.

This may all sound like a pile of madness, but who cares I spent £50 on a train ticket and I'm going to flipping use it! I'm not going to get any sleep for a good while meaning that the last day of my holiday will be either utterly awesome due to sleep deprivation or completely crap for the same reason.

Anyway I'm off for a shower because I forgot my deodorant and I'm a tad sweaty from being in a stuffy office.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Review: Get Smart

Get Smart has a lot of problems. A real, serious list of problems. And, honestly, not too many plus points. Steve Carell bumbles along and does his thing, playing the same kind of earnest, socially uncomfortable character he has done many times. He and Hathaway bounce off each other pretty well, particularly early on in the film, and there's some good slapstick and some nice one liners. That, unfortunately, is pretty much it for the good side of the film.

The plot manages somehow to be both confusing and predictable. There are no plot points or twists that you won't predict beforehand, and at the same time, the individual scenes and story arcs seem forced, unrealistic, and occasionally bafflingly amateurish. There's a moment in the middle of the movie in which it seems like a scene has been completely removed, and the whole second half of the film feels like a mish-mash of exposition and set-piece stunts. The first half is a bit better, and at least feels more like a coherent story, but suffers from the same underlying issue, in that it seems like a series of jokes or funny situations held together tenuously by expositional dialogue and stunts.

The characters are depressingly one-dimensional. There's some attempt to make Carrell and Hathaway's relationship a little deeper, but it is mostly confounded by the strange and meandering plot construction. Every other character in the piece is a caricature, with characteristics brought in for a single joke. It's a problem that plagues a lot of mainstream comedies, but it keeps happening. There is nothing intrinsically interesting about any of the support characters in this film, even the main antagonist. In fact the whole of KAOS seems massively underdeveloped, as though the writers knew they needed some 'bad guys', but couldn't be bothered to make them anything more than cardboard cutouts. I don't know if Terence Stamp forgot to take his acting pills, but his performance seemed so bizarrely out of place as to almost be deliberate.

In any case, the single joke for which each character is set up usually works, but I only counted three or four laughs that weren't in the trailer. There's also a somewhat distasteful vein of visual gags throughout based on the idea that fat people are intrinsically hilarious, and though it doesn't come up a huge amount, it's there enough to damage the film.

Finally, it's impossible to look at a spoof spy movie without making a comparison with Austin Powers. Personally I very much like all the Austin Powers films, a minority view perhaps, but I feel like even their harshest critic must conclude that they handle the genre (if it can be called that) with much greater skill than Get Smart. Austin Powers' characters may be stereotypes, but they are knowing stereotypes. The relationship between protagonist and antagonist is fleshed out and consistent, the jokes are abstract and witty, and the script makes the plot funny, rather than being a track to allow for particular scenes and set pieces.

Taken as a whole, of course, Get Smart isn't a terrible movie. It's diverting, has a few good laughs and a few good scenes and Carell and Hathaway are bearable. The problem is I don't really understand why it was made. There is no big idea, no real revelations, no moral, and no point to it. Everything about it is grotesquely, tooth-grindingly generic. And while that doesn't necessarily make for a bad film, it certainly doesn't warrant any kind of recommendation.


Monday, 25 August 2008

"You floppy-wanded Dementor buggerer!"

Strictly non-canon, funny in an incredibly bizarre and often slightly wrong way - it's The Potter Puppet Pals.

Some are better than others (check out Wizard Swears for the origin of the title post), but they're short viewing and strangely compulsive. I prefer the ones with actual finger puppets to the animations, but they're all good fun.

Below is a favourite, ("I think I'm going through puberty!!") :

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Brief Olympic Review

So the Olympics have come to a close after a fascinating two weeks. Say what you like about the overly or underly political nature of the coverage, about the arbitrariness of the sports included, and the morality of spending £20bn on a single sporting event instead of on more deserving causes, but the fact is that the games were a great success.

The logistics and security were seemingly expertly handled, and the coverage by the BBC was amongst the best and most comprehensive I can remember. Short of providing constant video of every single event, the BBC coverage did everything it could have to showcase the best examples of modern sporting achievement. The massive amount of video now archived on the BBC website, alone, is a fantastic resource, allowing anyone to relive moments of drama and achievement, whenever and wherever. This, combined with the live streams online and via television made accessing Olympic action easier and more rewarding than ever, and the BBC deserve massive congratulations for doing so.

Aside from the obvious highlights of Bolt's three and Phelps' eight golds, my highlights of the games were:

- The GB men winning the coxless fours for the third time in a row with a brilliantly timed surge.
- Matthias Steiner winning a hugely emotional weightlifting gold for Germany.
- The taekwondo judges go against massive local pressure to reverse a decision and reinstate GB's Sarah Stevenson, at the cost of a Chinese athlete.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

17 things I learned this week

The most frustrating start to the working day may be to fill a bowl with cereal, sugar and fruit only to find there is no milk. And to then toast some bread, only to find there is no butter.

Pre-ordering something from Amazon is no guarantee of actually receiving it. Ever.

Having a crocked phone return from temporary fixedness back into brokenitude can reduce even the best day to tooth-grinding frustration.

None of the five phone shops on the high street will sell a handset on its own.

Phone shops are all identical and all feel like estate agents (or would do, if estate agents didn't now feel like trendy wine bars).

I can quite happily spend 7 hours sitting in a chair painting warhammer models by lamplight.

Spending 7 hours sitting in a chair painting warhammer models by lamplight can cause back cramps, hand cramps, reduced vision and a total loss of street cred.

Cooking rice is more difficult than I thought.

Spending two minutes with one's hand under a cold tap after burning it on a pan lid is exactly the right amount of time to forget how the burn was acquired, causing one to burn their other hand in exactly the same way.

Spending ages holding one's hands under cold water after burning them is a good way to also allow rice to burn.

It is entirely possibly to cook two things in the same pan and leave one dangerously undercooked whilst burning the other.

It is possible to cause the racks in dishwashers to collapse.

When the racks in dishwashers collapse, all the plates in the dishwasher fall over.

The sound of all the plates in a dishwasher falling over is loud, unpleasant and terrifies cats.

The other effect of all the plates in a dishwasher falling over is that many of the plates become chipped and/or broken.

After waiting for months for a holiday from work, I now can't relax because I'm worried that my colleagues will discover all of the crappy work I do that can only be successfully concealed when I'm there to actively hide it.

Once started, watching the West Wing, even for the third time, is not something it is possible to stop doing.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Onion unwanted

Second only to soft drink half measures in my rage-inducing food-and-drink-related issues is when a meal I ordered turns out to have unexpected additions.

Case in point, if I order a "hand-made beef burger with cheese and bacon", I don't expect the otherwise delicious burger to be packed full of little pieces of onion. Perhaps the chef decided that it tastes better that way, and perhaps many people would appreciate the addition, but it violates the simplest of rules: if it's not on the menu, don't put it in the fucking meal.

If I decide that a salad I'm making would be improved with a few shavings of bacon in it, but fail to advertise this on the menu, I'm lining myself up to be faced with some very angry vegetarians, not to mention all the other groups for whom pork is objectionable.

The anti-onion lobby is admittedly smaller, but it is nevertheless extant. Some people just don't like bits of onion in their food, and if you put them in without announcing it, all you're going to do is piss off a portion of your clientèle.

So thanks unnamed pub in which I had lunch, for letting me buy something I didn't actually want to eat.

Superhero circle 7

Despite my pessimism at the end of the previous post, we're back with another one. Nothing else happened in between, clearly, but that doesn't matter - more posts just means more to read, and who wants that?

If you don't know what this is, the original is here, and the rest are listed here.

Adhesive Thirteen: Brings unlucky criminals to a sticky end.

beaten by

Teflon Clover: Wreaking havoc with its four razor sharp leaves.

beaten by

Blarney Stone: Defeats clover with its Irish bluntness.

beaten by

Talkative Chain Gang: "Smashing the Blarney Stone, here, boss!".

beaten by

Wire-cutters of silence: Freeing the prisoners in return for a promise of quiet...

beaten by

Adamantium Banshee: It's always quietest before the SCREAM.

beaten by

Silent Film: Both better and less aurally traumatic than Scream.

beaten by

13-year-old boy: If it hasn't got three explosions in the first five minutes, he's not interested.

beaten by

15-year-old girl gang: Lank, spotty and underdeveloped, but still capable of destroying self esteem well into middle age.

beaten by

The Gossip-Monger: Splitting up groups of girls within minutes of their formation.

beaten by

Misinformation Devil: Causes his enemies to discredit themselves in soul destroying

beaten by

The Internet: With this much data, specific misinformation just fades into the background.

Not the greatest we've ever done, but a good one in a pinch, and nice to break a week or so without a post. Should have some more stuff coming over the next week or so hopefully, so fingers crossed you weren't enjoying the silence too much.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Superhero Circle 6

As promised, one week on, another Superest-style doodle collection. Original is here, and the rest are listed here.

The Russian Army: Big or small, guilty or innocent, right or wrong, doesn't matter. It'll fuck you up...

beaten by

The Scales of Justice: Lets you know when you're bang out of line.

beaten by

Unbalanced Fishwife: Built like a weightlifter and carrying a de-scaler.

beaten by

Misogynistic Icthyosaur: Puts women in their place, so it can never be caught and scaled.

beaten by

Feminist Comet: If you can't stop them objectifying you, wipe them from the face of the earth.

beaten by

McCririck-zilla: Comets and women's rights bounce right off his scaly, sexist hide.

beaten by

200ft Germaine Greer: Disapproves of phallic skyscrapers.

beaten by

Military tAtu: High-powered weapons, highly-charged lesbian sexuality.

Not sure there'll be another one for a while, but we'll see.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Linkables 14/8/8

A couple of videos to start: An incredible slow motion video of a lightning strike, and an entertaining spoof of 24 if it was made with 90s technology.

Amongst the cool comics of Hark! A Vagrant, comes this look at early newspaper comics dealing with the relationship between America and Canada. Apropos of nothing, but I found it quite fun.

A poetic series of letters describing the process of becoming (and being) a parent.

And finally, google takes the innocence of another.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Things what I saw yesterday.

Not all posts have to have a point, you know. They don't all have to be "deep" and "philosophical" and "informative" and "interesting" and "worthwhile". They can in fact be mundane and sleep-inducing too. So, in the spirit of this new realisation, I give you a list of things I saw last night, in the hopes that the sheer ordinariness of it all will warm your hearts, rather than inspiring you to mock me for my unoriginality.

So, among the things I saw last night were, in no particular order:

- A jogger in an army vest who looked just like Willem Dafoe.

- Two joggers in Spain and Portugal football shirts respectively passing each other in opposite directions on the Embankment.

- A pub with coke and lemonade on tap but not diet coke. It sold some some sort of home-made, own-brand diet coke instead. It tasted like pepsi max mixed with fizzy water. Ick.

- A man, woman and child walking very slowly hand-in-hand and blocking the entire width of a tube platform.

- Three tourists with massive suitcases milling around outside a tube station seemingly trying to inconvenience as many pedestrians as possible by transporting their suitcases in the most ludicrous manner.

- A woman at a bus stop get hit by an egg thrown from a passing car. The car's occupants sped away roaring with laughter. The woman got on a bus.

- Two middle aged men on a bus, clearly both the worse for wear arguing about their plans for the rest of the evening:

"What time is it?"
"Half ten"
"Mmm... Kebab time"
"No, my wife'll kill me. She has to get up at six."
"Pah! What does she know."

That felt a little bit like the section at the end of a Where's Wally book where it tells you all the things you should have spotted in each area. No? Just me, then. Hope that wasn't too dull - this is what happens when I try to keep posting stuff reasonably regularly without having time to write anything interesting.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

On Lunch

I forgot my lunch today. I think it was probably the fault of the olympics. Waking up to live sport on BBC1 instead of the news apparently messes with my internal compass to the extent that I forget I need sandwiches. In any case, once I realise that I have nothing to eat, I have to decide whether to go out and buy something, or settle for produce from the "sandwich man". Not a bread-based superhero, as you perhaps might suspect, but a gentleman who brings sandwiches around the office on a trolley, somewhat disconcertingly announcing himself by shouting "sandwich man" at the top of his lungs. I've never investigated, but I like to think that he refers to himself using that moniker (and in the third person) in all his conversations.

In any case, his sandwichwes, while relatively cheap, and a convenient 4 second walk from my desk, are not the most impressive creations, being somewhat high in stodge and low in delicious. So I made the 60 second trek outside to the local Subway, where my order got the usual reaction:

"What salad would you like?"

"None, thanks"

"None at all?"



"No thanks, nothing".

"Salt and pepper?"

"No, nothing at all"

"You sure. Nothing?"

"Yes, I'm sure"

" ...ok..."

I know that people generally find it strange that I don't like salad, and that I would rather not put a load of stuff I don't like in a sandwich, but this is the reaction I get every time I go to subway, from the staff, and from anyone I'm with. Is it really that unusual to just want a sandwich? With meat and cheese? Why is it so strange to not want to garnish it with a hundred million other flavours? I like the taste of meat and cheese and that's what I've asked for in my sandwich.

It's like on a menu, where "fish and chips" means "fish, chips, and half a plate of salad". Please food-providers of the world, give me a choice. And don't act like I'm some sort of lunatic if I choose not to fill my meal with vegetation. I don't like my lunch to be served with a side of judgementalism.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Don't tell me what I can't blog

Just because Lost isn't back on TV for a good six months doesn't mean I'm not still thinking about the Island and those involved with it. Let me backtrack slightly. I'm a huge Lost fan, as is at least one other writer on this blog. I know people who have tried to watch it but have become frustrated with the seemingly unanswered questions and lack of pay-off to many things that happened within the series, but having stuck with it initially because I really enjoyed a lot of the characters, those are the things that I like about it the most. The overarching story which clearly won't be fully explained until the final episodes of the final season (there's going to be six, so don't worry, you've got ample time to watch seasons one to four if you haven't already before season five begins) has me hooked, and although whatever the big reveal turns out to be will undoubtedly split the Lost fan base as to whether it was "worth it", I'll be glad that I followed a series that was willing to take risks with narrative. Yes, Lost is difficult to follow at times. No, you're not meant to know exactly what's going on all the time (the episode where Desmond meets the creepy old lady in the jewellery shop has had pretty much no explanation about it since it happened, and it's still one of my favourites). So many of the convoluted theories around what's actually happening are destined to turn out to be hogwash, but a series that manages to generate the sheer amount of speculation that Lost has deserves to be commended even by those who don't quite find it their cup of tea.

Anyway, back to my original intention. Lost isn't on at the moment, but there's still plenty of stuff to read and watch on the 'net about it. So, in the style of Mr. Telf's patented Linkables, here are a few "Lostables" from yours truly.

Firstly, the best Lost site by far: Lostpedia. A wiki encyclopaedia, but it's run with such tightness, detail and dedication that I have found myself browsing around on it for up to an hour, just reading about things I remember about the series, things I'd forgotten, and things I never had any idea were there in the first place. If you're a Lost fan and haven't seen it, you need this site. If you've yet to get into the series, parts of the site may be a good starting point, but be careful of spoilers, as the site presumes you've seen everything that's been broadcast so they aren't always indicated.

Lost ROFL is great fun for Lost fans who appreciate internet humour. Some of the stuff can be hit and miss, but some of it is just hilarious.

After 'Lost' is another humourous Lost site, presented in webcomic fashion. Most of the jokes require a pretty decent knowledge of the series, but most references should be familiar to regular audience members. Again, some funnier than others, but a pretty original idea done well.

And a few videos to finish...

The excellent promotional videos made by David LaChappelle and used on Channel 4 when Lost was first shown. I like the way that what some of the characters say and do (especially Locke and Walt) might still have a bearing on where the series is going, especially as the makers of Lost claim that they have known what the ending will be since they began making the series.

Pretty sure this one encapsulates how many people have felt at times whilst watching...

Is there anything that doesn't have a Brokeback parody any more?

And another in the same vein, with some great rescripting and music choices

The last two just have to be watched to be believed. Lost Rhapsody...

... and Lost Rhapsody 2: Electric Boogaloo!

And lastly, this is just funny (as long as you scroll down fairly slowly).

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Review Round-Up 3: "The Dark Knight", "Spider-Man 3", "Blades Of Glory"

The Dark Knight [director: Christopher Nolan; stars: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal] - I can't remember a film being hyped up as much as The Dark Knight for quite some time. The film had a lot to live up to: the follow-up to Nolan's acclaimed "reboot" of the Batman franchise, Batman Begins; the return of Batman's archnemesis The Joker, last played on the big screen by Hollywood heavyweight Jack Nicholson; and, overshadowing almost everything else, Heath Ledger's final complete performance before his unfortunate death, talked up a great deal even before Ledger passed away. So, does it deliver? Oh yes. In The Dark Knight, Nolan has essentially crafted the closest I have ever seen to a perfect comic book action film. Bale is superb taking up the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman once again, and the strength of his performance in Batman Begins allows him to put across a very real, yet very fantastical, portrayal of the hero. Eckhart also gives a stunning performance, making his character Harvey Dent a complex weave of honesty and dishonesty, charm and smarm, and always teetering on the edge of stability and sanity. His transformation throughout the film is expertly put across. The supporting cast are never anything short of extremely solid - the dependable trio of Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine return from the first film to provide a solid foundation to the film. Caine's chemistry with Bale is something I picked up on, particularly on a second viewing, providing the film with a great deal of heart, but also humour. Ledger's performance is monumental, stealing every scene he is in, making his portrayal of The Joker a cocktail of madman, nihilist, sociopath and comedian. The amount of detail he includes, from The Joker's distinctive menacing drawl his to ticks and mannerisms means that his is a villain who you truly believe in at every moment in the film. In terms of writing, direction, cinematography, action sequences, length, and pretty much anything else you can think of, The Dark Knight delivers, and delivers incredibly well. The overarching story is one of the best I can remember seeing in a film for quite some time. I can't actually think of anything I can fault. Absolutely superb.

And to finish, just a couple of quick reviews of films I recently rewatched.

Spider-Man 3 [director: Sam Raimi; stars: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Topher Grace, Thomas Haden Church] - I enjoyed this less than I did the first time I saw it. There's nothing particularly wrong with it, but then it doesn't do much that's worthwhile either. Maguire, Dunst and Franco add nothing to their characters from the previous two installments. Grace is vastly underutilised as Eddie Brock and his alter-ego Venom. Haden Church is an excellent actor, but he has absolutely nothing to work with as Flint Marco/The Sandman, a character who had no purpose whatsoever in the film except watering it down, reducing the focus and needlessly complicating facts already laid down in the franchise. Enjoyable enough overall, but it largely has no direction in terms of story whatsoever, bumbling along instead giving you very little to care about.

Blades Of Glory [directors: Josh Gordon, Will Speck; stars: Will Ferrell, Jon Heder, Jenna Fisher, Craig T. Nelson] - Better on a repeat viewing. Heder and Ferrell portray the characters of Jimmy Mackleroy and Chazz Michael Michaels respectively very well, although there are moments throughout the film that I sensed they were merely on comedy auto-pilot, Ferrell in particular. Some of the other characters come off as somewhat one-dimensional, but the laughs are still there, meaning the film never becomes tiresome. Ultimately very enjoyable and very funny, if nothing particularly deep or highly crafted.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Linkables 8/8/8

Yep, I specifically delayed doing this post till today because of the coolness of todays date. I'm that easily manipulated.

The LHC begins initial testing today.
Number of black holes created so far: 0
Number of times this universe has been destroyed so far: 0
Counts will be updated as and when the numbers change.

Good humorous breakdown of the strangeness of some scientific theories. Interesting set of links at the end of the article too.

How many goats are you worth?

Via the f-word, a really worrying article about gender equality and discrimination in Russian jobs.

Zombies need love too.

Take a load of image results, split them in half and mirror them - weirdly mesmerising.

A friend pointed me at a beautiful revolution, whose doodles in particular remind me of both TfD and Edward Monkton. Same person also recommended Things My Girlfriend And I Have Argued About, which is massive, hilarious, and difficult to stop reading once you've started.

And finally, from the always entertainthing, a load of hilarious pictures. How unexpected.

Superhero Circle 5

Yep, it's back. In case you have no idea what's going on, the original is here, and the rest are listed here.

"Mad" Marie Curie: Irritated, irradiated, and in your house...

beaten by

Lead Zeppelin: Heavily armed. Heavily protected against radiation. Heavy.

beaten by

Oh! The Huge Manatee: Lures in giant sailors. Also destroys airships.

beaten by

Bad-time Boss: No fun, especially hates internet memes.

beaten by

The Office Joker: Wants to ask his boss "Why so serious?". (And also give in his quarterly report).

beaten by

Lots of sleeping pills: Making sure the Joker doesn't make it to the sequel.

beaten by

The stomach pump of TOO SOON: We're all very disappointed in you.

beaten by

The Tumour of Humour: Lightening the mood - blocking the stomach pump, one joke at a time.

Hope you enjoyed those, hopefully we'll have another high-quality set of images next week too.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Did the universe end while I wasn't looking?

Because while I would never normally condone anything Paris Hilton says/does/thinks (and I'm a little concerned that she feels the need to wear stilettoes while on a sun lounger), this is hysterical. And is also the first public evidence I've ever seen, aside from her millions of dollars, that she is, perhaps, not a total airhead.

See more Paris Hilton videos at Funny or Die

Below is the original John McCain ad that she was responding to.

things I can now do

Now that I actually have am iphone, and a black one at that, I can firstly make posts on this blog on the train, but I can also, more importantly listen to any on the various albums I possess, which is so much better than having an incredibly limited number on my old phone.

Incidentally, I'm on my way into work at 5 as I'm doing a late shift, which should be fun.

Now I'm currently listening to the bejork greatest hits album, which is pretty cool. I'm not normally one for greatest hits, as my general thought is that the whole album is a piece of art so to break up a piece of art would be silly, but having no real knowledge of which albums by bejork are good I opted for the mix of songs deemed great by someone else in a hope of getting a general idea of bejork as an artist.


To whoever left their rubbish on the back seat of the 85 bus yesterday afternoon:

Thanks for leaving your food wrapper and drinks can on the seat there. That's not inconveniencing the next person to sit down at all. Thanks for sitting opposite one of those tfl signs (the ones asking people to be considerate and not litter) for your whole journey, but not taking any of it in. And thanks especially for making sure the can wasn't empty when you dumped it on the seat, so that when I picked it up, so that I could sit down, it emptied itself over me. I was just saying to myself that the only thing that could improve the journey was if I was sticky and smelling of blackcurrant.

So thanks for making my journey everything it could be.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

12, eh?

I've now seen The Dark Knight twice (one-word review: awesome. More-than-one-word review to follow). Now I'm not someone who gets squeamish or scared or uncomfortable in films very often - in fact I'm struggling to think of the last film that actually affected me like that - but both times when I watched The Dark Knight I remember thinking that, considering its 12A certificate, some of the scenes seemed pretty close to the edge of what I'd expect to see. It took my interest therefore to read that many people had complained about the film's rating, saying that it should be a 15. I therefore considered more closely why I had also leaned towards that feeling.

I don't want to spoil The Dark Knight for anyone who hasn't seen it yet, so giving specific examples of the times I thought the content was more suitable for a 15 is tricky. There are a few scenes where the violence or threat that characters put across feels quite unnerving and quite substantial however, particularly ones involving The Joker. I remember coming to the conclusion after seeing the film that the main reason for the film being 12A rather than 15 is that very little blood is shown, and the few times it is shown it is far from gratuitous or gory. In my head, violence and blood equalled 15, just violence equalled 12A. After hearing about the complaints however, I decided to look at the BBFC's definition of what is allowed in a 12A film. For The Dark Knight, most of those (sex, drug taking and swearing) don't really apply. The main three are violence, imitable techniques and horror. And The Dark Knight definitely falls safely into the parameters laid out for a 12A.

This then begs the question of where the problem lies considering the complaints that have been received. Is the problem with the rating system? Is it not defined clearly enough to allow films to be classified into the right categories? Looking at the definition of what is allowed in a 15 film this may be the case to an extent. There are definite changes to what is allowed in each category, but the main changes occur in the aspects not really seen in The Dark Knight. Just because a film doesn't deal with every area that is considered shouldn't make the certification judgement more difficult to make.

Or is the problem with the parents? A cinematic release that is a 12A or a PG certificate requires the adult to make a judgement on whether or not the film is suitable for a child in their care. 12A does not mean "unsuitable for under 12's". It means "if your child is under 12, you should do some proper research into the content of this film before you allow your child to see it or not". And to me it sounds like a lot of the people complaining didn't do this.

So, not clear cut. But if a childless 23-year-old man who knows his limits with films can think a 12A film is pushing the boundaries for its rating, I reckon it's worth thinking about in some way.

Two brief after-thoughts, both Dark Knight related but not really long enough for their own entries:

When I went to see The Dark Knight for the second time, I remember noticing the adverts which were played beforehand. When I saw Kung Fu Panda (my review here) all of the adverts were for food, mainly sweets and breakfast cereals. Understandable enough. When I see 15 and 18 rated films, I generally know what to expect from the adverts - alcohol, cars, etc. But before The Dark Knight, four of the adverts were promoting the following: adult education, WKD alcopops, Kellogg's Rice Krispies, and a car (where the main idea of the advert was sexual excitement). This got me thinking about two things: firstly, who the adverts aimed at in a 12A, because the selection seemed incredibly broad to me; and secondly, whether the adverts are randomly selected from ones that are suitable for the film's certificate, or whether they select adverts specifically after considering what the film is about. If anyone can enlighten me further on this I'd be appreciative.

And lastly, get well soon Morgan Freeman. I'd be very sad if the worst happened to him, so I'll be thinking of Mr. Freeman and hoping for a speedy recovery.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Is this song about rape?

Joan Armatrading is one of my favourite and only recently-discovered-by-me artists. She is a black, female singer of incredible vocal prowess who writes beautiful, moving and articulate songs, displaying an economy with words found among the very best songwriters.

The lyrics below are for Water With the Wine, which you can listen to here. The music for this song sounds happy, cheerful and celebratory. It was only today when, for whatever reason, I really listened to the words that I picked out "got no strength to make him stop" that I was thrown.

Met him on a Monday
And he said he loved me so
Walked me to my door
Before I knew it to my living room

I thought there was no need for worry
When he took me in his arms
Drank some whisky
Hung his coat upon the stand

That's when the music started
I heard the light switch click
I stumbled on a lost shoe
The fever's starting

This man was getting hot
I got no strength to make him stop
I guess it's too late
But I'll know next time
To mix some water with the wine

The sun came pouring in at five
Upon my face
I felt the taste of last night's love
Upon my lips
I wasn't sure if I had dreamt it
Or had not
But there across the pillow was the face
I had forgot

That's when he said he loved me
Could be the truth this time
He put his arms about me
Fever's starting

This man was getting hot
I got no strength to make him stop
I guess it's too late
But I'll know next time
To mix some water with the wine

So my question is, is this song about rape? Or at least, about sex someone doesn't really want but feels unable to prevent, which many feminists would class as rape? Or is it deliberately ambiguous? Is she just messing with my mind, writing a song with a chorus in a major key so that it sounds feelgood but actually isn't?

Ok, so this isn't one of life's Big QuestionsTM, but still, I wondered.