30 03 2008

In addition to Westerns, we will also be looking at gangster movies in class.  The concept of a gangster is one I understand rather more than that of a cowboy, perhaps because they still exist, and consequently have a habit of sneaking into movies set in the 20th and 21st centuries that aren’t actually gangster films.  That said, I can’t say I’m familiar with gangster movies, so this is still going to be an educational experience for me.

Apologies for not having posted of late; I’ve been rather bogged-down with schoolwork.  I’ll let you know what I make of GoodFellas ASAP.


Welcome back to my evil lair!

23 03 2008

You may not know it, but today is a very special occasion.  That’s right – it is exactly one year since my first ever blog post.  Well OK, it’s probably about 2 hours out, but dash it, it’s close.

Today is also Easter Sunday (I hadn’t forgotten!), and, I believe, the earliest Easter we’ve had since the 19th Century.  This doesn’t actually explain the fact that it’s been snowing in the UK, as depicted in these photographs on the BBC website.  Here where I live there hasn’t been any snow today, although there was a little yesterday.  It has been cold though.

The latest media controversy reported by the BBC news is over an anti-Islamic film, Fitna, which is being made by Dutch politician Geert Wilders, and which has caused a number of protests.  Network Solutions have suspended the film’s website due to concerns that it may violate their acceptable use policy , which prohibits, among other things, “hate propaganda”.

Personally I think it’s a dumb idea anyway, since regardless of your views on whether or not hate speech should be permitted, surely it’s common sense that you abide by the regulations put in place by your web host.

In any case, that’s all I’ve got time to write, since I’ve got two essays to be getting on with.

Happy Easter all.

Current listening: Black Sabbath, “Rat Salad”.

I wrote this this morning

22 03 2008

The water is warm against my skin.  On the surface, I see a milk bottle cap, floating upside-down, filled with bubbles: hundreds of soap bubbles, every one unique.  The rectangular window is reflected in them, in green and purple.  I move my hands a little, disturbing the water slightly.  The cap flips over and sinks to the bottom of the bowl.  I look out the window, and see that it is starting to snow – slowly at first, but rapidly gaining momentum until there are snowflakes everywhere, like a blizzard.  The music changes.  If you listen to the song whilst watching them, you can almost convince yourself that the snowflakes are falling in time with the track.  I pull my hands out of the bowl and dry them on a towel.  Then I grab a pen and some paper and begin to write.

I smile to myself.  The world is so beautiful.

Manhunt 2 gets a UK release

14 03 2008

As reported by the BBC, Manhunt 2 will finally be released in the UK, albeit in an edited form, with an 18 certificate and a caution that it contains “very strong sadistic bloody violence”.

The game had been rejected by the BBFC twice, but the Video Appeals Committee has overruled them this time around.

 I’m just glad this whole fuss is over – it’s been raging since June last year – although I have no intention of buying the game, since I am not a fan of gory movies, and the Manhunt games are essentially gory movies in playable form.


12 03 2008

The other day I saw my second Western.  The first Western I saw was The Searchers, but it was immediately clear that  Unforgiven was a different creature entirely.

 Unforgiven is a revisionist Western, which aims to portray the American West in a more realistic light than old Westerns.  Dark and gritty, it paints a very bleak picture of life in the late 19th century.  The film’s protagonist is William Munny (Clint Eastwood), “a man of notoriously vicious and intemperate disposition” who has given up alcohol and violence under the influence of his late wife.  He is persuaded out of ‘retirement’ by a man calling himself the Schofield Kid (Jaimz Woolvett), who tells him of a prostitute whose face was cut up by two cowboys, and of how she is offering a $1000 dollar reward to anyone who can assassinate them.  Together with Will’s old friend Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman), they set out on this quest.

So far, this sounds not too dissimilar to The Searchers, given that both are Westerns and both feature revenge as a prominent theme.  However, the similarity pretty much ends there.  Unforgiven is much more violent and much darker, and lacks an obvious moral hero.  Instead, it systematically deconstructs each aspect of the myth of the Old West as immortalised in older Westerns and dime novels: the lone hero, the gunfight, the cowboy, the sheriff.  In fact, a dime novel author appears in the film, and is portrayed in a not-terribly-flattering light.  The portrayal of women is certainly an improvement on older films, with some very strong female characters.

One aspect of this film that I found somewhat problematic was the abscence of a truly likeable major character.  Just about everybody in the film is corrupt, or cruel, or vindictive.  The plot is also depressing and tragic.

Unforgiven is an exciting and action-packed film, but a very grim and serious one.  The level of violence is perhaps rather off-putting, although to the film’s credit, the impact of this violence is portrayed realistically and taken seriously, another element of the film’s revision of the Western formula.  The characters themselves are also very convincing, believably portrayed by some extremely talented actors.

All that said, the film was not really to my taste, but it was definitely a high quality film and definitely worth seeing.

Current listening: Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill, “Port na bPucai / Kilnamona Barndance / Ship In Full Sail / Jer The Rigger / The Old Blackthorn / Exile of Erin / Humours Of Tulla / Fitzgerald’s Hornpipe / Rakish Paddy / Finbarr Dwyer’s Reel No. 1 / P Joe’s Precurious Pachelbel Special”.

iPlayer on iPhone

8 03 2008

It’s been a long and busy week, and my plan for regularly updating this site seems to have gone out the window.  I got my exam results back on Thursday.  They were mostly kind of average, but I got an A in Audiences & Institutions, so I guess all the effort I put into the blog paid off.

I’m bragging, sorry.  It’s not often I have something to brag about. o_o;

The BBC brings us more iPlayer/iPhone news.  The BBC iPlayer can now be streamed to the iPhone and iPod Touch using wi-fi (the mobile network is too slow to allow streaming).

The BBC has done a deal with The Cloud to provide BBC services free at The Cloud hotspots.

A version of iPlayer for Virgin Media customers is expected to follow.