Talking Movies

December 24, 2022

O Holy Night

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fergal Casey @ 3:19 pm

This is the way the year ends, not with a bang but a whimper.

The blog has been even more sporadic this year than in 2021. I don’t know if things will improve on the writing front next year, but I do hope that 2023 will be the most normal year of this benighted decade.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Talking Movies will return in 2023.

Miscellaneous Movie Musings: Part LXV

As the title suggests, so forth.

The Way of All Flesh

It’s been thirteen years since Avatar was released, and here comes the sequel. That is a preposterous delay, but one of the most interesting things for me is that it pinpoints a seachange that I missed because of my general checking out of the MCU. At one point in the 2010s it seemed like 3-D was the defaut mode for blockbusters. Not real properly planned and photographed 3-D of course, just post-production conversion. There was a time when I had to carefully scan the cinema listings so I could boycott 3-D, and its outrageous surcharge, and just see films in glorious 2-D. And, because I stopped going to see the increasingly bland Marvel movies and their ilk, I didn’t notice when it happened but clearly that situation flipped, and suddenly most screenings were 2-D again, and it was 3-D screenings you had to seek out. I would like to think that some of this was simply people voting with their feet, but equally with Disney’s monopoly/monopsony power it could simply be that they dropped 3-D conversion because with their increasing affinity for last-minute CGI VFX there simply was no finished product to convert. And so everybody had to adjust to that, studios and audiences alike. In the same way that the 2010s have seen audiences inured to sloppy fight editing, vague and incomprehensible action sequences, with frankly embarrassing CGI blighting all. But for a whole generation that’s normal; cinema is CGI capes that look crap.

Unseen & Unheard

Talking of things that are frankly embarrassing, ahem, my first reaction to seeing Vertigo toppled in the Sight & Sound poll because of incredibly obvious vote-rigging was to laugh out loud. I don’t have much time for the Sight & Sound poll, so I’m not hugely invested in defending its integrity. I genuinely feel it’s sheer good luck that Vertigo ever got the accolade. Back in 2012 I was just nonplussed by the results. I felt that people weren’t genuinely voting on what they thought were the greatest films of all time after much thought and prayer. They weren’t even voting for their own personal favourite films in a spirit of adorable idiosyncracy. They were not voting for anything they actually liked or thought good, but voting with an eye to impressing other people, to try and outdo other critics with their obscure choices in a spirit of too cool for film school. At the time I said the amount of silent films that had popped up was akin to someone saying I love the theatre but it’s all been downhill since they stopped wearing the masks. A statement that would not make it immediately obvious that this person actually does love the theatre. And this time round the process has been even more transparently absurd. But who cares? Whatever the intention was, it has surely backfired.

Any Other Business: Part LXXIV

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fergal Casey @ 2:27 pm

As the title suggests, so forth.

The Good, The Bad, of the Conspiratorial

As 2022 comes to an end and the current surge of Covid 19 is more or less ignored as yesterday’s news it’s worth reflecting on what Covid 19 and the vaccines that tamed it revealed about a subset of the population. I’m not sure it will be possible in 2023 to go back to normal as our first full year without handwringing about Covid since 2019. Because the people who refused the free, safe, and effective vaccine benefited from the pandemic being quieted by it, yet loudly insisted on prioritising their own overweening self-regard over the common good. David Aaronovitch’s Voodoo Histories I would regard as something of a touchstone for understanding the attraction of conspiracism. And yet his major thesis – that conspiracies are espoused by people who are powerless, and once they regain power they quietly memory hole the embarassing absurdities they once insisted were true of their hated political opponents – I feel needs two corollaries after Covid 19. I’ve come to the definite conclusion that conspiracy theories in the age of social media are how stupid people make themselves feel smart. Sure, they may not have been smart enough to study medicine, or have the wherewithal to work in a lab, but because they did their own ‘research’ (i.e. watching YouTube videos on their smartphone) they have access to the real truth, the secret history behind the cover story, that all the smart people are too dumb to really understand or are complicit in creating. Like Flat Earthers. The only problem being that Flat Earthers aren’t in a position to hurt other people by their insanity. I’ve also begun to feel there are two types of conspiratorial thinking – good, and bad; as it were. Good conspiriatorial thinking, if there can be such a thing, is the final fallback of the mind when logic fails. Why is Elon Musk destroying Twitter? There really is no logical reasoning that explains the petulant oligarch’s temper tantrums. So people start mooching around conspiracies – perhaps he shorted the stock, maybe he’s the puppet of forces who want to destroy Twitter’s value for journalists – casting about for a hidden scenario that would make sense of the inexplicable observable reality. Bad conspiratorial thinking, doubtless a redundant term, instead sees the observable reality of the world, which is thoroughly explicable by logic, and insists there must be a hidden reality that explains what is there. In a way this eagerness to reject reality in service of some delusional agenda is a fast-track to gaslighting, which someone described to me recently as the defining word of our generation.

The Queen is Dead

And that should have been that. No more so than gun massacres never being the time to discuss gun control in America, the English media’s insistence that the death of the Queen was no time to discuss the continued existence of the monarchy is convenient for people who want nothing to change. But who did elect Charles III? And why is asking that question in public a criminal offence? I am damned if I can find any reason for the continued existence of monarchies, whose embarassing presence continues to blight Europe. The three most common arguments people have made to me are – the monarchy isn’t doing any harm – It’s good for tourism – It’s traditional. France gets an incredible amount of visitors every year; they stop at the Louvre and at Versailles; and the absence of an actual monarchy doesn’t impinge on people’s enjoyment of witnessing the works of the ancien regime. It is of no consequence to me visiting Apsley House or Walmer Castle whether or not there is a Duke of Wellington knocking about right now, it is of crucial importance that there was a Duke of Wellington riding a horse at Waterloo. As for the idea that England must keep the monarchy because it is traditional; a Tory PM in the last decaded introduced gay marriage and three parent DNA babies to England. And a monarchy does enormous harm – how can you believe in meritocracy when sitting atop a country is someone lording it over everyone because they were born to lord it over everyone. At the centenary commemoration of the Somme I was struck by the contrast between Prince Charles and Charles Dance. If you were to come upon the scene and ask which was the King-in-waiting you would’ve been astounded to be told it was Charles Windsor, not Charles Dance, and therein lies the problem. There is no merit involved in monarchy, no ability, no qualifications – nothing. It is a pure shot in the dark. It’s only by the order of birth that Prince Andrew is not King Andrew right now. And there can be no more irrefutable argument against monarchy than that. There is nothing to stop William Windsor running for a ten year term as President of Britain, he would probably win, and he might win a second ten year term, and then, having equalled the reign of George V, step down. The crucial thing would be that he was elected to the position, and he could be dismissed from the position, by the people.

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