Talking Movies

September 15, 2021

Any Other Business: Part LXX

As the title suggests, so forth.

The Dolt Who Shouts Bravo

Before the pandemic ruined everything I taped a performance of Debussy’s La Mer from the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall. And at the end, before the orchestra had had a chance to relax, before the music had had a chance to die away, and before the audience had had a chance to register its deep appreciation, some idiot bellowed BRA-VO! This really got my goat at the time. And it got Petroc Trelawny’s goat a few weeks ago when the dolt who shouts bravo appeared again at the Proms. I could have done without that BRA-VO!, muttered the good Trelawny, as, once again, the last notes of music were not given a chance to settle and fade away before this jack in a box was out of his seat shouting BRA-VO! I’ve been trying to parse what it is that so irks me about this fool, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it is because his shout has nothing to do with the orchestra and everything to do with him. Sitting in a mass of people he cannot bear the thought of being lost in the thunder of group applause, he must assert his individuality by gazumping the audience, the music, and common decency by shouting before the time is right. He would no doubt dispute this, saying that he is so moved by the music that he simply must jump up and register his individual approval before everybody else in a packed Royal Albert Hall. I would dispute this disputation as bosh.

To be a party man is to be morally compromised

Fine Gael are currently spitting blood at why the Zappone saga just will not end. The answer is simple, but eludes them because it is so very simple. The saga will not end until someone has been punished for wrongdoing. But that would be to admit that there was wrongdoing, and that would be to admit that someone in Fine Gael has done wrong, which is not possible because then they would not be a member of Fine Gael but of another political party. And so on runs the logic of each party’s think-in at this time of year. To be a party man is to be morally compromised. I never engaged with being a football fan because I found exactly this kind of blind loyalty disgusting. A player from a rival team barely brushes one of your players, and there are cries of REF SEND HIM OFF! A player from your team breaks the leg of a rival player, and there are mutters of No, that was a fair tackle, shouldn’t be a red card, nothing deliberate in it, I didn’t see any foul. If you are not affiliated with either side you look at this carry-on and see utter brazen mind-blowing hypocrisy. And that is what drives ordinary people mad about politics: the endless defence of the indefensible. The unquestioning acceptance of orders from the party that black is white on Monday and black is black on Friday if that’s what the party thinks is now needed to gain or retain power. In its own way it’s not just a question of being morally compromised, it’s a return to a pre-Socratic way of thinking. I owe generosity and decency to my clique, to everyone else the devil take the hindmost. It is somewhat depressing to have arrived at this present moment in history and find the party political system has reversed the axial moment in history. Coveney is bleating about the perception of lobbying and the perception he lied, because she lobbied and he lied. Simon Harris is leaking like a sieve, as is Catherine Martin, but they are in the ha’penny place to Leo the Leak, who has now been caught out three times during the pandemic doing things that he or his flunkies have told everyone else not to do. One feels Harold Macmillan would have fired Coveney, Varadkar, Harris and C Martin by now, but Michael Martin apparently feels unable to do so because it would spark an election. Well, given that Varadkar scraped in on the 5th count in the last election that’s something of a suicide pact, so have at it. If someone isn’t fired for this,  this scandal won’t leave the newscycle.

March 3, 2019

Notes on The Aftermath

Keira Knightley’s new post-war romance was the film of the week much earlier today on Sunday Breakfast with Patrick Doyle.

The Aftermath seems to be attempting to surf on the eddies left by Atonement, but this is a far more muted drama, and its startlingly more explicit affair comes out of nowhere. Indeed one imagines that pages 55 and 75 had been stapled in reverse order in the shooting script. Knightley’s character lost her son in the Blitz, Alexander Skarsgaard lost his wife in the firebombing of Hamburg. Yet there is no reason for her jumping from ‘I hate the Germans, they killed my son’ to jumping Skarsgaard. But if only it had come after the film’s best scene, where Knightley plays the piano. The first time she has properly played since her son died, using the copy of Debussy’s Claire de Lune inscribed by Skarsgaard’s dead wife. As Skarsgaard’s daughter joins in, and all are then reduced to tears by Knightley’s broken monologue about her dead son Skarsgaard sits down to comfort her. That scene should precede their affair…

Listen here:

August 9, 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

James Franco, as smugly self-satisfied as ever, develops a cure for Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately he also manages to bring about the apocalypse. Dude… Not cool.

This movie has been almost destroyed by its unusually long TV spots, which added to the cinema trailers that consisted solely of plot points and thematic statements masquerading as dialogue, leaves precious few surprises for cinema viewing. Franco’s scientist makes a breakthrough on a drug which repairs cognitive functioning in one chimpanzee, however, when she runs amok the entire research programme is canned. Everyone’s favourite slacker Tyler Labine doesn’t have the heart to put down the baby that chimpanzee had been protecting and so gives it to a reluctant Franco. Franco raises it at home where he discovers that it has inherited the effects of the drug, resulting in super-intelligence. Eventually he decides to test the drug on his own Alzheimer’s stricken father Charles (John Lithgow). Frieda Pinto’s vet warns him about messing with nature, but he convinces his boss Jacobs (a nicely cavalier David Oyelowo) to allow him develop an even more potent strain…

There are similarities with this week’s other chimpanzee release Project Nim, as Caesar is raised in a human setting, and shown using sign language and displaying very human traits, before his increasing viciousness sees him abruptly removed to live with chimpanzees who ostracise him. But this is a wild animal, a point made needlessly nastily when Caesar very deliberately bites off and eats a man’s fingers when attacking the angry next-door neighbour to protect a confused Charles. Caesar’s incarceration is interesting as Caesar is subjected to humiliation as the new inmate before using his superior intelligence to rise up the food-chain. It’s like watching Audiard’s A Prophet in a zoo. I’ve said it before but Andy Serkis is an unappreciated marvel as he does so much acting work in motion-capture. His performance as Caesar is wonderfully nuanced; you can see in his eyes the dawning of responsibility for his fellow less smart primates. John Lithgow does wonders with the material he’s given, though his transformation from mangling ‘Clair de Lune’ to concert pianist as the Alzheimer’s drug works is tasteless in its emotional manipulation. Characterisation isn’t this film’s strong point though. Frieda Pinto in particular has a barely written character.

There are a number of deliriously showy moments by director Rupert Wyatt, such as the montage of Caesar climbing a giant redwood that takes us thru 5 years in about a minute (please copy Terrence Malick), a panning shot thru a building as the apes rampage thru office space before tumbling onto the street, Jacobs entering a deserted building and not noticing what’s above him (a homage to The Birds), and a delightfully Spielbergian touch in the first arrival of the evolved primates in San Francisco being conveyed by a sudden gentle rain of loose leaves onto the joggers on a suburban road. Other highlights are an iconic line from the 1968 original, a hilarious moment when the signing circus orangutan gives the raspberry to Caesar’s grandiose plans, and a startlingly well-staged action finale on the Golden Gate Bridge.

This is a vast improvement on Tim Burton’s 2001 disaster but while it features a number of showy moments, and a nicely choreographed finale, the shallowness of characterisation holds it back.

2.5/5

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