The Final Superhero Movie

I have just watched the final movie in the Captain Lichtenstein series and feel satisfied that the entire thrilling story has finally been told. It is based on a comic book drawn from the annual reports of the Swiss Bureau Of Economic Planning and has become somewhat of a cult classic. It is one of the few superhero movies that features double-entry book-keeping.

I was a little worried when they discovered the June 1978 journal with the missing receipts but this was explained satisfactorily when the alien space shop landed amid the gasoline explosions. The audience in the cinema with me – a firm of chartered accountants – heaved a sigh of relief. You can tell a good film maker – they engage the soul of the viewer.

Hard to say what the studio can do to top this one. I believe they are working on a mini-series that involves the competition between two dynasties of industrial chemists. They sneaked a trailer into the last credits of Captain Lichtenstein showing lab samples of paint drying. I think it’s a hint.

 

 

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The Terrible Yamina

If you were looking for an internet columnist who will write mean things about people, I’m your man. I’m available 24 hours a day to bang out copy telling the world how dreadful your enemies are – no target goes unscathed. I charge reasonable prices for scandalous writing, and I have an ABN number so you can get a tax deduction.

Except today – this is the one day of the year when I write nice things about people – and today it is about Yamina, the Samba dancer.

She was kind enough yesterday to buy me a ticket to the movies during the Festival Of French Cinema and accompany me to the show. As a French teacher, she could get a lot more from the film than I, but fortunately there were very good subtitles. And as it was a show about music and dance, the soundtrack and visuals spoke for themselves.

Totally not what I thought it was going to be. The title was Le Grand Bal, and I expected opera or theatre costuming, sweeping staircases, and Offenbach. As it turned out, it was a doco on one of the festivals of folk music and dance held in the central part of France in the summer. She had been to many of these in similar circumstances and this was the connection. Apparently it was a very accurate as well as charming film.

 

I found it fascinating seeing people dressed as ordinary tourists but doing extraordinary things – dancing for 7 days and 8 nights while taking workshop lessons and getting 2 hours of sleep in the interim. Performing intricate art for their own enjoyment. Acting as an impromptu corps du ballet – perfectly controlled, and all to folk instruments. Amazing.

After the show another member of the audience recognised her and rushed over to find out if this sort of dancing ball would ever be held here in Perth.

Note: it is very much of advantage to have an experienced French wine-drinker looking at the wine list in a restaurant when you want something good to drink.

But Terrible? Why have I written Terrible? Easy…

I teased her that I was going to write a column with this title, so I know she is now going to read the column assiduously. I am not ashamed to get my readers by subterfuge and sneaky tricks…Of course there is nothing at all terrible about her – quite the contrary – but now she’s reading.

Mwa Ha ha ha …

 

Charging For Gratuitous Sex and Violence

We’ve all seen that phrase ” gratuitous violence ”  – or the more titillating version involving sex as well – in the reviews of various motion pictures. I put it to you, members of the jury, that this is a blatant falsehood by the reviewers. There is nothing gratuitous about any aspect of the modern cinema.

From the initial ticket that one purchases at the counter – a matter of some $ 20 upon average, to the large carbonated beverage and tub of popcorn – another $ 20 – to the chocolate coated ice cream – a mere $10 – there is a constant and steady flow of currency from the pocket of the cinema-goer to the proprietors. Presumably some of this money is made to flow on to the actors and actresses who are being violent and sexy at the direction of their studios.

It is all paid for – nothing is free.

The only possible objection that can be made by the viewer – whether they are mere consumers or paid ( again with money ) reviewers is whether there is enough of the behaviour for the price demanded. Too little – a paucity – would surely, under any normal commercial circumstances, draw more ire than a superfluity. One never complains about too much petrol in the tank of the motor car or too much wine in the glass. How can it be a cause for complaint when it is merely shadows on a screen?

The moral aspect of this supply of sensation is not disputed – indeed it does not enter into  discussion, as the person who attends a performance of ” Hot Blood Babes ” – a quadruple X rating and nurses with oxygen cylinders in attendance – has already made a moral decision that cancels all further demonstration. The best they can do is not erupt in public. They should also not erupt in print decrying the thing that they went into a darkened theatre to see.

Should any theatre chain provide free entry for the public as well as free snacks, the question of gratuitous sex and violence can be raised again. In the present state of the industry this appears as likely as a flight of pigs.

 

 

Yoot

Passing the week in an armchair is not as delightful as you may think – particularly if the sitting down portion is interrupted with getting up and being in pain. And very much if all the things you want to do are somewhere else in the town or in the house…and you’re sitting there in that damned armchair.

Well, it’s getting better, and more mobility is coming…but for the time being the iPad and a clip-on keyboard is the only game in town. And I have just discovered YouTube. Don’t laugh – for a Luddite this is a big thing. And it has been a blessing.

I follow scale modelling videos – this week has been a good chance to review airbrushing tutorials from a famous British presenter, and since he is fielding questions from all oer the world regarding this art, many of the things I’ve worried about have been dealt with. I am also encouraged to see that he has made as many mistakes as I have …so far…and has figured out how to recover from them.

Other presenters are prehaps not as professional as Mr. Flory, particularly if English is not their first language, but every so often they will have a gem of an idea and lay it out in front of you modestly. Every day has been profitable in new ideas. And I suspect that this sort of pattern may be repeated in lots of other fields and topics.

One thought, though…the introductory sequences and titles can sometimes be reminiscent of Hollywood Extra Efflux. Perhaps a little lighter on the gunshots and violent animation. At least one doesn’t have to sit through layers and layers of studios, holding companies, and corporate facades before the main feature. And watching at home, the snacks are cheaper.

If you can hobble about well enough to get to the fridge…

Why Are We Entertained By…?

Why are we entertained by:

a. Depictions of murder.

What is attractive about reading or seeing the death of someone? If we need to have mysteries to puzzle and thrills to seek, why can they not be mysteries and thrills of discovery or accomplishment rather than bloodshed. Remember the movies that depicted the lives of Pasteur and Ehrlich.

Look at it this way; no-one wants to be injured or murdered themselves. It is something the sane person runs from. Goggling and gawping over that same sad fate for others calls into question a lot of our real morality.

b. Depictions of sex.

We may well be entertained ( or appalled ) by sex itself as it applies to us – the snorting , scooching, splashing, heaving , etc that occurs. But none of that touches us if it is just on a page or a screen.

Better to go look for a snort and a scooch in the real world. What you do when you find it should be a private matter.

c. Depictions of fantasy dragons, unicorns, and mystical wizards.

We’re old enough to know that none of that is real. There are enough exciting things in adult life without going back to the faerie tales. Feed your imagination for a while and then use that healthy imagination to live well in the real world.

d. Comic book movies.

Reading a comic book is fine, as is drawing and collecting them. What you see is what you get – and your imagination can supply well over half of the experience. When the motion picture industry steps in and tries to turn the simple into the complex or vice versa they do our minds a disservice. When they fill shops with plastic toy memorabilia they tax our wallets needlessly.

e. Political chaos.

No-one benefits from disastrous politics in Moscow, New York, or Sydney. Snorfling, meming, and giggling at the failings of the politicians to keep us safe, fed, and employed does no good whatsoever.

f. The antics of the rich and entitled.

Some of them are very pleasant to encounter in real life while some are positively dangerous. If these latter were less rewarded with sycophancy and celebrity, they might just fade off to their tax havens and leave the rest of us alone.

The Movie Superhero

The real movie superhero is not the one with the cape – or the sword, hammer, shield, trident, lasso, or cyberarm. It is the adult who pays $ 25 to sit there for 90 minutes and endures gasoline explosions and puerile dialog to please the rest of the family.

It’s not like there is any real choice these days. If the motion picture is not about a franchised line of plastic toys, a 15 year-old’s angst, or a thinly disguised leftist conspiracy, it is devoted to sports. Even the art cinema has reduced itself to hours of French people sitting around café tables smoking and sneering. In most of the cinema complexes the best chance for adult entertainment is watching the popcorn machine in hopes that it will catch fire.

I miss the cowboy movies – and the bedsheet dramas – and the dashing war dramas by people who had actually been involved in the real thing. I miss the frothy Hollywood musicals with the pin-up girls and the bright colours. I miss Donald Duck and Wily Coyote. I miss entertainment.

It’s not all gone. I can still get a laugh out of an Aardman animation…and a few of the Pixar ones as well. I can actually enjoy Bollywood movies – even though it is all nonsense – it has the colour and froth that is missing from a lot of stuff. I can even stand foreign historic dramas, as long as they are reasonably believable in the sets and costumes – what i lose in not understanding the plot is made up in the visuals.

Perhaps the mainstream fare is just too overblown – or too juvenile. Perhaps literature has spoiled me for cinema. Perhaps the thought of $ 25 a ticket – $ 85 if you include a chocolate ice cream cone – is too much for the old wallet.

The Creepy Clown Phenomenon

A recent remake of a horror movie has also repeated a strange cultural phenomenon – the amateur creepy clown menacing the local suburbs.

We’ve seen internet posts threatening various areas of the city, followed by defiance from the residents and officially stern warnings from the police that this sort of activity is going to get the teenagers who do it into trouble. This is all to be expected – it is the foolish response to a commercial promotion and the official reaction to it. Predictable.

The Guild takes no stance on this – neither do I personally. While I think it is just one of those things – like presidential elections – that is beneath contempt, I do retain at least small interest in watching and waiting for the inevitable.

Perth has a number of outer-metropolitan suburbs that are still semi-rural. Many of the properties in them are owned by small-plot users, and some of the small plots are used for fruit-growing, wine making, and other activities. The people who own them and engage in these lucrative activities are varied…but many of them have a European migrant background – Italy, Greece, the Balkans, Poland…etc. Lovely decent people who like to live their lives undisturbed by officialdom or by private troublemakers. They often strike me as people who value their privacy, and who are prepared to take vigorous action to preserve it.

I would hesitate to use the term Moustache Pete as it may be a little pejorative. Moustache Piotr or Moustache Petros likewise. But you get my drift.

Could it be possible that some wisenheimer teenager will put on a creepy clown mask and hide along the roadside in one of our outer suburbs. Might they pop out and try to terrify these citizens as they go along the street?

Can you say ” double barreled 12 gauge Boito hammer gun  “? Can you say it in Italian, Greek, or Serbo-Croatian? The sound it makes is remarkably similar in all three languages…

Best to just go back to your video games, children.