rfbooth.com :: blog archives

Moments in time, preserved to embarrass me later.

5-6-2006 (archived)

I like to think that I'm a reasonably courteous, cooperative and aware pedestrian in crowds. When making my way down Market Street on a Saturday, I do not suddenly stop or change direction sharply without warning. I stand aside for those doddering, white-sticked, encumbered by infants, or otherwise visibly confused and distressed. And, apparently, this marks me out as some sort of target.

It believe it impolite to walk straight at somebody walking the other way without the slightest sign you've even seen them, expecting them to move, and yet a very great many people seem to delight in it. I spend more time moving sideways than forwards some days. Without exception, all of these people are smaller than me (usually in terms of weight, and invariably in terms of muscle; I only know two men who are unambiguously neither, and they're gentlemen), and yet they do so. So, from here on, they get to bounce off me. And when they go “oy! Why don't you look where you're going?” I shall reply that they should look, too; they will find I'm very easy to see.

Of course I shall probably be stabbed within the month, but I shall die upholding a principle, which I feel is the proper thing to do. Send no wreaths.

8-6-2006 (archived)

So. I haven't read “The Da Vinci Code”, not least because it's unreadably badly written. And that the plot is incredibly stupid. (If you want a funny, powerful story with the Grail conspiracy in it, try Preacher.)

Anyway. We went. We did our duty. Hanks was crap. Tatou was crap. Reno was phoning it in. Bettany was OK, as a caricature. McKellen, of course, provided all the worthwhile moments of the film - he had a ball, hamming it up in an incredibly stupid role.

It's an hour too long and very boring, mostly because everything is explained four times for the hard of thinking (presumably, the target audience). All the “plot twists” can be seen from a mile away through a blindfold. In fact, it's complete shit.

Actually, there was one good moment without McKellen in it.

Roll credits.

10-6-2006 (archived)

I suspect many of you of around my age remember well the coming of WWF (as it was called before the toad-squeezing nature enthusiasts sued them into changing) and American wrestling to British TV when we were kids. I loved it; the camp, the theatre, the athleticism, and the silliness. My favourite was probably The Ultimate Warrior, a certifiable space-case bodybuilder whose real name, gratifyingly, was Jim Hellwig. No, really. Hellwig. Never has a surname been more appropriate.

So, when I saw this, it filled me with nostalgia. And made me piss laughing.

12-6-2006 (archived)

We had one of our occasional outbreaks of culture (non-movie culture, anyway) yesterday, and went to the rather lovely Opera House to see “Smaller”, a three-hander play starring Dawn French, Alison Moyet, and June Watson. Like essentially all of the culture we take in from time to time, it was very, very good. Hurrah.

The review here is fairly good, so I shall stop there. The curry afterwards was excellent, too, but then it always is.

15-6-2006 (archived)

Yesterday I went to see Will Self read and talk at my favourite bookshop; he was charming and slightly other-wordly as ever, an impression not reduced by his chosen outfit: longish shorts, sandals, the usual lupine smile, and a plastic raincoat done up to the neck. It was hot and sunny.

On the bus home I was reminded of one of the major interesting things inherent in public transport: they trap you with people whom you would otherwise pass quickly and lightly by. In this case it was a clearly mad woman, shouting from her seat at other passengers (“you think you're better than me!” Well... now you mention it...) and singing (surprisingly tunefully, all things considered). The highlight of her performance was, fortunately, not long in arriving: she wet herself lavishly (suggested by the smell shortly before being confirmed by the cushion beneath her changing colour), and then reached into the carrier bag she had with her for deodorant, which she proceeded to apply in clouds to herself (and to much of the rest of the bus, by convection). At this point, clearly knowing she couldn't top her performance, she left.

I love my city, unconditionally. When we see people not like ourselves, we can be reminded of how lucky, or unlucky, or ordinary, or special we really are. That is the joy of any large community. There are people like us, and there are others.

17-6-2006 (archived)

Rather wonderfully, the BBC keep a list of how offensive each possibly-offensive word is. Even better, badscience has showed it to us. People are insane.

19-6-2006 (archived)

Hard Candy” is an unusual, genre-twisting horror film in which you are likely to empathise at least as much with the torturer as the tortured. In a couple of extraordinary performances, Kohlver's grooming underaged-girl enthusiast and Stark's flattered, uncertain fourteen-year-old turn out not to be playing the roles you thought they were, and the results are unsettling - not as a slasher movie, for this is not one such, but through suspense and anticipation. Stark manages to play Hayley both as a real human and as an incarnation of all the girls who've suffered and want revenge, and that is an achievement indeed.

One comment: through almost all of the film, particularly as it builds, there is absolutely no background music, and it was far more effective for it. There was no sound but the conversation of the principals, and I mean none - the cinema was silent. It added a great deal to the tension the film created. Others should follow.

It tells you something about us as a species, I'm not sure what, that the one time that silence really broke, when everybody (male and female both) groaned in empathy and union, was when something was suggested (not done) that would have caused neither hurt nor damage (the key word is “bounce”, for those of you watching later). I shared this reaction, and I'm not sure why.

22-6-2006 (archived)

Not being particularly familiar with the original version, we were in the right position to enjoy “The Omen”, a faithful (apparently) and surprisingly good remake. The plot is more familiar to me through Pratchett and Gaiman's Good Omens than anywhere else, but it's nicely executed, rolls along nicely, seems shorter than it is, and has a couple of truly lovely Final Destination coups de grace. Nothing special, but a fine example of its type.

24-6-2006 (archived)

Now, I'm a bad person, dietarily, and I was raised in the West Midlands, which (after Scotland) may be the area most likely to inappropriately batter and deep-fry otherwise acceptable foodstuffs, and indeed unacceptable ones. I have eaten battered sausages; I have eaten battered burgers (essentially a cow fritter); I have seen people eat deep-fried pies and pizzas and mars bars. I have heard tell of a place in Scotland that wraps a sausage in kebab meat, batters and fries it. But even wronger, I think, is this. Even in Scotland, they wouldn't eat that.

26-6-2006 (archived)

Many of the reviews of “Thank You For Smoking” have represented it as some sort of defence of the tobacco industry, thus reinforcing my opinion on reviewers in general; this is not a position it is possible to take if you have seen the film and paid attention to it. Neither, really, is it a condemnation of Big Tobacco; in fact, if the film has a message (other than “a good lobbyist can sell anything”) it's that all sides of professional lobbying - whether from industry or politics (if indeed there's even a difference) or media - are thoroughly unpleasant. I'm not sure that it does have a message, though; it's just a very funny, stylish, black comedy with a real humanity to the relationships at its centre. Plus it has Sam Elliot as an aging long-haired charismatic cowboy, a role he's been perfect for (and unchanged from) since Roadhouse 17 years ago. Majestic.