Not much of an update, considering there's precious little to report, but a few scattered notes:
- Catching up on Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip, I've concluded the show has become a study in devolution. It's rare to see a show retrogress so completely; it has gone from promising to unwatchable in less than a season, and I think it's tied with Family Guy for greatest fall from grace in the past ten years. The declines of both shows need to be measured with scuba gear.
- Managed to see Zhang Yimou's Curse of the Golden Flower, which is a visual splendour and an intellectual wet-dream for those well-versed in the High Tragic tradition. You can, quite literally, play "Spot the Reference," with its imitations and intimations of Hamlet, King Lear, Coriolanus and about half the surviving Greek plays, though I tend to think of it, admittedly indulgently, as a cross between the Wars of the Roses with The War of the Roses. I don't think the film works especially well on visceral or emotional levels, but it is great to look at, the plot's elaborate designs finally less interesting than the technical ones; it's beautiful rather than sublime, striking rather than stunning, but impressive nonetheless. The spectacular conclusion, unfortunately, borrows too much from the Peter Jackson model--- CGI effects everywhere, with Zhang's assassins resembling Jackson's ring-wraiths, and his soldiers PJ's orcs, in a confrontation that doesn't make a lick of sense, and suffers immensely for its cartoonishness. (It also ends with a song that's so misplaced as to be laughable.) But, but, but---- the colours are magnificent, and the imagination of the imperial palace and its finer details is worth the price of admission on its own.
BTW, it seems film criticism has finally found its new Pauline Kael. Anthony Lane, eat your fuck me awesome heart out.
- Have been watching, as a matter of fact, a number of what used to be called "chop-socky" movies, and I realised that perhaps the biggest difference between the current crop and the ones with which I grew up is the role of women, not so much as heroines, but as equal candidates for slaughter. Women used to be killed off, if they were, in largely discrete fashions. These days, though, the trend has swung back to much older ways, by which women were saved for the most horrifying fates, like Lavinia's in Titus Andronicus or that of the eponymous heroine of The Duchess of Malfi. I don't know what to think about this. Intellectually, it makes sense that the standards be equal, and that female characters be decapitated, eviscerated, excoriated and generally decimated in the same ways that male characters have been. So why does this trend disturb me? Maybe it's just something in my programming, some vestige of chivalry that some would slough as chauvinism. But I wonder if equal-opportunity bloodshed is really all that equalising, especially when the violence owes more to the Friday the 13th and now Hostel traditions. There's also something invidiously "do I look fat?" about the question, by which any answer, any response whatsoever, is automatically wrong in at least one way or another.
- The Canuckistani media are going wild with polls suggesting that Maher Arar's settlement from the Canadian government is too costly (read in: costing them too much). It makes me wonder what these people would think they deserved if they went through even half of what Mr Arar did. I suspect an egregious amount would become a paltry sum very quickly indeed.
- From torture to tortured analogies, let's put this assertion up on a crucifix and see if anyone cries. (If so, Idiocracy will definitely prove prophetic.) On the other hand, this might afford an exceptional opportunity for people to cease using the Lord's name in vain; "Thomas H. Cruise" would suit our profane purposes much more effectively, don't you think? Especially, ahem, the vain ones. Ah, little TC in a prospect of glowers.....
Enough for now. Monday looms, and frankly I haven't been drinking enough.