More a collection of columns loosely connected by Kermode’s overall thesis that film criticism (if not high-calibre criticism in general) is still necessary in this age of media democratisation. I mean I’m obviously sympathetic to that, being a writer on music and film myself and a blogger (on and off) of some 13 years’ standing. I think you have to be on board with that notion to get what he’s doing. Moreover, his structure allows him to meander around and away from the topic at hand to sometimes completely irrelevant places. But his style is fluid and fun for the most part, and some of his apparently scattershot musings do make more sense at the end.
Something new I want to try here, seeing as it’s Blog Day (3108, get it?): reblogging stuff I post on other sites. I’m starting with my Letterboxd review of Airplane!, which also happens to be my 100th logged movie watch for this year:
The casual racism and misogyny are impossible to ignore in this day and age, even if the film comes at everything from a sardonic angle. But considering it was made at a time when the Black and White Minstrel Show was only a few years off the air, and virulently racist and sexist ‘comics’ like Bernard Manning were packing them in, Airplane! could almost be seen as progressive. Take its context as a given and it’s easier to look past the jokes they’d never make today and revel in its anarchic, puntastic spirit.
My review of Sin City: A Dame to Kill For went up last Sunday evening, and it’s been mostly a quiet week since then. Just the one press screening for me, on Thursday morning, and catching up on my Afloat contributions after putting the paper to bed on Wednesday. Here and there I’m brain-dumping bits for future reviews and whatnot. (Oh, and reading: I finished [one book](https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1826048.Notes) and started [another](https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19488308-hatchet-job).) Sometimes you need to let things steep for a while before they’re ready, y’know?
Here's a pretty good intro to Star Trek for newbies, though I wouldn't preface it by saying ST is "particularly intimidating for the uninitiated" -- that's all in the mind. Watch a few shows and its charm will guide you in. My own recommendation would be to start with TNG (except perhaps season 1, it's fairly ropey) and then move on to DS9, my personal favourite for the sub-sub-plot deep connections between its characters that underpin the whole experience but often only reveal themselves as so important on repeat viewing. Voyager is unfairly maligned (I've been rewatching and enjoying it lately) though the AV Club writer neglects to remark on the show's biggest failing: concentrating on the Janeway-Seven-Doctor trio at the expense of everyone else in the cast. Enterprise is what it is: ill-conceived but not flat-out terrible. (I can't watch TOS myself, I can't get over the period cheesiness, but I'm not going to deny the good that it did.) #link
Elizabeth Spiers' fair profile (which became much more than that) of tech culture writer and activist Shanley Kane, which reinforces the impression generated by Kane's own words and deeds of someone who demands absolute, uncompromising control -- over their work, public image, whatever. So not a bad person, just someone who appears to have a character flaw that blinds them to the notion that media ethics exist as a concept independent of them. It happens. Bobbie Johnson provides more background to the story. #link
Only one published-elsewhere thing from me this week — my Thumped review of Into the Storm — but I attended three press screenings (two on Wednesday and another on Thursday), and I’ll be writing up one of them (the new Sin City movie) over the weekend, because it’s out on Monday (yeah, weird, I know).
Other than that, it was a slow week, capped off by a Friday where everything seemed to go wrong for me. Feck it, I’ve got pear cider in the fridge for later; not the one I wanted, mind, but some is better than none.
Dolph Ziggler and The Miz made a good fist of transcending their lowly mid-card status with a heated opener for the Intercontinental Championship at SummerSlam 2014. Still, it was a match that, while plenty entertaining and well put together by two able grapplers who have good in-ring chemistry and can really go, only made me think of those great IC Title matches of SummerSlams past, those proper storytelling feud-settlers preceded by weeks of build-up; Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart vs Mr Perfect is still the apex of that kind of match for me. This, while good, was nothing of the sort, especially with a finish that more-or-less came out of nowhere. (Ziggler’s the new IC Champ, by the way.)
There's a lot here about cosplay specifically but it's also about the ethics and etiquette of public photography and behaviour in general, questions of which are often misunderstood on both sides. That some of this shit has to be explained might beggar belief, but there you go. #link
The headline maybe overstates things a tad, but I'm very much behind the notion that 'fan service' -- which Mark Lawson identifies in other words on his Guardian blog -- can make for an impenetrable, elitist experience. Compare with the likes of Star Trek's various series, or even a show like The West Wing, which all come with rich backstories that colour in every episode, especially in their later series, but aren't difficult to get into at any stage; indeed, they encourage watching what came before as a pleasure, not a chore like revising for an exam. Fuck, even compare Sherlock with its far superior American counterpart Elementary. It's a balance, but TV writers seem to be finding it harder to strike, more so I think since the likes of Battlestar Galactica (which seems to be praised as much as derided for its deliberately labyrinthine plotting). #link
Breaking down the streaming service's thousands of micro-genres. Which is obviously interesting and great and all, but sometimes you just want to see what's new, like we did browsing the 'new releases' shelves at the video store years ago, and Netflix doesn't really cater for that. Thankfully there are third party sites that do, but that adds an extra layer that shouldn't be necessary. #link
Popol Vuh, soundtracker to the f***ing movies of Herzog! Well, there was a f***ing cinematic genius, as anyone whose slept through one of his f***ing movies will tell you – immortal classics steeped in one-finger drone music such as Dwarf In A Crate, The Man Who Mistook Himself For A Character, Straspulia (Or The Glass Hammer), The Enigma That Wasn’t, Slide Slowly Through Mud, The Wrath Of Paying Audiences, Plosnek, Bosnek and Nonek (A Trilogy) or his unmade sci-fi movie Spacewaster, all of them starring Klaus f***ing Kinski as a c***!
If this blog is for anything, it’s for posting gems like that.
I’m typing these up at the end of a tiring week. I’m looking forward to taking a day off this weekend to decompress a little, maybe watch some TV or movies, or listen to music, just for the pleasure of it, like.
Monday saw my latest piece for Burning Ambulance go online, a review of the debut from Irish post-metal band Raum Kingdom, as well as my newest film review for Thumped, my take on The Congress.
Meanwhile, I was deep in the word mines till Wednesday afternoon. On Wednesday night I ventured out (despite my 6am start that morning) to see Earth play at Whelan’s, with local psych-rockers Wild Rocket supporting. I’ve missed all of Earth’s previous visits — and I interviewed them last month! — so it was about damn time I saw them, and I was not disappointed. I got home some time after midnight slightly spaced out and bleary-eyed, but it was worth it.
So here’s the thing. I had a month’s worth of weeknotes almost ready to go at the end of week 671, and then promptly forgot about them as life got in the way. But here I am now, a couple of weeks later, putting my thoughts back together.
Late June and most of July was a time of ups and downs, but mostly ups in fairness. I attended by first film premiere, for one (more on that later). And the last full week of July was especially busy: two film reviews written up, and two quick phoners in the can (again, more in a bit).
What’s more, I’ve started cycling to the office in town via the Royal Canal, now that the upgraded towpath between Castleknock and Ashtown is finally open. We’ve been blessed with some nice sunny days (some of them a bit too nice) so I’ve been making the most of it, cheered by the sight of swan families and dragonflies. Good for the aul’ well-being in more ways than one.