Archive for February, 2018

JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just an Observation

In a time when so much of the news is disheartening, depressing or downright tragic I admit to feeling slightly warmed by the sight of hundreds of teenagers lying down outside The White House earlier this week in protest at the Trump administration doing nothing to curb gun laws in the light of last week’s tragic mass shooting at a school in Florida.
In spite of the tragic circumstances which prompted this impromptu ‘lie in’ it is encouraging to see youngsters actually considering their future- and the fact they are still lucky enough to have one as several of their contemporaries have been so harshly robbed of theirs- and taking some action to draw attention to their plight and their very serious concerns.
This brief feeling of hope was eradicated almost instantly by their President’s response that perhaps the solution is to start arming teachers and to actually award the armed teachers with some kind of financial bonus. It is almost as if he misses the point entirely; I am aware he generally does but this time he has veered even further into ridiculous terrain even for him. The fact that he is already thinking about the next time rather than trying to find a solution to prevent a next time shows a fundamental flaw in his reasoning. The attitude that it will take a good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun- another ridiculous statement form the orange cretin- does not recognise the problem at all never mind trying to solve it. More guns never lead to less death. Fact!
If I hear one more statement from those claiming that it is about honouring the second amendment then I must admit that I will be tempted to go against all my natural beliefs and instincts and purchase a gun to take out these buffoons myself. The second amendment was drafted before the invention of the electric light-bulb or the motor car so its relevance in today’s society should be drawn into question to begin with.
It seems this issue will never be resolved as long as the NRA has the support of the government and I can’t see that changing anytime soon.
Good on these kids who are actually taking a stance as it is their future that is being dictated to and put at risk. They are also the voters of the future so it would be an unwise President who chooses to ignore them. Enough said really!
Over here in the not so United Kingdom it looks as is Brexit is still on its collision course so no change there although it still baffles me how incompetent Theresa May is and how she can get out of bed or even gaze in a mirror without knowing that every day she will face another round of humiliation. It does however amuse me to some extent but that is soon replaced with the reality of the disaster that lies ahead that she is doing nothing to avert.
How we arrived at her and Trump is a question I frequently ask. Surely neither country deserves either of these two as their leaders.
I was interested to observe this week that there is some concern that we are rapidly becoming a nation of mobile phone addicts; Texts, Messenger, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are apparently taking over our lives and we are forgetting how to interact on a one to one basis.
This is no news to me personally as I have witnessed this worrying behaviour for some time now. May times I have felt irritation as I arrive to meet a friend and they immediately take their phone and place it in front of them, then generally refer to it continuously and more attentively than they do the person sitting opposite them. In my opinion it is beyond rude and reminds me of the oft quoted Princess Di line about their being three people in her marriage. Conversations are cut short and interrupted to answer a call or text or upload a photo so that everyone they are not spending any actual real time with knows exactly what they are up to.
The art of conversation leading to healthy debate has also been decimated as Google is drawn into the conversation and revered as if it were some kind of God; I find nothing more annoying than talking to someone as they type into Google to check what I am saying is correct. It is as if they are forgetting that it is not always the being right that matters it is the conversation and differing opinions and ideologies which keep a conversation alive and sparkling. This idea that Google is God just infuriates me and I would rather spend time with someone who is factually incorrect but able to put up a convincing and arresting argument in their defence rather than someone who types into Google and repeats their findings in a smug and diffident manner.
It seems as if the winter is in respite at the moment, longer days and even a bit of sunshine has emerged over the last week and although it is very welcome it also seems very overdue. It is only February however and apparently there is still a bit of wintry weather ahead in the next few weeks but if nothing else the break from what must be the longest winter in history has provided a little hope and if nothing else that is very welcome at the moment.

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THE SHAPE OF WATER

The Shape of Water

The latest film by Guillermo Del Toro, The Shape of Water, is a fantastical dive into the realms of fairy tales wherein Beauty and the Beast is updated to an early sixties time-zone in Baltimore and the complexities of good versus evil and whether an amphibian creature is any more or less of a monster than a human whose views are coloured with bigotry, hatred, greed and self-serving cruelty.
Visually stunning and excellently cast- Sally Hawkins as mute domestic cleaner Elisa in a military research centre gives a stand out performance- the film encapsulates and absorbs from the outset but despite this seems to still remain outside of itself; as if it is in fact as much of an observer as the audience.
The drama revolves around the discovery of an amphibian creature brought over from Brazil for sinister experimentation, research and eventual execution. Fascinated by the creature Elisa plays it Benny Goodman records and feeds it hard boiled eggs and in the process makes headway into the understanding of the creature far more effectively than her scientific and military colleagues ever do.
An unlikely relationship spilling over into romantic and eventual sexual territory ensues and with the aid of those around her, including her exuberantly brash cleaner colleague Zelda (Octavia Spencer), gay but closeted neighbour Giles (Richard Jenkins) and a scientist with Russian connections Dr. Hofstettler (Michael Stuhlbarg), kidnaps the amphibian she has grown so emotionally attached to when she learns of its planned extinction.
Up against this trio of righteousness and understanding is the brutal, bigoted and totally inflexible Strickland, a well cast Michael Shannon, whose determination and belief that killing the creature is the best means of learning more about it reveals him to be not only the real villain of the piece but also the true monster at the heart of the story despite his appealing exterior and perceived conventionality; a slight subtext as to the horror that lies at the heart of convention and normality.
Del Toro creates a visual piece-de-resistance from the deserted cinema below Elisa’s apartment to Strickland’s streamlined top of the range ‘teale’ Cadillac and the period details of the early sixties-possibly 1962- are beyond reproach while the scene when the amphibian stretches himself too full height revealing his powerful beauty is breathtaking but something in the film doesn’t quite engage as much as it should and remains somewhat detached; possibly the approach is maybe just a little too clever-clever at times. It is sumptuous though and the sequence when Elisa finds her voice and slips into an old-fashioned Busby Berkeley Hollywood musical routine is seamlessly perfect.
The Shape of Water draws you in from its very beginning and manages to engage and mesmerize throughout. It is definitely the best of Del Toro’s efforts so far- I always found Pan’s Labyrinth stunning but a little too cloying for my personal taste, it was a film to be admired rather than loved- and is as consistent and entertaining as any other you might see this year.

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