The Null Device
Videos/DVDs recently seen:
- Adaptation. A slyly self-referential treatment of the process of adapting a not particularly filmable book into a film script. It does, at one point, descend deliberately into Hollywood cliché, in a transparently blatant way. Though I wonder whether Donald Kaufman actually existed, or whether he's just a representation of Charlie Kaufman's non-neurotic side.
- Fargo. Perhaps my favourite Coen Brothers film so far, probably due to the cinematography (I like sparse white landscapes) and relative lack of folksy sentimentality. The Scandinavian character of Minnesota comes through; if one were to watch it with the sound off, one could (for most of it) believe oneself to be watching a film from Norway or somewhere.
- Get Carter (the original one). A classic, though the obviously fake fight sequences do date a bit. Using angry-young-man author John Osbourne to play the pornographer was a nice touch.
- Hotel Splendide. A pastiche of elements borrowed from Gormenghast, Edward Gorey and Jeunet & Caro (in particular, Delicatessen), set in a run-down hotel/Victorian health spa specialising in bizarre and outdated therapies on a remote British island. The sets and some of the costumes are fabulous. However, the film doesn't cohere well, and seems more like a bunch of appropriated elements lumped together, with little regard for plausibility. Also, Toni Colette's spunky, Australian-accented character seems a bit too irritatingly perfect, making it like a Mary Sue fan-fiction treatment of the setting.
George W. Bush, many US leftists and secularists say, is a religious fundamentalist zealot determined to turn America into a theocracy and/or use his presidency to bring about, and be at the front of, the Battle of Armageddon. Not so, according to this sociological analysis of US Evangelical Christianity. For one, the two aims are rooted in two incompatible Christian Fundamentalist doctrines (reconstructionism and premillenialism). Secondly, Bush belongs to the same religious denomination as Hillary Clinton. (via MeFi)
The connection between Christian commitment and politics has always been pretty strange in this country. Ronald Reagan became beloved of the "religious right" while rarely darkening the door of a church and articulating only vague belief in a vague God, while the church-going, Bible-toting Bill Clinton was despised by them. If there has been a recent American president whose policies were derived relatively consistently from evangelical Christian theology, it would be Jimmy Carter, that Baptist Sunday-school teacher from Plains, Ga. But that's a story for another day.
Mind you, Bush still noisily attempts to tear down the wall between Church and State, ostracises secularists and throws bones to the Religious Right (such as his appointment of bona-fide Fundamentalist nutter John Ashcroft to the Department of Justice and railing against the threat to Truth, Justice and the American Way that gay marriage is), in between mouthing religious catchphrases at the right moments, though chances are, that has more to do with electoral opportunism than religious zeal.
Romance-novel giant Harlequin Mills & Boon are attempting to take on the Japanese market by releasing manga editions of their novels there, replete with heroines with freakishly huge, glistening eyes.
On a tangent, a dictionary of Japanese sex/fetish/pr0n terms, from the kinky to the just plain bizarre. (Miniaturised women? "tooth love"? ASCII art fetishes?) (via MeFi)