The Null Device


Londoners probably shouldn't relax too soon, if The Times' claim that a third terror cell is poised to strike are correct. The claims apparently come from a Special Branch conference at Scotland Yard, though elsewhere, the authorities have been downplaying them. In any case, this matter is far from over, and it may take months to find those behind the bombings. The fact that one of them managed to slip through the net and leave the country a few days after the alarm was raised doesn't raise one's confidence.

In other news: it emerges that the Oval bomber tried to have an imam sacked for being too moderate, and the bomber held in Rome tells all to an Italian newspaper, claiming that they only planned a "demonstration attack" and didn't intend to kill anyone; perhaps his handlers told him that the backpack he was carrying contained a large red flag with "BANG!" printed on it or something? Meanwhile, the youth wing of a mainstream UK Muslim group is calling for jihad against the infidels (i.e., us), and details are emerging about the psychology of the failed suicide bombers. And if there's one phrase that says "loser in the game of life", it would be "failed suicide bomber":

Elie Godsi, a consultant clinical psychologist, says that there is a huge stigma attached to terrorists who fail which means they are unable to return to their communities.
"There is a great deal of stigma in having not succeeded," said the forensic psychologist from the University of Nottingham and author of Making Sense of Madness and Badness. "They will regroup and try again or try to take their own lives."

islamism london psychology terrorism the long siege 5

I went to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on Friday night. It had some good elements, though ultimately left something to be desired.

The look was very stylised; it seemed to be set in a Northern English city which somehow had seceded from Britain and joined the US at some time in the past, and thus had Wallace & Gromit-style row houses along with US Postal Service mailboxes and New York-style fire hydrants, and the mostly British population drove on the right and used US dollars. At one side of the city was the eponymous chocolate factory. The rooms inside the factory were one of the best parts of it, and were very stylised, often harking back to 1960s high-modernism. They were full of machines, though these, more often than not, looked a bit obviously computer-generated. Also good were the Oompa-Loompa song-and-dance routines, which combined Roald Dahl's lyrics, Danny Elfman's command of kitsch and a Bollywood-influenced sense of colourful excess.

Unfortunately, the rest of the film was a bit disappointing. Beneath Burton's magpie-like cultural appropriations, it seemed like the same movie Hollywood makes every time, with the same, mechanistically predictable, character development archetypes. In particular, there was the whole angle of Willy Wonka redeeming his relationship with his father, which seemed to be tacked on because those are the rules. Though I get the feeling that Burton sensed and acknowledged this; the hasty and deliberately wooden way he executed the moment of redemption seemed perhaps somewhat sarcastic. All in all, this was not, IMHO, a great auteurial coup or memorable work, but just another Hollywood formula flick, albeit with some skilled artisans involved in the process.

The trailers before the film were obviously calculated to appeal to the audience, and included the next Harry Potter film (which got cheers from the audience), Tim Burton's upcoming piece of animated goth-candy The Corpse Bride (which, I notice, already has collectible figurines in the shops), and the upcoming feature-length Wallace & Gromit film (which appears to reference Hammer horror films extensively).

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