Thursday, November 18, 2010

This week I have been mostly watching: Films with a Christmas theme

As we hurtle unfettered into the bosom of the yuletide season you may notice a fair amount of Christmas themed films and TV shows airing on the good old idiot box in the coming weeks. It was my misfortune to actually witness a particularly tasteless example of one of the these films on the weekend, and I must say, I was shocked and stunned by the bloodthirsty violence on show.
Now, you're probably thinking that I'm talking complete balderdash, Christians are a pious and peace loving lot (lets ignore the crusades for a minute), would they stand by and watch the festival of Christmas desecrated by association with sadistic violence?
Well, apparently so, as this film was made back in the 90's and is still being aired. And what is the offending article in question? Well, its Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, starring former child megastar Macaulay Culkin.
If you haven't seen it, the premise of the sequel is pretty much the same as the first film, Kevin (Macaulay) is left by his family again when they go on holiday (how someone has failed to inform the authorities regarding this shocking negligence is simply beyond comprehension) and to occupy the lonely hours until he's found he decides to torture and torment two petty criminals (one of which is Jo Pesci, why did you do it Jo?) to death in ever more dastardly and cruel ways under the pretext that he's trying to stop them stealing money from a philanthropist toy store owner in New York.

The slapstick cartoon violence is gratuitous and slightly disturbing, I found myself wincing as bricks were hurled repeatedly into the forehead of the unfortunate criminals from the top of a tall building by that grinning angel of death Kevin, I was stunned as Kev rigged up a blowtorch and filled a nearby toilet bowl with petrol just so he could watch Jo Pesci's head be set alight, and planning to douse the flames, stick his flaming melon in what appears to be toilet water but is in fact a highly explosive flammable substance.

Now if this happened in Itchy and Scratchy or an old Tom and Jerry cartoon, it would undoubtedly be hilarious, I watched many violent cartoons growing up and I've managed to suppress my homicidal urges easily enough, but when a live action movie portrays the kind of violence where the protagonists bounce back from crushing blows and explosions with Wolverine style resilience then its a bit worrying.
I certainly wouldn't let my daughter watch this when she gets older, I'd want her to realise that violent acts have a consequence and not find myself turning the corner of our street on my way back from work to see her launch an ingeniously constructed home made mortar bomb at me as a practical joke.

Anyway, the movie winds its way to the inevitable conclusion of Kev being saved from being shot in the face by Joe Pesci by a pre fame Susan Boyle and the horde of pigeons she has under her command (I'm sure everyone saw that coming a mile off). The bad guys end up safe and sound back in prison out of reach of the evil clutches of Kev and Kev grows up to be the mastermind of several new torture techniques for the American army.

There's not much left to say on Home Alone 2, by far the most gratuitous and disturbing film I've seen in a while that masquerades as a feel good piece of Christmas children's entertainment, lets hope we never see its like again.
If the devil has a face, its the eerily cute blond, blue eyed, Kevin, he would have made Adolf Hitler proud.

Lets just take a look at a brief clip ...... what a that?.....I think it is you know........its Susan Boyle

Saturday, November 6, 2010

This week I have mostly been listening to: other peoples conversations on the train

I am one of the unfortunate people who travel daily by train from the cultural vacuum of Gosford to the corporate snoozefest of North Sydney.
Occasionally while sat alongside my fellow automatons sporting their doom laden expressions of resignation to another arse numbing day of tedium in office purgatory I overhear nuggets of wisdom such as the following: 'The first one was bad enough, then it felt like someone was holding a gun to my head during the second, and I just can't bring myself to start the third'
What was the young woman in question talking about you may ask, well,  it was the Twilight series of children's novels. I'm sure you're aware of the Twilight phenomenon, which like the threat of global warming has been hanging over us all for what seems like centuries now, but if not, its a love story between a teenage girl and a century old vampire, with a bit of werewolf action thrown in for good measure. I haven't read the series mind you, as a fully grown adult its not really aimed at me, which is why I turned around to the woman who uttered the aforementioned comment and said:
'Excuse me, if its so bad don't read it then, you are aware that this drivel is aimed at emotionally unstable teenage girls approaching puberty who are craving a bit of escapism and romance aren't you? For pities sake woman, the literary fruits of the greatest minds of the last 2 centuries are at your fingertips, why not try a bit of Tolstoy, some Dostoevsky perhaps, a pinch of Virginia Woolf maybe? But no, you just sit there don't you, filling your brain with such vacuous waffle and then having the gaul to complain about it, no one forced you to read the god awful things did they, the last time I looked Twilight wasn't on the curriculum of English literature degrees, I bet you also sat through the film adaptions didn't you, I bet you shook your head in derision at how utterly tedious the whole thing was, like watching a bad episode of Dawsons Creek spliced together with a bad remake of the Lost Boys, although there was a cheap thrill to be had from watching the male eye candy waltz around with their shirts off I bet, you.... make.... me ....sick.'

Well, I didn't actually say that at all, I just sat in my seat exuding an air of superiority while struggling to understand the pretentious novel I was reading, but the point is valid, how come Twilight has become so darned popular with adults when it is essentially a children's book? It is probably because our minds have been so dumbed down and blunted by the cultural vacuum of modern civilisation that the only literature we can process revolves around irritating little wizards and falling in love with a member of the mythical undead.

That's it from me, I'm off to look at my calender of Robert Pattinson, fingers crossed its an oiled torso shot for November, but before I go, here is a clip of a far more menacing vampire who I was a fan of in my childhood:

Your thoughts on Count Duckula or Twilight would be most appreciated.

Monday, November 1, 2010

This week I have mostly been admiring: the perseverence of aging rockers

Its one of life's cruel inevitability's that we're all going to have to suffer the unfortunate, embarrassing circumstances and symptoms of aging. Being a man, well, technically anyway, I have to look forward to finally giving in and purchasing that nasal hair trimmer, coping with an expanding prostate and on receipt of a spam email selling Viagra, seriously contemplating taking the plunge.
But I had a dream once as a younger man, a wonderful dream, a dream that would let me forgo the tedious responsibilities of adult life and be free, yes, I was once in a half baked, half assed rock band called the Hot Freaks.
We were on the cusp of fame, we had a myspace page (sadly no longer operational, the only thing remaining is the background of the page showing "The Hot Freaks ROCK, YEAH!!" written on a toilet wall situated in a service station near Colchester"), we played a generation defining gig at a friends barbecue where, during the grand finale, (we were playing our best song, an epic, emotional paean to Reginald Mitchell, inventor of the spitfire) I looked up from my guitar to discover the entire crowd of 4 people had nipped out the back for a smoke. The fact that 2 of them didn't even smoke made it seem much worse.

Then fatherhood, marriage, a contract position in Swindon and an unexpected circumcision came along and the band dissolved.
Some people though don't let this deter them, they continue to follow their dream even though the years rapidly turn against them.
Living indie rock legend Bob Pollard for instance, he toiled in obscurity for years writing and recording songs in his basement until he finally gave up his job as a primary school teacher in his mid 30's and released 2 of the greatest, most badly recorded rock albums ever forged by man. See Bob and Guided by Voices here.
Then theres Anvil who soldiered on for 30 years after their initial 15 minutes of fame in the early eighties until they finally got the attention they deserved as the subjects of the inspirational documentary 'The story of Anvil.'
And of course there is the most famous example from recent years, Susan Boyle, the slightly deranged cat lady who on Britains Got Talent unexpectedly turned out to be a deranged cat lady with a warbly singing voice.
Now I'm not saying she can't sing (or am I?) but it was the whole package that made her famous, the hint she may be a closet axe wielding maniac, the bushy eyebrows, the frumpy dress that looked like it was fashioned from a pair of old curtains. This is what made made watching her achieve her dream of performing in front of a large audience so compelling, because it was so unexpected.
And in Australia we now have Altiyan Childs, he occasionally sleeps in a cave and when he sings he looks like he's taking part in a gurning competition, but before the evil corporate bullies of X factor polish him until any remnants of personality are gone, I find the aging rocker strangely inspirational.
All these people and others I haven't had time to mention give me hope as I ride into Sydney on my interminable commute to my tedious office job, because if they didn't give up as they drifted into the mediocrity of middle age then why must I give up my dream of getting off the hamster wheel of misery that is a 9 to 5 job.
So why not crack open the guitar case and record that over earnest ballad that I wrote 10 years ago, where theres life theres hope and in the words of Jimmy McIlroy "If you dream it, you can do it".

Have a look at The story of Anvil below:

If you have any comments on Bob Pollard, Reginald Mitchell or the overuse of brackets in this posting then please feel free to leave them. I could really do with the attention.