Sunday, October 28, 2007


Saw IV is another masterpiece.

Without getting into a discussion about its merits, there's a curious phenomenon developing here which one can't fail to notice upon visiting imdb.

Saw IV is an anomaly amongst the mainstream (if we can call it such) in that it demands a hell of a lot of work from you; not just the film itself, but the implicit presupposition of your total familiarity with the other three (if not the short). It's the type of referenced complexity usually only found in literature. To be so punishingly exacting, to me, is a pleasure in itself in an era when most movies still treat us like lobotomised imbeciles with constant scripted prompts, unnecessary repetition in the narrative, not to mention the clichéd musical emotional cues.

Therefore, I visited its imdb page to get my head around some of the dense new plotlines and was astonished to see the number of board postings. Hundreds of pages each containing dozens, in addition to each containing comments therein. In merely three days. To put that into perspective, the iconic Star Wars and The Godfather have eleven and twelve pages respectively.

Further to this veritable supernova of artistic feedback (which I highly value), you'll at once see how extremely polarised it is in terms of verdict (which I also highly value). So whatever your own view is, in addition to capturing people's imaginations like nothing else in recent memory, it's apparent we're split into two very clear camps. Trick or treat.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


The road to sainthood is indeed a rocky one, and there is no shortage of villains, murderers, scurrilous fraudsters, and other assorted psychos and ne'er-do-wells to count amongst their number.

Francesco Forgione, popularly known as Padre Pio, is one such and whose fabulous claimed abilities (at times surpassing those of Jesus, Gandalf, and Harry Potter) transcended his more mundane, nay banal, talents of the curing of terminal illnesses or giving sight to the blind, and included the ability to fly: on one occasion swooping majestically skywards to save a downed Italian WW2 pilot. On another, using his skill for bilocating, managed to steer a car of sleeping occupants for several kilometres. Such stories, if nothing else, would surely impress almost any cute receptive cherub of a choirboy that might catch a clergyman's roving eye.

Now that the method of using carbolic acid for his famous stigmata effect has been confirmed by historian Sergio Luzzatto, here below I reprint the resounding and categorical answer from the Vatican for all you sceptics and doubting Thomases.

"We would like to remind Mr Luzzatto that, according to Catholic doctrine, canonisation carries with it papal infallibility."


The Bridge (Eric Steel, 2005)
Hypnotic feature about the awe-inspiring Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco and its romantic allure to the suicidal. Based on the essay Jumpers that originally appeared in The New Yorker magazine, I guarantee this is unlike anything else you've ever seen and may well leave you, like me, deeply affected afterwards. Thanks to the poster of this recommendation at the forum.

Crazy Love (Dan Klores, 2007)
Documentary of a breathtakingly perverse and violent love story; one that begins weirdly enough and then through the various twists and turns gets increasingly more bizarre as the story, as told by the protagonists, unfolds. Relationships surely don't get madder than this.

Zeitgeist (unknown, 2007)
A couple of tedious minutes in and ready to eject, you suddenly find yourself sucked into this two hour conflation of three fascinating topics (non-historicity of Jesus, 9/11 inside job, international banking conspiracies) all of which are, despite the low production values, pretty well presented. An explicit connection isn't really made, and I've already studied these themes a great deal, yet it's forgivable as it's refreshing, after our constant diet of information to the contrary, to see it all expressed in the public domain.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


I don't think there are too many times in one's life when someone else manages to articulate your own feelings with such resonance and with such precision, that you feel they are somehow after your very own heart.

Well, a few weeks ago I'd been discussing music with Philip and without knowing too much of the biographical detail, had been commenting about the clear influences of jazz musicians Albert Ayler and John Coltrane on the amazing first album by the French group Magma, musical project of Christian Vander. And on Monday, to my great pleasure, Philip managed to dig up this brilliant essay that Vander had written about these very influences.

Way beyond the undoubtedly intriguing background detail, it expresses Vander's personal music philosophy in a way that's especially poignant for having chosen such an artistically isolated and disenfranchised path.

Friday, October 19, 2007


I don't know if you remember the 'downward spiral' drugs campaign where, through police mugshots, you could see a person's shockingly premature degeneration. Well, bearing that in mind, have a look at this startling (though inverted) emphasis of my observation on the magical transformative qualities of a woman's looks through clothes and make-up. With the aid of expert million dollar cosmetic retouchers and unbridled hardcore overindulgence, it seems you can effortlessly, in the space of 48 hours, oscillate from looking like a cute fresh sexy young pussycat to wizened old addled crack whore - and no doubt back to sexy again by this Friday night.

For the philosophers amongst us, it would serve as a worthy starting point for our continuing debate on perception of reality.


Hello Kitty is an incredible international phenomenon - some of the coolest people I've ever known are huge fans and belies the notion of it being a kids' thing. Fuck, I'm a fan myself and am not quite sure why; and who, by the way, is up for a trip to Sanrio Puroland?

For the true otaku, there's a monthly Japanese glossy magazine packed with all the latest HK products and merch from around the world which includes almost everything under the sun - and now there's even this.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


On account of needing more time for recovery, I've had to cancel the two upcoming concerts at the end of this month in Oslo and Helsinki (Philip will instead just do solo performances there) and while that's bad enough, to make things rather worse, the long planned and much anticipated two week vacation in Italy has had to be cancelled.

Italy is such a beautiful fascinating country and has been a memorable backdrop to so much great dramatic literature and film. It seems you can separate it all into two distinct categories of narrative: the soft focus dreamy romantic (for instance, E.M. Forster's A Room With A View and others), or the shadowy and deadly (Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now and Ian McEwan's dark novel The Comfort Of Strangers come to mind).

Saturday, October 13, 2007


The Lives Of Others (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2006)

Of the many ways of deciding whether to invest time in seeing a movie, you find it usually pays to be wary of the Oscar nominations, especially ones in the patronisingly entitled 'foreign language' section. On this occasion however, if you haven't yet seen this intelligent drama set in East Berlin under the Stasi, make an immediate exception. It's emotionally engaging, unflinching, compassionate, and superbly constructed throughout.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


I used to really love those Magic Eye books that were all the rage for a while - you'd look hard at a seemingly abstract picture and with some effort a translucent 3D image would appear as if out of nowhere (example). Several years ago, there was even a wonderful exhibition of stereograms in Edinburgh which included spectacular examples requiring the viewer's severest concentration. It gave a curious feeling of intimacy to be seeing something that was otherwise invisible.

Is seeing believing? Have a go at this magical exercise in perceived reality, it took me a good 15 minutes to get my head round it; and although it's a seemingly trivial exercise, the more you note the tone of many of the dozens of comments there, the more you begin to realise what an excellent metaphor it is for types of human behaviour.

Monday, October 08, 2007


You might have thought you knew a few, shall we say, unusual things about Sammy Davis Jr. - however, I bet you didn't know about this. Here's another example of the demonstration skill, this time Bruce Lee, in a scene from Enter The Dragon originally censored in the UK.

Saturday, October 06, 2007


Who doesn't like a good zombie movie? Trouble is there are precious few that can compare to the early Romero works, in particular the original classic Night Of The Living Dead.

Quickly forgetting the atrocious Dawn Of The Dead remake (one fears the worst for the upcoming Day Of The Dead remake) and the dreary 28 Days Later franchise, and with all this extra time on my hands, I thus gave Resident Evil: Extinction a chance - and enjoyed this third and best effort in the series quite a bit even though it breaks that most sacred zombie covenant: that it has been scientifically proven that zombies can't run. When will they learn that the true aficionado's willing suspension of disbelief will not pass that threshold?

Anyway, ignoring that glaring oversight, Milla Jovovich is most appealingly attired throughout and has the prettiest eyes, and then you go and see a ghastly frumpy picture like this and you're sharply reminded about the magical transformative ability that clothes and make-up have. For much better or for much much worse.

For the clothes fetishist however, I discovered a curious spin-off to all this where you can buy the gear from a range of recent movies (including RE: Extinction) at what seem to me pretty reasonable prices. I mean, fuck, eat your heart out, sapeurs! I'd much rather get draped out there than in Bloomingdales or Harvey Nicks. Now I just need to find someone who will fit snugly into this sexy little number.

Thursday, October 04, 2007


Just came back from the hospital and it seems I was initially being a bit too optimistic: there are in fact 3 broken ribs and so I'll be holed up and out of any meaningful action for around 6 weeks. Oh well, here's to free codeine and reading all those books you always wanted to have time for. Sincere thanks once again to everyone who's written.