Sunday, August 31, 2008


It's the week that the full unexpurgated version of Bob Guccione's Caligula is finally released in the UK on DVD (the so-called Imperial Edition on 4 discs). Malcolm Taylor (aka McDowell) does a commentary as part of this set that I've been reliably informed is absolutely unmissable (brazen luvvie that of course he now is). It's a real shame that his career went downhill so dramatically after such memorable iconic roles throughout the 70s in movies like A Clockwork Orange, Royal Flash and If...., amongst others.

Meanwhile, the thinking man's porn star, the awful 'Dame' Helen Mirren gives us a concise object lesson in the cynical art of how to give the press just what they want as you simultaneously boost your career and personal kudos in the process. Klaus Barbie made me give up cocaine?! We've had the celebrity interviews with the eating disorders and the childhood misfortunes, now this could be the start of a new trend of blaming random tyrants, serial killers, and other assorted monsters for... almost anything.


A parting shot on this subject having this morning read about the CV of the cretin who came up with the naffness-redefining exploding bus routine at last weekend's Olympic Games closing ceremony.

I'm speculating here, but I have a little experience in this. The UK arts institutions are heavily populated with talentless wastrels who distribute vast amounts of funding to political bedfellows, lovers, and friends, both here and around the world, mostly as graces and favours. You wouldn't think it after repeatedly seeing these major demonstrations of tack but the country has lots of brilliantly original and talented, yet lonely and ignored, artists.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


DJ Benetti : updates for September!

Sneaky Pete's
73 Cowgate
Edinburgh, UK
Thursday September 4th / 18th / 25th : 10pm-3am

Yokohama Triennale 2008
Yokohama, Japan
Sunday September 13th : 9pm-11pm

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


After a wretched run of consecutive losers, faith is partially restored with Isabel Coixet's Elegy, and fully with the emphatically memorable The Fall.

contemplative, thought-provoking, and ultimately moving drama - I'd now very much like to read the novel it's based upon, Philip Roth's The Dying Animal

Baby Mama (*)
oh my fucking god - now I have officially hit rock bottom and actually feel soiled having sat right through this excruciating comedy about babies and motherhood

The Fall
this remake of Yo Ho Ho, an old Bulgarian movie, is a masterpiece: stunning to look at, and full of wonderful symbolism and metaphor; yet really at its heart lies a devastatingly simple tale of a relationship between a young actor, paralysed in a stunt gone wrong and now wishing to end his own life in hospital, and fellow patient Alexandria, a truly extraodinary little girl who becomes besotted and captivated by his extravagant and mythological story-telling - Catinca Untaru's performance as the little girl is one of the most memorable and magical things I've seen since Judy Garland in the Wizard Of Oz (yes, it's that good)

The Go-Getter (**)
an annoyingly derivative movie that has indie film student written all over it - the score, the scripting, the acting, the photography, the lot

The Strangers (**)
typical modern horror thriller: promising set-up that rapidly becomes silly and far-fetched - The Strangers uses all the audiovisual clichés of the genre not just once but over and over and over again to the point of viewer exhaustion; conclusion: send the director back to film school to study Hitchcock

Monday, August 25, 2008


Never has the tone been lowered so dramatically from such sublime heights. After an unrivalled and moving demonstration of stunning mass choreography and orchestrated music at the closing ceremony of the Beijing Games, there followed the indescribably humiliating embarrassment of seeing that twat Boris Johnson hands in pockets shamble on in his dreadful £15 Tesco suit, followed by a double-decker bus sporting the crappest logo of all time opening up to reveal some tart from X-Factor accompanied by a decrepit Jimmy Page miming on his Les Paul. Christ Almighty, kill me now.

Friday, August 22, 2008


One simple criterion for this list: very few, if any, visible traces of mankind.
  • Angel Falls, Venezuela
  • Grand Canyon, USA
  • Ayers Rock, Australia
  • Matterhorn, Switzerland
  • Carlsbad Caverns, USA
  • Antarctica
  • Sahara Desert, Africa

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


And speaking of transparent concessions, it's the Olympics.

The jingoism and hypocrisy that the UK excels at is in overdrive after such a surprising harvest of gold medals.

At the opening ceremony, arms went up when a pretty Chinese girl was seen to be miming and not the bucktoothed original singer. Days later the papers were full of sceptical indignation regarding the true ages of the Chinese female gymnasts while at the same time Team GB proudly fielded a cute 14 year old boy diver. Then it was the turn of the arrest of an ITV hack who, while covering an impromptu Free Tibet demo, got himself arrested by the Chinese 'goons' (if only these journalists were as diligent about reporting on our very own police state and routine invasions of sovereign nations).

Needless to say, there are no end of scams that athletes get up to escape drugs detection and our lot, under the mentorship of past master Linford Christie through UK Athletics, are well-versed in all the deceits. The use of fake genitals, bladders, synthetic urine, 'missed' tests, drug cancellers, and various other sleights are as important as the training itself, as are the intensive workshops in knowing what to say, and how to say it, if ever caught out. In the latter case playing the 'plucky Brit' card will usually work - unfortunately, not an option for the Eastern bloc competitors, or any swarthy Mediterranean types.

UK Athletics, with the shadow of the financially crippling London Games in 2012 looming, have adopted a brazen win-at-all-costs strategy where results are all that matter regardless of how they're achieved. Hence our Olympic success. Even from a country mostly populated by sweating alcoholic clinically obese couch potatoes on the permanent cusp of a heart attack.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Many of the best cold readers (fortunetellers and the like) have an armoury of all sorts of cool transparent concessions to achieve their magic - a lot of it is dependent on the understanding of unconscious communication through subtext. Several years ago, a friend of mine named Belinda, who'd been enjoying frequenting speed dating nights in the town, was berating the fact that every single guy every single night would ask the same fucking questions, top of the list being 'what do you do for a living?', or words to that effect.

A good cold reader will know that the wording of an answer reveals much information. If the answer is in the format 'I'm a (name of job)', then it's a sign that the person's identity is closely knitted to what they do, whereas 'I (do activity)' shows that the focus of identity is elsewhere.

Belinda asked me if I had any ideas about how she should best respond to this oh-so-inevitable question. Knowing that it would seem better to be seen as passionate about one's chosen work, I suggested the first formula - with an added subtlety. Kind of. 'I'm a kind of cleaner' - which sounds pretty damn mysterious and fascinating to me; and even more when the guy with increasing curiosity asks what she means. Belinda just smiles, shrugs her shoulders and says 'hey, I'll tell you later, let's not talk about that now, what do you do in the real world?'

I'm a kind of musician. But let's not talk about that now.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


You could say a few lessons have been learned.

Iron Man (**)
that's it, no more of these stupid superhero movies for me - and this particular trash doesn't even have a bad guy like The Joker, The Dark Knight's saving grace; Downey really annoys the hell out of me here, Paltrow's character is pathetic, more product placement than even 007, and this all added to some of the most puerile corniest Hollywood dialogue I've ever heard in my fucking life

Happy-Go-Lucky (*)
another scandalous waste of celluloid funded by UK Lottery money - apart from the rotten acting, the excruciatingly phoney London accents alone will drive you to the brink of insanity

Where In The World Is Osama Bin Laden? (**)
it's an irony that a rather unconvincing Morgan Spurlock needs the Bin Laden legend almost as much as Bush and those who would support 'Al Qaeda' do - otherwise he doesn't have a film; Spurlock comes across as a decent guy and this lightweight movie contains a few genuinely interesting moments which needed to be developed at the expense of the dubious premise, the cop-out ending, and the corny jokes and songs, and, it goes without saying, all the meh crap about his baby's birth

Sex And The City: The Movie (**)
not a welcoming experience for us guys and if these four ghastly women are truly representative of the female gender then we are really in trouble - unattractive, atrocious dress sense, egotistical, materialist, narrow-minded, vacuous, unreceptive, superficial, immature, rude, condescending, judgmental... however, I'd like to think that they aren't; that said, there are lots of funny lines and moments to enjoy and there's a cheerful energy to it despite the second half dragging a bit towards its inevitable and utterly predictable outcome

Stanley Cuba (*)
worthless indie crap

Water Lilies (***)
only French cinema could get away with a pervfest like this, and one can be glad for that - that said, let's be honest and not fool ourselves, it's not at all a character study of blossoming female adolescence, it's wishful thinking with all the mandatory bisexual symbols, references, and motifs neatly packaged up and delivered by a drooling director having a field day indulging herself with the talent - so hallelujah if it's what you too are into

Suffering Man's Charity (*)
did this cast of third rate thespians all take a humungous speedball before the shooting began? the resultant overacting is utterly unbearable

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Voted lists nearly always turn up hopelessly unsatisfying results with the usual horrendous and ridiculous results - I'd always much rather hear what one person's opinions are along with their own personal reasons. There's one happening for the Seven Natural Wonders Of The World and, before listing my choices for those, here are my nominations for the manmade ones with precious little reasoning other than that an important criterion was to have a variety of structure types, ages, and locations within the list. Disagreement most welcomed.
  • Great Pyramid Of Giza, Egypt - beyond their enormous scope, mystery, and perfect surrounding location, I love it that for Emperor Hadrian, upon his first inspiring visit, they were already ancient monuments
  • Moais, Rapa Nui - ever since I was a small child, these statues, and the stories they seem to tell, still fascinate me as they continue to stare out into the open sea
  • Amalfi Coast, Italy - in a country of architectural miracles around almost every corner, I've chosen this achingly, impossibly beautiful coastline drive
  • Golden Pavilion, Japan - so precious in its setting, it's as if nature had been exquisitely designed around the structure, rather than the other way around
  • Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany - like a hi-def screen that has a higher resolution than real life, this dreamlike castle is more fairytale than a fairytale
  • The Kremlin, Russia - an iconic exterior that tells but a mere part of the full story: it's the modern day Forbidden City
  • Nazca Lines, Peru - arguably the most mysterious manmade art of all

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


DJ Benetti : updates for August!

Sneaky Pete's
73 Cowgate
Edinburgh, UK
Thursday August 7th / 14th / 21st / 28th : 10pm-4am

Sunday, August 03, 2008


Of these, Stuart Gordon's Stuck is a must-see.

Shadow Company
well-balanced insightful documentary on the mercenary business; it mostly focuses on Iraq, yet also discusses the profession's historical background and compares other contemporary topical scenarios like Sierra Leone and Equatorial New Guinea - features an excellent range of articulate interviewees and some amazing footage you won't have seen on the BBC

Donkey Punch (**)
Donkey Punch has a decent premise and in better hands could have been a memorable ride (pun regretted) - yet it's undermined by its very Britishness in the form of the ugly chav Heat magazine Big Brother alcohol culture that sullies every frame of its 90 minutes as it does many a town and city centre on a weekend evening: from the boneheaded violence, the dumb dreary conversation, all to a soundtrack of lame club tunes; the movie climaxes into absurd bloody pandemonium and you can't say that all of these thicko stereotypes don't get what they deserve

Purple Violets (*)
there's nothing good about this awful movie whatsoever - all the characters in this unfunny unromantic comedy are uniformly obnoxious and the acting is like a third rate sitcom

Stuck (*****)
brilliant and original tragicomedy directed by Stuart Gordon - Stuck is funny and horrific without being silly and there are superb performances by the entire cast; a breath of fresh air in this season of blockbuster trash

The Ruins (***)
gory horror flick set in the Mexican jungle: it is well acted and tightly enough directed to allow you to (mostly) overlook the rather silly basis for the bloodshed

Smart People (***)
Sarah Jessica Parker might be the unsexiest woman on the planet but this wry, laconic US comedy has a couple of great compensatory performances from Ellen Page (much better here than in Juno) and Thomas Haden Church (who easily steals every scene he's in)


On this occasion, words almost fail me. Apart from the totalitarian extent of these kinds of powers, it's clear that this absolute moron Chertoff has not the slightest clue how easy it'd be for the types he identifies as 'threats' to bypass physical border controls with this 'contraband' without physically carrying it, and I quote, "on any device capable of storing information in digital or analog form, including hard drives, flash drives, cellphones, ipods, pagers, beepers, and video and audio tapes... also... all papers and other written documentation, including books, pamphlets and written materials commonly referred to as 'pocket trash' or 'pocket litter'". Have a nice day.

Saturday, August 02, 2008


If you thought like me at the time it happened that the post-9/11 anthrax scare was extremely fishy (as with so many other events of this whole era of the so-called 'war on terrorism'), then I thoroughly recommend this article. And considering what a huge story this was at the time, and one which arguably had even more serious consequences than 9/11 itself (i.e. a crucial part of the rationale for the invasion of Iraq), why the hell are these developments getting such scant news coverage? Especially in August when there's so little genuine news to report.

Friday, August 01, 2008


A big thank you to all who recommended seeing this fascinating and exceptionally inspirational film.

Theremin - An Electronic Odyssey (****)
Leon Theremin's is an amazing story, though for me the real star is Clara Rockmore, one of the greatest musicians of all times, and here we have, in addition to moving footage of her captivating performances, the treat of witnessing her with an understandably adoring Leon on her 18th birthday - Brian Wilson's pointless ramblings should have been edited out completely