Ghost in the Shell
The original anime. Ugly and boring, with standard one dimensional ‘what is identity’ philosophy — ‘Man is an individual (false) only because of his intangible memory (false). But memory cannot be defined (false), yet it defines mankind (false).’ Just been remade with Scarlett Johannson, and whipped up a bit of a liberal fuss because she doesn’t look Asian — as if anyone in Japanese manga does.
I’m Alan Partridge
‘More distance between the egg and the beans. I may want to mix them but I want that to be my decision. Use the sausage as a breakwater.’
Coogan said he wanted, with these series, to do more than entertain people but to make some statement on ‘the human condition’. Not sure about that, but the subtly of his performance (and the script), how he commands your sympathy — love even — while being venal, dishonest, cowardly and cruel is worthy of contemplation.
According to the venerable Sight and Sound survey, this is the best film ever made. When we finished watching it Ai-chan said ‘Macho sadist fascist wanker’s film’. Utterly inexplicable how it can be highly rated. Starts with ham-fisted exposition (‘We were once engaged though weren’t we?’), goes through a series of absurd / dull episodes, insincere melodramatic love-scenes, more paper thin ‘who am I really?’ philosophy before ending up with Jimmy Stewart, the hero, suddenly and pointlessly behaving like a cruel maniac. Out of ten, I’d give it a generous two.
Another contender for greatest film ever made (currently second on the survey above). An enormous number of famous directors have cited it as critically influential on their work — meaning technically influential (focusing, framing, sound, narrative structure and so on). I’m more inclined to Ingmar Bergman’s judgement; ‘a total bore. Above all, the performances are worthless. The amount of respect that movie has is absolutely unbelievable!’ And he is right. It is much easier to see why Citizen Kane is highly regarded than it is Vertigo, and as an aspiring filmmaker I made some notes — but it’s so damn boring. There’s just nothing to the story. Kane himself, a guy who loves himself and fumbles lifelong for what cannot be owned, is basically Alan Partridge without the jokes.
Modern horror fluff. Kind of a black man’s Stepford Wives. One of the most forced ‘evil genius explaining his dastardly plan’ scenes I’ve ever seen. Something like this, ‘Okay hero, an essential part of our dastardly plan is to explain our dastardly plan to you.’ Also notable for having not just one crap ending, but two. Talking of which…
Sense of an Ending
A middle-class miseryguts is reminded that he was once a bit of a git and ceases to be quite so miserable, but just as middle-class. I’ve come to realise that any story which announces that its theme is ‘memory’ or ‘identity’ will almost certainly have nothing meaningful to say about either or the source of both — character.
Twin Peaks, Series 3
In which Agent Cooper is horrified to discover that he has spent the last twenty-five years in the mind of David Lynch. Lacks the light, human touch of the first series — the dialogue and characterisation in this one are hollow and kind of exhausted. It also lacks anything actually happening. Repellent self-indulgent art-porn, basically, from a man who has ceased caring what people need from art. Hundreds of loose narrative ends? Utterly ridiculous plot-points? Five minutes watching a guy sweeping a floor? Fuck it! I’m Lynch! I can do anything I fucking want!
Bahubali 1: The Beginning
Hilarious Bollywood blockbuster about a nineteen seventies cabaret singer who climbs up a massive mountain and discovers he’s God. Nobody turns around in Bahubali without a slow-motion, fan in the face and a brass-heavy orchestral strike. Nobody says ‘yes’ without swift camera dolly to the face, five-hundred voice choir, triumphant gaze into the middle-distance and rapturous cheers from the multitude.
It’s fascinating though. Have you read the Puranas or the Ramayana or Mahabara? For literally thousands of years the artistic tradition of India has decreed that an evil monster shall not be an ugly snake or a destructive giant but have TEN heads and TWENTY arms and FIVE HUNDRED WIVES and be AS BIG AS A THOUSAND MOUNTAINS and capable of EATING PLANETS!!!!… Everything, everything is notched up to FAR BEYOND MAXIMUM. And yet, somehow, this outrageous irrealism, not to mention galactic ball of divine cheese, is good, funny, exuberant, life-giving. It makes you love India, and through India, mankind.
Well alright, you might just find it trashy nonsense, but imagine a cross between Monty Python, The Day Today, You the Living and Bahabali and you’ve got yourself a Belly Up! TV series.
EDIT: After watching Bahubali 2: The Conclusion I have divided my life into two parts. Before Bahubali (BB) and After Bahubali (AB). 2017, thus, is 1AB.