Cracking the flags

It’s hot in England at the moment. I took this by the River Dee in Chester today.

 

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Young peculiar

I just finished reading The Peculiar Memories of Thomas Penman by Bruce Robinson. It’s by Bruce Robinson so obviously it’s good. Written by him, there’s no way it’s going to be anything less great. That established, what can I tell you about it? It’s an apparently autobiographical, coming-of-age story and, as such, it’s pretty well trodden ground. It’s entertaining, funny, touching and poignant but I didn’t really feel that it was enough of any of those things to make it a true classic.

The best bits are where Thomas is one-to-one with another character especially his girlfriend Gwen or his frail Grandad. Those sections feel passionate and from the heart. Conversely, the parts concerning the family as a whole seem a bit filmic to me; like Robinson has been visualising the thing as a film (with funny dialogue and quirky set pieces) when instead of doing it straight from the heart (or gut!). I bet there’s been moments during the writing of this when Bruce Robinson has laughed his head off imagining the reaction of an audience in some cinema auditorium somewhere.

I find this can be a problem with many writers who do screenplays as well as novels. If they’re thinking of a film while writing a novel… it never works. A big giveaway that the author is doing this is when there is lots and lots of dialogue. Then again… who am I to criticise? Producing ANY writing is a miracle (believe me, I know!) and then you get some faceless blog person picking stupid little holes in it. The book’s good and well worth a read. Go and read it. That’s all that matters really. Over and out.

 

Profile of a killer?

This is the Twitter page of Anders Breivik, the man who is thought to have carried out the murders of more than 90 people in Norway yesterday. The tweet is a quote from John Stuart Mill. Quoting philosophical texts can’t elevate this terrible act above filthy barbarism. Bleak, bleak times.

Harry Potter goes out on a high?

I saw it, yes. And I saw it through a pair of those things above. Actually that’s not completely true. I did see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 in 3D but I took the 3D glasses I bought for Transformers 4 so I didn’t actually watch the film through official, circular lensed geek glasses. The effect was the same though; blurriness.

I should say that I’m not a massive fan of Harry Potter; I think I’ve seen 2 out of the series and both of these underwhelmed me. My main objection in the past has been the principle actors; they were too bratty. They reminded me of those nightmare kids that Rod Hull and Emu used to hang around with. I don’t especially like kids in films, or kids’ films, or films about kids, or kids generally (except my own ¬†angels of course) so maybe it’s not surprising that I’ve liked the Harry Potter films better as the main characters have grown up. Or maybe the films themselves have just got better. To be honest, I’m not interested enough to care. The fact of it is; I really enjoyed this final instalment in the saga.

The first 15 minutes are astonishingly, frighteningly boring. Really, I felt unconsciousness approaching very quickly; I’m finding it increasingly difficult not to take naps during films. But thereafter, the film was interesting, exciting, atmospheric, clever and suspenseful. It didn’t even matter that I didn’t know what the hell was going on or that I was really, really irritated by all those stupid names (Dumbledore? Dobby? For God’s sake grow up!). There were loads of famous British actors doing annoying cameo roles which made a lovely, refreshing change from having American actors doing annoying cameo roles.

So to sum up, the film is actually really good and I think that’s because it concentrates on character and doesn’t get distracted by the CGI (although the CGI is great). Therefore, it doesn’t do a Transformers and become a 3 hour video game. I did actually care about Harry and… whatever the others are called… by the end. I do think it missed a bit of a trick by not being as poignant as it could have been though. This was a big chance to do a Toy Story 3 and make us all cry about how this was a 10 year journey of growing up coming to an end. I would have wept buckets at that as I did at Toy Story 3. But they didn’t do it and I didn’t weep buckets or even a single tear.

It’s good though so go and see it. It’s three times as good as most of the junk on at the moment; certainly in a different league to both Transformers 4 and X-Men.

First and last

The top picture shows the first ever edition of the News of the World, underneath is shown the last ever edition, tomorrow’s edition. The notorious Sunday newspaper was born on 1 October 1843 and will die on 10 July 2010 at the grand old age of 168. In some ways it’s a shame that something that’s been around as long as that has to go; it’s an iconic part of British life after all. For me it has always been an ingredient of Sundays along with roast beefand the ¬†Antiques Roadshow.

But it was becoming an increasingly vicious beast as it reached old age and often represented a part of the British psyche which was aggressive, intolerant and thuggish. It’s recent role as pimp to the political elite was vile and unhealthy; Rupert Murdoch the embodiment of it all. For years it (and he) seemed invulnerable but that has all changed in 2011. This may be the end of an era but it’s also the start of a new one in which politicians no longer draft policies with one eye on the leaders of the red tops. This age of recession is causing a lot of stones to get lifted; arrogant, fat politicians have had to stop creaming money off their expenses, ruthless media bosses have had to stop taking their customers for granted. It’s turning out to be a proper shake-up this age of austerity and, it seems, not a moment too soon. I can’t stand the Antiques Roadshow either.