Sunday, July 12, 2015
The film is a bit on the long side, with lots of testimony from ex-members about the nasty stuff they did, and how it ended up being done to them. I was really struck by the inter-cutting between clips of these people denying that they did some nasty stuff, and other later clips admitting that they had done the same nasty stuff; because what it shows is that demeanour is no guide to truthfulness. We tend to believe that we can tell when people are lying by looking at them. The movies and TV have taught us to believe that people look shifty when they are lying, and that we won't be taken in. Actually, they don't. Maybe decent people squirm a bit when they lie, but bad people, and people who think that it's OK to lie for a purpose, seem not to. Yet our system of justice is in part premised on the idea that ordinary people will be able to tell who is telling the truth.
Interesting counterpart with the story of Amy Winehouse. AW was left to the care of people who cared more about themselves, and how they could advance themselves through her career, than they ever did about her physical or mental health. It seems that a bit of dedicated competent professional help might have saved, and allowed her to graduate from youthful excess to grand old lady of Jazz.
Whereas Wilson had professional help in the shape of rogue shrink Dr Eugene Landy, who kept him sick and exploited him ruthlessly. If we are to believe the film then Wilson hit lucky in that he was rescued by car salesperson Melinda Leadbetter, who saw that something was wrong in the doctor-patient relationship. But it does highlight the problem for people who are talented, but not either commercially savvy or strong enough to cope with the pressures of a life in the limelight. How do you know who trust as doctor, counsellor, agent, lawyer, even accountant?
There is, of course, no mention in the film of the Beach Boys's politics, including their performance at a Republican fundraiser in 1984 (from which Brian was ejected). For that you'll have to read this.
Wednesday, July 01, 2015
Watched this last night, at the cinema, as part of a ‘première’ with live Q&A with director and producer. Glad I did, because some films need to be seen in a darkened room with a crowd and no other distractions.
This is a beautifully made documentary, without talking head interviews but with lots of found footage with audio interviews running over. It left me profoundly sad, of course, but also angry. I wasn't a huge AW fan, and didn't consume much of the celeb coverage while she was alive. But anyone can see what a huge talent she was, both as a singer and as a writer. So it’s hard to watch her entourage failing her. Other celebs have been protected from the worst impacts of media attention, but she wasn't. She was left to be exposed to it, because the sight of her cracking under the pressure somehow enhanced her market value. Others have survived drugs and bad relationships, but she wasn't given the time or space to regroup and recover, again because those around her wanted to keep her touring and performing. She was too young, inexperienced, and already damaged by early life to take control herself.
I note in passing that it was alcohol and bulimia that killed her rather than the shedloads of drugs that she took, but this is not to defend the drugs and the drug-taking; it all contributed to the dissolution of her personality. I also think that no-one watching this will learn anything. Young people won’t do any less booze and drugs, young women will still want to be thin, the business will still batten on to anyone with talent, and destroy them if they let it.
So sad to think that she wrote all those beautiful songs about someone as obviously shitty as her ex-husband.
Monday, June 29, 2015
This is a brilliant, clever, moving film - though it rather does confirm my prejudice that one should never let the media in any form near one's personal life. The residents do not come out of it very well, and there's more than a touch of sneering at the chavs. But no-one comes out of it very well - not the local politician, and not the voyeuristic media either.
I watched this on iPlayer, and couldn't help wondering whether the person who wrote the description had seen it - it was utterly wrong.
Monday, June 22, 2015
In some ways too long to be really punchy (it's only 80 minutes, but it tries to cover a lot in that time) but too short to do justice to all the things it raises. I would have liked more on the first bit - ownership and regulation - and possibly more on Leveson, which is where it starts. (I was most affected, though, by the short segment in which a young black woman responds to that Lilly Allen video, which I hadn't previously seen - I'd rather ignored the furore over it as being the usual music industry PR shit). Interestingly the two film-makers didn't know that they were going to make a documentary when they started - they thought it might become lots of shorts on YouTube. I hope they do that too, because they've got lots more to say.
Sunday, June 21, 2015
Nominally a rom-com, and about relationships with some funny bits, there's nevertheless a lot of sadness and misery in this film. Hugh Bonneville establishes himself as the "poor man/woman's Colin Firth" by playing an ineffectual, uncomfortable posh bloke who is a journalist in an unsatisfactory relationship with his girlfriend Cheryl (Victoria Hamilton).
There's a good deal of un-reflective stereotyping of French people and French-ness - the couples counsellor that they go to is a self-important over-intellectual French guy, for example. Eric Cantona plays a gnomic French film director. Although HB is the sympathetic focus of the story, and a self-proclaimed anti-French xenophobe, the French people in the film all turn out to have been right all along - the couple should split up, how relationships begin determines how they'll end, love is something that you just know when it happens...
Monday, June 15, 2015
I note in passing that the poster displays a moment in the film that is entirely unmemorable - the main character is shown here hugging his sister, who has returned from Canada. Would you know that from the picture? I don't think you would.
One odd thing - it's set in Fascist Italy, but there are no fascists at all, and almost no Italians. Why put it there at all? And could it have been set in 1930s Germany without any Nazis? One does wonder what goes on in the mind of Hollywood people. Also, the producer is Alan Greenspan, but it's not that Alan Greenspan.
Tuesday, June 09, 2015
This is a zero-budget, over-long, slightly shapeless, but honest and evocative film about two overlapping communities of activists; an eco-village of benders on a site awaiting development near Kew Bridge, and the 'Democracy Village' in Parliament Square. Both communities no longer exist, having been evicted by bailiffs and police. Both were affected by an influx of the casualties of life - junkies, alcoholics, and nutters, with whom they found it increasingly difficult to deal. The early phase nutters included David Shayler, the ex-MI5 agent who in the film dressed as a woman, said that he was Jesus and rambled on about the Zionist World Government. Later he came to seem quite reasonable as the next wave arrived, including 'Freemen' who denounced Shayler and others as police agents.
After the Freemen came the drunks, the junkies and the mentally ill. Several of the activists complained that they were 'not social workers', and at least one hoped to camera that they would lose their forthcoming court case so that they wouldn't have to deal with the problem people any more.
It would be hard to say that either community achieved anything at all. Some of the people who were watching at the same time were inspired by the dedication and selflessness of the activists, and the way in which they did look after the victims who they found themselves looking after. I was just depressed by all the wasted energy, and the way that the communities got progressively smaller rather than bigger as the nutters made life unbearable for others.
I do remember that student occupations in the 1970s used to have a no-drugs, no alcohol rule. That seems like basic common sense now. I can see that eco-anarchists don't like the idea of having rules (after all, who can enforce them?) but I'd say that the need for that nettle to be grasped is one of the key learnings from the film.