Morality Bites blogathon Do filmmakers have a moral responsibility?

This particular post is part of the Morality Bites blogathon over at Filmplicity and DWC and concerns the question “Do filmmakers have a moral responsibility?”

When it comes to what I call glorified violence in films such as Kill Bill and Reservoir Dogs, making it cool to kill and swear, then I begin to take a step back. How can you argue in favour of making such films were there is apparently no surface message other than entertainment?

I respect films such as Clockwork Orange and Fight Club, because I sense Kubrick and Fincher had a reason for displaying the violence, dealing with issues of how to handle criminals or male aggression. Sadly all I can see in above mentioned Tarantino films is violence for the sake of some morbid pleasure. The thing is, no matter if the director has sincere intentions or not, the film can be misinterpreted by the audience just the same, and that is a problem. If just one man goes out and cuts someone’s ear off for fun like in Reservoir Dogs, then Tarantino is at fault, has Quentin even thought of the consequences you wonder? And Fight Clubs emerging, is Fincher to blame?

Although even a comic, or an innocent cowboys and Indians flick can make a boy take his fathers gun and shoot someone, it’s a tricky situation in accusing the artist, because you never really know whereabouts the culprit got his inspiration from, so this is also a problem, the artist is kind of artistically immune. And this to a certain degree means they can direct any story they want.

I guess anything goes in art, and the more extreme one artist is, the further the bar is pushed for the next generation of directors and audiences. I confess I enjoyed the dialogue in Pulp Fiction, so I’m guilty too.

Would the world be a less violent place without movies and video games is a hypothetical question, or do we simply have a natural inclination for destruction? Do we watch horror films like Saw, so we can mentally live out a fantasy, so we don’t have the urge to do so in real life? And is film therapeutic in some way.

I heard director David Lynch comment:
“But now violence has reached an absurd stage where you just don’t feel it any more. And there’s no way now you can swear more in movies. It’s like there’s a wall there – a numb sort of thing” (Lynch on Lynch, page 249)

The rating system of not allowing children to watch excessive swearing, sex and violence obviously is a method of protecting our kids, but does that mean all adults can just waltz into a dvd store and rent anything. Should there be limitations on what over 18s are allowed to watch, is the choice of saying yes or no to movies enough? Should there be a warning for adults on the dvd?

I know if I was a director, I would never in a million years direct scenes that included violence and swearing just to be hip and “street” for the sake of realism. While I can appreciate Goodfellas is well-acted with a good story, I disliked the profanity and violence, and can’t understand why it gets so much love. I believe at the time it had the highest number of F-profanities in film history, is that something to admire? When violence/swearing becomes cool, I think cinema is heading in the wrong direction.
Having said that, I think directors should make movies that they want to make, there shouldn’t be limitations on art. I just choose to turn off stuff like Kill Bill, as it really makes no sense to me, and I don’t know what Tarantino is trying to achieve?

Let me know what you think in the comments.

Want to join the blogathon and write your own answer to the question: Do filmmakers have a moral responsibility? Details over at Filmplicity

Film review: Blue Velvet (1986)

In a very honest and personal frame-by-frame interview with Cousins (on youtube), Lynch talks about the beginning of Blue Velvet, how it’s a slow dreamy feeling, where things can go either way.

A disturbing vision of small town life in America. Kyle Maclachlin plays a voyeuristic amateur detective named Jeffrey, and he is sort of director David Lynch’s alter ego, with that trademark buttoned-up look. Lynch stated in the interview above, that he doesn’t like wind on his collarbone.

Lynch is a very visual storyteller. Those blue curtains in the opening credits sure are strange and dreamlike, they don’t look like regular cloth. They represent what the film is about, something hidden. A theatre curtain that will soon reveal the story. Another indication of delving beneath the surface is the iceberg model at the police station, which probably symbolizes that certain things are out of sight to the people of Lumberton, most of the iceberg is below the surface.

In the first few minutes, the man waving from the fire truck is interesting, is he waving to the audience, and why? Perhaps to make us aware that we the audience are also voyeurs like Jeffrey is.
I love the metaphor of the insects down in the grass, an insect battle that encapsles everything dark under the surface of the perfect green lawn and white picket fence. Things are not what they seem.

Jeffrey’s role models at home and his childhood world is kind of falling apart, the story is a coming of age tale about Jeffrey discovering the real world outside the safe environment of his family. He goes on a journey to the dark side of Lumberton and himself.

Lynch on Blue Velvet:

“Surrealism deals with things that are hidden beneath the surface, and in most of the cases the subconscious. Blue Velvet is a film that deals with things that are hidden within a small town called Lumberton, and things that are hidden within people”

Blue Velvet can be perceived as an examination of how sex can lead to domestic trauma, fear, power and on occasion euphoria. Lynch’s first film Eraserhead is comparable, a film seen by some as founded on sexual anxiety.

Some were shocked by the erotic content, which is ambiguous. Critics hadn’t seen anything like Blue Velvet before when it came out in 1986.

Cinematographer Frederick Elmes claim in the dvd extas, that Lynch has found that spot in our subconscious where there is a little bit of a voyeur. What could be seen that shouldn’t be seen. He thinks it’s a film about what people think about, not what they talk about or do.

Blue Velvet, and other Lynch films have been accused of glorifying violence. According to Lynch in the interview book Lynch on Lynch, the wild, unpredictable Frank Booth is similar to Killer Bob in Twin Peaks, in that he seems to represent masculinity at the extreme – twisted, violent and psychotic. Some people were upset with Dorothy’s masochism and Frank’s extreme sadism, a sort of sado-masochistic relationship, where you are confused if Dorothy is willing or unwilling. In the interview book, Lynch points out it isn’t right to assume that a character like Dorothy is every woman. Movies tend to stereotype, suddenly if he is a black man, he represent all blacks. The actress playing Dorothy, Isabella Rossellini, interpreted her character as someone masking herself because she is afraid of what she looks like. She’s shy and she hates herself. The wigs and make-up was because she wanted to look like a doll – perfect – to hide her madness. The more she becomes a victim not to elicit sexuality, the more she does. I played her that way: Everything she did turned out to be something she didn’t mean! Certainly plausible that a part of Dorothy enjoys being kidnapped, an escape or a change from her daily life? A few critics point out that Dorothy’s apartment could represent a mother’s womb, the walls are pink and red colours, she is a mother who has lost her son. The building she lives in is called Deep river. Several critics have talked of the themes of family. Jeffrey finds a perverse substitute for parents in Dorothy and Frank.

Lynch had final cut, which he would have for all his subsequent films as well. What I like about his films is how he is artistically uncompromising, he doesn’t go for box office records, but makes a film he wants to make.

David Lynch explored many similar themes of the "disease" lying just under the surface of small town America in his later television series Twin Peaks (1990-91)

In spite of the disturbing elements, it’s the visuals and funny dialogue that stay with me, I think my favourite quote is uttered by Dennis Hopper: “We’re taking our neighbour for a joy ride!”

A bit of trivia. Contains several references to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Jeffery is warned not to go to Lincoln Street. Frank Booth’s name evokes John Wilkes Booth, Lincoln’s assassin. A reference to Lincoln also appeared in Mulholland Dr.( The blue-haired lady sits in the same position as Lincoln did in the Ford Theater)

Spoilers ahead. Some film critics claim the ending is a parody, things are not really resolved. There is still much twisted sexuality and violence in Lumberton. The bug in the beak of the bird near the end is a clear signifier that there will always be darkness to balance the light.

One of those films where you are not sure how to react. Will definitely divide audiences, Roger Ebert hated Blue Velvet, and thought the issues should have been taken more seriously without the comedy.

Doesn’t seem to be much point rating, as my reviews are always recommendations. Anyhow, here goes: 8/10



Readers, any thoughts on Blue Velvet?

Songs for your iPod

Butterfly House - The Coral

(Has a retro 60s sound, which I like. Maybe the ending could have been cut)


Becoming A Jackal – Villagers


Darker Than Blue - Andreya Triana

Readers, any thoughts on this week's music?

Film review: The Elephant Man (1980)

A moving story that can bring a tear to your eye about a deformed 21-year-old man, who escapes the circus. He must deal with constant prejudice and rejection because of his looks.

Among other things, the film is about how we focus so much on appearance and it determines how we perceive other people. You can be deformed and ugly, but have a heart of gold. There could be some truth to the theory that ugly people try and have a likeable and friendly personality, because they are unable to charm people with their looks. In a way, it’s a more honest way of charming someone you meet I think.

Based on a true story about a man from London who probably suffered with a condition called neurofibromatosis, which results in cauliflower shaped deformities on your body. It hasn’t been confirmed exactly what disease he was suffering from according to the documentary on the dvd, there have been attempts to extract dna from Merrick’s remains.

The film suggests Merrick fell in with the freak show crowd against his will, in reality, he had hopes they might accept him as a showpiece and thereby give him a means of earning a living.

John Merrick believed his deformity to have been caused by the shock his pregnant mother suffered after being frightened by an elephant. The discovery that his mother and younger sister were crippled however supports the argument for a genetic defect.

The story is also about exploitation, taking advantage of “the freak” at a circus, or to advance your career as a doctor, or as a member of the upper class, who want to mould him into their image. Treves lets us into Merrick's world, the one that no one saw because his appearance was too frightening.

The scene where John Merrick is at the theatre is powerful, for the first time he is part of the audience instead of being the subject of horror. He is treated with respect and as an equal citizen. But we realize this is just a brief moment of happiness, he can never escape the monster he is.

You can certainly argue that comparisons can be made to the film Freaks (1932), about some deformed humans who perform in a circus environment like animals, but make an escape.

You get the feeling it’s the people around John Merrick and their reception and fear of him, that have made him into a monster, not himself. Inside he seems normal. He is the most sympathetic character. People are often afraid of the unknown and what they don’t understand, and that which they have a lack of knowledge of. Eyes are always on John Merrick, he is constantly the center of attention wherever he goes, and this must be bothersome for him, he can never just blend into the crowd, and never had a choice about being a freak. We are made to feel sorry for him. The theme of voyeurism is something Lynch would later explore in Blue Velvet (1986)

Favourite quote: “my life is full, because I know I am loved”

In the book The Complete Lynch, John Merrick is compared to Victor Hugo’s hunchback, a romantic hero, a beauty trapped in the body of a beast, a monster who teaches those he meets how to be human. As billsmovieemporium writes in his review: humanity that can’t accept him are the real freaks.

According to blogger friend Steve in his review at 1001plus, rumour has it that the make-up didn't look very good in colour, so David Lynch decided the film should be shot in black and white.

I think this was a wise decision, not least because to me b/w transports us into the past, much like director David Lean in 1946 managed to create the atmosphere of the 1800s in Dickens' Great Expectations.

Spoilers ahead. The ending to me is interesting, Can you only be true to yourself by being abnormal? What is normal anyway, and is it desirable to be like others? John Merrick’s death is a tragedy I think, because he was such a lovely person inside, if anything, other people should have tried to emulate his gentle behaviour, rather than him trying to fit in with there’s. In a way, I think John Merrick was weak at the end, he didn’t go on fighting, perhaps because it was too painful being regarded as a freak. Although, you could also interpret his suicide as a wise decision, if he could only imagine the rest of his life being unhappy. So the suicide was perhaps his only way out, he believed he would join his mother in heaven, so maybe this would be a happier place for him. As Lynch himself says in scene by scene interview 1999 with Mark Cousins on youtube, the shot of the stars indicates that many things remain, it’s just the body that’s dropped. People’s memory of you remains, and your achievements in life.

I think the overall message is not to judge someone too quickly by his or her appearance, but take the time to understand someone’s actions and words. But I couldn’t help thinking if John Merrick had been given an unpleasant personality in the film, then nobody would want to watch, this is what makes it Lynch’s most mainstream film in my mind, the character’s flaws are not addressed. As Roger Ebert suggests, a little sentimental by being emotionally manipulating. That being said, the film can change the way we see ourselves and other people.

My rating 7.5/10

Readers, any thoughts on The Elephant Man ?

Songs for your iPod

Clementine - Sarah Jaffe

(Reminiscent of the movie Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind, where Kate Winslet’s character is a red-head called Clementine.)


Better than nothing - Sarah Jaffe


Zorbing - Stornoway

(Catchy folk tune)

Readers, any thoughts on this week's music?

Songs for your iPod

Tristia – Hammock


In the Nothing of a Night - Hammock

(Relaxing ambient sound, my favourite by Hammock so far)


Since we last met - NDF

(dream pop track to listen to again and again, guessed it, again)

Readers, any thoughts on this week's music?

Film review: Eraserhead (1977)

This review is my contribution to the LAMB David Lynch director's chair event June 17th. I will post several more David Lynch film reviews in the next few weeks, as he's one of my favourite directors.

When people talk about the great films of the 1970s, it’s my feeling Eraserhead often gets forgotten in that conversation. Arguably director David Lynch’s most personal and mysterious film. Rich with symbolism, and creepy to watch.

A black and white surrealistic nightmare. Acknowledged as the full-length movie debut by director David Lynch. Technically brillant when you consider the budget.

Henry Spencer is the main character, a young man with unusually tall hair. The line between reality and fiction, and living and dead is blurred. The whole thing might be going on in the main character Henry’s head.

The responsibility of having a baby is clearly a theme, and the anxiety that this can bring with it. Almost as if Henry is seeking an escape from sexuality. Also a guilt of impregnating a woman seems to linger. The dream of escape is Henry’s ambition, which also the title implies, to “erase” himself from his current situation. One of the metaphors of the film is the pencil eraser factory.

I heard Lynch talk in an interview that the atmosphere is based on a period of time he lived in Philadelphia, and he experienced the city as “a sick twisted and decaying place, like living in a small cloud of fear, but it was where I had my first original thought I think.” The city had similar factories that feature in the film. Henry moves around in this world in Eraserhead like a tortured young man being followed, things are too claustrophobic in his room, and too overwhelming outside. The world is a strange place for Henry. Nature seems to have vanished, a picture of a mushroom cloud hangs by Henry’s bed. Chaos is everywhere apart from the dreamlike lady in the radiator, who is a comfort for Henry. The distance between outer and inner is blurred. Henry appears to be attempting to hide from his sexuality and return to a time of innocence, but is this possible as an adult?

Difficult to know what to believe, which adds to the fascination. Is it a dream, and if so, who’s dream? If it is a dream, then there are dreams in the dream, because Henry dreams of the lady in the radiator. Likewise what we usually understand as time is distorted, the baby is born so early, and doesn’t look human. From who’s point of view are we observing the events is also weird based on the opening where we see Henry in a kind of weightless situation.

David Lynch interview on Eraserhead: "Eraserhead doesn't take place in any known city. It's on the fringes sort of on a city, and it's people who live in industrial where after 5 o'clock there's nobody around. These people are of a certain type, like Henry and Mary, they've got caught in the past, they live in their own time, and there's not a whole lot happening that is normal. A netherworld"

Pretty obvious that Henry is the alter ego of David Lynch with the hair sticking up in the air.
It took around five years to make Eraserhead, they had very little money, and at one point Lynch even has to get a job as a paperboy delivering the wall street journal. crew members had jobs while the shooting went on.

Part of the uniqueness of Eraserhead is that doesn’t fit easily into any category, perhaps being a Lynch film is the only way to categorize a cult film of this nature.

The music is very unusual and adds to the mood, unlike anything I’ve ever heard in film. They opted for an industrial sound, which pretty much is in the background all the way through. The filmmakers stumbled upon the sound by accident while fiddling around with some sound equipment. Lynch on the music: “I’m real fascinated by presences – what you call ‘room tone’. It’s the sound that you hear when there’s silence, in between words or sentences” (Lynch on Lynch, page 72-73)

Lynch was just coming to terms with the unplanned birth of his daughter, Jennifer, in April, 1968.
Jennifer feels that too much has been made between Eraserheads deformed baby and the fact that she was born with club feet. But she does think it was influential. In the interview book 'Lynch on Lynch', David Lynch talks Eraserhead, and that it’s a world neither here nor there. To some extent the film is autobiographical, as Lynch became a reluctant art school father, when he had his daughter Jennifer, and a year into the shooting of Eraserhead, he split from his partner Peggy.

Some have interpreted the film in a religious way, the mother of the baby is called Mary, and if she was not impregnated by Henry, then could the baby perhaps be the son of god?

I love the title Eraserhead, it refers to the dream of the eraser factory in the movie, and wanting to erase certain things in you life. The baby is something Henry wishes he could erase, but can’t. Does Henry want to erase himself and live in a fantasy with the lady in the radiator?

Everything around Henry seems dark and strange, and he longs for this sort of clean, pure childhood image before all this happened. Lynch drew the lady in the radiator during the production : “And I thought she would live in the radiator, where it’s nice and warm, and this would be a real comfort for Henry” (the complete Lynch, page 21).
Lynch: “The Lady in the radiator had bad skin. I think she had bad acne as a child (...) But inside is where the happiness in her comes from. Her outward appearance is not the thing” (Lynch on Lynch, page 66).

The movie found its niche as part of the late-night circuit, one of the so-called midnight movies. It played 17 cities regularly once a week for 4 years, but the poster was up all week, so it became a known item.

In my mind, an unforgettable and highly atmospheric film, which invites to discussion. Perhaps the intention by Lynch was for the film never to be fully understood ( :

Readers, any thoughts on Eraserhead?



David Lynch interview on Eraserhead

Film review: Fight Club (1999)

For me, David Fincher’s masterpiece, and among the best and most important films of the 90s, generation-defining, an intense and anarchistic movie. Open to multiple interpretations, raises issues about identity and culture which most young adults can mirror themselves in. Difficult to categorize and often misunderstood. Rottentomatoes labels Fight Club a darkly comic drama. Visually and technically stunning, a brave and thought-provoking story set somewhere in the USA that is critical of our contemporary western society.

Fight Club is about how many people year after year have monotonous jobs, which a hundred other co-workers could perform, and thus what makes us individual is compromised or neglected in our working lives. We become a jigsaw in a system, a statistic. In some cases, the things we buy from our pay cheques are not as important as we think, the media and what everyone else does manipulating us into believing external signifiers of happiness are a goal, and causing an abandonment of the search for spiritual happiness. If we all strive to consume, are we all becoming the same, and less unique as people? Are we deluding ourselves and just fighting for a contrived and brainwashing brochure happiness to avoid thinking about a more meaningful cause? Really taps into what drives us as human beings. Do we deep down want a safe life where we follow the crowd and not listen to ourselves? The things you own end up owning you. "The world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind us from the truth" as The Matrix (1999) proclaimed. But is big business the reason for this malaise or are there other greater factors?

The first-person narration voice-over is for me very powerful. Edward Norton in arguably his finest performance, who plays insomniac narrator Jack, who is lonely and tired of his boring desk job. His doctor says Jack’s lack of sleep is caused by something bigger, possibly a mid life crisis of sorts. He attends self-help groups in order to feel something again. At one of these meetings he meets Marla Singer, played by Helena Bonham Carter. She becomes sort of a mix between a guardian angel and girlfriend for Jack. They can relate to each other’s pain.

Jack meets Tyler (Brad Pitt), and instantly becomes fascinated by Tyler’s reckless dark side and revenge crusade towards society, they become friends, and this triggers Jack into becoming acquainted with a more rebellious life style. Tyler represents the narrator's sense of incompleteness and parental abandonment. Tyler thinks you should follow your dreams and not be bound by the expectations of society to for example make money and buy stuff. Tyler makes up his own rules. When he is with Tyler, Jack feels like he is living again, and they engage in crazy and dangerous pranks and ideas, they are in a way testing their own boundaries, almost like a teenager would. Making radical decisions in order to figure out who they are, and what they want.

They create fight club, an underground club where males can fight each other, which is intended to raise the spirits of its members. Violence is not accepted in society, but in fight club it’s allowed. A lot of people tend to remember the twist, which I won't reveal here. Part of us wants to conform and fit in and be accepted, and on the other hand we have a wild side, which we in some ways cannot tap into in our daily lives, the way society works and the laws prohibit us to go around acting crazy. I think this is also part of the message of the story, males since the stone age have had a natural inclination for destruction and violence but where to let this urge come to the surface, and if you repress this side of yourself, how will it affect your well-being? Do you become an insomniac like Jack? Did soldiers get to live out this violent behaviour during world war one and two? Gender roles is a theme. Males, traditionally, the hunter/gatherer, their inherent 'abilities' as men are no longer needed for the smooth running of today’s society.

To a certain degree, the journey of discovery Jack and Tyler embark on is also a learning experience for us the viewers. Fight Club affected me deeply and changed the way I perceived the world when I was younger, was my favourite film of 1999. I think I saw it at the right time in my life being 18-years-old. I wrote a project on the book and movie in my final year in high school, such was the impact.

You could interpret the whole Tyler rebellion as a dream, Jack is so sleep deprived that he may not be able to distinguish dream from reality. Is turning your life upside down a hypothesis Jack doesn’t have the courage to go through with in real life, like it is for a great many citizens, due to fear of tarnishing your reputation? A quote from the novel indicates this: “The moment you fell asleep, Tyler stood there and said Wake up”

They could have done more with the book cover design, don't you think? Author Chuck Palahniuk appears to be mocking the self-centred obsession of our looks, people have fat removal operations, Tyler steals the fat, and makes money by turning it into soap, which we again use to freshen up our appearance. A bizarre circle to say the least.

At the start of the audio commentary, author Chuck Palahniuk explains that the genesis of the 1996 book came when he was on a trip, and some of the people were playing loud music in the middle of the night, and he got into a fight. Days later people were uncomfortable about looking at his beat-up face at work. Almost all of the book is based on stories the author’s friends told him, or stunts they pulled off together. Palahniuk was glad to bring the story to a larger audience: “It would offer more people the idea that they could create their own lives outside the existing blueprint for happiness offered by society”

In an interview, Palahniuk explains how pranking and misbehaving is what defines recent transgressive fiction, Trainspotting or American Pyscho are other examples. In Fight Club, he thinks the pranks help to build the protagonists self-confidence, the civil disobedience makes them feel alive, and is a sort of political access.

The penguin scenes are based on a support group Palahniuk attended, where he found a power animal, which was a penguin in his case.

According to screenwriter Jim Uhls, the story is “about numbness, alienation and finding self-empowerment through drastic means”. A theme is about breaking yourself apart to build something new.

The film is about the causes of violence. The Columbine shooting incident at the time really sensitised people and Fight Club became a very visible and easy target for blame. I think critics like Roger Ebert may have misunderstood the film by calling it “a celebration of violence”. My own opinion is we have become so used to violence and profanity from Hollywood, that maybe you need to go to extremes like in Fight Club to get through to people these days?

It’s also a cautionary tale, to rebel can be life-changing but if you just join another group and again become a mindless thoughtless follower, then you are not independent. It’s a replacement, but not a solution. An interpretation I read in slantmagazine argues that Tyler Durden is just a literal manifestation of a ridiculous male fantasy—a fantasy every bit as manufactured as the desire for a big-screen TV. And that the Fight Club and its terrorist offshoot, Project Mayhem, are just more false support groups.

Pete from I Love That Film made an interesting point in his my movie influence post: "It’s even more potent now since the events of 9/11. This attack on capitalism is less liberating and more frightening since 2001, as we realize that groups of young men can be so easily led to committing acts of extreme violence against a system they hate."

On the dvd, actor Edward Norton talks about how the violence in Fight Club doesn’t represent entertainment, instead the story is proof that violence can be examined in our mainstream culture through art, he thinks you shouldn’t be afraid to shed light on difficult issues. In an interview Norton remarked: “And I think you would erase most of the serious discussion about our dysfunctions if you did that. I don't think it's the responsibility of filmmakers to account for every possible misinterpretation of a film that you might make”(…) a big part of the intent of this was to point a finger at certain things and name them, and dump it in your lap and say, "What do you want to make of that"
Norton also argues: That the idea of the fighting is not about the suggestion that violence directed outward toward other people is a solution to your frustrations. It's very much a metaphor for self-transforming radicalism, the idea of directing violence inward at your own presumptions. Tyler doesn't walk out of the bar and say, "Can I hit you," he says "Will you hit me?" It's this idea that you need to get shaken out of your own cocoon. The fighting is a metaphor for stripping yourself of received notions and value systems that have been applied to you that aren't your own. And freeing yourself to discover who you actually are" And Edward Norton adds: The violence of the fight clubs serves as a metaphor for feeling, rather than to promote or glorify physical combat.

Critic Ross Grason Bell: “I really thought the film would change the world. It shocks you into looking at who really controls your life, you or your fears? Film critic Adrian Gargett points out: “The Narrator can only define himself in terms of male, consumer, insurance worker, insomniac, but he feels that he has lost any sense of self. He is confined by the mechanisms society adopts for categorization"
Filmmaker Jethro Rothe-Kushel argues, Without Tyler, the narrator is a spineless, volumeless, emotionless, placid, and flaccid half-man. His creation of Tyler allows him to reclaim his masculinity amidst a culture of post-feminist, cathartic, self-help groups. The film frames America lacking a public venue to integrate the emotional component of white male identity. When there is a communal or cultural void, history suggests that violence can complete that lack. Fight Club exposes the void and offers three solutions: crying, violence, and movies. It asks the question, what do you want to do with the Narrators of our country - those unwanted children of America who were raised on cultural action hero myths and yearn to live those stories?"

The book/movie contains a number of great quotes, some of which blogger 'Whatever you are be a good one' I follow shared in her review

It’s difficult for me to understand how director David Fincher after a controversial and groundbreaking film such as Fight Club would choose to direct such risk-free mainstream films as Panic Room, and Benjamin Button. Admittedly, Zodiac and Seven had things I liked and are very good in there own right. The Social Network was an entertaining portrait of Mark Zuckerberg, but a little on the safe side I thought, not really addressing issues about social networking it could have delved into.

Who could forget the powerful climax in Fight Club, gave me chills in the cinema, with The Pixies song Where is my mind? blasting away. The ending is possibly my most memorable cinematic experience, the two characters standing next to each other who exchange a few words, I too looked at my best friend at the time sitting next to me, and we didn’t say anything, just smiled, we knew we were witnessing a historic movie moment.

So why watch? The film has that rare knack of being able to change your outlook on life, like Jack's perspective on the world was forever altered, for better of worse, who's to say. No sequel exists (thank god) ( :

My rating is 10/10. Surpasses the original book it was based on, even the author admitted he thought the film was better than his own novel, haha ( :

Readers, any thoughts on Fight Club?



Songs for your iPod

Garden - Karen Elson


Come on sister - Belle and Sebastian

(As a fan, initially I was not mad about the new album. Some tracks have grown on me since. I previously shared Calculating Bimbo, my favourite from their 2010 album)


I Want The World To Stop - Belle and Sebastian

(I want the world to stop sometimes too)

Readers, any thoughts on the music?

Film review: Secrets and Lies (1996)

Won Palme d'Or at Cannes, and received Five Academy Award nominations. The film is pretty self-explanatory, although this can fool you, there are layers to the story, if you look closely.

A kitchen sink drama, a slice of life story set in London about a family and their troubles, such strong and realistic dialogue and impressive acting. While some may find her character irritating, Brenda Blethyn won the award for Best Actress at the 1996 Cannes Film Festival.

I find it interesting that Cynthia (Brenda Blethyn) feels closer to her friend Hortense, whom she has just met, than her own family, whom she has known for years. Sometimes it’s easier to make a fresh start, where people don’t have previous knowledge of you. Cynthia is lonely, and seems to be fading fast, and heading towards a nervous breakdown, her brother has neglected to keep her spirits up over the previous year, but she has also not rung him either, so she’s not blameless. Hortense has just lost her mother, so the circumstances are ideal for the two women to strike up a new friendship, they both give each other the guide to go on living.

The photographer Maurice (Timothy Spall) must not only worry about his sister Cynthia, but also doubts whether his wife still loves him, and even at work he has to brighten the mood of his customers. No one is giving HIM any support, so he shows character by soldiering on even when he is under pressure from all sides. He is probably the mentally strongest of the bunch, and is in a way holding the family together.

At times, for me at least, it can be tough to watch the suffering these characters are enduring, they really crept under my skin, and I couldn’t help feeling sorry for them. Especially the grumpy daughter’s cold behaviour towards her unhappy mother Cynthia is sort of a statement I think Mike Leigh is making about how NOT to treat your parent. Rather than help one another, each suffers alone. Both Roxanne and Cynthia being in boring dead-end jobs probably adds to their frustration with life, although you could argue that Roxanne is content with being a garbage collector, or simply unsure about her future and biding time. One could say Roxanne doesn’t know any better, and feels like she can say whatever she likes without her mother ever leaving her. This is a problem I see with a child-parent relationship, parents can get bashed and what to do then? Stop loving your child is not really an option. One of my favourite novels What I loved by Siri Hustvedt deals with this very topic about a hostile child and how this can be tough for parents.

While watching, the film also has the effect of making the viewer consider their own family dynamics, what secrets and lies are right in front of you in your own homes?

Having just rewatched this earlier masterpiece, in a lot of ways, Secrets & Lies resembles Mike Leigh’s latest screen effort Another Year (2010). The vulnerable Cynthia character desperate for attention and affection is comparable to Mary (Lesley Manville), the loser ghost from the past outside the photographer shop and the awkwardness of having to deal with him feels like one of those dysfunctional friends Tom and Gerri had coming round to visit, there are family gatherings in both stories like in the photo above. Not that the similarities are a bad thing, as the stories and dialogue are vastly different.

A bit of trivia:Although Leigh is credited with writing the screenplay, most of the performances were improvised: Leigh told each of the actors about their roles, and let them create their own lines.

For me, Secrets & Lies is a depiction of how we reveal ourselves, and try and cope through hard times, how we rely on other people’s love or encouragement to get us through the day. I think it easily holds up to repeat viewing every five years or so.

Readers, any thoughts on Secrets & Lies?



Songs for your iPod

(A little-known folk/acoustic album I found, I can’t wait to hear his earlier LP The Hold Up)

Phone - Donovan Woods

(the first part of the song gets me every time, so powerful)


No Time Has Passed - Donovan Woods

(I like how the song is a story, which I can sort of imagine. Likewise the album cover makes you dream)


The ghost who walks - Karen Elson

(Very dreamy, otherworldly, maybe something Tarantino might use on a soundtrack? )

Readers, any thoughts on this week's music?

Funny Mr Mann sketches

Little Britain - Mr. Mann's disappointed horse


Little Britain - Mr Mann and Linda Williams

(YouTube won't let be embedd the other clip, so here's a link)


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