Friday, August 25, 2006


Originally uploaded by monkeyinfez.

more medium format + light leaks.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

more crap

Saw the new superman the other night, it was crap. There were some good elements, a couple of exciting set-pieces, but I’ve been left with the same post-blockbuster thought as the last time I saw one: why bother?

The reviews were good, I like Superman and the director previously helmed X-men which I liked a lot. I went along with high(ish) hopes. And what is presented? The usual crap. A checklist of big-budget special effects heavy action, a dash of [standard superman elements] – as I imagine it was signified in the draft script – rubbish characterization, poor plot and, perhaps worst of all, a horrible feeling of inconsistency and doubt about what the hell they’re doing.

For me this was the main failing of the film, it had no commitment to make its own world believable. This is probably the hardest thing to pull off in a good superhero/fantasy film, and when it fails it really does make your film suck. The problem here was the seeming inability to decide if this should be a new or old Superman, and therefore a new or old world for him to act in. As it turned out we got an unhappy mix of both, a wide-eyed 1940’s style newsroom that featured TVs showing rolling news; little Jimmy Olsen acting like he’d never held a camera before and Pulitzer Prize winning Lois Lane behaving like she's writing for a 6th form newsletter; Superman being shot at with a gatling gun for no particular reason except modernity; cringe-inducing scenes of men in bars clapping Superman's latest heroic feat; Clark gurning and acting like a klutz in a way that just doesn't seem at all feasible in a 21st century, super-cynical environment… yadda yadda yadda. I'm not arguing for 'realism' here, I know this is fantasy, but a self-consistent world is still crucial and if you want to modernize then modernize everything, not this awful half-way house of crap. It can be done, new Spiderman is ace, and Burton's Batman and Nolan's Batman show that you can pull off both a pure fantasy and a more 'realistic' interpretation of your source material; here it all just felt so wrong.

Meanwhile, the plot. What? Are you seriously suggesting that evil mastermind Luther is going to gain the secret technology of an alien planet and use it to broker a real-estate deal? Come on, this is tosh. It's not very evil (well, Ok, there is death and destruction for the America, but it's hardly trying to take over the world), and who'd want to live on his poxy crystal island anyway? More importantly he should fire whoever is drawing the child-like maps he used to reveal his schemes, they were rubbish that no self-respecting super-villain would be seen with. Just like Bond villains of recent years it seems that Luther has discovered that all the good, really nefarious schemes have been used up, probably by Pinky & the Brain.

And the final nail in the coffin? The current Hollywood trend of conflating 'epic' with 'long'. It was far too long, no need! Please stop your film before inducing REM sleep. Also, please have an ending and not 'here's a thought for parts 2,3 and 4…'. Thankyou.

And the positives? Quite entertaining at times (by which I mean isolated 5 minute segments), Spacey is pretty good at hammy evil, er, better than the last shit blockbuster I saw (Kong). But, in sum, it's the same old crappy blockbuster that, this year, just happens to have Superman in it.

Friday, August 04, 2006

the facts

following that no trident rant, here are some factsheets courtesy of CND:
Trident Q&A
Nuclear power info

They're nice, brief, primers on some of the key aspects of these issues.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

meanwhile, uptown, the dj plays…

Looking at a huge picture of a new submarine in the paper at the weekend I was impressed (words but sadly no picture). Here we are, the pinnacle of technology, nuclear powered (relatively cleanly too, it seems) and capable of circumnavigating the globe without the need to surface. Here is the power of man, engineering at its most astounding. But, just wait a moment, what are we building this for again…?

Let’s see now. Clearly we, a faded empire, a small island nation clawing at past “glories”, have no need of such projects. Who are we guarding against? Who were we ever guarding against? The strange, the unknown, the different… What for? What for? Why are we spending £3,492m on three new submarines, and then more on another four? What for? Surely not just so that we can look in the paper and be impressed by a big fuck-off picture of a steel leviathan, our own kraken capable of fighting giant sea monsters and enemy ships with equal ease? Ah, defence, yes. Defence? Defence? Defence? What are you talking about?

New subs, new missiles to replace trident, new nuclear reactors to fuck up the future even further. Why? What has happened to logic and thought? What is wrong here? It cannot be stated clearly enough: there is no reason here, there is no enemy to fight with these cold war M.A.D. machines. Are you going to shoot ICBMs at a terrorist cell trying to bomb a major city? Perhaps we should look instead at, bear with me here, the root causes of such attacks? Still, at least we’ll carry on looking like a big, grown-up nation, breaking treaties and pacts just like a real player! Yay for us.

Meanwhile, the reactors creep up. Blair pledges his allegiance to the atom. To more dodgy pseudo-private industry, helped at every step by the government and tax breaks. I’m a scientist, I’m not afraid of nuclear power, I’m impressed with the physics of its operation, I’m awed by our power of creation… but I’m not so taken with our flaky sense of responsibility, our lack of plans for any form of proper waste disposal or de-commissioning of old reactors. Hey, let’s leave it for someone in 50 years’ time! Yes, what a good idea, we’re handling the old generation of reactors oh so well ourselves! Short-termism: quick fixes abound. And will the uranium mines run dry now that everyone is enamoured with nuclear again? And do the sums add up? Is nuclear really cleaner than fossil fuels once you take into account the carbon debt incurred by construction, transport, de-commissioning?

And the waste! Of the future, of the present, of money and time and ingenuity and you fucking morons; to spend just a fraction of that money thrown at military and civilian nuclear on renewables. Just imagine, all our energy needs covered by rooftop solar panels and micro wind turbines on every house. But it will never be, where is the interest for business in that plan? Where is the centralised industry with big buildings and order and control? It is gone my friend, gone like the power mad pig-dogs who built it all in the first place… if only.