I don’t normally blog about soccer but the unprecedented events of last night throws up issues that go beyond the so-called ‘beautiful game’.
Brazil’s astonishing 7-1 world cup defeat at the hands of a merciless German team was nothing short of a disaster not only for the team and the nation but also for the corporate interests behind the orchestration of this sporting event.
The hope, and expectation, was always that the home country would triumph so that it would end in one gigantic Samba street party.
The massive expenditure needed to stage such global happenings are enough to potentially bankrupt even the richest countries. The huge investment in the construction of soon to be redundant stadiums and facilities can only be justified if they bring wealth to the country in the form of sponsorship deals or increased tourism.
Anti-government demonstrations against high taxes, poor services and political corruption have been violently quelled leading up to the tournament and Brazil’s ignoble exit will only serve to reignite the debate about these spiralling costs. Continue reading
The late, lamented Frank Zappa preached about the need for constant vigilance against the repressive, self-righteous, bigoted forces who censor what we can see, hear and read.
Zappa was an articulate and outspoken critic of religious fundamentalists who seek to restrict our freedom claiming they are saving us from the devil’s work.
He explained his views during an interview with Larry King which you can see below.
As a way to counteract the Parental Advisory stickers on rock albums, Zappa wrote his own ‘Warning Label’ for a Mothers of Invention album.
12 YEARS A SLAVE directed by Steve McQueen (UK/USA, 2013)
The Academy members undoubtedly did the right thing by naming 12 Years A Slave the best picture and, if there was any justice, Steve McQueen would have been awarded an Oscar for best director in place of Alfonso Cuarón. Gravity is a remarkable technical achievement but directing technology is less deserving of a statuette than man management.
McQueen not only gets the best out his actors but he also knows how to pace a movie. The huge temptation in telling Solomon Northup’s story is to revert to Hollywood clichés and crank up the sentimentalism. It is to his credit that he doesn’t milk the emotional content and heroic lines like “I don’t want to survive, I want to live” are few and far between.
In one remarkable scene, Northup is strung up and has to desperately cling on while waiting for ‘the master’ to cut him down. In conventional films there would be dramatic music and close-ups of the man’s life and death struggle. Instead, the camera pulls back so show life going on around him and makes us realise how commonplace such torture was.
Northup (Chiwetel Ejofor) quickly learns that maintaining a low profile and keeping schtum about his education are the only ways to guarantee survival. Patience and will power are the main reasons why he lived to tell his remarkable story.
It is only right, therefore, that the movie never has the quality of an action movie. The power of the drama comes from the systematic abuse and degradation he and his fellow slaves have to endure. Continue reading