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THE CROWN Season 1 – Netflix TV Series written and created by Peter Morgan (UK/USA, 2016)

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If you ever get me on the subject of the Royal Family it won’t be too long before you hear words like ‘leeches’ and ‘parasites’ or  me expressing the view that The Sex Pistols’ ‘God Save The Queen’ would make a better national anthem for the UK.

My wife and I therefore began watching season 1 of The Crown on Netflix more out of morbid curiosity than out of any real expectation of viewing pleasure.

I was waiting to see how many layers of superficial dross and gloss would be applied in order to present HRH in a positive light. But the opening scene of King George VI coughing up blood (red not blue!) signals that creator Peter Morgan has something else in mind. View full article »

The power games of Denial

DENIAL directed by Mick Jackson (UK/USA, 2016)

denial1It is something of a paradox that in our fact check dominated world, liars and cheats continue to flourish.

A quick Google search will expose the most blatant of falsehoods but, as the campaigns of Brexit and Trump have proven, you can win votes simply by repeating lies ad infinitum.

Holocaust denier and credited British historian David Irving was and is a pants on fire specialist but he has never wavered from his position as a Hitler apologist. This film gives a clue as to what motivates him and how he is a potent (and pungent) example of someone who redefines the ‘truth’ to justify his own ends.

The movie is adapted from David Hare’s stage play which was in turn based on Deborah E. Lipstadt’s book ‘History On Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier’.

At its centre is the Irving vs Penguin Books Ltd trial which took place in 2000 at the High Court of Justice in London and gave judgement on Irving’s claim that Lipstadt had made libellous statements against him in her 1993 book ‘Denying The Holocaust’. View full article »

The gathering gas of Trump

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Image credit & copyright : Sébastien Gozé

With humble apologies to NASA, I have adapted and augmented the text of the Astronomy Picture Of The Day to read not as a celebration of the “fascinating universe” but as a fearful poem at the dawn of a Trumpian era as it threatens destruction on a cosmic scale:

 See the complex adrift,
in dark constellations
amid the gathering gas.
A floating cluster fuck
into a void.
Light years away from reality,
savage dust clouds mask
the true distance we have fallen

NEUROMANCER by William Gibson (1984)

neuromancerI have a difficult relationship with this novel.

I know that it is one of the most groundbreaking and significant SF works ever written but each time I pick  it up I always get lost in the dense prose and what hits me as an overwhelming rush of jargon.

As most will know, this was where the word ‘cyberspace’ was first popularized and for that alone Gibson is assured of immortality, at least until the wires of that feed the human race are permanently unplugged.

He brilliantly describes the then fledgling internet as a “consensual hallucination” and the lead character Case is paid to hack into “the infinite neuroelectric void of the matrix”. View full article »

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM directed by David Yates (UK, 2016)220px-fantastic_beasts_and_where_to_find_them_poster

The spirit of Mary Poppins is not dead; it’s just been Marvellised. The bottomless bag this time around contains not household fixtures but numerous gremlin-like creatures.

The ‘beasts’ of the title are harmless if handled by a nerd but destructive in unscrupulous hands. Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander plays up the role of an awkward Brit for all its worth to the point that he looks half retarded most of the time. The plot device of hooking him up with a ‘no-maj’ (American for muggle) in the portly shape of Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) provides a welcome foil to his gormlessness.

JK Rowling further demonstrates her instinctive empathy with tormented adolescence through the invention of the ‘obscurus’, a black cloud of malevolence unleashed when children feel anger and discomfort. In addition, a literal witch hunt provides more of the requisite villainy but it is the anarchic antics of the beasts that steal the show. View full article »

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