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80 days without a balloon

AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS by Jules Verne

(First published 1873)

 

51xoe02htcl._sx331_bo1204203200_To navigate the circumference of the globe in 80 days, Phileas Fogg and companions travel by trains, steamships, an elephant and a snow sledge but, to my surprise, never once use a hot air balloon.

This turns out to be one of the great literary misconceptions which derives from the liberties taken with the plot of the novel for the 1956 movie adaptation. The makers decided to plunder this visually spectacular means of transport from Verne’s earlier yarn ‘Five Weeks In A Balloon’. Many editions of the novel have compounded this error by misleading book covers.

Balloon or no balloon, it is not properly explained why Fogg recklessly decided to make the bet to embark on this improbable adventure. Prior to this, the predictability of his daily routines are highlighted. His travel experience consists solely of walking with a steady step the short distance from his home at 7 Saville Row, Burlington Gardens to London’s Reform Club in Pall Mall. View full article »

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UNKNOWN PLEASURES by Peter Hook (Simon & Schuster, 2012)

joyPop-pickers of a certain age and diehard hipsters out there surely won’t have missed that the title of yesterday’s post on Ricky Gervais’ ‘Afterlife’ featured a quote from the Joy Division song ‘Heart And Soul’.

This track, from their second and final album ‘Closer’, includes the tortured lines: “Existence, well what does it matter? I exist on the best terms I can. The past is now part of my future. The present is well out of hand”.

Anyone pausing to reflect on such lyrics would probably conclude that the author was either a) deeply troubled or (b) that he had been reading a little too much outsider fiction. Both of these were true of the band’s tortured lead singer Ian Curtis who hung himself on 18th May, 1980. View full article »

AFTERLIFE written, directed by and starring Ricky Gervais

(A Netflix Original, 2019)

Screen shot 2019-03-11 at 18.59.48Yesterday, I blogged about Gus Van Sant’s flawed attempt to deal with complicated issues of guilt and grief in ‘The Sea of Trees’.

In that movie, the death of the lead character’s wife drives the leading male into a narcissistic flirtation with suicide until he finds some vague spiritual redemption. This kind of cop-out is all too often the way these stories go.

God’s reputation for moving in mysterious ways allows scriptwriters to sidestep the less palatable, but all too probable, conclusion that when this mortal coil is cut there is no heaven or hell, no all-knowing deity. …. nothing.

These too infrequently voiced non-beliefs are squarely addressed in the unlikely form of a new comedy vehicle for Ricky Gervais. Since Gervais has been outspoken advocate of atheism, it is with a knowing sense of irony that he should choose to call his six part series on Netflix ‘Afterlife’. View full article »

The Sea Of Trees directed by Gus Van Sant (USA, 2015)
sea

This movie bombed at the box office, was universally mauled by the critics and booed at the Cannes Film Festival. There have been other failures in Gus Van Sant’s otherwise illustrious career but nothing on such a disastrous scale. I will include spoilers in an attempt to identify what went so horribly wrong.
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Movies for perverts

THE PERVERT’S GUIDE TO CINEMA written and presented by Slavok Žižek (Directed by Sophie Fiennes, 2006)
the_pervert27s_guide_to_cinema

The title of this enlightening three-part documentary is eye-catching but likely to be misleading.

A pervert is someone whose sexual behaviour is considered abnormal or unacceptable but this film is not a guide for those seeking gratification from soft or hardcore porn in modern movies.

The unconventional Slovenian philosopher & psychoanalyst examines how the function of cinema is to mediate between our ‘illicit’ drives and our socially conditioned actions.

In Freudian terms, this is the internal struggle between the id and the super-ego. Žižek states provocatively states that “we need the truth of a fiction to express what we really are” or, more ambiguously, “desire is a wound of reality”.

Watching movies, he argues, is not merely an escapist pastime but an essential means by which to show how reality is constructed. View full article »

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