Category: gender


BURNING directed by Lee Chang-dong (South Korea. 2019)

burningThis quietly subversive and absorbing movie is based on the short story, Barn Burning, by Nobel laureate in waiting Haruki Murakami.

I haven’t read this but from a synopsis on Wikipedia it seems that the tale has been used as a stub from which the director has let his imagination flow freely. Lee Chang-dong appears to have added more than a few ideas and themes from The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle such as a missing woman, a mysterious garden well and an elusive cat. Continue reading

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The Gallows Pole by Benjamin Myers (Bluemoose, 2017)

Why I read this book

gallowsFirst and foremost I fell in love with the cover art. I know, I know ….you should never judge a book in these terms but it does make a difference.

A naff cover can be off-putting. I cool cover means you can look fashionable when reading in public, something that is not possible with a Kindle.

I liked the image to Gallows Pole because it looks like a subversive Penguin Modern Classic.  It made me think of Weird British folk art; the kind of deranged visions that feed into Wyrd folk music and the cult movie classic, The Wicker Man. Could, I wondered, Benjamin Myer’s writing conjure up the same mood?

What’s it about? (Without spoilers)
The novel is inspired by real events in and around the Upper Calder Valley, West Yorkshire in the late 18th Century. It centres on the Craig Vale Coiners, a motley assembly of struggling land workers led by ‘King’ David Hartley. The gang forge coins in an attempt to get rich and challenge the oppressive capitalist system that keeps them poor and powerless. Hartley is an anti-hero prone to “delusions of grandeur, extreme hallucinations featuring stag-headed men and supreme acts of cruelty and violence”. Continue reading

EARTH ABIDES by George R.Stewart (1949)

earthIsherwood Williams (Ish) is not much of mixer which is just as well because most of humanity has just been wiped out by a deadly virus.

You might imagine this means the horror of piles of corpses lying everywhere but the dead bodies have either all been buried or we assume that all the victims gathered together in medical centers to tidily expire en-masse.

When we meet Ish, he is laid up in his remote mountain cabin after a snake bite. This poison seems to be the reason he is immune to the pandemic.

When he recovers he finds that civilization as he knows is has disappeared.  Being a pragmatic and practically-minded kind of guy he resolves to cope with the great disaster methodically and logically. He gets a truck, food supplies, weapons and a dog. His trusty hammer becomes both a life saver and a symbol of his enduring strength. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS directed by Josie Rourke (UK/USA, 2018)
THE FAVOURITE directed by Yorgos Lanthimos (UK/USA, 2018)

fight the powerfavourites

Personally, I blame Harvey Weinstein.

Were it not for him (and similar monsters) the gender politics that drive these two royal dramas would have been quite different.

Both are contemporary, feminist-orientated dramas which play fast and loose with notions of historical accuracy. The tone and thrust of each is to resolutely present women centre stage and very much in charge of their own destinies. Men are there to service their ambitions or else conveniently sidelined. Continue reading

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