Friday, April 06, 2007

Some improvement

My mood has got slightly better, not least because I went to see Notes on a Scandal, which was great and very funny to boot. I very much enjoyed the novel, but wasn't sure how film would capture the first person unreliable narrator on which the whole book hangs. They did a pretty decent job, though it was a good bit more explicit than the novel, as perhaps it had to be. Anyway, the delectable Cate Blanchett could be acting in anything at all, however cliched and flat (anyone remember Veronica Guerin?) and it would still be worth the ticket price to watch her luminous lovelieness. Also, I got some sleep. Bonus.

I have just discovered the blog of a good friend of mine from Oxford who is living in Italy now and have added it to my links. Chris is fiercely clever, funny, kind, gentle and handsome. He is also Scottish, and has chosen to live in Italy, so you can see that he is an almost faultless specimen of humanity. Unfortunately I can't make any sense of his blog at all, since it is mostly about Italian political reform and the media, but perhaps if I begin to read it regularly then I will know what my Milan-dwelling brother and sister-in-law are talking about when they sigh with despair every time the Government is mentioned over dinner.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


And to make a bad day worse, anti-choice scumbags have plastered the intersection outside my department with disgusting pictures, past which I have now had to walk four times today. I am not above telling you that I find it extremely upsetting. Earlier on, before the pictures went up, they were giving out fliers but there was nothing to tell you what it was a flier for until you had it in your hand. As soon as I looked at it I ripped it up into little bits and walked over and threw them in the bin and made sure the idiot who handed it to me saw me do it. Despite my fury, I mind the vile misogynist propaganda rather less than I mind the enormous and revolting photographs which made me want to cry. Also, I am 99% per cent certain that one of their billboards was drawing a direct comparison between abortion and the Holocaust, which is in splendid taste, is it not? However, the images were so distressing that I actually couldn't bring myself to look at the thing for long enough to see in any greater detail what invidious association they were attempting to draw. It appeared to hang on the idea of choice and why this was a bad thing (?), and had the phrase "religious choice" above a picture of a pile of Nazi deathcamp victims. I am completely baffled by what on earth this line of reasoning (to grace it with a term it scarcely deserves) can be driving at. I am too annoyed and upset even to work this observation up into a piss-take of their manifest and thorough-going stupidity. Idiots. If I hadn't been in a filthy humour earlier today (and I was) then I certainly would be now. I don't know why the University/police/local authority allows it, but I intend to find out. If they were adverts trying to sell something there is no way it would be tolerated. Since they are only trying to sell dangerous woman-hating bile apparently that's fair enough. More idiots. Great.

Why pretend?

I am too dismal and badtempered and pissed off and homesick to summon up the enthusiasm for writing blog posts, so why don't I just dispense with any pretence that my blog consist of more than just descripions of films and list the things I've been to see in the last week.

300 (2007): Rubbish. The dialogue is appalling, and the visual spectacle is samey and cliched, and the bizarrely historically truncated plot effaces every nuanced and interesting aspect of the story itself. All the Persians were flamboyantly queer or deformed or both, which was dull and offensive enough, but the Spartans themselves were less attractive by far - revolting identikit pneumatic bodies devoid of any vestige of humanity, erotic appeal, or (absurdly) armour. The whole thing was a two-dimensional and crappily-acted nipplefest. If this is what graphic novels are like then I'll stick to Fielding, thanks. The high point was the credit sequence, which included the magical character description "Transsexual Number 3 (Arabian)". That's something to have on your CV.

The 300 Spartans (1961): quite funny. Leonidas as clean-cut, laconic (you do the jokes) all-American hero; Xerxes as mildly dastardly British army officer in the colonies, and as for Themistocles - well, at least he was in it. Artemisia was a cracking bit of steely-minded totty, and there was a touching and hilarious subplot about a simple Spartan youth who is desperate to fight at Thermopylae in order to win the hand of his sweetheart, with whom he frisks around the olive-shaded landscape. My favoutite bit was Ephialtes, portrayed as a dumbly brutish mountain-dwelling simpleton in a goatskin jerkin. Brilliant. His cackhanded attempt to grope the virginal Spartan maiden was black-hat/white-hat characterisation at its best.

A university production of Euripides' Medea: okay actually. They were using the translation I used to teach to 13 year olds, so that was a nice trip down memory lane. You could see the chorus' underwear through the armpits of their dresses when they moved their arms though.

Rome: a blast. I recommend it to all comers. My only regret is that we were watching it on a school night and therefore had to go home before the commencement of the promised affair between Octavia and Servilia. (To give non-classicists an idea of stupid this is, Servilia was the mother of Brutus, of "et tu Brute?" fame. She was the lover of Julius Caesar. Octavia was Caesar's great-niece. That's some age gap, quite apart from anything else). Best of all was, of course, JC himself, played by Ciaran Hinds. Caesar really is my heart-throb through the ages, which I dare say is highly revealing of some fascinating aspect of my personality blah blah blah. Anyway, I love him. The casting was the icing on the cake for me, since the last time I saw Ciaran Hinds he was in a BBC production of Persuasion playing Frederick Wentworth, the thinking woman's crumpet of the Austen corpus. A friend in the English department told me the other day that in my life here I remind her of Anne Elliot. I hope that means there's a Wentworth at the end of it.