Superman (1978)

I’m watching the original Superman film with the beautiful Christopher Reeve as Supes.

There’s some truly gorgeous cinematography in the opening chapter. Ma Kent is just saying goodbye to teen Supes in a lovely wide shot:

And Glenn Ford… he is just magical as Pa Kent:

I think Kevin Costner comes close but Ford just pips him for wrinkly, twinkly warmth. Ford only has a short time in the film but he carves it out magnificently, never showy, always gently there.

Now I’m watching the trippy scene where young Kal has generated the Fortress Of Solitude and is getting lessons off his Dad, Marlon Brando. The absence of CGI gives all the imagery its own charm. Aaand…. cue the first shot of adult Supes, Christopher Reeve flying out of the Fortress.

Compared to the more recent film versions of Supes, the original is far less wary of its comics origin, hence Supes’ defiantly primary costume. And, yes, it’s Lex Luthor as ‘great man surrounded by buffoons’ rather than chilling psychopath but Gene Hackman’s Luthor definitely influenced Spacey’s take. I like the comedy like the running gag about Lois’ terrible spelling, it’s a nice light to the shade of the big dramatic set pieces like the runaway copter.

I’ll stop writing now as I want to watch the film properly. But I remember this: Reeve’s Kent is awesomely bumbling and nerdy. The way he changes his body language, posture, gait… he’s brilliant. If you only know Reeve from Superman, please check him out in Deathtrap or Somewhere In Time. He was a wonderful actor who died way too early. I’d love to see him working now, he would have been 63. I’m glad he was on Smallville but I kind of wish he’d got to play Jonathan Kent in one of the films…

Nichole Galicia

I’m loving Nichole Galicia as Kindzi in Defiance. Her acting is totally committed, totally in the moment. Whenever she appears on screen, I’m nervous! She actually doesn’t need the CGI snakejaw thing at all, she is quite, quite terrifying without it.

I really hope to see her in more SF because I love the way she can make outlandish situations / behaviours seem so normal, so everyday. She would make THE BEST supervillain too. C’mon, someone give her a lead role!

Is there a Nichole fandom? If there is, I want in!

She’s so beautiful!

On Clubbing

Just got back from town and seeing my friend Tash, the majority of which we spent ogling girls. She’s better at spotting girls than me but I’m stealthier ~ she just blatantly points!

We were chatting about clubbing and I was trying to persuade her to come out to Mosh tonight. But she’s got an early shift tomorrow and she doesn’t enjoy it as much as she used to back in these days:

Mind you, that was four years ago now… sheesh…

I’m weird in that I never went off clubbing. I love it now as much as when I was a kid.

Today is Friday. If I had to stay in tonight, if I didn’t have a club to go to… it would feel so strange. IT’S FRIDAY!

I think one of the major reasons I haven’t stopped clubbing is that I’m straight edge. If I drank / drugged like most clubbers, I simply couldn’t be out any more: my liver or something else would have given in.

Another is that I love new music. I’m excited to hear the new Such Gold or Title Fight and I want to dance to those songs. Whereas most of my generation never really liked anything new beyond their twenties, I don’t just crave it, Ineed it. Which is probably why retro / cheese nights are anathema to me.

Here’a clubbing pic from the Blue Note, Derby twelve years ago:

And here’s one from Rock City, Nottingham last week:

The fashions have changed in the intervening decade, more tattoos, more piercings. And, obviously, the 18-year-olds above probably wouldn’t have got into even the Blue Note when they were six. So, the people inevitably change.

But alternative clubbing always has a sense of inclusion that’s missing from mainstream clubs. Whether it’s indiepop, hip hop, pop punk, minimal house or metal, there’s a common thread that the people in the club really fucking love the music. Whereas, to the average mainstream clubber, music is just aural wallpaper: the background for them hooking up. Alternative clubs are fine restaurants, mainstream clubs are McDonalds. 

This is why I haven’t got bored. I go clubbing to see my mates and to dance about, yes, but I also go to hear music I wouldn’t otherwise hear, to be educated by the DJ. And I will happily dance to music I don’t know but like.This dialogue is at the heart of every great alternative club: the DJ plays floor fillers, yes, but she / he also pushes it and isn’t afraid to clear the floor with a tune that will be a killer two months from now. This play policy attracts punters who know their music and, in their turn, they will request stuff the DJ doesn’t yet know. When this balance is perfect, you end up with a club that is unassailable and that has a loyal following, no matter what drinks offers other clubs attack it with. When the balance is eroded, say by a twitchy manager demanding constant floor fillers, the alternative club slides into mainstream blandness (hello Blue Note) and the former punters abandon it to the mundanes who now flock to it. Goodbye music fans, hello fist fights.

If I had the money, I’d buy or start my own club. I think I’d do okay at it since I’ve been DJing and clubbing for so long now, I’ve seen people commit every kind of mistake with clubs. The major thing I’d do is to make it an alternative club. I would hire DJs from multiple genres (to start with, hip hop, electronic and rock) and then trust them to know their job. Obviously, if their floors were empty after three months, they’d get the boot but I’d give them enough time to build an alternative audience. You can’t just materialise those punters, they have to be wooed by clubs, they are skittish and fickle, as is every avant garde.

It’s quarter to seven now. Hours till I go out but I’m excited. Who knows what the night might bring? I may have the most amazing time dancing round. Maybe I’ll end up coming home early cos the music’s rubbish and the place is full of Scream wankers. I love the uncertainty of it all, I love the chaos and, out of that randomness, the skein of possibilities.

Most of my current mates I first got talking to in night clubs (hello paradeofashes, heybolly , robnewman ,  emmazombii ,evenifyouwinyourestillatwat  , marcusfool ,  thisisatadawk ,  justtoliveanotherday-withoutyou , timestoodstillforever  , he1ephant  ,marymackenallen) . I would not know these people otherwise. Isn’t that a marvellous, beautiful thing? When most of our lives run in ruts or on polished, machined tracks, there’s something to be said for de-railing yourself and plunging into whatever.

Stalinists Unite With Fascists Again

class-struggle-anarchism:

161crewpoland:

Stalinists in bulgaria demonstrating together with fascists from ATAKA party agaist… fascism in Ukraine and NATO. You couldn’t make that shit up…

Seems like Putin’s money is a very uniting factor.

stay classy Stalinism

Hmmm… this seems familiar….

Germany, in 1930, had reached a turning point – for the masses, frustration had turned to despair. The feeling that ‘so kann es nicht weitergehen’ (things can’t go on like this) became widespread. The SPD and the KPD, whilst keeping their own support broadly intact, failed to capture the millions of petty bourgeois facing horrendous conditions: it offered them no hope, no solution. They deserted the main bourgeois parties and turned to Hitler on mass, who promised them real salvation. The Nazis, however, completely failed to win support amongst organised labour. In 1931 the Nazis got only five per cent of the vote in the factory committee elections, and by March 1933, despite all their efforts, it had declined to a mere three per cent. Hitler’s appeal was to the upper and middle classes – and the amorphous non-political mass who did not bother to vote. The gigantic vote for the National Socialist Workers’ Party in September 1930 meant a serious change in the balance of forces.

The SPD vote had declined since 1928 by 6 per cent, but the Communists’ had risen considerably (by 40 per cent) to over 4.5 million. The National Socialist Workers’ Party, in contrast, had increased its votes vote by over 800 per cent (nearly 6.5 million), going from the ninth largest party in the Reichstag to second!

Stalinism and ‘Social Fascism’

The Stalinists completely lost any sense of proportion and declared the election a massive victory for communism. A prominent party leader, Hermann Remmele, stated: ‘the only victor in the September elections is the Communist Party.’

Trotsky and the International Left Opposition, alarmed by the deteriorating situation, immediately issued an appeal to the leaders and ranks of the KPD to organise a united front with the social democrats to stop the fascists. The Nazis represented not only a grizzly threat to the proletariat of Germany, but that of Europe and Russia as well. A fascist victory would inevitably mean war with the USSR. The Stalinists replied in the following terms:

“In his pamphlet on the question, How will National Socialism be Defeated?,Trotsky gives always but one reply: ‘The German Communist Party must make a block with the social democracy…’ In framing this block, Trotsky sees the only way for completely saving the German working class against fascism. Either the CP will make a block with the social democracy or the German working class is lost for 10-20 years. This is the theory of a completely ruined fascist and counter revolutionary. This theory is the worst theory, the most dangerous theory and the most criminal that Trotsky has constructed in the last years of his counter revolutionary propaganda.” (Ernst Thaelmann, September 1932)

The main enemy for the Stalinists was not Hitler but the Social Democrats! In fact the party, through Heinz Neumann, proclaimed that: ‘Fascist dictatorship is no longer merely a threat, it is already here.’ The KPD issued orders for ‘social fascist’ meetings to he broken up. Thaelmann even coined the slogans: ‘Drive the social fascists from their jobs in the factories and the trade unions!’, ‘Chase them away from the factories, labour exchanges and professional schools.’

Jan Valtin vividly describes the breaking up of a Social Democratic transport workers’ union conference in 1931:

“The Communist Party sent a courier to the headquarters of the Nazi Party with a request for cooperation in the blasting of a Trade Union Conference. Hitlerites agreed, as they always did in such cases…As soon as the conference of Social Democrats was well under way, I got up and launched a harangue from the gallery…We refused to budge. As soon as the first trade union delegate touched one of us, our followers rose and bedlam started. The furniture was smashed, the participants beaten, the hall turned into a shambles.” (Out of the Night)

This crazy position was backed up by the Stalinist Comintern: ‘We shall not be able to strike and destroy the class enemy of the workers, the bourgeoisie, unless our main attack is directed against Social Democracy, the chief prop of the bourgeoisie.’ (Source)

And this is another reason why Stalinists are a tiny, ridiculed minority in the left now. They have decades of infamy and idiocy stacked up behind them. To pretend that they have anything to do at all with Marxism, with Leninism is utter lunacy.

Ian McDiarmid

I’ve just watched my fave ep of Inspector Morse. It’s my fave due largely to it featuring my favourite villain, Hugo De Vries, played by the wonderful Ian McDiarmid:

I love this ep because it’s full on madness: set-ups, disguises, mis-direction, all under the control of De Vries. It’s like a classic Hitchcock where the hapless protagonist ends up not knowing who to believe, who to trust but even better because this time round the hero is crusty, mithering Morse. And, hey, if you’ve ever wondered what Danny Boyle was up to twenty-five years ago, this is it: directing Morse. 

The end monologue that De Vries delivers to Morse is perfect and creepy and perfectly creepy. McDiarmid is riveting as the contempt for Morse drips off every syllable. How can you go wrong with lines like, “Why do policemen always go round in pairs, like low comedians?”

If you’re not a Morsey, you’ll probably be more familiar with McDiarmid in this role:

His Palpatine / Darth Sidious / Emperor is another perfect villain. What McDiarmid brings to the character is a deep sense of realism, of true gravitas, no mean feat when dealing with sci-fi. You could, in fact, identify completely with Palpatine and see the whole cycle of films from his point of view. Here’s a great man who only wants to unite a quarrelsome galaxy into a great order, if only the Jedi and rebel scum would just stop interfering.

I love that he first played the Emperor in Return Of The Jedi and then came back, sixteen years later to play a younger version of himself in The Phantom Menace:

McDiarmid was surprised when Lucas approached him 16 years after Return of the Jedi to reprise the role of Palpatine. In an interview, he stated, “When we were doing Return of the Jedi there was a rumor that George Lucas had nine films in his head, and he’d clearly just completed three of them.” McDiarmid added, “Someone said that, ‘Oh, I think what he might do next is go back in time, and show how Vader came to be.’ It never occurred to me in a million years that I would be involved in that, because I thought, ‘oh well, then he’ll get a much younger actor [to play Palpatine].’ That would be obvious.” However, “I was the right age, ironically, for the first prequel when it was made. … So I was in the very strange and rather wonderful paradox of playing myself when young at my own age, having played myself previously when 100-and-I-don’t-know-what.” (Source)

If you only know McDiarmid from Star Wars, I strongly recommend you hunt out his other work, he’s just been in Utopia and 37 Days and he’s done craploads of Shakespeare, obviously, maybe some that’s online.

Hugo deVries: You’re sweating, Morse. It’s most disagreeable.

Trot Stuff

northern-irish-lefty:

The Communist side of Tumblr seems to be quite split. There are people defending the USSR and denouncing Trotskyists (I will admit, the USSR improved some aspects of life) and then there’s the other side of Trotskyists and some AnComs who are denouncing the USSR and such.

It would be interesting if this site ever got separated into political parties…

All actual Trotskyists would defend the old USSR in terms of its economy (everything is nationalised already, capitalists gone) but NOT in terms of political system. We would want a political revolution and true workers’ democracy, not the hideous oppression of Stalinism. The same would be true of any country that nominally was socialist: how much of the economy is nationalised? What’s the political structure? Is it actual workers’ power or a caste of party bureaucrats?

(Anarchists, of course, don’t see us Trots as being any better than Stalinists when it comes down to it – a quick reading up here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kronstadt_rebellion will give you just one reason why.)

In actual day-to-day, real political activity, the number of Stalinists you meet is tiny. They are a rump of scattered, theoretically-bankrupt sects carrying out exactly zero mass activity. In actual extreme left British politics, all the major parties are Trots and specific movements like Stop The War (which mobilised the largest ever protest in British history ) are all lead by Trots. And that’s been true since at least the ‘80s when it was The Militant Tendency making all the headlines.

Trotskyism, in theory and praxis is the living continuation of Bolshevism, not the aberration that is Stalinism.

Defiance S3E8 – My Name Is Datak Tarr And I Have Come To Kill You

WOAAH!

I did not see that end coming. Tarr goes to the enemy camp, I thought, this is it. They’ve been having the kid flashbacks to his Dad, we’ve seen the history of the blade, he can finally atone for everything and go out with honour.

AND THEN HE SAWS HIS OWN FUCKING ARM OFF??

Defiance writers, you get an A++ for this. It avoided the ‘noble sacrifice’ cliche and it is TOTALLY in character for Tarr to save his own arse. In fact, the whole ending felt so natural, so unlike fiction, it’s beautiful.

The setup of the combat party being killed by the Indogene spy, of Rahm Tahk’s continued irrational brutality, all of that hoodwinked me into thinking Tarr was toast. I was sitting there, nodding, thinking, ‘well it’s a shame he has to go but this is a good send off.’

Then BOOM!

He’s lying in a fucking ditch, giggling like an idiot.

Well played, Defiance, well played….

Cop Rock (1990)

Cop Rock is an American musical police drama series that aired on ABC in 1990. The show, a police drama presented as a musical, was co-created by Steven Bochco, who also served as executive producer. TV Guide ranked it #8 on TV Guide’s List of the 50 Worst TV Shows of All Time list in 2002.[1] The periodical dubbed it “the single most bizarre TV musical of all time”.[2]

(Source: Wikipedia)

Youngsters, let me introduce you to some of the weirdest fucking telly it’s ever been my misfortune to witness. Worse than Love Thy Neighbour, worse than Mind Your Languageworse even than when Dr. Who made Bertie fucking Bassett a villain:

Yes, Cop Rock out-weirded all of them.

You’d be watching some standard cop show and then, BOOM, out of nowhere, a FUCKING SONG! Like, a full production, cops dancing about and waving their hair everywhere song and dance number. Not just a little Radiohead-type mithering mumble about existentialism, a FULL SONG that recounts plot points and sometimes advanced the narrative.

And then, WHOOMP, singing stops, back to the intense police drama.

I’m straight edge and I seriously think that I never need to do hallucinogenics in my life because I’ve watched Cop Rock. Nothing’s gonna beat that, I could gargle shrooms for weeks, still wouldn’t be as deeply unsettling.

How did this ever get made? It was from Steven Bochco, ffs, who’d made Hill St. Blues, probably one of the best cop shows ever. So, we thought we were in safe hands. We definitely weren’t.

The show was a critical and commercial failure and was canceled by ABC after 11 episodes.[3] Owing to the combination of its bizarre nature (a fusion of musical performances with serious police drama) and its high-powered production talent, it became infamous as one of the biggest television failures of the 1990s.[4][5] The series’ final episode, which aired on December 26, 1990, concluded with the cast breaking character and joining crew members in performing a closing song. (That final episode featured Sheryl Crow appearing as a back-up singer.)

Tbh, I’m expecting a re-make any day now…

 

Fantastic Four

Fantastic-Four-Movie-Character-Banner_0

So, I saw FF last night and I’m still really confused by it. It feels like it was pulling in two different directions. The first was towards the emotional realism of Trank’s awesome Chronicle and the second yer standard Marvel action film.

I re-watched Chronicle again this week before FF and I still love it and the end did make me blub again. It’s probably the most real, most accurate superpowers film we’ll ever get.

So, I love Trank, I don’t come to bury him. But FF wavered between heavy emotional scenes and clobbering time in a strange, lurching, unbalanced way.

And what was with the marginalisation of Sue?? She didn’t even get to fucking go to the other dimension, she just got wafted on when the capsule returned. WHAT?? This is less progressive than the previous films!

And then, as soon as they have the accident, Reed fucks off and we’re told ‘ONE YEAR LATER.’ WAT? One year has passed in which the remaining Okay Three have honed their powers and had great adventures and a load of stuff that might have been fun for us to watch? 

Look, I didn’t hate it. It was okay. But I remain nonplussed and bewildered by the whole thing. We know the central four can act but their characters remained very, very thin. I mean, why was Jamie Bell even there? He is such a great actor but he barely got to do anything. And for all the racists moaning about Torch being played by Jordan – don’t worry, it feels like he’s barely got three lines. And yet, he was beautiful in Chronicle even douchebag-fest That Awkward Moment.

ALSO – there was no Stan Lee cameo. And ALSO ALSO… there wasn’t an extra bit at the end of the credits!

YEP. We sat through till the very end, there was nothing. 

That last absence kind of sealed it for me in that it didn’t really feel like a Marvel film at all and it didn’t feel like the Fantastic Four either.

Weird.

_____________

EDIT!

This just in from roving reporter tomewing :

It’s a Fox Studios film, not a Marvel Studios film, so no Stan Lee. In fact Marvel were so grumpy about it they cancelled the FF comic after 64 years and have removed the characters from most/all promo material!

Ahh, thank you! The whole thing just felt… not right! Like it was completely un-connected with the rest of the MCU films. But they could still have stuck an extra bit at the end, couldn’t they? Or do Marvel own doing that??