Saturday, March 17, 2007

DSC_2028 - No ExceptionNot only did last [last] weekend involve much Wiiing (what else is there to do when the only cloud in Southern England is blocking the lunar eclipse?) but it also involved much filmage.

First came the post-emotional breakdown in Sainsbury's (er... did I miss something? Well, obviously because one minute one friend was there, next she'd fled to the carpark, all while I was trying not to disapprove of GA buying solely purple packaged food) main feature, The Butterfly Effect, as recommended by the occasionally distraught one (I'll have to give her a new blogname as I've forgotten her old one. So what? Jetty after her name? Sweetie-Darling after her speech? Evil Harridan of Capitalism Number 2 after her work? Zingiber officinale after... do I have to spell this one out? Or how about what she always corrects people with? I mean if someone calls her something and she always replies "No, it's X", then X must be her name, right? And so we have it: Titian).

Titian just so happened to have a copy of this film floating about in her work's car. So after I grilled the dough balls (bloody no visible flames electric oven), which wasn't helped by unintentionally Wiiing for slightly more the 4 minutes cooking time, and so served them well browned charred face down, we watched the film with occasional cookery breaks.

It feels quite like a few other films with endless time loop or parallel narratives stuff, Final Destination levels of gore, played straight with just a little light molestation. It's like a NSFW version of The Goonies. And it's not helped by the cast; you can Ashton Kucher is being serious as he's got his sincere beard (which he wears like Greek actors wore mood masks). Basically the whole thing would have been better off written as a sub plot in an episode of Buffy. Not even being made to sit through the deleted scenes until Titian found the ending used in the cinema could provide us with any sense of fulfilment.

Of course having looked things up later it now turns out that the story is an allegory of the life of Christ (the character's surname is Treborn but apparently the studio wouldn't agree to calling the lead Chris). So much self-denial, abnegation, lots of suffering generally transferred from the outer players to the central character, who then has to sacrifice his own life to save the others (depending on the edit you watch); no wonder it's odd. And it has to be a fairly poor film if GA and I agree it was bad (I still haven't forgiven her for ruining a childhood birthday by earlier telling me that Look Who's Talking 2 was a good film).

Eliding the following yet unrelated unless one of is the second son of God conversation, the next film was Rebel Without a Cause. Titian had departed by this stage and GA went to bed half an hour in, leaving me to try and make sense of it on my own. Having watched half before bed and half early the next morning (thank you downstairs for having your radio on loudly throughout the night. I do so enjoy walking to the sound of my muppet-like fellow man on Five Live) I probably didn't have the best viewing experience. Nor was my perception of the film helped by constantly expecting the characters to break into song, probably thanks more to West Side Story than Grease, but not by much.

It was quite interesting finally connecting the cultural references which allude to the film, although I'm not sure of the exact significance of lead character being dressed in red, white and blue for much of the film. I couple of things struck me as I watched it (and I was aware of watching for the sake of experience rather than because it drew me in). He's a unwilling rebel without much of a rebellion. They all live in a Malloryed world, where they do things because they're there and because they can, but most of all they do things to be seen to be doing things. It's posturing. It's an act, which is possibly why the reversion to imagining the future with child-like safety and simplicity, the honesty of sheer pretence, suddenly strikes so dramatically.

But it is very hard to watch the film without inferences and then having to struggle with deciphering how much was an intended subtext, how much was originally visible, what impact did it have at the time, what perceptions are caused by solely modern interpretations and what would have been expected by contemporary thought? Because depending on one's starting point the film offers two narratives. Where both intentional and are both accessible from the either mindset? What influenced the structure of the film? Did studios lean or is this the original vision?

I'm aware this won't make much sense without having seen it, but in order not to sway you much I'm avoiding specific aspects of the plot. But it's very hard to ascertain whether the thoughts it provokes were planned and whether they might have changed with the context. If you haven't a clue what I'm talking about, watch it.

And the third film of the weekend was an inflicted Dark City, for the second time (second time watched, second time inflicted). I dozed through much of it. It is reminiscent of several films, despite most of them having been made later. If you're into mechanofantasy, where everything in the distorted world seems to have more pistons than strictly necessary, then watch it, otherwise only watch if you really have nothing better to do and your arms can take no more Wii. Like onions it does not improve with repetition as it consists of an idea and a twist and is nowhere near layered enough to improve with rewatching (it didn't help that all I remembered of it was the twist).

Basically it felt mediocreally French and reminded me of The City of Lost Children and The Fifth Element, but most of all The I Can't Name This Because It Gives The Ending Away (GAGEAGN).

In other film news, I saw, yet again, Gosford Park when it was on Channel 4 last weekend (I know I used last weekend above to mean a different one, but I didn't complete the post and something scared me out of blogging for a while). And this is despite owning it on DVD (which I bought hesitatingly sight unseen on the recommendation of a friend and so discovered that sometimes recommendations from friends can be good things). I haven't got much to say other than ponder the sanity of watching the with-ad-breaks version when I can choose not to (bigger screen) and so infer that I probably like it. But then it's a good film, well acted and decently scripted, which is complex enough to not be fully understood on the first viewing (it's based on a party; one never knows who everyone is nor everything that went on at the end of a normal party so why should one expect to at the end of a film of a party?). It also does an excellent line in insults and slights, much like someone else.

Incidentally, I found wonderful review of Gosford Park, which focuses solely on what may or may not be suitable for children. It's almost sweet and one suspects they only neglected to mention the corrupting flashes of ankle because of space demands. Reading what they consider to be violence is also fairly entertaining. And apparently it contains '7 religious exclamations'. Good Lord, are there no depths to which they will not sink? Best line of warning: We see a couple of nude cherubs on a ceiling.

In other news I finally fixed the dashboard lights dimmer in my car, meaning I can see how fast I'm going again. But to get to the dimmer, which the Haynes manual helpfully ignored completely, one has to unscrew the retaining screw at the base of the panel. The manual helpfully shows these by having first removed the panel below to expose them. Of course, what the manual does not show is how to remove the panel below which was currently covering the screws. So after much prising and gouging of plastic I got the cap over the screws for the panel below off, which helpfully matches the caps they use for slots unoccupied by unselected optionals extras (although the scuffs from the attempts of others gave it away).

So after unscrewing and working loose one panel, shedding dust along the way, got onto the nest two screws. More dust trickles out continuously. Much more prising (possibly quite literally a case of breaking and entering) sets the dimmer free. Well, I found where all that dust was coming from then. I'm not sure why the oxidised copper was only a very pale greenish white, but there was a heck of a lot of it. Chipping, scrapping and scuffing ensues. As does WD40ing.

I get the connection working again, but not stable and only at a fixed point which limits the point of having a variable resistor somewhat. Realising that the circuit is just as likely to conk out again in the future and now knowing how awkward it is to get to (who thought arranging interior panels to overlap like roofing tiles, only with hidden screws in as well, was a good idea?) I improvise with fuse wire. While I consider just hardwiring a bypass I wasn't sure of the current of the circuit and thought having an exposed fuse burn out while encased in hidden plastic might not be the best idea, instead cheating slightly and using the wire as a packing material to force the heavily corroded sledge in the resistor back out to a level where contact with the coil could be made. Connecting the battery back up to check while half the interior is still slumped forward I notice a light. A light intended to illuminate a switch for which all the wiring is in place. Only whatever the switch controls must have been an extra because there is no switch (despite all the wiring for it being present) and so the light which is currently lit has spent its entire lifetime hidden behind the plastic of the dashboard. It's quite odd.

Of course, having done all this and exposed its innermost quirks, a few days later the car retaliated. I tried to back up a bit to allow me to clear the car in front. the driver's side rear went up as the tyre went over the kerb. Except I was parallel with the kerb. I try again and the same thing happens. Getting out to check it's very obvious that there's nothing there. Trying again and once more the car finds an invisible brick to drive over. This is not good. I try letting it roll forwards but despite the hill it won't move. While I'm busy worrying about the suspension finally having broken through the rust other people appear to offer opinions, the car in front moves and the AA is called. Trying to go forward she hunkers down but nothing else happens. The car just won't move.

I wait for the AA man as I flick through the Haynes manual trying to work out what brakes it has on the back, how they work and so what might have gone wrong. It turns out that if I can't use a screwdriver I'm not very good at coping with car problems on my own.

The AA man appears, makes me try driving it back, then forward, telling me to push it harder, whereupon forward movement is achieved with a great scrambly, gravelly noise which scares me into stopping. Yep, the brake's locked on, as demonstrated by the neat tread pattern left in the gutter by both wheels (how'd that work, surely the rear should have blurred slowly forward and the front smudged together backwards?). While I'm pondering this and sitting in the car ready to engage brakes should it move, there's noise from the rear wheel as Mr AA works away. Then there's three clanging thunks and the car drops onto the engine compression. Taking it out of gear it freewheels enough to prove it's normal again and I stop it.

It turns out that the more mature car (or just those very dirty) when driven in wet weather (um, would wiper drowning rain and a flood or two count?) can result in the dampening and loosening of the aggregated gunk on the wheels, which can then accrete on the brakes and if not removed by further driving can then solidify binding the brakeshoes to the wheels thus rendering the car immobile. And leaving it to sit in the unseasonal sun for a week perhaps didn't help. Yep, thanks to the wonder of automotive engineering I reinvented the mudbrick.

All of which means I now have a car with no obvious problems (the pheasanted-radio doesn't count), which is very worrying because that means instead of providing a constant stream to be coped with, the car is storing them up and I'm worried I won't be able to fix whatever it is with gravity, a screwdriver (occasionally used handle end first) and WD40.

So what else newsworthy (I use the term loosely) has happened? Not much. There's more stuff on Flickr, but those of you who care probably know that, and those who don't don't.

I'm sure I've forgotten something.


I'm confused:

A) Where are you living now? At your (parents) home? Or somewhere else?
[Sorry, the stalker in me needs to know these things]

B) Do you own this Wii? Or is it property of the person whos' house you're at?

C) Or maybe it is, and you're just always there?

D) Can you tell that I'm so so very bored about revising Innate Immunity yet?
Do pay attention Obscure. The Wii is still in the same place it was the first (and only) time, it's just that I mentioned it in a second post which lingered unfinished for a while before posting, as explained in the post, hence the disparity in timings and the "last [last]".

D) Well, revise Nate Immunity then.
What was it that scared you out of blogging for a while?

You missed the lunar eclipse? Unfortunate.
A, B and C) Yes, I realised after but couldn't be arsed to re-comment.

D) Were you trying to be funny there? Because if so it was an unusually poor attempt. *shakes head* :-P
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