'All the time of this present age is but a point of eternity. All things are but little, changeable, and presently to vanish. All things proceed from the universal governing mind, either by direct and primary intention, or by necessary consequence and connexion with things primarily intended. Thus, the horrid jaws of the lion, poisons, and whatever is pernicious, as thorns, as mire, are the consequences of those venerable and lovely things you admire. Don’t, therefore, imagine them foreign to that constitution of nature which you reverence; but consider well the fountain of all things.

He who sees things present, has seen all things which either have been from eternity, or shall be to eternity; for, all are of the like nature, and similar.' - Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, Meditations


'...as machines which require the most workmanship may be stopped or disordered by the defect of a single nail or wheel: so the error or offence of one man puts the rational system or society of mankind out of order. Any person, by almost one single free act, may destroy a house or ship, nay a city or a fleet, by fire or wreck. Any king or governor can, by an easy and free act, overwhelm whole nations with war, rapine, slaughter and villany.


'God does not permit any bad elections, but such as may be reconciled with the good of the whole system, and has digested and order'd everything in such a manner, that these very faults and vices shall tend to the good of the whole.' - William King, An Essay on the Origin of Evil


..."art direction run amok at the expense of any scrutiny" is David Thomson's verdict, although he phrases it as a question, and is pretty tentative about shooting down Terry Gilliam's "unquestioned visual imagination". Well this viewer is cocksure and confident in pronouncing himself all for it. We cannot find invention this extravagant anywhere else, and we should be glad to have it.

Towards the end, I was getting a little worried that the film was stepping into Star Wars territory, but I should have been more trusting. Gilliam twists brutal satire out of those fantasies as well. Lovely Oedipus-complex complications as well. Necrophilia indeed! No fantasy, however personal, is safe. Touchy film-students may get a little queasy about the oriental samurai-emperor dueling with Pryce's angelic crusader, but again... fantasies, right? Absurd, camp, cliched and impotent.

...but what else do we have?


'Walk forth calm, contented, rejoicing, returning thanks to the Gods, who, from their infinite bounty, have opened the safe and quiet harbour of death, at all times ready to receive us from the stormy ocean of human life; who have prepared this sacred, this inviolable, this great asylum, always open, always accessible; altogether beyond the reach of human rage and injustice; and large enough to contain both all those who wish, and all those who do not wish to retire to it: an asylum which takes away from every man every pretence of complaining, or even of fancying that there can be any evil in human life, except such as he may suffer from his own folly and weakness.' - Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments



Now THAT is how you do a tracking shot! Srsly slick moves in Joe Wright's third outing. And that's The Chemical Brothers providing the ass-kicking soundtrack to all the ass-kicking. Visual and sonic killa-bombs galore!

But what's with the fairy-tale motifs, eh? Hanna is trained-up in the Arctic wilds in the ways of C.I.A. ninjas by dour but kindly Eric Bana, then let loose on the world in order to neutralize immaculate ice-queen stepmother Cate Blanchett. But the endless drilling leaves little room for music, beauty and fairy-tales. "I just missed your heart" (a hunter's, rather than Cupid's, arrow) at the start and at the end of the film, followed by bullets, red on white. THE THEME, in a nutshell.

The fairy-tale thing gets silly ONCE, at the end, where we didn't really need another deer appearing to get what's being said. Otherwise, I forgave all the silly bells and whistles. If this is a film about our need for stories, fantasies, friendship-bracelets as the stuff that makes this rat-race life worth living, then let's glory in the magical artifice of it! Cinema! Glorious!

Bradshaw isn't at his best over here, but he does pick up on a certain uncomfortable gender overlay to the film's theme. Hanna's father is the pragmatic survivalist, her mother the passionate alternative type - a pattern repeated with the couple Hanna meets on holiday. And the reason Cate Blanchett is so frosty... well she's made the unnatural choice not to spend her years birthing sprogs, hasn't she? Does funny stuff to the female brain, that. Hmm... Lost a lot of points there.

But the gorgeous goings-on are just distracting enough to make you overlook the questionable thematic content. Worth seeing, if you can still find a screening somewhere...


Basically-halfway 2011 favorite albums / singles

Reposting, slightly amending, this comment over here. Now with added linky.

3 Albums (in order of preference):
tUnE-yArDs - w h o k i l l
Julianna Barwick - The Magic Place
Dom - Sun Bronzed Greek Gods (UK release this year)

27 Songs (loosely grouped by genre):
Purity Ring - Ungirthed / Lofticries
Jessie Ware & Sampha - Valentine
Hyetal feat. Alison Garner - Diamond Islands
Jacques Greene - Another Girl
Blawan - Getting Me Down
Addison Groove - This Is It
xxxy - You Always Start It / Ordinary Things
FaltyDL - Hip Love
Sepalcure - Your Love
Burial - NYC
Rockwell - Aria
ASC - Silkworm
Peverelist - Dance Til The Police Come / Fundamentals / Sun Dance
Shackleton - Deadman
Tyler, the Creator - Yonkers
Nicki Minaj feat. Esther Dawn - Super Bass
Britney Spears feat. Nicki Minaj & Ke$ha - Till the World Ends (The Femme Fatale Remix)
Toddla T feat. Shola Ama - Take It Back
Chase & Status feat. Delilah - Time
Yasmin - Finish Line (The MIKE DELINQUENT PROJECT Remix) / On My Own (Stenchman Remix)
Ny feat. Giggs - Be With You
P Money & Blacks feat. Slickman - Boo You


X-Men: First Class

Uncanny X-Men has been overloaded with mythology for some time now, and First Class was one attempt at recapturing simplicity and accessibility, riffing on the Stan Lee 60s series (Astonishing could be seen as doing the same thing, but in an 80s Chris Claremont vein). So the comic did one- / two-issue arcs full of bright colours and teen energy. When it came to adapting it to film, they got O.C. creator Josh Schwartz to direct.

But then reading the wiki, you learn that Marvel were also planning to make an X-Men Origins: Magneto film, and that as Brian Singer pushed Schwartz out of the writing chair, the two projects were merged into one. Which explains it all, really. X-Men: First Class is actually two films, and they don't fit together that well.

So there's very good drama! drama! from James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender... and there's some fine japery! japery! from Banshee, Havok and Darwin trying to take down the Hellfire Club (sidebar: really strange line-up, but a lot of the bigger names have been used already...) BOTH these stories are handled very well (what with the drama! and the japery!) but there's just not enough time invested in either, so e.g. when the yoots have to pick sides, you don't really know what their motives are.

Other blunders: accents go a little haywire; January Jones is miscast, then given nothing to do; Moira McTaggert isn't Scottish; the period fittings aren't prevalent enough...

...but the above gets wiped clean by an absolute killa of a cameo.

Verdict: not bad. Thor absolutely destroys it, however. Capt. America is up next...