Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Revenge of the Sith: the Verdict

Oh dear! Revenge of the Sith is a film which lacks a credible story, characters and script. Anakain's turn to the dark side lacks reason. Poor old Padme is just not the character she was in the first Episode. The way the film opens lacks narrative. The film itself is prettying boring, because so much of what is said is so rubbish. Here was an opportunity for a great film, an exploration of why someone turns to evil and Lucas has blown it, too caught up in his self-created world to check whether the story actually works. There are of course some memorable moments, but the verdict is episodes I, II and III should never have been made, they are pale comparison to the early films. It's sad that some much money was wasted on something that doesn't live up to any of hype and potential promise. Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi are great films because Lucas did not write or direct them. Lucas should write the story and then someone else should have been brought in to turn the story into a coherent film with real characters.

I find myself in complete agreement with this review.

Poor old Helen - this was the first Star Wars film she's seen, I can't imagine, it will encourage her to see any others.

Does anyone want to defend the film?

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Tony's Story

It was the last episode of 'The Monastery' tonight. Hopefully you might have seen it. Click here to read Tony's story. What do you make of it? Does the Rule of St Benedict have a point in our world today?

Monday, May 23, 2005

The Beach

Last week I acquired a fairly large sum of vouchers for WHSmith, and decided to treaat myself. They were doing one of those offers "3 DVDs for £18" was this one. Well I pounced on Spiderman and Spiderman II without a second thought, then had to choose a third. My friend got the only The Last Samuri left, so I grabbed The Beach. I vaguely remembered it being advertised a few years ago, and thought it might be worth a shot.

What I expected to see was a cross between Castaway and The Blue Lagoon with a suitable mix of post-modern pseudo-philosophy. It was not what I expected.

This was more a new-generation re-hash of Lord of the Flies mixed in with the hedonistic party-culture of the modern backpacking thrill seeker. An intersting film.

Spoilers from here.

The bit I want to focus on happens around 2-thirds in. Two of the party-lovers on "The Beach" are attacked by sharks whislt swimming. The residents of the Beach have a strict policy about the outside world, so if he wanted medical attention, the guy would have to be taken to the mainland... they would NOT allow medics onto the island. Being attacked by a shark made the guy fear water, so he refused to go. (the other guy was left to die, by the way).

A scene follows called "die quickly or get better". As the health of the man wanned, the residents became more and more dispondant that he was putting a downer on them and that they couldn't have fun while he was around. Eventually, they stick him in a tent in the forest and leave him. Only one of the islanders stays with him.

The main protagonist, Richard (Leonardo di Caprio), says "our actions would be easier to condemn if they hadn't worked. But they did... out of sight really was out of mind." The islanders, with no semblance of guilt, go back to their partying and dope-smoking.

Eventually, Richard's conscience and sensibilities return, but in many ways it is too late.

What is interesting about the story is the blatant disregard for others shown by those seeking the "ultimate adventure." There is very little conscience shown by the islanders until it is too late and things really start to hit the fan for them.

It's certainly an interesting insight into the human condition. Perhaps, to a far more credible and less exaggerated extent, we too put our own fulfilment before others at times. I think this film wants to tell us to change.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Mouse With Cheese

Mouse with Cheese

Here is a doodle I did today. I call it Mouse With Cheese. It is done in Bic blue biro, but my scanner only scans in pink so I made it grey.
It symbolises the greed of the western house-mouse: our overwhelmingly insatiable apetites and vast wealth which has ultimately led us into a life of dull greyness.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Monastery

This was BBC2 tonight and on for the enxt two tuesdays 9pm. A fascinating program. Check out the bbc webpages here for more. Did anyone else see it?

Monday, May 09, 2005

some thoughts on About A Boy

Nick Hornby is one of my favourite writers and I'm looking forward to getting hold of his new book which has just been published. Tonight I watch About A Boy, which I think is one of the best films I've ever seen (I've seen it several times now) - its such a brilliant story and apt for our times. Other on konnected I posted an article back in 2003 on the film. I've reproduced here for comment.

'no man is an island' : some thoughts on About A Boy

The film About A Boy begins with the main character Will Freeman (Hugh Grant) outlining his philosophy of life: '. . . And in my opinion all men are islands and what's more now's the time to be one. This is an island age. A hundred years ago, for instance, you had to depend on other people . . . I like to think I'm pretty cool. I like to think I'm Ibizia.'
The story is all about Will learning through his unique relationship with Marcus that we all need other people, or perhaps more theologically, we were created to be in relationship with other people, and to try and function as an individual is to go against what it is to be a person.

Will Freeman believes in the creed of individualism, that is, 'I only need myself to be myself'. Will thinks of himself as an 'island', detached, isolated and unconnected to any other persons: 'He didn't want to meet Imogen, or know who Barney was, and he didn't want to hear about Christine's tiredness, and there wasn't anything else to them anymore. He wouldn't be bothering with them again' (Nick Hornby, About A Boy, 1998, 17). We find Will isn't interested in other people, only in himself. Will doesn't like the intrusion of other people into life, especially a young boy like Marcus. He's happy by himself. As Colin Gunton has said: 'individualism is a non-relational creed, because it teaches that I do not need my neighbour to myself' (The One, the Three and the Many, 1993, 32).

The film follows Will's journey, through his relationship with Marcus, from a belief in individualism to recognising that other people are important and even necessary to being yourself. So halfway through the film Will is at Marcus' home for Christmas with Marcus' mum and an odd collection of guests. Will's voiceover says, 'as I sat there, I had a strange feeling. I was enjoying myself . . . But Christmas at Marcus' gave me a warm fuzzy feeling.' Will at this point is still unable to recognise that it is a sense of community, that is, of being with other people that is the cause of this enjoyment and warm fuzzy feeling. By the end of the film though, Will is having Christmas at his house and is surrounded by a group of friends and is even contemplating marriage(!) He says, 'Every man is an island. I stand by that. But, clearly, some men are part of island chains. Below the surface of the ocean they are actually connected.'

About A Boy teaches us the lesson that being in relationship with people is important, that we cannot exist by ourselves, we need 'backup' to use Marcus' final words in the film. In a world which believes and shouts 'I don't need anyone', the church needs to be a beacon - a light to the world - that we need other persons to be ourselves. A true community is one where the relationships enable and encourage people to be themselves. Why are relationships so important? Because this is what God is like. God is triune, by which I mean he is a community of loving relations - Father, Son and Spirit, and he has created us to participate (take part) in himself, in God. This is the image of God in us - a need for the other, meaning both God and other human persons. We are only truly ourselves when we are in relationship, or to put it another way, relationships - good and bad - make us who we are. Colin Gunton, the theologian quoted above, says 'it is an inescapable feature of our human situation that we are freed or enslaved by the way others love or hate us, thus enabling us to become or preventing us from becoming the people we were created to be'(The Christian Faith, 2002, 45). That is, relationships shape our identity, they allow us or inhibit us from being our true selves.

imaginative thinking

Imagination is such a hard thing to capture and utilize, now that I'm almost 20. When I was a child my mind was an oasis of fictional worlds, making up stories a thing of habit. Not knowing anything better, I would approach situations however I desired, regardless of how others had approached the same situation.

Now, after years of social conditioning, I have succumbed to the numbing of my mind. I am lethargic in exercising my imagination, and like a muscle that hasn't been used, it has wasted away. I find it much easier to sit back and let other people think for me, to tell me how best to lead my life. I watch tv to find out how best to parent my children in the future from the seemingly endless 'super nanny' programmes, how best to renovate my house, or tend my garden, cookery programmes and celebrity fit club to find out how to eat well and stay healthy. I read blogs from intelligent 'theological' people to discover interesting thinking that i can recount to my friends. When people ask for my opinion is struggle to remember what other people have said on the matter, whether it be from a sermon or another conversation, and retell it as best as i remember. I read reviews of films and music so that i have someone else's opinions to talk about rather than think for myself. Life is easy as I never have to rely on my own resources but can count on other people doing the hard work for me.

How I wish to be able to 'think outside the box', to approach a situation apart from the path laid out before me by everyone else's thinking. I want to be imaginative again and have my own opinions and thoughts. Time to start exercising that ability again!

Friday, May 06, 2005

Blair Road

Thanks Phil!

So another 4 years on Blair Road, although everyone saying it won't be the same kind of journey now his majority has been reduced. As this election been a good result for politics with imagination? I don't think so. I would have liked to have seen the Lib Dems win a few more seats - to have made some inroads into the Tories. Last night we saw a humbled Blair, Brown, Straw and Blunkett as they all promised to do some 'listening and learning'. We'll wait and see what happens.

Perhaps now we can turn this blog too other matters ...

Monday, May 02, 2005

Election Unspun

I don't know how much you've been involved with election fever and what's going on. I've just watched part of channel 4's 'election unspun' which I videoed last week (didn't watch it because I was doing my 'tv turnoff' week', but felt it was important program to watch so set the recorder). I'm glad I did, this was a revealing, if not scary discussion of the state of our political election. Click here for a write-up I found. I've decided none of the 3 parties deserve my vote, as none of them have any real ideology and are all playing consumer politics.

I'm hoping after Thursday, that this blog will take a different direction in terms of topics, but its important to get discuss this election.