Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Batman Begins

Nice try.
Yes, really. Nolan really did make an effort to go back to the *real* Batman of the comics. He watched Bladerunner a lot, apparently, and the effect is certainly visible. But it's just not good enough. Gotham is dark, but not quite chilling, Christian Bale's attractive, but not quite right, Batman's a little strange but not as mental (well yes, I love the man, but he's mental!) as he needs to be.
Katie Holmes is pretty, but she's just a non-entity...she isn't noticeable at all. Does this woman have a personality in real life? I'm curious.
And oh, look. It's Qui gon.

It's the year of the gritty SF movie...and this is a joke, but I will now imagine Jennifer Aniston with a bug head for the rest of the day.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Summertime Blues

Summertime Blues

Well, I went to my congressman
He sent me back a note
It said, "I''d like to help you, hon
But you're too young to vote"

I don't know about other people, but I always believed this song to be written by the Who, after I saw them perform this at Woodstock( the movie/ I'm not old enough to have been at this most wonderful of concerts in person).

Their electrifying, drug-fuelled performance, their equipment-smashing madness, a white-jumpsuit wearing Pete Townshend windmilling and leaping about the stage, Keith Moon's insane drum-rolls- everything was perfect in the movie, if not in real life:
It has, strangely, sometimes been described as their worst gig ever, involving Pete bashing his guitar on a man's head for interrupting their set. Luckily, I never got to see this happen which is why it seems near flawless to me, to this day.

And then I found out that this song, the song that I thought gave Woodstock more flavour than it is given credit for, the song that so perfectly described the repression felt by the youth of the time, the bleakness of work and the betrayal by their government at Vietnam that Woodstock through one long summer of peace and music was to cure, was written by Eddie Cochran and Jerry Caphart to be performed by Ed Cochran, in 1958, nearly a decade before I had believed it to be written.

Now, this in no way diminished my respect for the performance that made this song so famous. They transformed this song into something altogether wild and full of the madness that was the Who, which makes it very hard for me not to associate this song with them.

However, this did greatly increase my respect for Ed Cochran, who to someone born in the late 80s, seemed more an Elvis sound-alike than a good songwriter and performer. I could just as well have labelled the Byrds, the Monkees, the Beach Boys etc. nothing but lesser-quality facsimilies of the Beatles, which though partly correct appearance-wise, is not all that their music was. People borrowed music techniques all the time- heck, even the Beatles weren't always a hundred percent original. But the remarkability of the lyrics, their twisting even the slightest thing they borrowed to something no one else was capable of, is mostly why it isn't seen as a corruption and the borrowing generally considered too inconsequential to be of note.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Orhan Pamuk - My Name Is Red

Pamuk wants to write a historicised (should that be an historicised?) debate on the western vs eastern concepts of art. So he writes a murder mystery.
Comparisons with The Name of The Rose are inevitable, of course. Both are mysteries which frequently lapse/rise into philosophical debate. Both are historical novels. However, Eco’s book has the edge over Pamuk’s, simply because the mystery is a lot more interesting. William and Adso have an amusing Holmes and Watson feel to them. TNOTR has clues, suspects, and enough of a convoluted murder plot to draw the reader in. It’s like religion + Agatha Christie. Pamuk gives us three suspects (Olive, Butterfly and Stork), no clues, and not enough time spent on the suspects for us to care. It makes little difference to the reader to know which one’s the murderer. My reaction was something like “He did it? Oh, okay.”
Leaving aside the main plot, however,(and you can do that with this book, the murder plot is merely a means to an end) this is actually rather a lovely book. The debate on art is good – while debating the use of the western perspectivist technique, Pamuk adopts it, letting the characters tell their own stories in their own voices. People are telling their stories, not knowing what the others are saying/doing. Rather like the minaturists working on Enishte's book. Yet the argument for traditional art is made as well. I don’t want to be a tree; I want to be its meaning.
The subplots are far more absorbing than the murder. While Shekure and Black’s relationship is really rather boring, Shekure herself (and her relationship with her sons) is interesting. The puritanical preacher Nusret Hoja and his followers provide an important background story throughout, affecting the main plot in minor but significant ways. The storyteller in the coffeehouse is magnificent.
The ending though, the hint that the author is Shekure’s son Orhan and that he may have lied to make the story better, that didn’t work for me. It’s a little too cutesy, and it’s been done far too many times before.
This sounds harsh. It really is worth reading (and owning) and I did love it. No, really.