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Walker, 1987 - ★★★½

I really thought I’d seen this before, but remembered nothing about it. Having watched it now, I doubt that I ever actually did see it, because none of it was familiar. 

I have the soundtrack album, of course, cos the music was written by Joe Strummer. 

It’s a weird film, but it may actually be Alex Cox’s best apart from _Repo Man_, given that _Sid & Nancy_ wasn’t as good as I remembered, and _Straight To Hell _ is… its own thing.

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If the Prime Minister’s a Junkie, the Public Has a Right to Know

John Crace, writing his Guardian parliamentary sketch:

“If he was a decent man, he would apologise,” Starmer said. But Boris isn’t a decent man, so he didn’t. Instead he continued to rush on his run.

Any Velvet Underground fan immediately recognises that as reference to their song ‘Heroin’:

When I’m rushing on my run
And I feel just like Jesus’ son
And I guess that I just don’t know
And I guess that I just don’t know

I don’t know if ‘to rush on one’s run’ is a common expression among heroin addicts, but John Crace has been there himself, so presumably knows what he’s talking about. Is he, then, trying to tell us something about Boris Johnson’s predilections?

Perhaps not; perhaps he just means that Johnson’s enjoying the high of parliamentary debate, of being in the chamber, of being prime minister. But since the rest of the piece is about what disaster PMQs was for him, that seems unlikely.

Is this one of those open secrets that everyone in Westminster knows, including political journalists, but no-one reveals, because it’s not the done thing, old chap?

I do hope not; but we should be told.

On Devs

Just watched the last episode of Devs. Several friends recommended it after I said “What shall we watch next?” a few weeks ago. The question was intended rhetorically, but they gave answers anyway, which was nice.

In terms of its pacing, Devs was likened to Kubrick. Fair enough. I saw some Lynchian overtones in it. Or sub-Lynchian, anyway. I enjoyed the journey, but was slightly disappointed with the destination.

Not, however, as disappointed as I feared I was going to be halfway through the last episode. I practically cheered when Lily threw the gun away. But then poetry-quoting Stewart fucked everything up.

Of course, as soon as you (the programme maker) introduce simulations, you (the viewer) can no longer trust that anything is “real,” so everything gets slippery and to some extent, what’s the point?

Where it disappoints, I think, is that Forest’s incorrect determinism-based view was not actually overturned by the ending. We don’t see him and Lily living in an alternative branch of the multiverse, but in a simulation that could be entirely consistent with his belief that reality proceeds on tram tracks — thereby obviating the guilt he feels for contributing to his wife and child’s death, and also gettig him off the hook in his mind for his complicity with his murderous ex-CIA security chief.

I found the first episode quite disturbing: the music was screechingly discordant and set my teeth on edge, and that creepy statue towered over everything. And the fact that the statue was still there, still creepy, at the end was confusing. Surely he’d only had it built because his daughter died? But in the sim where his daughter survived, it was still there and the company was still named after her. Only Devs (or Deus) the project was missing. Which suggests that he had named the company and had the statue built, not as a commemoration of his daughter, but because — I don’t know, really.

The other weird thing about the first episode was that, not having seen the cast, I spent the first ten minutes saying, “Is that Ron Swanson?” The fact that one of the first things he says was a complaint about government regulation feels like a clue. Nick Offerman does an impressive job of disappearing into the part, but he couldn’t hide his voice.

Still, I’ll never be able to watch Parks & Rec in the same way.

Also Katie, when explaining Devs to Lily, uses “reason” when she means “cause.” Her pushing the pen is the cause of it rolling across the table. The reason it happened is because she chose to push it. Reason (to me, at least) implies intelligence or at least sentience behind the action. Cause is the correct word to use when discussing cause and effect.

And when she asked Lily to name a truly random event, Lily should have said, “Nuclear decay.”

Woolf Banks

I’m reading Virginia Woolf’s Orlando at the moment, and enjoying it very much. There’s a bit right at the beginning, gruesomely involving a severed head, that I think Iain Banks might have been echoing in The Algebraist — considerably more gruesomely.

My bike ride this morning took me to Bloomsbury, Woolf’s old area. On my way back, going through Islington, I thought of Walking on Glass, and I suddenly realised that we have multiple characters walking around there with a lot going on in their heads, which is very similar to what happens in Mrs Dalloway — though in Central London

If you follow that link you’ll see that I noted the stylistic connection between the two back in 2018, which I had forgotten today.

There have probably been theses written on such parallels.1 And Banks was an English graduate, after all, so he’d surely have studied Woolf. I have no great insight here, just a morning’s literary musings.

  1. Though a little googling suggests not; or at least nothing public. 

Arrival, 2016 - ★★★★ (contains spoilers)

This review may contain spoilers.

This is glorious. I’d give it five stars if it wasn’t for the fact that I don’t think they had to have Hannah die. They could have misdirected us at the start a different way.

Plus, that first few minutes means we start off feeling sad. It’s a serious film, but it doesn’t have to be sad.

Not that there’s anything automatically wrong with sadness (“Happiness for deep people.” — Sally Sparrow). Still, I think effectively fridging a little girl — or not, but that’s how it appears at first — weakens the whole piece.

Great to see a complex problem resolved with communication and compromise though.

And! Sequel, please: I want to see what the heptapods need from humanity on 3000 years.

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