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Tuesday, 24 December 2013

The Christmas Jumper (or How Sadistic Fashion Designers turned a Familial Festive Punishment into a "Desirable" Object for the Incurably Trendy)

The Christmas Jumper
(or How Sadistic Fashion Designers turned a Familial Festive Punishment into a "Desirable" Object for the Incurably Trendy)  

And lo the child did feel the Christmas parcel with dread and he knew it was soft. The child's feelings of horror did fill his very soul. For he knew that this was a knitted Christmas jumper his grandmother had made. He knew that he must weareth this garment as if he were a medieval monk burdened with a cilice or hair shirt. Worse still, these garments did bear revolting images of the festive season designed to inflict their jolliness on the rest of us. The boy did feelith like the village idiot, marked out by this curse, his chest bearing a stupid looking reindeer or images of Christmas trees that looked like the graphics from a ZX Spectrum computer game. A feeling of guilt would force the poor boy to wear this burden throughout the day, although it did mortify his tender skin and near garrotte his infantile throat.

Friday, 22 November 2013

JFK - The End of a Dream, the Beginning of a Fantasy

According to comedian Robin Williams, "If you remember the '60s, you weren't there". However, it seems that the majority of people who were old enough to remember can tell you where they were when the news came in that John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the current president of the USA, had been shot in Dallas, Texas. Whether or not this fact is always true is just one of the controversial points that is now part of the JFK legacy. This incident seems to have crystallized the dark cynical twist that much of the '60s optimism brought. Heroes of the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King and JFK's brother, Robert, would both also meet their ends by the bullet of lone lunatics. The appearance of more freedom for a youth that had seen their parents fight a bloody war would find themselves being conscripted into a 10 year war that would end in defeat. The '68 Summer of Love and the peaceful hippy movement that drove it would yield an ugly child in the form of the Manson Murders. The Beatles' psychedelic melodies were somehow checked by the dark foreboding of The Doors. However, like a prophesy of what was to come - the dream and the apparent destruction of that dream.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

A Cut Above Most Multiple Personality Disorder Bios


Today I'm Alice is the autobiography of Alice Jamieson, an individual who was eventually diagnosed with DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) formerly known as MPD (Multiple Personality Disorder). It tells the story of an intelligent young girl who, on the surface, appears to tick all the boxes a modern society dictates for becoming a successful person. She has travelled a lot, working in Israel and contributed to and raised money for worthy charitable causes. On a physical level she is an enthusiastic runner who regularly completes the London Marathon. On an academic level she storms her way through education as a diligently studious and hard-working scholar, lands herself a good job befitting her education and seems well on her way to achieving her PhD. It is at this stage that her whole world comes crashing down and her serious psychological and mental problems come to the surface, resulting in many admittances to her local accident and emergency with serious - sometimes near fatal - self inflicted injuries.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Rise of the Under-Snail

dreamworks-turbo-8 (Photo credit: Automotive Rhythms)

Theo (Ryan Reynolds) is a common garden snail who dreams of becoming a champion racer. His hero is the five-time Indianapolis 500 champion, Guy Gagne (Bill Hader). However, he is regarded by all his fellow snails with disdain and he is constantly worried about by his elder brother, Chet (Paul Giamatti), who manages health and safety in the snail garden. One day a freak accident leads Theo, who nicknames himself Turbo, to become imbued with powers that grant him the speed and abilities of a racing car. Another chance encounter leads Theo and Chet to be captured and then befriended by "Dos Bros" Taco driver, Tito (Michael Pena), who races snails with other shopkeepers at a failing strip mall. Theo finds a kindred spirit in Tito, who has spent most of his time working with his weary brother (Luis Guzman) thinking of wild ideas to generate more business. Seeing an opportunity with Theo's incredible powers, Tito and his fellow snail racers decide to

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Courtroom Drama 101

Witness for the Prosecution (1957 film)
Witness for the Prosecution (1957 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Many commitments have taken me away from this blog, but a recent Facebook thread has inspired me to re-post this short review I put up on a few sites back in 2010.


Sir Wilfred Robarts (Charles Laughton) is a brilliant barrister who has fallen on ill health. Having just returned from hospital he is under the strict supervision of his personal nurse, Miss Plimsoll (Elsa Lancaster), whose mandate is to follow his doctor's orders and to keep him away from his great loves of brandy, cigars and criminal cases. Unfortunately for Miss Plimsoll, Robarts is as determined at breaking these rules as she is at enforcing them, especially when Leonard Vole arrives as his client just ahead of being arrested by the police.

Vole is accused of wooing and murdering a wealthy older woman. An ex-solider who has married a peculiar German woman, Christine, Vole appears to be a very naïve man that will have little chance against his prosecution. Against his nurse's express orders, Robarts decides to take the case on. However, Robarts hasn't taken into account the extra player in this game, Vole's wife who first provides him with an alibi, but later will appear as a witness for the prosecution...

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Smoke and Ice - Iago's Advantage

"A lie is the beginning of a new story. That's why we love Art." - Oscar Wilde

I have come to loathe the expression "Where there is smoke, there is fire" or, at least, its hasty usage. The assumption is that you are actually looking at smoke. It disregards the human capacity for lying. Given the right motivation - such as jealousy, old scores, prejudice, financial gains or political expedience - the human mind can pretty much come up with lies that don't have a single grain of truth. However, which cliché does seem to sadly prove true more often than not is that "mud sticks". This reminds me of an Ray Galton and Alan Simpson radio script called "Scandal Magazine". Gutter press editor Sid James explains to a vexed Tony Hancock, who he has scandalized in his magazine, why he cannot win. Even if Hancock wins the case and is exonerated the general public will think he has inside influence. The sheer publicity of the case - win or lose - will drive James's sales up. If Hancock chooses not to sue the persecution in the magazine will continue and the readers will assume the story is true. 

Thursday, 28 March 2013

"Personalities Frozen in Amber" - A Review of the Jayne Mansfield Story

Cover of "The Jayne Mansfield Story"
Cover of The Jayne Mansfield Story
Icons fascinate me. There is little getting away from this fact. I grew up in showbusiness and I have experienced it in most of its forms. However, I think it is probably my very early interest in Greek and Norse mythology coupled with comic books that led me to my interest in the cult of personality. In both instances we have fictional figures that have become representative of what we love and fear, blown up to magical proportions. The way the Romans would also seek to deify their recently deceased emperors presents a very literal way of how humans have always needed immortal heroes. I have little time for current celebrity gossip and I do not elevate those society chooses to celebrate above anyone else. What interests me is the way a certain image is formed and how they go beyond what they ever were as a mortal figure. The icon is its own entity, merely being played by a flesh and blood human being for a relatively short time.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

"An interesting read disguised as a simple guide" - James Marriott's "Horror Films": A Review

 What's It About?

"Horror Films" is an unimaginatively titled, self-styled "step-by-step companion to horror films" produced and commissioned by Virgin Books Ltd's "Virgin Film" subgenre written by James Marriott. Marriot has also written three other Virgin travel books under the pseudonym Patrick Blackden. The book's cover features a full page single black and white still of a fang-baring, blood drooling Christopher Lee in his iconic role of Dracula. Each of the book's 20 chapters focuses on an era defining and highly influential horror film and following a list of full cast and key crew members divides its discussion up under the following titles:

Friday, 8 March 2013

Magical Realism at its Best! - A Review of Angela Carter's "Bloody Chamber"

Cover of "Bloody Chamber and Other Storie...
Cover of Bloody Chamber and Other Stories

Angela Carter was one of the boldest writers of the 20th century. Championed by feminists, Carter is not the usual PC promoting puritan that became a cliché in her time. Instead she strengthened female role models through her own imaginative ideas and often sourced through real evidence. She did this without diminishing other male characters in fiction; male and female villain roles can be equally treacherous, brutal and nasty. Her research into Gothic fiction and, in particular, folk stories reveals this best. This short collection of stories served as the source for the screenplay she wrote, "The Company of Wolves", one of the most startlingly original films of the 1980s. In Carter's works, characters familiar like Red Riding Hood do not overwhelm the male characters rather they compliment them with a different and yet equal strength.