Tuesday 28 July 2009

A film that ought to have been so much better.

Just seen the new film 'Moon' directed by Duncan Jones (David Bowie's son) with Sam Rockwell and the voice of Kevin Spacey, which I was looking forward to so much in the light of many positive reviews. But my enjoyment, such as it was, was much diminished by the ever-present irritation of a science fiction film yet again depicting sound in an atmosphere-less environment, in this case the lunar surface, as well as a couple of sequences in space. Why do they always do this? I could never enjoy any of the 'Star Wars' series for this very reason, depite the obvious cartoonish intentions of the film-makers. In fact there have only been a couple of films that got anywhere near the reality - '2001 - A Space Odyssey', of course (my all-time favourite film) - but then Kubrick was working with the brilliant, relatively recently deceased, scientist and author Arthur C. Clarke - and also, I think, John Carpenter's 'Dark Star' a few years later - though I may be wrong about the latter, not having seen it again since that first time in the mid-70s. But now over 40 years on from '2001' and we are still treated to a comic-book style of film-making when there's simply no justification for it. Another thing that bugged me about 'Moon' was this body having the same gravitational force as on earth (apart, oddly enough, for a brief passage towards the end) as well as lunar shadows having diffuse edges, like terrestial ones. The first of these might be forgiven as it would be virtually impossible and very expensive indeed to produce an entire film depicting a gravity force of less than 1g. About all these features maybe it's just me being pernickety - but Astronomy has always been a great interest of mine. In my childhood it was an obsessive passion. I'm sure that if I knew more about, say, chemistry, geology or medicine I'd be tearing my hair out over inaccuracies there too. But with space films the errors such as the ones I've mentioned pervade the entire film rather than for just a few seconds or a passing comment. An especial pity because in other respects I found 'Moon' a significantly superior film. And while we're on the subject of film-makers treating their audience as just too stupid to know - why do all films have sound travelling at the speed of light? Even if we see an explosion taking place miles away the resulting sound of it is always heard simultaneously. I would have thought there'd be real dramatic possibilities in showing the reality of an aural delay, but no, they just have to take the easy way out - as though we were just too 'simple' to understand how things really are! Grrrrrrrr!!!!!
Having got that of my chest I'll just also report that (a) there's been no sound from the dog next door for some days now, so I imagine they were just minding it while the owner was away - and (b) still no neighbour has moved in under me. I like it like that but still a bit apprehensive about the new arrival/s when it happens.

Saturday 18 July 2009

Dog days - and nights.

I'll be going to bed with some trepidation tonight. The last two nights, my sleep (such as it was) has been punctuated by the yelping of a dog which the family next door have acquired either for themselves or, I'm hoping, are watching for someone while they are away. They lock it alone in a downstairs room and, anyone with half a brain knows that such a pack animal will suffer mental agonies being left for hours locked away in solitude. It sounds youngish so I fear they may have got a puppy for themselves. Even keeping my bedroom window shut doesn't make that much difference - its pathetic crying is so piercing. I can't understand why the people aren't so disturbed by the noise themselves that they find it somewhere physically closer to themselves, but I've always been a light sleeper - in fact almost, but not quite, an insomniac. It's the distress of the animal that upsets at least as much as the noise. The suffering of animals, any animal, causes me such mental torments it's debilitating. I'm afraid to say anything to them as up to now I've had good relations with the large family and it could so easily turn nasty. So at the moment I'm taking the coward's way out and hoping that a new tenant soon moves in below me and they, being even closer to the poor animal, maybe will say something. (White feather time!)

Thursday 16 July 2009

Summer musings

Blissful couple of hours sitting on the pier here in very warm sun in one of the best Summers we've had in many a year. Reading short stories by the hugely enjoyable Patricia Highsmith, alternating with listening to cassete - one of about 100 I've compiled over the years of relatively obscure classical works (today - Max Bruch's First Symphony). I always used to take a handful of these tapes with me when I visited my dear mum, increasingly frequently as she steadily deteriorated until the inevitable happened and she died four years ago. I'd played these tapes over and over again when on the train travelling up and down and also while I was with her so I got to know them pretty well. Today is the first time I've started playing them again since her passing so one can imagine the powerful poignancy. Bitter-sweet indeed.
The apartment below me still vacant though two days ago I saw the landlord arrive and heard him talking below with what sounded like a single female voice, though I didn't actually catch a glimpse of her. I assume that the expected Czech young lady with infant didn't materialise (she had been due to move in some 10 days ago) and that this is a potential replacement. So I'm still in suspense waiting to see the new tenant's reaction to my pussies.

Friday 3 July 2009

Refelections on past Pride events

The first Gay Pride event I ever attended was in London 1976 - and what dour affairs they were then! I'm pretty sure they weren't called 'Pride' - more something like 'Gay Equality March' (this was when the age of consent here was 21 - and then only in a strictly defined 'private'.) I well remember the sombre tone of that particular event (no bands, only chanting) as we were allowed only to follow a route through the back streets of central London, accompanied by police, some visibly smirking and sneering, and being jeered at, even spat upon I once witnessed, by by-standers. How things change! Now they are truly a celebration - colourful and in-your-face. It's something no serious politician can afford to be openly hostile to. The party leaders this year are tripping over each other in order to demonstrate that they are most pro-gay. For the first time tomorrow's event in London will have the Prime Minister's wife among the march leaders - though not yet the P.M. himself - maybe next year? For some time already they've been graced by the presence of the Lord Mayor of London. A few days ago the Conservative leader even publicly apologised for the anti-gay legislation introduced by Margaret Thatcher's government. What is the world coming to? And all this on top of the truly wonderful news from India. (Let's all hope the religious groups there don't get the ruling reversed.)
But although I went to quite a few of the ensuing rallies in London I gradually became aware that it's the not the sort of thing one likes to go to alone. In spite of being among thousands of like-minded men and women I realised it can also what seems like the loneliest place in the world. At least when I used to frequent bars regularlyI could use alcohol as a 'prop' to enable me to start chatting to someone I like. Rarely drinking to excess, I'm glad to say. (I thank heavens that I'm not alcy - though I do realise how easy it is to become so.) But at these events if one is alone it seems to me that no one wants to know you.
Next month is Brighton Pride, the largest such event in this country outside London (Brighton, for decades being the gay 'capital' here.) I usually go to that because it's so easy to get there and back in 20-30 minutes. It always raises my spirits in particular to see the Gay Muslim group marching. They are so brave and gutsy. I'll go to this year's but I know I'm almost certainly going to come back feeling lonely, deflated and empty inside - but there's always the chance.......

Incidentally, I'm still waiting with considerable trepidation the arrival of the new occupant of the now empty flat under me. As I write this my two pussies are here sleeping beside me. If there's trouble over their presence ......well, I daren't think what I might do.