Everything wrong with Cinema Sins…

The other night I re-watched the excellent 2016 horror film, The Witch. It really is a splendid film even if you have to keep forgetting that it features Finchy from The Office as the father in the film. It really is a good film so go search it out as from now on there’s spoilers ahead.

After watching it again I wanted to search out Mark Kermode’s review as Kermode is one of the best critics out there, and not just that, he understands genre films and gives them the respect they deserve if the film deserves it of course. It’s a great review.

On the recommendations was the Cinema Sins video for The Witch. I thought I’d watch it as the channel was often funny and in its humour often did some nice criticism. Here’s that video…

Sneery, condescending, arrogant, petty and needless were just some of the things passing through my brain while watching the Cinema Sins video. Unlike what they used to do there wasn’t any attempt to try to criticise the film while being funny which is what a site like Red Letter Media do superbly well. I watched a few more videos of recent films and they’re again, snide, sneery and nothing to do with making you laugh or criticising the film.

Basically if this nice bit of critique from Screen Smart is the top fillet of steak then Cinema Sins is a bowl of kidney soup.

I’m tired of this strand of criticism which is just trying to point and laugh at films for shits and giggles and although I get these people are trying to do Mystery Science Theatre 3000, there was a sense of joy there lacking from these cynical bits of clickbait pumped out by people with neither the talent or the skill to do what they think they’re doing so we end up with far too many wankers on YouTube being something they’re not.

Still, go see The Witch, it really is one of the best horror films of the century. Try not to watch anything from Cinema Sins, they can just fuck off…

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Closing the Fleece in Bristol is cultural vandalism

I wrote recently about how the Thekla, a live venue in Bristol, was under threat of closure. The same threats have been hanging round the neck of The Fleece and Firkin, one of the UK’s oldest live venues.

Private developers have been developing office blocks opposite the Fleece for some time, but let us cut through the legalese and say exactly what is happening here. This is cultural vandalism for the sake of profit that isn’t restricted to Bristol, but London, Glasgow, or indeed anywhere across the UK where these venues are either ‘eyesores’ for potentially Millennial yuppies buying their flats next to a pub and are pushed to closure, or pushed to close for future private development.

Cities are being stripped of what makes them special. They’re being turned into places where all character is being stripped only to be replaced by a shadow of what it was but made safe and attractive to be consumed. It’s vandalism that won’t be opposed by any major political party as they too care little or nothing about keeping cities exciting and vibrant, but instead look wide-eyed at the wads of money brought to them by private developers. Fight these developments all you can because what’s coming are cities neutered and emasculated as this is gentrification writ large.

The road to Brexit

By Monday we should know whether the UK has pulled its head out its arse, agreed on compromises with the EU and saved the prospect of the UK walking away from Brexit negotiations with a ‘no deal’; an outcome Brexiters like Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg want as it delivers their free trade, unregulated dream. For the rest of us it’ll be a nightmare, and as we now know, the Tories have no plans to sail us through the biggest thing the UK has done in its history in peacetime which leaves us a bleak future.

The EU isn’t just about trade. It intertwines so much of what we do that if the UK walks it means we’d have to organise things like when planes fly, radioactive isotopes for cancer patients, the shipping of food and tens of thousands of other things overnight and like any disaster, the most vulnerable will be hurt the hardest and first.

Bizarrely both main UK political parties are hell-bent on Brexit. Jeremy Corbyn of Labour seems to think that we’re in for a socialist Year Zero upon leaving the EU, and yes, the idea of an ‘internationalist’ party choosing to take a protectionist route is not lost on people. But compared to the clusterfuck which is the Tories, Labour seem vaguely sane. Simply put the Tories are taking us into a recession mixed with a collapse in social decency as ethnic nationalism and imperialism mixed with a hard, rigid form on Unionism drives them towards dooming hundreds of thousands of people to a harder life than they have now.

Brexit makes no sense though. Not unless you think the UK ‘gave away’ itself to the EUSSR and those bloody Polish and Somalians on buses should go back where they came from. Essentially Brexit is based upon irrational madness and we’ve got 72 hours to save the country. Wish us luck, we’ll need it…

”Dad, have we taken back control back yet?”

Alex Salmond’s RT show helps highlight hypocrisy

Former First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond has a new chat show thingy on Russian propaganda outlet RT, and this is sending the usual suspects on the British media circlejerk insane.This article from David Torrance (for those outwith Scotland, Torrance has made a career from talking about Salmond) is the very height of smug hypocrisy from someone who has himself worked for RT.

One of the things about Scottish politics is the sheer, mind-numbing closed-minded inanity of it. The same people say the same things in the same outlets, and as a state broadcaster the BBC acts as a firm outlet for this as much as the other increasingly tired aspects of the Scottish media. So the faux outrage about Salmond appearing on a channel many of the people have also appeared on is just pitiful hypocrisy.

This isn’t to say RT is an innocent bystander here. It isn’t. As a mouthpiece for Putin it supports an anti-democratic, homophobic regime that clearly despises human rights and has its hands dripping with blood. It’d do well for some in the SNP/Indy camp to remember this and not just blindly support it because it stands against the UK’s propaganda. Of course the UK has propaganda arms but perhaps some folk need to engage a little bit of critical thinking before praising RT.

That said, the likes of the BBC and much of what’s called the ‘mainstream media’ are themselves openly biased and themselves propaganda tools for the British state.The fact is politicians will appear anywhere to get themselves heard, and although Salmond is no longer a politician, he is still a political figure and thus people are worried that he may gain a platform where he words can’t be spun to fit the propaganda spun by the British state.  In short it is simply the most hypocritical instance of tedious wankery by people expressing faux outrage because someone they despise (and in Torrance’s case, uses as a business plan for a career) has went off-piste much to their annoyance.

Save the Thekla in Bristol

The Thekla in Bristol is a familiar sight for people living in the city, and if you’ve went out for a night since the early 80’s in Bristol it’ll have been someone you’ve probably turned up at in whatever state your alcohol tolerance decides is good for you. You’ve possibly even seen a gig there in its long history. In both my spells in living in Bristol in the early/mid 90′s and from 2000 for 17 years, I’ve enjoyed a night at the Thekla from seeing Edwyn Collins turn in a show in the 90’s to drunkenly trying to not fall over last time I went whenever that was?

Basically, the Thekla is part of the fabric that makes Bristol what it is.

However there’s a redevelopment across from the boat at Redcliffe Wharf where private developers promise…

a riverside location to work, live relax and enjoy

And…

Extensive external seating, a high quality public realm, and the proximity to a lively and active waterfront will all contribute to the attractiveness of Redcliffe Wharf as a place to work, live and enjoy.

Except take away the Thekla and you remove part of what makes that area unique, but then again you take the Thekla away and you don’t have any competition for the ”event space” and bars promised by this new development. Ah, ‘but you’re just a cynic’ you may say, but the system has been gamed against the Thekla because when the venue was tested for soundproofing it was their quietest days of the week.

Their main issue with the development’s application is that the sound assessment for it was carried out on a Monday or Tuesday night, when Thekla was not at its busiest or loudest, meaning the soundproofing installed at the new development might not be adequate, making it more likely for people to complain.

Now that’s a dirty trick. It also saves the developers money while getting rid of a problem. Of course Bristol Council will fight the Thekla’s corner as they wouldn’t want somewhere that helps gives the city the image it has to die surely?

Oh.

So the council is working with the developers. There’s good reason why the people running the Thekla are resigned to the development gaining planning permission and the venue having to close because the council will ensure it happens.  Too many people will be making money out of it, and if a vital part of Bristol’s cultural soul is ripped out then so what? The people moving in won’t give a fuck and as far as the developers and council are concerned it is these people who matter. So what if some teenagers won’t get to have fun, or people can go and see a gig when you’ve got a shiny, bland vacuous development probably selling £12 loaves for people to buy.

This sort of gentrification isn’t new, nor is getting rid of venues for redevelopment, but the fact is in cities across the UK it’s one-way traffic in terms of who wins these battles. If Bristol City Council want to turn their city into a bland paradise for people fleeing London then they risk destroying what Bristol is and the spirit that attracted so many people to come, stay and add to the city’s culture rather than replace it with over-priced flats in a tediously cold development.

I’m now back in Glasgow having moved last year from Bristol, and we’re facing the £12 fish supper as the Barras starts its path to gentrification (which threatens the future of the Barrowlands as a venue) but Glasgow, like Bristol needs jobs and housing, and housing that is affordable to people on minimum wage however those in charge of Bristol have decided the city isn’t going to be for those people hence the Thekla’s likely end.

It isn’t all over of course. Public opinion can change things especially if it shames a council and a mayor, so sign this petition, share it and if you live in Bristol write to your councillor, MP and MEP in order to cause as much of a stink as possible and hopefully the Thekla will survive. I’m not optimistic but I want to be proven wrong and just for once, the developers are the ones who have to jolly well fuck off.

 

 

Why the United Kingdom needs to die

The New York Times has an interesting take on the state of the UK in 2017. Titled No One Knows What Britain Is Anymore, the NYT goes in for the kill with this brutally true paragraph;

The ambitious Mr. Johnson was crucial to the victory of Brexit in the June 2016 referendum. But for many, the blusterings of Boris have lost their charm. The “great ship” he loves to cite is a nationalist fantasy, a remnant of Britain’s persistent post-imperial confusion about its proper place in the world, hanging on to expensive symbols like a nuclear deterrent while its once glorious navy is often incapable of patrolling its own coastline.

The point made that the UK can’t patrol its own coastline came up during the Scottish independence referendum, but during the Brexit campaign was never mentioned as all the supporters of leaving the EU had this vision of the UK that was rooted in the past where a ”British Empire” was still a thing.

The UK is seen as an international joke. A bit like the mate who’s broke up with every girlfriend but never blames himself while living off past glories.but the UK, or to be more exact, England, hasn’t gotten over the loss of empire and that’s something that needs to be dealt with at some point but that isn’t going to happen soon.

The Empire is dead. True we live still with the trappings of Empire, but as some have pointed out, we don’t have to endorse such things and before anyone says anything about Corbyn’s Labour changing things all they’ll do is tweak down the edges of the British state. and the entire Brexit process is about regaining central power from the devolution process.

So what to do if the state won’t change and the establishment won’t let it naturally die? Well, if the series of scandals we’re seeing now continue the entire thing might collapse anyhow, but it’ll survive this as until we realise that Unionism has become one of the last defenders of neoliberalism, even fascism, in the mainstream then we won’t change anything.

The UK needs to be broken down so something can come out of it which benefits all of us, not just an increasingly distant elite because what the UK is mutating into isn’t something to be proud of. Hopefully the dark times that are coming lead us into real reform rather than a more extreme version of what we have right now.

The Guardian and the censorship of horror films

The Guardian is the so-called ‘liberal voice’ of the UK, and now proposes itself as one of the leading liberal voices online. It often comes out against horror films and this week, Jigsaw (a return of the Saw films) is released as this particular film series returns from the dead.

An article by Benjamin Lee was published in the paper decrying the ‘return of torture porn’ and yet again the paper sets their sights on the horror genre and in particular, ‘torture porn’ which they’ve written more or less the same article since 2007.

I get why middle class liberals at the Guardian may hates films like Jigsaw. They are after all designed for mass audiences and this sort of middle class sneering is aimed at all mass forms of entertainment, but it’s the priggish sense of superiority from the contributors and commentators mixed with a barely suppressed push for censorship that should be concerning. This isn’t to say I think Jigsaw will be a good film, it probably won’t be as barring the first Saw film there’s pretty thin pickings in that series but I get why people watch them. These are rollercoaster rides. The audience can safely wallow in gore, enjoy a few mild scares and go home safely. Yeah, the films are shite without any real importance but so what? Censoring them wouldn’t work but it’d make these middle class liberals happy they’re controlling the ‘masses’ for what they think is their own benefit.

Violent and gory stories are part of our culture. They’re embedded in religion, history and culture, so while things like Jigsaw may be bad films but they’re just part of who we are. Censoring for the wider public good is simply, bollocks and perhaps the middle class media shouldn’t be so sneering at such entertainment because people might enjoy them for what they are?