Friday, June 20, 2003

After a few weeks of stalling, and just plain not bothering with it (in the ludicrous belief that I could come up with half-decent content on my own), it's that Friday Five time again....

1. Is your hair naturally curly, wavy, or straight? Long or short?
I am, worse luck, somewhat cursed by unruly, oft-absurdly surreal curly locks, which have frequently been a source of much chagrin. What I'd give for manageable mane of lank, straight, Dave Grohl-esque hair...

2. How has your hair changed over your lifetime?
When I was younger, my hair was much lighter and straighter than it is now. It was almost blonde at one point. Now, I have a darker brown colour atop my bonce, which is wholly natural and which assumed my late father's curly influence in mid-puberty.

3. How do your normally wear your hair?
I normally cut it quite short, so as it make it easier to deal with - if I have my hair shaved to a grade two or so, then I don't have to waste valuable pico-seconds styling or otherwise fussing around with the damn stuff. Ergo, not many bad hair days, which is entirely a bonus.

4. If you could change your hair this minute, what would it look like?
What the hell, I'd go for a sensible, office-friendly, Thomas Anderson-esque barnet (I'm starting a new job on Monday morning and only mildly worrying about how I will be expected to appear, and what constitutes a 'professional' look). Of course, it's all just so I can fit in and perform my task of bringing the company down from the inside without raising undue suspicions...;) Note to my new employers, if they happen to read this: I AM JOKING...

5. Ever had a hair disaster? What happened?
Just prior to the last time that I got my hair cut, Righteous K. and I were at a writing group which we attend and Sean, the husband of Diane who organises said literary gathering (Translation, we drink beverages of differing alcoholic bents and diss movies instead of presenting our new works), commented that I was clearly going for a Wolverine-ish look, if my hirsute sideburns were any indication.

If I'm being ruthlessly honest, they're beginning to look a bit bloody Logan-esque as I type these words...

Click here for some Painfully funny "Matrix Reloaded" parody goodness/badness, with props to the man like Darth Phil for the linking heads-up.

Though I am quite the goonsome, Wachowski apologist, I confess to laughing like a very drain at the painfully accurate skewering of their more absurd diversions and silliness.

And, if you're not going over to Phil's site on a daily basis, why bloody not?

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Here's a news story for any fans out there of good, old-fashioned showmanship and William Castle-style flim-flammery.

With thanks to the good people at Empire Online for the heads-up.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

It's been so long since I talked about a movie that I've been to see which wasn't "The Matrix Reloaded", that I thought it might be pertinent to point you in the direction of Steven Shainberg's filmic realisation of Mary Gaitskill's short story, the very thought-provoking, blackly comic drama, "Secretary" (18).

Maggie Gyllenhaal is the eponymous heroine, Lee, a fragile soul given to acts of self-harm, and recently released from a stay at a clinic, which has been singularly unsuccessful in trying to disavow her of her desire to cut, burn and scar her body (a compulsion made ever so slightly worse by her wretched home life with an alcoholic father and a fairly out-of-it mother).

Things change radically in Lee's life when she takes and aces a secretarial course and lands a job with E. Edward Gray, a fairly muted, apparently completely unemotional and decidedly off-kilter lawyer (played with characteristic excellence by the eternally undervalued James Spader). He's a dull, blank and impossible-to-know figure, who lurks in the background of Lee's life until he one day happens to glimpse some of his secretary's well-hidden scars and finds his darker impulses beginning to surface anew.

There has been some controversy surrounding this film, and it's mostly been directed at the way in which the character of Lee enters enthusiastically into a sado-masochistic relationship, and seemingly becomes a willing participant in the humiliations and degredations meted out to her by her boss, and the disquieting way in which Lee falls passionately in love with a man who can only express himself by doling out punishment and pain.

I can see the point in that line of viewing the movie, but there is more to it than that - this is a movie which carefully pulls the rug out from under you and manages to defy most of your expectations in the way that it depicts the extremes of relationships and sexuality between men and women.

It's not really giving anything away to tell you, for example, that the person who seems to be in charge ultimately isn't, and that the character who begins the film in a somewhat parlous state of being finds transcendence and fulfillment in a relationship which certainly doesn't resemble a conventional depiction of mutual happiness and contentment (except, in a weird way, it does...).

Maggie Gyllenhaal is fantastic, and almost impossible to take your eyes off, commanding the screen with an expressive, oddly malleable face - sometimes she's very ordinary and quite downtrodden and then abruptly finds a way to convey the beauty and fire beneath her initially placid, slightly blank exterior. Her performance in this film is something of a chameleon-like affair, shedding layers of personality as her character becomes somebody new and different - funny one second, on the brink of brittle destruction the next.

Spader's grand, too, embodying the yuppie everydrone that he epitomised in the mid-to-late 80's and early 90's and finding a way to put a darker spin on the guy you pass in the street and barely manage to register - some of the things that he does in the film raised my liberal wussy-boy heckles more than a little bit, but he still managed somehow to be sympathetic. Neat trick.

If I have an objection to the film, it's that Shainberg's direction lays on the surreal indie cred a little too thick at times - Grey's office is a riot of clashing reds and browns and gaudy, tacky 1970s textures, suggesting that the production designer went to town to create a workplace that screams "Grey's Workplace is a Fantasia of Potential S&M Menace!" and was never asked to dial it down just a tad. The music score, too, is positively invasive at times, never pausing for a second in it's mission to remind you how ironic and kitsch it really jolly well is: It's the musical equivalent of the office bore telling you just how wild and crazy he can be. I'm not asking for Bob Redford levels of clear-hearted sincerity, but a bit less forced smirking lounge tuneage would be nice.

This is certainly a movie which will make you think and question the extent to which Lee and Grey's relationship is positive and healthy, but the movie doesn't really seek to judge them - the conclusion seemingly drawn and depicted is that love is where you find it, and it's never where you might expect it to be. It's not a new idea, but in this case, I can't help but feel that it's more or less on the money.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Click here for some possibly very cool H2GG/Douglas Adams movie news

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