Archive for October, 2009

PANDORUM – DON’T BELIEVE THE SHITE

Posted in Film Tirades with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 15, 2009 by helenparker1212

It was Orange Wednesday, I was in the mood for entertainment on the darker side of things, and it was a toss up between Zombie Land (much hyped) and Pandorum (slated and ignored). I chose Pandorum because the tv advert looked fukin ace and because I never listen to douchebag film critics. And guess what, I was proved correct as per usual because I was treated to a little gem of a film which no one else seems to know about because they listen to douchebag critics. And I especially don’t reguard the opinions of the nonentities who write on web sites like Rotten Tomatoes.

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The main criticism appears to unoriginality. Well, to this I say so bloody what? I refer back to my review of Jaume Collet-Serra’s House of Wax of a few years ago, a slasher with all the typical generic traits which is still a bloody good horror film. How many times do these donks have to be told? Generic loyalty is NOT A SLUR! Pandorum is a film with flaws, this is undeniable, but you know what? It’s still a bloody brilliant film. Its cinematography is magnificent, it is genuinely frightening, Ben Foster is a revelation, Dennis Quaid is Dennis Quaid, and it has several great twists at the end which leave you sufficiently impressed, perhaps even enough to go see it again, like I will on Saturday, and this time I’m going to pay full price.

Yes.

It’s that good.

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SEARCHING FOR GOD… ON THE TV.

Posted in TV Tirades with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 5, 2009 by helenparker1212

“I’m gonna find God.”

“God.”

“Yes.”

“God.”

“Yes. He isn’t in heaven, he has to be somewhere.”

“Try New Mexico, I hear he’s on a tortilla.”

“No, he’s not on any flat bread.”

If you’ve been watching Supernatural Season 5 (and if you haven’t then you’re an idiot) recently, either on tv or online as I have been forced to due to the arbitrary bastard nature of delayed British releases of US tv shows, then you’ll have noticed the narrative arc has taken a distinctly religious turn. Moving beyond the typical supernatural fare of demons and monsters, the angels and humans are now on a full on quest to find Him, the big G.

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His presence has been cautiously hinted at throughout the series (a programme premised on the supernatural could hardly ignore the biggest supernatural entity of them all) even before the angels showed up in season 4, and now finally the man Himself is being hunted down by his discontent and feuding creations.

This thrilling and also slightly ominous prospect of an actual glimpse of God begs some serious questions of the audience. For starters, do we actually even want to see God? How would he be portrayed? Would he be Alanis Morrisette? Would he be empathetic? Would he be to blame? Would he be seriously pissed off? So many possibilities for the writers, we can only sit and wait to see how their imaginings of the divine head honcho unfold. They have taken a bold step to say the least in invoking Him as a potential character, or even as a potential material presence.

But the Supernatural writers are not the only ones grappling with the enormous responsibility of invoking God as a cast member. In fact there appear to me more and more American tv dramas dabbling in religious narrative arcs. Joan of Arcadia, Wonderfalls, Carnivale, Tru Calling, Saving Grace, Pushing Daisies, Reaper, Battlestar Gallactica – the list goes on.

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Is there something in the fact that all of these tv series are American? Possibly it’s the simple fact that because America makes a lot of tv programmes it will logically have larger selection of similar themed programmes. It would be extremely lazy to just accuse the American quality television industry of bible thumping. We Brits make a lot of soap operas after all, and it’s not because we all live in the economically deprived back streets of cities, drinking in grotty local pubs, shopping at the market, and shagging the neighbours for all their worth.

Not most of us anyway.

And what does it say about us, that these tv shows are just as popular in our own countries, some even more so, than they are on their home turf? Did we ask for these shows? Or are we being coached by a malign evangelical force at the top of the tv production ladder? Conspiracy theorists and anthropologists: feel free to step in at any time. Is the rise of ‘Islamic extremism’ and the militarism of ‘Asian values’ making us all rethink our slack Western agnosticism and our arrogant atheism?

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Is the religious quest the new front in the war on terror?

Will finding our faiths again make us less terrified?

Is tv the new pulpit?

Is that all a load of bollox and entertainment is just entertainment?

You have to wonder though, why there are no western tv programmes involving Buddah, Moses, Muhammad, or any other denomination for that matter. The west does seem, for all its cultural and religious pluralism, to be rather preoccupied with Christianity. Still. Maybe it’s time we all stopped trying to kid ourselves that we’re a secular culture when our entire civilisation is built on the foundations of our Christian heritage. It’s like trying to deny your parents are your parents. You might not like them, but you kind of sort of owe them your existence.

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Our loss of faith has been a relatively fast one. Over the last sixty years, religion has taken a back seat for the general western population (who don’t live in the American mid-west), church attendence has dwindled to next to nothing compared to the levels of our grandparents’ days, and young people today would not be seen dead in a church. Except for their own funerals – ah you know what I mean. How many people under the age of 30 do you know who go to church regularly or even irregularly? Two or three? There was a boost when the Poles came, but their goals are mostly to return to Poland – depite what the BNP would have you believe – so what then?

What has the rejection of God actually gotten us?

Society is in the shitter, we all know this, but does it have anything to do with the absence of a moral force in our lives? We claim we are intelligent enough to make our own moral decisions without religion to arbitrarily tell us how to behave, but isn’t that confidence just astonishingly arrogant? Do we really think we can be trusted to our own devices without the fear of an omnipotent power watching us and judging us? Without the fear of a punishment for our transgressions in the afterlife, even if we get away with it in life? Can we really get our heads around the notion that evil people escape when they die, because there is no Hell? Can we really deal with the horrifying, terrifying idea that death really is like dreamless sleep – absolutely nothing.

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I’m sorry, but it’s not shameful to have faith considering the yawning abyss that is the alternative. In fact, faith is the natural human condition. We have always worshipped, even when we were hunting and gathering and chasing wilderbeasts we worshipped. Who the hell do we think we are to claim we can just throw all that away? Bloody arrogant, that’s what. And bloody stupid.

Maybe these tv shows are proof that we haven’t thrown the baby of faith out with the bathwater of organised religion. We don’t need to go to church to have faith. It’s our actions, and our attitudes, and the moral codes we live by that define our faiths, not thumping great tombs of antiquated fairytales. The west shouldn’t be ashamed of the presence of Christianity in its popular culture, it should be proud of it, especially in comparison to other religious cultures which are so terrified of themselves they can’t even draw their own prophets, let alone put them in musicals in a nappy.

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I think God probably had a good laugh when he saw Jerry Springer the Musical. And that’s the beauty of faith. God is what you and you alone believe it/him/them to be, and no one else can tell you otherwise, which is why it is so important to explore, parody, criticise and expose religion in popular culture, whether in books like the Satanic Verses, in theatre like Jerry Springer, or in tv series like Supernatural.

It’s the day we start trying to censor our faiths that we really need to worry about.

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