December 8th, 2012

breaking bad

The brutal experiment

Here's an article in the New York Times expressing pity for the UK as the subject of a 'brutal' experiment to prove that austerity does not work. Anyone with any claim to economic savvy who said it might ever work should hang their head in shame.

It's ugly of me to say 'I told you so'. But it was very hard two years ago, being abused and condescended to by Lib Dems. One Lib Dem (the only person I have ever defriended on livejournal*) called me a 'Nazi' to my face. To my virtual face I mean. I do consider the evidence of the past two years shows that people like me who said it was a disaster coming, were right. We were bloody right. It is no consolation. It is literally no consolation at all.

I don't think what happened two years ago was merely a widespread intellectual error, like the geologists who disbelieved in continental drift. I think it shows that reason is a figleaf hiding murky emotional reaction. I actually think this disjunct between overt reason and hidden motive can be worst among atheist/ rationalist/ SF-Lovin'/ computer nerdy types. I know I am part of that group. I don't exclude myself.

Irrational and cruel and destructive impulses slobber around in the subconscious and all the time we talk louder and louder about intellectual matters and books and university courses. Cleverness is being used to think up pretend reasons for actions which are rooted in unexamined impulses.

In this case I think the powerful desire to be brutal was much more significant than the flimsy theoretical idea that brutality would work.

* I should say, apart from two people who unfriended me first for saying rude things about the Bible and Science. That's not bad is it, three fallings-out in ten years.
breaking bad

Seven Psychopaths

This is why I have kept off livejournal, because once I start I can't stop posting. Damn. I haven't written one economically productive word this morning.

I went to see Seven Psychopaths, which is a film by the same guy who wrote and directed In Bruges. It is a great film. It's a comedy, but with quite a lot of violence in it, including against women. I feel I need to say that upfront, because some people might not want to see it for that reason.

It is a writerly film, with Colin Farrell as the writer's idealised alter ego, who is struggling to write the script to 'Seven Psychopaths'. I know self-referential films like that can be shit, but this one is good. It is clever and charismatic enough to carry through that dodgy premise. As well as Farrell it has Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson who are all funny and compelling.

I think the reduction of women to victimhood is a significant flaw in the film, and the authorial character being told off by Christopher Walken about it does not get him off the hook IMHO. Nevertheless I think it is one of the best films I have seen this year.

Films I would compare it to, apart from In Bruges of course, are Pulp Fiction and Big Lebowski and Repo Man. I wouldn't say it was as good as any of those, which are among my all-time best films, but it is good and within that intelligent dark comedy genre.

ETA Pete Bradshaw in the Guardian: wrong again about a genre film. He's a good critic but I think he lacks instinct in spotting the gold in mainstream films.

And back in September's Guardian Catherine Shoard gave it four stars:
Witty and inventive, cracklingly obscene and sheep-dunk bracing. And it suffers some of the same short-burn as a Tarantino flick, vividly impressive at the time, but all fireworks and no Aga, a film whose parts might be more than its sum. There are scenes of complete brilliance, Walken is better than he's been in years, cute plot loops and grace notes. Yet it doesn't quite cohere.