Thursday, November 30, 2017

Behind Green's Door

Well, at least now we know why the Tories are so obsessed with internet pornography: they seem to spend a lot of their time looking at it.  Well, allegedly, in the case of Damian Green, the de facto deputy Prime Minister, who, according to the police, had porn on his office computer.  Not just any porn, but so called 'extreme porn'.  I say 'so called' as it is surely all a matter of taste as to what constitutes 'extreme' pornography.  Personally, whenever someone uses that term, I think of stuff like bestiality or child pornography, which, I'm sure, is what most other people would class as 'extreme'.  But the government seems to think that some types of bondage porn are also 'extreme' and need banning.  They really should get out more.  But to get back to the point, it isn't just Green who has been at it - I seem to recall cases of online porn being accessed on mobile devices inside Number Ten during Cameron's premiership, (it was an aide, rather than him, apparently).  They just can't seem to get enough of the stuff, it seems.

Which makes their continued attempts to restrict access to internet smut all the more hypocritical.  Of course, as I've argued previously, the supposed threat of children being exposed to internet porn is merely a Trojan horse, a convenient excuse for the authorities to place restrictions upon our web browsing.  It's the thin end of the wedge: pornography today, who knows what tomorrow.  Who decides what constitutes 'offensive content' on a web site?  Who knows what else will be 'accidentally' blocked along with the porn?  But do you know what I find most disturbing about all of this?  It's the thought that horrible old Tories like Green have probably been sat in their offices at Westminster wanking off over online porn.  I mean, really, can you think of a more horrendous mental image than Damian Green, behind his desk, with his trousers around his ankles giving it the five knuckle shuffle?  Just imagine the embarrassment of his staff in the outer office as they hear the groans as he reaches the vinegar stroke?  Mind you, it is the Commons cleaners I feel most sorry for - people that low paid really shouldn't have to deal with the sticky tissues, let alone the stains on the desk.  There probably isn't any kind of cleaning product strong enough to shift those.  Yes indeed, I shudder to think what goes on behind Green's door.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Dr Frankenstein on Campus (1970)

An incredibly obscure piece of early seventies Canadian exploitation which continues to elude me, Dr Frankenstein on Campus (aka Flick) throws everything into the mix: sexploitation, sixties/seventies counter culture, campus comedy, mind control conspiracies, the whole lot.  Oh yes, it is also a horror film, attempting to update the Frankenstein story.  This time around, a descendent of the original Frankenstein, having been sent down from his alma mater in Austria, ends up on a campus in Canada, where, along with his professor, he conducts experiments with mind control drugs.  Unpopular with the students, he is framed in a drugs bust and sent down again, but gains his revenge by creating a 'monster' by injecting a martial arts expert with his mind control drugs and using him to attack his enemies.

The trailer is clearly trying to market the movie as a 'zany' campus comedy which, from all that I know about it, is probably a misrepresentation of its actual content.  The impression I get is that it is intended more as a satire of various exploitation genres, bringing together every cliche the makers can think of: drugs, permissiveness, campus unrest, mind control experiments, karate killers and invoking the spirit of Frankenstein as  a representation of irresponsible scientific research.  Reportedly chock full of weirdness, Dr Frankenstein on Campus has never been able to become a cult favourite, perhaps because it is so obscure, with no VHS or DVD releases I'm aware of and extremely rare TV screenings.  Even cult films have to be seen by someone!  Still, at least they get the nomenclature right: Frankenstein is the Doctor, not the monster.  Or is he?  I do know that the film has a late twist that turns everything that precedes it upside down.  Anyway, I live in hope that I  might yet turn up a complete version of the film.  Until then, this trailer will have to suffice.


Monday, November 27, 2017

I Just Don't Care...

I don't care.  About the 'Royal engagement' and subsequent 'Royal wedding', obviously.  All day I've been listening to or watching news broadcasts shouting:  "There must be some real news for Fuck's sake - tell us abut it!"  If I was a conspiracy theorist, I'd be noting how convenient the timing of this announcement has been, pushing the ongoing chaos of the government's Brexit negotiations, rows within the Tory party over yet more defence cuts and yet another crisis in the NHS out of the headlines all day.  I might also argue this is a blatant attempt to create a 'feel good' factor with which to distract the populace from ongoing austerity and the government's economic incompetence.  But obviously, that would just be paranoid nonsense, wouldn't it?  But to get back to the point, regardless of timings, motivations and news agendas, I simply have no interest in this 'story' whatsoever.  Damn it, I don't like regular weddings, so why would I be interested in a Royal one?  Ditto for the forthcoming 'Royal birth'. 

Nevertheless, despite my lack of interest, as a tax payer I'll inevitably end up footing the bill for both of these 'events'.  And, apparently, I won't even get a day off for the bloody wedding.  I'm sure that's the only reason there wasn't a revolution last time there was one of these events - it was declared a bank holiday.  Now, I don't know whether the upcoming Royal wedding will be mounted with the usual pomp and circumstance (not to mention expense), but assuming it is, I surely can't be the only person who feels that staging such a thing at the same time that we're all being urged to 'tighten our belts' again and facing even more cuts in public service is pretty perverse.  Then again, the continuing existence of an hereditary monarchy funded by public money is pretty perverse.  I've never been able to understand the grovelling devotion of so many people toward a bunch of parasites whose only qualification for holding their position is that their parents held it before them.

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Friday, November 24, 2017

Black Friday Night Rant

Black Friday.  Fuck it.  Just fucking fuck it.  Don't get me started on this utterly nonsensical annual 'event' - I've said it before and I'll say it again:  we don't have bloody Thanksgiving in the UK, so it makes no sense whatsoever to a have a 'Black Friday'.  Unlike the US, people here don't have the day off to go shopping for alleged 'bargains'.  Instead, the bastards all pile into the shops after work, just when I'm trying to do my shopping for the weekend.  A perfect end to what has been the week from Hell at work.  Quite apart from Tuesday's entirely unnecessary trip to Bristol, it has been nothing but shit at work all week.  Of course, my continued tiredness from Tuesday hasn't helped.  Then again, it wouldn't have continued if I'd actually been allowed to finish at a reasonable hour for the rest of the week.  Yesterday, when I found that I wasn't allowed even to get through a dental appointment without being pursued by work via my work mobile, (I know I should have remembered to switch it off at the dentist's, but nevertheless, it's still a bit much), I ended the day feeling that I should just walk away.

But obviously, I didn't.  And ended up enduring another Hellish day, (but one, at least, not interrupted by calls from the office - in fact, late in the day, I called them for direction on something and inconvenienced them).  You know, people keep asking me 'How's work?' or similar variations, and seem disappointed when I just shrug and tell them that it is the same as it always is, (which is shit, if you haven't guessed).  I don't know what it is that they want me to say.  What is there to say?  It is what it is and there is nothing I can do to change it.  Other than leave. Which I might finally do come the New Year.  Because I really don't know why I'm still doing it.  The thing is, I try to avoid discussing work socially (not just because it is shit and dull, but also because I can't for reasons of confidentiality).  So I really would rather that other people wouldn't keep bringing it up - when I'm not at work, I just want to forget about it.  And if I want to rant about it, I'll do it here.  OK, Black Friday night rant over!


Thursday, November 23, 2017

Taking a Stand

I believe that it is sometimes necessary to take a moral stand - it doesn't need to be anything spectacular, just a boycott of services someone or something you disapprove of provide is usually enough.  If nothing else, it eases one's conscience.  To this end, I refuse to have anything to do with the Murdoch empire if I can help it: I won't buy his newspapers and I won't subscribe to Sky.  I once even changed my Internet Service Provider (ISP) when I found that my existing one was being sold to Sky, such is my dislike of the Murdochs.  In the scheme of things it makes little difference, I know, but it allows me a sense of triumph.  I can't be bought with promises of live football or movie channels.  In a similar vein, I refuse to have anything to do with Richard Branson's Virgin empire.  In part, it is down to my bad experiences with NTL broadband, which is now branded as Virgin Media, and partly due to the fact that I think he's a hairy twat.  Now, some might think that I'm only inconveniencing myself by refusing the opportunity to view more TV channels or those 'great' broadband and phone deals.  But the fact is that I'm perfectly happy with Freeview and my current ISP offers me a cheap and reliable service.

Now, it obviously isn't possible to avoid Sky and Virgin completely: if I go into a pub with the TV playing, the odds are that it will be connected to Sky and sooner or later I'm bound to be forced to use a Virgin-branded train.  But where I have a choice, I try to enforce my principles.  Now, I know that I'm not always consistent in my application of my principles, but if I boycotted everyone and everything I disapproved of, I wouldn't be able to shop anywhere.  The reality is that some principles are easier to enforce than others - I find it very simple, for instance, to boycott Dyson products, on the basis that James Dyson is a millionaire Brexit hypocrite who has such regard for British jobs and the UK economy that he moved his manufacturing to far eastern sweat shops so as to maximise his profits.  The fact is that I can't afford his vacuum cleaners anyway.  Speaking of Brexit bastards, this finally brings me round to the point of this post: my boycott of Wetherspoons.  The owner of said chain of bars featuring no character whatsoever, but lots of cheap, badly poured, beer, is a notable Brexiteer and I've decided that I don't want to add to his profits.  Most of my beer drinking acquaintances,  regardless of their political views, disagree with my stance, 'but they've got cheap beer', is their sole argument.  Aparently principles go out of the window when some right wing bastard who is partly responsible for this country heading toward economic oblivion offers you a cheap pint in his plastic pub.

Now, I don't expect anyone else to follow me in my boycotts - they are entirely personal choices.  But I was left wondering exactly what it would take for some people to boycott something.  I mean, if Hitler had opened a bar locally and offered cheap beer, would my acquaintances have been happy to negotiate the Nazi regalia adorning the walls for a cheap pint?  After all, just drinking there wouldn't necessarily be an endorsement of the owner's political ideology would it?  And even if the money you spent there went into the Nazi Party coffers, it wouldn't be a significant contribution, would it?  After all, most of it goes to paying the staff, who probably aren't Nazis.  OK, the fact that they won't serve Jews, blacks, the disabled and just about any other minority you can think of might be problematic, but Hell, we don't have many such minorities around here anyway, and there are plenty of other places they can drink, aren't there?  So, it wouldn't be a problem, I guess.  But I'm being terribly judgemental, (not to mention hypothetical).  I'm just happy to keep up my personal boycott - which is easy to do because, despite the cheap beer, I really don't like those plastic pubs with their plastic staff and airport departure lounge decor. 


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Killing the Plot

It's been a long, long day.  I had to get up before six to catch a train to get me to a training day in Bristol.  When I got there I walked three miles from the station to the venue.  Then did the same journey in reverse this afternoon.  If nothing else, I was reassured to find that nothing much seemed to have changed in Filton and Horfield since I was a student in Bristol many, many years ago.  But the end result of this long day is that I'm absolutely knackered, my feet aching and knees shattered.  Nevertheless, all that time spent on trains today at least gave me some serious thinking time.  (One of the trains was one of Great Western's new Hitachi-built high speed trains, for what it is worth).  So, I found myself thinking about soap operas when they get locked into one of those lengthy story arcs, involving some kind of credulity-straining plot which is going fundamentally change the dynamic of the series, but which has clearly out stayed its welcome with viewers before reaching its planned climax.  I was thinking most specifically about Eastenders' current ongoing storyline about Max Branning tediously exacting his revenge against various residents by helping property developers buy every property in the Square. 

I mean, not only does it seem the lamest revenge ever, but it seems to have been running forever.  Even the recent, apparently random, inclusion of James Wilmott Brown, gentleman rapist of the East End who hasn't been seen in thirty years, in the plot hasn't done anything to spark viewer interest.  Mainly because it is utterly nonsensical.  Viewers just want it to be all over and done with.  Consequently, the producers now seem to be trying to wrap it all up with unseemly haste over the Christmas period.  Perhaps what they should do, I mused whilst sat on that Hitachi train hurtling toward Bristol Parkway, is to just introduce some mystery killer, maybe a black leather glove wearing Giallo-type murderer, who starts killing off all the now surplus characters in bizarre and inventive ways.  If not a Giallo-type killer, then perhaps a mysterious character in a coat with a turned up collar and fedora obscuring their face, who lumbers out of convenient fog banks to gun down the characters associated with the no defunct storyline.  Then, once these killings have effectively wrapped up the story arc, have the killer vanish as mysteriously as they appeared and offer no explanation whatsoever as to what just happened

It would create a media frenzy and the enigma of the mystery killer would keep viewers talking for years.  I know, for instance, that had they not ended that Crossroads revival with a half hearted 'it was all a dream' cop out, but with a mysterious figure in a top hat and cloak stalking then knifing the staff and residents to death, I would have felt much more of a sense of closure.  Even if this latter day Jack the ripper had never been unmasked.  Indeed, the failure to identify the killer would have added veracity, echoing the fact that the identity of the original Jack the Ripper remains a mystery.  So, here's hoping that this Christmas will see an enigmatic psychopath stalking Albert Square, murdering the conspirators without motivation or explanation.

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Monday, November 20, 2017

Hooray For the Bastard!

Let's be honest here, if it were anyone else but Robert Mugabe defiantly refusing to stand down as president in the face of a military coup, we'd all be cheering him on, wouldn't we?  After all, he is the elected (sort of, if you accept the results of a rigged election a fair ballot) head of state of Zimbabwe, being forced out of power by unelected generals.  Not that it is a coup, of course, even though there are armoured vehicles on the streets and the President under house arrest.  But, of course, Mugabe is a dictator as bad as any.  A classic case of an idealistic freedom fighter turned despot - having overturned a manifestly unjust and unpleasant regime (Ian Smith's illegal white minority regime), he's created a regime equally oppressive of individual citizens, (albeit in different ways).  So, we find ourselves in the bizarre position of cheering on a military coup, (which isn't a coup, the media keeps insisting in a vain attempt to salve our consciences), because it is somehow less worse than Mugabe continuing in power.

Because this, surely, from the perspective of Zimbabwe, is a case of being between a rock and a hard place. I know that there are a lot of commentators assuming that, once Mugabe has finally gone, the military will happily hand power back to the civil authorities.  Maybe they will, but historically, once they've seized power, generals tend to be reluctant to give it up.  Even if they do allow a new, civilian, president to be appointed, they could simply be a puppet of the military.  And if they aren't, there is still no guarantee that they'll be any better than Mugabe.  Which is why there's a little bit of me still cheering Mugabe on as he stands up to the military trying to depose him. Even if he is an evil bastard.  God, this post has been far too serious a way to kick off the week!  I'll see if I can come up with something lighter for tomorrow!

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Friday, November 17, 2017

Blackenstein (1973)

An interesting sub-genre of the Blaxploitation film was the black horror movie. Undoubtedly the best known of these were Blacula and its sequel, Scream, Blacula, Scream, starring the magisterial William Marshall in the title role.  There was also Dr  Black, Mr Hyde, Abby, a Blaxploitation version of The Exorcist and the inevitable Voodoo Zombie Blaxploitation crossover Sugar Hill.  All have their merits, with the first Blacula film being held in high regard.  Blackenstein, however, is generally acknowledged as being irredeemably awful.  Written and produced by Frank R Saletri, a criminal lawyer by profession, Blackenstein's biggest fault is a failure to grasp the most basic tenets of the Blaxploitation genre.  Whereas most films in the genre subvert racial stereotypes (kindly and civilised black doctor turns into evil depraved white monster in Dr Black, Mr Hyde, for instance), Blackenstein has its central character degenerate into a racist negro stereotype: a savage who tears apart and eats his victims).

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Blackenstein is that it recycles the electrical equipment designed by Kenneth Strickfaden for the lab scenes of the 1931 Universal version of Frankenstein.  It's plot also recycles many of the plot elements from that film's many sequels: the evil assistant who subverts the experiment, turning the lead character into a monster, for example. It also attempts to ape the classic monster make up of the Universal films, with its creature sporting a squared off Afro.  On a pedantic note, the title character can't be 'The Black Frankenstein' as the trailer (and the film's alternative title) claims, as it was the doctor, not the monster, who was called 'Frankenstein'.  In point of fact, the actual 'Frankenstein' figure of the film, Dr Stein, is white.  He's played by John Hart, the closest thing the film has to a genuine star, who is best remembered for having played the Lone Ranger on TV, replacing Clayton Moore for a season while the latter was engaged in a pay dispute with the producers.

Released to try and cash in on the success of Blacula, Blackenstein proved a flop.  But that didn't deter Saletri, who subsequently wrote, produced and directed another Blaxploitation film:  Black the Ripper.  Thankfully, it remains unreleased. 


Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Living Dead Past

Listening to an interview on the radio today with the recently sacked editor of Gay Times, I was left wondering whether there was a point at which any of us could safely feel that past misdemeanours were dead and buried.  I'm not talking about past criminal activities you might think that you'd got away with - if you once sexually assaulted someone and it has only just come out, for instance, I have no sympathy - but rather things you once said or wrote, or maybe opinions you once held of which you are no longer proud.  The guy from Gay Times, for instance, lost his job after comments he made on social media several years ago - most of which were misogynistic, racist and just downright unpleasant - came to light.  Or rather were brought to light by the hipsters playing at journalism on Buzzfeed.  Now, the stuff he wrote is pretty horrendous and, frankly, indefensible.  But that doesn't mean that he'd express those opinions today - he says he regrets writing the stuff and that it was done during a difficult phase of his life when he was drinking heavily.  None of that excuses what he did, but, arguably, it at least makes it understandable.  After all, who of us hasn't said or dome something, either in the heat of the moment or while under the influence, which we've subsequently regretted?  Should we be judged on the basis of such outbursts for the rest of our lives?  Should such idiocy be allowed to eclipse everything else we've ever done in our lives?

Believe me, I know what it is to be judged over and over again for a single lapse of judgement.  It becomes an albatross around your neck, constantly dragging you back down every time you think you are moving forward again.  I paid a heavy price at the time for my misjudgement.  I naively thought that would be it, that, given a suitable lapse of time, I could move on.  Yet for years afterward, it seemed to be the only thing potential employers would focus on in interviews, regardless of my subsequent unblemished record.  But it isn't just major mis-steps which get raked up in attempts to discredit you, I've found.  At various times I've had all manner of throw away comments I've made at work, usually in jest, brought up as 'evidence' against me during workplace disputes.  (We're not talking about sexist or racist 'jokes' here, but rather comments questioning policy).  Always, it is dragged out of context and, as I usually don't actually remember saying these things, hearsay, as far as I'm concerned.  Which is where it usually ends, as there is no actual proof of what I did or didn't say.let alone the context in which it was said.  Before I sound utterly paranoid, this experience isn't unique to me, many of my colleagues have suffered similar experiences when dealing with management).

Luckily, unlike the out going editor of Gay Times, I'm not of a generation which feels it necessary to commit my every thought and opinion to social media, where it can be shared with anyone and remains on public display for time immemorial.  Because that's the problem in this internet age, your past mistakes are there to be raked up by anyone trawling for dirt, (or a 'story' as Buzzfeed prefers to call it).  So, far from being dead and buried, your past can be brought back to haunt you, over and over again, making it impossible for people to move on from earlier mistakes.  Which is grossly unfair,  Surely we need to give people the benefit of the doubt and accept that they have changed.  After all, we even give murderers a chance to restart their lives once they've served their sentences.   In the case of the guy from Gay Times, surely he should be allowed to move on from his earlier offensiveness?  After all, as I understand it, these unpleasant social media comments do seem to be confined to a specific time frame and (so far) nobody has dragged up anything more recent.  Which would indicate that, as he claims, it was an isolated incident.  if he really was the evil bastard indicated by the tweets and posts in question, there would be a continuing pattern of such behaviour. Sadly, we seem to have become increasingly judgemental, both as individuals and as a society in recent years.   Once condemned (and there seems to be a lot of condemnation going around) there's no way back.  No forgiveness, no understanding, no possibility of reform.  Which makes for a very bleak perspective on life.


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Strip Nude For Your Killer (1975)

Strip Nude For Your Killer was very much my introduction to world of sleazy Italian cinema.  Sure, I'd seen some Giallos and quite a few Italian zombie and cannibal movies, but, though often startling and shocking in their own ways, they hadn't prepared me for the sheer, unapologetic sleaziness of Andrea Bianchi's movie.  Ostensibly a Giallo, Strip Nude For Your Killer deploys all of the established tropes of the genre -  the mysterious leather clad killer, the stalking of victims, high body count and a motive rooted in a past wrong - but takes them to a new level of depravity. Opening with an illegal back street abortion gone wrong and ending with the main male character trying to force his girlfriend into anal sex, from start to finish, Bianchi makes clear his intent to push the boundaries of the genre to the limit. Eschewing the glossy, 'artistic' look favoured by many other Giallos, Bianchi goes for a far grittier look, with a fair amount of the action taking place in the chilly-looking back streets of Milan.  Despite the plot being centered around a photographic studio specialising in glamour shoots, there's nothing glamourous about the location itself.  But what really differentiates Strip Nude from other Giallos of the era are the levels of sex and nudity.  There is a lot of flesh on view, justified by the photographic studio setting, of course.

Another notable aspect of the film is that virtually none of the characters are remotely likeable.  The 'hero' Carlo, in particular, is a reprehensible creep.  A professional photographer who uses his profession as an excuse for stalking attractive women and persuading them to strip naked with promises of modelling jobs and photo shoots, Carlo displays no redeeming features in the course of the film.  His colleagues at the studio, both male and female, are no better.  The owner is equally exploitative of the models, abusing her power to seduce them.  Her impotent husband likewise abuses his relationship with her to grope and attempt to rape the women.  About the only character who emerges as reasonably likeable is photographer Magda (Edwige Fenech), who ends up in a relationship with Carlo which is exploitative on his part as you might expect.

Despite Bianchi's relentless focus upon sex and sleaze, the various murders are inventively staged in true Giallo fashion, but are generally even more brutal than usual for the genre.  But even classic Giallo sequences are subverted to expose the sheer sleaziness of the scenario.  Virtually every example of the genre features a suspense sequence in which a character is stalked by the killer.  In Strip Nude For Your Killer this sequence involves a fat man in his underpants, a blow up sex doll, ('Only you can make it happen for me', he tells it, having just failed to force himself upon a model thanks to erectile dysfunction), in one hand a knife in the other, is stalked in his own home by the murderer.  It's a scene so sleazy it has burned itself, indelibly, into my memory.  Yet, aside from from adding to the film's down market ambience, the sequence has a higher purpose, with the killer's stabbing of the victim mirroring his earlier failed attempt at rape: whereas his sexual impotence prevented him from penetrating his victim, the killer has no problem in penetrating his body with their knife.  Indeed, throughout the film a clear equivalence is made between the act of murder and sexual intercourse: the victims are usually in a state of undress, lying in a stereotypical post-coital position.

The opening scenes of the abortion gone tragically awry aren't just there for shock value, (abortion was undoubtedly a taboo subject not only in seventies Italy but also many other markets), but also provides the key to the whole plot.  The killer turns out to be a relative of the girl who dies during the abortion which, it turns out, Carlo helped her organise, thereby effectively making him responsible for everything that subsequently transpires.  But more than that, the abortion scene sets the tone for the whole film, in more ways than one.  The fact that women are being deprived of the legal right to make decisions about their own bodies is, in essence, simply another form of the exploitation seen throughout the movie.  Indeed, re watching Strip Nude For Your Killer in the light of the on going sex scandals in Hollywood was a fascinating experience.  All of the misogyny and exploitation of the entertainment industry of 1975 lid bare here clearly hasn't changed.  Women are nothing more than objects to be used, abused and, in the film, murdered, by those in positions of power.  Even obviously intelligent and capable women like Magda are ultimately objectified: patronised, manipulated and sexually exploited by Carlo.

Strip Nude For Your Killer is tremendous fun, dark, sleazy and exciting.  Which isn't to say that it doesn't have its problems.  The plotting is often obscure, with some developments seemingly coming out of left field, and the killer is revealed as a character who has enjoyed so little screen time that we've almost forgotten who they are.  But Bianchi moves it all along at sufficient pace that that the film never feels as if it is flagging.  He even manages to pull off a Hitchcock-style surprise with a character who seems to being built up to play a significant role abruptly killed off relatively early on.  The most fascinating thing about Strip Nude For Your Killer is that it effectively has its cake and eats it too, in that it is an exploitation film about exploitation.  Like a tabloid newspaper, it can justify all of the female flesh on display on the grounds that it is actually exposing this sort of exploitation.  But the message is clear: exploitation is a function of power.  More specifically, it is the result of the abuse of power.  All of the power relationships seen in the film are abusive and exploitative.  Giselle, the studio's owner is abuses her husband, using her position to manipulate her models into sexual affairs.  The husband, in turn, abuses his relationship with her to sexually exploit various models.  One of these, Dora, has a physically abusive partner who beats her up.  For his part, Carlo, exploits Magda's professional admiration to get into bed with her.  While Bianchi's film tries to be even handed - there are as many female abusers as there are male - the reality of the situation is that, in a patriachal society, power generally lies with me, who use it to exploit women.

Trashy, sleazy and outrageous, Strip Nude For Your Killer is enormously satisfying to watch - the very epitome of schlock cinema.  It is also widely available on DVD in this English-language version, which features better than average dubbing.  So, go ahead and watch it - it is an experience you'll never forget!


Monday, November 13, 2017

Commercial Christmas

'Tis the season of Christmas adverts.  I sometimes think that's what Christmas has turned into in modern Britain: a celebration of rampant capitalism through a series of seasonally-themed commercials.  They've been honed to a fine art: often the name of the retailer isn't mentioned until the very end, there is no obvious attempt at selling specific goods or services, the ads being instead concerned with evoking the spirit of the season.  It's all about family values, togetherness and joy.  But in all of them there's an underlying message: that the basis of the season is actually materialism - the key to a happy Christmas, it is implied, is you having all these accoutrements to the season: the booze, the turkey, the expensive gifts (all bought, preferably, at whichever supermarket is behind the particular ad you are watching).  It seems, though, that it is no longer enough to co-opt Santa to promote your wares at this time of year.  Oh no, all manner of other cultural icons are now roped in.  I've found the sight of Paddington Bear starring in the Marks and Spencer advert more than a little disconcerting.  For one thing, it is presented as a short film rather than a commercial - the first time I caught it, I was channel surfing and thought that I'd come into a showing of the original film, part way through.

Another reason for my unease is that the bear from Peru was a huge childhood favourite of mine and I still have an enormous soft spot for the books and there's a part of me which feels the harnessing of a beloved character in the service of commerce somehow debases him.. Which, I know, is foolish, as just about every fictional character you can think of has been pressed into service selling stuff in recent memory.  (It's not a new thing by any measure,  I remember that when the 1974 Murder on the Orient Express was released, that Christmas there was a Cockburns Port advert featuring what was obviously a parody of Albert Finney's Hercule Poirot.  I look forward to seeing Kenneth Branagh and his remarkable moustache doing something similar this Christmas).  But at least the Marks and Spencer ad has a bit of class.  Unlike the Sainsburys' commercial which tries to get us to sing a long and praise the 'virtues' of Christmas.  Just fuck off.  Please, fuck off.  It's as ill judged as allthe other ads in its abysmal 2017 TV campaign.  Is it any wonder their sales are down?  (That said, their outrageous prices might have something to do with it, too).  I know, I know, I'm not getting into the festive spirit, am I?  But, for God's sake, we aren't even half way through November yet!  But still these commercials try and manipulate my emotions into feeling 'festive'.  Some things never change.

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Friday, November 10, 2017

Another Fallen Idol

I see that Louis CK has apologised for whipping his plonker out in front of various unsuspecting women and taking Captain Picard to warp speed.  Well, I guess that makes it all OK, then.  All his right on fans can go back to hailing him as a comedy genius.  I'm sorry, but I've never understood the whole Louis CK phenomena.  He always struck me as being a right wing douche bag.  Now it turns out that he's a right wing douche bag who gets his kicks from wanking off in front of women.  I'm only surprised that it has taken so long for him to get caught out - the stories about his sexual misconduct have been public knowledge for a long, long time.  But, as Jimmy Savile showed, if you are a wealthy celebrity with a devoted fan following, you can get away with doing all sorts of horrendous stuff in plain view for years.  Decades, in his case.  But to get back to that prick Louis CK, (is something telling you that I don't like him?),  he's another of those people who have risen to fame on the back of TV shows that, in reality, the majority of people have never seen, as they are carried on pay TV rather than free-to-air networks.  

I know that this isn't a point which the sort of people who write about TV for The Guardian don't want to concede, but we are living in an era of niche TV, with the sort of shows lauded by critics actually being seen by relatively small audiences on subscription channels. As I've mentioned before, I've never seen Game of Thrones, but this doesn't make me weird or out of touch, as various trendy media commentators would have you believe.  In fact, as far as the UK goes at least, I suspect that it puts me in the majority of the TV viewing audience.  Which brings me back to Louis CK.  In truth, I haven't seen much of his work, but what I have seen didn't impress me and interviews with him just reinforced my perception of him as another of those 'comedians' who like to cultivate a vaguely 'radical' image to attract the liberal fan base but, in reality, espouse a confused, 'centrist' political agenda which masks fundamentally conservative values.  Maybe I'm doing him a disservice, on the politics at least, he's a self confessed sex offender let's not forget, but I'm still glad to see Louis CK get his comeuppance - he got away with masquerading as both a comedian and a decent human being for far too long.  


Thursday, November 09, 2017

The Cruelest Cut?

Apparently Kevin Spacey is to be completely cut from a movie he recently shot and replaced with Christopher Plummer before the film is released.  At first I thought that they meant that he would be digitally removed and Plummer, having performed his scenes in front of a blue screen, would be digitally inserted to replace him.  But, as far as I can make out, they are going to do it the old fashioned way, with Spacey's scenes physically cut and remounted with Plummer instead.  Whilst I realise that the makers are, understandably, trying to protect their box office, with Spacey currently being toxic due to the sexual harassment allegations leveled at him, it has left me wondering where it will all end.  Will we now see Spacey erased from all of his films and replaced with other, non-rapey, actors?  After all, in our current society where people go out of their way to be offended, the sight of an alleged sex offender, (athough, it is worth noting that Spacey hasn't denied any of the allegations and has as good as admitted his culpability with his announcement that he is 'seeking treatment'),  in old film might cause mass outbreaks of people running around shrieking 'Won't somebody think of the children?'.  

Perhaps all of those accused of sex offending should suffer the same treatment - imagine The Graduate with Dustin Hoffman replaced by a non-groper.   Rod Steiger.  Or Jim Nabors.  Of course, what used to happen in the past was that films prominently featuring disgraced actors would simply vanish for a period, all prints consigned to the studio vaults, no TV screenings and no home video or DVD releases.  Once it was felt that the furore had died down sufficiently, they would creep back into circulation, usually now labelled as 'cult classics' and marketed to a niche audience.  But with the apparently insatiable appetite for cinematic content created by cable, satellite and streaming, it just isn't practical to lock away such valuable commodities for any period of time.  So digital find-and-replace could become an increasingly viable option.  Mind you, it isn't always obvious that one of these alleged sex offenders is involved with a film.  I started watching a nineties horror movie the other day, only to find, as the titles rolled, that it was a Miramax production with Harvey Weinstein credited as producer.

Clearly, I should have poked out my eyes as soon as I saw his name, but should we really be judging movies, not on their artistic merits, but on what those who made them might have or have not done outside of their context?   Should art be judged on the basis of the actions of its creators?  It's a question which long predates the current controversy over sexual misconduct.  Many years ago, i worked with someone who refused to engage with the works of either John Lennon or Philip K Dick because they had both been guilty of instances of domestic violence.  The artistic merits of their work didn't come into it as my colleague simply couldn't separate the artist from their art.  It was if the latter was contaminated in some way by the actions of the former.  After all, without wishing to appear to condone or legitimise domestic violence, in both cases, these incidents represented only a small part of both individuals' lives- there were plenty of other factors influencing their work.  So, should we boycott any film featuring Kevin Spacey?  Would watching them in some way legitimise his (alleged) conduct?  After all, I disagree very strongly with the politics of many actors, directors and producers, but that doesn't stop me enjoying their films.  OK, I'll concede that John Wayne's Vietnam war flag waver The Green Berets is pretty much unwatchable because of its naive politics.  But that's because it allows its political message to overwhelm it.  The fact is that - as far as I'm aware - Kevin Spacey's films don't promote the groping of young men, so we shouldn't now, in my opinion, dismiss them out of hand.


Tuesday, November 07, 2017

A Follow Too Far

There are some weeks when I have no trouble coming up with ideas for posts here.  Sadly, this isn't one of those weeks.  Instead, it is rapidly turning into one of those where I struggle to think of anything remotely interesting to write about.  It isn't as if there isn't interesting stuff going on: not only do the various sex scandals rumble on, but now there's the 'Paradise Papers' revelations, yet more buffoonery from Boris Johnson, (which this time could cost someone their liberty), whilst another cabinet minister, the horrendous Priti Patel now must surely be on the verge of being sacked having apparently run her own private foreign policy initiative while on holiday in Israel.  Yet I don't feel inspired to write at length about any of them.  It probably doesn't help that I still feel incredibly irascible - it's been another day of snarling at other drivers and shoppers.  While I don't think I was quite as bad as I was yesterday, my mood wasn't helped by the constant and frequently heavy rain.

Then there's Twitter.  It's a curious feature of the service that anyone can follow you.  Unlike Facebook, they don't have to have to send you a 'follow request' and you don't have the option of rejecting their follow as you do a Facebook 'friend request'.  Sure, you can block them, but that's not quite the same thing, as you can only do that after the event.  The fact is that there are some people I don't want following me in the first place.  On Monday, for instance, I had this nutter follow me.  When I say 'nutter', I mean one of those people who is convinced that they are the victim of multiple conspiracies perpetrated by various public bodies including the police and justice system, not to mention several multi-national corporations.  Maybe they are, but I doubt it.  Quite why they have followed my Twitter account, I don't know, (I actually haven't been Tweeting much of late), but, for some reason, their presence among my followers has unnerved me somewhat.  Obviously, as I haven't followed them back, I don't have to see any of their craziness in my timeline, but just the knowledge that they are following me, reading anything I tweet, makes me feel uneasy.  As I've said, I could block them, but I've always felt it a bit, well, rude to go around blocking people who, to be fair, aren't actively harassing you, or anything.  I don't even do it to people I've followed who start tweeting stuff I find objectionable - I just 'mute' them so that I don't have to read their shit.  The great thing about using the 'mute' function is that they don't know that you've done it to them, thereby avoiding any further embarrassments or unpleasantness.  With luck, though, my failure to follow this character back will result in them unfollowing me in a few days time. 


Monday, November 06, 2017

All Very Frustrating

I've been ill tempered all day, snapping and snarling at other motorists, muttering under my breath at people holding up the queues at the till in the supermarket and getting extremely irritated with people who persist in using my work mobile number for personal calls.  So what's new?  I hear you ask.  Well, even by my standards I was bloody irascible today.  Not that there seems to be any particular reason,  Other than the usual ones of the weekend not lasting long enough, of being frustrated at having got so little done over the weekend and having to go to work again this morning.  Maybe my mood simply reflects the general sense of frustration which seems to be gripping everyone: political sex scandals and now more scandals over the dodgy financial affairs of the great and the good, seem to be breaking all the time, yet they seem to have no consequences.  Sure, we've had a Minister resign and a couple of MPs suspended, but you'd expect more widespread fall out than that.  Now we have revelations that the Royal family have been investing money off shore - in a company that specialises in screwing over the poor with hire purchase deals for white goods.  Yet the media seem more interested in 'exposing' some sitcom stars who have been involved with some kind of tax avoidance scheme.  All very frustrating.

The latest financial revelations - the so called 'Paradise Papers' - are depressing not only because they confirm all of one's prejudices about the activities of the super-rich, but also because they indicate that these financial improprieties are even more widespread than first suspected.  If the bastards aren't sexually abusing women, then they are fucking the rest of us up the arse.  But getting back to the political sex scandals, (I know, I just can't leave it alone, but it is comedy gold), when are we going to start getting the dirt on the politicians we really hate?  When are we going to learn the truth about Jacob Rees Mogg's illicit sexual liaisons with teddy?  Is it true that his so called 'nanny' is actually a dominatrix who has subjugated several generations of Rees Mogg men?  I'm sure its all true, even though I have no facts whatsoever to back it up.  But hey, when did that sort of thing ever bother the British press?  The public have the right to know the truth - even when it is completely made up.  Indeed, the right wing press much prefer the made up stuff when the real stuff is implicating Tory MPs and rich bastards.  Let's crucify some TV performers if it will distract attention from the dodgy financial activities of the Queen and some billionaires.  All very frustrating.

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Saturday, November 04, 2017

Groping the World

The good thing about this unfolding global sex scandal - and I promise that I will try to stop posting about it, but it is the gift that keeps on giving - is that it seems to transcend not just international borders, but also gender, sexual orientation and political beliefs.  After all Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey have allegedly offended on both sides of the Atlantic, whilst the former has been flying the flag for heterosexual offending while the latter has been doing it for the homosexuals, (indeed, being branded a sex pest seems to have given Spacey the courage to finally come out as gay), and here in the UK accusations are being made against members on both sides of the House.  Truly, this scandal has brought people (well, offenders, at least) together as never before.  But as I've already intimated, something that started as another Hollywood sex scandal has gone international, crossing the Atlantic to become a political sex scandals, with rumours of Tory MPs being urinated on by three men at a time (typical Tories - greedy bastards have to have three when one would have done) and more serious allegations of rape flying around.

Surely it only be a matter of time before the scandal spreads further - into Europe, across the Russian steppes, into Asia and the Pacific, via the Mediterranean to Africa - mutating as it goes along, from celebrity scandal to political scandal to God knows what.  But sooner or later, the whole world will be united in one huge grope.  It's got to the stage that every time I check the news, I expect to see another actor, celebrity or British politician named in connection with some horrendous new sex scandal.  What next?  Will we be treated to lurid tales of Jeremy Corbyn's naked sex romps on his allotment, during which he sexually assaulted several non-consenting prize vegetables?  (I hasten to add that I just made that up - I have no evidence that Corbyn has ever dome anything that exciting either on his allotment or anywhere else.  Nor have I heard any unsubstantiated rumours about his salacious jam-making sessions with young female researchers).  Personally, I'm dreading hearing allegations that Michael Gove might be implicated in a sex scandal - the mental images that conjures up are truly horrific.  Almost as horrific as those conjured up when it turned out that John Major and Edwina Currie had once had affair - I couldn't sleep for weeks after that for fear of nightmares.  Ah well, it all reminds of that old Coca Cola advert from the seventies: "I'd like to teach the world to grope, in perfect harmony"...


Thursday, November 02, 2017

Secretary of State for Offence

The resignation of Defence Secretary Michael Fallon for alleged sexual misconduct has left me lamenting the decline of British sex offending.  I mean, this misconduct apparently amounts to having once touched a female journalist's knee.  Really!  While across the Atlantic Harvey Weinstein has allegedly been groping breasts left, right and centre and raping his way through central casting, the best we can muster is a bit of knee fondling?  How standards have declined since the days of Jimmy Savile.  A celebrity who not only match Weinstein for alleged sexual depravities, but got way with it all during his lifetime.  Plus, he was even more physically repulsive, to boot.  But since Savile's demise, it seems that we've ceded our excellence in sex offending to the US.  Damn it, not only was Weinstein apparently emboldened enough to do some of his alleged sex offending on this side of the Atlantic, but we even had to start importing alleged celebrity sex offenders in the shape of Kevin Spacey.  What a sad state of affairs - what's the government going to do about it, I'd like to know.

What they won't do is put a three line whip on their male MPs, requiring them to commit more sex offences.  If we're to believe the rumours circulating in the press and online, the Tory benches are full of rampant sex maniacs who can't keep their hands, let alone their privates, to themselves, all of which information the whips office has supposedly been using to blackmail them into toeing the party line.  Yet, despite the parliamentary Conservative Party supposedly being a hot bed of sexual depravity, the only confirmed offence we have is some knee touching committed fifteen years ago.  Sure, there are plenty of rumours and allegations of everything up to, and including, rape, but so far nothing has broken.  Let's not forget that not so long ago there were all sorts of wild conspiracy theories involving MP peadophile rings and child murders flying around.  But now the parliamentary sex scandal has been reduced to the preposterous and pompous Fallon grabbing a reporter's knee.  On the one hand, one is left suspecting that there really is nothing to these rumours, on the other suspecting that there's a huge cover up going on, with Fallon as the sacrificial lamb, his resignation intended to assuage press and public.

Fallon's resignation does intrigue me.  Just why did he think it necessary to fall on his sword over such a relatively minor  infringement (compared to the stuff that the likes of Weinstein have been accused of)?  The obvious answer is because there is something far more serious and recent he fears will come out.  Or is it simply that he is a pompous fool who likes to think of himself as some kind of officer in fifties war movie who feels it necessary to do the 'honourable thing' after committing 'conduct unbecoming'?  Certainly, his resignation letter hints at this, with the allusion to having fallen short of the standards of behaviors expected by the military.  Although, I have to say, having , previously worked in the Ministry of Defence for many years, with much exposure to military officers and their conduct, that his knee fondling wouldn't even register in terms of what many of them would consider to be acceptable behaviour with regard to the opposite sex.  Still, whatever the reason, at least the bastard has finally gone from front line politics, which is cause for celebration.

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