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Colour me childish…

Rhonda reminded me at the weekend that I have a birthday coming up soon, (that she had to remind me this, shows my enthusiasm for arbitrarily celebrating another 31,536,000 seconds as a passenger on a spinning ball of rock, but that’s beside the point) an “event” that will mark the beginning of my fiftieth year of continuous breathing.

That’s 1,576,800,000 seconds, should you be interested.

I’m sure most people will tell you that they don’t feel their age, after all, nobody likes to think they’re getting old, whatever their own personal definition of being “old” is and I’m certainly no different.
In fact I’m pretty convinced that I’m still about 25, and that’s only in my overall outlook, the me that lives in my head can’t be much older than fifteen, judging by the nonsense that passes for my internal monologue most of the time and that has always seemed perfectly natural.
I bet if you really think about the way you communicate with yourself in the privacy of your cranium, you’ll realise you too are largely at the mercy of your inner child.

This is of course something we should all celebrate and be eternally grateful for, because if it wasn’t for the ability to see the world through the eyes of a child occasionally, where would the wonder go?
We need that childish naïvete and innocence sometimes, just to enable us to live in the world and not go mad.
We need to be able to just forget we’re “grown-up” for a while and indulge the big kid in all of us.
This doesn’t mean that having a childlike view of things makes us immature, juvenile or stupid, it just means we can enjoy exercising our intellectual faculties on a different, maybe more instinctive level.

And one of the best ways to channel our inner kid is watching a completely unrealistic, fantastical and unfeasible science fiction movie or TV show.
Because the genre title alone, Science Fiction gives you a get-out from the get-go, letting you suspend your disbelief and cynicism and allowing you a guilt free two hours of wishing you could fly an X-wing like Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, or beat the crap out of zombies like Alice in Resident Evil.

So imagine my amazement this morning, when I read that one of the recent greats of British geek TV and cinema, the creator of Spaced and Shaun of the Dead, Simon Pegg, has said in an interview that he thinks our fascination with all things sci-fi has dumbed down our culture and society and made us all “infantile”.

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Simon Pegg – Don’t make me laugh, I’m trying to look intellectual.

This from the bloke who not only gave us two grown men miming slo-mo gunfights on television and a film about a couple of geeks meeting an alien on the way to a sci-fi convention, but who is also in the process of writing the next Star Trek movie, which I’m sure will once again feature him giving toe-curling comic relief in his role as Scotty, not to mention the hopefully excellent Monty Python spin-off, Absolutely Everything, which, would you believe it, prominently features comedy aliens.

Here’s the trailer.

Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but that doesn’t look like the sort of film that’s going to be shown in art house cinemas anytime soon, (In his interview, Pegg singles out such classics as The Godfather, Taxi Driver and The French Connection as being films that we could intellectually engage with. The Godfather? Art house? Really?) nor do I think that many of the movies that were likely to have influenced him in his youth were all that arty or cerebral.
I may be wrong, he might have spent his formative years watching nothing but Fellini and Bergman films while he stroked his wispy adolescent beard.
But I doubt it.

Simon Pegg’s argument seems to be that when you come out of a modern blockbuster, having watched two hours of robots kicking the shit out of each other in the Pacific, teams of superheroes fighting aliens, or presumably even Sandra Bullock dying of boredom whilst floating in space, you haven’t had much of a mental workout.
Although I don’t believe I recall the scene in which Don Corleone challenges a rival mobster to a sudoku tournament to settle a turf war, or Popeye Doyle quoting Nietzsche at a suspect as he beats a confession out of them.

Let’s face it, most films boil down to some kind of morality tale: Good vs Evil.
Star Wars is just a western in space, Guardians of the Galaxy could just as easily be the Dirty Dozen and Pegg’s own Hot Fuzz, well, that could be any number of buddy movies, all the way back to Butch and Sundance.

So I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he’s fighting his way through some kind of early-onset, inverted mid-life crisis that makes fun people dull.
Then again, there’s just as much chance that he’s taking the piss, in order to promote his latest not-very-grown-up film.

Either way, I don’t intend to grow up anytime soon, no matter how many times I go past the same flaming ball of gas.

I shall leave you with two full movies to enjoy, one by Ingmar Bergman and the other by John Carpenter.
See which one entertains you the most…

And remember, stay childish everyone. ;~}

[Simon Pegg’s picture stolen from Google]

 
2 Comments

Posted by on May 19, 2015 in Arts, Films, News, TV, Video

 

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The changing face of horror…

Many years ago, a friend of mine (hello Becky, or “Becqui” as you called yourself back then) sent me a postcard from eastern Europe, where she was on holiday.
If my memory serves me correctly, I think she was visiting Transylvania at the time, soaking up the gothic atmosphere that gave rise to the region’s vampiric myths and legends, although that isn’t strictly relevant, as the subject of the card was a painting by an Italian artist.

Giuseppe Arcimboldo was a sixteenth century painter who took the stuffy, formal format of portraiture and gave it a bloody good shake up.
He didn’t achieve this by choosing to pose his subjects in interesting or controversial ways, but by using something other than their own bodies to depict them.

His more conventional art is now largely forgotten, but the paintings he produced in his own inimitable style are still fascinating people to this day

Here is the picture Becky sent me:

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Yes, it’s a man made of fish.

He also used vegetables, plants and animals in his surreal composite images, all themed to tie in with the subject of the portrait.

I have always thought it was a fabulously warm and somehow friendly picture, and yet many people I’ve shown it to find his art disturbing and uninviting.

Which got me thinking; When it comes to the human form, what is it that makes something disturbing to look at?

Our faces are an important part of what defines our personality to other people, but not necessarily to ourselves.
Having multiple piercings, for instance, may give some folks the impression that a person appears threatening or in some way confrontational, yet (despite my own personal antipathy towards any sort of “body modification” such as piercings and tattoos) I’ve met all sorts of perfectly lovely people who, when you actually make the effort to get to know them, just happen to like covering themselves in ink and/or metal studs and are otherwise no different to you or I.

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Rolf Buchholz – the world’s most pierced man. Airport security was always a lengthy process.

There are of course cultural differences;
The Tā moko face tattoo tradition of the Māori people, which has been the norm for hundreds of years, would almost certainly be deemed unacceptable in western society, a social convention which is reflected in the fact that most tattoo artists are reluctant to have their art facially displayed, even in today’s liberal society.

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Māori or Sharpie – you decide.

However, the Yakuza, (famously-inked Japanese gangster hard men) cover their entire bodies with tattoos, yet shy away from continuing their decoration above the neckline, presumably to make membership of the crime organisation somewhat less obvious.

So it isn’t just how “hard” you are which determines how you wear your face, nor should you assume that someone is going to stab you, just because they’ve got Mummy tattooed on their neck.

But the use of the face to give us nightmares is a long and freakishly enjoyable tradition.
Whether it’s the simple application of grease paint to achieve the look of that most terrifying and disturbing of entertainers, Clowns

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Stephen King’s Pennywise the Clown from IT – “We all float down here!” – soon to terrify an entire new generation.

…or the reliance on everyone’s ability to imagine the pain of having sharp points pushed into their flesh, like cheerful sado-masochist and Cenobite-in chief, “Pinhead” from Clive Barker’s Hellraiser (which you can watch in full at the end of this post) there is a deep-seated visceral reaction to any type of facial disfigurement.

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Pinhead – “Another hedgehog joke and you’re going to hell.”

The reason for all this physiognomy fixation comes from yet another burst of photographic and digital fiddling that I’ve been engaged in this week, this time using my insertion and layering gadgets to assemble new and interesting versions of my own face, using only parts of…..yep, you guessed it, my own face.

And the odd hand or two.

The resulting monstrosities portraits were posted on my new Facebook photo page, much to the horror of several group members, who seemed to find the new me somewhat less attractive than usual.

But why? What is it about this type of  face manipulation that makes us so uneasy?
Well, now you can judge for yourselves.

Brace yourselves, it’s face time.

First of all, I went for a bit of face-palming…

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…then I tried a bit more organ transplanting..

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…which ended up getting a bit out of hand.

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Potato head.

After that, things just got a bit silly…

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…culminating in this masterpiece of unhinged and demented clownery.

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All body parts model’s own.

The catchphrases of two ’80s crime-stopper shows spring to mind at this point;
“Keep your eyes peeled” (not literally) and “Don’t have nightmares.”

Here’s some bedtime viewing for you.

Enjoy.

Bonus movie.
Watch Stephen King’s original IT ***HERE***

 
12 Comments

Posted by on February 18, 2015 in Arts, Music, Photography, Video

 

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