Review: Memento (2000, minimal spoilers) 6/10

Definitely a 90s film..

Really interesting concept, exploring the life of a man with short term memory loss who is questing after the man who raped and killed his wife. The form of the film is specifically designed to give you a similar feeling of anonymity and disorientation to Lenny, the protagonist. You are investigating and connecting facts just as he is, but they’re not the same facts. You realise that you are investigating Lenny, not the murder of his wife, just as one of the characters suggests that he should.

There are some wicked concepts and phrases brought up, but the plot overall is about a 5 or 6/10. It’s consistent, it’s clever, brings up questions about people’s willingness to remember, to manipulate, to purposely accept ignorance.

It’s well shot, well timed, but there’s no punch, no real climatic conclusion or plot twist or anything, partly because there is no climatic confrontation, and what can be counted as one actually happens at the beginning. Instead, it’s more of a thought experiment, one that will definitely get those cogs whirring.

“We all need mirrors to remind us who we are”

Identity in a world of missing information is challenged, but so also is the way we choose to present ourselves, how we feel it is right to present ourselves to others. Not just in terms of manipulating others but also how to appear normal through your (re)actions alone.

“The world doesn’t just disappear when you close your eyes”

Or does it? Reality is questioned, facts wrestle with interpretation and motive. The actions of the world continue around you but if they are not directly affecting you at that present moment, do they matter?

“How am I supposed to heal if I can’t feel time?”

This is a concept I’m hoping to move onto with my own research quite soon, particularly how trauma causes subsequent events to be rearranged around the traumatic event instead of linearly (or in relation to the present moment). It almost seems as though the majority of your self, or at least the time-related part of it, is stuck at the trauma. Memento explores this by having Lenny trapped in the quest for vengeance, unable to forget his wife as she, and their trauma, is his freshest memory. Tulving’s Chronesthesia is an interesting psychological article that relates to this.

Quick Review: American Gods Ep1 [No Spoilers]

Yeah I totally have a dissertation and a script for a conference to write but hey, you know what, I watched American Gods instead. Think I did pretty well to get to Thursday night tbh.

Ok so first twenty minutes you’re bathing in the beauty of their character introductions. Succinct, not intrusive, but still information enough to set the scene and even have character development in just the first episode *mwah* Perfect. BUT you’re sitting their and the music is all twinkly, cymbals, violins aka just-so-Hannibal. It’s very disappointing when it makes you believe that Bryan Fuller has turned into a whiny child and seized American Gods just to create whatever beautifulness was to follow when Hannibal got cancelled. And all that with jarring CGI blood, cheesy CGI inserts (see waves in glasses) and lovely transitions that remind you of La La Land for some reason.

The disappointment does not last long however. It is merely a foil for the heights of this program and the emotional rollercoaster it can take you on in it’s opening hour. I almost cried, and then I almost cried with laughter, the production team have excelled themselves. The rest of the soundtrack is a treat, an absolute journey through (I believe mainly American) music.

You ain’t seen acting till you see this, absolutely astounding so far, especially Ian McShane (who btw I’ve never seen in anything else) and Pablo Schreiber who does an absolutely beautiful job at capturing all of Mad Sweeney. There’s an extra treat too for readers of the book in Sweeney and Shadow’s chat, if I remember rightly, an almost exact lift of dialogue from the book.

Basically, I can’t wait for more, bring on next Monday!

 

 

 

[Image from Wikipedia]

London Stands.

If you wanted to disrupt the state of this state,
You will find that you’ve made a grave mistake
You have picked a nation that has pride
And you will not decide when we divide.

We are a nation standing proud, laughing loud,
Gathering around and holding hands.
The sound of crowds rings out as we shout
That we are not afraid, and we will not be played.

We are the kind of people to drink tea and unite
Rather than lose ourselves in a fight with ourselves.
You will not terrorise us into demonising
Those that we live and love with.

We are the kind of people to run towards
Not hide, holding out our arms open wide.
London stands and its people stand with it-
All creeds, all colours, all kinds- Side by side.

 

 

Charity v Altruism: Now & the Medieval era

Straight-out, I’m totally taking a High Medieval module this term (which was fantastic btw and could only be improved with the addition of poor neglected Wace) and this came up during my research for my essay.

Whilst reading Aaron Hostetter’s article “Food, Sovereignty and Social Order in Havelock the Dane.” (The Journal of English and Germanic Philosophy, 2011, 53-77), I was struck by the economic model he describes. Lords live on surplus, and do not labour. The lower classes, slaves, peasants and the like, labour to produce a surplus yet only consume as much as they need to survive and work (and sometimes not even that much). This model he applies to the poem Havelok, a lovely story of the rise of a king from low class work, and specifically to Aethelwold, one of the kings, who “dines in a manner that enforces his claim to rule his nation, but with the happy result that they all have enough to eat,” (57) because out of the surplus he lives on, he sends out alms to the poor so they can eat.

Now, is it just me or does this seem ridiculous?

The power dynamics here are founded upon a circulation of food and wealth that relies upon a minority to be charitable and generous enough to send on the surplus they’ve gained back to the people who produced it in the first place. Very inefficient for mass survival but very good for constructing the minority’s power.

The same thing is still going. A majority work to eat, though our standards of necessities far exceed what we need to actually survive, and produce a surplus that oligarchs, magnates and corporations live off and distribute “charitably”. It’s really no wonder such a sense of cynicism surrounds these charitable acts, though the power now constructed is that of controlling consumer power/power over consumers.

But why? Wouldn’t it be better for those lower in the chain to distribute their wealth/food/all that they produce charitably to others and shorten the circular pass-the-parcel from low to high to low? And wouldn’t this in turn reduce any gap we currently see between the high and low, as the foundation of their power would be eradicated?

Obviously, it requires relying upon a lot more people to be charitable (as crowdfunding seems to prove is possible) and that seems unlikely, but it also seems illogical to rely on a minority of people to be as altruistic and yet.. it works, doesn’t it?

Fragment.wp #3

Ever feel like an outsider in your own skin,
Like everything around you has a way of crawling in,
And ripping from your flesh, pulling thread from bone,
Hollows out your heart, and builds itself a home?

Edmund Burke (1790)

Every thing seems out of nature in this strange chaos of levity and ferocity, and of all sorts of crimes jumbled together with all sorts of follies. In viewing this monstrous tragi-comic scene, the most opposite passions necessarily succeed, and sometimes mix with each other in the mind; alternate contempt and indignation; alternate laughter and tears; alternate scorn and horror.