Friday, August 28, 2015 

Helelyos.

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Friday, August 21, 2015 

Crickets.

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Monday, August 17, 2015 

Planet football: The Mourinho delusion.

Jose Mourinho, hijo de puta.  Jose Mourinho, hijo de puta.  So the fans of Atletico Madrid gleefully sang a couple of seasons back, watching their team knock Chelsea out of the Champions League at the semi-final stage.  Translated that's son of a whore, which while not pleasant is one of the tamer chants to be heard at a football ground.  It's also apparently what Mourinho himself exclaimed as his medical team of Eva Carneiro and Jon Fearn ran on to the field in stoppage time at the end of the second half of Chelsea's first Premier League game of the season against Swansea, having been beckoned on by referee Michael Oliver to treat Eden Hazard.  In what was a fairly transparent attempt to deflect attention away from his team's stuttering performance, Mourinho went on to accuse the pair of "not understanding the game" in post-match interviews.

Normally, that would have been as far as it went.  Mourinho, like Alex Ferguson before him, is a master of blaming everything other than his team or indeed himself when his charges fail to win.  Ferguson was at least on occasion magnanimous in defeat, notably when Barcelona outplayed United in the 2011 Champions League final.

Such concessions come much harder for Mourinho, a stance that often rubs off on his players.  Mourinho is a natural cynic, making things up as he goes along, and is unashamed of resorting to tactics that are at best unsporting and at worst on the very edge of cheating.  While there is nothing intrinsically wrong with "parking the bus", a phrase Mourinho himself coined, i.e. putting 9 or all 10 outfield players behind the ball and aiming for a 0-0 draw, as the other team in such circumstances should almost always be able to carve out one decent opportunity during the 90 minutes, it's something else to tell your side to make the most of every challenge and try to get opposition players sent off, the apogee of which was reached in last season's clash with Paris St. Germain.  Despite having Zlatan Ibrahimovic red carded midway through the first half, PSG persevered with 10 men and won on away goals after equalising on the night in the second period of extra time.  Arguably, Chelsea's reputation for theatrics, especially from Diego Costa, has started to count against the team: a number of fouls on Costa last season which should have resulted in penalties were waved away.  Not that this has altered Mourinho's thinking.  Rather, he chose instead to accuse referees and the league of having a "vendetta" against his club, which at the same time deflected attention away from his underperforming players.

Carneiro's real offence it seems was to acknowledge the people who had taken to her Facebook page offering supportAs Marina Hyde says, perhaps her response was slightly grand, thanking the "general public" for their response.  Nonetheless, this simple gesture is apparently what led Mourinho, supported it seems by the rest of the hierarchy at Chelsea, to demote both Carneiro and Fearn to junior positions at club.  Mourinho at his press conference on Friday read out a statement to the effect that both could yet return to being on the bench at games, but they would certainly not be there for the game on Sunday.  Accordingly, when the two replacement medics were called on in yesterday's 3-0 defeat to Manchester City, the home fans cheered and chanted "you're getting sacked in the morning".  Mourinho's response to the utterly deserved defeat, which if anything should have been more emphatic?  "A fake result", and his team was the better side in the second half.

Mourinho can of course think and claim whatever he likes.  His responses to the opening three games of the season have all though been either delusional or to deflect attention.  The defeat to Arsenal in the Community Shield (disclaimer: I support Arsenal) was down to the opposition abandoning their philosophy, playing on the counter-attack, as though he has the right to lecture anyone else about using such tactics.  The draw with Swansea, as well as leading to the ridiculous and dictatorial treatment of Carneiro and Fearn, also saw him "refusing" to comment on a penalty incident once again involving Costa, the refusal intended to be nothing of the kind.

Other managers would not be allowed to get away with such behaviour, or at least not without widespread mocking and criticism in the media at large.  Leicester's Nigel Pearson was on a number of occasions last season brought to account for overly aggressive treatment of journalists, players and fans, and he had the decency to admit he had gone too far and apologised following his "ostrich" rant at Ian Baker.  That Pearson despite succeeding in keeping Leicester up left the club in the summer, with journalists after the apology asking if he was a bully and paranoid, is probably instructive.  Any sign of weakness from a manager is swiftly leapt upon, and when three unfavourable results in a row for a "top" club is inevitably deemed to be a crisis, deflecting the blame onto others rather than one's self is almost always going to be the first rather than last resort.

The chances of Mourinho ever being labelled a bully are remote, just as Alex Ferguson was almost never called on his similar behaviour.  As long as a manager succeeds, is seen to be succeeding, or alternatively/at the same time provides journalists with good copy, it's in the media's interests not to rock the boat, not least when clubs are increasingly treating anyone who has as much as a critical word to say about them incredibly spitefully.  There have been almost as many articles written down the years on the "mind games" between managers as there have on the matches themselves.  This refusal to at the same time as acknowledging the genius of the likes of Mourinho and Ferguson to make clear their antics are self-defeating and also damaging to the game as a whole is what leads to Mourinho and Chelsea getting away with the sheer pettiness of the all but sacking of Carniero and Fearn.

When Alan Shearer, the game's idiot's idiot, says that if Mourinho was the manager of any of last season's top four they would win the league, it's an invitation for Mourinho to imagine himself bigger than the game, to grant him carte blanche, to do as he pleases.  No one is bigger than the game.  Nor should a player be denied medical treatment because a manager deems a win to be more important, let alone those doctors then have their jobs threatened for doing what was asked of them by the only person in the position to make that call.

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Friday, August 14, 2015 

Upstate.

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Friday, August 07, 2015 

Coming down.

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Friday, July 31, 2015 

Paradise.

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Friday, July 24, 2015 

Clasp.

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Friday, July 17, 2015 

MDMA.

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Friday, July 10, 2015 

Straight defeat.

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Friday, July 03, 2015 

Can't do without you.

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Friday, June 19, 2015 

Europa hymn.




I'm not here next week. Enjoy yourselves in the meantime.

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Thursday, June 18, 2015 

A genuine question.

Has any other group as objectively rancid as Florence and the Machine managed to gain both commercial success and a pass from the critics?  The two other bands that came instantly to mind, Mumford and Sons, and Coldplay, don't really count as both have received the odd critical mauling and are sniggered about, if not to the extent of the mocking they receive elsewhere.  Plus, to be fair, Coldplay's first two albums aren't that bad.  Closest in fact might be Adele, but then I seem to be in the minority in finding her oeuvre (Rolling in the Deep excepted) insufferable.  Any suggestions?

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Friday, June 12, 2015 

Black rose.

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Friday, June 05, 2015 

Controlled chaos.

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Friday, May 29, 2015 

Justice.

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Thursday, May 28, 2015 

Film review: V/H/S.

You know what I miss? Stupid, dumb, meat and potatoes slasher films.  There's a killer, he kills people, mostly idiotic, annoying teenagers who may or may not have been in some way responsible for why he is the way he is, he does it in inventive, amusing ways, with or without wisecracks, until there's only one left, often a young woman, who manages to outsmart him.  The door is left open for a sequel, it's all accomplished in 80-100 minutes, the colour theme of the film is vibrant rather than washed out brown/green, it's not lensed by a cinematographer with Saint Vitus' dance, and the editor refuses the temptation to make a bazillion cuts every nanosecond.

Is that too much to ask?  Is it really necessary for every other new "horror" film to be a part of the "found footage" genre, or to follow the lead set by the Paranormal Activity series of films, which seemingly exist only so as to make life even more miserable for the zero-hour, minimum wage slaves at the local World of Cine who have to pick up all the spilt popcorn between screenings?  How is it I cannot think of a single horror film released in the past 5 years other than American Mary that I would watch again?  I haven't seen It Follows, You're Next or As Above, So Below yet, all of which have had somewhat decent reviews, but I'm really not getting my hopes up for any of them.

And so we come to V/H/S.  Not only is it a found footage horror film, it's a portmanteau/anthology found footage horror film!  That means there's not just 120 minutes of shaky, wibbly, constantly breaking up and decayed video to enjoy, but it's broken up into segments, sort of but not really tied together by the conceit of a gang of idiots breaking into a house to steal a tape, only they don't know what it is or what's on it.

Except the film doesn't so much as bother to follow that conceit, as on a couple of occasions the next segment just begins without one of our intrepid heroes pressing play.  Still, we're not really here for the plot, we're here for the spookums aren't we, so what does it matter?

The film then opens with a sexual assault.  Yep.  Turns out our narrators, or at least guides have been making $50 a pop by grabbing women on the street and exposing their breasts, all the while filming their attacks.  These are then posted online.  They do this, needless to say, in broad daylight, without covering their faces.  Only one of the group has found out they can make a whole heap more dough by just breaking into this one house and stealing a tape.  They don't ask for any more details, they'll just know when they've found it.

There is, of course, a dead guy in the house, in front of the obligatory stack of TVs and video machines.  Which tape is it?  Why do they not just gather up all the tapes and leave to review them elsewhere, as indeed one of the group suggests at one point, only to decide it's a fanciful idea?  Why are they filming everything they're doing?  Why I have not already switched this rubbish off?

The leery, nasty tone set from the off continues in our first segment, Amateur Night, directed by David Bruckner.  Our new group of 3 bros have only scored a pair of those spy glasses off the interwebs, the sort "used" by reality porn producers to film them picking up a random woman off the street and then having a rather jolly time together!  Guess what they're going to do with the glasses?  Do you think things won't go according to plan?  Do you think that despite the implication being this is meant to suggest objectifying women isn't a good thing it won't in fact do anything of the kind?  Do you think the pay off despite everything being wrong will be worth it, rather than a mess of CGI and shaky cam?  Does the director think everyone in the audience won't be asking themselves WHY HASN'T HE TAKEN THE GODDAMN GLASSES OFF?

Next up is director Ti West, known for 2009's House of the Devil, with "Second Honeymoon".  His segment ends with one of the goons asking, "what the fuck was that?".  My sentiments exactly.  The one thing that can be said in its favour is that if you were to find a tape with a real murder filmed on it, it would probably make as little sense as his section does.  Couple on a road trip, film themselves as they go along, only there's someone letting themselves into their hotel room who picks the camera up and records them as they sleep, only THEY USE A LIGHT AND YET IT SOMEHOW DOESN'T WAKE THE COUPLE UP.  Nor does the couple notice anything amiss, apart from some money having gone missing.  It's dreadful.

We then have Glenn McQuaid's "Tuesday the 17th", which as you would expect from the title is sort of playing with genre conventions except not really.  Best of the bunch which is saying very little is Joe Swanberg's The Sick Thing That Happened To Emily When She Was Younger, which consists of Skype chats between a couple living apart, with the Emily of the title convinced her apartment is haunted.  It is, and yet it isn't.  In fact it's something far worse.  It's not in the slightest bit scary, but it does switch things up after what's gone before, although again there's some unnecessary leeriness.  Last is "10/31/98", and we are back once again into everything that is wrong with the found footage genre.  Our gang of slightly older bros don't think to call the police and instead steam in to save the victim of some crazies at a house where they thought there was a Halloween party, with the expected consequences.

The problem with "found footage" is it asks you to suspend your disbelief twice over.  While you can accept the horror genre's tropes of the victims of the masked assailant being stupid and either unable/unwilling to call for help, to do so when you're also being asked to believe that what you're viewing is a document of something that happened is a step too far.  It can work only in certain specific circumstances, whether it be in the woods like Blair Witch Project, away from a phone signal, or in the depths of the rainforest as in Cannibal Holocaust.  That the high point of the genre is still the one that started it all rather suggests it's not going to be improved upon.  Please filmmakers, for the sake of our sanity, give it a rest. 

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Friday, May 01, 2015 

Altercations.

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Friday, April 24, 2015 

Dead air.

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Friday, April 17, 2015 

Arcadia.

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Friday, April 10, 2015 

All the rage back home.

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