Saturday, April 19, 2008

Crunch Time

Well it’s nice to be out of London again for a bit and back in Cardiff. To be fair the weather here has been uncharacteristically good for April although today has proven to be the exception. Still can’t complain.

I’m not enjoying the work so much, what with the fun of revision coursework and everyday course reading eating in to my freetime (which would otherwise be occupied with Mario Kart in all likelihood). Still it’s nice to be out of the suburbs and back in the student community.

There are certain features you notice in suburbia, especially in a commuter town, with a lot of schools like mine. The chav population is higher for one thing. Well I say Chav, but I really mean small kids who dress in tracksuits and hold on to this hopeless belief that they live in a ghetto and subsequently form ‘crews’ and have fights to prove their worth. It’s all quite deluded and Neanderthal really. The other day proved this point when I encountered some Chavs on my way home from West Wickham (the town I live in although the Chav’s have bastardised the name to sound like ‘Est Ickham’ how street…) and I overheard them discussing about a possible blapsing session, in which I heard one of the tykes claiming ‘I would rather be in fights where I was one of the worst of the best than the best of the worst’, and it all seemed a little na├»ve. These fights can involve twats with knives and to be fair if they were in one of these fights they aspire to I’d imagine they’d probably shit their pants and run away. After all Chavs are many things but they are not brave.

On to more topical business anyway, and that brings me to the recent credit crunch. All I really think about this is how long has this been coming. No one seemed to realise that having an economy based primarily on borrowing and credit was, well, a bit silly. People seemed to have thrown caution to the wind and taken out massive loans for kind of unnecessary things such as new cars, or house extensions. No one ever seemed to think of saving money should something like this happen. Well its all a bit late to moan about why in any case as we are facing an economic slowdown, and to be fair maybe its time to teach people that spending frivolously is helpful to the economy but people still need to remain within their means.

The government I must say aren’t doing a bad job although lets be fair it is most likely labours economic policy over the last few years has kind of left us in the lurch. After all they were the ones who lead us into the Iraq war and I think enough has been said about that for me to skim over that. In the end wars are expensive and an economically motivated war such as this seems to have only backfired in all our faces, quite frankly I would imagine Saddam Hussain is laughing in his grave.

With the economy slowing in the west we have to wonder could this be the end of the western world’s dominance or the beginning of the end in any case. China must be watching and waiting with some enthusiasm.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Vantage Point Review

To give a brief summary of the plot: The president is due to give a speech at an important peace summit. That is until his is shot and shortly after the event he was speaking at was bombed. What follows is basically the explanation of what really happened from the Vantage Point of various people caught up in the terrorist attack.

Now I don’t know how to approach a film like this as I could see that it carries quite an overt political warning that basically legitimates the war on terror. The whole thing screams out to the American public that the terrorists are one step ahead of the US intelligence and also possess quite ridiculous levels of mobile technology. Now let’s remember one glaring flaw with this fact portrayed, and that is that terrorist’s budgets and technological know-how couldn’t possibly create a mobile phone (as there was in the film) that can blow up bombs remotely or control a remote gun. Then again it did to that end also come across a little like a Sony handheld device advert also, as in all the ‘vantage points’ a Sony Product (be it a video camera or a ‘super phone’) played an important part in the narrative.

Another problem with the narrative was that it did get a little tiresome seeing the same events portrayed time and again (the mayors speech especially). I have no problem with clever or unconventional narrative design (look at Tarantino for example or the Usual Suspects) although they sometimes over relied on specific markers which got annoying quickly.

However for all the nitpicking you can angle at the plot it is a typical action thriller plot, so you can forgive it for its discrepancies and applaud it for its attention to detail, although in some ways it succeeds and fails on both counts. Also for what it’s worth it does make for a compelling and interesting viewing although second time viewings would not be recommended.

Most of the praise for the film I mainly placed on the special effects and cinematography which is pretty much on the mark for a film like this. There’s some slow-mo, explosions, and fast editing thrown into the mix which have the desired effect on the viewer but it does seem almost a little too run of the mill. Yes it excites you at the time but in reflection it feels like the film was a little too business as usual in that sense.

Also the film boasts quite a stellar cast surprisingly, including big names such as Sigourney Weaver, Forest Whitaker and some other smaller but still good performances from Dennis Quaid and Said Taghmaoui (out of La Haine). However it feels like the big names are selling themselves a little short and they don’t feel like they fit into the mix properly.

Overall I would give it maybe 3 Stars out of 5 as it isn’t a bad film intrinsically although it does seem to have been cooked up by someone whose imagination was a little overactive and also the political and product placement shows.