Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Culture vultures...

Yes, Easter was quite chilled, although as a full time student what’s four days off here and there? The only difference was more people in the shops and the girlfriend for four days.

Still, we used it productively: booking accommodation in Lisbon for our trip there next week and catching up on a few films lent to me over the weekend: Alexander and Team America.

I’ve been looking forward to seeing Alexander ever since I read Robert Lane Fox’s biography 18 months ago. Imagine my disappointment then, to see Oliver Stone’s version of it. The editing was rather poor and the battle scenes too closed in, too claustrophobic. Although I’m sure it can probably be argued away by the director claiming he wanted to show what it was like to be in the middle of one of those tight battle formations.

As for Colin Farrel’s Irish-accented Alexander and his generals, that didn’t bother me too much. The Macedonians were considered provincial cousins to the majority of Greeks, despite their domination in the period. But Angelina Jolie as Alexander’s mother? Oh, please! Have you ever seen a woman looking that young with a 20-something son? I didn’t think so.

However, compared to other ancient epics recently portrayed on screen, Stone did do a relatively good job of keeping to script. I felt I was sitting there with a checklist (OK, Lane Fox’s book on my knee) making sure all the right boxes were filled. But if there was one major grievance I had was with Stone’s jumping around the story. At the beginning we have Anthony Hopkins briefly going over Philip’s death (Alexander’s father); then, an hour in we have a return to that fateful day, breaking up the sequence. Why, oh why did you do it, Oliver?

As for Team America, alright, it was puerile and silly, but on the mark. Not just in its observations of American military cack-handedness, but the way in which sceptics can all too easily align themselves with dubious elements (you only have to recall Saddam’s meetings with Galloway or Tony Benn’s poor interviewing skills with the dictator).

And finally, a trip to the ICA for the first Batmacumba gig of the year on Saturday night. It looks like DJ Cliffy has found a new protégé which is really mixing up the music – and not always for the best. However, when he takes to the turn table he’s still reassuring: both in his usual choices as well as having his finger on the pulse of new Brazilian musical forms, most notably in the baile funk he’s bringing to his repertoire.

Besides that, I had one of the most original excuses given for an acquaintance not being able to make it - owing to current commitments in Kabul!

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