Irish and Jewish mothers share a stereotype with one exception: they don’t temper their sense of guilt. With all the love in the world, an Irish mother can simultaneously worship the ground her son walks on and act with a deeper sadism than the bastard offspring of Jeffrey Dahlmer and John Wayne Gacy.
Growing up, the brother and me were pretty spoiled – it was more Enid Blyton (without the casual racism) than Angela’s Ashes , but Mam wielded the wooden spoon of guilt like Zorro felling Spaniards. When I went through a period of fibbing she tole me that my tongue would turn black and fall out if I lied. How did she know? That damned avian turncoat, the little bird, told on me. Every time. It must have been a stool pigeon.
The best ever was telling me that raising a hand to her would result in the offending member rising from the ground once buried, forming a gruesome, peeling tribute to the finale of Carrie. People will come from miles around, she said, to visit the slowly rotting hand and say “There lies a terrible child who was mean to his mother.”
Of course, we laugh about it now, but I still hate that bird.
In 1978 we were told that we’d believe a man can fly and Richard Donner not only delivered on that promise, but re-created a legend on the silver screen. It’s thirty-five years later and the only thing Zack Snyder makes us ask is, “Why?” Man of Steel is a joyless, obnoxious, and painfully artless mess that has no redeeming features at all.
The opening act takes place on a Krypton that looks like Liberace threw up and created a planet, which is still dying but also is embroiled in a civil war about how to save it. On the one side you have General Zod, played by the normally excellent (if ranine) Michael Shannon, who rants about racial purity and absolute power and, on the other,super-scientist Jor-El (Crowe murders another accent) who wants to save everyone through his son. Needless to say, Jor-El dies, his son is fired off to Earth, Zod and his gang loses and are sentenced to eternity in the Phantom Zone. This is where things go silly: they’re ferried off in what can only be described as penis pods. Sure, the Phantom Zone is daft enough, but Space Cocks?
Snyder must have been watching Paul Thomas Andersen movies all summer, because we then jump to pre-Superman Clark drifting about various dead-end jobs while he figures out who, what, and why he is, alternately saving some people and flashing back to a past that’s so much less than the original. With the help of a hidden Kryptonian ship, Crowe playing both Ghost Dad and the exposition fairy he becomes Superman in time for Zod to come back and threaten the Earth.
This is where any pretense of subtlety is thrown out the window: when Clark has a crisis and goes to talk to the local pastor about what he should do in the background is a stained glass window of Jesus the size of Mount Rushmore, because, you know, metaphor. Not to mention every time Supes takes off, he spreads his arms as if he’s on a crucifix. You can almost hear Snyder yelling, “Make the metaphor bigger or no-one will get it.”
Once he’s decided what to do, that’s the end of the movie really. What’s left is a ninety minute fight scene that’s louder than Michael Bay directing Brian Blessed in a thunderstorm and by the end I just wanted it to stop. Thank Clark I saw it in 2D – I imagine anyone coming out of the 3D screening will have migraines for weeks.
Where we once had Christopher Reeve’s easy charm matching Margo Kidder’s sassy Lois Lane, we now have abs, CGI, and Amy Adams playing a role that’s clearly beneath her. Gone are the villains with personality to be replaced by a monotonous Hitler analogue screaming nonsense about racial purity. In fact, everyone speaks in monotone soundbites and fortune cookies – I can only guess that it was so dull on set, they decided to have a William Shatner impersonation contest.
Zack Snyder doesn’t make movies; he makes moving storyboards which are all style and no feeling whatsoever and this is no exception. The only thing I left with was a profound sense of loss for Christopher Reeve. Time to toss in the Superman I Blu-ray and forget all about it.
My experiences with violence in schools still echo throughout my life but standing to face the problem has helped me in immeasurable ways.
To every Pork Chop, Dog, Cabbage, and Frog. To every Marshmallow, Spaz, Foureyes, Geek, Dweeb, and Nerd. To every Gimp, Fag, Swot, and Mole. To anyone who had the audacity to be different. It Gets Better.
It’s arrived. That doom-laden, apocalyptic, end-of-days event has hit London together with a million extra tourists, spectators, athletes, and entourages. We feared the Olympic lanes, we were told to consider staying at home for two weeks, maybe go on a holiday, take up walking or just plain get over it. But it’s great for the London and of course will be a moment to tell your grand-kids about when they take you out to dinner (as long as you don’t ask for chips).
Well the trains didn’t break down, the traffic kept moving, and the city looks more like the start of 28 Days Later than Soylent Green, so I’m glad to have shared my train with the one commuter in the whole of the south-east who wasn’t feeling a part of Team GB.
On a fairly empty Victoria Line train I managed to get a seat, while this paragon of British stoicism stood in the middle of the carriage. I usually get up before the train hits Oxford Circus to give me time to pull myself together because no-one needs to see me waddle around like the bastard offspring of Winnie the Pooh and Carroll’s White Rabbit, so I did, and it was slow, and there was room. Cue a full-on charge from our Olympic champion, culminating in a body-check on this bear of very little brain.
“Carefull!” I tutted, wondering why what can only be a plain-clothes courier carrying a heart and lungs ready for transplant, judging by his desperate speed, is travelling by Tube.
“We all have to get off the train mate and you stood up too slowly.”
“That’s not a pushing offense last time I checked.”
“Well…” [and this sums up everything] “… you had a great old time sitting down, so shut up.”
What else could I do? I avoided his vacant vacant gaze until the doors opened and when my new best friend thought it’d be fun to stand in my way, I barged and hit him with a bag that held an 800 page psychology text.
There’s a long tradition among Western writers of lionising ancient ways of life, as if there’s something better about giving up all the trappings of modernity and wallowing about in the pain and dirt. The myth of the noble savage is responsible for such idiotic beliefs as the power of alternative medicine and the idea that anything that refutes the scientific process is necessarily true. Worst of all, it gave us Avatar – a movie that makes Smurfs 3D look like Citizen Kane.
Reign of the Nightmare Prince is just like Avatar – noble savages in tune with nature are attacked by evil technologists who want to take their resources – but differs in one respect; you care what happens. The story’s told from the point of view of one of the alien natives who’s returning from their version of Walkabout to find out monsters are killing off the rest of his people, and follows his attempts to muster a defence in the face of impossible odds.
Although it’s an entertaining and fun read, it’s not explained why the aboriginal population of an alien planet feels so human and a lot of the non-native attackers are almost as one-dimensional as Jake “I see you” Sully. Also, the end was so abrupt it felt like a sixth grader who’s suddenly reached the word limit on an English essay but don’t let that put you off.