Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Bella Mafia, Notes ona Scandal, Mandalay

Yesterday I became angry, more angry with myself for being angry. I will restrain myself from disclosure about the details for now, although it is the kind circular administrative incompetence which makes one weep. It concerns a bank. Banks can lose billions and write of billions in debts. But when it comes to sorting out comparatively small amounts of money, they are full of promises and explanations which turn out to be hollow and in some instances false. Watch this space.

This has been a difficult two days for several reasons and I was managing well by making good progress in my work have completed the first 80 pages of mainly descriptions and colour photographs, mostly four a page, of Rivera 2007, the re-emergence of the riverside of the Tyne and the Wear and of the glories of the open spaces and coast in between. The second part will be completed by Christmas. The work has become an escape from the emotions of other experience.

There is a limit to the amount of time devoted to the work and I need a gap between first writing, correcting and redrafting and final rewrite corrections of words. If I do not do this then mistakes occur which I do not seem because what I see is what is in my head and which not necessarily what appears on paper. I had thought I had completed all the writing but when I transferred from album used when there was to be just one volume to a matching pair I reread and needed further amendment and correction although these were minor and only three or four. I could be more precise as I have the drafts, but there is no inclination to check. I have completed the parks and open spaces, except for the photographs of Roker Park and the rechecking of the description. I will have a mini break now and then complete before Christmas.

In between this work I have been watching films of varying interest, impact and quality.

The most entertaining and least significance was a war film Churchill's something in which a British identical twin replaced his German counterpart in order to be in the position to facilitate a combined operation of partisans and parachuted troops to blow up a dam. He is undone when put the test by a suspicious Gestapo man but the mission is successful with the usual Boys won heroics, self sacrifices and nail biting last second luck.

The second was of little more consequence although it has gone down well with fans who have subscribed to GMovies. It was great and sensitive said one, the best Mafia I have seen. I agreed with the comment that this two two hour mini series was helped by having Vanessa Redgrave and Natassja Kinski their spelling, star. The film has a novel idea of what happens when all the men of a Mafia family are killed by ambitions other heads of families and the widows and one fiancée decide to take revenge electing one of their number to head the family after she kills the person who carried out the murders, but only to find it is the son placed for adoption when she was recovering from a car accident. This type of film creates sympathy for the plight of individual characters but must ensure that there is a heavy condemnatory morality in which crime must not seen to pay when all the evidence is that in relation to the Mafia it has.

In this film the reason for the car accident is that a girl is attempting to see the head of the family because she has been left with the child after his eldest son was killed in a vendetta. She then marries another son with the approval of the family head and is thrilled when she presents a son, of twins. These are also slaughtered with the men folk and her first born having run off from the priests after the adoption failed, is taken up by the another family who have a grievance against his father's family. You get the drift? However I liked the notion of women becoming even more ruthless and effective at running a Mafia family than the men. Why should anyone think this would not so? The title Bella Pasta, sorry I mean Bella Mafia, coming to think of it Bella Pasta is a better idea as I have enjoyed several meals in these eating houses. When I have nothing to do I will watch the whole thing in case I have been unfair. sometime.

The daughter of a crime boss is also the subject of the third film Manderlay which I disliked as much as Dogsville first of the Lars von Trier trilogy USA Land of Opportunities. In both films the director uses a small sound stage with a plain surface, so it is play where acting is used to conveys time and place. In Dogsville it is a cut off community who embraces the daughter of the gangster and then turns on her and in Manderlay it is a southern plantation in which the head blackman has conspired with the lady owner to keep the rules of slavery because both feared change and decided that the black workers and their families would not cope in the outside world or in an unstructured set up. The regime including lashings for misdemeanours. As with Dogsville the writer Director is able to attract major stars, Nicole in the first and Lauren Bacall in the second. In both films there is a large cast.

By coincidence, otherwise there would be no film, the gangsters arrive at Manderlay as someone is to be lashed and the daughter sees this as an opportunity to intervene and she stays with some of the other gangsters who act as enforcers and protectors. The daughter creates a commune in which the rest of the white family work for their keep, including the blacking up of faces which was a nice twist, but because of a dust storm their supplies are damaged and they all forced to eat dirt.. However the rescue some cotton plants which produce a good crop. At this point it appears that the gangsters who have been sent away job well done while the daughter decides to stay, only to believe they have stolen the profits. They have not but tell daddy who sends his daughter an ultimatum to leave or stay.

As with Dogsville she comes to realise that the pathway to hell is good intentions and first she is required by majority vote to execute the eldest former slave who has stolen the precious food provided a sick child who dies. Then she discovers the truth that the former white lay boss and head Blackman had cooked up the ongoing slave charter and then she finds that the Blackman previously saved from flogging and who now gives her a purely physical sorting which most women will regard as rape but which she adores, has stolen the money but which is rescued and returned, so she flogs him near to death. With that she goes off to the rendezvous with her father only to find he has been and gone and leaves a note praising for being a chip off the old block and therefore is has no anxiety at leaving in her in the hell she has created. Americans will understand the significance of all this better than me.

The fourth film was of a very different order and received some forty nominations for awards including Oscars in 2006. Notes on a Scandal has three outstanding performances, Dame Judy Dench as the malign vampirish in terms of consuming the personalities of other very lonely seen it done it school teacher which she is good at, especially controlling children, which is why so many teachers leave the profession soon after qualifying because of the absence of good order and consequent impossibility of teaching anything to anyone. I must do a blog about Dame Judy and her excellent actor Husband Michael Williams who sadly died in 2000. In this film Judy longs for a close relationship but is a relationship in which she is in control and seizes the opportunity fro emotional blackmail when she discovers that the new teacher, Cate Blanchette has been more than indiscrete with a 15 year old pupil and decides to sit on the information on the understanding that the relationship is ended. When she discovers that it has not she arranges for the discovery with the consequence of a police investigation, the break up of the marriage and ultimately ten months in the nick.

The part of the younger teacher is played by Cate Blanchette who also merits attention having made some forty films herself of varying quality by always commands great attention for her ability to communicate emotions and the person inside. She describes her character as someone where there is such a gulf between the person on the inside and outside that she commits hari kari as a means to get her to face her inner self. She also describes the problem of needing the imperative of marriage and motherhood but also needing to find a greater meaning and purpose to her life. She has devoted a decade to her older husband where the fire of the early relationship vanished with the task of bringing up a child with Down's syndrome, and a normal daughter into a rebellious teenager. The husband is played by one of my favourite men, Bill Nighy who supports what is essentially a two woman film but he is an essentially component in what makes the sum significantly greater than its parts or subject.

Spooks reverted back to the standard of the rest of the series and clearly si not coming to an end with the journalist now set on course to join the team but in place of who, not Ros me thinks, possibly Adam who was about to going out with a bang anyway before next week's official episode which is about the explosive type of bang. Having suggested it was not of the calibre of the previous outstanding episode there was some grim truth about this one. The Home Secretary has one of his staff arrange the killing of the whole of the spooks team as the price of peace with Iran and when confronted by the head of spooks the Home Secretary explains his dilemma in such a way that Harry, the had, can only agree, but adds the wearing if you step one inch out of line in relation to us in the future we will do you.

I thought Cameron went off the boil or out of steam today, and the Liberal Democrat Vince Cable appeared to flunk his lines whereas Gordon seemed back to his old self which suggests the counter offensive has commenced and this may include those within his own political party.

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