Saturday, 11 December 2010

The Passenger Antonioni

It was not a good night with several wakings and excessively dry mouths. I must do something about this.

The mood of low spirits continues but I felt more focussed than yesterday getting on with practical things such as the weekly wash, the washing up and watering the outside plants, after completing writing the Blog for yesterday. I also watched the recording of Prime Minister’s Question Time. The opposition leaders continue with his approach but this time seized on the British Jobs for British Workers statement. I thought the Prime Minister successfully turned this against the Opposition leader and his final thrust brought those on government benchers to their feet calling for more.

However I suspect he will be less pleased about the invitation given to Tony Blair to attended the annual Prayer Breakfast in the United States attended by President and his wife. First there was Hilary Clinton appearing in London with Foreign Secretary David Miliband who also appears more confident and effective since the debacles at the Labour Party Conference and the media has stopped talking about him as Labour Leader for the next General Election. The closing shot as they places hands around each other’s backs and Hilary spoke of the special relationship between the two countries will anger those who would prefer the political administrations to be estranged forgetting that one has more influence talking things over with friends than enemies. The Breakfast event which also includes a lunch was started in 1953 and always includes a major invite which in the past included Bono in 2006 and Mother Theresa of Calcutta in 1994.

President Obama referred to Tony as Prime Minister Blair in the same way that USA Presidents continue to called Mr President, or the President without the former being added. This shows a level of respect regardless of political background which is not shown in the UK although I suppose the parallel is with Royalty in the UK, although even then the reference can be to Queen Mother, for example.

In between American Idol and Question Time I watched the second of the Piers Morgan Programme this time on Monte Carlo where the resident population of some thirty five thousand includes an estimated 2000 multi millionaires with about 50 billionaires. A two level apartment with four bed rooms and an outstanding across the country view was estimated to cost £60 million dollars while a tiny flatlet with a view of the other flats was expected to be put on the market for over £1million, the same price as a watch in the local jewellers or a Buggati car. Renting an apartment can also set you back tens of thousands a month. The attraction of what Jack Nicolson called Alcatraz for the rich is no income tax although this means you have to live outside the UK for all but ninety days a year.

The Harbour is also a place for large Yachts with ten million buying you the basic and £100 million to become a serious top notch owner, Although Abramovich has several of the biggest and is building a larger one and the vessel is so big that it has to moor outside the harbour. Towards the end he enjoyed a visit to the vessel owned by Al fayed who has been a devote of Monte Carlo for over forty years and here his captain has been with him for twenty five years, The boat now has a space age control deck but is the boat where Diana had her holiday. He provide the only human face together with the King. Everyone else appeared playboys and play girls regardless of their age. As with Dubai the whole thing is based on image projection which is rather odd given that Monte Carlo cherishes its privacy but which also explains why many of the personalities of the day, especially the younger ones are drawn elsewhere.

Piers, who makes no secret that he would love to be a member of the society in his own right, at least had the decency to question morality of the tax heaven. Whereas President Obama is proposing that Bank and other institutions benefiting from public money should restrict their annual income to half a million dollars or less. The British Government who has accepted the tosh argument that exercising control would damage the overall position of UK financial service re the rest of the world and that individual would go elsewhere, is perhaps having second thoughts in the light of this development.

I decided to watch The Passenger, the 1975 English language Antonioni film original released as professione: reporter This has the same quality of Blow Up and the silence and emptiness of Zabriske Point. Jack Nicolson plays an investigative reporter already bored with his life his marriage and his job in his thirties. He goes to North Africa to interview the government and a rebel insurgency. He meets up wither a mysterious male traveller who I immediately assumed was an arms dealer/gun runner who discloses that he should not drink because of a heart condition. Returning to the hotel after a long filtrating day out in the desert and rocky hills, Nicholson finds the other man has died and seizes the idea of swapping identities and reporting himself dead. He inherits the man’s diary and a plane ticket to Munich which for some inexplicable reason he decides to follow after calling in at his home when his wife is out. She goes to see Ian Henry his TV producer who shows her the current work available in the making. She is not satisfied with the information provided and asks Hendry to make contact with the other man at the hotel. Meanwhile Nicholson goes to Munich where he is contacted by two men enquiring if he has obtained the armaments ordered and Henry shows them the documents found at the airport lock up and in return is given a wedge of cash in advance. At this point a wise man would disappear with the money but Nicholson continues to follow appointments in the diary which take him to Barcelona where he finds Hendry on his tracks.

In Spain he becomes involved with Maria Schneider who came to fame in Last Tango in Paris. She takes to him although her reason for this is not evident and accept s his offer to take his car and collect his possessions from his hotel after learning that Henry is also staying there. They travel through Spain staying at expensive hotels on the way to Gibraltar and Tangier, becoming lovers. Back in England after the failure to find the witness to her husband’s death, his wife visits the embassy to collect his belongings and learns that the other man is an arms dealer wanted by the government, and also by the revels for the non delivery of weapons. Examining his belongings she examines his passport and sees the switch in photographs, realises that he husband is not dead and sets off to warn him that his life is in danger. Given that they had fallen out of love and that her husband has faked his death, it is surprising that she is prepared to drop everything and go off in search of man who does not want to be found or her. She and others eventually catch up with him at a hotel near Gibraltar where they find a man killed in his room. The film ends. The film is slow moving, full of ambiguities and opaque/ Critics talk about the issue of identity and wanting to get away from ourselves while others looked for wider and deeper meaning. For me I enjoyed the Spanish scenery and Maria Schneider otherwise the characters were of no interest and their self obsessed predicament pointless. Mind you I regard Antonioni’s expedition to London and Hollywood as a film making failure compared to his earlier work..

I had a good lunch of soup, Chicken Kiev with the remaining vegetables from yesterday. Tea was Crackers with Pickle and a cup of tea. I had a little sleep while England failed to carry on their revival from yesterday, losing two quick wickets, including Flintoff but Pryor reached his fifty. However the the innings closed just over 300 and then our bowlers failed to have much impact and at close the West Indians were half way towards the English total for the loss of only one wicket..

Ever since attending the U2 Tribute band concert at the Customs House after encountering the band’s vehicle trying to find its accommodation for the night, the original band has remained in my consciousness and I have played from my collection of early records and tapes, and watched a couple of DVD’s of live performances and video’s

From the best of Sunday Bloody Sunday, One, With and without you; Beautiful Day; New Year’s Day, Pride, I still have not found what I am looking for; Where the Streets have no Name; Miss Sarajevo: Electric Storm; Sweetest Things; Bad, Desire; Mysterious ways; All I want is you; Stick in a moment; Hold me thrill me; I will follow: Stay: Angel of Harlem: The Unforgettable Fire: Even better than the real thing: The hands that built America: When Love cones to Town; Staring at the Sun; Discotheque: In Little While: Until the End of the World: Numb: The Fly: The First Time, Gone: Bad girls are best:

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