Showing posts from 2012

Of Parks & Recreation's Sweetness

When I was thirteen, my English teacher incurred the wrath of my class by daring to discuss the theories on comedy of a scholar - possibly T.G.A. Nelson? - who posited that all humour is based on humiliation, on the way a comedic situation asserts the superiority of the person laughing, at the expense of someone else. We laugh, he said (she said), because we’re mostly relieved at not being the person in the comical situation; laughter asserts our dominance, and makes us feel better about ourselves. I think we were studying Brecht’s ‘Caucasian Chalk Circle’ at the time, and my teacher tied this theory of comedy in to Brecht’s determination not to give his audiences the satisfaction of the catharsis of comedy: in other words, he ensured that by underlining the artifice of the play we’re watching, he deprives the audience of that satisfying sense of relief and superiority that comedy can bring, and reminds us of the inherent awfulness of the world, of which we are part.


Once Upon A Time In Anatolia

Every now and then something comes along that is so undeniably great, that is moreover so rightly convinced of its own greatness, so certain of its glittering brilliance in every regard, that no-one has any option but to kneel down in its path and salute it. You might consider the opening notes of Pet Sounds, for instance, in which Brian Wilson clearly stakes a claim to be considered as one of the greats: the light, melancholy notes leading up to the big boom of drums, followed by the great choral surge of the refrain 'wouldn't it be nice': there is nothing hesitant or shy or small here. Or you might think of the look in Roger Federer's eyes during his great run of victories at Wimbledon - he was unassailable, fully committed to his performance, and certain of his dominance.

Once Upon A Time In Anatolia, the latest film by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, is similarly assured: from the first wondrous opening shots, the spectator knows that s/he is in the presence of something truly g…

Thoughts on Whitney Houston

The community of dying in the modern era: no flowers laid outside hospital gates, but status updates and Youtube links, as together we commemorate the dead. Whitney Houston dying brought the usual raft of videos, remixes and R.I.P hashtags, but also as with other celebrity deaths a cathartic, almost joyful chance to reexamine someone, their life and their career. With Whitney Houston, it felt like even more of a release because we who grew up in the 90s had had to adjust very quickly to the need to dislike her, to dismiss what we had previously loved: that big, barnstorming voice and the easy, accessible melodies she had sung.

If you were aged between 8 and 14 in 1992, you or your sister owned the Bodyguard soundtrack, and you or your sister (OK, you - you don't even have a sister; let's just own up to it) listened to it all the time. Its songs were slow-danced to at parties and you made your parents play it in the car. It was great. (Sidenote: it actually wasn't great; it…