August 2004

Pulpmovies Reloaded

If you are reading this, I have successfully upgraded from B2 to Wordpress.

This also represents a major upgrade for the whole of the site which - hopefully - will make it both more flexible and easier to navigate. We shall see

There is still a fair bit of tweaking to go, and I need to see about importing the post archive but so far, so good.

Whose truth?

Israels court defeats film ban

A fresh attempt to ban a documentary film about the Israeli armys invasion of a West Bank refugee camp has failed.

Israels film board banned Jenin, Jenin from being shown in the Jewish state last year, saying it presented a distorted version of events in Jenin.

But on Monday Israels High Court reinstated a ruling which overturned the ban, saying the film board did not have a monopoly over truth.

Kudos to the Israeli High Court. Not having seen Jenin, Jenin, I cant comment on how accurate it is.

However, the Israeli judges are correct to point out that no-one has a monopoly of the truth. Rather than trying to prevent uncomfortable views from being expressed, it is far better to allow all points of view to be made and encourage people to sift through the conflicts and contradictions until a robust and reliable sequence of events is arrived at.

Paranoia and poisoned justice

A poisonous kind of justice

When Dr Thomas Butler noticed vials of plague bacteria were missing from his Texas university lab, he did the right thing and informed the FBI - only to find himself the prime suspect in a bio-terrorism investigation. Now hes in jail, but his fate was sealed by paranoia and prejudice.

The scientific community is still reeling. Rather than demonstrating the importance of strict care in the handling of research materials, wrote the Nobel prizewinners, the determination to convict Dr Butler and put him in jail sends a strong message to the scientific community. It says: this 62-year-old man, who voluntarily reported missing material and cooperated with federal investigators, is now being repaid with a ruined career and a personal cost from which he and his family will never recover. It also says that the next time a scientist misplaces 30 vials of a dangerous pathogen, theyre hardly likely to call the FBI. It says that the biggest casualty in the Tom Butler case might be goodwill between the administration and the bio-weapons community, just when it needs it most.

No comment.

Quote of the Day: No debate, no democracy

I was getting the impression that there was a debate, because I was reading London papers. I was getting balance. Even in the Times - isnt that owned by Murdoch - if they presented the WMD side, they presented the other side too: journalism, what we have come to mourn the loss of in America.

- Tim Robbins who, unfortunately, then goes on to contradict himself several times over the rest of the interview.

Quote of the Day: Intolerance in Education

I was looking at the curriculum and they were trying to indoctrinate you from a very young age. There�s a tendency to intolerance there. I think that raises a very important question and I hope there will be a debate about that. Is it really appropriate that a Catholic priest has power over teachers in Catholic schools. Should the church have so much influence?

- Ken Loach whose film, Ae Fond Kiss premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival and goes on general release next month.

Science Fiction

Scientists vote Blade Runner best sci-fi film of all time

Ridley Scotts Blade Runner is the favourite science fiction film of scientists, according to a poll for the Guardian. Second and third places went to Stanley Kubricks 2001: A Space Odyssey and the first two films of the original Star Wars trilogy.

The top five science fiction films are

  1. Blade Runner (1982)
  2. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968 )
  3. Star Wars (1977 ) / The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
  4. Alien (1979)
  5. Solaris (1972)

At its best, science fiction is the most imaginative, thoughtful and compelling genre there is. Films like Blade Runner can explore questions about our humanity - what it is and what it means - that are still unanswered today. 2001: A Space Odyssey provides a bold vision of where we are going.

To the list, I would also add the likes of Doctor Strangelove, A Clockwork Orange, Battle Royale and Brazil.

Unfortunately, the genre also includes the likes of Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow and the remake of The Time Machine which represent science fiction at its worst and are nothing more than a steaming pile of special effects.

Miramax: The beginning of the end?

Staff cuts point to Miramax break-up

Miramax has announced it is laying off 65 of its 485 staff in what is being widely interpreted as the beginning of the end for the USs best-known arthouse studio. This was not a reflection on anyones performance, said a Miramax spokesperson, but simply an effort to bring our staffing levels in line with a smaller release schedule.

While it is true that the companys releases have been dwindling steadily - down from 31 films in 2002 to 25 in 2003 and just 18 this year - the pattern of the layoffs, which were fewer than expected, has only fuelled speculation that Miramax might be about to split in two. The fact that the companys highly profitable Dimension Films division got off comparatively unscathed was taken by many as further evidence that Miramaxs owner, Disney, was looking to preserve Dimension for itself, before jettisoning the rest of the company.

Disney is known not to favour its option of extending this contract by another four years, and the most popular theory for what would replace it has Bob remaining in charge of a Disney-owned Dimension, the label responsible for the Scream and Scary Movie franchises, and Harvey securing outside finance to establish the remains of Miramax as a new independent film company - which may or may not be called Miramax.

Miramax does seem to have lost their way over the past few years. Since getting into bed with the Mouse House, the company has increasingly become an Oscar winning operation for safe, uncontrovesially mainstream movies.

A bit of freedom from the marketing constraints that a family friendly parent company will inevitably impose may be just what Harvey Weinstein needs.

Stay in Touch

Its a cruel world out there!

Congratulations, Dolph

Dolph Lundgren Wins Long, Courageous Battle Against Fame

And I havent seen The Village yet

Twist endings

You scored 10 out of a possible 10
Youve seen more twists than an Olympic gymnastics judge. But what youve just done wasnt a quiz at all. It was a cat. An alien cat. A half-robot alien cat. In a womans body. Called Keyser Soze. And you can kill it by throwing water at it. And its your own father.