The Twitter Antidote to Right Wing Press Attacks: A flood of tweets sends #CameronMustGo viral and rattles the agenda of the powers that be


Another excellent post highlighting the media’s bias against Labour

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Over the past month hundreds of thousands of social media users have taken to Twitter to boost Ed and Labour (#WeBackEd) and denounce the rule of Cameron and his cronies (#CameronMustGo).

#WeBackEd trended well at the start of November as tens of thousands tweeted their support for the beleaguered Labour leader. It has since developed into an excellent way to promote Labour’s policies (especially useful since the majority of the media skirt over these in favour of bacon sandwiches and the like).

Now #CameronMustGo is being used as a vehicle for Twitter users to vent their anger about the debilitating and cruel policies of Cameron and his government.

The first tweets went out on Saturday 21 and by Monday 24 had reached 250,000. By the end of the week, that figure was up to 645,000 on UK trends.

This has clearly upset the plans of the…

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HORRIBLE BOSSES 2:* Horrible Movie


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FIRST THE GOOD news: Jennifer Anniston. She simply steals every scene she’s in. She’s a fine comic actor, who, dressed in dominatrix spandex looks a treat, and she has the acting chops to make a puerile script (for which the idea of funny is to repeat the word, “cock”) sound funny. The bar isn’t high. Any scene featuring Jennifer Anniston wearing little and the uncomfortable updated three stooges around whom the story is set, (Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day) is bound to come out in her favour.

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Dave Harken (Kevin Spacey), now in prison, is still evil, exuding venomous malice, and a surprisingly sharp-witted turn by Chris Pine as Christopher Waltz’ son also add some sparkle to this lackluster affair.

Beyond that, Sean Anders’ dumb reprise of the first, and quite funny version of three hapless men suffering from the tyranny of horrible bosses, is tiresome, tawdry and torpid. But how much can you expect from the director (along with writer David Caspe) who brought you “That’s My Boy” with Adam Sandler.

Bateman plays his usual role as the dull, straight man. It’s a role that works well when it sets off and highlights the madness all around. It worked spectacularly well in Hancock, when his character’s perplexity represented us (the viewers)…how we’d feel. His response to the discovery that his wife was immortal was an exaggerated and funny interpretation of how any of us would have reacted.

And this is essentially what’s missing in this show that strives oh so hard to be funny: for slapstick to work, it has to make you identify with the characters to such an extent that you feel as though you’re in the same uncomfortable situation they’re in. You need to willingly suspend your disbelief and identify with the mourners when the corpse falls out of the coffin or parts of the stage collapses etc.

And part of what made “Horrible Bosses 1” work was that we can all identify with horrible bosses. But HB2 switches the game from horrible bosses to the gang who couldn’t shoot straight. We’re now we’re being asked to identify with three bickering idiots. Bickering can be fun with its cleverly written and the repartee zings with wordplay or thought-play (see Shakespeare). But here the bickering is part of that genre of American comedy that features grown up men acting like children (see “Grown Ups” and “Grown Ups 2”). Perhaps its Hollywood’s infantilization of the American male that makes him feel the need to arm himself and proclaim his adultness and masculinity.

I’d simply suggest you arm yourself against paying for this humourless dud. If you feel you must see it (and, hey Jennifer Anniston, I can understand), wait until it appears on TV (probably in about a month’s time)

 

THE IMITATION GAME **** No Secret: a wonderful movie


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At the heart of THE IMITATION GAME, Norwegian Morten Tyldum’s engrossing story of Alan Turing’s unlocking of the Nazi codes, is the towering performance of Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing. Cumberbatch is certainly the ‘it’ actor these days (In the last months, consider his protean output: the voice of Smaug in “the Hobbit”, “August: Osage County”, “The Fifth Estate”, “12 Years a Slave” and “Star Trek into Darkness”). Benedict offers us a pitch perfect Turing: socially awkward, emotion-free, introverted, arrogant and singularly focused on the job at hand. Oh, and gay.
The threads of ideas that knit the movie together – of how we’re judged and the secrecy we use to protect ourselves – are all woven into the life of this complex, obsessive mathematician. The movie looks at how society and culture conditions us to pass judgment on each other based upon accepted codes of behavior. Turing has the brilliance of mind to unlock the German codes of communication, but he remains largely locked out of society’s codes, almost like the machine –Christopher – he constructs. (In one awkward scene he tries to tell a joke to the embarrassment of all around)

The point is made time and again that Turing’s odd-ness, his autistic unconventional take on things make him a permanent outsider. People judge him as simply being ‘not their sort’. For this reason, at the very beginning of the film, he’s nearly by-passed for the job of joining the elite crew of code-breakers working on the Enigma machine. The Army Commander in charge of the unit (Charles Dance better know as Tywin Lannister of “the Game of Thrones”) finds him far too in-disciplined, his thinking too outside the box. Not the army sort.

A similar kind of culture-based judgment is made on a young girl, Joan Clark (a beautifully convincing Keira Knightley, trying – though failing – to look dowdy). Joan was clever enough to decode a job-seeking puzzle placed in the Times by Turing. But when she turns up for the job she’s immediately rejected because she’s a woman. Women aren’t supposed to be clever enough to do these ‘men’s jobs’.

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As Turing notes “Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of, that do the things no one can imagine” (The line is actually repeated three times during the movie, just in case you didn’t get it the first time).

And Turing himself is no angel. He’s contemptuous of anyone less brilliant than him (pretty much everyone else). He judges them all to be fools and imbeciles.

The tragedy for Turing is that he is discovered to have violated the most fundamental of cultural taboos of the time. He is gay. He is judged a criminal. All his achievements during the war (it’s estimated that his pioneering code-breaking not only saved about 14 million lives but really introduced the world to the idea of the computer and artificial intelligence) are as naught in the face of such a social horror. In the end Turing killed himself (by eating a cyanide-laced apple).

His world – his homosexuality, his job at the war office – is a world of secrets and lies. So too with Joan, who can only continue her job at the war office by lying to her parents. She has to pretend to be simply part of the secretarial pool – in the company of women. Society’s code could not accept that she was working (as she was) solely in the company of men. When she learns of Turing’s (by then her faux fiancée) homosexuality, she still offers to marry him and keep his secret…so that he can keep and share hers: simply that she’s bright!

All part of the imitation game.

The most pernicious lie is that one of his key team members is a Russian spy.

But spying is something the culture can handle. Homosexuality, no.

Director Tydlum (and presumably writers Andrew Hodges – he wrote the book, “Alan Turing: The Enigma” – and his frequent co-writer Graham Moore) balance the present (1951) with the past (1941) nicely, by flashing back and forth. The movie begins in 1951 when the police arrive at Turing’s messed up flat (the always compelling Rory Kinnear – M’s chief of staff in the Bond movies -as the lead detective) to investigate a robbery. We see parallel discoveries: Turing’s momentous discovery of the key to unlocking the Nazi code and Kinnear’s discovery of Turing’s homosexuality. They’re presented almost in lock-step, as if the latter was as important for humanity as the former.

And so, structurally, without a word of authorial intervention or lecturing, “The Imitation Game” makes its point about social bias and the horror of its fears of homosexuals. It’s a lovely touch in a touchingly lovely movie

THE HUNGER GAMES 3 *** Image Making Magic


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IN “THE HUNGER Games: Mockingjay Part 1”, Katniss Evergreen (the always engaging Jennifer Lawrence) shoots down an attack space craft with a single arrow. Let’s face it, this is a pretty impressive thing to do. But she never gets into the same heightened kick-ass mode as we’ve seen in the previous movies. Maybe this’ll come in Part 2. What Part 1 offers instead is a more introspective story about identity and the nature of image creation.

We’re offered multiple versions of Katniss. We glimpse a ‘real’ Katniss who is a very vulnerable person: just a young woman in love with a man who’s lost to her. She’s also a nightmare-prone victim of too much killing. But this is not how the leadership of the rebels want her to be seen. To them, her defiance of the Capitol has made her an embodiment of the resistance. To them, she’s not really Katniss Evergreen, she’s the Mockingjay. They – the Rebels, lead by President Coin (a thoroughly unconvincing Julianne Moore) and her team of image makers (Philip Seymour-Hoffman as a smooth-talking PR man and an imperious Natalie Dormer, better known as Margaery Tyrell from “Game of Thrones” as her videographer) need her to be an image.

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She just needs some down time to be herself. But there’s no time to be down. There is no time for vulnerability. There’s certainly no time for romance. As the Capitol pounds away at them, she has, in a sense, to live up to her own image. For her worth to the rebels is not so much as the deering-do archer, but as an idea. The idea of the Mockingjay and the three-fingered finger to authority has become a fundamental part of the Rebels’ weaponry.

To this end, the movie presents us with the dual worlds of Katniss the anguished girl and the icon as produced by the team of PR consultants and image creators. Jennifer Lawrence’s skill lies in allowing us to see both sides of her character, whose anger gives her the strength she needs to harmonize her integrity as an individual –a daughter and sister – and her handlers’ needs of her as the publicized role model of revolt.

The result is a story that’s more angst than action.

 (And what a role model! The idea of the Mockingjay seems to be working well beyond Panem into Thailand, where the authorities seem to have confused a movie rebellion with their own domestic issues).

Indeed, what began two years ago as a merely entertaining Young Adult adventure story has morphed (in the safe hands of director Francis Lawrence who also gave us the spooky  “I Am Legend”) into an interesting mirror to the grimmer reality of the multiple battles we’re facing all over the world now between rebels (be they the Syrian resistance or the Occupy… movement) and authorities (be they the Hong Kong government or the Corporatist overlords).

Like so many battles, they operate both on the physical level of death and destruction and on the level of the increasingly sophisticated word of spin and image management.

Katniss’ opposite number is the love of her life, Peeta, who has been captured and tortured into becoming a spokesperson for the rulers. He is the dark to her light.

He is the John Cantlie of the Capitol (That’s the British journalist who has been captured by ISIS and made to be a spokesperson for their gruesome cause).

And if Katniss is fighting to be the symbol they want her to be without compromising her sense of identity, he has become their symbol because he’s lost his identity.

So, will he get back his identity? Will their love (which was the germ that destabilized the hunger games in the first place) be rekindled? Will Katniss fully emerge into the superhero everyone needs?

Stay tuned

 

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