The Power of Film

Film is important: 

And there are many reasons for this as it is such a vivid combination of so many arts; cinematography, music, sound design, editing, storytelling, acting…they all play a part in this unparalleled form of expression. It also possesses the sufficient wizardry required to transport us to faraway places and times – both physically and mentally…we can also experience a character’s life and gain an insight into their point of view, however wacky and odd their personality may be. This can serve to make us more accepting, and less prejudice people…or more unaccepting and discriminatory people – with great films comes great power, and (often) well…irresponsibility.

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For a quick example I watched the new James Bond film recently (Spectre), and I found myself nodding along like…“yeah…yeah…I AM in essence 007!” I mean I like clothes, travel, and alcohol – also I’m not a huge fan of overpowering authority figures – the only mark against is that I don’t shoot people for money: but that’s only a minor part of the whole movie franchise, so there we go! I am Bond, James Bond: and I don’t want to hear any arguments about it…

In other news my kindergarten kids have just got into Star Wars…I suppose they’ve been playing it on the TV recently, what with the new one coming out next month – and we’ve been delighting in having non-stop lightsaber battles throughout the duration of the day. I’ve also realised that I am more than likely closer to the dark side than most would say is normal…case in point I have been delighting in killing my six year old Jedi students with my force lightning ability. I mean someone has to be the Sith bad guy – and the red swords are a lot better looking…and yeah, yeah, I know I will eventually lose – but at least I get to look cool while doing it…

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« So you see there is this sense of escape, fantasy…or perhaps even unattainable galactic dreams – and it’s not a thing which can be easily shaken. Or stirred… (urgh, see what I mean?!) »

It’s always been this way though: perhaps I’m easily influenced, but there’s never been a time I can remember where films and their characters haven’t played a pivotal role in either how I want my life to be, or who I wish to be as a person. And naturally I haven’t adopted these roles entirely like some mad life-long method actor – but rather I have just absorbed certain elements which I then begin to endorse…case in point with The Lord of the Rings I became aware through Gimli that running for long distances wasn’t fun – and with Merry and Pippin, that second breakfasts were not something to be embarrassed about. And in Dumbo I learned that if you drink too much bloodthirsty pink elephants will appear in a frenetic dream sequence intent on killing you. All of these things are totally necessary, and I’m thankful for the world of film for enlightening me in so many ways… 

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this ramble…would love to hear of some characters and movies which you have enjoyed – especially ones I haven’t heard of! Always on the hunt for a new favourite!

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I LOVE JAR JAR!

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I hope this doesn’t offend too many huge Star Wars fans out there; you know the die-hard types that actually put “Jedi” down as their religion on important forms, and hope to one day actually construct a real light saber in their garage workshop. I mean no harm, but please hear me out as I have a confession to make…

I LIKE JAR-JAR-BINKS. NO, SCRATCH THAT!

I FUCKING LOVE JAR-JAR-BINKS!

…phew. I feel so much better. Sorry about that…

You see, I was like you – I couldn’t stand him. I quite enjoyed the newer movies on the whole (it was my childhood after all), but where Liam Neeson and the huge array of new bad guys succeeded, the presence of Jar Jar Binks always threatened to give me high blood pressure. Yes, even at that young age. There was just something about being forced to watch an absolute moron stumble through scene after scene, which made me want to throw my milkshake and/or Lego blocks at the television. Every time I watched that part with the big fish on Episode I, I hoped…no, I prayed, that somehow the outcome would be different – that this time he would be ripped apart, while Qui Gon and Obi Won swam away holding up their middle fingers…unfortunately that’s not how video tapes work, and consequently didn’t ever  happen.

But…I’m very happy to say I had a change of heart recently.

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You see, there’s a child in my kindergarten class who really struggles, and I mean struggles. I actually think he has some kind of learning difficulty which has been either missed or totally ignored (I suspect the latter sadly), this of course is no laughing matter, so I try to give him extra help wherever and whenever I can. I even suggested that he stays behind a couple of days so I can give extra (unpaid) lessons in my spare break time. Long story short, I love this kid, because he’s an all-around amazing little dude.

Problem is, he reminds me of someone…everything he says is always “meeesaaa don’t like this”, or “meeesaaa want to come with you”, and “meeesaaa day startin pretty okey day”…okay fine, I made the last one up. But yeah, he speaks in unintentional ebonics – JUST LIKE MY OLD NEMESIS JAR JAR! But what’s more strange is that I don’t mind it so much, I correct his grammar and sentence structure, but it doesn’t annoy me…I certainly have no wish to see a huge alien fish eat him alive.

Maybe I’m more mature than I was? Hmmm…nah, definitely can’t be that.

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So anyway, a couple of days ago I re-watched Episode I, for the first time in a long, long time (for errr, research), and you know what? I found him utterly charming and thoroughly amusing. There I said it!

I feel a little bad for the hate mail and packages of dog shit I sent George Lucas many moons ago. Oh well, you can’t change the past…right?

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Fight Club

I would like to think I am a lover, and not a fighter…after all, usually physical conflict doesn’t really solve much when you think about it. Obviously some people make it very tempting, but more often than not, non-peaceful ways to shut them the hell up, are somewhat frowned upon!  Naturally if your dear old Granny was being mobbed by a set of escaped rampant ostriches, you’re probably okay to get the broom out. But in most cases, you’re just likely to get yourself into trouble…

But I was forced to think about this by a guy today – and thanks to his inane question regarding the matter, I’ve been mulling over past bouts ever since…

I only really had one big proper fight at school – which is quite a feat as I went to an all-boys secondary in the North-East of England – not sure how I escaped, I guess I was very good at running away. Anyway, I used to be very embarrassed about its living memory – but now that I look back on it, it was a pretty funny situation, and one which I should have laughed off immediately – rather than getting all defensive about;  you know – blushing, and shrugging whenever anyone asked me about it.

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But back then I lived even deeper in my thoughts than I do now, I didn’t express much, apart from between my nearest, and dearest – stifled by shame, self-consciousness, and a bitter embarrassment regarding just about everything (like, literally.) So this is the first time I’ve told the story to a larger audience…so please bear with me…

It all started on an unassuming school day. I was with my friends on the smaller courtyard, where you could largely avoid the manic hustle, and bustle of the main schoolyard – by which I mean footballs being blasted off your face at every juncture, and/or birds shitting on you in passing, as they scrabbled for the scraps of leftover sandwiches.

That’s not to say it was totally peaceful where we spent our break-times. It was still basically a war-zone…

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Unwanted oranges, apples, and bananas (note: no chocolate was ever thrown) would fly from one end to the other – accompanied with blood-curdling cries, and bellowing swear word strewn sentences, that would even make Vinnie Jones wince.

On the day in question, it appeared to be particularly heated – and the various food items were flying with an increased ferocity. We huddled together, my friends and I, attempting to dip, and dodge any incoming missiles – before scraping them off the floor, and hurling them back. You could only pause momentarily to laugh, should it hit your target – because luxuriate in giggling for too long, and you can be sure that the dirtied tangerine segment would be SPLAT , back in your face!

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So it was quite a surprise when I was told that one of our sworn enemies (that day), now wanted to fight me…something about I had thrown a sloppy banana right off his forehead, and for whatever reason he wasn’t too fond of that fact. I didn’t even know who he was…so they pointed him out…of course, yup – just my luck – he was taller, and about four people wider than me. My friends didn’t care, the occasion had pumped them full of testosterone, and all of a sudden they wanted to see blood. A couple of them ran off to tell him I was up for it, as the others tried to make it seem like a great idea:

“He’s a year younger, man…he’s not even THAT big…well okay, he is…but you know – you throw like one punch, and then we all join in – then it’s like seven versus one! No worries  – YOU HAVE TO NOW!” 

NO! I wasn’t going to do it! No…but how to plot my escape out of this situation – could always go out the side-door, yeah…I began to walk away, with several friends still trying to convince me that it was a great idea – I wasn’t having any of it – “FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT!” Someone randomly screamed to my complete horror, and disbelief – before I knew it a crowd had circled in, barring my way out – and there he was, this massive entity. There was no way out of this, I’d never live it down if I ran now…or perhaps I could fake a heart attack…nah, that’s be even worse probably. It was time to face the music. I turned to my fantastic friends, who had basically orchestrated this whole thing – the excitement level for them was clearly off the charts – on the other hand, I was so scared I felt like I may literally shit my pants.

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I looked at my foe – clearly if he got his hands on me, he would literally murder me. One punch from him, and I’d be eating through a straw, for the rest of my life. Couldn’t let that happen. I’d obviously have to try some unusual tactics to avoid him caving my skull in with meaty fists. But what? I had no ideas, so just lunged in there – to no avail, thankfully he missed me too. I turned back to my friends, with a look that said “Jesus Christ – please fucking help you set of complete dickheads” – but no, they just made gestures for me to get a move on.

I was quivering with a fearful kind of excitement, everything was blurred in a mad frenzy – perhaps I would cry, that would be humiliating. Light bulb. I jumped in and booted him in the chest…I pretty much bounced straight off him, cue laughter from the blurs that surrounded me…I tried again, It was literally the only way I could think of to keep distance from this unnatural behemoth. It never worked, I just pinged back as if I was the pinball – and he was the strong flippers at the bottom. He attempted to grab me on numerous occasions, but never quite managed it.

So there I was – just flying in with useless kick, after useless kick. Like a demented version of Kung Fu Panda, but without any of the guile, or charm that makes him admirable. But I had no Plan B – I’d just keep trying this until a teacher would inevitably break it up…after all, there is NO chance any of the onlookers would do anything of the sort. That’d be way too mature, way too sensible.

“OI! WHAT’S GOING ON OVER THERE?!” 

“Oh, thank God” I thought to myself, with a sigh of relief:

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The crowd dispersed, in every direction – and we fled back to our respective corners. But there’s no real code, and soon someone, somewhere had snitched…and the teacher was over next to us, asking questions. “WHO WAS FIGHTIN’? HUH?”  Everyone insisted that nothing had happened, that he had been seeing things…“NO FIGHT? THEN WHY WAS THERE A MASSIVE CROWD? HMM?” One of my friends tried to cheekily claim that the crowd was to do with a Yu-Gi-Oh card, and that it was really rare, so everyone was crowding around to see…inventive, I’ll give him that – but the teacher didn’t buy it. And before long the truth came to light.

We were suspended for the day, the two of us. And while we waited for our parents, we had to sit together – which was awkward…I felt like at any moment he would smash my face through one of the glass cabinets, or at the very least strangle me to death with his banana stained tie. But he didn’t. Just stared at me non-stop, as I squirmed with unease.

Fortunately both my parents were out at work, so it fell to my Grandad to pick me up. Which was a lot less daunting. I slumped into his car, and he immediately wanted all of the details – did I get a good punch in? How big was he? etc, etc! I said he was massive, so I tried to kick him, but it didn’t exactly work out. I thought it best not to mention the fact that I was flying around like a terrible Hong Kong Phooey imitation. And that if I wasn’t so small, he would have probably crushed me to death…

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Anyway, we drove on to my Grandparent’s house, where we had mountains of bacon sandwiches, and gallons of hot sugary tea. My Grandma fussed over me, as Grandmas do – whilst my Grandad made me laugh with Rocky impressions. Later on he called me up to his attic, where he showed me an antique crossbow he had kept hidden for years. “YOU BETTER NOT BE SHOWING HIM THAT CROSSBOW KEITH, IT’S DANGEROUS!” called my Grandma from the kitchen…

He lied, and winked at me – whilst trying to fight back a grin. Then we went back downstairs, and lounged around watching cowboy films for the rest of the day. I suppose in this life, you have to take the good with the bad – and this memory encapsualtes that message entirely for me…it was both the worst day, and the very best day. And for that reason I wouldn’t change it, even if I could. 

Well…perhaps…I wouldn’t have went with the lame kicking technique – would have been nice not to be labelled “Jackie Chan” for the rest of my school-days! But yeah, never mind…

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