Welcome to my movie blog, containing reviews and articles. I've been writing since 2004 - with a short break during 2009.

In these parts...

The problem with iconic milestone movies are so busy being milestones they forget to be movies too. Take Birth of a Nation - famous for inventing cross-cutting, moving cameras and modern language of cinema; famous for being shamelessly racist. The Jazz Singer - the first talkie. Everyone knows that. Cinema kids are born knowing it. Who needs to see it? And so on.

What they forget to tell you is that these films are sometimes bloody brilliant too, as well as being a museumpiece. And so we get onto In The Heat of the Night, which I implore you to see as soon as possible.

This is mostly thanks to Sidney Potier (or "ney Potier" as he was credited, before I moved to a TV that could handle the aspect ratio), who's all fire and ice and rage, all wrapped up in stillness and silence. To top it off, he doesn't half look lovely in that suit. And I really wanted him to survive to the end - which, to be honest, is something I rarely ever do. I'm always secretly hoping for a violent, a shocking, an ironic twist on what we've already seen. This is chiefly in bad movies, or at least ones I know are going to do the obvious thing. Rob Roy, anyone? When a movie is good, such as the Three Colours Trilogy, it earns the right to a happy ending. Really, genuinely rooting for a character to survive is a rarity in these parts. Rod Steiger won the Oscar, and I guess he's great too. But, seriously?

"In these parts" would be a good phrase to apply to the rest of it. Sure its about race, but its also about small towns. I live in a small town - actually, its an island - think Wicker Man's Summerisle meets Hot Fuzz's Sanford. That's us - all town carnivals, country fetes, jam making competitions and backbiting gossip. I have little difficulty believing that HOT FUZZ SPOILER our local council would assassinate someone for having an awful house.

It manages to do all the detective movie cliches, from gradual grudging acceptance to "You have two hours to solve the case", yet somehow it all stays convincing. And kudos to the exciting direction too. You can really tell this movie was made in the 60s - not only for its frank discussion of racial issues, but the sense of playing around with the camera. I particularly liked the slow zoom on the fugitive as he flees across the bridge to Arkansas.

To cap it off, the soundtrack is wonderful. More movies should start with decent theme songs.

It must be something in the water. I went to the library to take out my two classic DVDs as usual, and came back with this and Mephisto - another serious drama, this time about Nazis. What's wrong with me?! Normally I avoid this "real life issues" cinema like anything!

The B-feature to today's post is a link to yet another essay on movieviolence affecting real life behavior:

It's defending the belief that yes, screen violence does directly increase it in real life.

I have personally always believed that while violence on screen can sometimes be a trigger or inspiration for real life violence, cinema alone will not turn you from an upstanding citizen into a psychopath. I hold as Evidence A, me myself. I'm a walkover, a doormat, quite possibly the least aggressive person you've ever met, so nice it's actually too nice. I feel guilty about killing mosquitos - which I rarely do anyway. Usually, I let them live. That's how passively unviolent I am. This essay blithely claims:

"Studies show that people who watch a lot of TV violence not only behave more aggressively, but are more prone to hold attitudes that favor violence and aggression as a way of solving conflicts. These viewers also tend to be less trusting of people and more prone to see the world as a hostile place." you see, normally I'd dismiss a claim like that out of hand. As we've already established, I watch and enjoy a high level of screen violence, while remaining an utter pansy. Yet what about the second half? In all honesty, I do get rather paranoid at times; and a triple whammy of Easy Rider, Borat and Heat of the Night has just totally put me off America.

In any case, even though it momentarily made me sit up and think whether all this stabbin' and shootin' was affecting me after all, nevertheless it is not a very good essay. It goes on to associate Christianity with the violence problem to prove humanity is naturally violent - which is total bull, because if people are getting killed over religion, then you're doing it wrong. It's too biased, and its evidence is weak.


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