Sunday, 14 November 2010

The Sandwich Board

When and where to use when or where,
That old writer's hocus pocus.

On a sandwich board, the whole city.
Smokily the font is thick and the News accented.

Why this partially public outpour?
severe delays, part closure,
planned closure, severe delays

So there are literary features happening,
Un-umbrella'd pissed-ons perusing Newsagents,

The sandwich board is in prostate protest.
If I watch its plastic black limbs and paper body,
The early summers come back and pester.
There the world is an outdoor one, barbeque prised.
A sandwich board beside a picnic bench,
Where my father could be in cricket whites, 
Nursing a Young's Bitter, and
When his children--
A trinity of newly discovered planets--
Buried themselves in chips and Choc Ice.

Here is a sandwich board outside London Victoria,
And on this sandwich board, the whole city.

It's a film prop, the purpose in a New Yorker.
It's a stool, a music stool:
Its lyric of Breaking News self-snared, flip-flapped,
It is in the musicality of wind.

Where a Silk Cut sausage-rolls itself out of flame
At a rain-puddle
A ringtone came, and

When you rang, wrung
The words from me as if the poem
Were a spiracle
For your breathing,
Where and when the blog, for no fault of trying,
Gave itself up, said I AM A FUTURELESS AQUARIUM,

The language became the news, darkly blue in salt water.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Let Me In (2010)

Above: Lina Leandersson & Kare Hedebrant in Let The Right One In, 2008. Below: Chloe Moretz & Kodi Smit-McPhee in Let Me In, 2010.


(Dir. Matt Reeves, 2010)

The first two blunders in Let Me In occur before the opening sequence has even finished:

1) Making changes to the narrative (of Let The Right One In) for the sake of nothing else but change.

2) Shouting at everyone that this is now about the United States of America - by pistol-starting with evangelists, with an epic orchestral score, and with a glaringly propped TV blaring out a patriotic speech made by a former President.

Let Me In is Matt Reeves's certain remake of the very special, uncertain Let The Right One In (2008). Both films borrowed their stories from Lindqvist's airportly novel about a girl-vampire's friendship with first her elderly helper, and later his replacement: a boy who is bullied at school and is struggling at the latch of puberty. The action has moved from Stockholm to New Mexico. Self-preservation is the challenge facing Eli (now Abby) and Oskar (now Owen), who must overcome the threats posed by their impulses and those of their enemies. What they don't have to deal with on screen is mortality, the Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart crisis. And not even prodigy actors Chloe Moretz (Kick-Ass) or Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road) can make this film fly. The faintly sketched community, the need for one genre only, and even the emptied significance of the snow, make for a missable, wet thug of a movie. All the androgyny and irony in Let The Right One In has been subject to bloodsucking. Reeves transports the impressive terror of his Cloverfield to a wholly foreign project, without a second thought.

There is no real pain, loneliness or consolation detectable in Moretz and Smit-McPhee's behaviour. Probably their talents are let down by a contender for most unnecessary adapted screenplay in history. If this were a TV movie, it would be worth flicking channels during each scene of dialogue. Never creepy, because it is never allowed to sit still and scare, Let Me In is another contradictory product of recession cinema; culture cannot afford the collapse of the movie industry, yet pointless remakes such as this one demand violent reviewing. The computer improvements on the climbing and killing skills of a vampire, and on the abruptness of fire, are cheap resorts to satisfy. From ten minutes in I wanted out, and for the world to go back to Thomas Alfredson's beautiful reimagination of a bland book.

The author Salman Rushdie has sought to debunk the mythical law that books are better than their screen adaptations. I wonder if he has read and seen Let The Right One In - a fragile conch of storytelling, an intimacy polished by a second pair of hands, but colonised and crushed in a third grip. This book to film to film-remake process is time consuming. Rarely is great art found crushed on either side by disappointment.

Thursday, 4 November 2010


"We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. 

"To quote from Whitman, "O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless--of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life? Answer. That you are here--that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse."

"That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?"

The Social Network (2010)

* * * *

(Dir. David Fincher, 2010)

Some day Jesse Eisenberg will win an Oscar; precocious yet again, the twenty seven year-old deserves a nomination for his star turn in David Fincher's The Social Network. Eisenberg (The Squid and the Whale, Adventureland) is Mark Zuckerberg, the overwrought and disputed creator of Facebook. From a meeting room where lawyers and Harvard rivals are resolving a crisis of plagiarism, the film's lense abreacts the hard work, genius and ugly social cortex that founded Facebook.

There is a problem right away since, at first thought, a movie about the making of any website promises little entertainment, comedy or tragedy. However the event (the creation) is invaluable to so many people whether they would like to admit it or not. Just type a few words into a search engine to collect the precipitated ironies - status-updates, pages, blogs, groups and their diary plans each determined to celebrate this film. In Zuckerberg, The Social Network makes an artist out of the computer-geek stereotype. The scene where Bill Gates delivers a speech to Harvard undergrads - Zuckerberg, part of the student crowd - is submerged in transcendence and greatness, avoiding the normal flaccid description of what constitutes inspiration. At his best, Eisenberg acts alert and exhausted moments as impressively as Ben Whishaw's John Keats (Bright Star, 2009) or Sam Riley's Ian Curtis (Control, 2007). Any breaking good news about Facebook has Zuckerberg rocking to sleep in the daylight, before the flutes of champagne reappear, the desktops restart and his brainstorming resumes.

If the argument is won by the end of the film, Zuckeberg hasn't moved a social muscle. Fincher flies the flag for his subject (and Zuckerberg has reciprocated, saying his portrayal by Eisenberg was "really cool"). When the idea takes off, he is advised but never herded by Sean Parker, the creator of the music piracy service, Napster, and a role comfortably acted by Justin Timberlake. Partisan for sure, but nonetheless objective. For objectivity is really an unerring search for truth.

The truth is that an overrated, failed romance between young people is what prompted Facebook, the social networking site which IDs and advertises our intimacy. This season there is a movie able to keep surprising its audience without borrowing the language of Halloween or of the Hollywood zeitgeist, against whom this is a small victory.