Over at Alex on Film I’ve added my notes on High-Rise (2015). This was a movie I really enjoyed. It has a unique feel to it that captures the weirdness of J. G. Ballard’s novel. Much more successful in this regard than Cronenberg’s Crash (1996).
One day during all this unpleasantness, I sat down to have lunch with Flora MacDonald and seek her counsel.
“Why do your people hate the CBC so much?” I asked.
“My people?” she replied.
“Yes. Your people, your party, the Conservative Party.”
“They are not my people. They are a different party from the one I was in.”
“But you must have some insight into why they hate the CBC so much.”
“Oh, Richard,” she laughed. “Don’t think that you’re special. They hate everything.”
“Yes, everything. That’s what they do. They are haters.”
It was an oft-repeated criticism of American involvement in Vietnam that the U.S. was waging a war in a country that few of its citizens would be able to find on a map. That was a zinger, then and now, though, in the American public’s defence, at the time Vietnam was only twenty years old (it had most recently been French Indochina).
I was thinking of this recently when preparing my notes on the movie They’re Watching, which was set in Moldova. This threw me. Before finding out this little tidbit of information, if you’d asked me if there was a country of Moldova I would have said there wasn’t. I associated the name with a province in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire and thought that the filmmakers were invoking it as an imaginary place like Ruritania or the Duchy of Grand Fenwick. But actually Moldova is a sovereign state, having been one of the Soviet Socialist Republics and gaining independence when the Soviet Union collapsed.
This was humbling. I thought I knew enough of the basics of world geography that the existence of a European country I didn’t know of came as quite a surprise. But as I went flipping through a pocket atlas recently I found other examples of my ignorance of how the world is divided up. Just as surprising to me as the existence of Moldova was the discovery that there’s a part of Russia that isn’t connected to any other part of Russia (what’s called an exclave). This is the Kaliningrad Oblast, the old Prussian Königsberg. Who knew? Well, probably a lot of people. But I didn’t.
Political boundaries are often in flux, which justifies the printing of new atlases. I found several such boundary issues in my browsing. Suriname, for example, claims big chunks of both Guyana and French Guiana (the countries to its west and east respectively). I have no idea how valid these claims are, but on a map they look significant. Meanwhile, Western Sahara has been administered since 1979 by Morocco, but is still considered a (huge) disputed territory. I knew nothing of this.
The upshot is that I don’t have the right to make fun of anyone else’s ignorance of geography. There are plenty of places I not only couldn’t find on a map but that I’ve never even heard of. I guess I’m not a man of the world.
It’s a testament to something that every time I happen to re-read a previous post I’ve made at one of my sites I find something that needs to be corrected. Usually this is just a typo or some infelicity. But in the last couple of weeks I came across a pair of glaring factual errors that were absolute howlers. One was in a review of a book and the other of a movie.
The nice thing about running a blog is that you can immediately correct your mistakes. And once they’re fixed you can pretend as though they were never made. You can’t do that with print. Still, I’m depressed to find so many goofs. I actually do try to make sure that a post is clear of errors before I publish it online. But still the fact is I don’t think I’ve ever posted anything, in over twenty years, that didn’t have at least one mistake in it. As I’ve said, I find them all the time. They turn up like stones in a field.
Perhaps it has something to do with writing for the Internet. Or perhaps it’s just my own carelessness. As for the nature of my mistakes, my opinions, I find, change less and less. But my expression of those opinions is always in flux. This makes a blog a perpetual work in progress. Thanks for bearing with me!
Last night’s broadcast of the National, the CBC’s flagship national newsprogram, was devoted entirely to the Toronto Raptors winning the NBA basketball program.
The whole damn program.
There are so many things wrong with this. Why devote so much time to a sports story? It’s “news” only in the sense of being an attention-grabbing headline. And the thing is, the CBC’s sports coverage isn’t that good in the first place (and it wasn’t at all good in this instance), so who would be coming to the National to watch it?
I wish I could support the CBC more. I get the sense that they’re trying. I like the hosts of the National, and think they held on to Peter Mansbridge far too long. But they just seem to be flailing now. And they really have to do something about the number of local human interest stories that they’re regularly running on this program. These don’t belong on a national news broadcast.
I know these are tough times in the news business, but I don’t see how any of this is helping. Five minutes on the Raptors would have been plenty, even on a slow news day. It looks like we’re into a death spiral now.
Over at Alex on Film I’ve been watching the Hellraiser movies, minus the last couple. You can say I wanted to cut my losses.
It’s disappointing how the series never went anywhere. I loved the first Hellraiser, and was actually at the world premiere of the second. But later entries were just cash grabs for the limited cash to be grabbed from direct-to-video release, often injecting Pinhead into scripts pulled off the shelf that had no connection to the Hellraiser mythos. Here’s the line-up:
Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)
Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992)
Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996)
Hellraiser: Inferno (2000)
Hellraiser: Hellseeker (2002)
Hellraiser: Deader (2005)
Hellraiser: Hellworld (2005)
Over at Alex on Film I’ve posted my thoughts on Glass, which completes the M. Night Shyamalan comic-book trilogy begun with Unbreakable and Split. These movies make a welcome antidote to the usual run of Marvel movies, but I don’t think Shyamalan had enough to say to cover three films. Glass in particular seems to just be putting in time, before coming to no very great conclusion.