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Archive for March, 2008

Zombies and Handycams

I’ve never seen the ‘Blair Witch Project’, nor do I intend to any time soon, however after watching ‘Diary of The Dead,’ (yes I know) I felt compelled to write something about this new fad in horror movies, namely, ‘faux D.I.Y. film-making’…that is when a film is shot/shown through the ‘eyes’ of a camcorder, complete with shaky camera movements to create a new level of realism, evoking fear and terror.

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Taken from the Wikipedia entry on Shaky camera [wow I sound nerdy]

Shaky camera is a cinematographic technique where stable image techniques are dispensed with on purpose. It gives a film sequence an ad-hoc, news, or documentary feel. It suggests unrehearsed filming of reality in a situation where stable image techniques cannot be applied (this situation may or may not really apply). Thus a sense of dynamics is provided at the cost of the traditional objective of showing as “well” as possible the people/objects/action being filmed.

Diary of the Dead is one such film and ranks in my top 5 worst films of the last decade, nestling just above Triple X and just below ‘Punisher’ (feat. John Travolta)….The story was ABYSMAL, but I won’t dwell on that…..lets just say the Zombie genre is truly dead, and is not ‘coming back alive,’ contrary to popular opinion.

0a730fd1-6721-41bb-b242-8597273f750c.hmedium Reading this, you may recall the film ‘Cloverfield’ which recently graced the cinema screens….a 20-something drama purportedly shot on a camcorder which suddenly erupts into a ‘monster attack on New York’, not dissimilar to the Jamiroquai video, ‘Deeper Underground’…….minus the funk of Jay Kay, or indeed Godzilla. Watching Cloverfield, you may wonder what model camcorder the main protagonist was using, because it seemed to be powered by a battery pack with seemingly infinite capacity and have the ability to focus as well as the Hubble Space telescope, thus reducing the film’s believability and terror…

I’m not sure why movie makers think this new way of portraying a story will engage audiences better, however as we all well know too often, special fx, even retrograde ones, are no substitute for a poor script.

I have yet to see a shaky camera horror film which accurately replicates the voyeurism, shock and sheer panic conveyed in ‘home-videos’ of real life horrors ranging from 9/11 to the beating of Rodney King……but nor would I want to…those films WERE real. Real enough to make me pause and reflect, mainly because the source material was the world outside my front door, the actors were my fellow citizens and the director was us, the human ego.

On the otherside, one example of shaky camera technique which has ENHANCED fiction, is the UK (and US) version of ‘The Office’, hilarious and far more realistic than its feature length cousins in the horror genre.

‘Camcorder fx’ in horror films has been played out and should be left at home with miniatures and matte composting ….a relic of experimental movie making.

Maybe the reason this sub-genre has been created is the desire to shift us from viewers of movies to ‘actors’ in movies, to put us in the driving seat… a more effective way to deliver horror perhaps?

Why would we ever want to have ringside seats in a horror film….where does this desire stem from? Our our own lives not enriching enough that we seek escapism in the celluloid to such a level that we can live parallel lives, one seemingly mundane and the other viewed through the viewfinder of a miniDV video camera?

I’ll end this rant by adding that I won’t look to reviews of movies as a reliable source of information. Part of the reason I even saw this film was the raving reviews a lot of respected critics (like Empire film magazine) gave this film…..

One way i read reviews is by looking at www.metacritic.com …a website that amalgamates reviews from many different sources to give an overall ‘meta score’….. interestingly enough Diary of the Dead was given a relatively high score for a horror film…

Independent Investigation of Truth has never been more alive……however maybe I shouldn’t be watching these kind of movies when I’m undergoing the spiritual rejuvenation that arises from the Fast.

Lets hope the acuity of my inner eye is increasing so that I can be more discerning with my future film choices…

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Fast food

So day 5 of the Baha’i fast ends…..

I think the fast is a wonderful thing and like many things, I feel it is only understood properly by those who have the bounty to participate…..

What always amuses me is the ‘tried and tested’ things people begin their day with. A range of ‘sure-shot’ methods to keep hunger pangs away, but I think the answer to controlling hunger lies in the mind.

Some of the friends tell me they what eat before sunrise. It includes:

Bread: brown or white, seeded, unseeded, rye organic gluten free soya encrusted with seeds of a magic elderberry tree, or without crust [my brother’s preference]

Cereal especially muesli or shredded wheat types..

Porridge

Full English (Eggs, Toast, Baked Beans) [not advisable, plus baked beans cause extra problems other than ‘fast’ breath]

Fruit, usually Bananas

Tea- Green/White, English Breakfast or Earl Grey for those classy clientèle

Coffee (dehydrant-not a wise choice)

Water (2 glasses, but upto 6!)

Eggs-scrambled, fried, but never fertilised.

Typical Breakie

On the other hand, some of the things people break the fast with, after sunset, and usually after praying:

Big Mac

Pizza

Fried Chicken

Subway with EVERYTHING in it.

Indian food/Chinese food (but about 2 extra dishes than normal)

Nandos 1/2 Chicken plus 2 side orders (usually fries being one of them) and a ‘bottom less drink’

Kebab

Kabob

Potato Chips/Crisps

Salad

Figs

Nandos [again]

I think its very interesting that the morning starts off so well, but by the time its breaking the fast time, once the sun goes down, the werewolf comes out and we’re ready to devour any beast in our focus….. those who break the fast with a salad are certainly in the minority.

Sometimes we are so eager to eat we don’t let our food digest. Or we have many courses to satisfy our lustful appetites…but Baha’u’llah tells us that a one course meal is more pleasing in the sight of God!

” In all circumstances they should conduct themselves with moderation; if the meal be only one course this is more pleasing in the sight of God; however, according to their means, they should seek to have this single dish be of good quality.”(Bahá’u’lláh: Kitáb-i-Badi, Ibid-Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 294)

I wonder how many of us break the fast with a drink of water first? Baha’u’llah says in the Lawh-i-Tibb, the Tablet of Medicine, in a provisional translation:

“Begin first with liquid food before partaking of solid food. The taking of food before what you have (already eaten) is digested, is dangerous–avoid this.”

also:

“He who over-eats, his illness becomes more severe. “”When you begin to eat, begin with My Name El Abhá, and finish with the Name of God the Possessor of the Throne and the earth. When you have eaten walk a little that the food may settle. What is difficult to masticate is forbidden by the Wise. –Thus the Supreme Pen Commands you. “

All very interesting…. something to ponder next time we break the fast perhaps, or start it…….

Ronster signing out!

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