Sunday, 15 February 2009

Five things I've learned from pop music

  1. "In World War II the average of the combat soldier was 26/In Vietnam he was 19" – Paul Hardcastle, 19
  2. "Just for the sake of it, make sure you're always frowning/It shows the world that you've got substance and depth" – Pet Shop Boys, Miserablism
  3. "The sun is a mass of incandescent gas/A gigantic nuclear furnace/Where hydrogen is built into helium/At a temperature of millions of degrees"– They Might Be Giants, Why Does The Sun Shine?
  4. "Two things you should be slow to criticise: a man's choice of woman and his choice of work" – Prefab Sprout, Jordan: The Comeback
  5. The Rain Falls Deepest On The Shortest Haircut – The Lilac Time, b-side to Dreaming

A couple of film things

Following the BAFTAs, someone suggested Israeli movie Waltz With Bashir should have won the award for the best film in a foreign language, rather than I've Loved You So Long, the French drama starring a rather wonderful Kristin Scott Thomas. This could be indicative of a continuing anti-animation bias, or snobbishness, but I do think I've Loved You… is the better film. (Waltz is essentially a rather straight, personal documentary with some very beautiful artistry on top.)

I'm still bothered, however, by I've Loved You's tremendously limp, if not downright nonsensical, ending. Throughout the film I was convinced we would discover that Scott Thomas's character, Juliette, was covering for her younger sister, Léa (the equally brilliant Elsa Zilberstein), that Léa had killed Juliette's young child, and had blanked this childhood trauma from her mind. The actual ending is tremendously disappointing; a good film that needs a final kick in the tail to become a great one?

I hope the Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan is up there next time with a BAFTA nomination for his typically gloomy Three Monkeys. Beautifully filmed, as ever, I hope that he will one day tackle a Simenon adaptation, he has such a knack for capturing humanity, and atmosphere. There's some lovely characterisation in Three Monkeys, and all those train whistles, creaking doors and boat horns would fit directly the world of Simenon, a world of misplaced people, looks and wishes.