Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Albert Einstein

"Creativity is the residue of time wasted."

Review of John Carter

I knew nothing about this movie before I went to see it, and it was only after I viewed it, that I was made aware that it was based on Edgar Rice Burroughs classic comic-book novel, "A Princess of Mars."

John Carter was what the Star Wars prequels should have been – well put together, with solid performances, writing, and direction from Andrew Stanton – and although the CGI was excellent, it was far from being the only redeeming feature of the film.

I have since watched the trailer, and it is not a good indication of what John Carter has to offer. Frankly, I wouldn’t have been enthused about the prospect of sitting through the film, if I had seen the trailer first. I also have a problem with the film title “John Carter,” and think a more evocative title would have worked better. It's a shame that people may decide not to view the film, based on the trailer, because I was impressed and I have added this film to my list of transporting stories, gratifying to revisit every time I wish to escape my world.

The scope of the work is impressive, and the dialogue is tight, managing to successfully meld poignant and amusing moments. It’s action-packed, and the world on Mars is believable, no doubt due to the script being based on Burroughs novel.

The transition between both worlds could have been smoother. Having no prior knowledge of the film, when the first Mars scene-change to Earth had continued for a protracted period of time, I was left wondering if the starting sequence on Mars was a prelude to another movie. This impression was quickly readjusted, when the action shifted back to Mars, and the story flowed well.

The surreal and the other-worldly has been done to death, and done recently; but, this film feels fresh and it’s supported by the aforementioned redeeming features of solid direction, acting and script. I recommend it, and think there’s room here for a sequel. But don’t take my word for it, go see it yourself.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

It’s the cashier line up for me

I really dislike the self-service machines in supermarkets. Yes, they’re sometimes quicker, yes, the lines are often shorter, but the truth is, for the most part, they just don’t bloody work.

Shopping is not my favourite task. I become side-tracked, I always forget the damn toilet paper and I somehow manage to come home with broken eggs, after carefully checking the case. In the city, it is worse, people are harried and rushed. As soon as I think I know where things are, management move the shelving. And then there’s the checkout.

Half the time I join that line of resigned, exhausted people, fervently hoping I don’t have to speak to anyone, only to be harassed by an accusing machine, “please put the item in the bagging area, and please remove the item from the bagging area”. The other thing I loathe about self-service is the bagging. Sometimes I will pull out my bag from home only to have the thing shriek out again “please remove the item from the bagging area.”

I then signal the very individual I don’t want to talk too – a customer-service assistant – and point helplessly while they stuff around with keys. Lightning-fast fingers tapping keys and overriding functions, then, satisfied; they walk off to the next exasperated consumer of goods.

Only to have my frustrated hand rise quivering again, then turn to gesturing wildly, as my concerns over the machine demanding the weight of asparagus priced by the bunch, are ignored. Meanwhile, the line of cashier service is flowing faster, and I’m having more of an interaction with the customer-service assistant than I would if I were in front of a cashier.

The one good thing about these self-service machines is that people rarely have the opportunity to do the quick dash to grab something they are missing, unlike cashier service, where the malevolent eyes of the whole line-up behind them glare at the customer and the gormless cashier. The bad thing is that I can’t myself run off, for something I’ve missed.

It’s not all bad, I could potentially put my heritage tomatoes through as regular tomatoes, but somehow when faced with all the choices I feel as if the machine, with its loud, insistent squawk is watching me, and so I stay safely within the frustrating bounds of the law. The self-service machines are sometimes faster, but faced with all the problems I’m now unwilling to take the risk. It’s the cashier line up for me.