Movie marathons

Got through another Christmas. I am not prone to cheap sentiment at this time of year. While I am not cynical about the holiday - I appreciate the idea of refocusing on some of the more pleasant aspects of human character as much as anyone - I do find the pressure to spend money and offer gifts has become something of a burden.

Of the gifts I received the DVD of a television programme The Long Way Round (from my son) was my favourite. It follows a couple of soft actors - Euan McGregor (Trainspotting, Moulin Rouge, Star Wars) and Charlie Boorman (?) as they traverse the planet from London to New York - across Europe, through Russia, Khazakstan, Mongolia, Siberia etc, across to Alaska, Canada and the USA. The seven episodes are riveting. It shows the planning to the completion of the journey with hand held cameras and cameras mounted on the bikes (big BMW enduro machines). There are moments during their trip when I wondered how I would have dealt the hardships they endured. Imagine being bogged down in the Siberian wilderness or your bike's frame snapping in half in the middle of nowhere. I have to admit to getting a little annoyed by the two travellers from time to time - but only in the same good natured way they became annoyed with each other, in frustration with being in one another's company without interruption for such a stretch (yes, I watched the whole seven hours in a marathon sitting).

It occurs to me that this simple style of film making can be as compelling and as epic as blockbusters like King Kong - which I took my son along to watch on the day before Christmas eve. It, too, is quite a spectacle and I was thoroughly entertained. Kong is much better than The Lord of the Rings . My main criticism of Peter Jackson's latest his his inclination to fall into a sense of cloying sentimentality with big strings. By that I don't mean the central proposition of two lonely or misplaced souls finding they can relate improbably across species and scale is tenuous - that is the Kong story, after all. But there are moments when Jackson's films fall into a syrupy bog with symphonic accompaniment. And am I alone in wondering if the music in Kong is almost the same as that in LoTR?.
Final thought on Kong: what happened to the scary Skull Islanders? After a fierce resistance they simply vanish? Expedience I suppose. I overheard someone telling a friend that they felt parts of King Kong didn't seem real. Aherm...

Idealog got a mention in this weekend's Herald Time Out section What We Are Reading - "Pretty hip for a business magazine." Maybe it is. But we have work to do to make issue two better than issue one.

So I better crack on with it.

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