Trainspotting is from the oh-so-cool Pulp Fiction mold, the late-90s cult film that’s too popular to be a cult. I think this turned me off it first time round, and so I avoided it. But having seen it now, it does have some appeal, despite the largely unpleasant storyline and one genuinely shocking scene. The film walks a tightrope between promoting heroin use as acceptable (although never normal, never glamorous), and showing the downside. But it does have the guts to point out that heroin feels great - 1000 times better than an orgasm can’t be that bad, right? The consensual, liberal attitude of the film has appeal.

Nevertheless, Trainspotting really is a disgusting film - certainly not something to watch during dinner. It’s quite stylistic - a lot of the interior scenes are highly coloured, and there’s a club interior quite obviously stolen from A Clockwork Orange. There’s plenty of comedy, that peaks at a montage of sex scenes with mostly unexpected consequences.

DVDs Have Replaced VHS - but why?

I think it’s safe to say that DVD is now the distribution medium of choice for films (and TV programmes, etc.), rather than VHS. Most high street shops, whether selling or renting, stock DVDs in greater quantities than VHS, and some don’t stock VHS at all. This is also true of most online retailers.

But is anyone else surprised at how quickly this change has occurred? Technically speaking, DVDs aren’t that compelling. Sure, they have some advantages: the quality is better, they last longer, they are random-access. But are they that much better? Is the change entirely demand-side driven? Or are there good reasons for distributors to encourage the switch to DVD?

Alien Quadrilogy - 4 x 5

Alien: Nerve-racking, small, polished, gory, and a classic.

Aliens: Exciting, large, loud, glossy, and militaristic.

Alien 3: Awkward, bizarre, surprising, religious, and closeted.

Alien: Resurrection: Laughable, patchy, graphical, vague, and French.

The Outside World is Broken

My ADSL at home is currently broken. Unfortunately I’m with PlusNet, who don’t seem to care too much about their customers: I have had to run the gauntlet of poorly thought-out automated phone systems, long waits to speak to a human being, and support websites that don’t cut to the chase.

It’s an interesting illustration of how much I’ve come to rely on this communication mechanism, however. I’ve already had several instances over the past few days where I’ve tried to use my network connection on instinct - for example, looking up train times last night - before remembering it’s not there. I’m really not sure how healthy this is. Of course, a fast, always-on network connection is useful. But perhaps I shouldn’t rely on its presence as much as I do. What are your experiences of this? Do you feel uncomfortable when part of your connection to the modern world is broken?

Gaddafi: A Living Myth

I went to see Gaddafi last night. Sadly, it was a bit of a disappointment. Poor production values certainly conspired against it: sloppy stagecraft, unadventurous lighting and props, and sound quality that one wouldn’t expect from a theatre like the ENO. It appears it’s their first foray into something so modern and experimental, and it shows. Flaky choreography and a cluttered stage layout didn’t help either.

But the greater problems were in the recreation of the al-Gaddafi story. The script was badly developed, jumping around and never really deciding who Gaddafi was or what the story was about. The historical context was never clear, despite obvious attempts to convey it - apart from when it involved the west, when reliance on pre-recorded TV footage seemed to be the only way the director could sell his message. Apart from some vague sense that I probably wouldn’t like him, I learnt little about Gaddafi or Libya that I didn’t already know (and I’m hardly an expert). Some self-conscious statements about an actor playing Gaddafi, breaking the fourth wall, were arrogant and out-of-place.

The main redeeming feature of the production was the participation of the Asian Dub Foundation to provide its soundtrack: a well-balanced complement to the (intended) themes. This wasn’t enough to recover everything else, however.

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