Monday, January 19, 2004

Service Announcement

Apologies to those of you who have tried to access the site over the weekend. There appears to have been a problem with Easyspace's servers but things seem to have got sorted by teatime today and I'm hopeful there will be no further breaks in transmission. To be fair to Easyspace this is the first major outage in over two years of hosting Parallax View so I shan't be stamping my feet too loud, and visitor levels tend to be lower at the weekend anyway, when you lot haven't got work to be distracted from.

I can't pretend, I'm afraid, that I used this downtime doing anything productive, as I spent Saturday at work doing overtime and then in the evening I gnashed my teeth listening to the digital radio as West Ham tossed away a 3-1 half-team lead at Sheffield United, conceding an equaliser late into injury time. I also watched a couple of DVDs - starting with Dark Blue, a police thriller set in LA starring Kurt Russell as a corrupt cop whose cocky swagger steadily gives way to self-loathing as the reality of his circumstances and occupation hit home during the aftermath of the Rodney King incident. You could criticise it for having a reach exceeding its grasp, but I'd rather give the film credit for seeking some form of social resonance and also for having the nerve to rub Hollywood's nose in LA's recent and uncomfortable past. Russell gives arguably the best performance of his non-Snake Plissken career and the scene where he is chasing two felons (who include rap star Kurupt) through the riot-strewn streets are thrillingly shot. This one's definitely worth a rental and a more than honorable 7 out of 10.

Watching Brian de Palma's Femme Fatale was a less happy experience. There's an extended heist sequence towards the beginning of the film which is satisfyingly intricate, clever and sensual, and for this alone, it might be worth a rental for BdP fans or lovers of Hitchcock pastiches. The rest of the film, however, is substandard stuff where we learn nothing more than that Rebecca Romijn-Stamos has a great arse and that Antonio Banderas' career desperately needs another helping hand from his old mentor Almodovar. Throw in an irritating 'dream sequence' which aims for the mystery of Mulholland Drive but in fact leaves you feeling as let down as by that infamous series of Dallas, and you have dePalma's most risible offering to date. He's made some meretricious efforts before, of course, but usually they've been elevated by a barnstorming central performance, while here Romijn-Stamos and Banderas contribute gravitas-defying turns that contribute to the malaise rather than arresting it. 5 out of 10 for the heist sequence alone.

I also finished off Miami Purity at the weekend, which is the very first 'femme noir' novel from Vicki Hendricks, a used copy of which I picked up from amazon at a snip. It features a former stripper who tries to start her life anew (following the accidental death of her abusive partner) by working at a dry cleaners, only to find herself falling for her boss' charming son with steamy but deadly consequences. Hendricks' 'easy' style draws you into a neat but nasty tale despite the unsympathetic characters she portrays, making turning the page a pressing engagement you just can't miss.

Some sad news in over the weekend that cricket coach David Hookes has been killed after trying to protect his skipper Darren Lehmann in a bar brawl. Hookes proved a batsman of real flair during his 23 tests for the Aussies in the 70s and early 80s, and his death in such unnecessary circumstances is a terrible shame. And just in case you missed it rap star Mystikal has been jailed for six years after being found guilty of forcing a hairdresser to perform sex acts upon him at his appartment in the summer of 2002.


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