ianmackinnon.co.uk http://ianmackinnon.co.uk Personal site of the British film-maker Ian Mackinnon Radiohead - House of cards New music video: 'Radiohead - House of cards'. http://ianmackinnon.co.uk/radiohead-houseofcards http://ianmackinnon.co.uk/radiohead-houseofcards Film review: No Country for Old Men (2007) Joel & Ethan Coen In the past, watching the Coens messing around was fun and often hilarious, later it became tedious and then irrelevant. Thankfully this film contains very little messing around. The first two thirds are the best work they have done for a long time, and could have produced a near-perfect bag-full-of-money movie. Unfortunately this is abandoned in order to pursue an abortive ending. Instead of the plot reaching a conclusion, it is allowed to peter out through variations on previous scenes, and is terminated by a soft and sentimental monologue. Worth watching for the good bits, but not a fulfilling story. http://ianmackinnon.co.uk/reviews/films#nocountryforoldmen2007joelðancoen http://ianmackinnon.co.uk/reviews/films#nocountryforoldmen2007joelðancoen Film review: Rosemary's Baby (1968) Roman Polanski Generic conspiracy plot with the predictable problem: either there is a conspiracy or there isn't. Both possible endings are easy to imagine, and therefore boring. As with 'The Wicker Man', the revelation scene is genuinely thrilling at it's climax (the line 'What have you done to it's eyes?' is the direct equivalent of 'Oh God! Oh Jesus Christ!' in that film), but this and the other enjoyable details do little to shore up the weak plot. Great camerawork, casting and production, shame about the story. http://ianmackinnon.co.uk/reviews/films#rosemarysbaby1968romanpolanski http://ianmackinnon.co.uk/reviews/films#rosemarysbaby1968romanpolanski Book review: Herzog (1964) Saul Bellow Some wonderful scenes and many terrific details, but I still found the first two thirds to be quite a chore. Despite its qualities, the basic premise of following around an frivolous and decadent person who refuses to confront the reasons for his misfortune is a dull one. It's not until late in the book, when he starts acting with some sort of intention, that things become interesting and rewarding, and the details meaningful. On top of this, I found keeping concentration through many of the protagonist's tedious and almost meaningless letters to be near impossible, whatever their spin on the plot. Eventually good, but often hard and unpleasant work. http://ianmackinnon.co.uk/reviews/books#herzog1964saulbellow http://ianmackinnon.co.uk/reviews/books#herzog1964saulbellow Film review: The Fast and the Furious (2001) Rob Cohen Wow! Vin Diesel and his generic sidekick totally saved those DVD players! Those all-American boys sure showed them villainous foreign dudes in their evil and inferior imported cars. A tender tribute to the homegrown manufacturing industry. http://ianmackinnon.co.uk/reviews/films#thefastandthefurious2001robcohen http://ianmackinnon.co.uk/reviews/films#thefastandthefurious2001robcohen Book review: On Power And Ideology (1986) Noam Chomsky A superb, broad and helpfully structured introduction to Chomsky's analysis of the methods of powerful states. I have listened previously to many of his lectures, but none have clearly joined so many of his ideas together as these. His occasional sarcastic comments and quoting of those who he criticises is unfortunate, since it might easily be mistaken for treating serious issues lightly, and could easily be confusing for some readers coming to his ideas for the first time. However this is an almost irrelevantly minor criticism when compared to the staggering work he has achieved. http://ianmackinnon.co.uk/reviews/books#onpowerandideology1986noamchomsky http://ianmackinnon.co.uk/reviews/books#onpowerandideology1986noamchomsky Film review: The Seven Year Itch (1955) Billy Wilder Disappointing. Contains a weak story, static one-dimensional characters, and few of the clever and surprising moments that Wilder is famous for. http://ianmackinnon.co.uk/reviews/films#thesevenyearitch1955billywilder http://ianmackinnon.co.uk/reviews/films#thesevenyearitch1955billywilder Adjustment awarded Flying Camera, Special Prize, Up-And-Coming, Germany, 2007 http://ianmackinnon.co.uk/awards#flyingcameraspecialprizeup-and-cominggermany2007adjustment http://ianmackinnon.co.uk/awards#flyingcameraspecialprizeup-and-cominggermany2007adjustment Adjustment awarded Honorary, Diploma, Etiuda & Anima, Poland, 2007 http://ianmackinnon.co.uk/awards#honorarydiplomaetiuda&animapoland2007adjustment http://ianmackinnon.co.uk/awards#honorarydiplomaetiuda&animapoland2007adjustment Adjustment awarded Special Mention, Siena Short, Film Fest, Italy, 2007 "The technique is used as a means to tell the story and not only as an experimental component "per se". The animation is very smooth, well done and imaginative. It succeeds in telling a story straddling reality and the imaginary world, mixing the techniques of fiction and animation, in particular that of the flip-book". http://ianmackinnon.co.uk/awards#specialmentionsienashortfilmfestitaly2007adjustment http://ianmackinnon.co.uk/awards#specialmentionsienashortfilmfestitaly2007adjustment Book review: Don't think of an elephant! (2004) George Lakoff Marginally better than you might expect for a book with an exclamation point in it's title, but still pretty awful. His assertions about the way political debate can be skewed by manipulative framing of questions is interesting, as are his opinions of the strategies of the Republican party. His dogmatic belief in the saintliness of Democrats and 'progressives' is not interesting, being as it is simplistic propaganda (a term which he only partially understands, given his definition of it). It is repetitive, one sided, and omits obvious evidence against it's argument (that 'progressive' governments are like a nurturing family). The bombing of Serbia was not nurturing, neither was NAFTA or the more militaristic exploitation of South America under Clinton, so these are not mentioned in the book alongside the copious references to Republican crimes. Writing a pseudo scientific book full of your own unfounded ideological beliefs makes you an idiot, even if you are a best-selling idiot. The comparison with Chomsky's rational and equal questioning of ideas, with assertions based on observable and presented evidence (also within in an examination of linguistics) is incredible. http://ianmackinnon.co.uk/reviews/books#dontthinkofanelephant2004georgelakoff http://ianmackinnon.co.uk/reviews/books#dontthinkofanelephant2004georgelakoff Book review: Language and problems of knowledge, the Managua lectures (1988) Noam Chomsky Staggeringly informative primer on universal grammar and approaches to studying human language, which along the way gives tremendous and clear insights into science, sociology, politics, and human biology. The responses to listeners' questions are perhaps even more stimulating than the lectures themselves. How can one man contain and articulate so much knowledge? I found chapter four (case theory) to be quite confusingly structured and thought it could have benefited from reordering and some better diagrams (e.g. trees rather than bracketed sentences). Also I was left wondering about how Chomsky bases his argument that humans should be allowed to be productive and social under their own command in accordance with their natural desire. When all his other reasoning is so comprehensively argues it bothers me that he resists providing a formal explanation for this.\\\The idea that human number capacity probably stems from language (the capacity for discrete infinity being the defining characteristic) was quite remarkable, and convincingly argued. Some other quotes I found particularly interesting: "it is quite possible--overwhelmingly probable, one might guess--that we will always learn more about human life and human personality from novels than from scientific psychology." "at MIT the physics department does not have a course in experimental methods, but many psychology departments spend a lot of time on what they call methodology. Well, there's a lesson there, but I won't draw it." The accompanying volume of political lectures given in the same week has just arrived at my door and I'm eager to get stuck in. http://ianmackinnon.co.uk/reviews/books#languageandproblemsofknowledgethemanagualectures1988noamchomsky http://ianmackinnon.co.uk/reviews/books#languageandproblemsofknowledgethemanagualectures1988noamchomsky Film review: Language Lessons (1994) Steve Hawley & Tony Steygel So whimsical as to diffuse either any serious information or the nuanced personalities of the subjects. Uses unnatural locked-off camera shots that make the participants look alien and so quirky as to be irrelevant. Shamelessly and lazily lifts most of it's factual information verbatim from J.A. Large's book, The Artificial Language Movement. Coherence collapses under several competing structures. Still interesting, but could have been so much better in almost every way. http://ianmackinnon.co.uk/reviews/films#languagelessons1994stevehawley&tonysteygel http://ianmackinnon.co.uk/reviews/films#languagelessons1994stevehawley&tonysteygel Film review: Poto and Cabengo (1980) Jean-Pierre Gorin Fascinating, experimental and sweet, but ultimately dissatisfying. There are just too many disconnected story strands to make a unified film. There's the twins' supposed invented language, which is explained away well before the end, there's the parents' financial problems, exploitation by the media, themes of immigration and inability to fit in that resonate with the film-maker as well as the character's, and there's the ambiguous relationship between the twins and the film-maker. It's wonderfully rich but it's all over the place. Various events are commented on without being introduced, and then there are the confusing (and fairly ineffectual) freeze frames, sound looping and endless sequences of black, all of which get pretty tedious pretty quickly. On the good side, the shot of the parents role playing at buying a house is immensely sweet and very revealing, and the film is generally more openly honest than many documentaries. More good than bad, but severely messy. http://ianmackinnon.co.uk/reviews/films#potoandcabengo1980jean-pierregorin http://ianmackinnon.co.uk/reviews/films#potoandcabengo1980jean-pierregorin Disoyster My antique Oyster card wallet is splitting apart due to a sudden accumulation of library, video store, and other miscellaneous membership cards cards. I cheekily asked for a replacement today at the tube station and was mortified to be handed a black one. I thought I might have been mistaken for a pensioner, a student, a goth, or some other demographic entitled to their own wallet sub-species, but no. Apparently they've just changed colour.\\\I was surprised at how diappointed I was and took a moment to examine why. The Oyster wallet is not only the perfect minimal wallet solution (beating the Muji business card holder in both number of pockets and flexible back-pocket comfort if not reflectivity or futuristicness), it is also culturally significant. That unique blue (the Pantone reference temporarily escapes me) discreetly but definitely identifies the bearer as a Londoner. Flipping it out in foreign lands to extract some exotic bills is somehow thrilling; I enjoy the sudden throwing together of the adventurous and the homely, but perhaps more the idea that I might be recognised from this small action by a fellow Londoner far from home. Now any cheap-black-plastic-wallet-bearing nobody from anywhere in the world might want to be my wallet buddy. What kind of a fruitcake uses a plastic wallet? http://ianmackinnon.co.uk/blog#20071121134812-disoyster http://ianmackinnon.co.uk/blog#20071121134812-disoyster