Ah…sweet liquor eases the pain

I went to see “The Simpsons Movie” last weekend, and very entertaining it was too. It was more like an extra-long version of the TV show than a proper feature film, but in an age where most summer blockbusters are just glorified advertisements for tie-in merchandise that hardly counts as a criticism, especially when the TV show in question is one of the finest comedies ever broadcast. There was the anticipated high quota of visual and verbal jokes, the trademark sharp social comment, and moments of wild surrealism. It wasn’t perfect though; the plot seemed a little over-extended, and I felt that more use could have been made of the the broad cast of characters that for me has always been the great strength of the show. Most of Springfield’s residents did feature at one point or another, but, Ned Flanders aside, none of them were really integral to the story. These are minor quibbles though, and I doubt I’ll laugh as much at any other film this year.

I don’t think that I could write anything about the broader cultural phenomenon that is “The Simpsons” that hasn’t been said already, so I’ll just note that I concur with the general opinion that the show is not as funny as it used to be. My all-time favourite episode is “Bart’s Inner Child” from season five, but every show from the first eight years is guaranteed to have a host of quotable lines.

Intriguingly, the end of the Simpsons’ golden age (as I see it) coincides exactly with my 30th birthday…

Endless Vacation

I’ve been reading reviews of the film Hostel 2, which was released in the UK the other week. Critics over here are fairly unanimous in the opinion that the movie is an unpleasantly misogynistic piece of crap. US film writers pretty much hold that view too, though a few do buy into director Eli Roth’s explanation that his film is not actually a cheap exploitation flick, pandering to the worst instincts of sick individuals who like to fantasise about torturing young women, but is in fact a serious work of horror, which performs the traditional role of the genre by allowing the audience to exorcise their subconscious fears through a cathartic experience of vicarious menace.

I haven’t seen the film myself, or its predecessor, so I don’t really have an opinion on whether Roth has a point or not. Whichever way you look at it though, the fact that there is enough of an audience in the US to make this movie a commercial proposition tells us something interesting about the current state of the collective American psyche. Either casual sadism is becoming more mainstream, or paranoia has become so widespread that people really worry that stepping over the border carries a risk of being kidnapped and murdered by sinister foreigners. Thinking about how this might translate into US foreign policy is the sort of thing that keeps faint-hearted Europeans like me awake at night.

How long is too long?

In an early days of this column, I wrote a post comparing the experience of starting a blog to falling in love. Well now I’m at that stage of the relationship where the initial ardour has cooled, and I haven’t been in touch for a while. I’m wondering if I’ve left it too long, and if calling now is going to be so horribly awkward that I should just forget about it.

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