When I finally got around to watching The Irishman, I had still been isolated from conventional and amateur critique about the film.
As a spectator, I formed the opinion pretty quickly that this was a love story. A salute to friendships between Hollywood legends who knew they might never work together again. Perhaps not even see each other again, all in the one place and time. And maybe it was also a tip of the hat to us, the audience, for making these artists into living legends, and coming back this one more time.
To put it another way, The Irishman is a gangster film the way Homer’s Odyssey is a gangster story. Or is the Odyssey a travelogue? Meaning that the Odyssey is both. And much more. Odysseus and his men were indeed roving bandits whose travels were recounted. There’s plenty of theft, murder, and gadding about the ancient world to lay it to waste. But along with it also comes a meditation on personal integrity, spirituality and the caprice of the gods (or fortune, as the case may be), on patriotism and duty as much as the lure of lust, gluttony, and narcissism.
February’s updates to ITIL, taking it from version 3 to version 4, strike me as largely cosmetic, and overly ambitious.
Although the diagrams have changed, the core ITIL processes haven’t, and the grab at incorporating agile methods, business process management, enterprise architecture, knowledge management, and security management strike me as overreach.
Each of those disciplines is a separate domain of professional practice in its own right. While it’s certainly true that ITIL practitioners should know about these practices, it strikes me that Axelos is aiming at creating proprietary ownership for the subject matter and certification rights.
Here’s the thing: we live in an era of imbecility. Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, and Scott Morrison have encouraged wilfully ignorant, aggressively stupid people to vigorously push cretinous ideas and propositions, demanding for them some kind of equivalence with facts, reasoned argument, and rationality.
Ugh! What a repugnant achievement.
In itself that wouldn’t be so bad. But since the late 1990s, our universities have no longer taught critical thinking. Not even in the humanities, which used to exist principally to teach critical analysis of information about our history, politics, philosophy, literature, and other arts. To create the intellectual engagement necessary to maintain liberal democracies, free from the depredations ushered in by the Trump-Johnson-Morrison imbeciles.
It took many night-time sittings, before going to sleep, to finish James Ellroy’s latest novel, This Storm (2019, Penguin, 608 pages, a hair-raising $33 for the paperback), the second book of his second ‘LA Quartet’.
When I discussed his last novel, Perfidia, I raised the dreadful possibility that maybe Ellroy might be past his prime.
I cannot now honestly say that he isn’t, but it might just be that he’s allowed his editors greater leeway than he should have. To sanitise his prose and rob the story of Ellroy’s trademark manic flavour.
This Storm continues a story arc set in LA during the early 1940s (so far), using most of the same characters as Perfidia. However, as ever, Ellroy is fond of killing some of his characters off along the way.
It’s not that I was surprised to read Peter Dutton making Coalition policy by media statement on Friday. It’s more that he would do so for the Indigenous Australians portfolio. It signals to the public and the party that the responsible minster, Ken Wyatt, is thus publicly stripped of any authority by the LPA’s extreme right wing, presumptively led by Home Affairs Minister Dutton after nihilist-in-chief Tony Abbott was voted out of Parliament.
Frankfurt School and Heidegger infuse von Donnersmarck’s film
The distraction of almost obtusely misleading subtitles aside, I was pretty much mesmerised by the first 45 minutes of the film, which had me close to tears on several occasions. Elisabeth May’s (Saskia Rosendahl) composition for Hitler, her desperate pleas with the stony SS doctor, Herr Professor Carl Seeband (Sebastian Koch), and the shower sequence, condemned as gratuitous and in bad taste by some reviewers (the New Yorker’s Antony Lane showed a rare lack of judgement in joining that choir).
Perhaps in writing and shooting the disputed sequences von Donnersmarck was concerned that we, as a contemporary audience far removed from the reality of such deeds, might miss the complete lack of empathy and human decency he was trying to express. It seems to me von Donnersmarck is right. Even those of us sensitive to such messages in film mostly do not see the real consequences of contemporary red pencil annotations, despite reading daily about shocking child abuse, suicide rates, drug addiction, homelessness, and the privations of poverty. We do not connect these with deliberate actions whose agents pretend they are only doing their jobs. Or who actually believe that some people should be made to suffer for the good of others.
This was going to be a film review. And it is. Kind of.
Actually, it’s probably got more in common with a potty old geezer messing around in an overgrown backyard, pretending he’s gardening, muttering to himself, and occasionally actually pulling a weed or two.
And so … I came across a preposterous ranking of Michael Caine’s films in the Guardian this weekend. Some plonker with the title of film editor at the UK branch demonstrated a serious lack of taste and insight into Caine’s films by putting Harry Palmer in the middle, Alfie at the front, and giving the number one slot to The Man Who Would Be King. Utter tosh.
Reading about the solidarity between the USA and UK about pointing the finger at Iran for the oil tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman recently, and the haste with which Western media uncritically reported these pointed fingers, I couldn’t help letting my mind wander a little. Why were Western analysts so quick to endorse ‘official’ statements? What should they be doing instead?
‘Teleology!’, I thought. The analysis of phenomena not by looking for causes, but by examining who benefits.
Australian Federal Police (AFP) raids on the public broadcaster, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), and News Corporation journalist Annika Smethurst’s private residence, are clear indications the AFP is being used to intimidate journalists and ‘whistleblowers’, meaning public servants willing to leak information about questionable government activities.