Saturday, 28 May 2011

Kindergarten Diplomacy

 So I've been teaching for around two years now, on and off, and teaching Kindergarten for about a year of that, which has been pretty great to be honest. If you like kids, then getting paid to sing, dance and play games is living the dream, my friend. Though I think what's most fascinating about the experience is seeing how they deal with each other. Watching them interact tells you more about undiluted human thinking and behaviour than anything I've ever read or seen. It's like a daily version of the most adorable Shakespearean play ever, only without the murder.

Fights, to begin with, are amazing. Not physical fights, but disagreements over crayon ownership, who is whose friend and the like. These often end with a 'You're not my friend!' followed by a hopeful 'Are you my friend?' to another student not long after this. Allegiances like this are commonly formed and broken between 5-10 times daily. They normally just slip away as attention is drawn elsewhere, but treaties are often brokered with an offer of sharing or through some hilarious poo-poo related humour.

Fighting's old drinking buddy, jealousy, is rife too. If someone has something, you can be damned sure everyone else wants one. I mean, why should only they have that pen/ book/ hat right? Just another reason for fighting I suppose. So I do my best. I placate and distract, and often things are back to normality in less than five minutes. Even the very worst situations, those that involve crying, are past history in a little over ten.

The most interesting thing to me though, is the similarity to 'adult' arguments. The main difference's being that they tend to last a lot longer, and are normally only buoyed by stubbornness and a better memory. It sort of demonstrates what I've always suspected - how pointless most arguments and disagreements between friends are, at any age. Among people I have known it's a rare occasion when I ever see something good come out of an argument and it often just ends up with people who were close moving further apart.

Maybe it's an effective way to communicate for some, but I've always thought that there are better options. Actual, proper talking is a good start. And at the end of the day, most arguments aren't of any more importance than crayon ownership really. So quit arguing, you babies.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Geek Zodiac

So a friend of mine has been working on this for a while and the current, and I think final, version of it has just been released. It's a great idea and you should all check it out. They've also started some lovely, deeply tongue in cheek horoscopes that are also a lot of fun. Check them out here- Geek Zodiac

I'm not going to do this too often, but I really like this idea and I hope the two guys working on it can make a fat stack of cash from it. So go, support them! Regular-ish service will commence next week!

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Enter The Void

 'Enter the Void' is not an easy film to write about. It's not an easy film to watch either, for that matter. Yet for both of these things, it's hard not to. I've been talking about it all week now and I still find any way I try to describe it to be imprecise and unsatisfying; the experience it creates really demands that it's felt, heard and seen. Which isn't to say it's a film I'd recommend you to see, lord no, but I absolutely think it's one you should see.

'Enter The Void' concerns the life and death of a man called Oscar. A man whose eyes you you'll see the entire film through. Spoilers, I guess, but it happens fairly early on and is signposted from about 2 minutes in, so deal with it. Anyway, it's his death and the journey he takes after the fact that drives the majority of the film and creates the experience I'm talking about. Oscar spends the movie travelling through the lives of those he knew in life and revisits his past and his relationship with his sister. It's not an easy ride. Something I thought about a lot while watching the film was finding the best word I could use to describe what I was watching. Harrowing came to mind. Unsettling and disturbing, too. The problem was that none of them seemed to fit and all of them made the film sound a lot worse than it is. You see, it is hard to watch, but that's the idea. Death would be fairly unsettling, I'd imagine.
It isn't some kind of intellectual odyssey either. It doesn't answer any big questions about life and death or even really offer a good interpretation of what is or is not out there, nor does it really want to. It just forces you to think about these things in a whole new way. A way that's quite compelling, refreshing and a little scary. It's as if Gasper Noe had popped your brain open and sprinkled some fairy dust inside. The question is- how evil is that fairy dust?

Not doing the best job of selling it so far, am I? Honestly, I don't think I could if I tried. What I will say though, is that it's stunning to watch. The camera work and the use of visuals are like nothing else you'll have seen. Matched with the film's incredible sound and music it is almost otherworldly. We're presented with elements that will be familiar to all of us, but they're just a little... off. Ambitious, but director Gasper Noe handles it confidently and you never question the vision he's presenting to you. The movie has it's flaws- the acting and storyline can often be poor, but part of me thinks this was a conscious decision so as not to draw your attention away from the journey we're being taken on. It is the core of the film after all.

You know, few things have ever gotten under my skin like this has. 'Fight Club' did at first (though looking back now I sometimes wonder why) as did some Cronenberg, but what 'Enter the Void' most reminds me of is Iain Banks book 'Complicity'. Banks also puts you in someone else's shoes to great effect, and it's something that has stayed with me for about 15 years. Only in the case of Banks, he's making you a murderer, not a victim. Either way, it's a powerful narrative tool when used effectively.

It isn't for everyone. I hope I've said enough to allow you to make up your mind either way. Though it does do exactly what I think cinema should do more often- create an experience, puts you somewhere else, in someone else's life (or death) in a way that only cinema can. So, if you think you're up for it, check it out. Just don't say I (sort of) didn't warn you.