Showing posts from December, 2015

Fifteen Dogs (book)

Fifteen Dogs (Written by André Alexis)/2015 This is a gem of a book by Toronto based writer André Alexis. One day the gods Apollo and Hermes ha ve a bet : what if dogs had the intelligence of humans? Will they be happier? The two wage a bet for a year of servitude on whether any of them would die happy.   What follows is both a sweet and hilarious account of fifteen dogs building a small civilisation. Initially, from my anthropocentric perspective, the novel seemed like an existentialist satire. These dogs were a metaphor for the human condition. When the dogs gain intelligence and become self-aware, they realise they are no longer like other dogs. Some try to maintain their old way of life because they feel that it is not ‘natural’ to be who they are. Others go on to philosophise, recite poetry, ponder about the world, get into politics: everything I would associate with natural human behaviour.   On further reading however I realised that humans and dogs are not that dif

Mississippi Grind (film)

Mississippi Grind (Directed by Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden)/2015 Mississippi Grind is a film that looks at a chance encounter between two men and how it unfolds as the pair goes on an adventure. Curtis (Ryan Reynolds) is fun, outgoing, handsome and charismatic. Gerry (Ben Mendelsohn) is meek, quiet, suspicious and seems tired. They have one thing in common and that is gambling. However, for Curtis gambling is a means to an end, to live comfortably without having to commit to employment;  he leads a nomadic life between various relationships and locations. For Gerry, gambling is IT. It has consumed him completely; he has no family or friends although it seems that he used to.  He is paralysed by thoughts of gambling or getting money to gamble. Gerry takes no pleasure in material wealth resulting from gambling nor any other aspects of life.  Ben Mend elsohn does a stirling job of portraying this shameful and miserable (yet vulnerable) character. Curtis is both shocked and d

Barry Lyndon (film)

Barry Lyndon by Stanley Kubrick was the first film I loved. It was the first time I watched a film and repeated scenes on YouTube for pure aesthetic joy. Some of the scenes are so beautiful that they stand alone as pieces of art in their own right without needing to be appreciated in the context of a story. In a way, some scenes can be appreciated as if they were videos to the Schubert tracks that play in the background; music that never had videos but is deserving of something as special as what Kubrick had to offer. The aesthetic of the film was so important to Kubrick that he had to get a special camera lenses from NASA that would work with candle-light. Only candle-light could capture the realities of 18th century lighting and provide something delicate and haunting enough to make the visual statement that Kubrick was after. The story is about a rogue opportunist called Redmond Barry. Barry comes from the countryside of Ireland and through a series of adventures and devious act