There was no news coverage about this comet in Norway, France or England/Wales, so we didn’t know that the night of our return was the night of the brightest showing of the brightest comet for decades (who else remembers the fizzer of Halley’s Comet last time around?). Had occasion to be on the roads about 8:30pm on Monday night and saw people in the next street standing out and looking at the horizon but didn’t stop to ask them what they were looking at, so missed it totally.
Meant to check it out at sunset tonight but forgot. Raced out at 9pm and looked to the west, but no comet. However, I did see the brightest meteor cross the sky that I have ever seen. For the benefit of any astronomers:
Sighting time: between 20:57 and 21:01 hours AESummerT.
Arc: started between Canopus and Achenor (cloud cover meant I could only distinguish the higher magnitude stars) and arced West-North-West. Extended across at least a quarter of the sky before I lost it behind tree foliage. Will probably land in WA or even Madagascar if it doesn’t drop in the Indian Ocean.
Was much more interesting than the so-called stars parading in the Golden Globes. I love the work of talented actors in well-made films, but I can’t imagine anything more vacuous than getting gussied up for the awards nights. I know it’s part of marketing themselves for future castings but I don’t envy them the “glamour” one little bit. How their cheek muscles must ache by the end of the night.
Still, I’m glad Helen Mirren got the nod for The Queen. I hope her streak of recognition continues across the BAFTAs and Oscars. I watched it on the plane coming back from Heathrow and her performance was utterly extraordinary. The supporting cast and the writing, the interweaving of scenes with newscast footage and the confidence to allow a measured pace gave the film a dignity that I feel QEII deserves – I’m a republican and far from an advocate of the continuation of the institution of monarchy, but the woman has a singular commitment to what she perceives as her role and has sacrificed most semblance of a normal life for it. I respect that. I certainly wouldn’t trade the royal luxuries for the royal fishbowl with its concomitant lack of any real power over and above respectful protocols and a numinous moral authority.
Mind you, if I’d been brought up in the traditions I’d probably have a different view. It will be interesting to see how Princes William and Harry behave in future years – they are the first royal princes for generations to have an independent inheritance apart from the provisions of the Civil List that pays the royal allowances (millions of pounds each from the wills of their mother and grandmother – Harry more than William because he’s less likely to be King. Not really large fortunes as British upper-class fortunes go, but big enough to buy a comfortable manor house somewhere with respectable grounds and pay the servants’ wages). Having an independent income means that they perhaps are less vulnerable to some of the strongarming about status and finances that has allegedly been used against other members of the royal family with politically inconvenient opinions in the past.
Other films I saw on the planes:
Volver, directed by Almovodar and starring Penelope Cruz. Loved it, but then I’m one of those gender exclusivists, apparently. I enjoyed a film with no major parts for men, so I’m eeevil, I tell ya.
Borat. Fuck, he is clever: but is that enough? I loved it when he put the screws to people like the fratboys with their sexist/racist comments, but I felt that many of the other people he dealt with were just polite, well-meaning people who didn’t deserve the mockery (especially the Southern etiquette instructors at the dining club). Apparently the people in the village playing Borat’s hometown had almost no idea what he was up to, and now feel badly used, especially the one-armed man who was given a suggestive appendage to wave around in ignorance. Would it really have been that hard to find a one-armed actor to play that role knowingly?
Thank You For Smoking: Loved it at the time, but 4 weeks later can only remember a few moments. Take that as you will.
Also watched a few encore features:
The recent Keira Knightley Pride and Prejudice just to check whether its adaptive solecisms were as irritating second time around. They are. As Zoe once said (paraphrasing) this is the Utterly Unnecessary Austen Adaptation, mainly because it seems to lack respect for its source material. The first Bridget Jones’ Diary showed more respect for the text, ffs (the less said about the second the better). Bloody pigs in the Bennet corridors – where the hell did that come from? The Bennets were not a poor genteel family, damn it. It’s just that the daughters would be relatively poor once their father died because they were cut off from inheriting the estate. The gendered injustice of the inheritance laws and the way that it made women settle for security over happiness (Charlotte Lucas) was the major point of the novel behind the issues of actual pride and prejudice as character deficits – the witty repartee and sparkling dialogue is just the pretty wrapping. That said, I actually quite liked Knightley’s Elizabeth Bennet, although I still prefer the inimitable Jennifer Ehle from the 1995 BBC miniseries. And although Matthew McFadyen is plenty phwoarish, Colin Firth’s Darcy is still The Phwoar. I also loved Donald Sutherland and the doughty and delightful Brenda Blethyn. Indeed, there was nothing wrong and much to delight with the actors here, but the rest of the production let them down in choice of set and costume design. Bad show.
Others I watched again: Muriel’s Wedding (bliss). Little Miss Sunshine (delight). Love Actually (comfort chuckles, heartwarming moments and more Phwoar Firth).
All in all, not bad. We also caught up with Eragon in London for the kids (woefully simplistic adaptation according to the tigling, although the togster thoroughly enjoyed it) and they saw Night at the Museum (giggles and demands for the DVD ASAP) in Wales while we caught up with Blond Bond (very well done action and successful demystification of the iconic cool-Bond, although inevitably many points to critique from the feminist POV – one bad romantic experience simply doesn’t justify a career of treating future romantic partners as disposable).
It will be months before I see so many first-release films again.