This is going to be a bit of a thoughts dump. My mind is doing its usual and has been pulling me all over the place since yesterday. It’ll be about the cinema, mainly.
I’ve downloaded a report from Human Rights Watch named “Complicit in Exclusion”. It alleges that the South African education system deliberately excludes children with disabilities from schools. I plan on reading it, and then writing a blog post (or more than one) on it.
I got a shock when returning from the shops today. The house across the road from the entrance to the complex where I live had police tape over the front gate. It turned out that the owner’s skeleton had been found. Yes, skeleton. She died around two years ago.
How can someone’s death go undetected for two years? Did she not have family? And why did the neighbours have no idea about it?
I’ve seen a few films this year. The worst so far has been “Pitch Perfect 2”. The setup was preposterous (and not in a good way), the humour was forced, and it was clichéd beyond belief. I worked out how it would end at about the half hour mark, and after rolling my eyes, got up and left the cinema. That’s the first time I’ve ever done that.
“Spy”, directed by Paul Feig and starring Melissa McCarthy, was the best film so far. It’s a parody of the spy genre, particuarly the James Bond films, and it is one of the funniest films, if not the funniest, that I’ve ever seen. I laughed throughout, even to the end. It’s rare for me to do that.
In order to be effective, parodies have to understand the genre that they’re parodying. In fact, the best parodies are able to work as examples of the genre they’re parodying, and “Spy” fits that bill. It actually works as a spy film.
The last ever Monty Python film, “Absolutely Anything”, has been released in the UK. I was looking forward to seeing it next year (it’s South African release is listed as June 16 next year), but now I’m worried. I’ve been reading the reviews and only one so far has been positive. All the rest have been, to put it kindly, unenthusiastic.
The consensus is that the film is nothing like the Pythons’ earlier work, that it is clichéd and contrived, that “Bruce Almighty” did it better and that it is a huge waste of talent. The impression I get is “we expected better from you”.
Thora Birch was a child actress who appeared in numerous films including “American Beauty” and looked to be making the transition to successful grown up actress, but her career has stalled. The last thing she appeared in was “Petunia” in 2012, and she was a producer on that film. Before that her last role was in “The Pregnancy Pact” in 2010.
One suggestion is that her manager, who is also her father Jack Birch, is the cause of her problem. This doesn’t strike me as too convincing. According to the article, she was fired from “Dracula” after her father threatened an actor for giving her a back rub, but given the inconvenience and cost of replacing someone, this sounds unlikely. It seems far more plausible that this was just the final straw after a string of fights, and the director and producers decided enough was enough and got rid of her.
In January 2014, Hadley Freeman interviewed Birch for “The Guardian”. Freeman’s narrative is of a young actress used up and discarded by Hollywood, but a read through of the comments below the article followed by a careful re-reading of the article show a very different picture. Comments like “I just didn’t take advice and I think people got pissed off at me for not taking advice” and “I had that kind of ‘oh, piss off, everyone’ attitude” expose someone who was antagonistic and didn’t listen. She was fired from “Election” because “I read the script one way and it became clear that [the director] had seen something else, so that was it. I just thought, this is ridiculous: why is it written this way?” In other words, instead of doing what the director wanted, she did it her way and lost the role. Like most fields filmmaking is a collaborative effort, and Thora comes across as someone who wouldn’t collaborate.
Despite the fact that she is now out of favour, Birch has an estimated net worth of $8 million due to her long career. At this point, it would be best for her to accept that she has alienated too many people to ever act again, take her money, go to a counsellor and/or psychologist and work out what she wants to do with her life, and then do it.