Mar 13 2013

Daily Express propaganda trashed by the European Parliament

A typical front page of the Daily Express

I’ll be carrying on my series of reviews of the James Bond series either later today or tomorrow, but for now I wanted to share a quick link that tickled my ticklish parts.

I hate the Daily Express newspaper. I genuinely think it plays a huge part in making the UK a much less pleasant place to live, because it demonstrates that there are people—a hugely vocal minority—who are stuck in a vitriolic mind-set of utter hatred towards anyone who isn’t the same colour, race, class, creed or, often, gender. Having spent 4 and a half years working in a press clippings agency, I think it’s fair to say I’ve read more than my fair share of Express articles, and if I never have to touch Richard Desmond’s dirty organ again it’ll be too soon.

The Express have printed an article claiming that a website built by the European Parliament, set up to educate kids as to the workings of the EU and the democratic process, is “’sinister’ Soviet-style propaganda”. It contains a quote from Paul Nuttall, UKIP MEP, stating that “Political propaganda on vulnerable kids is a form of child abuse”.

Unless we really believe that informing the next generation about how their world works is a Bad Thing, this is ludicrous even by the low standards of the Express. In what is clearly a golden age of information, the more we tell our kids the better we arm them for their future.  Sure, we might disagree with someone politically, but it is nonsensical to flat-out lie in order to keep people from making up their own minds. The Express has not been known for its adhesion to the truth for a long time, but it is baffling that there is apparently no limit to how far they are allow to push the boundaries of fiction in the name of “news”.

In the absence of any legitimate legal response or agency that might actually be able to do something about this kind of thing, I’d normally recommend doing what I always recommend doing with stories from the Express: just ignore it. However, the response from the European Parliament’s Information Office, reproduced below, is utterly brilliant and displays a sense of humour previously unheard of in Belgium.

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Mar 9 2013

Review: The World Is Not Enough

Welcome to my review of The World Is Not Enough, the nineteenth part of my challenge to review all of the James Bond films. I’m watching each film in turn and trying to figure out which one is my favourite. For more information, see my introduction here. You can read my review of the previous film, Tomorrow Never Dies, here. Spoilers follow.

The World Is Not Enough
(dir. Michael Apted, 1999)

The World Is Not Enough trailerI’m going to assume that anyone reading this has heard of the phrase, “willing suspension of disbelief”.

The Bond franchise is built on the suspension of disbelief. The fact that we can swallow the scenarios it throws at us is the key to its success. In the course of this challenge, I’ve watched—and, for the most part, accepted—that a man with metal teeth can bite through steel cables, that MI6 really might weaponise an Aston Martin or a Lotus Esprit, that an army firing machine guns can’t hit a man running across an open field, that the easiest way to steal a spaceship is to build an even bigger spaceship that can eat it.

No matter how hard I try, I cannot accept Denise Richards as a nuclear physicist.

Look, I’m sure that there are—indeed, I really hope there are—female nuclear physicists. I’m willing to accept that some of them have big round breasts and full lips, because beauty is no barrier to brains. But Richards is a different creature altogether. With her vacant eyes and mouth that tends to hang open when she’s thinking, she looks like a blow-up doll.

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Mar 6 2013

Review: Tomorrow Never Dies

Welcome to my review of Tomorrow Never Dies, the eighteenth part of my challenge to review all of the James Bond films. I’m watching each film in turn and trying to figure out which one is my favourite. For more information, see my introduction here. You can read my review of the previous film, Goldeneye, here. Spoilers follow.

Tomorrow Never Dies
(dir. Roger Spottiswoode, 1997)

Tomorrow Never Dies trailerTomorrow Never Dies has an interesting plot. The central villain, Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce), is not trying to destroy the world or rob a bank. He’s not taking revenge for past injustices or carting drugs across borders. Not that he’s against any of these things—far from it. He just wants exclusive media rights when the story breaks.

I’ve had a morbid curiosity on the lengths that the media will go to when looking for news. Back when I used to write for www.iwilldothatformoney.com, now sadly defunct, I wrote an article that broke down the UK papers in a simple guide as to their slants and intended audiences, and four years working for a clippings agency back when I first moved to London gave me some insight as to just how much bullshit can make the front page. Carver in Tomorrow Never Dies is the ultimate media baron, however, because he takes the news cycle a step further: in the absence of a good news story, he creates his own.

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Mar 2 2013

Review: Goldeneye

Welcome to my review of Goldeneye, the seventeenth part of my challenge to review all of the James Bond films. I’m watching each film in turn and trying to figure out which one is my favourite. For more information, see my introduction here. You can read my review of the previous film, Licence To Kill, here. Spoilers follow.

Goldeneye
(dir. Martin Campbell, 1995)

Goldeneye trailerSean Bean would have made an excellent James Bond. Think about that for a moment. It’s okay; I’ll wait.

Okay, so he could never actually be Bond because he’s contractually obliged to die before the end of every film he’s in. But apparently he was in the running to be Bond before Pierce Brosnan finally got the job, and I think he would have been awesome.

It wasn’t to be, but at least we got to see him playing a double-0 agent in Goldeneye. He’s billed as a villain equal to Bond: the same training, the same skills. Having watched the Bond films in order, that’s not as effective a threat as the filmmakers intended; all of the double-0 agents we’ve seen to date have been mildly ineffective at best. Apart from the meeting of agents way back in Thunderball, all of them have died within minutes of appearing on the screen, 007 excepted. With that track record, 006 should be the easiest villain to defeat in the whole series.

Actually, he technically dies before the opening credits, but it’s an obvious feint. Not even Sean Bean usually dies that quickly. If it had been John Hurt, it might have been more convincing.

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