It is difficult to say whether Jojo Rabbit is hilarious or utterly horrifying. I went to see it yesterday, and from the very beginning it was clear that I was watching a very unique, interesting film. It is very funny, but the events it depicts are among the most serious and disturbing. Set in Germany in about 1945, it’s about a boy whose mother shelters a jewish girl from the Nazi thugs all around. In his innocence, the boy has made Hitler into an imaginary friend. He believes what he has been told about Hitler being a nice, kind, fatherly figure. The audience can see this imaginary friend, and it is quite a comic, jolly figure, getting into all kinds of scrapes with the boy. When the boy meets the jewish girl, they develop a friendship: he finds her friendly and kind, obviously contradicting everything he’s been told by the Nazis.
To be honest, something about this film doesn’t feel right to me. It is cheerful and funny, yet the events it depicts, often going on in the background or implied, are truly horrifying. We see people murdered, beaten and executed. On one level this is not a subject to laugh about; yet because we witness events from a young child’s perspective, everything seems jolly and fun, with most of the characters and action being almost pythonesque. It’s as if the film has two distinct, separate layers: on the surface it is a children’s film, a comedy about a little boy growing up, surrounded by very stupid people who allow him to do all kinds of silly things. Just below that surface layer, though, is a horror film, clearly depicting some of the most appalling acts ever committed.
The problem is, which is the correct layer? What is Jojo Rabbit trying to be, comedy or horror? Does this juxtaposition of layers add to or subtract from the overall effect of the film? Does the comedy complement the horror, or make light of things innately unfunny? Should the film be criticised for this contradiction, or was it deliberately employed by the directorTaika Waititi? Should this film be praised for it’s boldness and bravery, or be appalled? What was Waititi trying to tell us?? Such questions are at the heart of this film, and to be honest I don’t know what to think. From the look of it, many other critics are divided about this film too; but perhaps that was the whole point. At the same time I am intrigued and disquieted by it.
It’s fast turning into a very cool weekend. John is with me, and yesterday we went up to the BFI Imax to see 1917. I wasn’t expecting anything particularly special, but it completely blew me away. More of an artwork than a standard piece of post-classical cinema, what Sam Mendes has done is completely reinvent the language of film. There are no discernible cuts throughout the film, so the narrative appears to unfold in one long take. The effect was spellbinding, and I certainly need to now read and write a lot more about it: this is a film which deserves much more serious attention than a Sunday morning blog entry.
If that wasn’t enough, yesterday had another surprise in store. John took me to a place called The Place, a contemporary dance academy. There, dancers put on a show of three pieces of quite wonderful creative movement, each very different to the other. In one, a woman moved pre-prepared objects in front of a camera to create a type of live film, which was then projected onto the back of the stage. The second was a duet where two people interwove their bodies in a quite spellbinding way. The third was the most powerful and hard-hitting, exploring life for gay men. They each lasted about half an hour. It rather reminded me of the stuff I used to see back at university – very contemporary and avant guard.
I came home feeling that it had been a fascinating, enjoyable day; but the weekend isn’t over yet. Today we’re off to watch Jojo Rabbit in Peckham. I’m really looking forward to it: expect an entry on it tomorrow. I really like rich, art-filled weekends like these.
I know I shouldn’t just post rants about Donald Trump have to be to think he was cheated out of a Nobel Peace Prize? He apparently complained on Twitter and in a speech that he had been unjustly denied the prize for brokering peace in Ethiopia. This is another instance of Trump thinking he’s a far greater statesman than he actually is, as if he deserved the prize just for being himself. The guy clearly has a very poor understanding of how the world really works or how he’s actually perceived; and you can almost smell his jealousy of Obama in the air.
I might have once written on here that I was a bit of a royalist after seeing the Queen meet 007, but I just have to say I don’t give two hoots what a beardy ginger guy does with his wife (not that one, anyway). Besides, there are far more worrying things going on, such a potentially cataclysmic war brewing in the Middle East, and the coming gutting of our human and consumer rights due to Brexit. Unless – now here’s a thought – someone wants our attention diverted away from those two stupidities: ”Hey look everyone, see what the royal family is up to! Never mind that you’re about to lose your human rights, or that the deranged idiot America currently calls it’s president is about to start World War Three. Look what Harry and Meghan are up to…”
I just watched the orange idiot America is still laughably calling it’s president make a statement on Iran. To be honest I was slightly surprised: when I turned my computer on to read that Iran had fired missiles at American bases in Iraq this morning, my gut reaction was that the States would have declared war by this evening. I’m sure Trump would have wanted to, but was probably held back by congress. It’s fortunate nobody was hurt or killed, or things may have been different. Either way, in his statement it was obvious he was just reading words he barely understood off an autocue; trying to appear the tough guy while not giving a shit whose life he jeopardises. The nuclear deal made progress in relations between Iran and the rest of the world; but because it was Obama who got the credit for it, trump tossed it away. He tries to sound knowledgable by calling the treaty flawed, but I doubt Trump understood a word of it. All he cared about was depriving his predecessor of his legacy, shallow child that he is. And so here we are: this autocue-reading numpty steering the world towards it’s most dangerous crisis in years, barely understanding what he’s doing and only caring about whether he looks good. Why oh why can’t the rest of the world do anything to stop this stupidity?
It may be from November, but I just came across this Guardian article flagged up on Facebook. The tories want to revive their Festival Of Brexit idea, and having won the election, no doubt they’ll definitely go ahead with it. They want it to be in 2022, to coincide with the queen’s platinum jubilee (assuming she’s still around) and a few other anniversaries; and to echo the great Exhibition of 1851.
I think this is a story I’ll be keeping an eye on. Of course, it’s utterly, utterly stupid: as the article points out, what’s the point of a festival to celebrate something which half the electorate are completely opposed to? It will alienate half the community. As many comments pointed out on facebook, for us Remainers it presents a focus for our protest and something we should try to stop. The same goes for the party Farage is apparently planning in parliament square.
Of course, such large public events interest me – remember how excited I got about the 2012 Olympics? I must admit part of me is curious to see what they do. Nonetheless, given this festival will cost hundreds of millions of pounds to celebrate something I’m vehemently opposed to, I think we should work hard to make sure this festival of stupidity never happens; or if it does, that it goes as catastrophically as possible.
Not far from where I now live is Kidbrooke Village. I came across it a few weeks before christmas, and since then I’ve been going there quite frequently. It’s a trendy, recently redeveloped area which I reach along freshly-built paths. There are several blocks of flats (some still being built) set around architecturally-designed squares and pretty little parks. There’s even a cool little pub, The Depot, which I’d like to take Charlie to one day. It is the epitome of modern London, and was obviously designed with city executives in mind. Yet I can’t help thinking how much it contrasted with Congleton: you find such redevelopments all over the city these days, with their ubiquitous sleek urban architecture. Up north, though, towns seem to be being allowed to rot: new housing estates are being built, but there is no new infrastructure – no new shops, community centres or parks – to go with them. So much money is being spent on redeveloping London and it’s suburbs, while it seems the rest of the country is just being allowed to waste away. It’s an imbalance which seems quite perverse.