Latin America

Columbo Theme Park to be built on South Atlantic Islands

 

Is the Penn mightier than the sword?

Peter "Columbo" Falk on the Falklands

The Hollywood actor Sean (A member of the Ex-Mr Madonna club along with Guy Ritchie and star of 1980s brat pack movies about college boys and girls behaving badly) Penn has come in for a bit of flack after his pro-Argentine anti-imperialist comments on the Falkland/Malvinas Islands.  Even Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters has got in on the act.  The trouble is whenever celebrities make ill-advised forays into political or economic analysis, regardless of whose side they take they tend to get ridiculed.  And often rightly so.  After all if Barack Obama tried his hand at acting or if David Cameron attempted to make it as a rock musician they would no doubt be sneered at.

Who’d want to live on a cold wet wind-swept island in the Atlantic anyway?  I pose this question with deliberate irony as I type this, while looking out the window at the cold wet outdoors.

My solution is this.  Give the islands to Argentina as long as they undertake to build a theme park dedicated to the one-eyed Los Angeles homicide detective Lieutenant “Just one more thing…” Columbo, as played by the late Peter Falk.  It could be called the Falk-Land Islands Theme Park.

 

Advertisements

Don’t cry for me Vuvuzela (A selection of short snappy vignettes on the world Cup)

The World Cup just wouldn’t be the World Cup without the Brazilians…(no pun intended)

If Carlsberg did irony…

Another glorious summer, another World Cup.  And as usual the supermarkets, off-licences and pubs hope to make a killing – maybe quite literally in some cases – by a heart attack or cirrhosis of the liver. 

Yes, during every World Cup we’re inundated with special offers on crates of beer, wine, pizzas, crisps and countless other junk foods to consume while we watch the football.

 How ironic it is then that as the world’s elite of fit, athletic young men participate in a noble, healthy pursuit, many of those watching and cheering them on indulge in unhealthy, ignoble pursuits, guzzling beer by the can and stuffing their faces with crap.  As the horizontally rich but follically poor comedian Alexei Sayle might say “It’s a funny old world”.

Don’t cry for me Vuvuzela

Up until a couple of weeks ago I thought Vuvuzela was an oil-rich South America country with a fat loud-mouthed clown as president whose team never qualifies for the World Cup. 

 Now it’s as if  the football stadia in South Africa have been invaded by swarms of angry bees.  Love them or hate them they’ve certainly created a buzz in the air at the World Cup.  It’s not just Wayne Rooney who has a bee in his bonnet.

The president of Vuvuzela?

Carry on World Cup

Having been following the World Cup quadrennially since I was a wide-eyed 8-year old back in 1982, I’ve noticed that in almost every tournament there’s at least one player with a funny name – ie one that would amuse a schoolboy or a “Carry On” film scriptwriter.  Purely from memory I’ve compiled a selection:

 1982 – Lopez Ufarte (Spain)

1986 – Cha Bum Kun (South Korea)

1994 – Stefan Kuntz (Germany)

1998 – Stefan Effenberg (Germany)

                                                                                                               2002 – David Seaman (England)

                                                                                                               2010 – Danny Shittu (Nigeria)

I’m splitting my sides just thinking about them.

Leone: A Fistful of Dynamite, Part 3: Commentary

And so to the third and final instalment of Phil’s epic work on A Fistful of Dynamite:

Commentary

Despite the fact that Coburn’s accent in the film frequently borders on the “oirish” side, and Steiger’s acting sometimes lapses into hamminess, somehow these blemishes seem oddly appropriate within the wider context of “…Dynamite.” And it certainly does not ruin things for me in the least.

Coburn - Oirish accent fails to convince...Steiger - too fat for a Mexican peasant?

Coburn - Oirish accent fails to convince...Steiger - too fat for a Mexican peasant?

Although I am now in my thirties, and many of my political views have moved to the right as I have become older, “Dynamite” still has particular resonance for me. As a schoolboy studying events in 20th century European history I came to see the leaders of the Russian Revolution as almost robotic figures, or dim automatons from the past. Perhaps this impression was not disabused by the attitudes of people like Lenin, who famously berated himself for enjoying the works of great European composers, because their music caused him to feel warmth towards the men who composed the music (thereby making them more difficult to put up against a wall and shoot if necessary). What a cold-blooded monster, as too was Stalin, and Trotsky also, in his way. Such people found it easier to deal with humanity in the abstract than in reality.  Perhaps ordinary reality was too much for them to cope with.

“…Dynamite”, in spite of what Leone claimed, was a very political film – but not in terms of left-right politics, which are only peripheral. The politics are mostly on a human level. It takes humans to put a revolution in motion, and our revolutionaries in “…Dynamite” are as human as it is possible to get.  Sean’s revolutionary fervour dims by the end of the film, and reminds us in one memorable line that no matter how noble or idealistic the cause is, the means necessary to bring it about can have a crippling effect on the human spirit, and frequently violence can become an end in itself:

“When I first began to use dynamite I believed in lots of things…all of it!

Finally I believed only in dynamite.”

Strangely enough, it is the unschooled and unlettered Juan who, after the Mesa Verde Bank raid, casts a bitter (and very perceptive) judgment on revolutionary idealism, which causes Sean to begin reappraising his views. Sean has just told Juan that “It’s a nice little revolution we’re having here.”  Juan replies angrily:

“Don’t talk to me about revolutions – I know all about revolutions and how they start. The people who read the books go to the people who don’t read the books, the poor people, and say oh ho the time has come to make a change!  The poor people make the change.  Then the people who read the books sit around a big polished table and talk and talk and talk and eat and eat and eat and what has happened to the poor people…THEY’RE DEAD!

So please, don’t talk to me about revolution….

THEN THE SAME FUCKING THING HAPPENS ALL OVER AGAIN.”

How very true, Juan. He could also have plausibly added that frequently the revolutionary cadre who seize the reins of power through force become just as oppressive, cruel, and authoritarian (if not more so) as the regime which they have overthrown.  After all, it stands to reason that what has been gained by violence must be maintained by violence, and violence, whatever political language an idealist chooses to dress it up in, is not pretty.

Ernesto "Che" Guevara - a victim of his own revolutionary fervour?

Ernesto "Che" Guevara - a victim of his own revolutionary fervour?

Nonetheless, I find myself drawn to the revolutionary peasants in “…Dynamite.” These are people with real grievances, dirt poor, who only wish to lead their lives with a modicum of dignity and have enough land to feed themselves and their families, and be free from oppression. Having suffered enough, they are taking the only course open to them, namely, opposing military brutality with force of their own. They are definitely not the indulged middle-class anti-globalization protestors or woolly-minded idealists who prance around Westminster on May Day waving banners and shouting about what they IMAGINE poor people in the third world to be suffering, and patronizing the poor of our world with what they believe is a solution to their situation.  [And neither are they comprarable to the likes of Bono, Madonna et al who in their rank hypocrisy pretend to be concerned about the suffering of the third world, yet live in extravagant luxury.  CW]

Luckily for us today, it seems that the world has lost its enthusiasm for the type of political idealism represented by the Bolsheviks in 20th century Russia, but during the late 1960s and early 1970s when “…Dynamite” was made, revolutionary idealism was still popular. So, by advertising the pitfalls to revolutionary violence, Leone was a man ahead of his time.

I should add also, that Mexico, despite violent upheaval in the early 20th century, did not return to dictatorship, and has remained a democracy since, however imperfect and however many problems of poverty and other social ills it faces. I feel that this is something for which the Mexican people have never received enough international praise and credit.

As if all the food for thought above weren’t enough, “…Dynamite” is absolutely action-packed, has many funny moments to leaven the gloom, a great star cast, a brilliant train crash sequence, monumental explosions, a spectacular finale and a fantastic score from Ennio Morricone. What more could a viewer ask for!

Phil Larkin