September 20th, 2003


UK parties

I was asked for an overview of the major political parties in the UK. This is a vague stab. Would those more politically aware people than I please point out the stupid mistakes I've made.

Conservatives are the right-wing part of the rich and those who think that the poor deserve to be so poor because they're all lazy scum. Which puts them slightly to the left of the Democrats, on the American scale, as they (nowadays) don't actually believe that homosexuals should all be put in camps.

Labour _used_ to be the party of the unions, ranging from those who believe in fairness on the wishy-washy side to full-blown communist types on the hard-line side. They've moved a long way right since then, at least fiscally. Nowadays they believe that the market (properly regulated, of course) is the answer to most things. I'm largely with them on that, but they do seem to have turned it into dogma rather than being pragmatic about it. This has lost them a lot of support.

Liberal Democrats are the people who believe that people should be allowed to make their own decisions, that cannabis and prostitution should be legalised, that strong government isn't the answer. They were also the only major party to say that taxes needed to go _up_ at the last election, because they recognised that the NHS was in urgent need of more cash. Think of them as socially liberal and economically supportive (if not fully redistributive).

My sympathies lie with the liberals

Support your local crap movie

Behind all the overcrowded pomposity of the story, the monsters out of some fanboy video game and the semi-arty, cologne-commercial design, you get the unmistakable sense that director Len Wiseman and screenwriter Danny McBride actually gave a crap. "Underworld" may be ludicrous; it may pack too many geek-fantasy elements into one package; it may really not work at all. But it's nowhere near Hollywood's usual condescension to the fantasy audience, which may mercifully, in the post-"Rings," post-"Harry" era, be a thing of the past.

If anything, "Underworld" is an overly detailed slice of a new fantasy universe, one just as concerned with delivering a convoluted saga as with chills, thrills, ass-kicking and vampire babes in bodices and cat suits. If this story doesn't bloom into a new franchise, it sure won't be for lack of trying. From the first moments of the film, when Beckinsale rushes through a bewildering voiceover narration and then plunges into an extended subway gun battle where we can't tell who is who or what in hell is going on, the filmmakers are unafraid to set us a steep learning curve.

Says Salon.

And this is one reason I love films like Equilibrium or Highlander - films that may not be classics, and have definite faults. It's because the people behind them are trying to make something good - they clearly care deeply about them. And I'd much rather see a problematic film that someone cared about than a pixel-perfect one that's got nothing behind it.