A Journal of the Plague Year Day 82

Tuesday 9th June 2020

Two films, one risible the other invigorating. The first was very promising: Proximity, what looked like an indy Strange Encounters. Everything quite subtle and fresh, steadfastly unformed or formulaic, and that kept you guessing -was it purposefully redolent of a 90s film in style and format? At first I thought the crux of the tale was to be on the human condition, ignited by obsession, fear, misrepresentation and fame (the protagonist documents an alien abduction). The lead decidedly averse to Hollywood translation -a science nerd and his mates who genuinely look like ones, and not say Chris Hemsworth or Anne Hathaway with specs. A Canadian flick surely -like a version of Hollywood with more pathos, desolation and nudity, to a smaller budget (it is actually American).


But then midway through the stylus scratch. The minute the Men in Black showed up complete with wraparound shades and penguins suits it became a laugh-a-minute meme, so riddled with ham robots, ant-head aliens, odious villainry, bad FX and grossly inaccurate gunsights (‘lazer’ guns haha) it became unwatchable thereon. The jarring deus ex machina was too much -coming across an internet wizz in the Costa Rican jungle, and one willing to throw life to wind to tag along, plus inveigling a brief flight from jungle to the Canadian Rockies without payment nor passport. The fact the love interest is love interest (that’s like so pre-2017), falling coyly, titillatingly into teen love despite the fact they’re on the run from dark forces and share nothing in common but having been beamed up. Her make up’s immaculate throughout which is a telltale sign of a B-movie -even waking up, or under interrogation (and who the hell spells their name Highdee anyway??). Others have called it a ‘film school film’.


The follow-up flick was The Hunt. BEWARE SPOILERS AHEAD

Universally slated as it was offensive to both sides of the political spectrum, it portrays a group of right-wing nutters (the kind who shock jock) kidnapped and hunted down by sick left-wing elites (the kind who argue about representation during their deaths). All very tongue in cheek, but drawing criticism from the right (notably the Trump) for the premise of gunning down their compadres, and the left for the negative, comedic portrayals of hypocritical SJWs. Neither side ever noticed the balance it appears. When one such elitist is asked, gun to face, whether she should get deferential, kinder treatment for being a woman she starts off with ‘no…’ and is subsequently shot in the head.


This effect on the audience is its winning card. As a fellow social justice warrior it was amazing seeing the change in my own reaction when realising midway through the killing, that those being mercilessly hunted down were from the opposing camp. That these previously hard-to-watch, violent scenes suddenly became camp and comedic, as intended. True to life, both sides never let up and give the other any shred of humanity, even after realising mistaken identity. They just have to win, at all costs. It is something to question what we deem human, humane and inhuman.

Hero of the movie is Crystal, played by the inimitable Betty Gilpin, whose name could not be more opposite to the character she portrays – a sociopathic, unrelenting southern ‘hick’ as brave and intelligent as can be against all societal and weapon-based odds: ‘Why’d they wanna kill us? Who gives a fuck.” We’re never sure what side of the fence she stands.


The film flopped thanks to being put back (after the ubiquitous monthly gun massacres Stateside), then released shortly before lockdown. It’s now on Netflix, having resorted to that as a debut. A must-see in my book.

Other films from the day were Labyrinth (don’t remember it being so hammy, a bit queasy every time Bowie’s jockstrap hoves into view or the 14 year old Jennifer Connelly gets sexied up), and Muriel’s Wedding (hilarious, seminal coming of age flick for an entire generation, laying the ground rules we see in our Millennials today).

Sooo, back to real life… The weather’s shit, as always, and looks likely to stay that way until July – quel surprise for the UK, international doyenne of scullery skies. Life at the mo is but a scroll of windows.

A mate the other day complained he’s stopped reading, and I concurred. Three other avid bookworms seem to be suffering the same fate as of late, myself included. When faced with so much interior life the lure of screentime on your phone, akin to some Mughal courtesan in a night-scented garden, glittering with diamonds -or Shazza/ Brent the town bike behind the bikesheds with some bicycle grease -jumps straight to the nitty gritty. No need to waylay them into a date, some Joop!, a rendition of your perfect life, some light jazz, a coffee, a cuddle and maybe an introductory handjob. Now a screen will ignite within seconds what a book takes several chapters to build up to. -Watch as Maria gets molested by a dolphin, a squawking crowd flee a tsunami, Mark gets jizz in his eye, or Gavriil ploughs into a moose on the autobahn. Swipe right, swipe left, swipe up and down and all around repetitively till it hits the spot.

Is this it for now on?




Now do swipe right.



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