Brian Micklethwait's Blog
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Simon Gibbs on More White Vans
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Michael Jennings on Is rugby the new squash?
Most recent entries
- Big cat scan
- From a cat cushion to Bill Murray and a nude to a demon horse sculpture that killed its creator
- My favourie partial eclipse photos
- Bean drops snow on tourist
- Paul Kennedy on centimetric radar
- More White Vans
- Quota scaffolding and quota roof clutter
- Not squash
- A weird view of the Wheel - and cats in Tiger
- White Vin Van
- White Van
- BT Tower behind trees
- You don’t see this any more
- Photoing the photoers on Westminster Bridge
- Is rugby the new squash?
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Category archive: Movies
One of the better kept secrets of the popular entertainment industry of the modern world is how very good certain people are at faking reality, with quite small but very well made models. Thoughtless people say they can always spot such fakery. But the truth is that they only spot what they spot. What they don’t spot, they don’t spot. Obvious, if you think about it. The same principle applies to things like men wearing wigs. We can only see them when they are done badly.
So, I’m guessing that not everyone in Hollywood will be pleased about the internet presence of this guy, who contrives pictures like this ...:
… by doing this:
I found out about Michael Paul Smith from this Colossal posting, which is also where I got the above photos.
Much of the success of such fakery is to do with the camera being in the right place. In particular, it needs to be low enough to see things from the same angle that a human would see them if the scene was real.
I remember first working this out when, as a kid, I went through a model railway magazine phase, a craze I caught from my best friend just a few doors away in Harvest Road, Englefield Green. Most of the pictures in those magazines were obviously of models, but this was not because the models were always badly made. It was because the camera was looking down on the scene, just as you do when you are looking at a model. On the few occasions when the photographer would take the trouble to get his camera at real eye level, so to speak, it was amazing how realistic everything could suddenly look.
By the same token, and being only an occasional flyer, I have never yet tired of the thrill of looking down at the ground, preferably at built-up areas, from an airplane in the process of taking off or landing. Everything looks like toys. Really, really well made toys. Your frequent flyers have got used to the idea that this is really just boring old reality, seen from above. But to me, what I see from an airplane is something totally different from reality. It is an entire world, painstakingly faked in miniature, for my personal entertainment.
Recently, circumstances took me up from the South Bank walkway onto Waterloo Bridge. As I recall it, the idea was to walk across the bridge to one of the District Line tube stations on the north bank. But before I did that, I took pictures from the south end of the bridge, from which a lot can be seen. This isn’t the half of it, but it is some of it:
Time was when I’d have taken only pictures like that last one, of Big Ben through The Wheel. Note that all the other pictures contain things that will soon pass. Cranes. And two adverts for entertainment, one for this and one inside the Thing the advert is on the outside of. Also, in among taking these shots, I also took this one, which was very temporary indeed.
That Big Ben shot is through a gap between, I think, the Royal Festival Hall and the Hayward Gallery. Between two of those South Bank concrete lumps, anyway. I do like gaps. And then I moved a few yards south, and through the same gap between the lumps, or maybe through another gap, I saw this:
Here are two pictures I took a few days later, to explain what the above roof clutter is, both taken outside Westminster Abbey:
As you can see, the spikey bobble is on the top of Methodist Central Hall. And the roof clutter is one of London’s great roof clutter clusters, on top of top of New Scotland Yard. As so often with roof clutter, such a bland facade. With such a crazy hairdo.
The man scratching his back is, I think, St George, commemorating the Crimean War. But that could be quite wrong.
As I get to know London better, I learn to connect distant views to close-up views, not just of obvious stuff, but of everything.
When in France, I have no particular desire to do as the French do. I have my own agendas. So, for instance, French people do not make a point of photoing French posters advertising British or American films in the Paris Metro. But, I like to do this:
I am using an alien computer. Contriving the above photo-display took some doing. Were I using my own computer I might have cropped that photo. As it is, it is as it was when it came out of my camera.
Mostly, I just like the thought that we are making movies that they consider good enough to show in Paris. But I think I am also interested in what sort of picture of my country they are seeing. I’m guessing it is one that they want to see. In this case, for example, they are see us Anglos being, although quite good looking, also boring, disgusting, uncultured and gross, and generally behaving like people upon whom wealth is wasted. Not wanting to see Anglos in this light myself, I have not seen this movie, so I may be entirely wrong about what it is like.
But if it is not like that, they shouldn’t have called it that. As a general rule, it is surely good business to take your movie look in the posters (and sound in its title) the way it actually is, because that way the people who will be attracted to it by the poster will then enjoy it, and the word of mouth will be good. Many a movie is not what they first advertised it as, and hence was denounced by its early audiences, but was good in some other way, and ended up appealing to quite other people. Had they advertised it more accurately to start with, they’d have done better business.
Photoed by me earlier in the month, outside Green Park tube station:
Is this fair? Publicising these two face-recognisable guys, after they’ve had a hard day hard selling something that looks like it was a rather hard sell? Well, they’re in uniform, a uniform donned precisely to attract attention, which is what I am giving them. They are public figures. Insofar as they are rather letting the uniform down, that too is a public matter.
They remind me somewhat of Dan Aykroyd’s drunk Santa in Trading Places.
In this clip, Aykroyd (a) answers questions about Trading Places, and then (b) plugs his vodka-in-a-skull-bottle. Really.
I am, however, puzzled by those strange looking marks in the wall, at the top of the picture. Anyone?
Yes, I think so. Shot by me last Easter time:
If Hitchcock had ever made a movie called “The Rabbits”, this is the kind of shot that would have been in it.
So, a while back, I copied that shot over into the I Just Like It directory, all the time lamenting that I had no idea what the rabbit was doing in that particular part of London. I still don’t really know, but today I found a picture that I had taken one minute earlier, from which the rectangle below was cropped, in a way that removed people, kept the rabbit, and also kept the writting underneath the rabbit:
“London Eye presents Bunnies on the Run” proved more than enough to get an answer from Google, but really, I am none the wiser. Were there other bunnies dotted around London that I could have photoed? Who knows?
But, I do like my bunny photo.
Every so often I toy with the idea of dumping my Feline Friday habit. But what am I supposed to do with a headline that reads FBI’s most wanted cybercriminal used his cat’s name as a password? Just ignore it? Hardly.
And now that I am already doing a cat posting with a hi-tech vibe about it, how about What robots can learn from cats. One of the things robots can learn from cats, it would seem, is how to land on their feet without doing themselves damage. My favourite bit of this report is where some computer genius says:
“It’s not the fall that kills you. It’s the sudden stop at the end.”
How very true.
More hi-tech plus cats news: Buy your cat a robot: Mousr acts like real prey.
But as the tsunami of cattery on the www roars out across the planet threatening to drown everyone in feline freak facts, the backlash is getting underway. Can a wave cause a backlash? It can now. What research says about cats: they’re selfish, unfeeling, environmentally harmful creatures. They don’t love you, they slaughter endangered bird species, and they spread parasites that do your head in.
Finally, here are a couple of pictures I took last Sunday, in a Portobello Road coffee cafe:
On the left there, Perry de Havilland (Samizdata supremo) shows me a cat picture on his mobile, and on the right, on Michael J’s mobile, no cat connection, but far too good a headline to ignore.
People drone on about how our new toys have replaced real socialising. But here we observe them spicing up real socialising, by giving us something to chuckle about, while sitting right next to each other.
Also mentioned during our little bit of face-to-face socialising was this epoch-nailing scene.
Yes, that about says it:
Taken by me, yesterday afternoon.
MAYOR OF LONDON Boris Johnson has announced that the capital will have access to 5G mobile connectivity by 2020, allowing Londoners to download a film in less than a second.
Not that I understand nearly completely what that means, and certainly not that I understand nearly completely what that might possibly mean for me. But, … wow.
I’m guessing that Mayor Boris is doing that old politician trick of standing next to something that looks good, but which he had nothing to do with. Or is actual politics involved in contriving this seeming miracle? Is it done with wires? Do the wires need the Mayor to let his roads be dug up?
Comments will be particularly welcome on this.
My latest last Friday of the month meeting was this evening. Thank you Simon Gibbs, and all else who attended. Excellent talk and an excellent evening.
But I spent all day fretting about the meeting instead of doing anything for here, and now that it’s over I don’t want to say something stupid about the meeting. I’d rather think about that some more and talk sense about it.
So here, instead of proper blogging, are some cat links that I like. Google “cats” and of course you get a ton of stuff. These few were my favourites.
Cats in the movies.
Florida Man Holds Gun to Cat’s Head and Posts Picture to Facebook. The www is not amused.
Monkeys fear big cats less, eat more, with humans around.
And for those who share my interest in American politics, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) accused Senate Democrats of meowing like kitty cats and enabling President Barack Obama to enact lawless executive actions like no other president before him. I wouldn’t choose cats are a metaphor for lack of independence.
Today, by some means or another that I forget (other than it was the internet) I learned that the new trains for Crossrail will supplied by Bombardier. Oh yes, I learned it here.
And then, and again I forget how exactly, I learned about this bizarre vehicle, the Bombardier Embrio:
Oh yes, how I got to this was I googled for Bombardier pictures, and in among lots of airplanes and some trains, I saw this weird one wheeled thing, and investigated.
It looks like something Sylvester Stallone would ride in a movie.
It isn’t real. It is only a “concept” vehicle, and concept vehicles never happen. They just become part of the past history of the future, along with flying cars, robots to do your vacuuming and serve you tea, and elaborate space travel by the end of the last century. Still, weird.
I think what made me dig this up was that I have a soft spot for Bombardier, having done a few days, over the past few years, of planespotting at London City Airport, my favourite airport in the world. Lots of the planes that fly in and out of there are made by Bombardier. The world’s famous planes are made by Boeing and Airbus. But the quirky ones, the ones with propellers, the ones you don’t recognise, are made by companies like Bombardier.
I also like the way that railway carriages have changed during my lifetime. They have got better and better, with their automatic doors and spacious interiors.
When I say “back”, what I mean is, looking up its arse, at its bollocks:
Here is the same beast from its better side, together with some history, such as why it’s called the Coade Lion.
It’s one of my favourite London statues, especially when it lines itself up with the Wheel.
And here is something else feline, spotted in the place where all vehicles of interest to me seem to be spotted these days, Lower Marsh:
It’s the Bobcat E50, as you can see in my photo if you look carefully enough.
So, what is a “bobcat”? I saw a TV documentary recently about honey badgers, and they are nothing to do with regular badgers. So, is a bobcat a regular cat nearly, or a regular cat not at all? Does it merely look or behave somewhat like a cat, to some rather unobservant people? It turns out bobcats are cats. Wikipedia has a picture of what it describes as “bobcat kittens” (which ought surely to be: bobkittens). They look exactly like regular cat kittens.
Wikipedia is reasonably reliable on non-politically-controversial topics, but I was rather expecting the bobcat wikipedia entry to have a clutch of propaganda in it about how bobcats are an endangered species and how this is all the fault of people, capitalism, etc.. But actually the bobcat news here, according to Wikipedia, is quite good:
Although bobcats have been hunted extensively by humans, both for sport and fur, their population has proven resilient though declining in some areas.
See also, this strange guy. I like the Police Academy movies, in which he appears, despite him rather than to any degree because of him. The only thing I do like about him is that he omits the terminal e from his surname, thereby making it that tiny bit easier for me to make people spell my surname right.
Spent the afternoon and evening out with Goddaughter 2. On our travels we encountered a poster advertising the movie Noah. My opinion of Hollywood action movies is that they shrink all stories that they start with back to just the one story which is the same story every time. I asked if that was true also of Noah. Yes, replied Goddaughter 2:
It is basically Transformers with a boat.
LOL. As in: I actually did. Goddaughter 2 also sounds like an action movie, I think.
When I should have been taking my early evening nap, we were instead watching Cosi Fan Tutte at the Imax, and I struggled to stay awake. Not that it was bad. If it had been bad I would have just gone to sleep. But it was good, so I kept on postponing my nap, for about four hours. The result of all this is that I am too now tired to be saying anything more than what you just read.
Well, one other thing. We met under the Big Blue Cock in Trafalgar Square, my thinking in choosing this spot being that you aren’t going to get it wrong. There are no other Big Blue Cocks in London, and you can’t miss it.
We both like it very much.
As anyone who noticed the sudden piling up of moronic spam comments here may have suspected, I had an internet disconnect crisis last night, and it was still in effect this morning. I fiddled about with wires, last night and again this morning, because the last time it happened this is what solved it. I did lots of rebooting last night to no avail, so didn’t bother to do this again this morning. Instead I rang The Guru.
It was amazing how much The Guru was this morning able to learn about the problem, by which I mean to learn what the problem was not, just by unleashing his remote control Superpowers. He then suggested another rebooting, and I did this, just to humour him, and back it all came. But why? What was I doing right, all of a sudden? Very troubling.
It’s like that pivotal moment in movie history when Harrison Ford, in one of the first and good trio of Star Wars movies, got a bit of electrical kit in his spaceship to work properly by smacking it.
Yes, I’m afraid I’ve been doing rather a lot of quota posting of late.
So anyway, here’s the link.
And here is the quota photo:
That’s actually one of my more favourite recent photos. It was taken just before Christmas, in Twickenham, where Patrick Crozier lives, through the window of a shop where they sell … things like that.
I like the water on the window.
Tomorrow evening the 2014 BAFTA Awards shindig will be happening, at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. Roger Hewland, proprietor of Gramex (Records and CDs), Lower Marsh, told me this afternoon that BAFTA is paying the ROH three quarters of a million quid for this privilege. Where RH picked this titbit up, I do not know, but it sounds a lot, doesn’t it?
Below is a picture that I recently took myself of the ROH. If you google for pictures of the ROH, you mostly get either interiors, or else the big Parthenon-like front entrance. But when I was at that Rooftop Bar I recently visited, I took this snap of the ROH:
What strikes me is how modern it looks. It’s just a big box. The decoration is no more than a gesture. I know, I know, that’s because nobody can see this bit, this being before the age of buildings taller than this, from which people can look down. But even so, you can see architectural modernism all present and correct, just waiting to emerge.