Friday, July 3, 2009

~ helmets, butterflies and broken hearts

My old friend Anne Harding just told me a beautiful little anecdote concerning an erotically charged friend of ours. She has made a career from her steamy novels and I’ve mentioned her before, but I won’t say her name out of respect, though I’m sure she wouldn’t mind if I did.

She was sunbathing naked, on her back, in what I took to be a wheat field in the South of France. It was hot and sweat was beading on her body. A butterfly fluttered in the air above and, sensing the moisture, alighted on one of her nipples. It began to drink from the droplets that had formed on her aureole. The tickling sensation of its tiny legs, mouthparts and wings were pleasant, they stimulated her, caused her nipple to harden. But it did not end there. A connection was made across species and, in time, the touch of the butterfly brought our friend to orgasm. She can now stake claim to having had sex with an insect and, in her pulsating lubricious psyche, this is an achievement of note.

I also used to have a female friend who would suddenly announce things in her sleep. My favourite was ‘Unicorns wander through the valley of broken hearts.’ That was how she was. Half in our world, half through the mirror into Narnia. Or Banana Land. I couldn’t be certain which.


As a massive fan of The Wire I was looking forward to seeing David Simon and Ed Burns’ next project Generation Kill, a war drama set during the Iraq invasion. Of course it’s great, similar in style to The Wire, but it really exposes a problem I commonly experience with combat dramas. (And I do enjoy the good ones.)

I first identified the issue during Saving Private Ryan. When characters wear helmets [and uniforms] I find it hard to tell them apart. Thinking back, I think I had the difficulty with Platoon. I couldn’t discriminate between the good and bad sergeants until well into the movie, but by then it was too late to properly appreciate their titanic moral struggle. I recall a similar frustration with Full Metal Jacket as well.

It was only during my third viewing of Saving Private Ryan that I could actually separate out the characters (excluding, of course, Tom Hanks). In Generation Kill, like The Wire, there are a lot of characters and they all wear helmets nearly all the time. I’ve watched half the series of six episodes and I still haven’t sorted out exactly who’s who, and I remain confused over the chain of command.

I am generally somewhat poor at recognising faces, a deficiency that at times has seen me accused of arrogance and rudeness, particularly in my early life. My poor eyesight is at least partially to blame, but not when it comes to war dramas.

I believe that a director who intends to make a war drama, or any drama with a preponderance of helmets, should take especial care with character identification. He should give helmeted characters distinctive insignia, idiosyncratic voices and punctuate the script with helmet-free scenes …

But I wonder if they already take this element into account? If they do, then on Generation Kill they’ve yet to find a working formula. At least for me. But don’t get me wrong. I do like helmets and I do like to see characters wearing them, It’s a male thing, of course. I like Spitfires too, and Messerschmitt 109s and 262s and 163s. But this helmet thing … it’s a problem that needs solving. Wouldn’t you agree?


In The Age this morning, we had a mention in the EG’s Sticky Carpet column; the Ears gig plus related events at the Melbourne Film Festival. Officially, we’re not supposed to speak about the festival until their launch on 6 July, but this doesn’t seem to have bothered The Age …

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Anonymous said...

There can never be too many randy butterflies in your life...
I dislike war dramas full stop. When it comes to violence I much prefer martial arts films. I like my brutality to be well choreographed

lily was here said...

A new twist on the butterfly effect. Imagine a slow crawling caterpillar. Did he/she call her the next day? They have such a short lifespan, so what a nice way to spend its day :)

Sam i have the same problem with those movies too. Unlike you though, I haven't had the patience to sit through them again.


F.G. Marshall-Stacks said...

Tropic Thunder is one war-ish film where the helmet-ed characters are very easily discernible.
recommended emphatically too.

Sam Sejavka said...

True, I had no trouble with Tropic Thunder, but, well, that was a different kettle of fish, wasn't it? The movies Ben Stiller makes are brilliant. Zoolander is an all time classic.

Anonymous said...

Hi we have just bought our tickets to reunion am threatening to bring photo of Mark The Ears mixer to put at mixing desk for the show we went to many of your gigs back then cos of being friends with him . Was Carl the drummer in ULC ( also called animal?)

Sam Sejavka said...

Mark Farnell, non? Ross from Beargarden's brother. I do remember. But Carl ... ULC ... just at the moment I can't work out what that is. Though it's probably bleedingly obvious.

I vaguely remember a drummer called 'Animal', though it's certainly not Carl. Or his predecessor Charles for that matter.