Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Election time again

We're coming up to another election, and so it's time for a look inside my postbag again. Tonight I have two leaflets delivered together: one is from the Scottish Lib Dems, and the other is a virulent tirade against AV, from people calling themselves no2av. Oddly, the Lib Dems don't ask me to support AV in their leaflet. Why is it that the no2avites can get to use the electoral register (the letter is addressed to me personally)?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Meek's cutoff

Last night I managed to go and see my first film at the cinema in a long time. I used to be a fairly regular film-a-week man, but I'm struggling to think of something that I've seen since the New Year, and I'm not sure what's changed.

Still, I managed to see Meek's Cutoff, which is best described as a Western that isn't. Just as well really, as I've never much liked Westerns. The film concerns three families on the Oregon trail who hire their own guide and split off from the main train. The trouble is, the guide doesn't seem to know where he is. I liked the film's studied avoidance of everything that you might expect in such a work. There is no stirring music, and the landscapes are shot at a low angle, making things feel oddly claustrophobic for a film set entirely out of doors. If the screen briefly looks as pretty as a John Ford Western, nobody on screen is bothered, because they have been walking behind the wagon all day and are covered in dust. The film gives the women a lot of screen time, often observing the main action from their point of view. They rise before dawn to light fires and cook breakfast. They watch in a group from beneath their bonnets as the men folk debate what to do next. And one shows herself very handy with a flintlock. (Military history anoraks will enjoy the scene where she fires a shot, goes through the laborious process of reloading, and fires again. )

Cutoff suffers from a couple of the irritating ticks of current films: the dialogue is often mumbled and unclear, and the ending is sudden and unconclusive. But well worth your time, I would say.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Spot on

Once again, the wonderful xkcd hits the nail on the head. It's actually not bad as an explanation of Type I errors.