Brushes With The Truth

This is the first part of a longer post (A Million People) copied here, and pinned to the top of the blog.

How not to mix things up in a world full of casual brushes with the truth – uncaring as to what is real and what is not. In principle it has always been the same for at least some of the population. Now, however, we have reached critical mass.

Each uncaring and unthinking person has access to weapons of war. A tweet ricochets off another tweet and spins off into another social media platform. Like a pinball machine full of pinballs, the machine gets hot and melts down. 

Anger, frustration, good old-fashioned annoyance – they have nowhere they want to go except deeper into the furnace.

And the furnace spits them out. It doesn’t need them except as examples of persons. It doesn’t care about them except for whatever trace they leave behind in the the social weave. 

If they all disappeared tomorrow, their loss would be calculated in loss of engagement, followers, likes, and shares.

Iran Strike

I’ve been thinking about the interception of the drones and missiles from Iran. What would have happened or might have happened if America, Britain, France had not stepped in? What might have happened if the Jordanians had not allowed the use of their airspace? Then what might the result have been?

And I’m trying to picture it from the point of view of the Iranians who must have thought that a good number of their drones and missiles would get through. Perhaps they did not expect that the Americans and the French and the British and the Jordanians would all coordinate efforts to stop the rockets and missiles and drones.

And so the question might be what might have led them to think that the Americans, the British and the French would not have it all coordinated and worked out and immediately do what was needed?

And it might be we can link it back to the killing in the aid truck of the food aid workers by Israel in error.

And President Biden’s response, which went from criticism to threat.

My feeling is that President Biden is a politician, by which I mean that he understands people.

He understands when he can say something and then simply jettison it in the face of something else later on.

He understands people and he understands how to give out messages.

I don’t think in all the time of his presidency he’s ever put a foot wrong in terms of giving out messages.

So I wonder whether Iran simply read America wrong.

That is, they assumed that he, President Biden, would be so annoyed with Israel that he, the United States, would not come to Israel’s aid and that therefore Britain and France would not and that therefore Jordan would not. And that that was the miscalculation by the Iranians.

There is a counter-argument that the intention of the Iranians was to draw out the truth of the affiliations of the Americans, British, and French – and perhaps even more specifically of the Jordanians. Unless the ordnance that was directed at Israel is small potatoes for Iran, then it was an expensive gambit.

I can’t see it as a gambit so far as the USA, Britain, or France are concerned. If anything, the news seems to be that the moral outrage of anti Israel protesters is wearing thin with a lot of people. But Jordan – that may be a weak point, although whether the whole of Iran’s gambit turned on this? Maybe.

Napoleon: Film Review

I would love to have been a fly on the wall for this one. Joaquin Phoenix effectively played the Joker part again in frozen stillness, only coming alive when he was playing the tactician of battles or rushing into the fray wild eyed and mad like Peter O’Toole in Lawrence of Arabia.

Joaquin Phoenix and Vanessa Kirby as Josephine has zero chemistry and she looked permanently surprised. They made a scene of cavorting in public, beneath the table with officials meanwhile sat at dinner. Really? Like children.

How did Ridley Scott not see that theirs as not a good match for the screen? How could he have portrayed them as such broken cardboard figures?

So, the plot: Napoleon takes over France under the guise of ending the Terror and has lots of battles that meld into one. He bites of more than he chan chew when the Russians have the temerity to burn their own city and not come to peace terms.

At that point, Napoleon wants to go north to St Petersburg, against the advice of his generals. In the end we see somewhat of a retreat and defeat. What we do not see is that the Russians harried the French on the road north and beat them at two battles. There was no mention of the Battle of Tarutino or of the Battle of Maloyaroslavets where the Russians harried the French and forced them onto the own self-made death march south-east back onto the route Napoleon originally came on in invading Russia.

The retreat is told in The Memoirs of Sergeant Burgoyne, but we see almost northing of that horror in the film. So it was just a retreat. It is important to know because the men who retreated with Napoleon supported him again after the exile on Elba. Why was that? Was he a populist that they preferred to the alternative? None of that is explained. And it should have been because it is important in understanding France of the period. This Boy’s Own version doesn’t give us an explanation.

The point at which the film and I properly parted company was when Napoleon is in Egypt on campaign (as you do) and is told that his Josephine has a lover. He returns home and is accused of deserting his campaign. He, seemingly outraged, counter-accuses his accusers of deserting the governance of France. In a stand-off he runs off, gathers troops (who are of course loyal to him) and fights back and turns the tables.

So we have to believe that if Josephine had not had a lover then Napoleon would not have returned from Egypt and the consuls could have continued to merrily run France into the ground.

It may have been so as historical fact, but as a presentation of storytelling it was weak.

And then again when Napoleon sails from Elba after less than a year in exile, his motley band of followers march and meet the opposition and he turns them just like that, and regains his ruling position. Again – it might have been like that historically, but the way it was presented was more like Monty Python.

I held my breath fearing that Rupert Everett as Wellington would not be able to hold a serious glance – but he did and he was great.

The bottom line is that so much money and time was spent on the battles that there was no time left over to tell the story properly. We hear Napoleon say that he wants to bring about peace universally by beating everyone into a grand scheme. And that is one of the intriguing facts that is touched on in the film. Countries changed sides. Allies became enemies and vice versa. Perhaps above all that was the message of the film.

The whole film could have been told better in a graphic novel.

The perhaps poetic attempt to save the meaning of the film was at the end by giving the final tally of the dead, that read as follows.

He led 61 battles in his military career…
TOULON 6,000 dead
MARENGO 12,000 dead
AUSTERLITZ 16,500 dead
BORODINO 71,000 dead
WATERLOO 47,000 dead (one day)
1793-1815: over 3,000,000 died

So what do we learn? That Napoleon was good at war but in the end he bit off more than he could chew. And that in pursuit of his dream he brought about the death of millions/

Killers Of The Flower Moon: Film Review

It starts with the burial ceremony for the sacred pipe as the Osage tribe realise their ways will not be followed by their children. And then a cute segue into the burial unearthing black gold and suddenly the Osage are the rich dudes enjoying everything the turn-of-the-century 1920s could bring.

And then there is a great slow pace development that places the central male character as a solder returning from the war, and the romance between the two lead characters – he and an Osage woman. Then it was ugly violence and I kept thinking that if it was not tinged by the romantic portrayal of the Osage Indians then would just be a gangsters versus civilians, and not much of a film for that. So, great potential but turned floppy.