#notyetrecycled – Name and Shame

Have been following a few prominent British green activists on twitter and I have noticed how infrequently they say anything constructive. Most of the stuff is grandstanding rhetoric about the people that they hate. Green leaders seems more interested in left wing politics than the chance we now have (since coid19) of reorienting to a more ecologically friendly circular economy. The greens risk getting bogged down in ideological discussions about the ownership of the means of production whereas we should be more pragmatically looking for results no matter what economic ideology is in place.

So here’s an idea. Though I do my best to recycle, I find that much of the packaging is labelled #notyetrecycled. It seems weird. Why can’t the lids to plastic milk bottles be recycled? Why is the decorative packaging which encases the foils pouches of ground coffee not made from paper? Why do paper magazines need to be wrapped in not recyclable plastic? For this last one, the answer is that they don’t. As of 2019, The Ramblers excellent Walk Magazine is now wrapped in some kind of film made from potato starch. Well Done Ramblers!

How about some kind of regulations where we work toward laws which mandate that ALL packaging must be recyclable? Give organisations a number of years to comply. Of course there will be some products where this wont be possible. So what? “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try some time, you just might find, you get what you need

So, time to start naming and shaming. I suggest that every time we come across this stuff, we photograph it and bung it on social media along with a hashtag for the vendor.

This week it’s #lidl and #tesco.


The Conversation – Film Review

BBC iPlayer is currently screening The Conversation, a 1974 film directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Gene Hackman. I watcehd it and I loved it. First, I loved the look of the film. 1970s America. Big old cars, bashed up buses and massive street signs. Fantastic! Hackman is steady, understated and perfect for the role. Supporting actors include John Cazale and Harrison Ford.

The story centres around Harry, a repressed private detective who specialises in surveillance and wil get audio evidence for anyone who wants it. Harry is a loner, he lives alone and doesn’t get close to anyone. At the start when Harry is discussing the risk of fire in his apartment and the loss of his possessions, he says: “I don’t have anything personal, nothing of value”. Harry is also isolated in the film in that he is the only character completely drawn. Though we encounter other characters they are transitory and always from Harry’s perspective. The world is held at a distance.

Harry has trouble passing some audio tapes to his client and against his own rules he becomes interested in the content of the recordings. As he digs deeper, what he discovers scares him.

Cinematography is by Bill Butler. The opening scene of people moving around a San Francisco park shot using a long lens from a distance is very distinctive and sets the mood for the rest of the film; paranoia. In film making there is a bit of standard camera grammar when two people have a conversation. Usually the camera switches back and forth between two “Point Of View” (POV) shots as each person speaks. In The Conversation, when a girl tries to become intimate with Harry at a party, he is awkward and doesn’t know what to say. As they get closer the camera comes in close for these POV shots but rather than cutting back and forth, the camera starts from Harry’s POV and then swings around to her POV. Coppola repeats this several times. The camera always swings back so that it is Harry who is being observed.

The only exception to the fantastic cinematography is the oddly clichéd dream sequence but hey, this was the 70s! When talking to friends about The Conversation they praised the music (by David Shire) and I had to admit I couldn’t remember it at all. It occurred to me that this was either because it was boring and nondescript or because it was perfectly fitted to the mood of the film. Listening to the theme on youtube, I am glad to report it was the latter.

The ending is a bit strange for me but it is a film that makes you think. About Harry and the way his work has affected his life. About the plot and how much of it we know and how much we have merely inferred. In the end, much of what we believe to be the story is just guesswork. Like a detective we have fitted together a few peices of jigsaw and then guessed at the picture. Perhaps most of it was in Harry’s mind?

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017) – Film Review

Saturday night Channel 4 screened Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets an extraordinary film by its “look” alone. The gorgeous beach planet, the gigantic and intricate market place, the massive space station home to thousands of species each lovingly designed and rendered. It’s said that Besson thought making Valerian impossible due to the complexity of the CGI but was convinced it could be done after seeing Avatar.

The film is based on the French science fiction comic series Valérian and Laureline, by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières, and its roots come through in the cinematography. Shortly after the start I felt slightly disappointed with the plot. Two overly young agents with an on/off romance and a large Jabba like gangster felt clichéd but, after a while I adjusted to the style. It has the naïve confidence of a comic. It’s meant to be fun! From the outrageously camp military hats to Rihanna’s shapeshifting Glamopod dance. This is no Hollywood commodity but a Luc Besson vanity project. Financed by crowd funding and Besson’s own money the film has the wit, inventiveness and playfulness of The 5th Element. After meeting an eccentric sea captain, seemingly modelled on Black Adder’s Redbeard Rum, and being pursued by gigantic sea monsters the captain idly slips in “I’m Bob, by the way….”. There is also an underlying political theme. From the miliaristic humans who destroy nearby planets as a by product of their war, to the multispecies space station with its clear analogy with New York, to the inability of the human elite to accept responsibility because of the risk of reparations and economic decline.
However this is an imperfect film and perhaps due to Besson’s enthusiasm. He seems to have loved the comic so much that he felt a need to include too much. Indeed, toward the end, one wonders if scenes had already been cut as the ancient spacecraft from the 21st century seems to appear from nowhere. By convention feature films run for around 90 minutes but Besson adds nearly 50 minutes more. Despite the lavish effects and brilliantly sinister K-Tron shock troops, the film drags and, though the strange sea captain is good, the scene does little to serve the story.
Overall the film is a must see for its wit, extravagant visuals and sheer pizzazz but one wonders if a little more discipline may have made this a great film.