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Feeling Happy and Proud of The Achievements of The Human Race?

These two movies will you cure you of that. They'll make you feel complicit in the most shameful and despicable aspects of human nature - and rightly so. We ARE complicit, being human.

And Africa! You just have to shake your head and vote Bob Geldof and Bono for PM...

But fortunately, we non-celebrity entertainment consumers can just pay our money to Hollywood and we are ENTERTAINED as well, then we can walk home from Shaw Cinemas along Scotts, snuggle up in front of the computer and blog about...


1: Lord of War - Nick Coppola Cage as a totally conscience-less arms dealer.

You sorta get the message from the opening sequence - a computer-generated sequence, presumably - following a bullet from its manufacture in the United States through the stages of production, packing, shipping, sales, into the breech of a rifle of an African guerilla, and from there down the barrell, along the street and into the forehead smack dab above the startled eyes of a small boy who had the misfortune to be born in the wrong continent at the wrong time...

The story was predictable enough with the expected vunerable people getting killed off at the expected plot junctures... But a strong moral lesson. You should see the size of this diamond!

OK not so much money to Hollywood on this one - E@L watched it last weekend on a pirate Thailand DVD - it started up in Thai. And his dying plasma screen lasted as pretty much normal until about half-way through, when went it began to progressively lose colours and started reversing the contrast. It was such a riveting movie though we didn't really care... Black is white, green is red, whatever, we just needed to get to the end.

2: The Constant Gardener - not about crocuses. Rafe Ralph Fines Fiennes as British FO duddy with a gorgeous yet deceased wife (Racheal Weiss, but you knew that) who has come to the unhealthy (for her) realisation that the normal workings of the pharmaceutical industry are not 100% ridgy-didge. Obviously a slow learner.

(Saw this one tonight in the cinema in town. Paid my money and took my seat.)

This in one of those few movies that can stand on its own relative to its very good source novel (which I had just finished on the plane back from KL yesterday.) This was mainly due to the superb direction, the colour work and hand-held camera of director Fernando Meirelles (City of God). The score was haunting, chilling, as well. As you'd expect, the scenes in the slums of the African town were peerless in their naturalistic depiction of the harrowing poverty and the filth... don't talk to me about plastic bags... and then the irony of all those laughing children running alongside the car...

And real people in real marketplaces and real slums apparently.

*NB* Spoilers Ahead!

I'll give you a moment to adjust your seating.

The movie only let me down on one point (OK two), in that it shifted the ultimate guilt from the nefarious drug companies themselves onto a single self-serving, peerage-seeking bigwig in the Foreign Office. This was a bit of a cop-out. And he didn't get away with it, which was also a cop-out compared to the relentless anger and frustration evident in the super-sad ending of LeCarre's book.

OK. Spoilers over!

As we know, Pfizer, or was it Merck (both probably), did the same as went on here, but with their CoxII anti-inflamatory drugs and in America and Europe!, not safely tucked away in some guinea-pig haven like Africa. They had their researchers reclassifiy patients with heart attack deaths as being non-coronary related! Yet they fucking got away it for years. Bastards. And here I was saying to a friend who had a tendonitis, "Take Vioxx, it works great!" She'll never trust me again. Well it did work great unless you had atheroscelrosis, in which case you were twice as likely to die of a heart attack. Suppressed the results of the last 50% of the data collection too, because it was bad! Fuck the FO, it's Big Pharma all the way - bunch of greedy, lying, murderers.

You heard it here first: The Pharmaceutical Companies are the Seven Headed Beast of The Apocalypse! (Or was that the Stock Market? My anti-everything stance sometimes confuses me...)

Apt quote from Pete Postlethwaite doing a what? Belgian? accent: "Big Pharma, they're right up there with the arms dealers..."

I think he has the direction wrong.

[E@L checks his email... And E@L is relieved to have just missed a posting to deepest, darkest Africa thanks very much. A colleague is going to Kenya for work next month. Looks as filthy and dangerous as Indonesia. Shit, next mail... E@L has got a two week posting in Jakarta coming up in recompense for his sins... Spoke too fucking soon. Please, don't make me stay at the Hilton. Not the Jakarta Hilton!]



Posted by: expat@large on Feb 19, 06 | 12:08 am | Profile


oh dear.... the year is 2006 btw.

Posted by: trousersnake on Feb 19, 06 | 2:59 am

Not in Jakarta it isn't - it's still the height of the Asian financial crisis as far as they are concerned. No-one seems to have told them it is over.

In parts of Africa, it is about 4,000BC, but with guns.

Posted by: expat@large on Feb 19, 06 | 10:47 am

I admire your optimism!!...do tell more about big pharma, interesting stuff. I grew up in a house full of drug company promotional shite, all you could hear was my dad cursing the evil buggers.

Posted by: trousersnake on Feb 19, 06 | 5:50 pm


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