Monday, June 21, 2021

Review of 'Almost Famous'

A film from 2000 about a 15-year-old boy (young man?) who blags his way into writing for Rolling Stone magazine (they don't know how old he is, and he fakes a deeper voice over the phone), and ends up on tour with the rock band Stillwater, developing substantive relationships with some members of the band and their hangers-on. One of these is a young woman called "Penny Lane" who is a member of a groupie cohort called the band-aids, and it's here that the film gets problematic. The hero calls out the band because he thinks they aren't kind enough to these girls, but there's no suggestion that he or anyone else thinks that there's anything abusive about sexual relationships between men in their twenties and girls in their mid-teens.

There's surprisingly little tension in the film - the hero is never really in trouble or in danger. The band's manager is supplanted by a cool dude appointed by the record company, but the old manager who has been with them since the beginning still stays on. And so on. Frances McDormand is nice as the boy's mother.

Watched on Amazon Prime.


Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Review of 'The Moneyless Man' by Mark Boyle

I read 'The Way Home', Mark Boyle's book about living without technology, and found it just about interesting enough to want to read another book by him - because though that was mainly annoying, there were occasionally interesting insights or thoughts.

This one is the same. It's mainly annoying too. Sometimes it's smug - he rarely writes about his struggles and his failures, or even about the process whereby he learns to do stuff. I think that's because he's trying to be inspirational, and feels that writing about the process might be too disheartening - but it comes across as smug. Sometimes he writes dismissively about the people who criticize him, but often without much insight or understanding. 

He's annoyingly inconsistent about what the point of the exercise is. Is it OK that he bought stuff in advance so that he could live without money once his challenge had started? Sometimes he implies not, but he's definitely done that...the solar panel, for example. Is it OK to receive gifts that others have paid for? Same inconsistency. Is he living off the slack and waste of industrial civilisation (like scavenging food from dumpsters behind supermarkets) or is he turning his back on industrial civilisation, and only eating what he grows or forages? Sometimes it's one and sometimes it's the other.

So while there are important points to be made about personal relationships with money, and also about consumption and happiness, and the psychological aspects of self-reliance...I don't think he more than scratches the surface. I don't think that what he performs here is scalable - we couldn't all live like that, even if there are a few things that it might be worth paying attention to. If I were a single parent trying to feed and clothe kids in a way that would help my family keep its head above water I'd want to throw this book across the room, and then maybe rip it up and burn it. There would be very little in it that would help me at all.