Truth And Fiction

Many of my favourite films of recent years have been classified as documentaries (The Fog Of War, Cave Of Forgotten Dreams, Inside Job, Beware Of Mr Baker, Nostalgia for the Light, Stories We Tell….) but the one that won the Bafta in that category last year takes the genre into brave, new territory.

In The Act Of Killing, filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer puts in front of the camera a handful of the gangster* paramilitaries who helped the Indonesian army torture and kill around a million ‘communists’ in 1965/66. He then encourages them to create fictionalised versions of their acts. Being still highly-regarded by the current regime, they are keen to do so and, being fans of Hollywood films, they use the language of the Western, film noir, the musical and the gangster film.

The result is a devastating, upsetting, mesmeric, often surreal, portrait of corrupted humans who are celebrated and still valued by a corrupt government. It is now available on DVD/Blu-ray and I urge you to see it.

*The label ‘gangster’ is worn as a badge of honour, as it is understood to mean ‘free man’. Hence the use of Born Free in the film.

Continue reading

Give Us A Break!

It’s great that the level of activity here has increased recently but I think it’s highlighted the need for a little bit of posting discipline (Postman Pat in leathers?! – Ed).

Can we restrict the amount of a post that appears on this Spill Home page, to make it easier and faster to scroll up and down? The Guardian blogs, for example, keep everything but the title, one picture/video/playlist and a couple of paragraphs of text hidden after a ‘continue reading…’ link. Can we follow suit, please?

To make this happen, all that is required is that, when creating a new post, you use the ‘Insert More Tag’ button after a bit of blurb and an image/video/playlist. The button is circled below (although the top and bottom lines are thicker and blacker nowadays):

more_button

On a PC, Alt+Shift+T has the same effect.

When the post appears, a Continue Reading tag is inserted and everything after that point moves to a second page.

Obviously, many people already do this. I think it would be a good idea for all of us to do it. Continue reading

Losing A Fortune, Sadly

One half of the UK’s best and most enduring satirical comedy double acts has just departed this life. With his partner-in-crime, John Bird, John Fortune ripped into the lunacy of political and economic life for decades. Their interview set-up – in which they took turns as interviewee George Parr – found a home on Rory Bremner’s show (the closest we came over here to Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert) and exposed the absurdity, hypocrisy, self-delusion and downright lies spewed out by the men (always men!) of our self-serving Establishment.

Here’s an example from 2008, when capitalism did a poo on everybody. Please be amused and angry in equal measure.

Let’s all give thanks that all that stuff got sorted out and we can now look forward to the coming year, sure in the knowledge that we won’t have another property-based economic bubble……

Sunshine Daydream

I’ve been intending to post something about the GD May ’77 box set that arrived three months ago. It contains some great music (particularly on the more delicate songs) but this week’s arrival has rather put it (almost literally) in the shade.

The official release of the 1972 Springfield Creamery Benefit concert and the film made of it, Sunshine Daydream, is a marvellous thing. A long-available soundboard recording and bootleg copy of the film on YT have hinted as much but the properly-mixed 16-track sound and a beautifully-restored set of visuals confirm it in spades.

Jerry Garcia couldn’t understand why anyone would want to film the band on stage (“We just stand there. We don’t do anything.”) but, with the addition of Prankster animations and copious shots of roasting hippies, the film is a fantastic document of a communal celebration of life through music. For example:


(Warning: contains naked human wobbly bits)

The film shows the final Dark Star/El Paso/Sing Me Back Home sequence, in which a star dies, two cowboys are killed and a prisoner walks to his execution. Whereas much of the show is suitably sunny and joyful, this is not: it is difficult, harsh and desperately sad. Yet also wonderfully cathartic.

This is the end of Dark Star. It is some of the most involving and intricate acid jazz* collective improvisation you’ll ever hear. To watch it being constructed from thin air is a jaw-dropping delight.

*Acid jazz = jazz improvised whilst under the influence of LSD.