The colour of bullshit

Some progress at last! We'll need to flesh out one or two details later, obviously, but the good news is our Prime Minister has a firm handle on precisely what colour Brexit needs to be. And it's not just one colour, it's three: red, white and blue!

That certainly seems to clarify matters.

They've been putting an awful lot of thought into this, you can tell. I feel almost stupid for voting for the other side.

Spectacular solution

Genius solution

Film review: Jack Reacher (2012)

Tom Cruise has never won an Oscar. Not once. Not for Eyes Wide Shut. Not for Knight and Day. Not even for Mission: Impossible 2.

He has come tantalisingly close a few times. Like when he played opposite Oscar-scooping Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man. And when his first ex-wife, Nicole Kidman, won an Academy Award for donning a prosthetic nose to look utterly unlike Virginia Woolf in The Hours. Not to forget the time Cruise shouted ‘SHOW ME THE MONEY!’ over and over again, only to see Cuba Gooding Jr pick up an Oscar for shouting exactly the same catch-phrase in exactly the same film.

Close, but no Oscar.

Infuriatingly, Cruise even failed to pick up an Academy Award for portraying a man paralysed from the waist down in Born on the Fourth of July. Roles in which non-disabled actors play people with disabilities are usually an Oscar shoo-in. Think of the aforementioned Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man, Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot, Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman, Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump, Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets, Colin Firth in The King's Speech, Jamie Foxx in Ray, and Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything. Yet still no ‘And the winner is…’ for poor old Tom Cruise. He must have been kicking himself. (Metaphorically, in real life, I mean; not literally, in the movie, obviously.)

In a stroke of potential genius, however, Cruise more recently attempted to turn Oscar-contention convention on its head in the 2012 action thriller Jack Reacher. In this film, based on Lee Child’s novel One Shot, Cruise, an actor five-foot-seven-inches in stature, portrays the eponymous Jack Reacher, a peripatetic private investigator whose most notable feature is that he is six-foot-five-inches tall. Not that being five-foot-seven counts as a physical disability, you understand. But portraying an extremely tall man clearly pushed Tom Cruise's acting ability to the limit—which is exactly what he needed to happen, if he hoped to be an Oscar-contender.

Having a rather short man play someone approaching gigantism also conveyed certain dramatic benefits on the movie, not least in the fight scenes. At one point in the film, Reacher is challenged to a fist-fight by four hired ne'er-do-wells. Scaled up, each of these ruffians must be approaching eight-foot tall, adding considerably to their menace. Indeed, the whole fight sequence is reminiscent of Bilbo Baggins taking on the three trolls in 2012's other action-packed blockbuster, The Hobbit: an Unexpected Journey.

Reacher v troll

Reacher polishes off a troll with a well-aimed blow to the nuts.

All of which makes Tom Cruise's failure to secure even a nomination for best actor for Jack Reacher so utterly incomprehensible. It's almost as if the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have something against not particularly tall people.

Yet hope springs eternal. Undaunted by the gaping void in his awards cabinet, Cruise returned to the role he had already made his own in this summer's sequel, the ironically titled Jack Reacher: Never Go Back.

It can only be a matter of time before Oscar recognition is finally conferred on Tom Cruise. Next February, surely…

Jack Reacher (2012): 7/10

Theoretical frivolousness

Michael Wood writing about Roland Barthes in the latest edition of the London Review of Books (subscribers-only link):

Two years after Barthes’s death, Chantal Thomas wrote very well of ‘the persistence of a theoretical desire progressively liberated from a concern with seriousness or consequence’. Does that sound frivolous?

Well, does it? I mean, if you absolutely had to choose an adjective to describe the phrase ‘the persistence of a theoretical desire progressively liberated from a concern with seriousness or consequence’, would frivolous be the first to spring to mind? As opposed to incomprehensible, say, or (I'm tempted to suggest) meaningless.

It's unfair, perhaps, to quote two sentences out of context, so here's the whole paragraph in which they appear:

Two years after Barthes’s death, Chantal Thomas wrote very well of ‘the persistence of a theoretical desire progressively liberated from a concern with seriousness or consequence’. Does that sound frivolous? The concept of theoretical desire suggests a project that might be urgent, as well as fun. Barthes himself has a wonderful phrase about theory. ‘To some extent, theory is also a fiction’ – the context is a 1977 discussion of Sartre’s philosophical novels – ‘and it was always in this guise that it tempted me: theory is, as it were, the novel that people enjoyed writing over the last ten years.’ Theory was the novel Barthes enjoyed writing – many critics were busy thinking they were philosophers – and perhaps the only novel he needed to write.

Actually, no, on second thoughts, perhaps frivolous was closer to the mark after all.

Making America grate again

Those crazy Yanks think they can out-stupid us…

Watch and learn, America.

Judge not, lest ye be smirched

Dear, oh dear! The poor old Daily Heil is receiving some right stick from the unelected liberal elite for having the temerity to suggest that judges should base their decisions on what 52% of the British public has been duped into thinking it wants, rather than on any spurious legal arguments.

When you think about it, though, getting judges to make their rulings in line with what the Daily Heil tells its readers to think is a brilliant suggestion. The UK is desperately short of judges. Indeed, as the Heil was quick to point out, we're so short of judges, we're having to resort to employing openly gay men to make up their numbers. It's political correctness gone mad! I can only assume this shortage of judges must be down to the UK's notoriously rigorous judging exams.

Which is why the Heil's suggestion is so brilliant, you see. If we base our legal decisions on what it says in the leader pages of the tabloids, we don't need to put judges through rigorous judging exams any more; we just issue them with a copy of today's Daily Heil and a rubber stamp. Easy-peasy!

What could possibly go wrong?

Daily Heil

The leader page of the Daily Heil on Friday.

Carolyn shows me her clam