We're not too far away from a general election, so we thought it would be fun to put the political convictions of Doctor Who companions under the microscope. Is your favourite a leftie, or a neocon? Green or anarchist? Read on...
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton make sparks fly and head an all-star cast in Anthony Asquith's film version of Terence Rattigan's The V.I.P.s (1963).
Set in London's Heathrow Airport and made in order to cash in on the scandalous affair between Taylor and Burton on the set of Cleopatra, The V.I.P.'s is a glamorous combination of melodrama and comedy in the grand tradition of Grand Hotel. Maggie Smith in one of her early roles shines as the frustrated secretary of hunky Rod Taylor. Orson Welles plays a Fellini like movie director trying to cope with tax evasion and his Italian mistress, Elsa Martinelli. But the film is stolen by Margaret Rutherford, in an Oscar winning turn, as a pill-popping dowager trying to save her ancestral home from bankruptcy. The V.I.P.s is elegant, funny, dramatic and wonderfully entertaining. Steve Hayes
(Syndication is with the kind permission of Steve Hayes.)
Chikonzi writes exclusively for kaos about why he has such a problem with "12 Years A Slave". London-based Zimbabwean Chikonzi teaches psychology and sociology.
I REMEMBER WHEN Roots was first screened on Zimbabwean TV (and was repeated endlessly thereafter). Suddenly everyone started saying "Boss", mimicking characters on the show. It's an example of how audiences respond to fictionalised respresentations of history, how T.V. and film can inadvertently trivialise the subjects they purport to honour.
That's what's going to happen to Steve McQueen's 12 Years A Slave: it will be parodied, people will find a way to laugh at it. The artists responsible for reducing this horrific slice of history to a few popcorn-fuelled thrills won't care; they'll have moved on to their next project, having plundered this one for what they could take from it - the accolades of their peers, and the applause of the adoring audience. Glittering Oscars will be handed over by wealthy Americans, still getting fat off the blood of slaves. Well done. Nothing about this is honourable; like the film itself, it's a nauseating spectacle, of self-indulgent artists, celebrity and big business in one great big circle jerk.
Hollywood only values black people when they're being degraded, when it's plundering our history of suffering and pain. Octavia Spencer bagged an Oscar for being a maid, and Halle Berry for being shafted by a white man. Now Chiwetel Ejiofor is likely to get one for being a slave.
How can anyone think it's right for people to go into a cinema to be entertained, to be "moved" by this story of degradation? If it shocks and appalls them - so what? What does that achieve, what does that fix? This film achieves nothing, and it's a lie to pretend otherwise. It is torture porn.
Then there's the sense of competing with Idris Elba in Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, that whiff of "how do we top that?" Oh yeah - slavery! There are stories to be told of human suffering around the world now, of Zimbabwe and the Central African Republic and South Africa's townships, but movie goers aren't interested in these tales. They aren't sexy stories. Slavery is sexy, and it's in vogue. Disagree? Did you go to see 12 Years A Slave? Why? Really, ask yourself why, and try to pretend that there wasn't some part of you that didn't find it exciting and sexy.
There is something inherently evil in the total lack of responsibility, to history, and to their suffering. I won't be watching 12 Years a Slave. I don't need to be told how horrific slavery was; I already know. Enjoy your Oscars guys, I hope their pain was worth it.
"I would also like to take this opportunity to squash the persistent rumours about mysterious 'disappearances' and emphasize that rural and urban areas are now enjoying a life of harmony and peace. I'm sure you're glad to hear this. And I'm happy you're glad."