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This post was filed under: Photos, .

‘Fallen leaves’

I steamed this 2023 Finnish film, which is by Aki Kaurismaki, who is apparently a noted filmmaker, though he’s unsurprisingly unknown to me.

I was attracted to it in part by its very manageable 80-minute running time. It turned out to be a beautifully made, understated and gentle romantic comedy. To me, it seemed tonally similar to a Charlie Chaplin film: think meaningful glances and swelling strings (the varied soundtrack is a highlight). But it is set in present-day Helsinki.

Throughout the film, we hear radio news reports regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which made me reflect on how different that horrific war must feel in a nation on Russia’s border.

A gentle film it might be, but it doesn’t shy away from difficult subject matter: alcohol addiction, exploitative zero-hours contracts, and chronic loneliness are all major themes. It’s also genuinely funny: I laughed out loud while sitting alone.

Fallen Leaves was understated, warm, and full of heart. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

This post was filed under: Film, .

A manifestly different outcome

Since I spent far too much time looking at the Conservative Party’s 2019 manifesto when writing yesterday’s post, here’s another astonishing insight.

Only one of the 22 Conservative politicians pictured in the 2019 manifesto serves in the current Government.

It’s Kemi Badenoch, if you’re wondering… and even she’s resigned from the government once since the last election.

This post was filed under: Politics, .

Forgotten promises

On the front page of yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph, a Conservative source is quoted as saying:

The Government was democratically elected on a mandate to stop small boat crossings. It is a fundamental threat to our democracy if an unelected overseas court is stopping that delivery and leaving the European Court of Human Rights must be on the table if it is the only option to uphold that promise to the British people.

Small boat crossings weren’t mentioned in the Conservative Party’s last election manifesto, so I’m not sure where that mandate came from.

The phrase ‘get Brexit done’ appeared an astonishing thirty-three times. Jeremy Corbyn received thirteen mentions—his plans were a ‘recipe for chaos’, something we can hardly claim to have avoided. Even the phrase ‘We love Boris’ appeared once—the clownish egotism promised by its inclusion was delivered in buckets.

Migrants crossing the English Channel, however, didn’t make the cut. For what it’s worth, small boats in the Mediterranean were mentioned in Labour’s manifesto, even if they weren’t on Conservatives’ minds.

On the other hand, human rights made six appearances in the Conservatives’ 2019 manifesto, including this committment:

Getting Brexit done will allow us to do more on the international stage. We will continue to be an outward-looking country that is a champion of human rights.

Threatening withdrawal from the world’s most effective international court on human rights would be a peculiar approach to keeping this promise.

Things have reached a pretty pass when a Government seeking re-election can’t accurately recall what it promised last time around.

The image at the top of this post was generated by DALL·E 3.

This post was filed under: Politics.

Souter Lighthouse

This post was filed under: Photos, .

Mul’s at the pub

This post was filed under: Art, Photos, , , .

The hazards of changing a battery

Yesterday, I changed the battery in one of the office clocks. I am the person in the office with the lowest tolerance for stopped clocks, so this job often falls to me.

When I removed the AA battery, I was surprised by how light it was. On further inspection, it turns out that it’s a carbon-zinc battery. I don’t recall seeing one of those before. The displayed manufacturing date is February 2004, so someone must have found it in the back of a cupboard: I’m not sure my current employer bought it!

Wikipedia tells me that ‘zinc-carbon batteries today have been mostly replaced by the more efficient and safe alkaline batteries’, which raised some questions. ‘Alkaline batteries offer up to eight times the battery life of zinc-carbon batteries’: so why not use them in the bloody clocks and save me up to seven jobs?

Anyway, I found the brand’s website. I perused the ‘frequently asked questions’ section. In response to ‘How should I dispose of carbon zinc batteries?’, they offer ‘It’s safe to drop them right in the household trash.’

The battery has the crossed-out wheelie-bin symbol right there on it. Batteries shouldn’t be dropped into the household trash. Not only is there a high risk of causing fires, but, in many places, they’re classified as hazardous waste.

So next time you’re browsing the battery aisle and wondering whether to choose an Eveready / Energizer product, remember that they choose to encourage their customers to dispose of products irresponsibly. Consider whether that’s an approach which really has your best interests at heart. Then, make whatever choice you feel comfortable with.

This post was filed under: Miscellaneous.

The price of flour

Here’s a question: what’s the price of the cheapest 500g bag of plain flour at your local supermarket? Here’s what I found:

Retailer Price
M&S 45p
Sainsbury’s 45p
Waitrose 50p
Morrisons 55p
Asda £1.30

That might not be as you’d expect: it’s not what I expected. I popped into Asda with the intention of buying a 500g bag of flour, and after seeing the price, walked over to M&S. I was so disbelieving of the price that I confirmed it later on the Asda website.

In fairness, Asda does sell much bigger bags of flour in a range starting from 70p, but I didn’t want a big bag. I am surprised that their premium for a small bag is so disproportionately high.

The image at the top of this post was generated by DALL·E 3.

This post was filed under: Miscellaneous.

‘Death in Paradise’

A few weeks ago, a family member, perhaps irritated by the timing of a phone call, asked Wendy and me whether we were watching Death in Paradise. We were not: I confessed that I’d never heard of it. We both assumed that it was a new TV series that had simply passed us by.

And then, listening to The Rest is Entertainment, I learned that it has been running for the better part of thirteen years, pulls in eight million viewers per week, and has sold to more than 200 territories around the world.

It’s astonishing how big cultural blindspots can be.

This post was filed under: TV.

‘Mothers’ Instinct’

I caught this film in the cinema last week, knowing nothing about it in advance. It’s taken me a while to write about it simply because I’m struggling for anything to say.

The film is set in United States suburbia in 1960, and it follows the relationship between two mothers who are next-door neighbours after one of their sons dies. It’s described as a psychological thriller. The main characters are played by Jessica Chastain and Anne Hathaway, who by their names I recognised as very famous actors, but whose faces I wouldn’t have recognised. I did recognise The Good Wife‘s Will Gardner, Josh Charles, as one of their husbands.

The word that springs to mind to describe this film is ‘bland’: there’s just not a lot to it. The plot’s a bit silly, which I suppose is somewhat fun in a ‘surely they’re not going to… oh, they did’ kind of a way, but I didn’t feel invested in any of the two-dimensional characters. I kept looking at my watch with a sense of resignation.

I suppose this just wasn’t for me.

This post was filed under: Film, , , .

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