Tag Archives: controversial

Please do not recline your seat

There’s this video going around, filmed by a woman who has reclined her seat on a plane, of the man behind her — who is unable to recline his seat — repeatedly punching the back of her seat in protest.

It’s fuelled a good amount of this week’s outrage on social media and in news outlets. Who is in the wrong?? Tell us what you think in the comments!!

First of all, the guy punching the seat is behaving objectionably. Anger management classes might be warranted.

Second, the existence of the seat reclining feature does not entitle anyone to use it without consideration for the person behind them. There’s this books podcast I love, but I nearly stopped listening to it when one of the hosts ranted about how the seatbelts-no-longer-compulsory alert is ‘the universal signal to recline your seat’ and anyone who protests is being rude.

I never recline my seat, and that’s because if the person in front of me reclines their seat, I enjoy grooves in my knees for days afterward. I wish they would do away with it. If you want to sleep on a plane, pay more for a premium seat. If you just want to lean back while you watch MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: FALLOUT on a fuzzy seven-inch screen, you are a sociopath.

Which isn’t to say I’m not a sociopath when it comes to certain other controversial debates regarding personal use of public spaces. But when it comes to reclining your seat on a plane, I am Greta Thunberg standing up to the lawmakers and sycophants; I am The Resistance. I am fighting for good.

This is all just a distraction from the real issue, though. The real issue is that airlines have commodified comfort on planes, and that millions have bought into it wholeheartedly, to the extent that many of the responses to the video are along the lines of, ‘the guy shouldn’t complain it’s his fault he paid for a seat that doesn’t recline’.

A sane world would have plane seats that offered comfort to everyone at a consistent price.

A saner world probably wouldn’t have planes at all, as the temperature in Antarctica hits 20°C.

But let’s not get distracted from the distraction, which is the real real issue here.

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Kerala’s Obsession with Gold

There are a few commodities in Kerala that will always be in high demand. Rice, obviously, and the coconut products that invariably accompany it at mealtimes. Liquor, as previously mentioned, is on an upward consumption curve. And then there’s gold. Even as ubiquitous and controversial as liquor has become, it cannot hold a candle to the influence of gold in the average Malayali’s life. The desire to acquire and hoard it seems to be hard-wired, a vital element in the struggle to survive and, if you’re fortunate, to be upwardly mobile. To put it simply, in Kerala, gold – like Gordon Gekko’s greed – is good.

…read more at The NRI…

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The 00s: Film (Fiction) – 10-6

10. Sur mes lèvres (Read My Lips) (Jacques Audiard, 2001)


From one of the most consistently fascinating directors around came this riveting, subtle yarn of two individuals who could never have expected to fit together. Carla (Emmanuelle Devos) is a put-upon secretary whose near-deafness is viewed as a crutch, both by her associates and by herself; Paul (Vincent Cassel) is a greasy ex-con trying to get a start in the legal economy. If the tagline – “She teaches him good manners; he teaches her bad ones” – isn’t tantalising enough, there is a charged passion and emotion that builds through the film to a heart-in-mouth, near-silent climax and a perfect postscript. This is one of those films that it’s just so hard to find any fault with; it’s also a damned fine thriller in its own right.
Classic moment: An extraordinary, protracted scene of lip-reading that is almost too tense to bear.

9. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004)


Charlie Kaufman was the celebrity screenwriter of the 00s. Films like Adaptation. and Synecdoche, New York showed that there are still new things to be done (and done very well) in mainstream cinema, but Eternal Sunshine represented the most balanced harmony yet realised from a Kaufman script. It was the perfect marriage between his crushing cynicism and Michel Gondry’s playful, childlike aesthetic, and with great acting across the board, including the best turn of Jim Carrey’s career, this love story of memories, disappointments and ultimately hope had a unique shine. It reminds me of how unusual it is to see recognisable characters up on the screen – people you can identify strongly with, and feel like you’ve met before. If the characters have a somewhat defeatist attitude, it’s because that’s what Kaufman sees all around him in an age of short attention spans and hurried divorces.
Classic moment: Joel wakes up – again – to the tune of Jon Brion’s wonderful score, and the narrative threads start to connect.

8. City of God (Fernando Meirelles, 2002)


When City of God burst onto the screen in front of a packed house at the Christchurch Film Festival in 2003, that now-iconic blade sharpening and running chicken made everyone shut up and pay attention. When we emerged a little over two hours later, the dynamic storytelling of Meirelles’ film had rendered the real world toothless and banal, as if everything was in slow motion – our own lives so much less interesting after witnessing those played out in the favekas of Rio de Janeiro. The kids, the gangs, the violence… it was so different, so brutal and alive. It was, as Empire magazine put it, ‘at once a laboratory for cinema technique and a victory for raw heart… a snot-nosed, blood-stained masterpiece’.
Classic moment: The motel murderer is revealed in truly chilling fashion.

7. Dogville (Lars von Trier, 2003)


von Trier was probably the decade’s most controversial director, serving up Dancer in the Dark, Manderlay, Antichrist and Dogville – all fascinating works that completely polarised critical opinion. Those that liked him couldn’t get enough of him; those that didn’t truly detested him, leading to press conferences of an almost threatening tone (3:50 in this clip). I’m firmly in the former camp: his films are the work of an artistic genius, bursting with ideas that go against the grain of popular thought, and Dogville is his most triumphant statement – both artistically and philosophically – yet. Shot on a barren soundstage, it tells the story of a woman on the run from gangsters who is sheltered in a tiny village; this being a von Trier film, things do not go well. Far from being the anti-American statement so many made it out to be, this is a story that speaks to the whole of humanity and to the close-minded nature we all have in some way or another. The final scenes are some of the most truthful, and gripping, of the decade.
Classic moment: The gangsters catch up with Grace, and the boss tells her she has a tough lesson to learn.

6. Irréversible (Gaspar Noé, 2002)


While I’m on the subject of controversial films, this… is about as controversial as the 00s got. Told in reverse, this is the story of a rape and a murder, and both scenes are protracted, graphically detailed and almost impossible to watch. Still, Noé’s aim isn’t merely to shock. The film works on a number of levels: the nature of the beast within, the dynamics of human relationships, our voyeurism as filmgoers, the capability of CGI and special effects to enhance a cinema experience, and of course the film’s central conceit: that ‘time destroys everything’. Were it structured solely around those two scenes, it would be more of an interesting if off-putting experiment; however, with a third act in which the previously dizzying camera slows down and shows real-life husband and wife Vincent Cassel (that man again) and Monica Bellucci canoodling during a lazy morning in bed – the opposite of those earlier scenes – Irréversible is elevated to an uncommonly high level. At the same time it’s a film I hesitate to recommend to anyone, as it’s the most realistically violent film I’ve seen save The Passion of the Christ, but those who come to it with an open mind and a good deal of mental preparedness will likely be rewarded. It made me feel physically sick, and haunted me for weeks, but I left the cinema in stunned admiration.
Classic moment: The two friends go on a horrible, disorienting odyssey through the gay nightclub ‘Rectum’, searching for Alex’s rapist.

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Filed under 'Best Of' Lists, Film