The Thing (1982)

Film Blogs

The Thing (1982)
‘It’s not Bennings’ by Vincent Carroza

“Why don’t we just wait here for a little while…see what happens?” – R.J. MacReady

Outpost 31 was the location, and man was on the menu. Back in the early 1980s, John Carpenter set about making a contemporary tale based loosely on the Agatha Christie ‘Ten Little Indians’, but with one exception – blood and gore galore. The first time I watched it was in my early teens, and it immediately tapped into my mistrust of those around me.

Unfortunately, as I continued to re-watch the movie over the years, I began drawing comparisons to Ridley Scott’s ‘Alien’, with a sense of feeling somewhat insulted that a known, albeit left-field, filmmaker would plagiarise an established concept, only to recapture the public’s fear of extra terrestrial life (if there is any). In fact, for some considerable time it put me off revisiting the MacReady rite of passage; but after some purposeful reflection, I realized there was far more to this sci-fi suspense flick than mere plagiarism. As is always my eventual interpretation, the pattern of human relationships began to filter through, primarily through observation of playing one archetype against another, in order to seduce the viewer into false conclusions as to whom the ‘Thing’ had just inhabited.

This in itself is no easy feat, and full writing credit goes to John Carpenter, for using his own skewed view of people to pull it off. However, In addition to the complex storyline is the inventive use of practical effects, an approach so sorely missed today, and hopefully destined for a renaissance sometime soon.

On a personal note, I feel very strongly about the work of John Carpenter, despite some of his less successful outings (perhaps it’s because he is uncompromising in his vision, and because I trust the method in his madness when it comes to conveying messages through film). Needless to say, I now continue to watch ‘The Thing’ probably once, or even twice a year, because I am now firmly convinced that it requires a place in all of our lives, and because ultimately it’s just a damn good film, and a great way to spend nearly two hours in the dark, munching salted homemade popcorn.

If you haven’t taken the time to see ‘The Thing’ then it comes very highly recommended, particularly in its most current format of blu-ray, and for the purists there is the recent Arrow Video release (of which I have a Limited Edition copy, as yet unwatched), just don’t invest your time in the recent prequel/reboot as it only detracts from Carpenter’s craftsmanship and brings nothing new to the franchise.

Jaws (1975)

Film Blogs

Jaws (1975)
‘Jaws Watercolour Painting’ by Paul McPhee

“You’re certifiable Quint, do you know that?” – Chief Brody

If my memory serves me well, I was around six-years old when my mother took me to the cinema. For some insane reason I was able to get in and watch Jaws, a film experience that solidified my fear and fascination for all things shark. As a child, I would spend hours at a time perfecting my sketches of them, ensuring the pectoral fins were in proportion to both the dorsal and tail fins. However, it was not as much about the teeth these predators bore, rather the sleekness of their anatomical design – able to glide silently through the water and be upon you in the blink of an eye.

The zeitgeist of the seventies seemed to revolve around this mythical flick, and I have since lost count of exactly how many visits I have made to Amity Island (or Martha’s vineyard) in search of that sense of impending doom. But as always happens over the passage of time, the fear of one object or threat, changes with a growing awareness of ourselves, and the terrors we project from within.

Writing about Jaws today, the film is a more intimate and in some respects, affectionate affair. Instead of focusing on the beast that lurks beneath, it’s the human dynamic between Brody (Roy Scheider), Quint (Robert Shaw) and Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) that resonates most. Every time these three characters are seen pitched against nature and the elements, the camera allows me to observe how fragile, lonely, and in many ways vulnerable, these men are.

In Martin Brody, we had the new kid on the block, the outsider, with no sea legs to speak of, and an inherent fear of the water. Not only was this middle-aged father and husband starting out again, and incidentally way out of his comfort zone, he was forced to confront both his fears and those of an entire island. With little to no support from the authorities assigned his protection, and growing pressure to lie to the very people he needs to win over, I cannot imagine a worse place to wind up.

With Matt Hooper, it is a similar, yet less daunting situation. The wealthy son of an even wealthier family, he has all the toys, but lacks the experience to truly know his worth, despite having a deep love of oceanographic life, and that recognisable need to make his mark amongst his peers. Does he stay and make a name for himself, or hide behind his inadequacies and money?

Quint however, is the real lynchpin of this fable. Plagued by survivor guilt after watching his fallen comrades turn shark bait during the SS Indianapolis disaster, his only sense of existence comes from hunting down and slaying the objects of both his obsession and fear. No matter how many of these abominations he destroys, the nightmares return to haunt him, so what more fitting way to go, other than in the jaws of the biggest shark humankind has ever seen?

When the three of them go in search of this aquatic behemoth, circumstances force them to either pull together, or unhinge from one another, through fear and desperation. However, something quite moving happens instead. Despite their differences in class, age and motivation, these characters push and pull each other to the edge, yet recognize their own need to lean on each other within the third act.

It is sad that Richard Dreyfuss (Hooper) is the last man standing now, and I wonder if he shares the same love for Jaws that many others like me do? I recently bought The Deep (1977), hoping to find that similar feel for Robert Shaw’s character, but I think Quint was bottled lightning, and rightly so. More importantly, I have an admiration for all three actors, and as such, Jaws will always hold a place in my heart, just as it frightened the living wits out of me as a boy.

Ultimately, I really don’t need to ponder those who haven’t yet seen this vintage classic, as it’s been around almost as long as I have, but what I do wonder is what the film means to other viewers, and are they still afraid to go into the water?

 

Smoked Mackerel & Potato Bake

Recipes

Smoked Mackerel
‘Three Mackerel Fish’ by Theresa Tanner

This is a meal that can easily wow your guests, and please most of your family, while the experience of eating this deliciously simple dish is more than worth the effort when cooked and dished up.

Ingredients (Serves 4)
700g White Potatoes (Peeled)
Medium Onion (Finely Sliced)
25g Butter
200g pack of Smoked Mackerel fillets
25g Pack of Fresh Dill
150ml of Double Cream
100ml of Fish or Vegetable Stock
2 Tbsps of Creamed Horseradish
Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste

How to Cook

  1. Heat the oven to 175℃ and chop the potatoes into 1.5″ sized cubes.
  1. Add the potato and the onion to a pan of slightly salted water and boil gently for around 6-8 minutes before draining the pan of water.
  1. Lightly butter the base of a large metal roasting/baking tray and evenly spread the potato cubes and onion slices across the base of the tray.
  1. Peel the skin from the mackerel fillets, before breaking the flesh into evenly sized chunks and scattering them over the potato and onion.
  1. Combine the stock, horseradish and cream before slowly stirring it all into a relatively thick sauce.
  1. Finely cube the butter, before scattering it randomly over the potato cubes, onion slices and mackerel pieces.
  1. Remove the thick stalks from the fresh dill and roughly chop what’s left before scattering it over the potato cubes, onion slices and mackerel pieces.
  1. Carefully pour the cream, stock and horseradish sauce over the potato cubes, onion slices and mackerel pieces, before sprinkling over the dill and grind fresh salt and pepper over the contents of the tray to taste.
  1. Place the tray into the middle shelf of the pre-heated oven and allow to cook for 20-25 minutes, after which it should be a nice golden brown and ready to eat.

Comments
In all honesty, this is a meal that can easily wow your guests, and please most of your family (provided there’s no serious intolerance to dairy or oily fish) and while the calories are naturally weighty by comparison, the experience of eating this deliciously simple dish is more than worth it, particularly when accompanied by a slightly bitter, pre-washed, rocket salad. The other plus is that this recipe requires a short ingredients list that can be taken from most kitchen fridges, therefore you’re almost guaranteed to use those purchased ingredients again, so nothing is ever truly wasted.

The Case Law Compendium: United States Law

Books

The Case Law Compendium: U.S. Law
‘Watercolour USA’ by Unknown Artist

26 November 2017

Today marks the commencement of my writing ‘The Case Law Compendium: United States Law’, the second instalment of ‘The Black Letter’ series of books, and my excitement is quietly simmering away as I begin preparing for the months ahead.

This compendium covers the principle law modules offered within leading American universities and Law Schools at Juris Doctor level, and will therefore include civil procedure, constitutional law, contract law, criminal law, property law and tort law. While I appreciate there has been a shift towards comparative and international law, particularly within educational institutions such as Harvard University, when similarly examining both Stanford and Yale, there appears an inclination to adhere to the core fields as shown above, hence I have decided to remain true to that ethos for simplicity’s sake.

While consciously adopting a linear approach, I aim to include around 385 case studies – well over twice the number found in ‘The Case Law Compendium: English & European Law’, and although there is perhaps obvious reason for this, particularly given the size and legal structure of American jurisdiction, I feel the end result will provide law students with more than sufficient insight into the mechanics of notable U.S. case law.

On a personal note, I am very much looking forward to this journey, and estimate that the book should be finished and available for purchase around summer of 2019, adding that I will consciously try to publish new case studies to this website where time permits.

In closing, I would like to say a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to those of you who purchased my first book (or plan to soon) and I sincerely hope that my efforts have been of valued assistance when working towards your chosen vocations.

Faithfully

Electronic Signatures Neil

The world’s No.1 case law study support resource has arrived!

Books

 

The Case Law Compendium: English & European Law
The Case Law Compendium: English & European Law by Neil Egan-Ronayne © 2017

 

The rapid international appeal of The Black Letter has led to the creation and  publication of the ‘The Case Law Compendium: English & European Law’ which will provide students everywhere with:

  • 150+ English leading case law studies
  • Covering Constitutional & Administrative Law, Contract Law, Criminal Law, Equity & Trust Law, European Law, Family Law, Medical Law, Property (Land) Law and Tort Law fields
  • Complex leading cases distilled into simplified and easily digestible text
  • Each case study includes Fully OSCOLA referenced hand-selected citations for immediate use in coursework

What does this mean to me?

What this means is that by personally analysing thousands of transcript pages, all the hard work of reading, understanding and translating the minds of the judges and courts is something you can finally say goodbye to. Each case also includes hand-selected and fully OSCOLA referenced citations that can be quickly inserted into written coursework (or moot skeleton arguments) without you having to hunt for them.

So now by simply having a copy of the ‘The Case Law Compendium’ close to hand you will be able to effectively engage in tutorial debates, improve your essay writing abilities, and expedite your knowledge of a multitude of legal fields without the pain of decoding the legislation and application of jurisprudence.

So when is it available?

It is available now through most Amazon sites, Waterstones and Barnes & Noble, and thanks to the brilliance of Print on Demand technology it will always be ready for worldwide shipping in just a few clicks.

I can only emphasise just how invaluable this book will become to you as your law  course progresses, and you’ll be surprised at just how fast you learn the cases and how your confidence grows when discussing their finer points. I am supremely confident that you will also find yourself returning to the book when studying both for insight and refreshment of knowledge, and I quietly hope you will be equally excited whenever you turn to this unprecedented resource.

Please remember that it was you the worldwide readers, that inspired this book, so you owe it to yourselves to buy it (and use the hell out of it) and to tell your peers and friends everywhere, so that they too can work towards becoming an ‘A‘ student in English law.

Remember that with ‘The Case Law Compendium’ you can do it.

Electronic Signatures Neil