Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Five reasons why the film, Sliding Doors is implausible

The film Sliding Doors is a lot like the film, Love Actually:  It is an incredibly annoying film but I find myself watching it from behind a cushion every time it's on TV.

I think I watch it because of these two things:
  1. Gwyneth's short blond hair-do.
  2. The Dido song they play over the credits at the end. 
The rest of it, I loathe.

What I really should do is Google  "Gwyneth's Sliding Doors hair-do" and listen to the song on my i-pod.

But I never learn. And last Sunday, I once again sat through 90 odd minutes of Gwyneth Paltrow's 'shagging' British accent and John Hannah's distracting eyebrows.

And once again I found certain plot points completely implausible. Here they are.

5 reasons why the plot of Sliding Doors is completely implausible


1. Gwyneth Paltrow's accent

Despite her valiant  "stiff upper lift" nasal rendering of a British accent, it all falls apart when she has to deliver lines like this:  "You bastard, you bastard. You useless shagging bastard."  During these oh-so-colloquial "shagging this, shagging that"  bits I needed two cushions; one for each ear.

2. A man who slavishly repeats Monty Python catch cries, is a man to be avoided at all costs

When Gwynnie meets the talking eyebrow man (John Hannah) he tries to cheer her up by saying this: 

 "You know what the Monty Python boys always say ... Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!"

At which point, if it were a realistic script, Gwyneth would say, "I'm sorry, I just realised that I have to be over there."  And walk quickly in the opposite direction without looking back. And then the next time she sees him, (in a bar as per the film) she would dive UNDER the bar and hide from him lest he come over and tell her about the Spanish Inquisition again. (Which he does A LOT and no one ever tells him to shut up.)

It is a known fact that men who quote Monty Python are insufferable unfunny boors.  (While I don't mind the odd, "Run away! Run away!"  it's the entire tracts of obscure phrases that push the friendship.) However, in the film, this is the beginnings of Gwynnie's finding him charming and attractive.  She's quite a good actor, despite her accent woes and her face clearly says: "Hang on, this guy is quite interesting and quirky, I wonder when I will see him again."


Further to that ...

3. Acting out Monty Python sketches makes you a lady repeller, not a lady magnet

Then they go to a dinner party and John Hannah re-enacts an entire Monty Python sketch, complete with red-faced "giving it petrol funniness" and wacky "I'm a terrific John Cleese mimic"  voices.  Everybody is laughing so hard they can barely speak! They're leaning forward, clutching their stomachs with their mouths open in gasping mirth. The camera pans around the table about three times to make the point that everyone is having the TIME OF THEIR LIVES and this guy is SUCH A WAG.

Gwyneth is creasing herself and instead of getting up from the table and saying, "I'm sorry everybody I just remembered that I'd rather be at home poking forks into my eyeballs," and hot-footing it out of there, she gazes lovingly at him across the crowded table, as though this whole Monty Python re-enactments thing has only increased her ardour.  IMPLAUSIBLE!

4. A man in purple Lycra is not a hunk of rowing spunk.

Then Gwynnie goes to Eyebrow Man's rowing race. And he's wearing a purple lycra rowing skivvy with a matching team cap that makes his curly hair sit out from under it like a clown wig.  In this get-up Gwynnie finds him devilishly attractive.


 This is taken further into the IMPLAUSIBLE realm after the race,  when Eyebrow Man 'leads' the team in some very, very unfunny group chanting work (My Highland Goat -style) and Gwynneth finds it all so charming and "fun" that she loses her hands inside the sleeves of her jumper. CUTE or what?

Not only that, this seems to be the 'a-ha' moment where she falls deeply in love with him: standing in a room full of pasty Pommie rowers who are all chanting some very unfunny stuff, while trying to balance on one leg and butt their heads forward and shouting, "Heat!" 


This is, in fact the point in a dating scenario where you consider just fucking off out the back door without explaining yourself to anyone.

5.  Starting your own PR company = renting a well-lit photogenic space and painting it duck egg blue

When Gwynnie gets sick of waitressing and delivering sandwiches, Eyebrow Man suggests she Roxy Jacenko it up and start her own PR company. Cue montage of "congratulations your business loan application has been accepted" forms clutched to the breast interspersed with fun times painting the new office duck egg blue.  Then it's all done.  She just sets up her table and chair and starts taking calls. IMPLAUSIBLE ...

... because of how much fun they have painting the room.

Anybody who has ever painted a room knows it's a c#$% of a job.  Oh it's all fun and games and cute dots of paint on the nose for about 10 seconds.  Then you have to start paying attention to the cornices and you have to paint around the light switches not to mention the bit where you have to down tools and wait for each coat to dry.


They would hate each other if they tried to paint a room together. And she would really, really grow tired of his Monty Python sketches while trapped in a duck egg blue room thick with eye-watering paint fumes.

So there you have it: five reasons why the plot of  Sliding Doors is implausible ...

Oh and the thing about living two parallel lives at once ... a little bit implausible, but not as implausible as all of the above.

Next week: Duets:  5 reasons why Huey Lewis (and the News) could never be Gwyneth's father.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Adventures in pet ownership

Kids and pets are like cordial syrup and water: is it necessary to mix them? Or could you just as well have drunk the water on its own and been happy? Before you decide, consider my own personal experiences with a variety of pets. 

Part 1: is a dog really necessary? 

Once you have finally moved beyond the toddler stage, it’s almost inevitable that everyone in the family* who was not responsible for:

a) cleaning up other people’s excrement daily
b) feeding everyone else breakfast before they fed themselves

will decide that now is a good time to get a dog.

Before you acquiesce to this mob mentality, consider the fact that dogs are just like toddlers.

  • They make your house stink
  • They leave toys and bull's penises scattered all over the floor (the bull's penis is maybe just the dog)
  • They need to be taken to the park in the morning for a run around or they go nuts in the afternoon.
  • You have to feed them.
  • Thunderstorms make them go all ... Linda Blair in The Exorcist.
  • They need to be taught over and over and OVER AGAIN that pooh and wee does not belong on the living room floor.
  • They have an aversion to bathing and disappear under the bed as soon as they hear the bath running.
  • They don’t know how to use a knife and fork.
  • They like to hang around in the nude apropos of nothing.
  • They bite people.

If after all these sound arguments,  your kids are still begging you for a dog, here's how to stave of the inevitable for a while.

Part 2:  six suggestions for an interim pet you can get before you get a dog

(As based on my own experiences and the experiences of friends.)

For reference I have rated each one according to the following scientific parameters:

Care (ie: how much you will end up caring about it.)

1. Goldfish

I am an experienced owner of about 20 goldfish. Not all at the same time, it’s just that they kept dying and we had to keep replacing them.  After a while we ran out of names so we just numbered them.  Number 20 goldfish actually committed suicide.  He disappeared from the tank and then we found him months later, stuck to the back of the chest of drawers. He was well and truly petrified (so long-dead he was a scaly husk of his former self.)  The only conclusion we could draw was that he had made a Nemo-style jump for it in order to escape us.

Stink factor: low
Maintenance: low
Care factor:  low

2. Guinea pigs

Guinea pigs are a great pet for small children.  Until you hold one, cop a feel of its rodent backbone and realize that they are just rats without a tail. Plus you have to clean out a cage full of crap and wee-soaked newspaper every second day.  Peeyoo! They stink.

We solved this by “free ranging” our guinea pigs.  Which is a fancy way of saying: we put the cage out in the council clean up and let the pigs loose in the backyard. They loved it there; they fashioned a little humpy out of a dead tree, they came running over to us when we fed them and most importantly, we didn’t have to clean their stinky cage.

Then we moved house and the new backyard wasn’t so ‘guinea pig’ friendly.

Call me heartless, but I found it hard to care when there was an urgent knocking on the door one morning and the neighbours informed us that our guinea pig was cowering beneath their car.  I had to go through the motions of trying to lure the guinea pig out with a plastic golf stick. I made all sorts of ‘tch tch tch’ noises at it and tried to remember its name. Eventually we had to go to soccer. I can’t remember what happened after that, but I don’t think we ever got the guinea pig back. Which comes under exhibit A of ‘care factor.’

Stink factor: high
Maintenance: medium (unless you let them go free range)
Care factor: low

3. Cats

If you like a more independent, self-cleaning sort of pet, cats are for you.  Personally I find cats a bit scary. My sister has a particularly evil cat who lies in wait for me at the top of the stairs, plays dead on the second step when I’m coming down and tries to kill me by tripping me down the stairs and breaking my neck. Then sometimes he just stares at me.

evil sarge

I know he’s thinking about other ways he might “off” me.  My sister claims he’s not thinking anything  because he has the brain the size of a pea. But one day I came in and found him Googling, “How to cut off a human’s air supply with your paws,” on the computer.

Stink factor: medium
Maintenance: medium
Care factor: High on your side. Low on theirs.


4. Hermit crab 

I know a little boy who has a hermit crab as a “pet.” I put that in “…” because it’s really just like having a shell in an empty fish tank and pretending that there’s something in there.

Stink factor: low
Maintenance: low
Care factor: off-the-chart low (what can I say? It’s a shell in a glass box.)

 5. Frogs 

I would highly recommend a frog as a pet. But you need to be prepared to:

a) catch live cockroaches in a glass jar at dusk
b) be woken in the dead of night by a dramatic symphony of croaking from an amphibious voice box designed to carry for kilometres through the swamps.

My brother, Michael had a frog called, “Raphael.”  Michael would go out into the street at night and catch a jar full of live cockroaches for dinner (Raphael’s, not his own.)

He also kept large gobs of Blu Tack stuck to the bedhead. One day I asked him what the Blu Tack was for and it transpired that it was the fastest and most efficient way to shut that frog up in the middle of the night. He then did a demonstration of just how hard he needed to hit the tank with the gob of Blu Tack to make the croaking stop. It was pretty hard. So FYI you have to have good aim and a very good arm.

It was particularly fascinating though, to watch Raphael eat his “dinner.”  With his big sucker hands pushing a live cockroach into his mouth … it was like a live version of David Attenborough’s, Life In Cold Blood

Stink factor: medium
Maintenance: medium
Care factor: high (if only for the nightly spectacle of watching it eat live cockroaches with its sucker hands) 

6. Mice

Mice seem like a good idea. Until you start with two and suddenly two becomes  … one … hundred. Mice have a freakish ability to reproduce and they have no morals either. Don’t think that purchasing a brother and sister from the same ‘litter’ will stop them going at it night and day.

When he was a kid, my ex-husband talked his mum into purchasing two boy mice from the pet shop.  Or. So. They. Thought.  They should have twigged when the mice kept playing piggy back. Pretty soon the mice were multiplying in the cage exponentially as a rampant incest-fest took hold.

They put the mice in a box, put the box in the boot of the car and drove out to a bush clearing to offload the unwanted mice.  Along the way, they heard squeaky noises coming from the glove box.  He opened the glove box and …

... remember that old nursery rhyme: hickory dickory dock, the mouse ran up the clock?

Well, this mouse ran via the internal workings of the car from the boot to the glove box and straight up his shorts leg.

Stink factor: high
Maintenance: high (just by sheer numbers …)
Care factor: low (Unless you get a really smart, talking one in a sweater vest like Stuart Little.)

But lastly, if you're still thinking about that dog, just consider the two images below as a sort of ink blot test.



If the image on the right doesn't put you off, then you are the sort of person who loves high maintenance relationships, so knock yourself out and go get a puppy from the pound.

Enjoy. I'll be here with my pet rock and my hermit crab.

(* Usually your kids and your husband)