Lawless – Pretty boy actors never get hurt

Recommendation: Only go and see it to get out of the rain

Why is it that pretty boy actors never seem to suffer from beatings, however protracted or vicious?

In this quite dire film the LeBoeuf character is almost beaten to a pulp. However in the next scene you would have thought he had gone through nothing more traumatic than a bad shaving experience.

With such a beating he would be spitting out teeth, have a broken jaw, would be puffed up for days and then his face would be black and blue for weeks. He wouldn’t be able to speak let alone pledge revenge; wouldn’t be able to stand up, let alone take a casual drink at the bar; and would have been a stretcher case after receiving such punishment to the head.

Yet he is out courting the preacher’s daughter within a day or two

Why is this?

This is not an isolated situation. It was almost the same in Gangs of New York (2002) when Leo DeCaprio gets slashed with a meat cleaver by the Butcher but again, after a few days convalescence under the ministrations of a pretty girl, all we see is a scratch. Perhaps having a pretty nurse can perform a miracle cure?

There seems to be a rule in Hollywood (or is it written into their contract) that pretty boys can’t even be seen to be marred on the screen, at least for no longer than is necessary. Is this because heroes can’t be permanently physically scarred as that indicates evil in Hollywood filmography. And pretty boys are not really evil, even when they take on the role of a baddie (as, for example, is the case in Brad Pitt’s latest outing in Killing them softly, (2012)).

To do this might turn away shallow little girls from the cinema or the studio might get complaints from fans disturbed that their pin-up boys are damaged goods.

But this is not a new phenomena.

Paul Newman, in Cool Hand Luke (1967), gets beaten until he can’t stand up by George Kennedy. He looks slightly bruised as he finally collapses to the floor, with no strength left to fight (though his will remains intact) but he recovers incredibly quickly considering they are in the barbaric environment of a southern US prison farm.

At least Newman was, generally, a good actor – although DeCaprio is getting better but LaBoeuf still has a long way to go.

It’s possible to go even further back when the likes of Alan Ladd or John Wayne would get beaten up by the ‘baddies’ and as they pick themselves up out of the dirt they only need a flick of the head to get their hair back into place. The only injury they display is no more than a drop of false blood from the side of the mouth, to be gently wiped away with the hankie of whichever ‘doxy with a heart of gold’ who has been contracted for the film.

However, this is not the case with pretty women. For example, Jessica Alba in The Killer Inside Me (2010). There was a lot of criticism surrounding this film that the violence was gratuitous and that turned a lot of people against the film with accusations of misogyny.

Violence plays a part in the cinema in the same way that it does in society. OK, cinema probably depicts a disproportionate amount. But technology now provides film makers with the ability to present images and sounds that are even more real than reality and has the effect of making it more horrific. This seems to be a positive rather than a negative result as meaningless violence can be made out to be so sickening that it has the effect of making it more unacceptable.

If cinema can have such an effect it seems a shame to spoil it just to fulfil the contracts of the boy star.

After all it’s only a film, nobody is really being purposefully hurt. Watch The Stuntman (1980). They get up, remove the prosthetic rubber and go out partying that night.

San Joan de Reus University Hospital

San Joan de Reus University Hospital

Aerial view of the entrances to the hospital

Innovative modern architecture is evident in the recently opened San Joan de Reus University Hospital, on the outskirts of the city in the southern part of Catalonia. This is yet another example of where the countries of Europe lead the way when it comes to modern architecture.

I only spent little over an hour in Reus on the way to the airport. My original plan was to spend a few days getting to know the city (I’d never been there before) but as time just seemed to run out all of a sudden that was one of the plans that suffered. It seemed quite an interesting place, in a quiet way, and sitting on the bus I thought to return and make an effort to spend some time there in the future.

That became a certainty as the bus to the airport arrived at the edge of the city itself and the beginning of the industrial estate that contains the airport. Coming around the corner we passed along the whole length of one of the most impressive hospital buildings I’ve ever seen.

It’s officially called the San Joan de Reus University Hospital and was opened only a couple of years ago in 2010. For such a huge building there didn’t seem to be a lot of activity so, at the time of writing, I’m not sure if it’s one of the white elephants that seem to proliferate on the peninsular at the moment. It seems far too big for such a small place as Reus (but it does have a large oncology unit that serves the Tarragona region). There was a programme on British radio, more or less 6 weeks ago, about the airport in Ciudad Real in Castille, that was opened and then closed within a couple of years and now lies collecting cobwebs.

The Reus hospital comes from the architectural practice of Mario Corea, based in Barcelona. Its mission statement for the project introduces an interesting approach which other architects could do well to consider.

The project is presented as a major horizontal unit with light wells on which six two- storey hospitalization volumes rest as if they were floating.
The idea of this hospital design is to control its size and make it similar to the urban dimensions, controlling and balancing the landscape impact of such a building in the city.’

But that didn’t come cheap. The cost ranged from 120 to 170 million Euros on the different websites I consulted. Don’t know why there is such a wide variation, it’s not as if you can just ‘lose’ 50 million Euros – or can you?

As I was on my way out I don’t have any pictures of my own of the hospital but have provided a few links to some web sites which will give you an idea of what I’m talking about. On those pages there are a mixture of photographs and artist impressions.

But when I see buildings like this the question that comes to my mind is this: why does Spain, and has done so for, at least 25 years, benefit from interesting, innovative and aesthetically pleasing architecture when we in the UK are (more often than not) presented with the second class, the generic and the banal?

This is the case even when world-famous British architects are involved. For example, Foster has a huge practice just outside of Madrid, you pass it if you go to Segovia by road, due to the fact they have been commissioned to see through a number of projects in the country. And when British architects win commissions in Spain their creations are something unique, different and distinctive.

Whereas in this country we get designs which seem to be ‘off the shelf’, with little originality and if they have anything to say about them it’s that they are tall, as can be seen by The Shard in London.

And that seems to be the ambition of those who want to develop the waterfront in Liverpool. For reasons which I just can’t fathom they want to make the Liverpool skyline rival that of Shanghai. Why?

I’m not that impressed, personally, by what I’ve seen of Shanghai (which I haven’t seen in actuality) nor Hong Kong (which I have) but I’m even less impressed with the idea that Liverpool should compete with those two destroyed cities on the other side of the world.

The early 20th century Pierhead is unique. Those three major buildings (and some of the others close by, on or close to the Dock Road) mean the only place in the world you can be is in Liverpool.

If we are to get some new buildings along both sides of the Mersey it would be a pleasant change if we had structures which can be compared favourably to the bridges of Santiago Calatrava, for example, whose structures have actually enhanced the Guadalquivir in Seville, or the Auditorio de Tenerife, which stands next to the ocean at Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

The proposed design for the new Royal Hospital looks interesting but retains the idea that higher equates to better.

I don’t know when I might have another chance to visit Reus but one of the places I will be heading for is this building on the outskirts of the city.

Charity is the answer!

Charity from the Catholic Church or asking for other hand-outs is the suggested way out of the crisis in Catalonia, according to a judge. In Britain and the US the answer is in the growing number of ‘Food Banks’ to provide emergency food aid.

Whilst in Catalonia I wrote a number of posts of the direct action that different groups (starting in Andalusia) have been taking in opposition to the austerity measures of the government. These measures were having the effect of forcing some people into such dire circumstances that they couldn’t even afford to feed themselves. The last post on this issue was about the spread of this action to Catalonia, to the town of Villafranca de Penedes.

En route out of the country (in fact, in a bar in Reus thinking it was better to spend an hour there than in the airport) I was able to read about the decision of the court in this last case.

Things moved very quickly as the action took place on the Monday and the case went before a judge on the Wednesday. The person charged was accused of knowingly trying to pay for goods with a card that had no credit. Don’t know enough about Spanish law to say whether that was actually a crime of fraud or whether it falls into another category. Whatever the case she was condemned to pay a fine of €90 (which it was said were the court costs of bringing the case before a judge) plus the cost of the goods taken away (€240.45).

I haven’t been able to find out what the group that made the raid on the supermarket are going to do in the face of this court decision. I would assume that after they had made their point they would pay up, martyrdom at this stage is neither a good political tactic nor worth the suffering, the movement is still in its infancy.

What I want to address here is the statement made by the (female) judge when she laid down the penalty. (Don’t know why I make a point of it being a female judge, perhaps it’s just that as Spanish differentiates between male and female in the language I know it was a woman.)

Anyway, what she said was that it was not for people to take the law into their own hands, however serious might be their situation, as they always had recourse to Caritas (the charity organised by the Catholic Archbishop of Barcelona) or other social services organisation who can help people in extremis.

After reading that I turn over the page of the Diari de Tarragona and read an article about how the Catalan Red Cross had distributed 3,000 cheques (totalling €180,000) to families with an income of less that €500 per month so that their children could go to school reasonably clothed and with the books necessary for their courses.

Must be getting naïve. Came across that situation in Peru after the Fujishock of July 1990 but didn’t realise that it was also a problem in Europe.

One of the points that was made in the article was that the Red Cross would give the cheques (not the cash) to the families who could then use them in stores that had already agreed to accept them. This was supposed to make it seem as if they were not actually receiving charity, so that they could be ‘discreet’ in their poverty. The article didn’t make clear, or I missed it, exactly how big an area this covered, whether it was all of Catalonia or just the Tarragona area but I can only assume that there must be many other thousands of families in similar circumstances throughout the rest of the peninsular.

I’m only back in Liverpool for a couple of days before there’s a piece on the late night Radio 4 Ten O’clock news about ‘Food banks’ in the UK.

It seems that one of these institutions, run by a church, in Ebbw Vale is regularly feeding 1,600 people.

An organisation called the Trussel Trust has 250 Food Banks throughout the country, now already feeding 200,000 and with the coming Benefit ‘Reform’ it is anticipated that there will be a surge in demand.

Then this piece on the radio went to compare the situation here with that in the US. It seems (I wasn’t aware of this before) that Emergency Food Aid was begun in the States in 1967. Now there are more than 60 THOUSAND Food Banks throughout the country which are providing supplementary food to MILLIONS of Americans.

What’s going on here?

Update 10th October 2012.

This article appeared on the Independent Online website.

Crisis-stricken Spaniards turn to Red Cross for help