Did Castro hold back Cuba?

Cuban sign reading: 'To fight against the impossible and win.'

Alongside his depiction as a “brutal dictator”, negative reflections on Fidel Castro since his death on November 25 have focused on his “mismanagement” of the Cuban economy and the consequent “extremes of poverty” suffered by ordinary Cubans. This caricature is problematic – not only because it ignores the devastating economic impact of the United States embargo over 55 years, but also because it is premised on neoclassical economic assumptions. This means that by stressing economic policy over economic restraints, critics can shift responsibility for Cuba’s alleged poverty on to Castro without implicating successive US administrations that have imposed the suffocating … Continue reading

All Watched Over By Adam Curtis

adam-curtis-2005-films

Sitting in front of All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace, it is easy to let the brilliance of the style wash over you. Illustrated with dazzling imagery, one big idea morphs seamlessly into another, while Curtis’s hypnotic narration smoothes away any cognitive bumps. Like attending a lecture by firebrand philosopher Slavoj Zizek, one comes away feeling overwhelmed and inspired by the relentless pace and mesmerising variety of idea. But there remains a niggling feeling you may have been bamboozled, a feeling that if you stopped and thought about the big themes, they would collapse into a pile of … Continue reading

High-Rise is not so far from reality

high-rise-ballard-film-2016

The new film adaption of JG Ballard’s classic 1975 novel High-Rise has been a while coming. Much like the power-cuts that interrupt life in the novel’s namesake, various attempts to translate the book for cinema have been erratic, and ultimately failed. But with director Ben Wheatley’s effort garnering positive reviews and critical acclaim, perhaps it is useful to reconsider the story’s meaning. High-Rise tells the story of Robert Laing – a middle class doctor who moves into a complex of futuristic, luxury tower blocks just outside of London. The building where Laing lives is designed to provide everything its residents … Continue reading