Hot Girls Wanted: every kind of sexual behaviour and no type of intimacy

The documentaries, on the other hand, retrieve the real people from behind the online fantasies, the dating app swipes or the suburban horror stories, often finding them confused, caught up in a swirl of justifications, or on the difficult cusp of self-insight. But the handling is gimlet eyed, generously expanding the context, providing enough material to learn from. (In other words, human.) You can argue that they have been exploited here in other ways, exposed by more canny documentary makers for our judgment, alarm or empathy. The standout episodes are Owning It, which follows a similar path to the original film; Take Me Private, a mortifyingly entertaining and crushingly disillusioning real-life encounter between a webcam model and her besotted customer, and – most harrowing of all – Don’t Stop Filming, the story of a teenager who livestreamed the rape of her friend on Periscope, dizzied by booze and the “likes” she received. That, hopefully, should be a real turn off. “We can’t ignore that porn today is sex education,” argues Erika Lust, a filmmaker who brings “a feminine touch” to an industry that – with rivals titled Fetish F**k Dolls and Teens Get Destroyed – is squeezing it out with infinitely more degrading content. The series too is a kind of education, lensing grim realities behind the manufacture of online fantasies, from which you can either make a dire prognosis for the final corruption of human desire, or, more likely, envisage a culture familiar with every kind of sexual behaviour and no type of intimacy. All are connected stories of dehumanisation and depersonalisation in depressingly understandable circumstances. But the fault line between liberation and exploitation is a source of productive friction. “You’re literally a thing.” In a later episode, a young woman who works as a porn scout and a webcam model asserts, “I know I’m a sex object, but I control everything,” while repeating the mantra of “a successful, empowering, positive career” in porn against all evidence to the contrary. Big Little Lies review: When life as a pressurised performance blows up This week’s must-see TV: From Bear Grylls to Body Shopping Versailles review: Being judged by history while being handled by glossy TV producers Hot Girls Wanted began as a grimly disturbing film on how amateur pornstars – drawn by naivety, damage or delusion – are generally chewed up and spat out by a ravenous industry. In an …

Remaking a murderer: true-life double killer inspires novel

To be honest, for me, unlike for the makers of The Secret, it wasn’t the murderers themselves that fired my imagination. He was convicted in 2010 and is now serving a minimum of 21 years for the double murder. And there I found the Colin Howell story. There’s a kind of grief involved in finishing a book. I wanted to write about a book about the creeping numbness of middle age, how, without noticing, you go from being “promising” to being that tired guy who somehow sees his Da’s face staring back from the mirror? What if they had spent a lifetime trying to make up for it? Every ordinary family has enough drama for a dozen novels. When it came to the story of the Belfast double murderer Colin Howell and his accomplice Hazel Stewart, the makers of last year’s James Nesbitt drama The Secret went one way and I went the other. What if they have a young family? Sometimes it’s all these things at once, so you need to know that the characters and ideas you spend the next few years with are worth the effort. I was interested in how you get away with a crime so extreme, how you keep it a secret and, having managed this, what motivates one person to confess Howell remarried after his wife’s death and continued to practice as a dentist for nearly 20 years before confessing. (The title comes from the idea that scar tissue is tougher than undamaged skin. Photograph: Jonathan Ring There were also the two subjects I always come back to: the emotional turmoil of adolescence, and the everyday conflicts of family life. More fool them. The bodies were found in a fume-filled car in Castlerock, Co Derry, in 1991. The secrets, the betrayals, the power struggles: family life is natural territory for a novelist. Balancing these two stories was a high-wire act and, like any circus performer, I broke quite a few bones while learning how to manage it, but in the end I hope the book achieves what I set out to do – that it grips readers as a good thriller should, while also giving them plenty to think about. All decent writers take extreme liberties with their source material. Stephen May: “unlike for the makers of The Secret, it wasn’t the murderers themselves that fired my imagination”. The real Howell and the …

Blast from the past: ‘Angela’s Ashes: the Musical’ takes to stage

But, aided perhaps by Alan Parker’s unremittingly grim and rain-sodden 1999 film version, it has become fixed in the public mind as the epitome of Irish Misery Lit. Death. Moylan says that there has already been “a lot of interest” from Broadway and the West End. I think people who are attracted by Frank McCourt and the book will appreciate it, but so will the people who say ‘they can’t make a musical out of that’.” “It’s not a jazz hands, happy-clappy musical, but musicals haven’t been like that since the 1930s. “Some people say: ‘Angela’s Ashes? “There’s an awful lot of rain and grimness in the film,” she says. Think of Miss Saigon. Moylan, whose many theatrical successes include Stones in His Pocket, I, Keano, Alone it Stands and Tom Crean: Antarctic Explorer, had been exploring the possibility of doing a play based on the book when her attention was drawn by McCourt’s widow, Ellen, to Howell and Hurt’s show. What’s amazing about Frank’s story is all the different elements of family and emigration and it’s a very human story.” Casting is currently under way – the show does not call for child actors, as adults play the younger roles, with the narrator stepping into and out of the story as it unfolds. “There’s a recognition of the brand across the world. “We both thought there was a great story in it,” says Howell. “But I’m not making any promises,” she says. But this is a show I want to stand on its own two feet in Ireland. Rain. ” Angela’s Ashes: The Musical will play Bord Gáis Energy Theatre from July 18th-30th and will also have dates at Limerick’s Lime Tree Theatre (July 6th-15th) and the Grand Opera House Belfast (August 1st-5th) Poverty. It’s in the top 50 of the books which have sold most copies around the world. Are these the ingredients for a hit musical? As Moylan points out, though, in the book itself the apparent bleakness of the story is undercut by McCourt’s writing. It’s more than 20 years now since McCourt’s memoir was first published, going on to sell more than 10 million copies worldwide and winning numerous accolades including a Pulitzer prize. Absolutely, says theatre producer Pat Moylan, who is bringing Angela’s Ashes: The Musical to Irish stages this summer, with ambitions of taking it thereafter to an international audience. Repression. Posing for …

The Avatar sequels: Don’t bet against James Cameron as he sets release dates

Here come the post-credits movie scenes Warren Beatty: ‘I’ve had 16 books written about me. Vulgar. Right? Of course you can. If you answered “Jake Sully” then you have permission to read no more of this article (although you may still find some of it diverting). Don’t you?) But the chatter is nowhere near as cacophonous as that which followed announcement of Star Wars’ disinterment in 2012. Who is the lead character in Avatar? Avatar was just a fun, slightly silly science-fiction romp that profited from the 3D craze at its height. (You remember that joke like it was 2010. Put your phone down. Who does Mark Hamill play in Star Wars? Stop. All baloney’ Should this be a surprise? Desperate’ Back to your seat! There was some kerfuffle the last time CameronCorp talked about new episodes of Dances with Smurfs. Can you name the lead character in Gone with the Wind? Guardians of the Galaxy 2: ‘Expensive. Avatar was just a fun, slightly silly science-fiction romp that profited from the 3D craze at its height. James Cameron’s people have just confirmed that sequels to Avatar will start to emerge before Christmas of 2020. Right? I’m insulting your intelligence. Star Wars is a global phenomenon of enormous reach and resonance. Another three will arrive at 12-month intervals. No cheating. There has been some kerfuffle. After all, unless Walt Disney changes its schedule – and why would it blink first? Oh yeah, Jake Sully. In 2014 Scott Mendelson, who writes about box-office figures for Forbes magazine, published an article under the headline: “Five years ago, Avatar grossed $2.7 billion but left no pop culture footprint.” Mendelson (a fan of the film, incidentally) argued: “Its overall effect on the culture at large is basically non-existent. But they don’t seem to have connected with the characters. – the Avatar sequels will be released in the same months as successive Star Wars sequels. But the Star Wars film couldn’t get within $700 million despite trading at 2015 and 2016 ticket prices. Only a fool would bet against Jimmy ruling the first Christmas of the new decade. More people will, at Halloween, dress up as Harley Quinn, from the supposedly catastrophic Suicide Squad, than the blue version of… Yet Avatar got more than two-thirds of the way to its third billion, with $2.8 billion. Only three films have made more than $2 billion. Let us …

Hot Girls Wanted: How we’ve managed to take the people out of sex

All are connected stories of dehumanisation and depersonalisation in depressingly understandable circumstances. But the handling is gimlet eyed, generously expanding the context, providing enough material to learn from. The series too is a kind of education, lensing grim realities behind the manufacture of online fantasies, from which you can either make a dire prognosis for the final corruption of human desire, or, more likely, envisage a culture familiar with every kind of sexual behaviour and no type of intimacy. The real connection here is a more fascinatingly horrible achievement: how we have finally managed to take the people out of sex. It has now widened its optic to make a six-part series about sex and technology that attempts to be neither titillating nor priggish: an admirable and almost unachievable balance. Nor is it about the effect of the digital revolution on hooking up and morality (a significant subplot), or even the latest upgrades to the world’s oldest profession (which provides the substance for a tragicomic standout). If technology has changed the sex industry and even sexuality, normalising porn and supercharging desire, it has also had serious implications for sex documentaries. “You’re literally a thing.” In a later episode, a young woman who works as a porn scout and a webcam model asserts, “I know I’m a sex object, but I control everything,” while repeating the mantra of “a successful, empowering, positive career” in porn against all evidence to the contrary. Hot Girls Wanted began as a grimly disturbing film on how amateur pornstars – drawn by naivety, damage or delusion – are generally chewed up and spat out by a ravenous industry. In an early episode, Love Me Tinder, a man addicted to the dating app swipes compulsively through a stream of images. “It’s taken the humanity of people away, a little bit,” he says. But the fault line between liberation and exploitation is a source of productive friction. That, hopefully, should be a real turn off. The standout episodes are Owning It, which follows a similar path to the original film; Take Me Private, a mortifyingly entertaining and crushingly disillusioning real-life encounter between a webcam model and her besotted customer, and – most harrowing of all – Don’t Stop Filming, the story of a teenager who livestreamed the rape of her friend on Periscope, dizzied by booze and the “likes” she received. (In other words, human.) You can argue …

Hugh Mahon, a rebel from Kilmainham Gaol to Kalgoorlie

He was imprisoned in Kilmainham Gaol with Parnell. In September 1880 Mahon helped organise a meeting at Irishtown, where, according to the Wexford People, 30,000-40,000 turned up to hear Parnell speak about the Land League. At the height of the Land War in late 1881 the government rounded up hundreds of Land League activists, most notably Charles Stewart Parnell. In 1898, Mahon was appointed editor of the Kalgoorlie Sun. Like his employer, Hugh was an activist as well as a journalist, using the newspapers to support the tenants during the Land War. During his time in parliament Mahon was an early advocate of Aboriginal rights. In 1922 Hugh visited Ireland for the first and last time since his exile 40 years before. One contemporary wrote, “He may be acclaimed as one among the best newspapermen in the Commonwealth”. Mahon immediately returned to his Land League activities in and around New Ross, but after being threatened with re-arrest he took his doctor’s advice and emigrated to Australia. They had four children. They worked me – a child of 13 – 59 hours a week, from 7am to 6pm & I had to walk 3 miles each way from home to the printing office”. In October 1881 Mahon was arrested and interned without trial during the government’s crackdown on the league. During Mahon’s 20 months as editor of the Sun he successfully defended five libel actions, four of them prosecutions for criminal libel. He was also an important witness at the trial, providing an alibi for one of the accused, both of whom were acquitted When a landlord’s son, Charles Boyd, was murdered in an ambush at Shanbogh, across the river from New Ross, Mahon organised a defence fund to help the two Phelan brothers, Walter and John, who were charged with the crime, and used his newspaper to criticise the police and prosecution authorities, whom he accused of intimidation and sharp practices. These activities brought him under police notice. Initially representing the seat of Coolgardie, he became the member for Kalgoorlie in 1913 following a redistribution of electoral boundaries. In Australia, Mahon is best known for having been expelled from the Australian parliament, the only person to have suffered that fate. Following his disappointment he moved to Melbourne with his family, where he took a job with the Australian Mining Standard, a newspaper providing news and comment concerning mining. That same …

Big Little Lies review: When life as a pressurised performance blows up

Here, kids would behave with preternatural maturity, voicing reason and exasperation, while adults built infantile grievances and jealousies into a towering pyre. Characters here are at their most compelling when they were at their most contradictory, believably aware of damaging patterns and tragically unable to break them. When the parents arrive to the school’s dress-up night for the series finale, either in Holly Golightly’s pearls or the King’s Hawaiian lei (childish fantasies of adulthood each), they barely seem able to pull off such roles. She can say of her rapist: “I still hope that whoever he is, he’s a nice guy.” This is a willed deception for the sake of the child she conceived, Ziggy – she also entertains ideas of violent revenge. In the show’s earlier episodes, it was was tempting to dismiss their squabbles and the show as something befitting the playground. (Or, at least, I did.) But it repays closer attention. Monitored by a chorus of neighbourhood snoops, who interject and misconstrue via police interview, these women see life as kind of pressurised performance, which makes Reese Witherspoon’s high-strung drama mom a strangely sympathetic focus. But David E Kelley’s drama, based on the book by Liane Moriarty, is concerned, more compassionately, with far more damaging self-delusions. First disturbing a dreamy sea-green fantasy of the California coast with a murder investigation, then doubling back to a kindergarten bullying incident that became a proxy war for wound-up parents, HBO’s drama never dropped the sly role-reversal of its premise. I’m so sick of these f**king lies.” As the clamour grows for a second series, though, that seems like a minority view. “Trust me,” glowers one neighbour, “these women are vicious.” But trust ultimately slays more beasts. When the truth, the whole truth, and many other things ancillary to the truth are finally told in Big Little Lies (Sky Atlantic, Monday, 9pm), it hardly seems accidental that its characters have been wearing disguises: dressed up like a brace of Audrey Hepburns and a pack of Elvis Presleys, playing at grown-ups. (That her energies are invested in bringing Avenue Q, a puppet show for grown-ups, to town is also telling.) Laura Dern’s corporate CEO Renata is hardly less susceptible to the politics of display, though, as concerned as anyone else about maintaining an appearance worthy of all these immaculate kitchens and walk-in wardrobes. The couples therapist who intervenes to shake Nicole Kidman’s …

Pre-Troubles Derry through Ian Nairn’s eyes

But if he was alive and returned to Derry today, one would hope that he could see some of the invisible scaffolding – the people – helping the Maiden City get up off its knees, in order to stand tall once more. Sadly his thirst was not sated in Derry, with Nairn bemoaning the lack of pub decoration compared to Belfast (particular appreciation is given to the Crown Bar) and the problem is little rectified today, had he the opportunity to visit, with few pubs giving little sense of history. How else could he have come up with this nugget about an economically choked Derry, which nevertheless was continuing to breathe with some degree of dignity: “If there were only rags to wear (here), they would be worn with a swagger.” Nairn wasn’t being blithe in writing this. He understood the turbulent history and tough topography of Derry – a border location suffering from the effects of partition; a divided community; a port town hit hard by the shipyard closure in 1924; and a place long forgotten by London, despite its strong Plantation links and the original idea of Derry being a “little-London-in-Ulster”. Much of Nairn’s work has long been out of print but thankfully this anthology is available again in a beautiful copy published by Notting Hill Editions. In his defence, considering how quickly the Troubles erupted, he was not the only observer caught on the back foot and any foundations of fraternity Nairn had found in ’67 would depressingly crumble over the coming years. He recommends that the building is best seen coming from Belfast, with his usual tuneful phrasing: “the eastern front, square-on in the morning sun fixes you with its complicated skip of balconies as a good jazz rhythm would…” Summing up, Nairn captured the strong soul of Derry and how its practical problems forged much of what is likeable about the place: it is a town displaying something approaching good grace in the face of adversity. He looked at and recorded this art form (and profession) with new and uninhibited eyes. In fact, a few of them feel like they’ve been cobbled together over the course of a weekend. However, he does give reference to Altnagelvin Hospital (designed by Yorke, Rosenberg and Mardall, creators of the original Gatwick Airport Terminal). Pugnacious from the outset, he started writing for the Observer, Daily Telegraph and the Sunday …

Remaking a murderer: a novel inspired by double killer Colin Howell

What if they have a young family? When it came to the story of the Belfast double murderer Colin Howell and his accomplice Hazel Stewart, the makers of last year’s James Nesbitt drama The Secret went one way and I went the other. I think if you keep trying to write your novel, your unconscious will lead you to the things that you need. So I had subjects but I didn’t actually have a story and I like a novel to have propulsion as well as themes. I tried not to worry about not having the story, however. But I was interested in how you get away with a crime so extreme, how you keep it a secret and, having managed this, what motivates one person to confess. Out of these conversations with myself came Stronger Than Skin. I wanted to write about a book about the creeping numbness of middle age, how, without noticing, you go from being “promising” to being that tired guy who somehow sees his Da’s face staring back from the mirror? As a writer there are two ways of dealing with an astonishing true life story: you can simply dramatise it or you can make it into something completely different. He was convicted in 2010 and is now serving a minimum of 21 years for the double murder. What if they had spent a lifetime trying to make up for it? Each novel is like wrestling with a tireless opponent, one that is also a monstrous kind of shapeshifter: one moment it’s a bull, now a leopard, now a ghost. So I kept working and yes, the unconscious led me to pick up a paper I don’t normally read. All decent writers take extreme liberties with their source material. I don’t know why. What if the co-accused was a decent person who had been drawn into something terrible when young. The real Howell and the real Stewart seem to be so unlikeable. His former lover, Hazel Stewart was found guilty of murder in 2011 and was also sentenced to life imprisonment. More fool them. Balancing these two stories was a high-wire act and, like any circus performer, I broke quite a few bones while learning how to manage it, but in the end I hope the book achieves what I set out to do – that it grips readers as a good thriller should, while …

Elton John cancels shows due to ‘potentially deadly’ infection

The singer is expected to return for his scheduled gigs at Twickenham, in London on June 3rd. I am extremely grateful to the medical team for their excellence in looking after me so well.” The affected shows were part of the Million Dollar Piano show and were due to take place at Caesars Palace in April and May, while another gig in Bakersfield, California, on May 6th was also cancelled. Sir Elton John has pulled out of a series of concerts in Las Vegas due to an “unusual bacterial infection” he contracted in South America, which left him in intensive care. “During a recent, successful tour of South America, Elton contracted a harmful and unusual bacterial infection,” the statement read. Upon returning to the UK, Elton’s doctors admitted him to hospital, where he underwent immediate treatment to remove the infection. Guardian The singer announced he was pulling out of the shows on Monday in a statement that explained that he spent two nights in intensive care and was released on April 22nd after becoming ill on a flight to the UK from Chile. Elton John also added: “I am so fortunate to have the most incredible and loyal fans and apologise for disappointing them. After spending two nights in intensive care followed by an extended stay in hospital, Elton was released from hospital.” It added that the infection was “rare and potentially deadly” but that the star’s medical team identified it quickly and that he is expected to make a full and complete recovery. “During his return flight home from Santiago, Chile he became violently ill.

Life and death, night and day: the world of Mark Swords

Swords admits to having mixed feelings about it. Along with the importance of making, there’s also a clear interest in unmaking and a desire to be upfront about the nuts and bolts of how things are put together. On the one hand, he is surprised, he says, at how it is still possible to read them individually. Mediating between them is one large piece incorporating versions of some of the paintings we see on both walls. In absorbing and processing this nonstop barrage of imagery and sensation he is “being a mirror, reflecting things as they happen”. Tal R’s paintings are about his familiar Copenhagen environment. Then there is the rough-hewn character of the spaces, cobbled together, makeshift and durable, rich and poor, interiors and exteriors. Piece for piece, there are many quite brilliant paintings. Each work has been made as a single, autonomous piece and to band them together against a boldly patterned ground is to sacrifice some of that autonomy. A city is a composite, an ordered jumble of glitter and grime, of onrushing vitality and a site of abundance to the point of excess. It’s important that neither is a unified tapestry. The central piece can be seen as a study for, or perhaps a guide, to the overall show. Swords was working towards his Temple Bar show, and he was trying not to pin himself down too much. Until June 17, templebargallery.com Swords doesn’t say so, but the impact it makes is a good approximation of how one experiences the urban fabric. The bulk of the work is divided into two monumental composites, occupying opposite, east and west walls of the gallery. There’s a good chance that on a brief visit you may not see the trees for the wood. On the other, he seems a little conflicted, which is probably a healthy response to the complexity of what he has made. Theatres recur with views of audiences, proscenium arches, stages, and performers, including a magician. Gender Who should you trust and why? Printed fabric, tapestry, thread, wool, buttons, staples and found objects are all routinely pressed into service. Cities are full of leftover fragments and signs, and from time to time you suddenly notice one: an index to a whole underlying layer of past life. Theatricality of life The theatricality of city life comes across vividly, from the set-design quality of shops and salons to …

Who should you trust and why?

“The internet has raised the problem of untrustworthy sources but it also gives you so many more sources to check. “Are we losing something valuable if we stop having to exercise skills because computers or robots are doing them instead? I don’t have any recipes for that but naturally I am on the sides of the experts. We’re living in an age of distrust. “Economists and social scientists are examining how the technological revolution will impact on jobs. One can find a middle ground between blind faith and total distrust, and it’s here philosopher Lizzie Fricker has been working to try to establish the basis on which we can take someone at their word. But if I say, ‘I think’ or ‘I believe’ such and such then I’m signalling that I don’t actually know and you can’t take it from me. “There is an idea in philosophy of the autonomous knower – that you should only trust what you can find out for yourself. Can you explain? “I think the idea that all ‘so-called experts’ have bad motivations and shouldn’t be trusted is completely wrong and very dangerous. In this instance, my dependence on your word is very shallow. However, we can be discriminating about whom we trust.” How is knowledge created through testimony? “But I do think we ought to be discriminating. Rejecting the path of the cynic, she says: “We have no choice but to trust. Of course there is an alternative. The trouble is there are very few complex issues which are black or white. “I think there’s a problem because people like certainty and definiteness. Oscar Wilde replies: “Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.” “It’s essential we are able to trust people with expert knowledge in a domain. There is such a thing as genuine, disinterested expertise, and the modern world is incredibly complicated. “However, there are different levels of dependence on others. If all meals in the future were prepared by robots would we be losing something? You might be able to find reviews of your doctor. I liked the idea of understanding where I was going and having the skill of using a map. And while I do now use a sat-nav, I still don’t like the image of someone with no mental map of their environment, or no understanding …

Did you hear the one about the actor trying to be funny?

Nolan has had an uncommon command of their substance, rarely coming across as comic relief, when he can invest them with something like a comic belief Since he began in the profession in 2003, Nolan has most regularly been associated with comic roles. It reaffirms… Other versions have been staged, though, usually performed with as much reverence as a catechism. He presents Pozzo as a whirling creature of improvisation and quick recalculations On stage, Nolan certainly looks the part: shaven-headed, sallow-eyed and made rotund with the help of a fat suit, slightly modified since its last outing as Falstaff (“A second skin” he calls it). “We realised very quickly that we had something that is actually organic, and pure and real,” Nolan says of Druid’s ensemble, assembled in 2012 to stage DruidMurphy. It’s a kind of Irish wit. “I do think comic characters are sometimes overlooked,” he says. “What does he look like? There is his incapacitated wheeze, which rustles out of him as he talks me through a recent elaborate practical joke perpetrated against the actor Peter Daly. By Rory Nolan’s standards – which have become almost legendary in certain circles – this does not count as a classic prank. Good-looking guy?” Eventually, mercifully, he sets her free: “Yeah – I’m here sitting with him.” For the busy stage actor, it is another comic role, well played. abbeytheatre.ie Because you’ve got to be able to go for it.” Not everyone takes comic characters as seriously, Nolan knows. that it’s okay to be alive.” He also takes Pozzo as he finds him. Nolan, whose impressive career has provided an ocean of amusement, demonstrates an almost musical range of laughter himself. It gives you all the feels. It makes you think “They owned it, as far as we were concerned,” admits Nolan. It makes you think. There is an impish gulp, as he scrolls through its series of text messages, sent from an unknown number and claiming to be from a member of an accountancy firm/counselling service, as the ruse takes flight. It’s hilarious, it’s sad, it’s funny. “If the opportunity presents itself, you have to take it,” he says. In 2004, he played the flouncy John Betjeman in Rough Magic’s Improbable Frequency. “Sometimes a quip, or a bit of craic, can lighten something that has been very tense, or it can unlock something that’s been very difficult. In all those …

Don’t bet against James Cameron as dates for four Avatar sequels revealed

It is true that Avatar profited from inflated prices for 3-D. Avatar is a phenomenon like no other. The 3-D was more imaginatively used than that in any other contemporary film. It came, it crushed all long-term box office records, and it vanished almost without a trace.” It is hard to argue with this. James Cameron has a remarkable habit of frustrating negative expectations and giving the public what it wasn’t sure it wanted. Cameron  has a remarkable habit of giving the public what it wasn’t sure it wanted After all, unless Walt Disney changes its schedule (and why would they blink first?), the Avatar sequels will be released in the same months as successive Star Wars sequels. Oh yeah, Jake Sully. Only a fool would bet against Jimmy ruling the first Christmas of the new decade. When Star Wars: The Force Awakens opened in 2015, a few ill-informed pundits suggested it might become the biggest film of all time. The characters were largely created in a computer. There was great enthusiasm at the time for advances in technology. So, there is every reason to suggest that the sequels to Avatar will play to empty theatres. But they don’t seem to have connected with the characters. But the Star Wars film couldn’t get within $700 million despite trading at 2015 and 2016 ticket prices. Its overall effect on the culture at large is basically non-existent Apologies for all that accountancy. And yet its traces seem to have all but blown away. Still, a Twitter poll of this writer’s film-friendly followers found that only one in four could name the hero of Avatar. It is easy to forget that – hugely over-budget and massively delayed – Titanic was expected to annihilate Fox the way Heaven’s Gate annihilated United Artists. The lesson is as follows. The second film will arrive over a decade after the first. If memories had, as Mendelson suggests, become vague in 2014, they will surely be totally obliterated by 2020. Third place was nothing to be sniffed at, but, with $2.07 billion, The Force Awakens got nowhere close. Don’t jump to any such rash conclusions. Audiences felt they were witnessing a revolution. That’s science, that is. Yet great was the tinkling of cash registers. More people will, at Halloween, dress up as Harley Quinn from the supposedly catastrophic Suicide Squad than the blue version of… What’s he called, …