Fleeing from the task I ran headlong into The Purple Taxi

I’m a terrible procrastinator. For some reason, the more I need to get something done the less I want to do it.

Crashing in the purple taxi
There I was, just getting down to things when…

In fact I seem to suffer from the ostrich syndrome (it should have a name, I can’t be the only one); when a deadline approaches I have an irresistible urge to plunge head first into the biggest pile of sand I can find. If the task is for someone else then I’ll pull my head out in time to get it done but if it’s a self-imposed deadline for something I want to do for myself I often bury myself so deep that when I dig my way back to the surface I can end up somewhere completely different to where I intended or expected.

Last week I took a week’s holidays with the sole and sincere intention of getting certain things done – of finally checking off some of the stuff on my ever growing to-do list. Usually I distract myself easily enough with TV or film but as I had decided to spend a week’s holidays at home I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy whatever I watched as my inner voice would have been shouting incessantly – GET OFF THE SOFA AND JUST DO IT!! GODDAMMIT WOMAN!!! It tends to ruin whatever I’m watching when it does that… So when serious distraction is needed I have to find something, that, although not what I actually have planned (and usually really need) to do, is something that doesn’t feel like a complete waste of time. One of the things I wanted to do was redesign twimii. I really enjoy twimii and I’m a bit annoyed with myself for having neglected it over the last year or so. It was fairly low down on the to-do list (not being required just desired) but I thought since I was going to redesign the site I should also have some new content to add… so I thought about adding a list of Christmas movies. 12 for the 12 days of Christmas. I’d made a list of Halloween movies before and, while I love all the movies on the list, it’s not the best the list in the world and it includes Dead of Night which isn’t the best old movie in the world and I love old movies so I wanted to have a list that includes some precious old gems…

Anyway I had intended to work on something else entirely but just spending a few minutes putting together a small list of Christmas Movies seemed like a good way to ease myself into the week’s to-do-list work and I’d spend at most … 30 minutes on it?

Yeah, 30 minutes. Only… the list didn’t contain that many old gems… so I thought it might be nice if each film lead to another if-you-like-that-you-might-like-this list. Sure, that wouldn’t take too long, would it? And it’s more fresh content for the twimii site which I’m so definitely going to have redesigned by the end of the week, as well as all having completed all the other more pressing tasks on the list, of course…

I’m a disaster.

Anyway… the second movie on the Christmas Movie list is We’re No Angels starring Humphrey Bogart, Peter Ustinov and Aldo Ray. I love it. It’s great. And I love loads of Humphrey Bogart’s films and loads of Peter Ustinov’s film – there are two that not everybody has heard of that I love; Topaki and Hot Millions. So I decided to make a list of 10 Humphrey Bogart films and 5 Peter Ustinov ones. And as I was making up the list I was looking up their filmographies on IMDB. That’s when I came across The Purple Taxi (Un Taxi Mauve). It was shot in French and English in Ireland in the 1970s. It stars, among others, Peter Ustinov, Fred Astaire, Charlotte Rampling, Philippe Noiret and Edward Albert and it has a rating of 6.8 (or at least it had when I looked it up). Normally anything with a rating above 6 is well worth a look. I was intrigued. Maybe I’d come across something good that few people are aware of and that’s always what you want to include in a movie list, right? But, of course, I would need to watch it before I recommended it. Although going by what I’d read I was pretty sure I’d be recommending it.

I downloaded it. At this point I’m going to have to admit that I watch and download pretty much everything for free online. The Purple Taxi was not so easy to find. I found a French copy that came packaged with a Portuguese subtitles file. I understand French pretty well so that wasn’t a problem. The problem was I wasn’t going to allow myself sit and watch a movie in comfort and ease for two hours. I could fool myself with the “the movie lists are not a complete waste of time they’re fresh content for a blog I love but have neglected” line but that wasn’t really going to work for watching the movie. After all I could easily pick another Peter Ustinov movie. There’s loads of them. If only…

Instead I was gripped by another idea. I had a Portuguese subtitle file. I could edit that, as I watched the movie, into English.

When you download foreign language films you can download subtitles as well. Sometimes they’re the official ones and sometimes it’s obvious they have been translated by some amateur, or more likely by some translating software, but they will be good enough to allow you follow the story. I’m not a translator but I thought this could be a nice way to return the favour for every time I’ve been able to watch a good foreign film thanks to these sorts of subtitles.

Well, that’s what I told myself but I realized later that actually I had just found the perfect distraction; a task that is reasonably challenging, completely engrossing and, while utterly unnecessary, gave me a sense of accomplishment.

I figured it would take about 3 hours to do. A professional procrastinator always grossly underestimates how long a task will take.

I liked that the film was in French too because so many movies set in Ireland (particularly in pre 1990s Ireland) feature insultingly twee Irish characters, all “oh bejaysus and begorrahs shur” and “top o’ the morning to ya”. And though, right from the start, I was sure there would be these sorts of characters in the movie, I knew they’d be much easier to take as I wouldn’t have to listen to excruciating accents and idioms. And I love the shots of the countryside – it makes 1970s Ireland look great, the scenery that is.

I think it’s high time I got to the point.

The reason why I’m explaining why I’ve posted an English subtitled version of Un Taxi Mauve online and the reason why I feel the need to explain (or excuse) such an act is … well … it’s a pretty odd film.

I mean, it’s weird.

I didn’t find out how weird until about 15 – 20 minutes in and by then I’d already spent about 2 hours translating it. I know – such a waste of time! But it seemed like it would be even worse to not do anything with that effort…

So how is it weird?

Well for one thing it contains some lines and phrases that could potentially insult almost every ethnicity or social grouping; Jewish, Russian, Irish, English, French, homosexuals, artists, men and women generally … even dogs don’t fare well in this movie. And it contains one of the most daft and insensitive treatments of incest I have ever seen.

So how could I possibly post it online? Well, after the first 20 minutes I decided to watch the rest of it and see just what exactly the film is about. I mean Fred Astaire is in it, how bad could it get? By the way, it’s not in any way graphic (unless you consider bare breasts graphic) it’s just a lot of talk that’s well written but daft as a brush, to the point that at times I was certain it was being intentionally funny, but then a few moments later I’d be wondering ‘actually is it half serious?’ By the end of it I’d laughed out loud a good few times, sometimes definitely with it and sometimes, if it was meant to be taken seriously, at it. I think the film is too ridiculous to be offensive.

It may be a smart send up of offenses routinely committed by the films of those and earlier days or it may be, in parts, ridiculously offensive. I honestly don’t know which it is.

If you want to decide for yourself, here it is. (Sorry, I discovered youtube blocked it on copyright infringement grounds this week, 26 Jan 2016 – can’t say I’m sorry. But seeing as you’ve read this far you’re probably a little curious about the film so here is the subtitles file, you just need to download a copy of the film, save it to the same folder as the subtitles and name it the same name as the subtitle file (just the extensions being different).) But you have been warned.

As I have no rights to the film Youtube could well ask me to take it down. I’ve never posted content before so I don’t know how it works. So if the link doesn’t work that’s the reason. And sure maybe it’s all for the best.

How long did I spend in The Purple Taxi? *Hangs head in shame* 3 days … an ostrich would be proud.

Just found out ostriches don’t actually bury their heads in the sand. Right, it’s the twimii syndrome then.

On the plus side I decided that I did have to redesign the site before I could post this and I only decided that after uploading the video so I just downloaded a template and quickly did it. Not what I had intended but actually I think I prefer it this way. So did procrastinating all week actually end up serving me best? No, no it really didn’t.

UPDATE: Youtube have blocked the video on copyright infringement grounds this week 26/01/16. Finally. But here is the subtitles file – I realised it might be very annoying to read this and still have no idea what The Purple Taxi is really like. Reading a subtitles file will not give you any real idea. You’ll have to find the movie – if you want to. I wouldn’t recommend it. Why not watch these films or these ones instead, eh? Or the Peter Ustinov’s movies I mentioned above?

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