Archive for the ‘Film’ Category

Victoria

Friday, April 8th, 2016

After unpacking my suitcase for the first time in 6 weeks, I took myself out to one of my very favourite London places, the Curzon Soho, to see Victoria.

Victoria is a strange journey on which to go alone. It is entirely shot in one take and follows a young Spanish woman on a night out in Berlin, where she lives. I can’t really say much about it without giving any spoilers at all but the way the camera follows the actors, you really feel as if you are inside the film. That they are all real people and this is in fact all really happening.

The sound production was also really really special. There are very occasional moments in the film where music is used in such a perfect way, whereas mostly the sound is left alone as it is on the streets.

The performances are pretty much flawless and Laia Costa deserves every award she is given.

To finish watching and walk out into a busy city in the middle of the night was perfect. I thoroughly recommend this!

Sadly, the Curzon Soho is under threat as they want to build part of the Crossrail 2 where the building stands. The cinema has been around since the 50s and holds a lot of memories for the film industry in the UK. I really hope it is saved in time. Please sign the petition if you’re that way inclined.

Films, Music, Films

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

I’ve spent my days so far wandering the streets again, going on long bus rides on my own, seeing all the old buildings I missed while I was away, and reconnecting with close friends.

My first week-and-a-half back in London coincided with BFI Flare. I can’t say this was pure coincidence. Queer Christmas, as it is comfortingly called by some of my favourite queers, is an annual celebration of what it means to be LGBTIQ+ in London. There are films galore and DJs play most of the nights in one or both of the bars.

So some of my evenings have been mis-spent, in the best possible way, at the BFI surrounded by gorgeous sexy people of all genders and sexualities.

Femme Brutal is a documentary about an Austrian burlesque troupe based in Vienna. The documentary included interviews with groups of two or more of the seven performers. These interviews were conversational and relaxed, showing the humour and shared chemistry between the people involved in the brutal, kinky burlesque shows.
Interspersed was footage from performances, shot as artistically as possible, with close-ups of bodies and the performances adjusted to work to camera, which ensured the people watching the film were as involved and included as if they were in a live audience. The final sequence was an elaborate power-play of sexiness between two of the performers.

I left flabbergasted, overwhelmed with joy at being home where I belong.

That weekend I went to the Roundhouse to see some performances as part of Roundhouse Rising, most of note was a stunning improvised collaboration between sound artist Gawain Hewitt and countertenor Patrick Terry, based on the theme of ‘water’. The set-up included a bowl of water containing a hydrophone, into which Patrick sang, and a large soundboard with waves painted onto it where the triggers were.

I couldn’t believe it had been improvised, the whole piece was so perfectly delivered.

I was lucky enough to be able to visit some of the young people’s pieces of work down in the Roundhouse Studios too. Audio Collective, made up of 11-25 year olds, has been working over the last few months on some sound art of their own, developed around the idea of water. The three pieces of art I saw were stunning and in great contrast to one another. It was easy to imagine them all within a gallery context, being interacted with and critiqued by pretentious art-types. My favourite was a piece created from sine waves and hospital drips, it was genius.

Then, back to the BFI for a night of three short films as part of the Glitter, Slush, Neon, Cake selection.

The first was a beautifully touching German story about a young teenager spending the summer with her younger maths tutor and her older ballet teacher. The second was a trashy Brazillian high school drama full of magic and lust.

The final film of the evening was a perfect honouring of femme sex workers set in a fictional American building called The Palace. It was just so wonderful, I wanted to dive into the film and spend the night adventuring with them.

Creativity is born of revolution

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Post-2010 election and the future of this country’s cultural community hangs in the balance.

Yesterday, following a Tory/Lib-Dem coalition and the announcement of the new cabinet that includes Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt *rhyming slang anyone?*, a £66 million cut in budget for the DCMS (Department for Culture Media and Sport) was reported in the national press.

Where this cut will likely be made will be to the Arts and arts funding.

So, why should this bother me?

Unable to avoid sounding like a cliche, “the Arts” is my life. My entire life. Creativity, music and performance are everything I have ever known and everything I have been able to do since I can remember. I don’t know about a lot of things, I have built my whole adult existence around music making and creating opportunities for others to make music.

But that was my choice surely?

Yes, I chose to do a variety of work that doesn’t pay very well in a field that I am passionate about. I chose to give myself the freedom I need in order to write the music I want to make. I chose to commit myself to work I believe in. But I am not a doctor, a scientist, a soldier, a psychologist, a classroom teacher, a policewoman, a plumber or a builder. If I was in the balloon I would be the first to be thrown out. I am not claiming that this is a worthy profession.

Music is all around us. It can change our mood instantaneously and unpredictably. It urges us to move, to dance, to celebrate, to cry, to sleep, to breathe differently, to rise up, to ritualise, I could go on and on.

Art is everywhere. It is what our brains do when we’re not thinking.

When did you last read a book? When did you last see a film? When did you last see a postcard or a painting that you loved? When did you last watch some people dancing or singing? When did you last pretend or lie? When did you last create, however small, even a doodle on a pad or whistling a tune? When did you last write something for work and think really hard about picking the right words? When did you last take a photograph?

What will happen?

I can’t predict the future (as you all know I’m pretty good at it though!). High end, high cost, high brow art will be largely unaffected. Yes, sure there will be cuts to the biggies (the national theatres, ballets, operas and musicals) but they will stay open and the ticket prices will go up to cover any lowering of funding.

The people who will be affected are people like me, individual artists trying to earn a living doing the only thing they are any good at. People who didn’t inherit any money to put them through private education, people who might or might not have a degree and might or might not be classically trained. Also, disabled artists, who face additional barriers to their music making and performance, this might be because of mental health difficulties, cognitive, sensory or physical impairments.

Talented, committed and incredible, unique people who have a right to express themselves through their art and have a right to be heard and seen.

In a capitalist society we all have to earn a living, we all have to contribute whatever we can to the world. I only have this. Music. This is all I have to give.

Creativity is born of revolution

I am unclear what this looks like at the moment, it is too close to yesterday’s announcement for me to feel anything other than distress. I have fire in my belly though and with time (not much time!) I will be able to express better what I mean by the above statement.

If you have anything creative in you, do it. Let it out.

Here’s some stuff that might help:

  • Any of the links on the right hand side of here will take you to stuff that can inspire you.
  • This was posted on Twitter by Futurising a while ago, it’s about just getting on with it.
  • Drake Music is a music organisation that I work with.
  • You can write to Jeremy Hunt and tell him what you think of him, in fact why not write to that awful woman Theresa May at the same time.

Harper & Thorne

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

sb4bNearly at the end of ‘non-alcoholic week’ which is being extended way beyond a week, much to my disappointment. Things I have learnt this week include:

  • Despite all else, it will most likely be my sweet-tooth that kills me
  • Never leave home without your notebook and pen
  • Double spaces after full stops is wrong (am now only halfway through editing my old posts to correct them)
  • Boys are sometimes lovely and sometimes annoying
  • The Wire is the best TV show that has ever been made (life-changing)

Then last night I went to The Curzon Soho to see a special screening and Q & A of The Scouting Book For Boys

I have been looking forward to seeing this film since I first heard about it over a year ago, while in a pub in North London. It is a British labour-of-love film written by Jack Thorne and directed by Tom Harper. The feature itself is awe-inspiring, beautiful and stays with you long after you leave the cinema.

Usually, I don’t like reading anything written about a film I really want to see, to watch it as fresh as possible first time. It was very difficult with Scouting Book as it has had such high acclaim already and is all over the press, having been previewed at festivals and nominated for awards. Luckily and through perseverence, I basically managed it. I hadn’t even seen the trailer.

I urge you all to go, preferably without any prior research. In respect of this, I am not going to blog about the film itself other than to say two things:

  1. Tom’s decision to shoot it on film (which he had to fight for) was right, it does add a nostalgic feel to the look, though set in modern times, and it echoes of childhood holidays and long summers.
  2. The sound production is beautiful, the music soundtrack by Noah & The Whale fits perfectly but what really blew me away was the use of sound dynamics, effects and silence to build the story and complete the film experience.

It really is an amazing piece of work.

Tom and Jack are both incredible talents. They each have a way of connecting with their inner teenagers (particularly Jack through his writing). Individually, this connection with and ability to communicate the teenage coming-of-age experience has been well documented and they are both probably sick of being asked questions about it!

This project, the first feature length film for each of them, was at least 5 years in development with the whole creative team involved together very early in the process. The two lead actors are exceptional. Everyone’s care and commitment to telling the story and to the visuals are clear from the end product.

In the interest of full disclosure: I’ve known Tom since we were teenagers, 13 to be precise. He has been one of my very favourite people in the world since then. He is a wonderful friend and his skill as a director shows powerfully throughout all of his work. Tom, you ain’t half good at your job mate!

Jack is equally amazing, his writing is real and his characters have development and shape. He is a great storyteller without patronising the audience. I can’t say too much about his writing without talking about the film itself but his construction of characters and plotlines is truly inspiring.

Love you guys! Can’t wait to see what you both work on next.

2010

Monday, January 18th, 2010

Welcome to two thousand and freakin’ ten!

It snowed, a lot.

I have spent the last few weeks writing some BRAND NEW MATERIAL which you will be able to hear samples of if you come to either my gig at Blang on 8th February or to…

The Party Of The Decade on Friday 19th February, I’ll be playing alongside some of my favourite people, drinking and dancing till dawn.

Amazing New Zealand based artist, Jimmy Misanthrope has done a picture of me! It is in a similar style to his webcomic Agents of the Endtimes, which I follow avidly each week. Here is the picture on his deviant art page

I’ve caught a lot of cool stuff online too, mostly at Zombiehamster (especially the wonderful Mad Monster Party film) and over at  Fuck Yeah Horror where there’s an ace Spotify playlist to accompany their top 10 list.

Off to Brighton this weekend for Midwinter Picnic 2 – can’t wait, it’s gonna be an awesome day filled with yummy cake, great music, and good times. I’m running the raffle!

Here’s to the Future.

xx

Late Entry

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

Although it is very near to the end of the year, today I added another entry to the top films I saw in 2009.

Waltz With Bashir is one of the best films I have ever seen. The art, animation and direction is beautiful. It is accompanied by a gorgeous soundtrack and perfectly suited and accurate sound design. It follows an amazing story.

This is horrific and traumatic to watch and shows better than most films and books the truth behind war. “In order to survive war you have to go to irony and dark humour to go on with every day life”

It is very easy to sit here and preach about the horrors of war and about the injustices by the ‘powers that be’ without ever having any direct experience of it. This film examines from a first person soldier’s account (and other individual soldiers’ accounts) the truth of war.

The interview with the filmmaker, which is an extra feature on the DVD, highlights the impact the film has made on his own life and on others who have seen the film. He tells of since the film release, how he now goes to parties or events and ends up sitting alone in the corner of the room and one by one people come to him to relay their own terrible war stories and experiences. He has opened other people’s memories up to them.

Thousands of lives would have been saved if someone, anyone in power stopped the massacre at Sabra and Shatila happening. It could have been stopped at any point. As with the conflicts around the world that continue today.

Ari Folman is a hero, not for his actions in war as a 19 year old novice soldier, but for his actions afterwards as a 40 year old filmmaker.