Sunday, 30 January 2011

Running again

After a litany of injuries and weak excuses we got back to running around London on a Sunday morning

The Shard is progressing well

An Airstream, London Bus and St Pauls' dome

Lucky to catch these runners on film flashing past the Airstream ...

Stop for a well earned photo shoot ..

Film star boxers in Lincolns Inn Fields waiting to be called for their next scene.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Four disturbing films and a projection room

Four disturbing films

This morning we saw 3 short films by Jan Svankmajer - Dimensions of a Dialogue (1982),The Flat (1968) and Food (1992).

Three short films, so three short comments :

Theme throughout of one person eating another, either represented through animated objects looking like people, a room consuming a person or real people eating each other. Clearly a comment on the dog eat dog society of the day or something to do with eating in Czechoslovakia - cannibalism is the last taboo ?

Brilliant animation in introduction to Dimensions of a Dialogue - almost every shot was a starter for an interesting painting.

Why was the music used for the section when the man was trapped in the room, so difficult to take ? - loud and discordant, it set the tone for the whole piece.

The main film was the first half of Fellini's Satyricon (1968) - dubbed and an original film print.
Extraordinary ambition by the Director in the settings for each scene, especially the Tower of Babel-like labyrinth that housed a wide range of brothels,

the scene set on the open plains

and the scene on the beach as he was being loaded with the other slaves/gladiators onto the ship

The story was difficult to follow and it must have caused uproar at the time in focusing on a male love triangle. It was like walking through a massive and challenging art gallery.

I found the dubbing really distracting and unfortunately the sound was really unclear on this print. I would have preferred the original Italian speech with subtitles.

The film left me wondering what the whole film looks like but am not sure I am really that ready for yet another fantastical, gladitorial, fall of Rome, post-apocalyptic, feasting orgy, slave love triangle epic...

The Projection Room

Anyway enough about the films - much more interesting, and a real treat, was a tour for five of us around the Odeon Leicester Square projection room - built in 1937, it still had its original green wall tiles and wooden parquet flooring. Found a great old photo on the wall of the room of how it looked when it opened.

Now it is a mixture of film and digital projectors, but still has the heat extractors dissapearing out through the ceiling.

While we were in there, they dimmed the lights in the room to start the next programme - The King's Speech.

Very appropriate to see a letter from the Queen on the wall thanking the cinema for its premiere of Ladies in Lavender.

Also found the original film reel of one of the short films, Dimensions of a Dialogue, which we had seen earlier - it seems it was too delicate to use so we saw a digital version.

Our delightful tour guide Mark, showed us how to splice film.

and there were the various 3D spectacles scattered around the room.

Great old key cupboard ...

And one of two massive spotlights - I really like the old mechanism for opening the hatch.

On the way out we passed another room - much needed after the disturbing nature of the films today ...

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Anais Mitchell at the Union Chapel

Hadestown live - phew, cor blimey, what a night !

Taking a bow


Paul's shot of the encore

Clearing the stage

The post-apocalyptic after-show party ...

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

A woman is a woman - 1961

On the way to this morning's film, I enjoyed this shadow on the Merz Barn in the RA courtyard-

And also saw this regiment of rubbish bins lining up for early morning inspection-

Very excited to see a real Star Trek communicator in the Planet Hollywood window - beam me up Scottie ...

Onto the film - this was Jean Luc Godard's second film, "Une femme est une femme".

Main themes were:

Is it a comedy or a tragedy ?- or a farce ...
The truth should look different from a lie.
Do you need to be sad to be happy.
Is the word funny, funny or just funny ?
Was Jean Luc only kidding ?
Are men and women only really together in a relationship when they are not together ?
Good use of a bright red cardigan, tights and lampshade to signify the woman's power over these two men.
Men and women find it hard to communicate - here they are driven to using random book titles or moving red awnings to explain themselves to each other.
Cut the Baloney or you'll get a knuckle sandwich.

On the way home. I visited the new Gilbert & George postcard exhibition at the White Cube - as usual their art left me cold - the arrangement of the cards looked amateurish and even its link to the Theophising movement's use of the urethra shape did little for me. This shape - a continuous rectangle of cards, with a single card in its central space - mimics the sexual symbol used by the one time theosophist C. W. Leadbetter (1853 - 1934) - so what ?

On the train I notice they have now added another grade of seat to sit alongside the priority for disabled passengers' seats ...

Makes you wonder what other signs on seats they plan to produce:

Please vacate for Invis-able people.
Please vacate for T-able people
Please vacate for incred-able people.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

It's all a bit Baltic

Had a whistle-stop tour of Newcastle on Saturday - dropping off son no. 2 to University and spending time in the Baltic Mill galleries - see above.

Two floors of large Anselm Kiefer work - made more understandable having recently seen the film about his work "Over our cities, grass will grow "- strange that they would not let you get close to his 39 paintings that he had produced alongside a massive palm tree laid flat on the gallery floor - with all his textures and materials you really want to get a close up as well as a longer view of each one.

Some rather ghostly large scale photographs of an Icelandic glacier by Dan Holdsworth

and some odd installation work by German artist Dirk Bell - also saw a film about the making of Brian Ferry;s recent album, Olympia together with large scale photographs of Kate Moss that were used in the cover art. Quite taken with his theory that all his female models used for his and Roxy Music's album covers were images of his ideal fan - that or he just used his celebrity position to portray women in art in much the same way men have portrayed them over the centuries.

But the best art show was at The Side photographic gallery featuring a show by Zed Nelson - he had travelled the world looking at the cultural and commercial forces that drive a global obsession with youth and beauty.

Scary photo of a Brazilian plastic surgeon and his wife ...

And this photo next to the fact that Men's Health magazine (USA) hasn't had a hairy chest on it since 1995 ...

Everyone around the world appears to be trying to look the same without realising it - most female nose jobs, reduction of size, in the world are in Iran and at the same time chinese women are having nose inplants to increase the size.

Left for home just as it was getting dark and the new bridge over the Tyne was going through its light show ...

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

The Long Goodbye

On the way to the Odeon Leicester Square, saw these lost gloves on the platform.

Passed the Royal academy and saw this replica of Kurt Schwitters famous Merz Barn that he created in 1947 in Cumbria - will be part of a new show about Modern British sculpture.

Particularly liked the broom against the newly plastered wall.

The film, The Long Goodbye, directed by Robert Altman and starring Elliot Gould.

I liked :
Reflected image of Marlowe on the beach - above - when main action is on other side of the glass window.
The lost art of lighting your cigarette by scraping the match on the nearest available abrasive surface. I counted 22 times he lit up a new cigarette.
Philip Marlowe character being totally fearless except when it came to dogs - he was also a big cat lover. Good quote by guy he meets in supermarket at 3 am in the morning - "What do I need a cat for - I've got a girl .
The main character not bedding the leading lady - or in fact any lady.
The imagery and atmosphere of going out at 3am in the morning in downtown LA.
Use of phrase " honkey bastard .
Change of sound when Marlowe is being interviewed by police from behind two way mirror and when in the interview room.
Use of one song written by John Williams and Joe Mercer - over 10 different treatments, form door bell to tijuana brass band at a funeral.
When locked up in jail he says to another inmate - " you're not in jail only your body is.
"When a man is at the end of his rope, there's no telling what he might do".
"Home is where the heart is - I can see your heart is in college" - comment on untidy flat.
Gangster quote " I sleep with alot of girls but I love you " - just before he smashes her face with a coke bottle to show Marlowe what he does to people he loves " and I don't even like you". Brilliant use of extreme violence to show you that this is never far away in 1970's LA.
I can remember when people had jobs"- quote by Harry the useless gangster following Marlowe.
Funny security guard who does impersonations on Walter Brennan, James Stewart etc.
Cold balony
Funny interlude with the invisible man.
Having read so many crime and police procedural books - Scandinavian, American, Italian and German - I can see how Ramond Chandler influenced them all - time to go back to the original books .