Friday, 25 February 2011

CCW Film Season 2011

CCW Film Season 2011 review - Roger Miles 29 February 2011

I saw all eleven films at the Odeon Leicester Square, as well as visiting the film projection room and I claim my prize!
My individual film reviews are at

Every film contained inspiring images and challenging ideas. It has led me to trying out new creative approaches to my artwork. I was particularly interested in the following :


Slacker used a stream of consciousness approach to its script and, looking back at my notes, I was struck by how many insightful, humorous and memorable quotes I wrote down. My favourites were “Terrorism is the surgical strike capability of the oppressed” and “Who's ever written a great work about the immense effort required in order not to create”. One after-film gallery visit to the Simon Lee gallery showing of Larry Clark work led me to watching Kids (1995), which clearly owes a lot to Slacker.

In contrast, Rashomon used its script to portray one murder from five different viewpoints and really challenged the viewer to consider what truth was. Whilst I have seen this idea used in subsequent films, I don’t think they capture the point that everyone telling a version of the truth has their own agenda.


Sherlock Jnr, by Buster Keaton, was probably the most innovative cinematography with each scene being meticulously planned and brilliantly executed.

Festen, however used restrictive dogme rules to govern its filming but showed that, if the script is strong enough, this does not detract from the success of the film. I am also watching The Killing at the moment , one murder and twenty episodes, and Festen is an excellent introduction to Danish society and culture.

Use of music

The Long Goodbye cleverly repeated the same tune throughout the film but using lots of different forms, the use of a musical doorbell being the most extreme treatment.

Man with the Movie Camera was shown with a live music score and, whilst a real treat to see the 1937 organ in action, it slowed the film down. I subsequently watched the version with a faster soundtrack performed by The Cinematic Orchestra and found that the jazz based musical score supported the images of the Soviet Union’s rapid industrial and urban progress. I also recommend Man With a Movie Camera: The Global Remake which is a participatory video shot by people around the world who are invited to record images interpreting the original script and upload them to a dedicated website -


Man with the Movie Camera was the most obvious work of propaganda. I liked the film season curator’s story about the Soviets using the film to surreptitiously encourage film goers to take up goalkeeping to help fix a weakness in the national football team.

Rashomon’s entire story could be read as an allegory for Japan’s experience during the Second World War, finishing with the nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the abandoned baby at the end portraying the rebirth and subsequent success of the Japanese nation.

The film season has been a highlight of my foundation course and I hope it is continued for future courses. My suggestions for the next season are shown in the appendix.


My own choices for the next season:

Sabotage – Alfred Hitchcock (1936)

Down by Law – Jim Jarmusch (1986)

Les Vacances de M. Hulot(1953) - Jacques Tati

White Ribbon – Michael Haneke (2009)

Oldboy – Chan-wook Park (2003)

Jar City – Baltasar Komakur (2006)

The Wire (Season 1) – David Simon (2002)

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Cinema withdrawal symptoms

To get over the end of the cinema season, I took up the offer of some live taxidermy at the Future Gallery - featuring some sheep stuffing by Charlie Tuesday Gates

Also being shown were some she had made earlier ...

And my favourite piece ...

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Man in the iron balaclava

Art work of the week ...

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Last film - Festen

Truly brilliant Danish film today - Festen (1998), made following dogme rules. It didn't feel restricted as a film even though it had to follow certain rules of filming - perhaps because the story was so cleverly told, the filming was so strong and you didn't see certain key twists coming.

I also liked the Hitchcock references as in the bathroom scene and when one of the actors mentioned what Hitchcock has written on his gravestone - though research shows he was cremated and his ashes scattered in the Pacific Ocean. Can you believe that Alfred Hitchcock never won an Oscar !

The Nazi and racist undertones in Danish society were laid bare in the most difficult sequences as were the horrors of paedophilia within a family. So death, racism, violence and paedophilia at 10 am on a wednesday morning sets you up nicely for the rest of the day.

Good also to recognise the Danish actor above who almost 10 years later was starring in an amazing Danish police procedural series called The Killing (2007)- now showing over 20 episodes on BBC4 and covering one murder investigation in Copenhagen - catch the first 8 episodes now on iplayer !

Then had a mind bending tour around 10 london galleries - highlights being the Larry Clark works at the Simon Lee gallery in Berkeley Street (now have to watch his film, Kids(1995)) and the Robert Mapplethorpe inspired mixed show, curated by the Scissor Sisters, at the Alison Jacques gallery in Berners Street.

Time for a lie down ...

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Valentine Sex Pistols

Lots of Valentine and Royal family references on the streets of London today - great new street art pieces at Southbank ...

And following on from the last post's Royal wedding theme is this great image mixing the Union Jack with a Sid and Nancy punk image ...

Look closer to see the new Sex Pistols ...

Even the Post Office Tower is part of the love in.

Mark being ever helpful to tourists in search of the Royal Family's London residence ...

And lots of preparations for the tonights Bafta awards - expect the Kings Speech, a film about the Royal Family, to dominate.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Rashomon and sloe gin

On way to cinema this morning I saw some interesting pavement repairs,

... and the usual gnome photo shoot in Picadilly Circus

The film Rashomon, by Kurosawa from 1950, was one I had always meant to see but never had. Whilst slow paced, it was a clever idea for its time to look at one event from five different viewpoints - at the end you are not sure what the true version of events was - perhaps it is none of the five as all the witnesses have their own agenda.I enjoyed the discussion near the end about lies and how it was difficult to trust anyone these days - how much this was influenced by the aftermath of WW2 is an interesting debate.

Very impressive Martin Creed moving sculpture called Mothers in the Hauser & Wirth gallery in Saville Row and some new work by Glen Baxter in the Flowers gallery based around a commentary on modern art.

Also enjoyed the work by Jennifer Rubell including a model of Prince William with that ring and some taps on canvases which you can use to top up a glass of sloe gin, irish whiskey, rum and madeira - you can then drink it or throw it on the canvas - we did both, more than once ...

Reminds me off that old Tommy Cooper joke - "There was a tap on the window - the plumber had gone mad "

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Apocalypse now !

The storm clouds are gathering ...

Doors are being blown off ..

Idiots are running riot through China town ...

Time to get a yacht and sail away into the sunset ...

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Silents and the big organ

Saw two great silent films this morning from the 1920's - Sherlock Jnr by Buster Keaton from 1924 and Man with a Movie Camera by Dziga Vertov from 1929.

Like other Keaton movies I have seen, such as The General and Steamboat Bill, JR , the film is a magic mixture of invention, slapstick humour and observation of the human condition.
There is a brilliant dream sequence and lots of playing around with the idea of cinema - such as his dream double moving in and out of the film.

The second film is clearly Russian propaganda of the time, but cleverly allows you to see the gap between rich and poor and the reliance of society on the hardworking labourers in the mines and the factories.
The use of the tram as a way of linking all of these elements was a reflection of how proud they were of this new mode of transport. There was also alot of help given to the viewer as to how it was being filmed by the cameraman - lots of shots of him hanging off trams and down mines with the horses.
There were quite a few references to mannequins being used in working conditions - perhaps a veiled comment on how the poor were being exploited but subtle enough to pass the censors.

Enjoyed the images of the telephone exchange operators and the web of wires.

Both films were accompanied by original scores by the Odeon Leicester Square organist - another treat, as I think this is normally reserved for premieres and Royal visits.

He gave us a talk on its history, having been put in in 1937 as the largest of its kind at the time. It is nicknamed the Duchess and has 1700 pipes under the stage - 5 keyboards, lots of silent picture music effects, a melotone unit and lots of percussion and drum sounds.
He's been the organist for 18 years and clearly feels he has one of the best jobs in the world.
This is him disappearing into the pit - I enjoyed the wave ...