Opening this week: MOTHER

Apologies for my lack of internet presence over the last couple of weeks. After a minor accident I managed to do some impressive damage to my face, after which followed a period of hibernation, and now all that remains is a scar under my left eye. Which I can probably deal with.

Anyway, the point of this post is really to say that this film is revoltingly good. As my review in Dazed this month will urge you, please go see it: opening in selected cinemas this Friday, 20th August.

Future Cinema’s Tribute to Dennis Hopper

Anyone who’s seen my pictures of Secret Cinemas Blade Runner can surely appreciate the unbelievable sickness of this company of actors, filmmakers, performance artists, artist-artists and their creations. Every event is unique, put together with the same imaginative attention to detail and enthusiasm. Venues change each time from warehouses to carparks, rooftops, wherever… while audiences dress up, act up and fully integrate themselves into the film. But the experience is real, it’s live, and it’s The Future.

SO on a beautiful, warm summer’s evening in Stepney last night, we were lured into the darkness of Blue Velvet’s Slow Club (The Troxy) for a screening of what I’m starting to think is Lynch’s finest film, and Hopper’s finest performance. If only it weren’t to say goodbye to our favourite rebel😦 – but let’s not dwell on that.

First of all, what a venue! The Troxy is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G – one of the the oldest cinema spaces in London – 2500 capacity, Tiffany glass ceiling, spiral staircases on both sides, a gallery with mirrored booths, bars, candle-lit tables, a huge stage and screen…. everything proper 30s style, natch. We had food, we had drinks, we had live music, we played dress up… then got to see one of the most disturbing films ever made. That said, I found it a lot funnier this time. I think I’m just older and darker. A lot darker – 1.20 onwards is amazing!

Dennis aside, I’ve been reanalysing Lynch recently thanks to that nutcase philosopher Slavoj Žižek, whose work I visited briefly at uni but revisited in more depth whilst researching this article on him for The Observer a few weeks ago. Žižek’s analysis of Lynch is fairly simple, yet amazingly conclusive (not to mention hilarious). As you’ll see in this extract from his A Pervert’s Guide to Cinema. Enjoy.

“Like prep-school boys showing off”

In today’s paper former Oxford fellow Gabriel Josipovici attacked the modern British multi-award winning novelists (Rushdie, Martin Amis, McEwan et al), for being limited, arrogant and self-satisfied.

“It’s an ill-educated public being fed by the media – “This is what great art is” – and they lap it up.”

Thank you! I wonder sometimes, working in journalism, if all arts are just PR. And while technology and might be broadening other artistic mediums, they’re reducing the literary medium, not to mention our capacity for concentration and analysis. Park Honan suggested that these big modern novelists are “searching for a medium to express the superficial electronic lives we all lead”. But I’m not sure it’s working; as Josipvici, who feels modern literature has left him feeling smaller and meaner, put so eloquently:

“The irony which at first made one smile, the precision of language which was at first so satisfying, the cynicism which at first was used only to puncture pretension, in the end come to feel like a terrible constriction, a fear of opening oneself up to the world.”

There’s few things that irritate me more than people who try to impress you with how clever they are. It’s so painfully transparent, I’m always amazed they can’t see it. Provoking your readers (or whoever you’re talking at) is not the same as being thought-provoking. Being human is being vulnerable. And as Yoko Ono said in a recent interview: “Being human is being open: when you are closed up then you are dead…. and half the world is dead in that sense.”

The dissatisfaction with the lives that we lead, expressed by these authors in this strange “schoolboy desire to boast and to shock”, is essentially horror in the face of our blatant loss of control in the modern world. Oooooooh, how Lynchian – but I’ll come to him on Sunday…

Blagging the Bolshoi

I did it! And these tickets are scorching hot. On the rare occasion that the Russian Bolshoi Ballet Company come to London, fanatics pay hundreds of pounds and book six months ahead for their seats. They’ll queue outside from 5am for cancellations on the day, desperate for a chance to see the world’s most prestigious ballet company in action. I found out they were in town last night, and by mid morning had blagged a seat for tonight’s performances of Giselle and Serenade, from which I have just returned.

So what’s the big deal? (You might ask). Yes, I hated those pretty little blonde girls in ballet class. I dreamt of throwing my ballet shoes in my teacher’s face and playing football with the boys. Apparently I’ve discovered my feminine side since then.

Even if, like me, you really don’t know that much about ballet, there’s no reason to feel like it’s in anyway exclusive. At the foot of these dancers you’ll be immediately entranced, with or without your consent, regardless of your knowledge of ballet’s cultural heritage. Giselle is a classic ballet in two acts, usually performed alone. But tonight it was preceded by a performance of Balanchine’s 25-minute Serenade, and for me I must say this was the highlight of the evening. It’s a dance with no plot, yet somehow I was in tears from beginning to end, and quite unable to control myself. Am I even allowed to admit that? Probably not.

But I found it fascinating that without plot, drama or theatrical interaction with the audience of any kind, Serenade moved me so much more than the main event. The minimal midnight blue stage, subtle moonlight setting off the beautiful handmade costumes, the impeccable conducting of Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings… All of this emphasises the power and fluidity of the movement, the perfect synchronisation, and the purity of the dance that has somewhere worked its way into my soul, without my noticing. Bastard! I do not gush easily. But this was like the waters of Lake Atitlan personified. Or something…

Incidentally, I passed this shop window in Paris just last week – a pure coincidence, but definitely a sign. Just thought I’d share it.

Wiki-Gate! The Afghan War Logs

And to think I was going to deface this lovely new page ranting about the hypocrisy of hating “those spunk trumpets” Jedward! NO. Sorry fellas, much as I love you, I have much bigger fish to fry on the day of your album release.

The Guardian really has the breaking news today, making public the “the biggest leak in US Intelligence history”: thousands of secret files exposing horrific truths of the Afghan war, collected by the whistleblowing website WIKILEAKS. The man behind this site is a very cool sounding Aussie by the name of Julian Assange – a homeless physicist who carries a desktop computer in a rucksack on one shoulder, and another for his essentials on the other shoulder, roaming “wherever the cause takes him”. I always said it, Australians can do anything😉

To cut a very long story short, these are internal military logs, written between 2004-2009 mostly by junior field officers (yes, that makes a difference, but not to their credibility). Assange came up with a collaboration deal between The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel for them to sift through hundreds of thousands of data files, verify their authenticity / significance then deliver them to the public respectably, rather than just dumping them on the net where they might have lost impact.

Essentially the files reveal details of unlogged civilian deaths caused by NATO forces and of how the Pakistan Intelligence Service are secretly helping the Taliban (which they vehemently deny). The US have worried about Pakistan and Iran giving aid to Afghan insurgents for a while. But the rest paints quite a vivid picture of war in the Bush years, which nobody wants this thrown in their face – particularly Obama, desperate to change rep + tactics out there.

SO, obviously the White House are fuming, but their only defense is to call it an irresponsible threat to national security (the Guardian protected themselves of course, publishing only what they consider ‘safe’). What you read here is just a digest of the main events, but watching this unfold over the next few days is gonna be really interesting. You can read some juicy bits for yourself on the Guardian website, which they promise to update regularly, but WikiLeaks will be holding nothing back. Commentators all over the web have had really interesting things to say, too, and it’s only Monday, so keep checking. I love this shit.