Monday, July 30, 2007

Ingmar Bergman died today and cinema lost the last of it's great masters.

Bergman was a director I felt I had to educate myself to and it was an uphill struggle as I was working so hard at them. Eventually I gave up and just started watching them as films and not as Monuments Of Cinema which needed to be genuflected before. That's when I started to appreciate them.
So many great films, so many great performances...

The beleaguered young couple in IT RAINS ON OUR LOVE, Harriet Andersson's luminous performance in SUMMER WITH MONIKA, the way Eva Dahlbeck and Gunnar Bjornstrand have to learn A LESSON IN LOVE to realize they are happier together and the remarkable one-two of SMILES OF A SUMMER NIGHT and THE SEVENTH SEAL. There are the female duels of Ingrid Thulin and Gunnel Lindblom in THE SILENCE and Liv Ullmann and Bibi Andersson in PERSONA as well as in the 1970s the painful-to-watch dissections of a marriage - Ullmann and Erland Josephson in SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE - and of the relationship between a mother and a daughter - Ullmann & Ingrid Bergman in AUTUMN SONATA. Bergman's other mainstay apart from his remarkable actors - Max von Sydow should of course be mentioned - was his brilliant cinematographer Sven Nykvist.

Of course not all the films are good - I will happily walk a mile in tight shoes to avoid seeing THE SERPENT'S EGG again - but dear Lord there is more to be gained by watching one of his worst than to view any number of other directors' best.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Now I have been to some dog shows but DAMN I wish I had been in South Florida this night....

"Farrah Fawcett had a rather strange opening night in Butterflies Are Free at the Burt Reynolds Dinner Theater in Jupiter, Florida, on 30 July 1980. An obese lady in the front row of tables began yelling insults at her and making bird calls during the performance. Later, this unidentified lady raised her dress and flashed the performers, causing co-star Dennis Christopher to take notice, although the character he was playing was a blind man. Nearby, a male patron began vomiting, and yet another patron fainted. Incredibly, the reviews for Farrah's performance were positive"

I wonder what they were putting in the food??
It could just be me but I'm getting a strange whiff off the news coverage of the floods oop north.

Almost as if they are strangely disappointed this hasn't turned into the British version of New Orleans.

You can almost hear the disappointment in the reporters voices that the water *is* going down...

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The balcony outside the office about 12:30 yesterday morning.
I think I was saying EEEEK at the time...
Downtown or uptown it's all the same
Click on Pet's picture to make her a Dame!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

So the big news is that certain BBC light entertainment shows have mislead the viewers.

Television misleading viewers? No shit Sherlock!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

...and here it is, the signed.. er... pre-signed Suzi Q photo.

A few weeks ago Owen and I saw Suzanne Vega at the Queen Elizabeth Hall.
This is the second time we have seen her at that venue and the third time in all.
She was promoting her new album BEAUTY AND CRIME - songs inspired by the people and the city of New York.

I have to say I enjoyed it more than the last time we saw her there when it was kinda just her and her resident bassist Mike and it felt all a bit subdued. This time however she was in fine form, very chatty with the audience - we weren't very chatty back initially but we warmed up. She has an interesting stage persona: witty and insightful while also retaining a guarded coolness. Her wearing of a light beige trench coat added to this unflappability. I am not an out-an-out fan unlike Owen who has all her albums, I only have a 1998 Best Of but she played a great selection of songs from her 22 year career. My favourites included the two versions of TOM'S DINER which bookended the main set, first a capella then the DNA-styled dance version; NEW YORK IS A WOMAN; CARAMEL; FRANK & AVA; SMALL BLUE THING; LEFT OF CENTER; BLOOD MAKES NOISE; IN LIVERPOOL; LUKA and MARLENE ON THE WALL. There is something very austere about her songwriting that I like a lot and hopefully she will be back again soon.

With a bit of prompting from O I said hello to Fred Shortlands in the foyer. Fred is one of the main advisers behind the JUSTICE FOR KIRSTY campaign being waged by Jean MacColl trying to bring Guillermo Gonzalez Nova to account for Kirsty's death in 2000. Fred is also involved with Casa Alianza which helps deprived children in South America and as Suzanne Vega is a keen supporter of this charity he is usually in the foyers of her UK shows promoting it. No discernible headway is being made with JFK but there is still movement happening in various Mexican legal circles.

I've been meaning to blog about the above but going to see Suzi Quatro last night was the final push needed!

She rocked out in the bizarre surroundings of Cannizaro Park in Wimbledon as part of their 2007 festival. The set up is a bit odd - a stage is set up at the end of a smallish Astroturf lawn with 2 covered seated stands facing each other on either side. The show started dead on 8pm with Suzi taking to the stage and rocking away to little avail as it was still light and a steady light rain fell on the anoraked fans sitting on blankets - yes Dawn... the curse of the blankets returns after our Kid Creole experience in Kew! A couple of new songs were okay but most were forgettable - sadly not a truly naff Elvis Presley tribute song which even she admitted was cobbled together from the titles of his songs.

However Surrey politeness is no match for 30+ years slogging away in the business and as darkness finally closed in and the rain stopped she returned for a second half of her more famous songs and in her tight leather pants - soon the stands were being deserted for a good-natured jig about in front of the stage. She worked that crowd - knowing exactly how to tease out the intros and the call-backs and by the end everyone was happy - from her grand-daughter held aloft at the front of the stage to the 50-somethings in too much leather. There was a meet n greet after the show unsurprisingly next to the merchandise counter which was run by some very mannish-looking ladies in their 40s. After manoeuvring Owen into position in the polite scrum behind the crash barrier I decided to get a photo signed too - well let's face it she's a 70s pop icon eh? And you don't meet many of them on a Sunday evening in a park in SW19.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

and the final pile of celluloid...

Sabrina Fair - Le Samourai - Saturday Night Fever - Savage Nights - Scarface - The Scent Of Green Papaya - Scream - Serial Mom - The Servant - Seven - Seven Samurai - The Seventh Seal - Shaft - Shane - Shaun of the Dead - The Shawshank Redemption - The Shining - Shoah - Short Cuts - A Short Film About Killing - Shrek - The Silence of the Lambs - Silent Running - Silkwood - Singin' in the Rain - The Sixth Sense - Sleepy Hollow - Sleuth - Smiles of a Summer Night - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs - Some Like it Hot - Sons and Lovers - The Son's Room - Spartacus - Spider-Man - Spirit of the Beehive - The Spy Who Loved Me - Stand by Me - Star Wars - Steamboat Bill, Jr - The Sting - Strangers on a Train - Straw Dogs - A Streetcar Named Desire - Sunset Boulevard - Superman - The Sweet Hereafter - The Swimmer - The Taking of Pelham 123 - The Talented Mr Ripley - Taxi Driver - Ten Things I Hate About You - The Terminator - The Texas Chainsaw Massacre - Thelma & Louise - There's Something About Mary - The Damned - The Thin Blue Line - The Thing - The Third Man - The Thirty Nine Steps - The Thomas Crown Affair - The Three Musketeers - Throne of Blood - Time Regained - Titanic - To Be or Not to Be - To Have and Have Not - To Kill a Mockingbird - Tommy - Touch of Evil - Toy Story - The Train - Trainspotting - 24 Hour Party People - Two Lane Blacktop - 2001: A Space Odyssey - The Umbrellas of Cherbourg - The Unbelievable Truth - Unforgiven - The Untouchables - The Usual Suspects - Les Valseuses - The Vanishing - Vera Drake - Vertigo - Victim - Village of the Damned - The Warriors - Wayne's World - West Side Story - What's Up, Doc? - Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? - White Heat - Who Framed Roger Rabbit? - Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? - The Wicker Man - William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet - The Wind - Wise Blood - Witchfinder General - The Wizard of Oz - Women in Love - Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown - The Women - Working Girl - X - The Man With The X Ray Eyes - X-Men - Y Tu Mama Tambien - Yellow Submarine - Young Frankenstein – Z

and out of them 112 filums I have 13 on dvd.

So I am either a bit picky about what I buy, they haven't released what I want to buy - or I've wasted a hell of a lot of time seeing films I never want to see again!!

And the hits just keep on comin'

L- R

LA Confidential - The Lacemaker - The Lady Eve - Last Metro - The Last Picture Show - The Last Seduction - Last Tango in Paris - Laura - Law of Desire - Lawrence of Arabia - Léon - Lift to the Scaffold - Little Big Man - Little Caesar - Live Flesh - Local Hero - Logan's Run - Lolita - Lonely Are the Brave - The Long Good Friday - The Long Goodbye - The Lord of the Rings trilogy - Lost in Translation – M - M Hulot's Holiday - The Magnificent Seven - The Maltese Falcon - The Man Who Would Be King - The Man With Two Brains - The Manchurian Candidate - Marat/Sade - MASH - The Matrix - A Matter of Life and Death - McCabe & Mrs Miller - Mean Streets - Meet Me in St Louis - Men in Black - Mephisto - Le Mépris - Metropolis - Midnight Cowboy - Mildred Pierce - Million Dollar Baby - The Misfits - Monty Python's Life of Brian - Muriel's Wedding - My Beautiful Laundrette - The Naked Gun - The Nanny - Nashville - Near Dark - A Night at the Opera - The Night of the Hunter - Night of the Living Dead - Nightmare Alley - A Nightmare on Elm Street - Nikita - Nil By Mouth - Ninotchka - The Ninth Configuration - North By Northwest - Nosferatu: a Symphony of Terror - Notorious - Now, Voyager - Ocean's Eleven - Odd Man Out - Oliver Twist - The Omen - On the Town - On the Waterfront - Once Upon a Time in America - One False Move - One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - One Million Years BC - Onibaba - Osama - Pandora's Box - Pan's Labyrinth - The Parallax View - Parents - Paris, Texas - The Passion of Joan of Arc - Peeping Tom - Pépé le Moko - Performance - The Philadelphia Story - The Piano Teacher - The Piano - Picnic at Hanging Rock - Pink Flamingos - The Pink Panther - Pirates of the Caribbean: the Curse of the Black Pearl - Planet of the Apes - Platoon - Play It Again, Sam - The Player - Plein Soleil - Poltergeist - The Postman Always Rings Twice - Pretty in Pink - The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie - The Princess Bride - The Producers - Psycho - The Public Enemy - Pulp Fiction - Purple Rain - Quadrophenia - Quiz Show - Raging Bull - Rancho Notorious - Rear Window - Red Rock West - Red Sorghum - Repo Man - Reservoir Dogs - The Return of Martin Guerre - Robocop - Rollerball - Room at the Top - Room With a View - Rosemary's Baby - Rude Boy - Rumble Fish - Running on Empty

126 films - 12 on dvd
Next lump of the films I've seen off The Guardian's 1000 FILMS TO SEE BEFORE YOU DIE in which I rated a measly 497...


East of Eden - Edward Scissorhands - Eight Men Out - Election - The Elephant Man - Elizabeth - Les Enfants du Paradis - The English Patient - Enter the Dragon - Eraserhead - ET: the Extra-Terrestrial - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - The Exorcist – The Fabulous Baker Boys - A Face in the Crowd - Face/Off - Fahrenheit 9/11 - The Fallen Idol - Far from Heaven - Farewell My Concubine - Fargo - Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! - Fight Club - A Fish Called Wanda - Five Easy Pieces - Force of Evil - The Fortune Cookie - Frankenstein - Freaks - The French Connection – The General - Get Carter - Ghost - Ghost World - Gigi - Gilda - Gimme Shelter - Gladiator - Glengarry Glen Ross - Gloria - The Go-Between - The Godfather - Goldfinger - Gone With the Wind - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly - Goodfellas - Gosford Park - The Gospel According to St Matthew - The Graduate - La Grande Illusion - Grease - Great Expectations - The Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle - Greed - Gregory's Girl - Grey Gardens - The Grifters - Grosse Pointe Blank - Gun Crazy - Guys and Dolls – Hairspray - Halloween - Happiness - A Hard Day's Night - Harold & Maude - Harper - The Haunting - Heat - Heathers - Heaven's Gate - Heavenly Creatures - Hedwig and the Angry Inch - Hell Is a City - Hellzapoppin' - Henry V - Hidden - High Noon - The Honeymoon Killers - Hot Fuzz - House of Flying Daggers - The House of Mirth - The House of Wax - Howards End - Hud - The Hustler – I Walked With a Zombie - The Ice Storm - If... - I'll Never Forget What's'isname - In a Lonely Place - In the Heat of the Night - In the Name of the Father - Independence Day - The Innocents - Intolerance - Invasion of the Body Snatchers - The Ipcress File - It's a Wonderful Life - The Italian Job - Jackie Brown - Jason and the Argonauts - Jaws - The Jerk - Johnny Guitar - Jubilee - Jules et Jim - The Jungle Book - Jurassic Park - Kes - The Killing - Kind Hearts and Coronets - King Kong - Kiss Me Deadly - Kiss of the Spider Woman - Klute - Knife in the Water - Koyaanisqatsi

117 films - 9 on dvd!
At the end of June The Guardian - for reasons known only unto themselves - published a list of the 1000 FILMS TO SEE BEFORE YOU DIE.

I am ashamed to say I didn't even make 500. I made 497.

So here's my first lot, from A-D:

Ace in the Hole - The Adventures of Robin Hood - After Hours - Airplane! - Alfie - Alien - All About My Mother - All That Heaven Allows - All That Jazz - Amadeus - Amelie - American Beauty - American Gigolo - American Graffiti - An American in Paris - An American Werewolf in London - Amores Perros - An Angel At My Table - Annie Hall - The Apartment - Apocalypse Now - L'Appartement - The Asphalt Jungle - L'Atalante - Atlantic City - Au Revoir les Enfants - Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery – Babe - Back to the Future - Bad Day at Black Rock - Bad Lieutenant - Badlands - Bagdad Café - Bambi - Barbarella - Barton Fink - Batman - The Beat That My Heart Skipped - Becket - Being John Malkovich - Being There - Belle de Jour - Belleville Rendez-vous - Betty Blue – The Big Chill - The Big Heat - The Big Lebowski - The Big Sleep - The Birds – Blade Runner - The Blair Witch Project - Blazing Saddles - Blow-Up - The Blue Angel - The Blue Dahlia - The Blue Lamp - Blue Velvet - The Blues Brothers - Body and Soul - Bonnie & Clyde - Boogie Nights - The Boston Strangler - Le Boucher - Bowling for Columbine - The Brady Bunch Movie - Brazil - Breakfast at Tiffany's - Breaking the Waves - Breathless - Bride of Frankenstein - The Bridge On the River Kwai - Brief Encounter - Brighton Rock - Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia - Broadway Danny Rose - Brokeback Mountain - Buffalo 66 - Bugsy Malone - Burnt By the Sun - Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid – Cabaret - The Cabinet of Dr Calgari - La Cage Aux Folles - Carry On Cleo - Casablanca - Casino - Cat On a Hot Tin Roof – Central Station - La Cérémonie - The Charge of the Light Brigade - Chariots of Fire - Chicken Run - Chinatown - The Cincinnati Kid - Citizen Kane – Clerks - Close Encounters of the Third Kind - Clueless - Come and See - The Company of Wolves - Comrades - The Conversation - Coogan's Bluff - The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover - Cool Hand Luke - Crash - Crimes and Misdemeanors - Crossfire - Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon - The Crying Game - Cul-De-Sac - Cyrano de Bergerac – Dancer in the Dark - Dangerous Liaisons - Darling - Day for Night - Days of Heaven - Dead of Night - Dead Ringers - Death In Venice - The Deer Hunter - Deliverance - Desperately Seeking Susan - Detour - The Devils – Les Diaboliques - Dick Tracy - Die Hard - Dirty Harry - Dirty Rotten Scoundrels - Distant Voices, Still Lives – Dog Day Afternoon - Dogville - Don't Look Now - Double Indemnity - Downfall - Doctor Zhivago - Dracula - The Dresser - Drugstore Cowboy - Duck Soup - Dumb & Dumber

and out of these 142, how many do I have on dvd? 17!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

If the concert for Diana wasn't bad enough we now have the Live Earth concert.

I have just watched a bit of it. Keane. Why? People were actually singing along. So someone must like it. The bizarre thing is the interviewees all seem a little unsure about what message they are supposed to be on - is it global warming? Is it recycling? Is it political? Personal? Is it for now or the next generation?

And where is that sanctimonious monghole Bono? Does he not approve? Or is there nothing in it for him?

I think the televisual port will be shut down til Madonna comes on.

20:21 - news just in: Chris Rock said Nigger on live tv. Lucky it ain't Big Brother eh

Monday, July 02, 2007

Saturday... Soho was given over to Pride.
Wherever you looked there was pink. Pink wigs, drag, flags, people.
Old Compost Street were awash with couples holding hands - a rarity I know - and Soho Square was surrounded by stalls yearning for the legendary pink pound.

Constant Reader I fled to the dark joys of the cinema.

But in keeping with my idren I did see a film about a tortured female singer with the obligatory gay following - LA VIE EN ROSE, Olivier Dahan's controversial film of Edith Piaf.

The film has provoked a few column inches over Dahan's approach to telling the incident-packed life of France's greatest chanteuse with it's flashbacks and flashforwards as well as certain incidents left out, most notably the odd way the whole of World War II is glossed over. This is strange as she certainly played an interesting part in covert resistance.

However Dahan certainly fits in all the other major incidents in her extraordinary life - born in poverty during WWI, brought up in her grandmother's brothel then on the road with her acrobat father, singing on the street for money where she is spotted by gay club owner Louis Leplee, her first triumph at his club and her implication in his gangland murder, the love of her life, the boxer Marcel Cerdan, tragically killed in a plane crash while flying to see her, her car crash that left her addicted to morphine shots, her triumph in the 1960s at the Olympia and her death in 1963 aged only 47.

Dahan's cross-cutting through her life makes the film sometimes difficult to like as it seems willfully to confuse the viewer. However the film works as a new way of telling a screen biography and of course the film is made entirely watchable by the astonishing performance of Marion Cottilard, a true tour-de-force.

From the cocky, abrasive 20 year old to the shrunken, frazzled-haired rheumatic shell 27 years later, Cotillard delivers a tour-de-force performance. Never playing for the audience's sympathy, she is a compelling actress - as anyone who remembers her chilling avenging prostitute in A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT will attest.

The large cast give good support - Gerard Depardieu brings great charm and - oh all right - weight to the role of Louis Leplee, his sudden absence leaves the audience as floundering as it does Edith. Sylvie Testud makes the most of the role of Momone, Edith's sponging friend from the gutter and Jean-Pierre Martins is fine as Cerdan - again like Depardieu he is perfectly cast so the audience feels a genuine loss with his death in the plane crash. In the early brothel scenes I was intrigued who the amazing actress was who played Edith's grandmother... she looked so familiar yet I had no idea who it was. So it was genuinely thrilling to see in the end credits that it was Catherine Allegret, daughter of the wonderful Simone Signoret - she is definitely her mother's daughter! It's also a neat piece of casting as her step-father Yves Montand was discovered by Piaf and was indeed her lover for a short while.

The production design, cinematography, costumes and make-up are all top-notch but the film is rendered memorable by Marion Cottilard's astonishing screen presence.