Monthly Archives: May 2012
I warn you now, this is about that most ghastly of things – parenthood. The experiences therein. Stuff I know, or think I know, ‘since becoming a father*’. If you don’t like that, well, I suggest you stop reading now because the first line of the next paragraph isn’t for you.
Since becoming a father I’ve started watching a lot of TV which isn’t made for me, and reading books which aren’t written for me. I’m not going to lie to you, people – a lot of it is terrible. Appalling, knock-it-out-on-the-cheap, thoughtless, insultingly bad trash hiding behind the defence of ‘it’s only meant for kids’, as if children aren’t worth spending time and effort to please. As if they’re not perceptive (actually, you know, they’re really not. The number of times I’ve got away with saying that ‘there is no TV on’ is shockingly and rewardingly high). As if we, the parents, aren’t going to notice.
I’m not here to talk about that stuff, though. The bad isn’t worth examining on any level above a rant (and I do plenty of that), it’s the good that’s interesting. Always. The bad is easier, the good is more interesting. I’ve already talked about the sort of Stockholm Syndrome that sets in after about a year of exposure to it, but there’s another phenomenon, related but very different. Further warning for those still reading – the next sentence will make me sound like I’m writing for Comment Is Free.
The art content for this blog is usually written by Ann Jones. Ann is an artist and art teacher with a passionate and wide-ranging knowledge of her subject. I, as will quickly become clear, am not Ann Jones. I don’t know much about art, and I don’t even know what I like. I usually write about reality TV. You do the sums.
Apparently, it is as part of the Jubilee* celebrations that ten drawings by Leonardo da Vinci have made their way from under the Queen’s bed** to Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. I’ve been meaning to go for a while and yesterday, on a beautiful afternoon, I wandered up the hill with my wife and baby son. When Banksy took over Bristol museum, with his flippant and soulless nonsense, there were two-hour long queues, all day, every day for three months. People came from all over the world. One woman reportedly came twice, from Canada, to see a fibreglass angel with a bucket on its head. Yesterday, I waltzed straight in to see a collection of drawings by, arguably, the most important cultural and scientific figure of the Renaissance, and was one of about ten people in the room. Seriously, humanity, you try my patience.
Tags: Leonardo da Vinci
Avengers Assemble, the Marvel movie-verse’s ensemble superhero flick, has done exceedingly well at the box office, taking $1.2 billion to date globally. If you haven’t seen it yet you are one of the few. A combination of clever marketing (the smartest of which was the utilisation of short 90 second slots at the end of a number of Marvel superhero movies over the last five years, including Iron Man, Thor and Captain America), smart casting (not least the reprisal of actors who made a role popular) and a crowd pleasing script bringing good word of mouth and fan boy appeasement has meant that this ensemble film has pulled in the studio dollars, got bums on cinema seats and generally done enough to ensure a few more spin-offs and a sequel.
Coincidentally, good casting, a smart script, a competent director and efficient marketing are everything that I think a good ensemble movie needs to be a success. Avengers Assemble may well be a superhero movie, but first and foremost it is an ensemble movie. We have at least seven key characters and a few more besides, with story arcs to be played out across the course of the film and whose storylines must overlap in order to create a narratively satisfying whole – one where we don’t wonder why we’ve been jumping about between different characters but enjoy the time we spent with each one and how they all come together to deliver the punch line.
About a year ago – give or take – we ran a piece on beloved minor characters – those bit parts that somehow build a film into something more; that give colour, or background, or just plain WTF moments. Well, we’re back for more…
The Cowboy, Mulholland Dr.
Many, many words have been placed on the internet concerning Mulholland Dr. The meaning, the point, even the story, have been puzzled over to little effect at great length. What’s with the guy who doesn’t like the coffee? What’s in the box? Who’s the guy behind the burger bar? Do they do snacks in Club Silencio, or do you think you have to bring your own? Would sweet wrappers be too noisy, do you think? Well, I’m not here to answer, or even ask, any of those questions. I’m interested, primarily, in The Cowboy.
by Paul Duane
I spent four years making Barbaric Genius, my first feature documentary. I’ve been a director for about twenty-five years, but I learned more about every aspect of filmmaking – and more about life – in those four years than in the first twenty put together.
The film is finally getting a cinema release this week, a year after its festival debut, and it felt like it might be a good time to try to figure out how to pass on some of the things I’ve learned, for what they’re worth.
Or, An Inquiry Into The Nature Of Divinity, Based On An Understanding Of Hip-Hop Lyrics From 2012, by KasperHauser
It’s been a big year for hip-hop. Recent events like the death of Adam Yauch and resurrection of Tupac are enough to make one ponder one’s own mortality and place in the universe. Given that the average Soulja Boy or Odd Future fan is unlikely to be watching Christopher Hitchens or Richard Dawkins debates on YouTube, what messages are they receiving from their idols?
By Ricky Young
Europe’s Best Website plunges into the world of telly only rarely, (as goodness knows every single show that goes out over the ether gets recapped up the wazoo these days, for good or bad) but for this correspondent, the very best thing on the box in the last twelve months has been the weekly 35-years-ago Top of the Pops repeats on BBC4. Pre-’76, the archive was swiss-cheese at best, with dozens and dozens of shows lost to the ages, but when we joined what looks like a considerable on-going project , the gaps were narrowing down to insignificance.
The ‘Pops gets a hard time from the Nostalgia Police, thanks to the gruesome later incarnations and Steve Wright’s voiceovers on the generally-emetic TOTP2. But there was a time when it was always there, always grinding out the chart on a Thursday and heralding the weekend in the best fashion possible. Back when its broadcast rules (highest climber, highest new entry, number one, non-movers only after four weeks, no fallers unless they rose again and beat the previous position etc) emanated from the old-school Light Entertainment honcho who had no agenda other than reflecting the pop singles of the day. Unfettered pop!
In the second of a two-part series, Viv Wilby looks at the way Gone With The Wind tells its story through costume. Read part 1 here: