Monday, June 30, 2008

New Films Uploaded + Guy Maddin

New Bloods at Ladyfest; photo by Val PhoenixIn my continuing quest to embrace the multi-media age, I have added a few films to various items in this blog. At present, these are:

Ladyfest London

New Bloods at Ladyfest London

Isabella Rossellini at the Berlinale

Monika Enterprise 10th anniversary

Others to be added as I edit them. But sure to follow in my lo-fi auteur style.

The Isabella Rossellini piece includes a cameo from Guy Maddin, whose work I have reviewed.

The BFI is about to run a Guy Maddin season and for those new to the work of this iconoclastic filmmaker, it's sure to be an eye-opener: Expressionistic, quirky, and disturbing, in turns. The programme includes several films, as well as Maddin in conversation.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Louder than Loud: My Bloody Valentine

What with their recent warm-up gig at the ICA, the return of My Bloody Valentine to concert stages has prompted much muttering about loudness at gigs (as well as plenty of "What? Speak up!" and probably many sore ears).

I am in the none-louder-than-MBV camp, having wandered unwarned into one of their last gigs, at the Warfield Theater in San Francisco in about '92. I don't recall any earplugs being offered to the audience but I am reliably informed that this was de rigueur, for health and safety reasons.

In any case, unprotected, I made my way toward the front and was duly blasted backward once they started up, the cacophony whacking me in the chest and propelling me backward, to the back of the auditiorium, then into the foyer and finally, despairingly, into the street and home after about 20 minutes. I simply could not bear the noise.

One does wonder why it is necessary to perform at such extreme levels. After all, anyone listening to the records does not find them especially loud, sonic wizardry notwithstanding. I don't quite get it, nor the chorus (all male, I notice) of fans chiming in with blissful tales of week-long tinnitus afterward (not so amusing when it becomes permanent, giggers!).

So, though slightly annoyed I missed the ICA gig, I am probably better off enjoying the records and steering clear of the upcoming shows at the Roundhouse. I wonder how they'll go over at festivals?

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Caramel Revisited

Still from Caramel, directed by Nadine Labaki
While I have already reviewed Nadine Labaki's debut, Caramel (original title Sukkar banat), the delightful ensemble piece set in a Beirut beauty parlour, I wanted to revisit it for a couple of reasons.

I am pleased to see it's been hanging around the UK top ten for awhile now, rubbing shoulders with Iron Man, Indiana Jones and other more typical entries. To have a film directed by a woman, with a female cast, in a foreign language (Arabic and French) reaching large numbers of moviegoers is very pleasing indeed.

It also puts me in mind of the recent blog discussion about the rarity of films featuring female leads (and I number myself among the early adopters of the Bechdel-Wallace Test). Hollywood films are the focal point of the discussion and many explanations have been offered for the lack of female protagonists.

Thank heavens for Vivere, Caramel and other independent films, which don't conform to the expectation that the protagonist must be male and the leading lady the underwritten love interest.

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