IT by Alexa Chung
I know this book got a lot of hate and side eye, how could Penguin an esteemed established publisher publish this a celebrity memoir from a celebrity that's celebrated mainly for her style and voice? Yet that's just it she's celebrated due to those reasons and the fact regardless of anything she has IT that je na sais quoi. An exotic English ex model now presenter beauty who grew to big for her British pond and so now resides in America, New York.
Chung lives the life sitting front row at Chanel dating front men from bands, a British Vogue cover girl and contributing editor etc, so I do see the appeal to be honest and I see why this book has a place as printed matter.
It shows Chung's Quirky quirpy voice that allows from some laughs and sums up a generation quite nicely from instagram likes as a form of flirting to facebook stalking ex's and potential lovers, Chung sums up her world and that of other under 30's candidly and most importantly shortly its simple fun
Grow Up- Ben Brooks- Canongate
Not much happens but what happens to some maybe most whilst growing up Ben Brooks is able to capture the pondering mind of an adolescent who has began to make sense of the world all its terrors and issues from death, pregnancy, religion, suicide, murder, self harm, sex and drugs told through the eyes of a precocious 17 year old Jasper Wolf a protagonist that's far from loveable with his tainted views and somewhat cynical outlook yet hard to hate as most in their right or maybe twisted minds that have a mind of their own usually are a pessimist and a state most grow in or out of
Brooks paints an interesting portrait of a generation of articulate teens who's self awareness of the world possibly surpasses that of any other prior. Connected yet disconnected with the worlds information at their finger tips creating parodies in situations and for situations that are morally incorrect aware yet foolishly so such as racist yet in a slight and mocking way.
Its a good debut that at times shows Brooks youth in glimpses of his writing yet this could also be a device, he seems to mock novels by creating his novel within a novel that shows his awareness and depth. Already publishing several other creative books It will be interesting to see where he goes next.
The book is a honest insight into the world of MIA more visually charged then texted, allowing you into the world of Maya and how she created and crafted M.I.A her struggles with not only her identity as a person yet as an artist and a creative talented polymath trying to break through and be heard.
M I A is a beautiful book well worth a read not only for fans of the singer but for other creatives who may have fallen off track, success took Maya a while yet when she received it, she seemed to do things her way and its paid off
My Brother The Devil- BFI Film Fest 2012
Any drama that focuses on the ‘urban’ lifestyle & that is set around the council estates of London or the UK usually falls into the pattern of repetition .You know what’s in store and in most cases how it ends, there’s usually tragedy, angst, anger, drugs, sex and turf wars. We’ve seen it all before in numerous forms from The Bill to Channel 4’s Top boy, Noel Clarke’s Kidulthood & Adulthood as well as others like Bullet Boy.
To say that My brother is the devil steers clear of these trappings would be a lie but it does cast a light on other individuals of ethnic minority (Egyptian) who are as alienated as the predominately black youths featured & streotyped within these dramas. These kids have the the same feeling of alienation, who’s culture of their parents clash with their own views, parents who were happy enough at one point to move to a country were jobs were plentiful and life more stable, this is no longer an inheirted outlook with their views old fashioned the thought of being a nine to five slave trapped in the system on a low paid wage isn't one to subscribe to. To good for work yet to proud to sign on & so theres only one other way to make ends meet and by what else but selling drugs that fuels post code wars causing territories were lines can’t be crossed.
The story focuses on Mo who looks up to his elder brother Rashid and his life & (hanging on the streets, selling drugs and fighting ) making fast money and living as much as a life as he can. Change is in the air with Mo graduating from school and obtaining decent GCSE’s which sets him up for a promising future yet one he is doing his best to steer himself away from. Whereas a tragedy within Rashid’s immediate circle allows for Rashid to revaluate his life and focus more on the straight and narrow getting a job and meeting an employer that allows him to question every aspect of himself, yet escape is never that easy.
Elements of refreshing notes are evident within the film and it does question faith, identity and masculinity and how its viewed on the streets, It shows how infectious and poisonous the street life can be yet with the sense of family and belonging and the lure of easy cash it can draw even the smartest of youth’s in.These are kids doing what they can to get by. It’s beautifully shot and doesn’t go over board and shows that there is beauty within the most repressed areas of London.
Restless- BFI Film Fest
Gus Van Sant returns to capturing what
he captures the best, the essence
Two young outsiders come
together but for how long? Due to
tragic circumstances fate is ready to
tear them apart. It’s an interesting
insight to human mortality and how
different young people cope with it.
The young stars of the film Mia Wasikowska
and Henry Hopper pull out all the
stops to deliver a heart wrenching
coming of age tale.
WEEKEND- REVIEW-BFI FILM FEST
Much hype has been made about Weekend, its one of those films you hear loads about before you see and has had an extended run on the festival circuit now finally hitting its home screens.
The story focuses on Russell & Glen, where Russell is more reserved with his sexuality & Glen more out and proud it seems the two are polar opposites at first, meeting in a club and spending the weekend together, bonding over Glen a budding artist asking Russell to participate in his project which involves asking about their shared encounter, hook up and the sex that follows. They soon find they have more in common than they would have previously thought each helping one another to overcome some sort of issue within their lives.
It offers an optimistic look into yes a gay relationship but its more than that its a love story where those falling in love happen to be of the same sex. Haigh is able to perfectly capture those awkward moments of getting to know someone as the walls fall and you let another individual in.
Beautifully shot in Nottingham, finely written. Weekend is an intimate piece of work which shines in all the right places it offers something new and feels fresh.
Another Portrait Book by Jefferson Hack- 7L Steidl :
Ari Marcopolous- Directory- Rizzoli
Famed in both fashion & art photographer and film maker Ari Marcopoulos is a photographer who seems to capture all that surrounds him including the reclusive sub cultures of skaters and graffti artists as well as members of his own family. The depth of intimacy and format of his pictures allow one to wander into a voyeuristic position. Mimicking a phonebook, Directory comprises of 1,200 photographs. Limited in edition each book contains a print by the artist.
Just Kids by Patti Smith- Bloomsbury :
Told by one who experienced it all first hand, none other than Robert Mapplethropes lover and best friend Patti Smith who recalls the time not only they spent together but other eras that have past in riveting detail. Rubbing shoulders with NYC elite and how fame and fortune came to them eventually . This is a tale in which we know the end yet a gripping read all the same to see how two visionaries came into their own, a tale of two artists before they knew they were artists
Life isn't as rosy as it usually is portrayed on screen this isn't a grand story about some life altering event, the pace is steady and its more about the repetition of life and how nothing pans out as we plan it from Mary who's reached middle age alone clinging to her friend Gerri and her family or Ken Who is much like Mary drinking his life away to get through his days losing his friend and envying the youths that now occupy the pubs turned bars he once used to frequent or Ronnie who's world is crumbling as his wife has recently passed and a wayward son who appears and disappears.
Mike Leigh is able to make the mundane enjoyable to draw out and entertain us with what we maybe presented by in our everyday life, this is more true to life than most films from Leigh's technique of creating characters with the actors before the shoot and not having a set scripted dialogue allowing improvisation, even from the lighting, tonal effects the muted colours and most importantly the language all play a part in grounding the film in reality.
This is a film about us, about how our lives might end up and that you will never truly have control over them, you may love and lose, you may settle down only to produce a watless heir or like Tom and Gerri you may find your soul mate and be truly lucky.
A brutal coming of age tale about growing up in 70's Scottish estates, Johnny at first is a soft boy who prefers books to play fights yet is protected from the rough and rogues by his older brother who gained respect and street cred on his many adventures. We see the transformation of Johnny as he begins to hang with the wrong crowd ousted from the right by snobbish behaviour.
The playground Johnny enters thereafter is one where cops and robbers is forever played yet the cops never seem to truly pin down the robbers. Johnny falls deeper and deeper into this world quitting school to become a full time member, even savagely beating a boy to the point of permanent brain damage.
The world we see here is bleak were there is not much hope for those who inhabit it, yet its told honestly enough to grip the viewer until the end.
Tells the story of three women who's lives span the decades and the effect the war has on their lives in the process showing the struggles that those who lived in the times they lived shared, the blending of documentary footage and news reels helps show the raw honesty and reality of the theme the movie deals with. There are some scenes such as that with Mirals mother in which the artist in Schnabel emerges and with how he deals with the delicate matter. It is with Miral's generation that inter mixing of the two sides happen that these people are people and are very much the same.
A look at the Israeli-Palestine conflict via the eyes of Julian Schnabel an American Jew, by doing so no one is to blame not the Jews or the natives. The film doesn't point the finger at one side but what it does is help to educate and allow people to become aware of a problem in the world that has existed and still exists it is more a light education and a look into a few lives that the war has effected.
Never let me go-BFI Film Fest- It was great to see Keira Knightley in a different light (as usually she is a fragile victim) where as in Never Let Me Go, she is fragile but more of a manipulative bully. It was also good to see Andrew Garfield (Tommy) in a film role and played convincingly, an isolated bumbling shy boy and Carey Mulligan (Cathy H) who cares too much for others to disturb them putting them before her.
Created by a young man thristy for knowledge to learn and know more about an idol, The director goes on a road trip to discover just who borroughs was being able to get archive footage as well as interviews from the many peoples who lives he touched and influenced across a diverse variety of people from Sonic Youth, Patti Smith, Gus Van Sant John Walters to his ex lovers and companions.
It is interesting to witness the effect Borroughs had on culture and still has today. His gun shot in many ways mirrors that of Hirsts spin paintings with the outcome uncertain. Borroughs seemed a complicated man yet was able to vent the many issues he had by creating a variety of complex worlds across many mediums.
Vincent Gallo portrays Tetro, an artist at war with himself 'He's like a genius without enough accomplishments' with ease his hollow eyes and haunting looks are more then convincing. Alden Ehrenreich (Bennie) conjures a naive boy on a journey to manhood, his talent and air of youth are both apparent being able to carry off a movie as grand as this, by stealing scenes and taking directions from both established artists as Gallo & Coppolla as well as others in the cast he is in no way out done and that is what makes for impressive debut.
The film has the power to draw emotion and that emotion is not settled with the films ending the damage has been done and he who reeked it now rests and those who felt it still live with the wounds. Its stillness and slow burning gloss evoke films of a by gone era as well the powerful moving overblown drama which could be compared to Italian masters such as Fellini.
Tetro is a powerful piece of cinema at the high end of the independent spectrum only an auteur as skilled as Francis Ford Coppolla could write produce and direct such a movie cannoning forth genius in both the script and stunning visuals executed with a sure hand and exceptional control over elements like lighting, setting and the actors performance.
I Killed My Mother- BFI LGBT Film Festival
Xavier Dolan has to date appeared at the Cannes Film Festival
for two consecutive years. At each one, he has presented a film
that he has written, directed and starred in. The first, I Killed My
Mother (a title extremely uncomfortable to say), was also selected
for this year’s BFI LGBT Film Festival – and he’s done all this at
only 21 years of age.
The film begins with 16-year old Hubert (played by director
Dolan). His relationship with his mother is a difficult one, strained
by the constant arguments, by the simple irritation of her presence,
by the way she eats, and by her garish dress sense. The opening
scene sets the tone of the frustration of living in the close company
of another person, with the mother’s chomping and messy eating,
and Hubert taking the parental role.
It seems Hubert and his mother were once close, through the
vintage footage shown of the two, but they have somehow grown
apart. Hubert seems to find solace in others, and is able to
form relationships quite easily: from the blossoming and loving
relationship he shares with his boyfriend Antonin, to the connection
with his teacher, who becomes his encouraging confidant, to the
brief encounter he has at boarding school.
Antonin’s mother is young, open, care-free and happy. The
relationship that she shares with her son is the antithesis of the
one Hubert has with his own mother. Antonin’s mother is so open
that she happily plays with her lover in front of her own son.
There is no right or wrong here, although a sympathetic light is
cast on the protagonist. We also begin to feel for Hubert’s mother.
Although her main portal of escape is shutting out the world and
her son with the TV, she is nonetheless a single mother trying to
raise a child who has become so distant. She only realises that
her son is gay by a casual remark by Antonin’s mother of their
sons’ looming anniversary. Her outburst directed to a school head
master helps you understand her plight a little more.
Hubert is going through a transitional period and his mother
is unable to grasp that. Nonetheless, Dolan is able to capture
brilliantly the breakdown of a relationship – a relationship that ties
two people by blood irrespective of their situation.
Dolan uses a variety of techniques such as still imagery set to a
relaxing score, exploring his mindset and mood in slow-motion
scenes. He breaks the fourth wall with Hubert’s explaining his
problems direct to the viewer through his diary entries, while at
the same time enhancing our voyeurism at watching the intense
relationship he shares with his mother.
Xavier Dolan has a flair and craft that is rough, yet polished
enough to make this a significant piece of cinema. The film’s low
budget is omnipresent, yet this gives the film added depth and
realism. For one so young to complete something as accomplished
as this makes you wonder what he is capable
The film is quite raw and authentic, the camera is not even steady. Its so weird, weird in the sense that its different yet not shot like a film nor a documentary, its realistic but not numbingly so.
The final scene between the children when the two classes merge with some against his sexuality not understanding and others caring for their teacher beyond his sexual preference. These are the generation next and with them the tolerance for gays resides , this scene is one of the most moving.
The Film is very raw blurring the line between documentary and film brilliantly although all situations had been set up it is clear many where left to free fall and come into there own. This is an important piece of work for the time it was born from and a time capsule capturing struggles of a new found freedom that was not all so free. Available from the BFI
Photography: A Cultural History (3rd edition) by Mary Warner Marien
The book champions a variety of the artforms vast range of artists long forgotten or many of it's quieter hero's that have contributed to the art form over it's 200 year odd history such as F.Holland Day, Von Gloeden, Lewis Carroll, Thomas Eakins, Eadweard Muybridge, Ansel Adams, Seydou Keita.
The wide selection of photos included with some quite rare are amazing examples provided to questions the points raised and to reinforce the statements said. It is both educational and intriguing. Helping dissect photography and enable the reader to read photographic imagery.
Give Me Your Hand
Like other road trips, this is a movie of self discovery and finding oneself, but how can you find yourself whilst always in the company of another? Or how can you find yourself when that other is supposedly so like you? There is not much of a back story but that's what adds to the mystique of the twins, and the trip, a trip or this one is not about what they have done or where they've been rather where they are going and who they will become.