Saturday, October 17, 2009


Saturday 17 October 2009

Dream: I’m at some weird arts happening invited by Ross. Its some strange movie screening that appears for some reason to be showing in tribute to Stephen Gately. This is very camp and high on mockery. I am one of the first people to turn up and it is as expected a weird scene but fun. A few more familiar faces turn up, surprisingly from Ipswich who I would not expect to be mixing and moving with these circles. At one point I find myself behind the bar in the basement looking for free treats. I get caught told to get out from behind the bar in a cheeky manner as if I am known and liked by the management at this place. All in all its very camp and not overly exciting.

I am up early today, much too early for a Saturday when really a lie in is a valued thing.

Soon I am heading out to collect the package from the post office that I couldn’t get parked up to collect on Thursday. When the guy hands it over it is a seven inch. Why would a person send a seven inch via registered post? This does not a require a signature. When I get home it turns out to be the “Wheelchair Epidemic” seven inch by The Jesus Lizard.

Being in that part of town (Hythe) I choose to hit the Tesco rather to go to Asda as usual. Tesco just not have the glow that Asda does. It’s a lot more quiet and totally drab. I don’t waste any time getting the essentials and getting out of there. There are no treats to be had at this time. The only thing of note is the hot looking girl lingering around the newspapers. She looks resoundingly lost here.

I get back in time for the Danny Baker radio show which I watch on the red button. Alun Cochrane is the guest and he generally good value, very funny. By the end of the show it turns out to be the best one so far.

From here I do some much-needed writing before heading out around 11.30AM. As I drive down Butt Road I see Seymour outside the office. I wave but he doesn’t acknowledge me. It is exactly four years and eleven months since they shitcanned me today.

I board an 11.38AM train to London and it is an orange along the lines of the weird Friday 9PM train.

Today is my second trip to the London Film Festival and as I arrive into Liverpool Street at 12.45PM I need to get to the NFT at Waterloo for 2PM. It feels as if time is on my side.

With this in mind I get a tube down to London Bridge and decide to walk through Borough and Southwark along the Southbank. Like a dingbat it would appear that I never realised how long/far it is and when a portion of the Southbank is closed and I have to do a quick detour suddenly the rush is on to the get to the NFT on time.

Eventually though I get to the NFT on time with Starbucks in hand in order to see my first film of the day: The Exploding Girl.

This movie turns out to be a tough one, slow moving and very indie. The Exploding Girl is question turns out to be a flaky little Lolita that cannot make up her mind over which guy she likes. I think I was hoping for something a bit closer to Ghost World but actually this is girl isn’t as sharp as those characters, more straight laced and drippy. Also somewhat more younger than Enid and Rebecca it would seem.

The movie is no without charm but it is quite considerably without much in the way of humour. Lacking a clear plot and narrative the movie just follows around an indecisive and mixed up girl as she experiences conflicting emotions which for some reason recalled Old Joy to me. I am ashamed to admit but I was somewhat relieved when it reached its predictable conclusion.

Once of the cinema suddenly I find myself with several hours to kill before the next movie. With this in mind I decide to continue the highbrow theme to the day and head towards the Tate Modern for the Pop Life exhibition.

It has now been five years since I last visited the Tate Modern, which was with Phoebe when we came to see the Edward Hopper exhibition. It is still a very exciting and vibrant building/venue. With little hesitation I soon find myself queuing for a ticket to the pop art exhibition.

Entering the Pop Life exhibition I immediately find myself faced with plenty of Warhol including a video of the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade. I can’t be bothered to read into the connection between him and this tawdry event. As I continue the additional Warhol is much more of interest as it feels heavily focused on celebrity including items such as plaques from Studio 54, ancient magazine features, photos of him with celebrities and video skits originally shown on Saturday Night Live as well as an old episode of The Love Boat. With his stuff comes a real air of both the cool and the eccentric. Its not awful but its not amazing either it just feels perfectly pitched with view to touching the popular nerve. The modern history attached to these pieces causes me to yearn for better times as the exhibition takes on a kind of rose tinted glasses affect.

Generally what sweeps through the exhibition is a sense of throwback to the era that was the early days of MTV, the eighties as drawn up from within offices in New York at a time when information wasn’t to easy to uncover and people were generally more happy to just look at the brightness of the surface of what was on offer without looking for the reasons and purpose underneath, without looking for a spoiling element to anything/everything presented to us at hand.

Moving onto other displays of work the Keith Haring stuff stands out for running from floor to ceiling in the most bright of fashions. His work always came with a striking bout of simplicity but with a very strong sense of power and presence. Stepping into his room in many ways feels like stepping into a De La Soul video and a happy return to the basics of the daisy age.

Elsewhere as the exhibition turns British there is an abundance of Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst items including a full size shop dummy turned into a combination of Sid Vicious and Elvis Presley. Scouring through the Emin stuff I look out for any mentions or moments featuring Billy Childish. I get a few scraps. The highlight of this room for me is the encased lamb done in the trademark Hirst fashion only with golden hoofs that are quite frankly dashing. As I look at the sheep from the front its expression is all too real, discomforting and sad.

After a creepy closed door room detailing the most explicit images and structures the curators probably thought possible (although kudos for the enormous and disgusting but detailed sculpture in the centre) things move along with some equally explicit work from Pruitt Early as he continues a hip hop motif pumping out amazing golden age rap tracks while images and posters from that era take centre stage, noticeable for its naivety and distinct lack of bling which has now since explicitly tainted and ruined the movement in that form.

The penultimate portion of the exhibition by Piotr Uklanski features a wall of famous Nazi officers. These are not actually real people but photos of the many stars to have played them in film and television over the years even down to the time Captain Kirk donned a uniform in Star Trek. It is quite the sight as all in all it takes up an entire wall and scarily many of the images are recognisable to me and I guess any person of my generation that has seen a war movie. Whether it is a statement of wicked glorification or condemnation is open to debate.

The exhibition ends with a glowing room of full on Japanese gloss by Takashi Murakami. As walls fill with Anime like images of round eyed pretty fairies on a large video screening pumping out “Going Japanese” by The Vapors Kirstin Dunst bounces around Tokyo in a blue wig living the dream. It feels a bit patronising but as it is also mildly titillating nobody really minds. Elsewhere there is a full on Kanye West bear character drenched in bling called “Kanye Bear.” It is equally impressive as it is hedonistic and grotesque, pretty as with the whole of this era of hip hop bling.

Once out of the exhibition I find myself suddenly hit by a barrage of souvenirs. While browsing I find myself perving over a pretty Japanese lady. Ironically it is at this time I come across a great Otaku Encyclopedia book which I promptly note in my iPhone with view to ordering later online at a cheaper price.

Now finished off with the Tate Modern I head across the bridge towards St Pauls before heading across to Tottenham Court Road with view to hitting Leicester Square for 44 Inch Chest. On the way I pop into Fopp and buy various trinkets and baubles that I do not really need.

Upon arriving at the cinema on Leicester Square I find myself met with a red carpet and suddenly it becomes apparent that this screening of 44 Inch Chest is its premiere. Things begin to look quite exciting as the potential prospect of Ray Winstone being in tow looks a genuine reality.

As I display my ticket to get in I almost expect to be told that I can’t come in, like I am a threat to the famous or don’t meet dress code or something. Surprisingly though against my lack of faith I find myself directed in as if its no big thing.

I take my seat and it would appear that I am not the only person excited by the prospect of seeing somebody famous tonight, the guy next to me is evidently gearing up to video everything that is not the movie.

Eventually the wheels begin to turn and out come the people behind the movie. For our sins we get the writer, the director, the producer and then one of the stars of the movie: John Hurt. I feels like only weeks now since I was looking that guy in the eye at the Alien screening. Still at least he has made the effort and at anytime it is always going to be really exciting to see anyone of such stature. They make their apologies for Ray Winstone not being able to make the screening but he does film a message for the audience, an address that just looks fucking huge on this screen.

With this the movie begins to roll opening with Winstone flat out on the floor taking in (along with the audience) “Without You” by Harry Nilsson while all around him appears to be ransacked.

44 Inch Chest turns out to be a very caustic ride, a true platform/vehicle in which its cast are truly given room to breathe and fully display their talents. The cast is great with Ian McShane and Steven Berkoff joining Winstone and Hurt all acting like dapper West End types of old. It is McShane who shines most as the most suave of gay bounders, unaffected by all events around him while everyone else seems to fall apart. John Hurt on the other hand rides the thin line between great and laughable as his role as the granddad character of the piece is textbook Wilfrid Brambell/Steptoe.

The premise is basic. Ray Winstone is married to Joanna Whaley-Kilmer who with her looks is able to play away from home at which point Winstone gathers together his gang and they kidnap the waiter his wife has had an affair with and things begin to turn Reservoir Dogs style as they decide what to do with the guy now that they have him. Working in a restaurant with so many young foreign waiters it does tickle me to think that I know so many types like this guy.

Through flashbacks, anecdotes and diversions the piece is mostly dialogue driven, written in a way that you might expect to find more at home onstage. Naturally this makes the job something of a slog but ultimately I do feel sticking with the movie pays off. As the features begins to turn surreal it opens up a new angle on proceedings before the eventual conclusion and payoff that avoids being gratuitous if not slightly clichéd.

Afterwards though we all collectively applaud excided by the prospect of some enlightening information about the movie.

As the Q&A takes place it is interesting to note that movie has come about as some kind of response to how the characters in the movie are now something of a dying breed, nobody listens to such gruff, old school types anymore as it gets pointed out how the world now belongs to (is run by) good looking twenty and thirty year olds. Indeed tonight I have been watching a movie about my father’s generation in which I see very little of my own generation except in the waiter who quite frankly nobody viewing the film wants to be associated with.

The filmmakers reveal that the movie was filmed in an old house in Bow that has since been demolished, which doesn’t come as a surprise to anybody having watched it. This too is representative of a part of London that is ceasing to exist, being lost in this modern corporate age where everything is getting shined up with view to looking shiny and salient. Initially they say the owners of the builder were not interested in allowing the filming to take place in the house but as soon as they found out that Ray Winstone was involved in the project they agreed with open arms.

When questioning moves to John Hurt it is funny how he accepts/concedes that his performance was much based on Steptoe and Wilfrid Brambell, looking again to capture something that is on its way out. All in all without realising it it would appear that we have been watching something of an already retro movie.

Quickly proceedings get wrapped up as the theatre needs to be cleared for the next screening and uniformly we exist the cinema in satisfied motion.

I head back to Liverpool Street taking a tube from Leicester Square up to Holborn and then across the Central Line. When I get back to Liverpool Street I board an 8.38PM train to Manningtree that I never knew existed.

Once arrived back into Colchester having not eaten anything since this morning and now unsurprisingly being hungry I head to the kebab shop on North Station Road and buy a kebab and chips. This is the way you end an amazing day.

The time is heading towards 10PM by the time I get home feeling exhilarated from the most exciting of days in London.

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