Posts tagged ‘film’

February 22, 2014

The Weekend Pages #4

This edition of The Weekend Pages is devoted to one thing —The VELOBerlin Film Award, which combines two of my favourite things —film and bicycles, so we’ve spent a lot of this week watching all the short films and then entering into huge debates about what we should rate each one.

I think the film above, Bike, the first time, might be my favourite so far, as it contains shots of Paris, my favourite city, as well as some great looking bikes. But I also loved Experiments in Speed, seen below. I do love a bit of British eccentricity…

There are 18 films to watch and the range is extraordinary, from cartoons to emotional films about litter-picking children in Asia, via a documentary about the Devil. No, not the real one, the chap who follows all the major bike races wearing a Devil costume. If you’ve ever seen the mountain stages of the Tour de France you’ll know exactly who I mean…

The full range of films can be seen HERE. Don’t forget to vote!

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Margot and Barbara is changing! I’d really appreciate your feedback. Click HERE to take part. Thank you 🙂

January 31, 2014

Comfort Viewing: what are your favourite shows?

We’ve been watching our way through the Academy Awards nominees, Golden Globe winners and lots of new TV shows recently—and seen some incredible performances. I’m really looking forward to Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club, having loved him since his Dazed and Confused days—which has a brilliant soundtrack that always makes me smile.

But alongside this, I’ve been craving some comfort viewing. The relentless quest for the new can be a bit tiring, and at the end of a seemingly endless January (and never-arriving payday!) I’ve been curling up on the sofa and watching some shows that I’ve seen so often, I could probably parrot every line back to you.

As I’m trying ever-so-hard to be a minimalist, I have hardly any DVDs left. Here are those that are my required comfort viewing, and so I still own. I think there’s only one film and one TV award winner amongst them…

Television

  • The Good Life. Obviously. Because I feel like I know every word. And I understand that the show isn’t really about Tom Good’s quest for self sufficiency. Anyone who has watched it as many times as I have realises that Barbara is the person who keeps the Goods afloat, and really the whole thing is a vehicle for Penelope Keith as Margot to steal the show time and again.
  • The West Wing. Preferably the first series. Everyone is fresh and new; it’s so utterly engaging, even if sometimes the politics baffles me. So many corridors to “walk with me” down. I rarely watch an entire series from start to finish but this is a notable exception.
  • The Darling Buds of May. Absolute rose-tinted cheese fest. I make no apologies for this. Plus, it’s David Jason, who can do no wrong.
  • Poirot. Or Marple. Or any other crime drama in which the actual murdering is terribly civilised and we’re completely confident that wrong-doers will be caught. Because what we’re really looking for in a crime drama is tension, resolution and the return to status quo. That’s the comfort and why they’re so damn popular.

The Good Life. Best TV ever…

Film

  • Amélie. Beautiful, dream-like Amélie. A bit too sweet for some, but I find it charming. Plus it’s set in Paris—albeit a rather different version to the real city—which I love and return to year after year.
  • Die Hard. There’s just something about Die Hard that I find incredibly comforting. The good guy wins, despite all odds. Plus, it’s Christmassy. And Bruce. In a vest. Enough said.
  • Twister. Sorry. I know this is low-brow. But I love Helen Hunt in this.

Documentary

  • Signé Chanel. A totally fascinating French documentary series about the people working behind the scenes to create Chanel Haute Couture. Sits well with Twister and Die Hard, doesn’t it? From Karl himself through to the incredible white-coated women who painstakingly turn his drawings into fabric reality, this peek into the inner world of Chanel is the perfect way to pretend I’m learning French…

There are a few others that I’d add to the list if I wasn’t trying to be a minimalist. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, for one, which I was obsessed with in college. Man on Wire is a superb documentary, and Dirty Dancing will always have a place in my heart, as I’m sure it does in many of yours.

What would your desert island viewing be? Is there something that you think is so unmissable that I should add it to the list? 

January 22, 2014

Three Good Things: January film edition

This week’s Three Good Things has a distinctly cinematic theme to it. January is the perfect time for film. It’s cold and gloomy outside, and the prospect of snuggling up on the sofa to watch an old favourite has much appeal. I’m also a huge fan of the cinema, so we often venture out into the cold to watch new releases on the big screen.

If Christmas and the summer holidays are reserved for giant super-hero blockbusters, then January is the worthy month; all the serious award heavy-hitters are arriving on the big screen around this time. The Golden Globes have passed and the Oscar nomination list has just been announced. My plan is to watch all the nominated films this year, and I’ve made a good start already.

One.

Hyde Park Picture House.

We’re so lucky to have this beautiful cinema in Leeds, and we recently saw American Hustle there (part of our Oscar nomination list) which was good. Not amazing. But good. Jennifer Lawrence is superb, in my opinion and the source of most of the humour in the film. I’m hoping to spend a lot more time in Hyde Park Picture House this year…

Hyde Park Picture House

Photo credit: @man_with_bag, who also bought my ticket!

Two.

Making an appearance for the first time on Three Good Things – YouTube. Because Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s Golden Globes 2014 hosting is perfect.

Three.

The third Good Thing this week is my joy to have found a fellow film lover to share my life with. As I mentioned, we’re working our way through the Oscar nominated films. Christmas was fun with Frozen and Despicable Me 2 (Best Animated Feature, so they count!)  and of the Best Picture nominations we’ve seen Gravity, Captain Phillips, American Hustle and 12 Years a Slave so far.  Of these, if I was to choose Best Picture it would be 12 Years a Slave. It’s a harrowing, important and beautifully acted film, with many incredible characters and a haunting score. In his Top 5 films of the week, Mark Kermode put 12 Years a Slave in all five positions. Whether it deserves that hype is another matter, but if there’s one film you should see in January, it’s this one.

What are your Three Good Things this week? What do you think will take Best Picture at the Oscars this year? And do you have any film recommendations for me to curl up on the sofa in front of? 

March 5, 2013

Yinka Shinobare MBE: FABRIC-ATION

Last week I had the great fortune to be invited to a special preview evening at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in advance of the opening of a major new exhibition, FABRIC-ATION, from Yinka Shinobare MBE.

I have to admit that I’d not heard of London born, Nigerian raised Shinobare before, but I did know one piece of his work – Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle – because it was on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, and is now on permanent display in Greenwich. It’s his movement towards the creation of works both for public spaces and for the open air that makes it a perfect time for this exhibition at YSP, and the commissioning of two new pieces of sculpture, which are part of this exhibition and titled Wind Sculptures, underlines this. I loved the fact that he asked the general public what they’d like to see on the Fourth Plinth, and that Nelson now is a recurring theme through his work.

In the hours spent at YSP viewing this exhibition, and listening to the curator, I’ve gone from knowing nothing of Shinobare to being a firm fan. The entire collection is suffused with a sense of playfulness and yet the subjects chosen are those of the most serious, from climate change to class inequalities and the historic pursuits of the aristocracy. Revolution Kids, half-human, half-animal sculptures carrying replicas of Gaddafi’s golden gun and Blackberry phones, are Shinobare’s response to the London riots, and convey perfectly the way in which he manages to mix the serious with the playful to create work that is really engaging, and almost comical, yet with a serious underbelly that occasionally has a rather more sinister feeling to it.  Food Faeries (about the globalisation of the food market)  is a pair of headless sculptures of winged children carrying fruit that really made me shudder a little.

Revolution Kid (Fox Boy) Copyright: Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

Revolution Kid (Fox Boy) Copyright: Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

Colonialism, race, globalisation and identity are also recurring themes, and Shinobare uses ‘authentic African’ batik fabric – which was first mass produced in Holland and sold into West Africa in the 19th Century – as a way of confounding expectations.

Alongside the thoughts of identity come those of ‘aliens’ – which made me think of refugees and human ‘aliens’, and here Shinobare again turns the idea of alien life on its head, with the inclusion of flying machines more akin to Leonardo’s inventions than what we expect from science fiction.

Alien Man on Flying Machine (2011) Copyright: Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Alien Man on Flying Machine (2011)
Copyright: Yorkshire Sculpture Park

A really diverse range of work is on display from the period 2002 to 2013,  including film, photography, painting and collage as well as sculpture, which demonstrates Shinobare’s desire to be impossible to categorise. It feels like a wonderful opportunity to really learn a great deal about his work over the past decade.

I truly loved this exhibition and I think that everyone would find something about it to enjoy, whether that is the boldness of the satire, the contrast between the seriousness of the subjects and the fun of the interpretation, or even just the bright colourful nature of each piece of art.

The exhibition is at the beautiful Yorkshire Sculpture Park until 1st September 2013 and I will definitely be returning for another viewing of this remarkable artist’s work.

February 13, 2012

A Great White Silence

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything, and now my carefully planned schedule has gone completely out of the window, so you’ll have to bear with me until I get myself sorted out again!

Anyway, last week, I went to my first event at the very friendly and welcoming Wakefield Film Society. They screen a variety of (mostly independent) films at the West Yorkshire Police Training Academy, which is where I found myself on Tuesday night. It’s very like a normal college campus except there are car-parking spaces reserved for people with job titles like ‘Head of Fingerprinting’ which made me chuckle.

The film we went to see was Herbert Ponting’s film of the 1912 expedition of Captain Robert Falcon Scott to reach the South Pole; ‘A Great White Silence’. Those of you who have been here before will recall that my family have something of an obsession with Scott, and up until this point I have resisted being drawn into discussions about it.

(I should perhaps point out that this might contain some spoilers, depending on what you already know about the story of Scott!)

That is, up until Tuesday. The film, silent, but with a music score somewhere between eerie and impossible to listen to, has haunted me for days. It begins in New Zealand, as the ship ‘Terra Nova’, sets off with Scott and his men. There is plenty of footage of  dancing and surprising silliness from the crew. The horses, dogs, and supplies are all lifted onto the ship, and we see them leave, waved off by hordes of people along the shoreline.

The footage continues with more filming of the crew, the sea, and as it gets closer to Antarctica, the prow of the ship breaking up the ice on the surface of the water. Upon arrival, filming is split into two main parts. The first is slightly dull footage of penguins and seals, with very anthropomorphised text accompanying it. Lots of ‘Mr Penguin and his wife’ type stuff. I had to keep reminding myself that this was the first ever footage of these animals. We are so fortunate with nature documentaries using cutting edge media to supply us with astonishing images, it is easy to forget both that Ponting was not only the first to film there, but that he paved the way for what is happening in documentary film-making today.

The other part of the footage is far more interesting. This is of the men. We see them going about their duties, collecting scientific samples, training and exercising the ponies and dogs. It has such an air of poignancy and intimacy about it, especially footage inside a tent, of some of the team changing their socks, preparing their pemmican and getting into fur sleeping bags. Later on we see the depot laying parties set off, together with what would become the polar party of Scott, Oates, Bowers, Evans and Wilson. The final footage is of their departure and the musical score is ‘Abide with Me’ as the accompanying text tells their tragic tale.

The story of Scott is well-known. As they reached the Pole, they found that the rival explorer Amundsen had got there first. Although Scott’s expedition was never about a race to the South Pole, it became one in the eyes of the media, and we cannot imagine how they felt upon their arrival to see the abandoned tent of the other party.

It was on the return journey that they all met their end. Evans had an accident and died of a head injury and Oates, succumbing to the effects of frostbite and feeling a burden on the party, walked out of the tent off into the ice, never to be seen again. Bowers, Wilson and Scott himself died in their tent of starvation, exhaustion and cold a mere 11 miles from the depot of stores that would have saved them, after walking (and man-hauling their equipment) for over 800 miles in the coldest place on Earth…

2012 marks the Centenary of this expedition. Over the past hundred years, Scott has been the subject of much criticism and ridicule for his leadership and decision making. Now, it is realised that he was a true hero. The contribution made by this team to scientific exploration is huge, not to mention that of Ponting, whose eleven months spent as part of the team led to the incredible images of this film and over a thousand ground-breaking still photographs taken using glass plates.

Like I said, I have avoided being drawn into the hero-worship of Scott. No longer.