Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Tarsem: Are the mighty fallen?: Comparison of Immortals and The Fall

Being a fan of Greco-Roman myth, the prospect of the Immortals film was exciting. Notwithstanding some amazing imagery, the rag-bag plot (which was almost aggressively confusing) played fast and very loose with the mythology. People, the stories are rich enough without your meddling! No-one looked happy to be there (except maybe Stephen Dorff's pecs). Mickey Rourke played the baddie who, when he's not squishing eyeballs, is plotting to (yawn)...destroy the world. What happened to our postmodern villain who sports a little gray with their black? Not to mention his underlings terrible taste in hats. Frankly, if I'd been him, I would have been squishing my own eyeballs out just so I didn't have to look at them.
Add wooden acting to this and you'll understand my building sense of frustration. The film's 'love' scene was possibly the worst example of this. Superman-to-be Henry Cavill and Slumdog's Frieda Pinto (plus stuntbum?) looked like locking lips was a fate worse than, and no amount of good lighting could make up for the actors lack of enthusiasm.
It reminded me of seeing an Eastern European opera house's version of Tosca (I spare their name because they cannily gave all the reviewers bottles of champagne). This is one of my favourites (although admittedly my knowledge of Opera is limited) full of passion and fire with a kick-ass heroine who stabs the villain and then hisses "taste my kiss!" (I too play fast and loose with the libretto here, but go with me). Anyway in this particular production the soprano was a woman of a certain age, not in the first blush of youth etc. and her young tenor was apparently not up to the numerous clinches that the script calls for.
Every time he had to kiss her he would (very noticeably I might add) put his hand over her mouth and kiss it frantically for about 0.2 seconds. That sort of thing is  bound to put a damper on your ardour. After all, no-one wants a guy who gets more excited about one of his own appendages than you. And that was a better love scene than the one in Immortals .

Still the most frustrating thing of all was the glimpses of artistry that shone through. Tarsem definitely has an eye for a decent shot, which brings me to The Fall.

Luckily, Mike had already bought The Fall before we saw Immortals. I still don't understand why I never heard about it when it came out as this film is a thousand times better than the blockbuster behemoth which followed it. Telling the story of an injured stuntman with a broken heart who befriends a sick little girl in order to trick her into getting him the pills he needs to commit suicide (I'm telling you its a heartwarming tale!). Gap-toothed ingenue Catinca Untaru gives hands down the best child actors performance I have ever seen. As Roy (Pushing Daisies' Lee Pace) spins her his 'epic' tale the movie takes you all over the world from one exotic and mindbendingly beautiful spot to another as his five bandits seek revenge on the evil General Odious. Tarsem lovingly sets up each and every shot, drenching the viewer in a melange of exquisite imagery and lush colours. I have long been a fan of films that mix reality with dream and this film effortlessly merges the two, whilst maintaining the painfully real emotional core that is the relationship between Roy and Alexandria. If you aren't crying by the end then you have a heart of stone.
With locations spanning different continents, the logistics for creating this film must have been mind boggling. I have since heard that Tarsem practically financed the film himself, and therefore its not hard to imagine how Immortals came about. Now that I know what he is capable of I just hope the wack of cash he gets for it allows him the creative freedom to create something else like The Fall.

Top 5 movies merging reality/dream landscapes:

1. The Fall
2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
3. The Science of Sleep
4. The Life Aqautic with Steve Zissou
5. Pan's Labyrinth

Monday, 21 November 2011

Video interview with Tania Hershman for InkTears website up

I recently interviewed the lovely Tania Hershman. We talked for ages and then had pecan flavoured ice-cream - which I'm convinced is the best way to finish up a juicy chat.

As the editor of the Short Review (an online mag for flash fiction enthusiasts) Tania is the very person to tell us about how to craft a great short story. She has also judged writing events and reviewed short fiction collections.

To hear more watch my video on the InkTears website:

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Latest issue of New Trespass!

I'm very excited to present the latest issue of New Trespass!

The Sex & Violence issue is fantastic and I can't wait for people to have a read and see what they think.
Guest ed Wes Brown provided the masculine ballast so that we didn't tip too far into the ocean of estrogen (:)
We circumnavigated quite a few rocky patches only to arrive at the final destination...

Here's the editorial to give you a flavour of the issue:

2010 has been a pretty tumultuous year, what with riots all over the world and people using social media platforms to reshape despotic governments and tumble dictators. The computer mouse is mightier than the sword? The smart phone has turned? Interesting times indeed. Here in the UK, looters made a mockery of what these revolutionaries were trying to achieve (“Why are you rioting?” reporter. Looter: “To get our taxes back, innit?”) but there were still some groups who were trying, peacefully, to effect change. In the article, ‘Cost of the Coalition’, photographer Tom Cheeseman’s collection of iconic images of the teachers’ strikes is a fascinating inversion of the mayhem caused by the London riots.

At the Edinburgh Festival, our very own Simon Munnery was wowing audiences with his surreal wit (see his column for more). Whilst there, we spoke to young company The Wardrobe Ensemble, who were a hit with their production of ‘RI OT,’ a musical based on the riots at the Edmonton IKEA back in 2005. Who would have thought the hunger for pre-fab furniture could have led to violence? Then again, as their trainers disappeared this year during the smash and grab mayhem, Peter Cowgill of JD Sports said that the looting this year showed that “…there is a strong demand for our products on the high street.” So perhaps it is all part of a Machiavellian guerrilla marketing plan?

Wes Brown, a promising author (buy his impressive debut Shark here) has been guest editing the issue. See his illuminating interview with Ross Raisin, who discusses his latest book here. Elsewhere in the issue, Sam Gildea looks at ‘Why Porn Is Not Dangerous’ a controversial perspective which looks at the effectiveness of other forms of protest, such as this year’s SlutWalk. In stark contrast, media company EWO discusses their latest project in ‘Getting serious about Gang Rape.’
I’m very excited to present our photo story this issue. Tracing actress and award-winning documentarian Michele Hallak’s journey surviving cancer, we were very lucky to have photographer and body artist Caroline Cowan (www.carolyncowan.com) on board. As if that weren’t enough, designer Rachel Freire (whose dynamic clothes have been worn by a variety of daring ‘slebs) has given us the clothes that Michele wears in the shoot.

Art: We are showcasing the work of artist Darren Coffield throughout this issue, as well as touching on a retrospective exhibition of Chinese activist Ai Weiwei. Coffield’s work combines a sensitivity and classicism belied by his outrageous subject matter, and it is both beautiful and troubling.

Wonderful poetry from: Michael Conley, Lorna Callery, David Tait, Mike Conley, Sophie Woolley, Tim Wells and Mario Petrucci. Short fiction from the likes of Danny Broderick, Sally Ashton and Nicholas Hogg.

The spirit of the revolution abides, there is something in the air that seems ready to catch light and burst into flame at any moment. As Dickens would say,
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way--in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”- A Tale of Two Cities

Special thanks to my amazing team of designers Van Nim, Alcinoo (who is going to guest edit one of next year's issues) and Ottilia Aviram (an old hand).

Here's a taster of some of the incredible art by Darren Coffield, whose work we featured in the issue.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Pictures from Loose Muse 9 Nov: Jacqui Saphra, Femi Martin, Rachel Rose Reid

Loose Muse 9 November: Jaqueline Saphra (poet) and Femi Martin (short fiction writer)

As the only all female poetry event in London,  Loose Muse is the place to be tonight.
At its habitual venue (The Poetry Cafe, 22 Betterton Street, about 5 minutes walk from Covent Garden tube) host Agnes Meadows will be presenting two great features Jaqueline Saphra (poet) and Femi Martin (short fiction writer).

The evening is warm and inclusive with an open mic session as well as time to question the two main features. Men are always welcome, and those willing to don a frock may even perform if they are brave enough to do so.


Poet Jaqueline Saphra is a regular performer on the London poetry scene and with her warm presence and sharp observational work, we are in for a treat tonight.
I published a poem of hers in the 'Monsters' issue of Trespass (print back issues still available here or to take a look at the online version click here )

Bocca della Veritá
from a painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder
by Jacqueline Saphra

The stone beast can’t scare me; I’ve met worse.
Though Lord knows I’m no Audrey Hepburn
playing virgin on a Roman holiday, innocence
is only relative. I won’t lie to the brute and he’s the one
who matters. I’ll look him in the eye until he pants
then plunge the plump fruit of my hand deep
into his mouth and work it hard until the jam
of his ancient maw starts to hurt and he gives in.
Oh, he won’t bite, he’ll simply loosen, all agog
and gagging. I’ll train him up on taste and lick;
I’ll give him suck. As for his teeth, they’re long gone,
worn fl at after centuries, the grind and crack
of liars’ bones, not mine. I’m just an honest strumpet
shackled to a man who aches to see me lose a hand
to prove adultery, who dares to call that feeling love.

Award winning writer Patrick Neate says of Femi Martin, that she, "...is an original and exciting literary voice who displays particular mastery of the esoteric art of flash fiction."
A wonderfully vibrant performer who has been wowing fiction lovers with her prose. This is a great opportunity to ask her about her craft. I can't wait!

www.thisdidnthappen.com and


Friday, 4 November 2011

New music - Sun Kil Moon, Stars

(Images above by Sarah Sandford)

Anyone who briefly glances at my last couple of blogs will glean that I have a slight obsession with music. Finding new songs that make my skin tingle is one of the things that make life worth living. I tend to hear a song, become instantly addicted and regrettably kill it by listening to it over and over. My brother actually asked me to stop making him mixes (probably because I put the same song on about three of them).
My latest addictions in the vein are 'Alesund' by Sun Kil Moon:

Pity there isn't a proper video for that. The song just hooks me in relentlessly with the stroking strum like a gorgeous comb wielded by a giant warm hand. If your hair was especially tangled and the giant was especially gentle. Need to work on my metaphors but you get the idea! He's also doing the double tracking on his vocal which a lot of artists are using at the moment - to good effect. It just makes me deeply happy to listen to it, which is pretty much the best a songwriter can hope to achieve.

Then there is 'Dead Hearts' by Stars. Mike thinks this song is a bit poppy and too bright, but I love the call and answer with the female and male vocals (Amy Millan and Torquil Campbell). There is something very compelling about the lyrics as well, which are surprisingly grim (dead hearts, who were kids that they once knew?) - particularly effective when the song itself is so uplifting with the crashing drums and guitars on the chorus.

My brother put me on to this video by Jenny O. for her song Well OK Honey. It was too good not to put up.

New bands I've been listening to:
We supported I am a Pilot at the mini festival Talitha put on at her house. Of course they made us look bad by being incredibly tight, but I won't hold that against them as the music was really great. I don't think they have any videos yet, but I managed to get a copy of their E.P. and I'm really enjoying it. The eponymous title track is my favourite, with great use of what I'm guessing is violins played backwards (!), sweet melody and vocals. Then have just been listening to Charly Blue and the Colours who played with us at World's End pub in Finsbury park (great venue a stone's throw away from Finsbury Park tube station).

Charly Morris, the lead singer, has a cracking voice and the whole sound had a great folky feel to it. Lastly, the band I've been waiting to hear is Elvina and I. I've been begging singer Sarah Sandford to get some tunes online, but to no avail. Still I have a feeling in my bones that they're good. Don't ask me how I know - I just do.


Tuesday, 1 November 2011

The Museum of Everywhere - a brief tour

Had a wander through the remnants of the Museum of Everywhere exhibition today (Selfridges Hotel). After pointlessly winding our way through Selfridges itself (getting more and more desperate as the time went on, with each obsequious sales assistant continuously pressing pallid hand warmers- eh?- into our already sweaty palms) the peace and quiet of the MoE was bliss. With the aural static of Selfridges food court still pounding in our ears, we eventually ignored all pointless directions ("I bet they do it on purpose so you'll wander around picking up flavoured vodka and iPads and head massagers and forget you ever wanted to see the exhibition," Barbara muttered darkly) we left the building, walking around it until we reached the entrance. Simples.

It has a gloomy magnificence with its exposed walls and cavernous interior.

All that remains of the exhibition are the suspended sculptures by Judith Scott, who wrapped objects with twine, wool etc. embedding shiny objects inside them.

It is the space as much as the objects themselves that command attention.