"Delpy is still fuming about it."

Film The Guardian today catches Julie Delpy in typically effervescent mood. Here's an interesting titbit about the making of Before Sunrise:
"Hawke and Delpy co-wrote Before Sunset, the sequel to Before Sunrise, 10 years after filming the original. They also contributed to the script of the first film, but were denied credit after a vicious battle with the director, Richard Linklater, and the official screenwriter, Kim Krizan. Delpy is still fuming about it. She and Linklater have since made up. But, she says, "Richard was not totally fair on that. And he knows it. Richard says he couldn't do anything, but I think he could've done something." If he had any class, she says, he'd "take the film off the shelf and put our names on it"."
That might explain the delay in the making the second film and some of its bitterness.  Perhaps this will be righted when they're released in some other format.

Walter Lord’s A Night To Remember

Audio One of my favourite moments in James Cameron’s Titanic is when Martin Jarvis wanders through as Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon, the Scottish landowner. He has little to do other than be aristocratic, but I’ve always imagined it as a moment when this great Hollywood machine telling of the story somehow intersected with an imaginary 1980s BBC studio-bound adaptation of Walter Lord’s A Night To Remember in which Duff-Gordon is a central figure rather than the fictional character’s Cameron engineered to motor along his version of the story.

Jarvis also reads this AudioGo adaptation of Lord’s classic book, still one of the definitive pieces of journalism in relation to the disaster, which has of course already been adapted as the 1950s film for which the author was a consultant. But every film or television series since has it in its debt, building myth from its factual forensic account of the fate of the passengers and personnel from the moment in 1912 the iceberg hit this apparently “unsinkable” ship through to the arrival of those who survived in New York.

But these fictional interpretations can’t help informing a listener’s approach to this account as Lord lists, the image of the band playing as all hope was lost, the silence of the lifeboats drifting in the darkness of the open sea. Titanic is rarely thought of as a majestic piece of engineering now. Rather with its bow vertical in the ocean in those tentative moments before it found its own grave at the bottom of the ocean.

Unlike the film, which focused on the courage of a single officer, Lord sheds light on the experiences of dozens of people from all classes, skipping between them from sentence to sentence recording their reaction to events and often their multiple interpretations of each, highlighting how witnesses to history will always bring their own experiences and baggage to whatever befalls them. There are many “truths” but all of them “truths” from a certain point of view. Many of the people saved believed they were on the last lifeboat. There were many last lifeboats that night.

Lord travelled on Titanic's sister ship, the Olympic as a boy and that led to his fascination with the disaster gathering memorabilia over the years which making him an expert on the topic.  But that also means that he's just as interested in the social minutia and detail, spending paragraphs relating such details as what the passengers wore as they approached the deck of the ship once the scale of the disaster was known or the content of the meals they left behind.

I've seen criticism of that approach, perhaps from those more interested in the grand narrative, but what Lord fictional accounts will always gloss over the less dramatic elements such as how a particularly aristocrat liked their whiskey, even though its that choice which makes them an individual.  When Lord relates the simply conversation between officers, he's reminding us that this was not a "quick" disaster.  There was long enough for friendships to be made and broken.  Relationships forged.

Yet Lord isn’t afraid to be critical of the human condition. Statistics are utilised to damn those who were able to make it into what lifeboats had been supplied (not enough to save the whole complement) listing the percentage of the capacity of each not used which becomes important later when he notices how only one lifeboat agreed to return to check for survivors floating in the water. The rest were content to stay back, lest they be overrun with people clambering to get on board, content to listen to the screams of those close to drowning.

He also illuminates how history’s fascination has been with the first and second class passengers, the steerage class left misunderstood, not listened to. That’s been redressed somewhat since publication, but Lord notes how at the official enquiries the accounts of steerage passengers were barely considered, perhaps because of some embarrassment at how they were treated in relation to survival. Those in the bottom of the ship were underserved by lifeboats, aristocratic men more likely to find places over women and children from the lower decks.

But most of the time, Lord wants to describe the bravery of those left behind, those choosing to put other people before them. I can’t imagine setting aside the survival instinct as many of them man who were left standing on the deck facing certain death do. Each of them has a moment when it becomes apparently that they know with some certainty they have few moments left to them and simply make do, even if their fate is not what they might have chosen. Perhaps that’s what makes Lord’s account so important. It records the end of their story too.

"the clever use of text"

Film This Digital Arts piece about creating film posters has two things going for it. (a) The thorough linkage of design companies and (b) the artwork, especially the clever use of text on the Buried poster:
"Equally eye-grabbing typography was used by Ignition Print (ignitioncreative.com) in its poster for Buried. It wraps a small image of leading actor Ryan Reynolds within layer upon layer of quotes from reviews. It’s these quotes, rather than the film’s potentially off-putting premise of Reynolds being stuck in a coffin for 90 minutes, that do the work of selling the film while preserving a strong visual link to the film’s main idea."
The essentially message is that thanks to the web, there's no excuse for boring posters just containing an actors face. Or rather just having boring posters containing the actor's face.  Innovate.

My Own Shakespeare

Radio My Own Shakespeare will be a series of short pieces of two or three minutes broadcast across BBC Radios 3 and 4 across the rest of May.

 "What does Shakespeare mean to us today? Public figures from all walks of life talk about the piece of Shakespeare that inspires them most.The pieces are read by well known actors."

Catching all of these seemed like it was going to be an impossibility, but true to BBC form of late, they're releasing them all as podcasts and with indefinite availability.

The subscription page is here.

The BBC's My Own Shakespeare project released as podcast.

My Own Shakespeare will be a series of short pieces of two or three minutes broadcast across BBC Radios 3 and 4 across the rest of May.

 "What does Shakespeare mean to us today ? Public figures from all walks of life talk about the piece of Shakespeare that inspires them most.The pieces are read by well known actors."

Catching all of these seemed like it was going to be an impossibility, but true to BBC form of late, they're releasing them all as podcasts and with indefinite availability.

The subscription page is here.

"the post-credit sting"

Film Gary Bainbridge's column in the Liverpool Post about seeing The Avengers is delicious. No spoilers:
"I find it virtually impossible to leave a cinema before the end credits have finished rolling. This is not because I am particularly interested in the work of the American Humane Association – although I fear their evil counterparts, the American Inhumane Association.

"It is because of the post-credit sting. I saw Ferris Bueller's Day Off at the cinema and went home before the credits finished rolling."
"You're still here? It's over."


"Don't do that."

About When I began this blog, not for one minute did I consider whether it should be anonymous or not. Giving it this title aligned it directly with my online id at the time which linked it to my name in place like Metafilter.  But this was never going to be an especially personal blog, largely because I didn't really know why I was starting it in the first place. But at the time it didn't matter.  Relatively speaking blogging was so far out of the mainstream it was effectively anonymous anyway because I was the only person I knew who even understood what the mess of reverse dated text actually was.

 If I had decided to be anonymous, I'm not sure I would have been very good at it, certainly not as good as Brooke, who managed to evade detection for years, well into the publication of a book based on her blog and even a television adaptation.  On her new blog, she outlines some of the steps she took so that Belle de Jour remained an enigma:
"Are you posting photos? Exif data can tell people, among other things, where and when a picture was taken, what it was taken with, and more. I never had call to use it because I never posted photos or sound, but am told there are loads of tools that can wipe this Exif data from your pictures (here's one)."

"The content of what you post can be a giveaway as well. Are you linking to people you know in real life? Are you making in-jokes or references to things only a small group of people will know about? Don't do that."
All of which said, it's still possible to be relatively anonymous without being actually anonymous.  Most people don't know what my job is.  Which these days isn't necessarily a help, but anyway.  Yes.

"British newspaper readers"

Music The Awl tries to come to terms with Pixie Lott:
"But to be brutally realistic, in our cutthroat global economy pretty girls with pleasing singing voices and fierce ambition are ten a penny. What sets Pixie apart is a unique weapon that inarguably cemented her cultural dominance: a surname with an obvious utility for headline puns. On any given day, British newspaper readers might learn that "Pixie Shows Lotta Class" or, conversely, that there’s a "Lott Of Pix On Display" or perhaps even that "Pixie's Not Ready For A Lott of Responsibility." Showbiz aspirants devising a stage name, do take note. (Pixie’s given name, by the way, is Victoria; she was nicknamed Pixie by her mother because she was “such a tiny, cute baby who looked like a fairy.”)"
In the moment before this one I was trying to remember the melody to a single one of Lott's songs. Not succeeding, in this moment, I returned to the recording of Handel's Concerti Grossi Op, 3 Nos 1&2 that's been part of my soundtrack this week.

"angry tuts"

Arts The Guardian's posted what amounts to its own code of conduct for behaviour at arts events and as ever with such things, some of the best stories are in the comments:
"I was out seeing Persepolis in GFT and the couple next to me produced a large crinkly bag of boiled sweets, each sweet individually wrapped in crinkly cellophane

"They chain ate these sweets for forty minutes completely oblivious of the angry tuts being hurled in their direction from other audience members. Eventually I asked them to please be quiet at which point the woman in front of me, who was one of the main tutters, told me to shut up."
Which is oddly enough roughly what happened to me at Cabin in the Woods the other week. A man sat the row behind had bought a back of sweets and put them in his pocket, which means I had to endure the sound of him putting his hand in his pocket, then into the bag, pulling it one, opening it, throwing it into his mouth, suck, repeat.

"how a commentary would play in a crowded theater"

Film One of my small ambitions has always been to attend Ebertfest, the film festival curated by film critic Roger Ebert. Judging my Jim Emerson's review, this year's sounds like a time especially since it included an unusual experiment in allowing the now voiceless Roger to have something of the vocal presence in the presentation of the work he used to have, the point of which seems to have been missed by one audience member:
"Speaking of "Citizen Kane," it was the final festival event, a Blu-ray disc projected onto the Virginia's huge screen, with Roger's 2001 voiceover commentary. I was skeptical about how a commentary would play in a crowded theater, but it worked like a charm. Afterwards, Roger sent a note to the stage, read by festival director Nate Kohn, apologizing to the woman in the lobby who wanted her money back because he kept talking through the whole film. (I thought it was a great joke -- but it turns out also to be true.)"
My italics.  Amazing.

"and all that stuff"

Politics Those of us who've been online for a long time know that the web exists as a kind of massive digital "dance to the music of time" in which long lost acquaintances or names from the past crop up now and then. Charles Johnson's one of those.  A right wing so-called war blogger, he was the kind of writer I used to loath (and still do), a cheerleader for the Bush administration, his acolytes pitching up on discussion boards peddling jingoistic nonsense.

I've been purposefully ignoring his blog for so long I hadn't noticed he'd had a bit of a political reversal, a sea-change so profound that this key paragraph from an Alter-net interview simply doesn't sound like the same fellow:
"I was totally wrong about Barack Obama. That’s one of my main regrets at this point. I really fell for a lot of the right wing propaganda, and I thought he was going to be a communist and a radical leftist and all that stuff. I believed a lot of the propaganda about him. If I could go back I would vote for him now, but we don’t have that time machine yet. That’s actually one of the main things. I should not have been so ready to accept it. That was one of the things that really woke me up, seeing the truth as opposed to all the lies that were being spread by this blizzard of propaganda."
As we head off into another six months of a US presidential campaign which is going to be filled with just this kind of depressingly mendacious propaganda, we can now at least take comfort that rational thoughts will always win out.  Eventually.

"reminding one of perilous finances"


(text as supplied)


Private View 17th Thurs May 6-9pm
Exhibition 18th May - 1st June 11-6pm Mon-Sat

Julian Hartnoll Gallery 37 Duke Street, St James’s London SW1Y 6DF

London. An unfamiliar London, off the beaten track, the routes you take when you are going somewhere else, and then find that you are in somewhere else. The streets look down trodden, with shops selling food that seems alien, Hijab shops, Polish delis, kebab shops, pawn brokers and Pounds shops (reminding one of perilous finances.) The heart sinks and one longs for the fantasy London of yesterday, the scene of Ealing comedies and sixties spy films, the photographs of Rodger Mayne when children played in the streets, the milkman cheerily whistled on his rounds and friendly grocers selling apples and pears knew you by name.

Nesta Fitz-Gerald doesn’t have a sweetly nostalgic view of London – she’s sharp; she shows us the reality of her London in 2012. These deceptively bright illustrations may show familiar sights, a double decker bus driving off, the green man sign flashing on the pedestrian crossing, a woman – is that the Queen? walking corgis, Fortnum and Mason but these drawings are not in line with the current trend for Keep Calm and Carry-on - they are a little subversive, even a little sly. Things in these streets are not quite as they seem at first glace. Look again - darker things are happening.

Using her apparently friendly style of illustration, which has echoes of the work of Osbert Lancaster Nesta pretends to draw us into a comfortable world but as we gaze we become aware of a rawer place altogether, a place of dichotomy. By juxtaposing these binary worlds Nesta persuades the viewer to accommodate them both and to relish their beauty (and perhaps to discard our love affair with nostalgia)

We all come from both these worlds now and Nesta wittily illustrates the light and the darkness within them . She shows us the familiar in the unfamiliar-- and the other way round.

For further information please contact Lizzie Hartnoll on elizabethhartnoll@me.com

[Since being listed at Creative Tourist (which is still a pleasure) I receive over a dozen press releases a day, most often for art exhibitions I can't attend in London and usually that I'm not that interested in.  Plus this isn't a billboard.  But I liked Lizzie's email (which didn't sound like something which had been sent to hundreds of others) and the supplied picture and thought you might be interested too so decided to post everything as is, just as an experiment.]

"the constituency race in Kettering in 1945"

Film On my Hamlet weblog, I've posted about how the British Council have uploaded a selection of their films for streaming and download and talked about the Shakespeare content (films of Macbeth and Julius Caesar).  But there are bits and pieces which are more in the interests of this blog.

For example, here's a nine minute film "Merseyside" which describes the Mersey from its source in the Derbyshire hills to its estuary below Liverpool, "to where stand Birkenhead and Liverpool, two of England's greatest ports, linked together by the great engineering achievement, the Mersey Tunnel. In these two towns, mile upon mile of docks confront the eye, as befits the gateways of the New World.'"

There's also General Election, a proto-Crick Newsnight style piece focusing on the constituency race in Kettering in 1945, the year when the country kicked out its war PM Churchill in favour Atlee on the assumption that Labour were better placed to rebuild the country rather than the Tories, a time when the Liberals were led by someone called Archibald Sinclair.

Or how about Morning Paper which follows the production of an issue of The Times during the Blitz, from the daily editorial conference to the printing presses when it was still a paper of some authority, a mantle I'd argue is now under the auspices of The Guardian. But then I would think that, wouldn't I?

Shakespeare at the British Council.

A small archive of short films from the British Council's archive have been posted online including two excepts from Shakespeare plays recorded back in the 1940s "in order to enable those who have no opportunity of attending performances of Shakespearean plays in a theatre to see how the various parts are played by leading English actors and actresses".

"Famous Scenes from Shakespeare No. 1" is Julius Caesar - Act III, Scene 2 - The Forum Scene.  Felix Aylmer as um, Marcus Brutus and Leo Genn as Marcus Antonius, address a multitude of extras in a piece of high production values, filmed with a certain epic quality despite the obviously small shooting space thanks to some excellent production design from Compton Bennet and spacious direction from Henry Cass.

The accompanying trivia notes that Genn and Cass were previously involved in mid-thirties production of Caesar at the Old Vic, and this short piece retains stage theatricality.  It's also filled with the kinds of memorable faces Fellini loved to include in his films, not least of the main actors both of whom are very unlike the kinds of younger performers usually assigned these roles, but both of whom have loads of authority.

"Famous Scenes from Shakespeare No. 2" or Macbeth - Act II, Scene 2, and Act V, Scene 1 - Murder and sleep-walking scenes offer further evidence that these were prestige productions with the casting of Wilfred Lawson (Macbeth), Cathleen Nesbitt (Lady Macbeth) who were the leads in 1944's second biggest film, Fanny By Gaslight. On the evidence, it's a shame they were only given these two short scenes to work with.  A feature film would have been magic.

The lighting is moody.  Noirish.  Lawson and Nesbitt, even with their RP accents are exactly as one might imagine these ancient figures to be.  The starkest image is in the sleep-walking scene as Lady M appears silloetted against the archway before slowly stepping forward in the light, her concentration in holding her lantern despite her blank expression telling us everything we need to know about her state of mind.

Twenty years later, the British Council undertook to record the whole of Shakespeare's canon (as it was then) in conjunction with the Marlowe Society at Cambridge University along with professional actors.  They were released by Argo records.  Here's a review of their Twelfth Night at Gramaphone.  They're fairly orthodox stuff, but still well worth listening to if you're interested in theatrical history.

They're also still very accessible.  I've bought many of them through ebay and in charity shops, but most of them are also available as downloads through Amazon and iTunes and even more impressively to stream through Spotify.  Here is the Twelfth Night production reviewed above featuring Prunella Scales:

Spotify Classical Playlists has prepared a complete playlist, which also includes some other of the service's Shakespearean gems.