I’m Getting New Friends – And They’re Filthy!

Review – Music – UNCUT magazine’s free CD

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Hello Operator, free with UNCUT magazine

I bought a music magazine today for the first time in about 25 years. I don’t even pretend to be knowledgeable about this creative industry, (I’m a visual artist by training), I sing along to the chorus of songs and forget the lyrics of the verses of even the most famous songs in the world.

As you get older, it is easy to settle in your ways; however, I fight this, and am aided by the young people I work with. I like to think I am open-minded, I will give most things a try; last year I began listening to Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails; makes me want to be eighteen again. I love Manson’s version of Tainted Love (and the video!!!)

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Marilyn Manson, makes me feel young again.

UNCUT magazine was giving away a free CD; that’s why I bought it. I wanted to listen to something I had never heard before and see if the new kids could challenge me and my musical limitations.
Here goes:

The Clientele – Everyone You Meet
Like stepping back in time, to the 60’s. Not terribly exciting or original. Maclean’s whispery vocals do little for me.

Chris Hillman – Here She Comes Again
Another retro style. A kind of sixties-country-rock mix. Hardly surprising given it is made by former Byrd members and Tom Petty. Not a fan.

Wand – Plum
With it’s thumping piano opening reminiscent of a Beatles song, whose title I cannot recall, this is another retro feel. Then we go a bit Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Some intermittent discord and hint at industrialisation adds some interest – I like musicians that experiment, but it returns to the melody – and ends with some odd whistling! Not sure, but might find other tracks to listen to of this group.

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Wand, didn’t quite cast their spell.

Antibalas – Gold Rush (edit)
Well “Hello 70’s”; African influenced rock-psychedelic-brass horns mix. Even this edited version is longer than the previous songs. Great beat that keeps things moving along. Though I would have preferred something more funk it’s quite good fun.

Lee Ranaldo – Purloined
Synth-guitar-drum led tune. Could be the opening of a TV show. Okay.

Hiss Golden Messenger – Jenny of the Roses
Country induced coma – no –

Mark Olsen – Seminole Valley Tea Sipper Society
So reminded me of another 60’s piece. A kind of hippy-trippy-folksy outing. Either the the singing is deliberately out of tune or….
The most interesting thing about this is the title.

Willie Watson – Samson and Delilah
Country meets Gospel – no –

Filthy Friends – The Arrival
Ah, now this is more like my kind of thing. Punk influence is clear here and Corin Tuckers vocals are strong with hints of Poly Styrene.. Love the thrashy quality of the guitars and drums. Will certainly be seeking out more of this lot.

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Filthy Friends gets my vote.

DAF – Kebabträume
Sorry, but Kraftwerk got here first! And did it better!

Moses Sumney – Quarrel
Sumney has a gorgeous voice, his vocal range is impressive and the alterations between fragility and power reminded me of Kate Bush. I wanted to like this, but I got bored half way through. It feels like there’s something missing.

Acetone – Shaker
Acetone is, the dictionary says, a volatile, flammable liquid’. Unfortunately, there was nothing volatile about this piece at all. Whispery vocals, again; leave me cringing.

Deer Tick – Sea of Clouds
No! Next! That voice!

Mogwai – Coolverine
This is the only artist I have previously heard of in this compilation. This is the first time I have heard their work, and unless it accompanies a TV drama, it will be the last time.

The Dream Syndicate – How Did I Find Myself Here?
Interesting opening with the instruments sounding like they are tripping over each other. Unfortunately, this is another that sounds like a pastiche of 60’s/70’s sounds. Not very original.

 

So, no challenge there then, how very disappointing. It seems like the people who compiled this CD were either, a)my age and wanted something reminiscent – in which case – make way for new creativity guys! Or, b)youngsters in their twenties who think its retro and cool – in which case – make way for something new and creative guys!

Not impressed, undewhelmed; meh!

But I did say at the beginning I’m not good with music – that’s my excuse – and at 52 years of age I feel like all this was just a rehash of stuff I have heard previously in my life.
It is quite disappointing when creatives churn out the same old, same old. I want to be challenged, I want to go, “Hmm, not sure, will have to listen again or come back to that.”

A lovely voice does not make for an interesting song, Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen do not have lovely voices, but they have interesting voices, with character and feeling, plus they both write fantastic music and poetical lyrics.

Is it just me, or are the arts and culture becoming more homogenized? Less interesting? Less creative?

Maybe I’ll buy another music mag in 25 years time, lets see if they can impress and challenge a 77 year old!!!!

Next!!

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Book Review – The Sleeping Doll by Jeffery Deaver

The Sleeping Doll by Jeffery Deaver

Published : 2007, Hodder & Stoughton.
Genre: Thriller

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The Sleeping Doll by Jeffery Deaver

 

 

YOU CAN TELL A LIAR BY HIS EYES.

Special Agent Kathryn Dance reads people the way other investigators read crime scenes.
But she’s never seen eyes like Daniel Pell’s.
Back cover blurb.

 

I have been a fan of crime fiction; and non-fiction, since my late teens. My habit was to read a book and if I enjoyed it I would then acquire and devour everything published by this author. My only surprise, to myself, is that I have neglected my crime reading in recent years, returning to it this year with Jeffery Deaver’s The Empty Chair. Also, I realised I had never written a review of a crime novel. So here goes.

Even if you have never read one of Deaver’s books, you may be familiar with his work as many have been turned into films:
Dead Silence (1997) starring James Garner.
The Bone Collector (1999) starring Denzil Washington and Angelina Jolie.
The Devils Teardrop (2010) starring Tom Everett Scott and Natasha Henstridge.

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Movie poster for The Bone Collector

The Sleeping Doll introduces a new detective; Agent Kathryn Dance, a widow with two young children who works for the Californian Bureau of Investigation, “Like an FBI for the state.” Dance is a specialist in interrogation and reading body language, so we get, not only her analysis of a criminal but of some of those around her in her working and private life. In this way, Deaver uses this as a tool for the reader to have a window onto the minds of other characters without having to head hop and it works really well, as not only do we get this inkling into another characters possible feelings, but we spend over half the book in the mind of Kathryn Dance – and considering the line of work she does, it is not an unpleasant place to be. For the rest of it, we enter the thoughts of Daniel Pell…

The Sleeping Doll of the title refers to a little girl (who is a teenager when the story begins), who survived a murderous assault on her family because she was asleep amongst her toys; hidden. The perpetrator of the crime, Daniel Pell, is currently serving time in a Correctional Facility. Dance has come to interview Pell regarding a newly uncovered crime. Pell has never spoken about his involvement in the ‘sleeping doll’ murders, and neither has the surviving child.

Dance recognises a Svengali type personality in Pell, who’s chilling blue eyes are equally taking the measure of Agent Dance as she does his.
Dance is smart, capable and strong, she is going to need to be on peak form when Pell escapes, leaving a bloody trail in his wake.

Deaver is a great storyteller who engages his readers without any superfluous text. He gets straight down to business; much in the manner of Kathryn Dance, and keeps us hoping and guessing all the way through. He nearly always adds a twist in the end of his tales, and The Sleeping Doll is no exception. I’m a great one for trying to second guess who did what, to whom and many times I’m pretty close.

Not this time.

Film Review: Baby Driver

Written, Directed and Produced by Edgar Wright

**Spoilers**

I like to think I’m fairly familiar with the work of Edgar Wright, I first watched his work in the TV series Spaced which he directed in 2001, and just fell for his quirky, cross-cutting style. The opening scene of Spaced is excellent; the two sets of dialogue between Tim and Daisy I think has yet to be beat.

EW Spaced 2001

Other films include, (as writer, director or producer), Attack the Block, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim versus The World and The Worlds End.

Anyway, to Baby Driver.

This is essentially a romance story – boy meets girl, boy tries to get out of debt with criminals, boy does one last job…

Does he get the girl? Watch the film!

There is good balance of action, dialogue and drama; often directors today get so excited by new toys/technology, that they fill the screen with eye-watering action top to bottom, left to right, continuously; to the detriment of any plot there may have been. Wright tells us a story, which is how it should be, after all, movies are just another form of storytelling, and he tells it well, through the driving, through the lines;

Buddy: Is she a good girl? You love her?

Baby: Yes, I do.

Buddy: That’s too bad.

 

Wright has excellent timing, not only with his trademark cuts of visuals and hyper sound effects, but just when you begin to wonder if the whole film will consist of Baby dancing down the street for his coffee, he, Wright, cuts to a new rhythm, and that’s what the film has running through it – rhythm. It is excellently choreographed from start to finish; people walking, dancing, talking, counting money, placing items down on tables, cars whizzing past trucks, every last element is perfect.

Ansel Elgort (The Divergent series) is the titular Baby; he appears at turns vulnerable, cool and collected, and incredibly sweet; especially in his scenes with Debora, played by Lily James (Downton Abbey)

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Kevin Spacey (House of Cards) plays Doc, the brains and organiser behind each job.  Jamie Foxx (Django Unchained) is Bats, and he is; he claims the monopoly on the one with ‘mental problems’.  Jon Hamm and Eiza González are deliciously deadly as Buddy and Darling, a couple with ‘His’ and ‘Hers’ tattoos on their necks, they stand side-by-side like Mexican anti-heroes in a Robert Rodriguez movie.

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Cranked up to the max; the car chases combined with the playlist that is always playing in Baby’s ear-buds, are as balletic as any performance of Swan Lake. I imagine Wright designed and planned the furiously fast and dizzying manoeuvres as ‘car-dance’ deliberately.

Baby’s playlist –

1. Jon Spencer Blues Explosion—“Bellbottoms”
2. Bob & Earl—“Harlem Shuffle”
3. Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers—“Egyptian Reggae”
4. Googie Rene—“Smokey Joe’s La La”
5. The Beach Boys—“Let’s Go Away For Awhile”
6. Carla Thomas—“B-A-B-Y”
7. Kashmere Stage Band—“Kashmere”
8. Dave Brubeck—“Unsquare Dance”
9. The Damned—“Neat Neat Neat”
10. The Commodores—“Easy (Single Version)“
11. T. Rex—“Debora”
12. Beck—“Debra”
13. Incredible Bongo Band—“Bongolia”
14. The Detroit Emeralds—“Baby Let Me Take You (in My Arms)“
15. Alexis Korner—“Early In The Morning”
16. David McCallum—“The Edge”
17. Martha and the Vandellas—“Nowhere To Run”
18. The Button Down Brass—“Tequila”
19. Sam & Dave—“When Something Is Wrong With My Baby”
20. Brenda Holloway—“Every Little Bit Hurts”
21. Blur—“Intermission”
22. Focus—“Hocus Pocus (Original Single Version)“
23. Golden Earring—“Radar Love (1973 Single Edit)“
24. Barry White—“Never, Never Gone Give Ya Up”
25. Young MC—“Know How”
26. Queen—“Brighton Rock”
27. Sky Ferreira—“Easy”
28. Simon & Garfunkel—“Baby Driver”
29. Kid Koala—“Was He Slow (Credit Roll Version)”
30. Danger Mouse (featuring Run The Jewels and Big Boi)—“Chase Me”

 

Baby even halts a job – mid getaway – until he’s found Golden Earring’s Radar Love, before flooring a ’86 purple Chevy Caprice. Baby remains cool at all times; given his age compared to his ‘colleagues’, it’s a pretty impressive performance he puts on for them; whilst his ‘crew’ shout and panic around him to get driving, Baby won’t be pushed till he finds the right tunes.

Is Baby scared? Hell yeah, he’s got his old foster dad, Joseph, back home (CJ Jones), from whom Baby has learnt sign-language and lip reading, and he wants to keep him safe. There is an incredibly touching moment near the end when Baby is taking Joseph to safety, I admit I nearly cried – Baby’s not a bad guy really, he just got in with the wrong crowd. And inevitably, his new love Debora becomes a target in the bid to squeeze more out of Baby, whether a job or simply pain.

I take my hat off to the stunt drivers; way too many to name, but what a fantastic job!!

NB: Don’t sit too close to the screen – like we did – it’ll make your head spin as fast as the cars – my eyes were seriously challenged.

 

 

 

Book Review – The Lollipop of Influence by Mjke Wood

The Lollipop of Influence 

Following ‘Deep Space Accountant’, this is  the second book in the Sphere of Influence series.


Bob Slicker and his navigation officer, Florence McConnachie, are blamed for the open-ended jump that dropped their battle fleet into deepest, uncharted space. 

They attempt to make amends and are pushed together into an unlikely alliance.
Can they find a way home to the Sphere of Influence? Nobody ever managed it before, so they couldn’t make things worse.

Or could they?

From villain to hero, the adventure continues.

http://mjkewood.blogspot.co.uk/

 

Back in October 2016, I did a review of Deep Space Accountant, Mjke Woods first in the trilogy – The Sphere of Influence.

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I had been eagerly awaiting this second book in the Sphere of Influence trilogy, and Mjke Wood does not disappoint. Following on from Deep Space Accountant – we have left Elton Philpotts behind – literally – and travel with the erstwhile slimy accountant, Bob Slicker into deep space. When I realised that the story had moved on from Elton, I was momentarily piqued, I liked Elton Philpotts, I had become irrationally attached to him – even though he is an accountant. However, Wood has managed to transfer my loyalties as smoothly as an Eddie Stobart entering a SLOG; smoother.

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And so to Bob Slicker; Bob is a spineless, sweaty appendage to the hideously megalomaniac Martin Levison, can he REALLY be our new hero?
Can Bob find home? Can Bob find a girl? Can Bob find a spine?! Whilst Bob is spineless, Martin Levison is heartless. Bob wants Eccles cake. Martin wants Cognac. Bob wants to go home. Martin wants the world!

Along for the ride with Bob Slicker, is Florence McConnachie, second navigation officer. Florence is quick-witted, independent, dexterous, and no navigator. Like Bob, she has a boss who ensures that the blame is passed onto and firmly held by their subordinates, unlike Bob, she is about to get married. She dislikes Bob Slicker due to his association with Levison, and refers to him as ‘The Slicker’; he is a sweat machine of great magnitude. And alas for Florence, she is going to have to work with the man.

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Some of the characters are beautifully awful; Lieutenant Commander Kurasov is an excellent portrayal of an American style military officer; but with a private life back home that is worthy of its own story! Meera, the navigation officer, is a preening, self-promoting egotist who will undoubtedly get what she wants. And although these are characterisations that we recognise, Wood somehow manages to NOT make them feel clichéd.

A couple of characters are who you would want on your side in an emergency; Winker Watson especially fits the bill (I am presuming the name was taken from the schoolboy who played pranks on his teachers and classmates in the popular British comic, Dandy). Watson is a bow-tie wearing, coffee-making, cake-eating Payroll officer, who enjoys tinkering with spacecraft in his spare time. I suspect that Wood is quite attached to this Watson chap, as he is more fully depicted than any other secondary character.

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Although the story takes part in the vastness of space; where many American movies have been set, and some American language features are use, this is a quintessentially British story; the tone of writing contains no ice or vinegar like so many American novels do, by this I mean sarcasm or nasty wit (not that I don’t like a bit of sarcasm and bite), the reactions to emergencies,  behaviours, idiosyncrasies and flaws strike as ‘terribly English’, small things matter; as Bob discovers when the kestrels power system is drained!!! (Beer anyone?!) – I love that.

There is even a YouTube trailer  –

I haven’t seen one of these for a book before – or maybe I just lead a sheltered life – If you get British humour, you understand that the YouTube trailer has it’s lollipop licking tongue firmly in its cheek; all those big movie trailers, influenced by American film industry, that we have become used to are pastiched here in a short space of time – the dramatic music, the panoramic views of space, and the bold text.

lollipops
Do read Deep Space Accountant first, it gives background to Slicker and Levison – which gives the ‘Lollipop’ story it’s tension.
And what is a lollipop of influence anyway? I hear you ask – well, you’ll just have to read it to find out!

The Lollipop of Influence has

Spaceships! Alien Planets! Bad Guys! Good Guys! Cake!

Wonder Women – thank you Patty Jenkins

 

Spoilers *** Spoilers*** Spoilers

 

If you have not yet seen this film, you may want to give this whole article a miss.

 

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“Wonder Woman” is yet another origin story, but so what? I’ve had to sit through decades of testosterone to get to this point.

I enjoyed that the movie took it’s time to introduce the warriors of Themyscira; a lush city-state and island nation (Somewhere hidden in the Aegean according to some sources). Where we learn that Diana is not unique in her abilities; we get a real sense of where she is from, that although she is semi-divine, Diana is very much an Amazonian, and those women ALL kick ass. For me, that was one of the wonderful things about the Wonder Woman movie, they were all wonder women.

I felt that the story contained a good balance of action and drama. There is nothing worse than sitting for an hour or two, being bombarded with scene after scene of fast-paced-look-we-got-multiple-cameras scenario and bellowing sound – this, I think, is the film-makers version of an extended guitar solo played by an unaware man-child. ‘Wanking off’, a muso friend of mine used to say. I think there are loads of directors who have become over excited by the CGI and ‘exciting’ bits.

Maybe it has something to do with the director of this Wonder Woman being female? Maybe she just enjoys a good story? Maybe she is just a little more grown-up in the emotional department? Whatever the reason, it works.

I have to admit, I was also rather apprehensive about going to see this film. I love the comic book/super hero genre (see my earlier post on Female Super Heroes) But I grew up with that garish 1970’s WW, and have seen  very few women lead in an action film. (Yes, I know you’re going to name a couple. People always do, but balance it out against ALL the films you’ve ever seen – then go away)

I think directors and producers have become lazy when making this genre, after all they have a ready and willing audience who will go and view it whether its shite or not. Now, thousands of women, like me, of my age, must have been waiting for this film. Where ARE all the female comic/superheroes??? So again, a ready and willing – if cautious and cynical-by-now audience was waiting for this film. Thought’s that passed through my mind in the build-up and trailer overload included – ‘I bet it’ll be overly moralistic’. ‘If she’s showing her cleavage…’. ‘It’ll be something for the boys really’. And finally, ‘I bet it’s shit.’

I went with my 19 year old daughter – so a broad age range to cater to – I’m 52. We both enjoyed it (apart from the sound of crisp/sweetie/nacho crunching dolts that surrounded us) It was not shit. It was not ‘for the boys’ and I almost wept to see women, actual women not youngsters, playing seriously physical roles. The fight scene on the beach is truly astonishing and deeply sad. For no matter how fast you run, or strong you are – bullet beats bow every time.

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Let’s just take a look at those women –

Ages and Nationality

Robin Wright, plays Antiope – or should I say General Antiope! She trains and leads what could be termed, the militia of the Amazonian. She is hard as nails, can fight with fists, sword, and bow (in fact, she doesn’t even need a bow!!!)  And get this, best of all, Robin Wright is 51 years of age – I am just gonna have to say that again – FIFTY ONE people.

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Gal Gadot, plays Diana, Princess of Themyscira, Daughter of Hippolyta. Diana wants to be a warrior from very early childhood. She does not know, and we the audience learn as she does, that she is not quite like every other Amazonian (in fact, at the end of the film, Diana still does not know the full extent of her origins and abilities) Diana works hard; she strives for perfection and to impress the General; her Aunt. Gal Gadot is 32 years of age, not a ‘slip of a girl’. And best of all, she is NOT American!! Gadot is Israeli and I thank director, Patty Jenkins for making this decision.

stop looking at me,
Not distracted by a pretty face, Diana that is.

 

Connie Nielson, plays Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons and Diana’s mother. She is regal, cool with a restrained passion. She is engaging as a loving mother and ruler, and you can feel her anger and pain as her only child makes the decision to leave their island home to head off with a man, to save the world of men.  Can you imagine the homecoming?! (I think I’m gonna cry) Two best of all’s; Connie Nielson is also 51 years old!  And she also is NOT American, she is Danish.

 

And some of the others –

Elena Anaya, plays Doctor Poison. She is Spanish and aged 41 years.

Lucy Davis, plays Etta Candy.  English and aged 44 years.

Lisa Loven Kongsli, plays Menalippe. Norwegian and is aged 37 years.

 

For me, a fantastic multi-cultural selection of women who are not girls.

 

That costume –

Some of you might remember that awful, hideous outfit that poor Linda Carter had to wear in the 1970s TV series of Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman Linda Carter
EW! No, really, ew!

But take a look at what Queen Hippolyta originally gave her daughter to wear in the earliest comics –

Gal Gadot’s costume seems to have had the current trend for ‘dark costumes’ applied to it. The semiotics are not lost on film buffs and media students – still the red, white and blue are evident for all to see.

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I have to be honest; I have an issue with American and how it perceives itself as the ‘policeman of the world’. It feels as though it foists its ideals on the rest of us.  Most of the superhero costumes bear the colours or imagery, or both, of the ‘good ‘ole US of A’. Except Batman (huh, never realised before, maybe THAT’S why he is my favourite) I balk at the way many costumes imply an association with a country and it’s values/governmental policies.  Captain America being most guilty of this – however, he is called Captain America.

And yes, I know other countries use red, white and blue as their flag colours – but we all know, don’t we, that ‘they’ mean America.

Another thing.  Superhero females, at least in comic art, are invariably ‘sexy’. They have the tightest fitting clothes in the history of clothes manufacturing. They have more curves than an Italian mountain road. Their breasts could act as twin dirigibles. Women have railed against this for so long, we’re hoarse.                                                                        In Wonder Woman 2017, Gadot’s costume has had the colours toned down,  and although we still see bare legs, arms and shoulder, it is not sexy (I guess some men would argue against that, but it isn’t out-and-out-here-it -is –for- the –male- viewers sexy)But that’s it. No cleavage in sight. Curves are mostly concealed. The Amazon ‘uniform’ is more reminiscent of the Spartans. Look at Hellenic period armour; the bare arms and legs, the leather ‘flaps’, the moulded breastplate. It is practical and believable, whilst remaining true to the original design.

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The physicality of this new Wonder Woman made evident in this lasso scene.

 

Sex –

There isn’t any. HALLELUJAH!

99.9999% of films have a romance. Dull, dull, dull. Men and women can and do have relationships without becoming sexually or romantically entangled. And yes, there is a suggestion of Diana and Steve being ‘interested’, but this is clearly more him fancying her. Diana is here to do a job, she is focused and love isn’t getting in the way. She may have grown up in a glorious paradise inhabited only by females, but she is not ignorant of how sex works, and even suggests that men have become irrelevant and unnecessary except for procreation.  Steve’s mental squirming is soon forgotten when they get to the nub of who is doing what in the war. Thank goodness.

 

The Men –

I suppose I should say something; I wasn’t going to write anything about the male stars at all. There’s enough information about ‘the great white male’ (as Grayson Perry puts it) without me adding.

So a quick nod to Chris Pine, Danny Huston and David Thewlis – the ‘good guy’, the ‘bad guy’ and the ‘badder guy’ in that order. Pine was great, Huston good, but, as much as I love Thewlis, he simply seemed wrong for the role of Ares.

 

Was it a great film? No, it was good; possibly in the Top 3 of this genre of films. Again down to lazy directors relying on a ready and willing audience, most of whom have become so desperate that there discerning monitor seems to have broken.

The storyline was simple, but that works as it is almost an ‘intro’ to Wonder Woman and her world. However, I did guess who was who quite easily.

It’s beautifully shot with the holiday brochure scenes of Themyscira; where you can almost smell the aroma of blossoms on the warm breeze, contrasting with the misery of brown and grey of London and the battlefront.

But I do believe this film will be talked about for years to come. When Sigourney Weaver first appeared as Ripley in Alien, a generation of women cheered and said ‘At last!”

Now I believe we are doing it again.

It is 2017 people.

50% of the world population is female.

Wonder Woman is the first female-led superhero film since 2005, when Jennifer Garner played the lead role in Elektra.

And finally. Thank you Patty Jenkins.

Surreal-is-it?

‘Good morning, good morning, good morning, it’s another lovely day in the village’

Surrealism was founded by the poet André Breton in Paris in 1924, it was an artistic and literary movement that proposed that the Enlightenment—the influential 17th and 18th century intellectual movement that championed reason and individualism—had suppressed the superior qualities of the irrational, unconscious mind. Surrealism’s goal was to liberate thought, language, and human experience from the oppressive boundaries of rationalism.

I believe that the Surrealists were the Punks of their age, they were non-conformists, experimental, breaking the boundaries of the social, political and creative order of the time, and not giving a toss what people thought in the process.

Surrealism rejected logic and reason and prized the depictive, the abstract, and the psychological with startling juxtapositions. Through the use of unconventional techniques such as automatism and frottage, Surrealist artists attempted to tap into the dream-world of the subliminal mind.

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The Mystery of The Fireplace – Andre Breton 1947 – 1948

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This is not a Pipe – Rene Magritte 1929

 

Surrealist cinema was a modernist approach to film theory, criticism, and production with origins in Paris in the 1920s. They shocked the world with their imagery, sometimes absurd, often confusing, but always fascinating. Throughout, there is an obsession with sex and death and our relationship with them.

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Une Chien Andalou. Luis Buñel. 1929

 

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L’age D’or. Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali. 1930.

 

Surrealism fell off the creative radar for some time; the Second World War (1939 – 1945) and the dreary, tight-laced, emotionally paralysed 50’s made the country an incredibly dull place. Children were seen and not heard all over again, men worked, women cooked. Nice girls did not smoke, did not have sex before marriage, did not drink, did not go to pubs, did not show their knees, they learnt to be nurses and secretaries, carers and comforters. (All rather Victorian).

Then Surrealism took an odd turn, it became comedic, or at least a kind of mushroom or LSD stoked journey through the director’s mind. TV Shows such as The Prisoner, 1967 and Monty Pythons Flying Circus 1969 (In the UK, not sure about elsewhere)

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I am not a number!

 

 

 

I absolutely loved The Prisoner and Monty Python – though I must have been watching them second time around (I was too young when they were originally released), both had an impact on my child’s mind; I think a Surrealist worm crawled in and laid an egg, and waited to be born in my adulthood.

One of my favourite contemporary surrealist directors of cinema is David Lynch. If you do not want to read reams of literature; or watch all those older films to understand Surrealism, I direct you to the world of Mr Lynch. The man is a natural; when it comes to surrealism, the man is so in touch with his own weird, that as a viewer, you are either repelled or drawn in; like one of his ants, to a severed ear!

I recommend you start with Wild At Heart, not so weird that you will be put off (if you’re one of those sensitive types), progress to Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks, then when you have the hang of it, dive into Eraserhead!! Go on, I dare you! This has to be THE weirdest, most Surreal film I have ever seen in my life.

 

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David’s hairstyle was ahead of the curve.                         Eraserhead. David Lynch. 1977

 

Apart from Mr Lynch, there was really nobody else making surreal films. Then the  1990’s saw a kind of revival of Surrealism, and those of us who went to art schools and colleges pretty much ‘got it’, straight away. The Ren and Stimpy Show, 1991 was a cartoon series following an over-friendly, stupid cat and a neurotic, very highly strung Chihuahua dog.

After Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer’s – Big Night Out and Shooting Stars 1995, which is definitely art school Dada meets Surrealism, the dark flavour began to return in the form of The League of Gentlemen, 1999. Brilliantly written, stunningly obtuse, irrational or scary characters – see Papa Lazarou or Hilary Briss and tell me that’s normal!

 

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‘You’re my wife now, Dave’
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‘They weren’t pork.’

The Mighty Boosh, 2003 was a lighter, but still very surreal series that came into our lives, and then the League of Gentlemen team returned with Psychoville, 2011 – think angry, mentally scarred clowns and you get the picture.

Personally, I like my surrealism dark and disturbing, not sure why, but it gives me the willies more than any horror film – if you like a good willie watch TLOG!

Then I began to wonder where all the surrealism was in literature. And realised; it transformed itself into Magical Realism. This can be a difficult one to define – Magical Realism is not fantasy, it is not about magic (though there may be some ‘magical’ elements), it is not escapist fiction. It portrays fantastical events in an otherwise realistic tone; so a dead grandmother is not seen as an other-worldly ghost, but is in the narrator’s here and now. It brings fables, folk tales, and myths into contemporary social relevance.

Authors of this genre include –

  1. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. (My all-time favourite)

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  1. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami.

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  1. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende.

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  1. Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter.

 

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So do we have any Nouveau Surrealists? Is that even a term? What would a Nouveau Surrealist look like, sound like, taste like!

It would amuse please me greatly if any of my readers watched or read anything I had mentioned here today, please, give it a go, if you haven’t already…

Go and get your weird on…

Go forth and be SURREAL people…

 

It’s Monday, what are you writing?

Good morning all !

First, let me slide this in here swiftly; new anthology, Tick Tock, is out now on Amazon. This is an eclectic mix of poetry and prose, sci-fi, fantasy, fiction and more, from Wirral Writers. I have three pieces included – The Scream of the Butterfly, Blackbird and Farewell. I hope you will enjoy it.

Now, it’s Monday, for some reason it is looked on with misery or a feeling of bleurgh! I fell into this trap during my mid to late twenties – but why?

It’s only another day to write something amazing!!!

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What are you working on at the moment?

Are you struggling to get that character with the rather bland personality to be a hero?

Is there a flaw in your timeline?

How many fluffy aliens does it really take to run a spaceship?

All relevant questions; to someone! And you know what? You’re the ones who have the answers – it’s your world, your people, grab them both by the short and curlies and shake the living daylights out of them until they comply. Bend them to your will. Be the boss, go on!

Now go write!

 

 

*Postscript – I am letting you know, so I don’t deceive my readers, some of my links  now connect to Amazon. If someone buys something via my link, I get some coin, not a lot, I’m not going to be able to buy a new washing machine, but I want you to be aware.