Category: gender


GRAYSON PERRY : WHO ARE YOU?    . Channel 4  series – episode 1

Jazz and Grayson Perry.

Jazz and Grayson Perry.

Grayson Perry, the first transvestite potter from Essex to win the Turner Prize, is not a man to be afraid of public ridicule.

Last year he delivered the BBC Reith lectures in a series of elaborate frocks and collected his CBE from Prince Charles in what he called an ‘Italian mother of the bride outfit’.

In a highly competitive  art world in which everyone is clamoring to get noticed, his cross dressing is a calling card that has served its purpose well.

A further advantage of his overt eccentricity is that he earns a degree of trust when interviewing those who have made similarly unconventional life choices. He knows what it’s like to be and feel like the odd one out.

This sets him apart from run of the mill journalists who are mostly just seeking out salacious details to make a good story. Perry genuinely wants to understand what makes people tick and you never get the impression that there’s a hidden subtext to his questions.

Who Are You? is essentially a tweaking of the formula of All In The Best Possible Taste , which he made for Channel 4 in 2012, and I have no complaints about this whatsoever. Continue reading

THE WAVES by Virginia Woolf (First published by The Hogarth Press, 1931)

thewavesIn her 1928 essay Women & Fiction, Virginia Woolf wrote that she hoped a time would come when novels would “cease to become a dumping ground for personal emotions” and in her diaries at around the same time she expressed the desire to be rid of “the appalling narrative business of the realists : getting us from lunch to dinner”.

These quotes show how Woolf had at this point become totally bored by the relatively conventional structure of popular fiction. She believed that the linear plotlines of contemporary novels were irreversibly flawed in that they bore little or no relation to how we actually conduct our daily lives.

Embracing the Modernist cause, she developed more of an interest in the darker psychology traits of her characters which led to her becoming less and less concerned with describing their actions, interactions and appearance.

This was evident in her masterpieces Mrs Dalloway (1925) and To The Lighthouse (1927) but The Waves represents her most fully realised attempt to deconstruct the novel. It has no recognisable story and the voices of six characters in search of a plot morph into each other in such a way that it’s hard to tell them apart. Continue reading

Maggie Thatcher and Hilary MantelThe best kind of  killer is one who can hide in plain sight  and  is able to pass unnoticed in a crowd.

Hilary Mantel does not look like an assassin. On the contrary, she seems so prim and proper.  I’m sure she often gets mistaken for a Tory.  She is always well turned out, wears pastel shades and her hairstyle is not so dissimilar to Thatcher’s.

This is what makes her short story The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher – August 6th 1983,( published in The Guardian) seem so out of character.

It has caused a minor storm in a tea-cup among those who still misguided enough to argue that Thatcher saved, rather than ruined,  the nation. To those who merrily sang Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead las year, Mantel is an unlikely heroine. Continue reading

linklater

Richard Linklater

BEFORE SUNRISE (1995), BEFORE SUNSET (2004)

+ BEFORE MIDNIGHT (2013)  directed by Richard Linklater

There’s a fundamental difference between being older and acting older. This came out strongly in Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ and is also a strong feature of the characters of Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy) in the director’s consistently marvelous ‘before’ trilogy.

What makes this such a mighty cinematic achievement is the absence of what I would call Hollywood moments. You know those scenes where couples break up and make up during a freak downpour or in a public place where the emotional (melo)drama is absurdly heightened.

Hawke and Delpy are so completely in their roles that there is never the sense that we are watching stars pretending to be ordinary. There is a genuine lack of artifice which makes their love story both romantic and moving without ever being cloying or sentimental. You don’t feel manipulated into taking sides. Continue reading

CRUISING WITH AL PACINO

CRUISING directed by William Friedkin (USA, 1980)

"Take your hand off my breast!"

“Take your hand off my breast!”

Officer Steve Burns (Al Pacino) is selected for a high-risk undercover operation in New York gay clubs where a knife wielding serial killer is on the loose targeting homosexuals.

Burns is chosen because he physically resembles the victims and he accepts the mission as a fast-track route to promotion.

What is never clear is how Officer Burns is meant to ID the killer. There is no indication that he has any cunning plan. This is worrying since most of the leather-clad clubbers give him death stares and any one could be a prime suspect.

William ‘The Exorcist’ Friedkin’s direction is lazy and the plot so full of holes that any semblance of realism is soon compromised. The movie uses the gay bar scene as an exotic backdrop to add a voyeuristic element to an unconvincing drama. There are jock straps and blow/hand jobs aplenty with no signs that safe sex is an issue. A post-AIDS version would have been very different. Continue reading

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