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FRANCO BATTIATO + JOE PATTI’S EXPERIMENTAL GROUP : LIVE AT NUOVO TEATRO CARISPORT, CESENA 31st OCTOBER 2014

Franco Battiato at Cesena

Franco Battiato is an elder statesman of Italian popular music with a distinguished career spanning more than four decades. His standing and popularity remain high in spite of, or perhaps because of,  remaining slightly aloof from popular trends.

Many of his songs are commercial enough to appeal readily to mainstream tastes yet he always manages to be one step removed from the brash commercialism of pop or rock marketing.

This was the first time I had seen him in concert and while he has an image of being a serious even remote figure, on stage he exudes a warmth and refreshing lack of pretentiousness.

Battiato has the look of a priest although not one of the hellfire breed as he’s more likely to preach on the healing power of love than to lecture us about the sins of the flesh.

Italians call him ‘il Maestro’ (the teacher) reflecting the strong element of didacticism in songs which are steeped in the kind of mystic imagery of the kind you’d expect to find in spiritual texts. View full article »

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. View full article »

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. View full article »

true-detectiveHaving spent four days bingeing on the 8 episodes of HBO’s True Detective (season 1) I was left bemused by the weak finale but otherwise in awe of the faultless acting of this superbly sustained TV drama.

The contrasting personalities of homicide cops Martin ‘Marty’ Hart (Woody Harrelson) and Rustin ‘Rust’ Spencer (Matthew McConaughey) create a genuine sense of tension.

The mismatched pair travel down the lost highways of Louisiana on the trail of a demonic cult and ritualistic murderers.

Their long running investigation takes them into the twisted underbelly of American life where superstition and old-time religion hold sway. The moody atmosphere is helped by a magnificent soundtrack of traditional blues, folk, alt-country and hard-driving rock overseen by the ever reliable T.Bone Burnett.

Brilliantly scripted by Nic Pizzolatto and stylishly directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, the power of the gothic drama is undermined by a ludicrously contrived happy ending which sheds false luminosity onto this journey into the heart of darkness. View full article »

WHY I DON’T LOVE LUCY

LUCY directed by Luc Besson (France/USA, 2014)

Ever wondered what would happen if humans achieved the power to use 100% of their brains? No, me neither but Luc Besson has given the matter some thought and this overblown piece of cinematic nonsense is the consequence.

What makes the movie so unbearable is that you get the impression that Besson takes seriously the debunked  scientific premise that humans only make use of 10% of their grey matter. Not only that, but it is packed full of psychobabble and pseudo-spiritual musings that are preachy, absurd and humorless.

Scarlett Johanssson is charged with the task of convincing us that she has undergone this altered state but since she is laden with a truly dismal script she fails miserably. View full article »

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