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MERCURY REV live at Teatro Moderna,

Savignano sul Rubicone, Italy 13th September 2018

Mercury_RevThis is one of a limited series of concerts to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Mercury Rev’s breakthrough album ‘Deserter’s Songs’.

At the time of release, this band from Buffalo, New York were at the point of imploding due to rapidly depleting sales. The songs were therefore composed with no real expectation that they would reach a wider audience and there was even some doubt that they’d even find a record label to put them out. View full article »

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NO LAUGHING MATTER by Anthony Cronin (First published by Grafton Books, 1989)

984085There are certain novels, like Robert Musil’s ‘The Man Without Qualities’, that I find too daunting to even attempt and others, such as Malcolm Lowry’s ‘Under The Volcano’ that I have tried but failed to complete.

‘At Swim-Two-Birds’ by Flann O’Brien was, until this year, gathering dust in my unfinished pile. I have Anthony Cronin’s candid and informative biography of O’Brien to thank for finally completing this short, comic but notoriously challenging novel.

Cronin skillfully puts the work into a literary and historical context while bluntly presenting the man behind it as a sad character. View full article »

CAROL directed by Todd Haynes (USA, 2015)

carol_film_posterI borrowed this film from my local lending library in Cesena, Italy. This excellent ‘mediateca’,  somewhat anachronistically, continues to maintain a healthy stock of old and new DVDs.

In a card inside the case of more recent acquisitions you are invited to write what you think of the movie: “Lascia un commento, potresti convincere qulache indeciso” (Leave a comment – it may convince others who are undecided).

For Carol, there is just one review which (translated from Italian) states that it is “the story of an upper class woman who destroys the life of her husband and, not content with this, also ruins the life of a poor young working woman. All this in the name of a presumed sexual liberation. A film of homosexual propaganda”.

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The offending review of ‘Carol’.

This blinkered and spiteful reading of Todd Haynes’ elegant and intelligent movie illustrates that, despite some encouraging advances in LGBT rights, this is no time for complacency. View full article »

WALKAWAY – a novel by Cory Doctorow (Head Of Zeus, 2017)

220px-walkaway_28a_cory_doctorow_novel29_book_coverWhat is it that derails dreams of utopia and resigns us to the notion that the future is fated to turn out dystopian? Cory Doctorow‘s ambitious and entertaining novel doesn’t provide any definitive answers to this plight but asks plenty of thought-provoking questions.

The problems of the soul-corroding world of work in the modern world are vividly described by Doctorow as one character  remembers a daily routine consisting of “early mornings crunched on meaningless deadlines with the urgency of a car-crash for no discernible reason”.

Cory Doctorow poses the question : If another world to this is possible, what would it be like? His answer comes in the form of a utopian vision of a “better nation” which takes the sociopolitical aims of the Occupy Movement to their logical conclusion. View full article »

 

SEX, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE directed by Steven Soderberg (USA, 1989)

sex & lies“All life is sex. All sex is competition”. James Spader’s line comes from a cameo appearance the US sitcom The Office but could easily stand as a tagline for his captivating lead performance as Graham Dalton in Sex, Lies And Videotape.

This independent movie had a huge impact when it was first released and watching it again , almost three decades on, I was struck about how it still holds up for its bravery, integrity and originality.

The themes of sexuality, fidelity and gender politics remain as relevant now as they did in 1989. Indeed, these issues are arguably even more significant in the wake of the plethora of #metoo related stories and Trump’s brazen capacity for lying. Digital technology would now replace videotape but everything else about the story rings true.

The film deals with the notoriously delicate topic of sex with a liberating degree of frankness and maturity. This is all the more remarkable given that Soderberg was only 26 when he wrote and directed it. He’s made some decent movies since but the audacity and boldness of youth still makes his debut his best work.

Significantly, there are no explicit sex scenes. Soderbach’s stated aim was that of challenging mainstream audiences with ideas rather than with nudity. View full article »

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