Category: gender


THE NARROW ROAD TO THE DEEP NORTH by Richard Flanagan (Chatto & Windus, 2014)

Richard Flanagan’s brilliant Booker prize-winning novel is a big book in every sense.

On one level it is an account of the horrors surrounding the construction of the Burma railway line near the end of the second world war. At the same time, it documents an ill-fated romance between a successful surgeon, Dorrigo Evans, and his Uncle’s young wife, Amy. Yet to describe this book as a historical romance would be well wide of the mark.

The Tasmanian author spent 12 years working on a novel he was clearly born to write. It is dedicated to his father who died the day it was completed. Continue reading

PRIDE directed by Matthew Warchus (UK, 2014)

pride-poster Although I was living in London in the 1980s, the time this movie was set, I confess to ignorance about the unlikely coalition between a small mining community in Wales and the left-leaning activists of the Lesbians And Gays Support The Miners (LGSM) operating from the Gay’s The Word bookshop in Bloomsbury.

I take comfort in the fact that Bill Nighy, one of the excellent ensemble cast of this movie, admits he didn’t know about this either until he was sent the script.

Perhaps this is not so strange given that the tabloids were only interested in shock-horror put-downs of “homos and “perverts” while the broadsheets seemed to have all but ignored the story. Continue reading

KILLER JOE LEAVES A BAD TASTE

KILLER JOE directed by William Friedkin (USA, 2011)

There is something sick and depraved at the heart of this movie, and I don’t mean that as a compliment.

As the director of bona fide classics The French Connection and The Exorcist, William Friedkin has nothing to prove but it is as if he still wants to show audiences that he still has the power to shock and outrage audiences. It is the director’s second collaboration with screenwriter Tracy Letts after 2006’s Bug (which I haven’t seen).

About a third of the way in, you get the notion that the film is meant to be a kind of Southern Gothic black comedy but the noir-ish humor falls flat unless you’re the type who finds the exploitation and humiliation of women amusing or get off on watching repeated images of folks getting their heads beaten to a pulp.

Continue reading

haveyourwayNowadays it often seems increasing redundant, even prudish, to claim that there’s anything wrong with pornography.

In essence, sex has become just another commodity to be casually consumed then discarded.

In my view, the typical check list of arguments against porn don’t get at the heart of the matter.

Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights (1997) and the casting of porn actor James Deen in Paul Shrader’s The Canyons (2013) is a measure of the more laissez-faire attitude to the so-called ‘adult entertainment’ industry. Continue reading

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

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