Category: gender


viv_albertineCLOTHES, CLOTHES, CLOTHES. MUSIC, MUSIC, MUSIC. BOYS, BOYS, BOYS by Viv Albertine (Faber & Faber, 2014)

I started this autobiography expecting a fun but frivolous account of the punk era. It is all that and more.

Viv Albertine was at the heart of the heady period in the late 1970s when the British establishment were running scared. The Slits were one of the many bands that were inspired by the so-called ‘filfth and fury’ of The Sex Pistols; four feisty females who were not about to let a lack of musical expertise hold them back.

Albertine was the guitarist in that band’s early years. I regret to say that I never did see them play live but I treasure the memory of first hearing them on a John Peel session – four tracks recorded in September 1977 that captured their ramshackle brilliance.

The book contains plenty of fascinating insights into the ordinary world that preceded and followed the extraordinary explosion of rebel yells. Continue reading

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

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