Sunday, 25 July 2010

Journalism: Work for Venue mag

Compiled and written for Venue, June 2010.

Sat 26: Beauty and the Beast Children’s Auditions Bristol Hippodrome, Saint Augustine Parade, Bristol, BS1 4UZ, 10am, free. Ffi:, Bristol Light Opera Club are running auditions for boys aged 8-12 to play Chip. Auditionees should be no taller than 4’ and able to sing, dance and act, but no experience necessary. No need to prepare material.

Wed 30: Folk Tales Music and Storytelling Scout Hut, Redcliffe Backs, Bristol, BS1, 8pm, £4. Ffi: Wig Smith returns from a month in Gambia with Chris Brown to share stories and music. BYO policy, tea and biscuits provided.

Sun 27: Alternatives to Capitalism Reading Group Café Kino, Ninetree Hill, Stokes Croft, Bristol, BS1 3SB, 6pm, free. Ffi: 0117 924 9200, café Monthly workshop discussing alternatives to capitalist thought.

Fri 2 July: Summer Songs and Music St Mary’s Church, Church Lane, Marshfield, Chippenham, SN14 8NT, 7:30pm, £7.50 adult, £5 concession, children free. Ffi: 01225 891819 Professionals and students bring Bach, Chopin and Cole Porter to this summer classical concert.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Prose: Black Cat

To be published on Hazard Cat.

Black Cat

The vole in her mouth was still warm as she leapt onto the discoloured brick wall of her owner's home. The furry shape gently swung with the movement in a moment of false animation. From a bird's eye view the wall formed a rectangle around a council house, identical to all the other rectangles surrounding it. From the ground, it was marked out from the rest of the brick walls by the words "Abby" and "Sam" chalked on it with a heart between them.

The August sun gleamed from her glossy black haunch, highlighting blues and purples as if her fur were an oil slick, like those on the crumbling road behind her. The smell of the fumes that hung in the air were strengthened by the heat, making that morning's hunting more challenging. Of course, there were plenty of rodents loitering in the area, picking from scraps of left overs and food wrappers that had been dumped in the street; there was no risk of starvation here.

She trotted along the brickwork, observing a dirty, unwanted doll lying helplessly on the pavement, leaning lifelessly against the foot of the wall. Her sharp ears detected the spokes of a bicycle in the distance, which quickly gained ground and sped past. The bored schoolboy in the saddle threw a stone in her direction which she neatly avoided. At the end of the wall, she dropped to the ground, vole still intact. Drops of its blood clung onto the cat's whiskers, illuminated by the sun like tiny garnets.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Film journalism: Takeshis' review

REVIEW: DVD Release: Takeshis’


Release date: 8th March 2010
Certificate: 15
Running time: 108 minutes
Director: Takeshi Kitano
Starring: Beat Takeshi, Kotomi Kyôno, Ren Ôsugi, Susumu Terajima
Genre: Drama
Studio: Artificial Eye
Format: DVD
Country: Japan

“500% Kitano - nothing to add” was the simple message that promoted Takeshis’ at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival: never could a description be truer. Not only did he write, direct, produce and edit the film, he also acted in it. Twice. So is this more than a little piece of self-indulgence for one of Japan’s most loved exports?

Takeshis’ kicks off with an overstated introduction to the Beat Takeshi that many hold dear. “Overstated” is the key word here; cheesy or even vulgar may be more accurate. Dialogue is sparse and gunfire plentiful as Kitano coolly takes on the room of enemies that surround him, naturally defeating the lot within seconds. Much to the viewer’s relief, this is not Beat Takeshi’s film: it is Mr Kitano’s latest effort.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Film journalism: Lizard in a Woman's Skin review

REVIEW: DVD Release: Lizard in a Woman’s Skin

Release Date: 7 June 2010
Certificate: 18
Running time: 104 minutes
Director: Lucio Fulci
Starring: Florinda Bolkan, Jean Sorel, Stanley Baker, Penny Brown, Mike Kennedy
Genre: Thriller
Studio: Optimum Home Entertainment
Format: DVD
Country: Italy/ Spain/ France

Hung over from the psychedelic sixties, Lizard in a Woman’s Skin winds itself around the feet of deceit and distrust in a shroud of sex, drugs and murder.

Fulci could never be accused of not letting the audience know where they stand with its opening. Perhaps not as shocking as his other efforts, the film still manages to kick off with brunette beauty Carol Hammond (Florinda Bolkan) amidst an orgy. She pushes her way through the naked writhing bodies, apparently distressed and uninterested; that is, until she reaches the gold at end of the corridor, her blonde bombshell next door neighbour, Julia. Cue fantasy lesbian sex scene. But even for Carol, it is just that: a fantastical dream.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Film journalism: Dancer in the Dark review

REVIEW: DVD Release: Dancer in the Dark

Release date: 17th September 2007
Certificate: 15
Running time: 134 minutes
Director: Lars von Trier
Starring: Bjork, Vladica Kostic, Catherine Deneuve, David Morse, Peter Stormare
Genre: Musical
Studio: 4dvd
Format: DVD
Country: Denmark/ Germany/ Netherlands/ Italy/ USA/ UK/ France/ Sweden/ Finland/ Iceland/ Norway

“Emotional pornography”: that’s how Bjork labelled von Trier and his methods after collaborating with him to make Dancer in the Dark. The film may not be as intrepid as his more recent Antichrist or as controversial as The Idiots but those emotionally pornographic moments won von Trier the Palme d’or at 2000’s Cannes and earned Bjork her own award in recognition of the poignant performance von Trier drew from her. Even so, was it worth the director’s flirtation with bankruptcy?

The Icelandic singer plays a Czech mother settled in Washington State with her twelve year-old son. Selma is hard-working but destitute and the two of them live in a caravan at the bottom of their landlord’s garden. Selma pays her way by working in a dreary factory by day, and eventually by night as well. Whilst things are far from rosy for the single parent family, there is nothing particularly remarkable about them either. Selma is shy and inoffensive and faces the same challenges any mother does. Gene’s birthday is coming up, for instance, and it’s no surprise that he asks for a bicycle. Already an outcast amongst his classmates, he simply wants to fit in with his peers like any school boy. Selma desperately tries to make him understand that she simply cannot afford it, but when her policeman landlord treats Gene to his dream birthday present, she naturally expresses an awkwardness that we may well empathise with. Aside from the unwanted interest of Jeff, Selma has very little to break the monotony of life and this is why she turns to the fantastical musical numbers that are scattered throughout the film.