Author Topic: Ken in The Times 2009 part two  (Read 9111 times)

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Offline Iain Fisher

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Re: Ken in The Times 2009 part two
« Reply #16 on: February 05, 2010, 09:02:09 PM »
and nothing today.

Offline Iain Fisher

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Re: Ken in The Times 2009 part two
« Reply #15 on: January 29, 2010, 08:57:40 PM »
Nothing by Ken today.

Offline Iain Fisher

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Re: Ken in The Times 2009 part two
« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2010, 09:21:24 PM »
Nothing by Ken today.

Offline Iain Fisher

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An epic story of belonging
« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2010, 12:42:50 AM »
Ken in The Times 15 Jan 2010

The paper title is "An epic story of belonging" while the on-line title is "John Akomfrah and one of the bravest films I've seen".

Ken writes about the film Mnemosyne by John Akomfrah.  Ken calls the film “a mind-blowing film that merges documentary and artistic essay in a way that astonishes, confounds and moves.”

“…The film is one of the bravest films I’ve seen, like a labyrinth turning in and out upon itself as it questions the immigrant experience (which is Akomfrah’s own tale, as an African from Ghana). He looks at the migratory impulse, identity, history and cultural assumptions through the medium of memory’s accompanying song.”
Ken compares it to Christopher Nolan’s Memento but in contrast the main character in Mnemosyne remembers everything.

On the director Ken says “Akomfrah is from the Ghanaian capital, Accra, and moved here at the age of 6 with his parents and four brothers. In England he worked in factories, studied art and sociology at Portsmouth Polytechnic… and was drawn to the Midlands on the trail of documenting the Birmingham riots of 1981 and 1985….”

“Akomfrah manages to guide us by use of his own moving images (some of Alaska’s ice-blue mountains stood in for Skye), and by means of classical and modern poetry- Homer, Samuel Beckett, Shakespeare- and through subtitles, old movies, music, sounds, archive footage; sliding on the music into the notion of belonging…”
“One feels a tenuous hopefulness, seeing Mnemosyne- like a possible future of thoughtfulness. It’s a film about race and getting beyond race.”

Mnemosyne is at the Public, West Bromwich, UK, website www.thepublic.com, to 7 Mar 2010.

Offline Iain Fisher

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On the stump with a message from the forest
« Reply #12 on: November 27, 2009, 02:00:28 PM »
Ken in The Times 13 Nov 2009.  The on-line title is London's Ghost Forest.

Ken talks of an exhibition on London’s Trafalgar Square.

“If you think you’ve seen tree stumps, make your way to Trafalgar Square, where ten behemoths from Ghana will be on show from Monday. This is Ghost Forest, Angela Palmer’s incredible, once-in-a lifetime cityscape installation. An Amazonian chief from the rainforests of South America will also attend in Trafalgar Square… to bless the trees, the forests, London, Ghana, the biosphere and any people watching. After a week at the foot of Nelson’s Column, the stumps will travel to Copenhagen to provide an arresting symbol for the UN conference on climate change from December 7 to 18, involving 11,000 delegates from 192 countries. “

The tree stump will be on their sides to show the roots properly. Palmer says “I want their roots to be exposed… They look like nerve endings.”


The site www.ghostforest.org gives details.

Offline Iain Fisher

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A prize for my pal Bernie, a Womble among men
« Reply #11 on: November 27, 2009, 01:36:55 PM »
Ken in The Times today.  The on-line title is again a watered down version,  "my friend Bernard Cribbins".

Ken writes about his friend Bernard Cribbins who has won a special award from Bafta (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) for his contribution to children's television.

“In 1960, I filmed a tall, lanky youngster who could dance — along with the star ballet choreographer John Cranko — for a film for the BBC-TV Arts programme Monitor called Cranko at Work. Little did I know at the time that Bernard Cribbins, now a spry 81, would become the best-loved actor (and possibly most steadily employed) in television, films and recordings.”

Ken goes over Cribbins career appearing with Peter Cushing in two Doctor Who films and making novel hit singles Hole in the Ground and Right, Said Fred? Cribbins was also voices behind the Wombles [Iain: I can’t believe I am writign about the Wombles!] , he was Bafta-nominated in 1970 for his part in the TV classic The Railway Children and appeared in Hitchcock’s Frenzy.

Cribbins say to Ken “When you filmed us, I pretty much hung out in the background. What a hoo-ha in the press that was, Princess Margaret coming by and all. Whenever I appear, it’s always ‘three good dancers and myself’. Luckily, I’ve got only one and half left feet.”
Cribbins is being modest as he danced in the Stuttgart Ballet, the Billy Wilson Ballet, the Monte Carlo Ballet as well as Guys and Dolls and other West End musicals.

Ken says “Cribbins wins the Bafta. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy”.

Offline Iain Fisher

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Re: Ken in The Times 2009 part two
« Reply #10 on: October 25, 2009, 09:52:14 PM »
Sorry I am behind again- a couple more to come.

Offline Iain Fisher

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A Greek hero escorts us into his underworld
« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2009, 02:30:45 PM »
Ken in The Times 6 Sept 2009

Ken reviews the film Greek Pete: A Year in the Life of a Rent Boy.

On the plot “ Peter Pittaros’s mum isn't too happy… when… her 23-year-old son tells her his plans to become a male escort catering to men in the prosperous field of London-by-night… Directed by Michael Haigh with great sensitivity, it’s an intimate docudramaabout the lives of a group of friends in the London male escort service, colloquially known as “rent boys”. There are a few explicit scenes, and a little cocaine experimentation, but in context all is portrayed with breathtaking artistry and considerateness.”

Ken continues:

“…The story blends fiction and documentary, using real scenarios from film collected over a year. Fleeting moments in strobe-lit discos momentarily reduce all players to colliding atoms in a particle accelerator, but Haigh, the director, brilliantly chooses to focus on the individuals and the everyday nature of their life, with its simplicity and accidental grace.  The monologue by Pete about wanting to watch the fireworks is priceless, as are the home movies of himself as a toddler at Christmas. The most touching scene may be Pete’s dinner date with an older man who listens sympathetically while Pete muses aloud confessionally…”

…Our Greek hero is a modern Odysseus, whose wanderings have taken him to strange ports for encounters with mythical monsters. His journey reminds me of Cavafy’s poem, Ithaca: “Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage. Without her, you would never have set out on the road.”


Greek Pete: A Year in the Life of a Rent Boy is being shown at Shortwave Cinema, London 13 Sept 2009, then nationally in the UK. It is released on DVD by Peccadillo Pictures on 21 Sept 2009.

Offline Iain Fisher

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Re: Ken in The Times 2009 part two
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2009, 12:00:30 AM »
Nothing by Ken today, but I have still to post the last two contributions by Ken.  I'll do it tomorrow.

Offline Iain Fisher

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Dancers armed with staves are poised to storm the box office
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2009, 07:39:25 PM »
Ken in The Times 29 Aug 2009 (Ken is now writing for The Times on Friday).

Dancers armed with staves are poised to storm the box office (the electronic and paper title). Ken on the film Morris: A Life with Bells On about Morris Dancing [an early English folk dance] by Charles Thomas Oldham.

The film is “made on 35mm and transferred to digital for duplication, Oldham and co have been able so far to bypass middle-man distribution schemes…”.  The director “… Chaz (as he’s called) is a Cambridge law graduate who came to morris dancing only by lodging as a youth at his neighbours’ when his parents moved to Australia. His foster family, the Campbells, were avid morris fans. It was here that he learnt how to dance and earned his hankies, first as a bemused, then enchanted, observer. This stood him in good stead to create a script that both honours and exaggerates the way-out nomenclature of an arcane world.”

Ken says “I featured a morris dance in an early Monitor film, The Dancing British [1960 The Light Fantastic], where the men carried antlers and soaped their bare feet. Morris dancing is that quintessentially English folk dance trotted out at village fairs and is apparently an underground urban sensation among young ladies who like bouncing about in corsets, bloomers and full skirts. (And who doesn’t?) The lucky men who learn the hanky waves and wear bells on their shins (similar to Jennifer Beals’s legwarmers in Flashdance) to partner them are very confident in their masculinity, and the women know it.”

"[the film] explores the earnest peccadillos of quirky obsession, without losing the sincerity at the core of a morris dancer’s enthusiasm. The movie is a scripted documentary, created by a company of subtly comic actors who clearly grasp how ridiculous morris dancing may appear, yet perform with enough naive bluster to seduce us into the morris way of life... I thought that it was a genuine documentary for a while, so minutely observed are the characters... It was only when the famous names started showing up, actors such as Derek Jacobi and Greg Wise (brilliant in their roles), that I tumbled to it being a send-up."

Has Ken heard of This is Spinal Tap?

Offline Iain Fisher

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As a director, I am hopelessly starstruck
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2009, 10:26:15 PM »
Ken in The Times 14 Aug 2009 (a Friday not his usual Tuesday)

"…To be starstruck, you have to revisit that place inside where you are 13 years old and all aquiver at the sight of the graceful, heroic, sexy, unique or shiny. Encountering someone’s beauty or power can be the doorway to a realm where dragons, mermaids and Father Christmas live. For me it was Dorothy Lamour in her South Sea epics and brown body paint. From the silver screen she oozed invitation and aimed it right at me. She was begging me to climb a tree and pluck a coconut for her. She shed tears like diamonds for me…”

“…I’m sure Nureyev felt nothing but angry impatience while I coaxed him, not altogether successfully, from a broad Moscow accent to something a little more Arrivederci, Roma.”

“…When in my twenties I surprised Audrey Hepburn and Mel Ferrer on their honeymoon, on the same commercial flight, I was a stills photographer for Picture Post. Here was my scoop. Instead I sat behind them and studied the elegant arch of her neck as she leant into his embrace. How could I intrude on their private joy? (I was nearly fired for that.)…”

Some comments on Glenda Jackson “…for whom I wrote a screenplay (The Life of Arnold Bax) so that I could cast myself and share my first screen kiss with her…” and Helen Mirren “…She barely tolerated me, but I found her possessed of an irresistible hauteur combined with pure animal allure.”

Most interesting are on Ollie “Oliver Reed was the most intimidating of all. Called me Jesus. Clung to the windshield wiper of my zooming auto to stop me fleeing. Challenged me to a duel in my living room. I held the blade he tossed me over my head, closed my eyes and sliced at what I thought was air. We both watched mesmerised as a ribbon of blood seeped through his billowing white shirt. “Hmm,” he smiled, and quickly stripped to his bare chest. “A souvenir,” he said, leaving the shirt under glass on the mantle. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss the man.”

And Fellini “Scouting locations in Cinecitta film studios in Rome in 1971, I saw a sinister stretch limo pull up slowly to the kerb in the rain. A man in a black hat got out, surrounded by a phalanx of shielding umbrellas. I gaped. “Ciao, maestro,” I spluttered. The cloaked eminence stopped in his tracks on the cobbled streets, ignoring the rain. Suddenly I was swept into the powerfully compact man’s arms, in an embrace. “Mio amico!” Fellini bellowed. “You know what they call me? They call me the Italian Ken-na Russell!””

Offline Iain Fisher

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Re: Ken in The Times 2009 part two
« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2009, 11:18:41 PM »
Nothing by Ken today.  I am getting withdrawal symptoms.

Offline Iain Fisher

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Re: Ken in The Times 2009 part two
« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2009, 10:12:22 AM »
Nothing by Ken this week.

Offline Iain Fisher

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Re: Ken in The Times 2009 part two
« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2009, 12:10:42 AM »
Nothing by Ken today.

Offline Iain Fisher

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Telling Tales: Fantasy and Fear in Contemporary Design
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2009, 11:19:31 AM »
Ken in The Times 21 Jul 2009.  The paper title is No home should be without these seductive fusions of art and design.

Ken writes of another exhibition, this time Telling Tales: Fantasy and Fear in Contemporary Design at the V& A Museum London.

Some purple prose from Ken “This exhibition will give you disturbing nightmares-  those gold maggots in the ear of the fox- but the most beautiful dreams, too. Like any good dream, you can analyse each art piece for meta-meanings, but hugging the image close without conclusion is the better medicine. To drift through the hologram deck of this fairytale exhibit is my idea of good sex.”

About the exhibits “These are pieces of designed art with real or supposed functional value- furniture, ceramics, a bathtub, slippers- but with the pristine rarity that only European master craftsmen can give them… This is a most seductive exhibition”

But Ken can’t stray too far from films “Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast is my second favourite film of all time. The candelabra with human arms, the tear that becomes a diamond-  that’s what this exhibit is. The near-repulsion of otherwise familiar forms… . Cocteau’s merger of beauty and the threat of the otherworld is where we come to feel at home by the end of the film — and by the end of the Telling Tales exhibit, too.”

Ken talks of the individual exhibits including:

Fig Leaf Wardrobe by Boontje — resembling big green angel wings of 616 cascading copper leaves, opening on to an inner stage where Waiting for Godot’s solitary naked tree waits against a blue silk Magritte sky. Who could bear to hang clothing on that beauty?

Sculpt Wardrobe by Maarten Baas “…when you put on wet glasses to look at a hand-crafted walnut wardrobe, …it melts into a gorgeously wonky shape. Want it, want it, want it.

Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend by Crasset “…a cut diamond pendant within which dangles a smaller diamond. Marilyn Monroe would’ve loved it.”

Sensory Deprivation Skull by Joep van Lieshout: “a giant white fibreglass skull with a doorway for entry, lined in luxuriant fur, big enough for two. New possibilities for any sequels of my film Altered States.”

Cinderella Table by Verhoeven “…Brad Pitt bought one. I prefer the plywood version”


Telling Tales: Fantasy and Fear in Contemporary Design is at the V& A Museum www.vam.ac.uk to 18  Oct 2009.

« Last Edit: July 21, 2009, 04:43:00 PM by Iain Fisher »