Author Topic: Ken Russell in The Times on Tuesday 2008  (Read 13575 times)

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Offline Iain Fisher

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New York City is playing Mindgames with me
« Reply #19 on: October 07, 2008, 12:59:21 PM »
Ken writes in The Times today (7 Oct 2008) about Mindgames, the play he is directing in New York.

Strangely Ken says "The cast of the off-Broadway play Mindgames are appalled to find that Ken Russell has never directed a play in his life".  Strange because he previously directed Weill and Lenya in London (I saw it).  "The first thing I mention to the assembled cast and crew at our initial “meet and greet” is that I have never directed a play in my life. A shocked silence follows, until I confide that I've directed a dozen or so grand operas, from Madame Butterfly to Gounod's Faust - which mollifies them somewhat. Until I go on to mention that I changed Puccini's tender geisha girl into a Tokyo tart and Gounod's gentle heroine Marguerite into a mother drowning her baby in the washing machine"

He describes the play Mindgame as "A play in which nothing is as it seems. Strains of violence, intrigue, questionable identity, serial killers and sexually loaded psychodrama stretch the imagination to breaking point or breakthrough point: your choice and your ride... Alone in my room, reading the script... ,by the end of Act I I was ready for a large scotch. By the last page, I had finished the bottle. Yes, it was honestly the scariest script I had ever read."

And how he came to do the play "Some time ago I was approached by the talented American actor Lee Godart to direct the play, by the British author Anthony Horowitz, whose TV series Foyle's War and whose Alex Rider books are international hits."

The play stars Keith Carradine, Lee Godart and Kathleen McNenny.  Beowulf Boritt is the production designer, Ken's wife Elise is assistant director and the producers are Monica Tidwell and Michael Butler.  It is on at the SoHo Theatre, 15 Vandam Street, New York, from 29 Oct 2008 and opens on 9 Nov 2008 www.sohoplayhouse.com)

Interestingly Ken says "...the main advantage I've found in directing a play as opposed to a film is that in the former you can go from start to finish every time in rehearsals. This allows the characters to develop naturally and in the moment, as one dramatic incident following another pushes them to grow organically. Films, for logistical reasons, are generally shot completely out of sequence - very tough on the actors"

Offline Iain Fisher

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Fancy a roast this Sunday? First watch The Animals Film
« Reply #18 on: September 30, 2008, 12:45:29 PM »
Ken in The Times today (30 Sept 2008) writes about The Animals Film by Victor Schonfeld and Myriam Alaux, just released on DVD.  And Ken writes passionately about animal rights.

On The Animals Film ken says "This documentary turned several hundred thousand meat-munching viewers into staunch vegetarians overnight...According to the film-makers... animals are a pathetic biological category that we have learnt to torture and treat to a violent death. First seen by a mass public on Channel 4 during its first week of programming, their famous documentary The Animals Film (1981) is now released on DVD 26 years after the groundbreaking event that turned several hundred thousand meat-munching viewers into staunch vegetarians overnight...

...Then jumpcut to footage of Edwardian schoolchildren with baseball bats, merrily clubbing a pen of captive rabbits to death, accompanied by manic laughter, as the pile of bloody, twitching fur grows higher and higher."

Ken talks about animal cruelly generally "Today we take care of our dogs, don't we? Giving them to our children as presents for Christmas, until the novelty wears off and they are cast out on the streets: 200,000 a year...

...so what sort of incidents would be against the law and regularly banned? The most obvious examples are to be found in westerns, where galloping horses are brought down by trip wires to simulate death by gunfire."

Ken finishes "...Unfortunately, the horrors filmed 27 years ago are still happening today. Personally, I feel that this courageous masterpiece is essential viewing for every caring, humane being on the planet.
And remember, nobody needs a mink coat except a mink".



Offline Iain Fisher

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Ah, happy days, when I wallowed in Soho's iniquity
« Reply #17 on: September 23, 2008, 11:45:27 PM »
Ken in The Times today, 23 Sept 2008.

Ken has been to an exhibition of photos at the Photographer's Gallery, London.  There are photos of Soho, part of London- Ken's explanation of how Soho got its name is very similar to that in Peter Ackroyd's excellent book London: The Biography.

Ken writes "In [the photo] Soho Model, a romantic and voluptuous figure takes her well-earned rest sprawled in her underwear in a leather chair, an unread newspaper against her thigh, a hand unconsciously protecting her collarbone in sleep, among the flotsam of a life lived on the dark edges of night, hope and hunger."

[note by Iain: this photo "Soho Model" by David Hurn is cropped, the full photo in The Times conveys the atmosphere much better.  Incidentally I tried googling for a better photo but soon realised googling "Soho Model" is not recommended if you are at work and want to keep your job].

Ken continues "The artist who captured Soho Model among others... is himself captured on film in one of the photos that features a BBC documentary unit filming. It's my talented friend David Hurn... Seated in the director's chair, you may notice another habitué of Soho at the time - yes, it's Ken Russell making a biopic called Watch the Birdie, about Hurn and his photography, for the BBC arts programme Monitor. My cinematic portrait of Hurn in his flash car zooming between photojournalism shoots and fashion-shoots in his flat preceded the David Hemmings character in Antonioni's film Blow Up by three years."

Ken manages to bring in "naked men wrestling on the silver screen, as when Oliver Reed and Alan Bates locked horns in Women in Love"- Ken you mention this in every third article!!!


Offline Iain Fisher

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How the mighty Maus fuelled my flights of fancy
« Reply #16 on: September 16, 2008, 11:38:41 AM »
Ken writes about comics in The Times today, 16 Sept 2008.  And he reveals a new Ken Russell graphic novel.

Ken talks of a number of comic novels
- Maus by Art Spiegelman.  A story of the holocaust where mice and cats represent Jews and Nazis
- Kafka's Metamorphosis turned into a comic by Peter Kuper "who moulds Kafka's vivid imagination into a succession of expressionist images that mirror the minimalist horror of Kafka's haunting prose"
- WildC.A.T.S. featuring Maxine Manchester who has an operation (a bit like bionic woman) then breaks out of the prison infirmary by ripping the gates off their hinges
- God Save the Queen by Mike Carey "its realms of the supernatural and Shakespeare updated to a hip, postmodern take on the travails of adolescence - all rendered with mind-blowing colour paintings by John Bolton".
- Ambush Bug who "knows that he's stuck in a 2-D comic but can't get sympathy from his artists or editors, who take turns playing tricks on him - such as maliciously popping him into a baby's body and placing him on the front lines in the Second World War"

Interestingly Ken says "Comics are censored less than other forms of entertainment and make a creed of free expression. Which medium other than comics could feature such a complex, challenging and literate tragic hero as Neil Gaimon's Morpheus in Sandman, Lord of Dreams. Norman Mailer called the series 'a comic book for intellectuals' ”.

And Ken announces his own graphic novel "Go to the 2008 London International Comica Festival from November 13 to 26 at the ICA to find films, comics, graphic novels, guest authors and artists, rarities for your collection. You might run into me. I'm peddling my own graphic novel, Boudica Bites Back (based on my forthcoming movie), with drawings by Elise Russell. Pity you can't hear the stirring music while you read it - for that, there's the DVD."

Offline Iain Fisher

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Re: Ken Russell in The Times on Tuesday
« Reply #15 on: September 09, 2008, 11:44:48 PM »
Nothing by Ken today 9 Sept 2008 (but he was on breakfast TV- see other post).

Offline Iain Fisher

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Let my life flash before you, in paperback
« Reply #14 on: September 02, 2008, 07:06:10 PM »
In today's Times (2 Sept 2008) Ken talks about the reissue of his autobiography A British Picture (the original  American title was Altered States).

"let my life flash before you, in paperbackrose is pretty much how I talk over a glass of wine, so you can expect it to be full of embarrassing confidences"

The book was issued 20 years ago so the period between is now covered by Ken, his wife Elise and Melvyn Bragg.  Other titles he considered using were In Search of a Soulmate; Four Wives and Eight or Nine Children; Braveheart the Unbankable and The Bio-King.

Ken writes "Have you noticed a certain reticence creeping in? It's not that I'm ashamed of my doings in the past couple of decades. It's just that there are certain episodes that I'd rather forget- episodes that I'm naive enough to believe never happened if they do not appear in print. (Such as the real story of my obsessive American colleague and fan, whom I fictionalised in the book as the curator of my fantasy museum of pornographic exhibits- for which he has never forgiven me. Or the real story of my third marriage, for which I have never forgiven myself.)
...When you write an autobiography, what do you decide to tell? I follow where my magic pen leads me. I'm not given to self-reflection, and it shows. Being a film-maker, I've made most of the book about my movies; not from a critical standpoint, but from what was happening to many of the players behind the camera"

And getting a bit more personal "...I explore my father's thoughtless treatment of my mother, my encounter with a paedophile, my nervous breakdown at sea, my life in tights, my working tête-à-têtes with certain headstrong and difficult artists, my camaraderie with certain brilliant, loving and great souls; my lawsuits, my unfortunate fires, Big Brother; my secret passions, my disappointments, my terrors, my hopes for true love inspired, shattered and revived again; the broken crockery and the infidelities- they are all there. Enter at your peril and delight"

Offline Iain Fisher

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My adventures in cyberspace, where it's all about me
« Reply #13 on: September 01, 2008, 01:11:40 PM »
Ken in The Times 26 Aug 26, 2008

Ken has found out how to use Google and was playing with names, such as

“…Tony Perkins, whom I worked with on Crimes of Passion. Click and there he is, marrying Ken and wife No2 on the Queen Mary during a break in filming. He was all for the idea but was not ordained. I informed him that he could become a fully paid-up minister of the California Life Church for $5. Bogus? I'm afraid not. As I found out when I tried to divorce my wife sometime later, it was totally legal and binding.”

Also “… the excellent blog by Mark Kermode on bbc.co.uk/blog called Devils Across the Deep Blue Sea, exhorting the DVD release of my film The Devils as a British masterpiece"

Offline Iain Fisher

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It's shocking why they reward my work
« Reply #12 on: August 20, 2008, 01:14:08 PM »
In The Times of 19 Aug 2008 Ken writes about receiving the Motovun Maverick Award.

Some nice self deprecating humour “A photo shoot was followed by a question-and-answer session, which went swimmingly as I stuck rigidly to my usual tried and trusted jokes” and hints of his next short film “Brave Tart v the Loch Ness Monster”

But the best part is the discussion on whether he is a maverick director, where he says “...what do I think about this mindless notoriety? Are these cruel jibes really justified, do I really set out to shock? Definitely, if the subjects are by their nature shocking. But I must remind myself that for every Devils, Dance of the Seven Veils, Mahler, Listermania and Whore, there is an Elgar, a Delius, an Isadora Duncan, a Douanier Rousseau and several dozen more singing the praises of artistic geniuses the world over. But for some strange reason they never hit the headlines.

Offline Iain Fisher

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Re: Ken Russell in The Times on Tuesday
« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2008, 12:08:57 PM »
Nothing from Ken on Tuesday 12 Aug.

Offline Iain Fisher

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Re: Ken Russell in The Times on Tuesday
« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2008, 09:38:47 PM »
Sorry I am running behind but I hope to have caught up by the end of the week.

The articles are really good, I hope at some time they will be issued as a book.  When Ken started writing he was mainly writing about his own films, now he is moving beyond it and remains interesting.

Iain

Offline Nick Jones

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Re: Ken Russell in The Times on Tuesday
« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2008, 09:21:21 PM »
Are Ken's articles no longer being archived? I went looking for an article where (our?) Ken Russell wrote favorably about some Wiccans he had met, according to a blog I came across, but found nothing.

Offline Iain Fisher

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Re: Ken Russell in The Times on Tuesday
« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2008, 12:52:36 AM »
Nothing in The Times today 15 July 2008.

Offline BoyScoutKevin

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Re: Ken Russell in The Times on Tuesday
« Reply #7 on: July 04, 2008, 12:49:14 AM »
And even at one pound British sterling, "Mindbenders" is probably overpriced.

Offline Iain Fisher

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Unlocking treasured memories from the car boot
« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2008, 06:29:34 PM »
In The Times of 17 June 2008 Ken writes about car boot sales:

"you know how one thing leads to another. And nowhere does one thing lead to another with such random zeal as at a car boot sale"

It is a good excuse for Ken to talk about his past "the civic centre (very Grecian Art Deco), where in my teens I was employed as an usher, paid in free passes for the Symphony concerts"

and Ken as always never takes himself too seriously

"Oh, dear, there's a video copy of my old film Mindbenders - a collector's item going for a paltry £1".

Iain

Offline Iain Fisher

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Re: Ken Russell in The Times on Tuesday
« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2008, 01:24:00 AM »
... I think there are more defining moments in Russell's life, which influenced his films, such as Ken's conversion to Catholicism...

I agree, Catholicism comes back in most of his work.  Sometimes Ken attacks religion and sometimes he idealises it.  When he attacks religion (the Monroe cult in Tommy) it is good fun and visually superb but superficial.  When he brings in religion seriously it can be very sincere such as Oliver Reed in The Devils.