Author Topic: Ken in The Times 2009  (Read 13585 times)

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Offline BoyScoutKevin

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Re: Ken's gay films
« Reply #27 on: July 16, 2009, 11:12:19 PM »
"Gay films let me express solidarity with the outsider".  Ken in The Times 24 Jun 2009

Ken talks about the Pout Film Festival of queer cinema at the ICA and Curzon Soho cinemas during London Pride Week to 6 Jul 2009.  Ken talks of watching gay films with his favourite gay T-shirt “If time and space are curved, where do all the straight people come from?”  The festival includes classic and recent gay films and documentaries including Before Stonewall, The Celluloid Closet, The Killing of Sister George and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

But Ken has drawn up his own “mini DVD festival”

To Die For (or Heaven’s a Drag): "utter trash, but a British cult classic"

Longtime Companion: "moving, powerful and as good as film-making gets... puts a discerning and human face on the Aids tragedy".

Chuck and Buck: "this tale of the divergent life paths of boyhood friends is full of surprises... holds the attention with fantastic performances and writing".

Almost Normal: "gay professor gets transported back in time to his youthful high-school self, except that it’s an alternate reality where everyone is gay... The plot twists keep coming".

After Stonewall:  “an eloquent documentary, the sequel to Before Stonewall…”

Gone But Not Forgotten: “too slow, but intriguing”  A man with amnesia develops a relationship with another man, but then the wife turns up.

The Lost Language of Cranes: “moving, flawless, painful portrait of a marriage in breakdown and a son’s coming out. Exquisite writing”.  The director is John Schlesinger.

Flawless: “an inspiring, well-acted tragicomic tale about a homophobic ex-cop forced by a stroke to accept therapeutic singing lessons from his outrageous drag-queen neighbour”.  With Robert DeNiro and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

But Ken says, his favourite “gay-friendly” films are…The Music Lovers, Women in Love and The Rainbow.



Actually, while I myself am not gay, that is one of the things that attracted me to Ken's films. His willingness to do films with a gay theme. Actually, I think he's done more gay themed films than most gay directors.

And while I don't have the complete article in front of me, I'd like to correct something I remember him saying. Sort of him saying that Sharon Stone's character in "Basic Instinct" was a lesbian. The character may have had some lesbian moments in the film, but the character was not a lesbian. The character was bisexual. Which Ken ought to know, having so many bisexual--both male and female--characters in his own films.

And I'd like to say, why is the film festival not showing any of Ken's films, such as "The Music Lovers?"
« Last Edit: April 17, 2011, 03:26:23 PM by Iain Fisher »

Offline Iain Fisher

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Re: Ken in The Times 2009
« Reply #26 on: July 14, 2009, 08:38:32 PM »
This continues in a new thread.

Offline Iain Fisher

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Now I’ve turned 82, it’s time to take stock of all my muses
« Reply #25 on: July 08, 2009, 03:07:55 PM »
Ken in The Times, 7 Jul 2009

Ken is 82 and is using his birthday “to take stock” and look at things in his earl;y days that made an impression on him:  Some memories are part of his usual repertoire of interview anecdotes- as a child showing German expressionist movies during the war, his infatuation with Dorothy Lamour on the screen.  But there is other interesting stuff:

Through the Looking Glass puddles: Ken talks of rain filling the gutters, then seeing the sky reflected in the puddles. “Later I was to use the reflection of an actor playing Prokofiev in a murky pond to push the boundaries of Huw Wheldon’s dictum that in BBC Monitor biopics, no actor be used to portray a non-fictional artist.”

Toy soldiers: The boy Ken playing with lead soldiers painted in bright enamels “A director’s dream, organising precision battles where the brave and invincible come out on top and no one is killed, no animal harmed.”

My first documentary: “At 9 I created my first documentary, using a silent newsreel, called Camel: Ship of the Desert. I saved my pennies to record my commentary in a novelty booth at the Lee-on-the-Solent pier.”  Ken discovers the recording was faulty, high-pitched and squeaky.  “As a director I pay close attention to the pitch and music of the characters’ voices.”

Skiddaw: “Scouting locations in the Lake District for a biopic on the poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti... and his Pre-Raphaelite friends, I awoke the first morning to witness a vision across Derwentwater. Before me was Skiddaw, a god of a mountain when Olympus was still a baby, looking like a great pterodactyl with a wingspan of seven miles. Legend has it Skiddaw sleeps under stone, but will awake when needed, to wrench himself from Earth and soar, transfiguring all who fall beneath his flying shadow. In the spell of this leviathan I made Song of Summer, Tommy, Clouds of Glory, Dance of the Seven Veils, The Rainbow, The Devils and Mahler.”

The partner: “Elise was a student when she took a job at the town cinema to see my movies free… selling tickets…  We spent a few sunshine minutes in her Chelsea apartment one morning. She kept my photo on her desk for 20 years before concluding that I’d never call and throwing it away. Five years after that I phoned. She joined me in the New Forest ten years ago and that, my friends, is art.”

Offline Iain Fisher

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Ken's gay films
« Reply #24 on: June 30, 2009, 11:22:12 AM »
"Gay films let me express solidarity with the outsider".  Ken in The Times 24 Jun 2009

Ken talks about the Pout Film Festival of queer cinema at the ICA and Curzon Soho cinemas during London Pride Week to 6 Jul 2009.  Ken talks of watching gay films with his favourite gay T-shirt “If time and space are curved, where do all the straight people come from?”  The festival includes classic and recent gay films and documentaries including Before Stonewall, The Celluloid Closet, The Killing of Sister George and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

But Ken has drawn up his own “mini DVD festival”

To Die For (or Heaven’s a Drag): "utter trash, but a British cult classic"

Longtime Companion: "moving, powerful and as good as film-making gets... puts a discerning and human face on the Aids tragedy".

Chuck and Buck: "this tale of the divergent life paths of boyhood friends is full of surprises... holds the attention with fantastic performances and writing".

Almost Normal: "gay professor gets transported back in time to his youthful high-school self, except that it’s an alternate reality where everyone is gay... The plot twists keep coming".

After Stonewall:  “an eloquent documentary, the sequel to Before Stonewall…”

Gone But Not Forgotten: “too slow, but intriguing”  A man with amnesia develops a relationship with another man, but then the wife turns up.

The Lost Language of Cranes: “moving, flawless, painful portrait of a marriage in breakdown and a son’s coming out. Exquisite writing”.  The director is John Schlesinger.

Flawless: “an inspiring, well-acted tragicomic tale about a homophobic ex-cop forced by a stroke to accept therapeutic singing lessons from his outrageous drag-queen neighbour”.  With Robert DeNiro and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

But Ken says, his favourite “gay-friendly” films are…The Music Lovers, Women in Love and The Rainbow.


Offline Iain Fisher

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Re: Ken in The Times 2009
« Reply #23 on: June 23, 2009, 06:23:59 PM »
Nothing by Ken today.

Offline Iain Fisher

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Me and Warhol: souvenirs from Andyland
« Reply #22 on: June 16, 2009, 11:15:42 AM »
Ken in The Times today 16 Jun 2009

Ken on Andy Warhol and a new Andy Warhol: Treasures, by Matt Wrbican and Geralyn Huxley. “A beautiful, golden-painted, padded hardback as comfy to the touch as a pillow, with Warhol’s iconic portrait of Marilyn Monroe on the cover, this book is a steal at £30. You can feel his ghost hovering over this successful enterprise. “

Ken says “…The unique selling point of this clever book is the 21 carefully reproduced knick-knacks and mementoes that are secreted throughout in pockets and envelopes, like a handcrafted treasure map of teasingly significant and mundane clues to his almost-too-fascinating life. The receipt for the last cab ride he took to the hospital. His childhood report card on which the teacher ticks him into the “pleasant” category but stops short of calling him “appealing”. His stencils for the Campbell’s soup logo, his hand-painted paper doll outfits. An early fan postcard to Truman Capote. A get-well card from Edie Sedgwick, sent from the mental institution, to his hospital bed after he was shot by Valerie Solanas. The first interview of the transvestite star Candy Darling . . . and more.
With all the removable bits and pieces spread around my chair, I’m happily in Andyland.”

Ken talks of his meeting with Warhol “…Summoned to his studio, the Factory, to be interviewed for an article that he planned to write, I became one of his thousands of filmed and videotaped experiments in black and white. Warhol had his right-hand man, Paul Morrissey, do the filming of me. I was invited to prattle on about anything that came to mind: I chose my days in the Merchant Navy to extemporise about. Morrissey had an “aha!” moment: “Yes! We’ll call this ‘Ken Russell steams into NYC’.”

Ken finshes “He was a much better artist than he gave himself credit for, and that’s what this fun book with its even-handed, unsensationalised text illustrates.”

Offline Iain Fisher

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Hope and beauty from Colombia’s children
« Reply #21 on: June 16, 2009, 11:05:30 AM »
Ken in The Times 2 Jun 2009

Ken writes about a photography exhibition in London.  It is the first European show by the Colombian photography collective Click por los barrios (“Click for the neighbourhoods”).

Ken says “I haven’t been this excited by a group of photographs since my own fledgeling professional output in the 1950s of photographic social essays of Portobello street scenes and Teddy girls.”
The exhibition, called A Trace of My Existence is at Chats Palace Arts Centre, Hackney, London E9 (chatspalace.com).  There are 16 black-and-white photographs by children aged 5 to 26 from Colombia, all of whom have been trained and sponsored by Click por los barrios."

Ken says “With the help of the show’s curator, Peter Young, of the Chats Palace photography department, the London photographer Zoë Petersen spent two years making it possible for the exhibit to come here. I asked her about the children of Medellín whom she observed when visiting the Colombian photo classes. “One little boy who used to busk on buses on a Saturday swapped his work day to Sunday so he could take part in the Saturday workshops with Click,” she says.”

Ken continues “The photographs in the exhibit show unexpected facility. Fresh eyes look at moments of confidence, abandon, clarity and playfulness. The subjects are full of charm, humour, pathos and a kind of triumphant dignity. Free of dogma or clichés, the pictures express the simplicity of childhood, the delights of friendship, the mysteries of environment, the possibilities for normal exuberance in a culture of displacement. One little girl tips upside-down in a handstand. A boy’s sober face confronts us like a luminous panther in a jungle of ferns. A sturdy young fellow poses with a shovel. A child sprawls on the ground beneath a clothesline of just-washed trousers. The angles, the light, are happy accidents or well chosen.”

Offline Iain Fisher

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Re: Ken in The Times 2009
« Reply #20 on: May 19, 2009, 09:29:33 PM »
Nothing by Ken today.

Offline Iain Fisher

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Re: Ken in The Times 2009
« Reply #19 on: May 13, 2009, 10:36:34 AM »
Nothing by Ken this week.

Offline Iain Fisher

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Alternative Miss World 2009: a sea of wigs, spangles and megafrocks
« Reply #18 on: May 07, 2009, 03:21:58 PM »
Ken in The Times, 5 May 2009

Ken is a judge of the Alternative Miss World 2009 at The Roundhouse in London.  The theme, ideal for Ken, is “the elements” — earth, air, fire, water and the void.

Ken says “There is something incredibly sane about walking up Hampstead Hill in a long black ceremonial robe with gold glitter in broad daylight. A smattering of spontaneous applause erupts from casual sidewalk café-dwellers; a girl stops her car mid-traffic to get out and embrace me and my wife Elise (in fire-engine red silk dragon-fabric) for our sartorial overkill.”

“…Modelled on the Crufts dog show, it judges the contestants on poise, personality and originality.. the contest has achieved legendary status and full-to-bursting attendance as a celebration of art, fashion, music and performance… One year a man wore another man as a hat.”
Fellow judges include the sculptor Bruce Lacey (subject of Ken’s 1962 TV film Preservation Man)  and one of the hosts is Ruby Wax.

“Contestants have names such as Miss Flotsam, Miss I Killed the Mary Celeste, Miss No Signs of Any Civilisation Whatsoever, Miss Dementia Praecox and Will Be Miss(ed) . . .”

“…Miss Hokusai enters as a patient on an operating table — very T. S. Eliot. I’m beginning to feel anesthetised myself. When does more become too much? After four hours, the bouncing yarn dreadlocks and spectacular bobbing pseudopods begin to blur. I’m already leaning visibly in the direction of the gyrating Miss Sahara and her Amazonian curves — until she gives mock-birth on stage to the dark continent.”
 
“...But just when you think you’ll overdose on one more silver robot, the moment for which we dared not hope erupts: an also-ran emerges and blows away the competition in a surprise tour de force. Petite Miss Fancy Chance, a 4ft10in young Korean lady, is propelled on to the stage at the apex of a 20ft dress whose skirts are as delicate, round and magnificent as a planet. The layers of her petticoats fall away to reveal a cage in which a cyclist pumps away at clockwork gears. A wire descends to lift Miss Chance by her braid alone to the vaulted ceiling, where she performs graceful arabesques in mid-air. Ahhhh. We’re in love. “

Offline Iain Fisher

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Ken Russell on his film Lisztomania
« Reply #17 on: May 06, 2009, 03:26:32 PM »
Ken in The Times 28 April 2009 (sorry for delay, catching up on the backlog)

Ken on Lisztomania which he correctly points out “may be either the biggest puzzler or most overlooked [film]”

Interestingly “It was the first movie to use the new Dolby stereo noise reduction sound system. And it was the only movie to star Ringo Starr as the Pope. In cowboy boots.”  More interesting facts from Ken- I knew Lisztomania wasn't a term invented by Ken, but I didn't know it was coined in the 1840s by the writer Heinrich Heine.  Something else new for me, Liszt was the first person to turn the piano around sideways so that the audience could see him banging the keys.

Ken puts the film in context “…If Lisztomania seems vulgar or grotesque, well, in the context of 1975, as the tidal wave of free love and permission that had embraced the planet the previous ten years crashed to shore and gave us Performance, Barbarella and The Rocky Horror Show, it was perfectly in tune with the times”.  A good intro, but then he describes excerpts from the film, but they will not make Times readers rush out to buy the DVD, for example “Roger Daltrey, a gorgeous rock god from the seminal band The Who, astride a giant pen*s pulled by the women fans he has loved and been loved by”.

On other members of the cast
- “Paul Nicholas playing Wagner as a megalomaniac, vampire and Antichrist, who is out for souls and will eventually capture Hitler’s”
- “Countess Marie d’Agoult, Georges Sand, Lola Montez, Princess Carolyn of Russia, Cosima Wagner, all these women so ravishingly interesting in history playing parts as Beloved Others in a carousel of groupies and wives. “
- "Oliver Reed playing a momentary cameo — he should have had a bigger part. Georgina Hale is gorgeous, Melvyn Murray as Berlioz barely there. My wife Elise was in the film until Equity intervened. My editor Mike Bradsell plays a sycophantic Brahms in a scene immortalised by throwaway lines: 'Piss off, Brahms' and 'I’m not Johann, I’m Levi Strauss'."

And Ken on the joys of watching Ken films “… there are moments as I watch the film when I get a giddy, dizzy feeling that I am watching “live” as Ken Russell, the promising director, vehemently and gleefully throws his heretofore victorious movie career away. Yah! Hurrah! Life is good! Yes indeedy! “

Ken moves to composers generally “…I like geniuses. I particularly like musical geniuses. Which is why I collected more than 2,000 classical LPs (before they melted in a fire)… [composers] saved my life. I was in near-vegetable state, lost to nervous breakdown after the merchant navy for which I was so patently unfit, when the strains of Tchaikovsky coming over the radio dramatically changed my vibratory state, my rhythm, my soul, my being. I was alive again, I had purpose…”

“…I seem to have a synaesthetic connection between music and vision- music makes pictures for me. I am often told by my wife that I have “bat ears”, every whisper and click is resoundingly loud for me at any distance.  Loving music so much, do I play it? Not a bit. I tried the piano. No talent.”

Ken finished with a quote from Liszt “The public is always good. And truth is a great flirt.”

Offline Iain Fisher

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Re: Ken in The Times 2009
« Reply #16 on: April 21, 2009, 08:53:56 PM »
Nothing by Ken in today's Times.

Offline Iain Fisher

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Join me in Orlando for a live Crucifixion
« Reply #15 on: April 21, 2009, 10:53:19 AM »
Ken in The Times, 14 Apr 2009

Ken is in Florida where he received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Florida Film Festival.  He also visits Walt Disney World “spread out in a vast Neverland that combines street theatre, replicas made of putty, costumed characters and architecture from different decades and lands in a kind of past-lives polyglot. With a safari park, an animated cartoon park, World of the Future and Hollywood studio park, there are 23 hotels on site, each themed to suit your craving for Polynesian islands, flashy contemporary, little New Orleans, Davy Crockett-type wilderness, British country manor or Spanish-mossed Creole elegance.”



Some of the attractions include United Kingdom Land “Shakespeare has been known to drop in for a drink- his wife Ann Hathaway's rubber cottage is right down the plastic cobblestone street, on the banks of the simulated Avon. My composure is dwindling, and Peter Pan himself can't fly me out of here fast enough now that crowd fatigue has struck.”

“Then it's the E.T. ride, with a filmed appearance by Spielberg himself. We ride a bicycle through tunnels and across the sky with E.T. bundled in our basket. The whole must have been designed by an acid casualty of the 1960s…. Best ride of all is Twister, based on the tornado movie (1996). We thread a labyrinth of abandoned mineshafts into rural Kansas, where the drive-in theatre is playing Psycho and The Shining on a double bill. The moon is high. A deserted petrol station with a rusted red truck at the pumps is a few feet away from where we stand. Suddenly enormous winds whip up, lightning cracks and a tree as tall as two buildings splits in half….Then a cow flies by. The drive-in marquee shatters like Lego, parked cars rise in a vortex of terror. The petrol station catches fire. Oil spills at our feet. Hot flames are scorching my face, but there's no escape with 50 viewers jammed in behind me. “!

Finally Ken goes to Holy Land USA “an Orlando theme park with a biblical theme… What could be more benign than being greeted at the gate by animatronic Joseph and Mary, the little babe raising His arms from the cradle in a repeated hallelujah?

...Jesus Himself invites us to the Last Supper, with foot-long hotdogs and barbecue turkey legs. What a treat!

…In an astounding bit of choreography Jesus is gracefully removed from the cross with great ribbons of satin cloth, carried into the tomb; then a big explosion, puff of smoke and - whoa! - he's suddenly on top of the hillside, in a brand new robe, arms outstretched and whole. Amped-to-the-max, a booming voice fills the air, announcing itself as the messenger of God. We leave to make room for the next Crucifixion crowd."

Offline BoyScoutKevin

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Re: Ken in The Times 2009
« Reply #14 on: April 19, 2009, 10:19:51 PM »
Always good to read one of Ken's articles in "The Times."

Especially when he comments on his film comtemporaries, which he does when he discusses "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner" and "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning," which along with Ken's "Women in Love" are regarded as being three of the best British films ever made in the U.K.

Unfortunate that Ken no longer works for the BBC. Maggi Hamblin would be perfect for one of Ken's artist documentaries, which he did when he did work for the BBC.

That's bad news about Ken being in a wheelchair. I suppose that means no "Moll Flanders," though it is still listed as being in production and for release in 2010.

Offline Iain Fisher

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Ken in The Times 31 Mar 2009

Once again the on-line version of the article censors Ken’s title. Rather than “Whores, shadows…” it is called the mundane “Sickert in Venice at the Dulwich Picture Gallery”.

Ken looks at the exhibition of Sickert’s painting in the Dulwich Picture Gallery
www.dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk

Ken’s health is getting poorer, as he is in a wheelchair going round the gallery.

Ken looks at the paintings
 
La Giuseppina Against a Map of Venice: “…a bright spot in the show - a local prostitute, whom he took as a lover, in a colourful pink kimono, vibrant, her hair in preposterous kabuki-like masses”

The Yellow Sleeve “One more spark is the glorious green bed jacket of the prostitute La Chiozzotta”

And an interesting comparison with Bacon “There's a stubborn “Do Not Enter” quality to his paintings. Their aura of exclusion provokes one to persistence. Francis Bacon was smitten with Sickert's bleak renditions of life in the shadows and incorporated his portrait into two of his paintings.”

Sickert is famous as “Some, such as the crime writer Patricia Cornwell, have him down as Jack the Ripper and are calling for a DNA check across the century. What evidence is there? Well, simply from the casual observer's viewpoint, quite a lot. There's no denying that Sickert had a morbid point of view. If not a murderer, then a sufferer of seasonal affective disorder. Surely Venice was never as dull-hued as this. The greens are fungal, the turquoise sky foreboding; he's in love with black”

“…his Camden Town paintings - including the Camden Town Nudes, of naked female bodies on beds with fully dressed men. Riding the tail end of Impressionism, he would become known as the father of British modern art and be hailed in 1930 as the greatest living British painter. Not for him the splashes of exhilaration and optimism that Impressionism can inspire. He saw art as existentialism.”
 
“Detail is meticulous and architecturally rendered, especially in the series of paintings of St Mark's Basilica. Heavy daubs of paint, intermittent spots of gold, the smudging of close-ups and a wash of dour green create a kind of sickly aura.“
« Last Edit: April 01, 2009, 03:47:30 PM by Iain Fisher »