Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Last Journey of John Keats

BBC Omnibus, 1995 - To commemorate the bicentenary of sublime English poet John Keats, Andrew Motion (now Poet Laureate) recreates the final, futile voyage from England to Italy...

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Power of Art - Caravaggio (complete episode)

Caravaggio trained as a painter in Milan under Simone Peterzano who had himself trained under Titian. In his twenties Caravaggio moved to Rome where, during the late 16th and early 17th centuries, many huge new churches and palazzi were being built and paintings were needed to fill them. During the Counter-Reformation, the Roman Catholic Church searched for religious art with which to counter the threat of Protestantism, and for this task the artificial conventions of Mannerism, which had ruled art for almost a century, no longer seemed adequate.

Caravaggio's novelty was a radical naturalism that combined close physical observation with a dramatic, even theatrical, use of chiaroscuro. This came to be known as Tenebrism, the shift from light to dark with little intermediate value. He burst upon the Rome art scene in 1600 with the success of his first public commissions, the Martyrdom of Saint Matthew and Calling of Saint Matthew. Thereafter he never lacked commissions or patrons, yet he handled his success poorly. He was jailed on several occasions, vandalized his own apartment, and ultimately had a death warrant issued for him by the Pope. An early published notice on him, dating from 1604 and describing his lifestyle three years previously, tells how "after a fortnight's work he will swagger about for a month or two with a sword at his side and a servant following him, from one ball-court to the next, ever ready to engage in a fight or an argument, so that it is most awkward to get along with him." In 1606 he killed a young man in a brawl and fled from Rome with a price on his head. He was involved in a brawl in Malta in 1608, and another in Naples in 1609, possibly a deliberate attempt on his life by unidentified enemies. This encounter left him severely injured. A year later, at the age of 38, he died under mysterious circumstances in Porto Ercole, reportedly from a fever while on his way to Rome to receive a pardon.

Famous while he lived, Caravaggio was forgotten almost immediately after his death, and it was only in the 20th century that his importance to the development of Western art was rediscovered. Despite this, his influence on the new Baroque style that eventually emerged from the ruins of Mannerism was profound. It can be seen directly or indirectly in the work of Rubens, Jusepe de Ribera, Bernini, and Rembrandt, and artists in the following generation heavily under his influence were called the "Caravaggisti" or "Caravagesques", as well as Tenebrists or "Tenebrosi" ("shadowists"). Art historian Andre Berne-Joffroy said of him: "What begins in the work of Caravaggio is, quite simply, modern painting."

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Substance

The Substance - Albert Hofmann's LSD Part I by OriginalGreenThumb
By coincidence rather then by design the Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann made a sensational discovery in the spring of 1943. He realized that he is dealing with a powerful molecule that will have an impact not only on the scientific world. THE SUBSTANCE - is an investigation into our troubled relation with LSD. Told from its beginnings until today.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Shadows (John Cassavetes, 1959) Entire

Shadows is an improvised film about interracial relations during the Beat Generation years in New York City, and was written and directed by John Cassavetes. The film stars Ben Carruthers, Lelia Goldoni, Hugh Hurd, and Anthony Ray (Tony in the film).

Cassavetes shot the film twice, once in 1957 and again in 1959. The second version is the one Cassavetes favored. Although he did screen the first version, he lost track of the print, and for decades it was believed to have been lost or destroyed. The 1957 version was intended to have the jazz music of Charles Mingus on the soundtrack, but Mingus failed to meet various deadlines set by Cassavetes. The contributions of saxophonist Shafi Hadi, the saxophonist for Mingus's group, proved to ultimately be the soundtrack for the film.

Mingus: 1968

Mingus: Charlie Mingus 1968 from B.Pows on Vimeo.

Mingus directed by Thomas Reichman in 1968 is a film that is much more than a music documentary about Charles Mingus. It digs deep into what was like to be Black, a genius, broke and living in America in the Sixties.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Fragrant Harbour

This short and rather beautiful film examines the relationships between culture, space and consumption in Hong Kong.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Smiths -- These Things Take Time (documentary)

This one is from 2002 and was originally broadcast in a limited area only.

A series of animated sequences depicting various key moments and memorable scenes in the band's history are included in the documentary. These include the first meeting of Morrissey and Marr, backstage scenes during the period when the singer’s pre-gig requirements included a tree of a specified height otherwise he would refuse to perform, and the infamous court case when the song-writing partnership of Morrissey and Marr was sued by drummer Mike Joyce.

After a number of aborted attempts to film Morrissey in interview, the shows producers have got around the quiffed ones refusal to participate, by producing a cartoon version of the man himself - inspired and obviously irritating to the great one, who is currently on tour in the UK, Europe and the US, and making a "comeback" - although its argued that he's never lost his status as 'mancunian genius'.

Producer David Nolan has assembled a cast of contributors close to the band to ensure that the programme is a million miles away from a shallow trip down memory lane and instead delves deep into their history to remind viewers just why The Smiths inspired a devotion never seen before or since.

Narrated by comedian Vic Reeves, These Things Take Time features incisive commentary from – amongst others - Joyce and Rourke, DJ John Peel, Sandie Shaw, early Smiths line up members Kevin Kennedy (now Curly Watts in Coronation Street) and original bass player Dale Hibbert. The programme also includes the views of Johnny Rogan, whose book Morrissey and Marr: A Severed Alliance famously incurred Morrissey’s wrath, plus intriguing memories from Morrissey’s old schoolteacher Aileen Power.

“He was a very sensitive boy,” she remembers.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Alexis Tsipras & Slavoj Žižek /// The Role of the European Left ||| 15th May 2013

6th Subversive festival
15/05/2013, 21:00h, cinema Europa
Alexis Tsipras & Slavoj Žižek: The Role of the European Left

Moderator: Srećko Horvat

The accession of Croatia to the periphery of the European Union, as the most recent and possibly the last member state, is a good cause to ask ourselves what kind of Europe this is, but also what is the future of Europe and what is the left wing's role in it. After the great success of SYRIZA in Greece, a question arises concerning the relationship between social movements and organized party activity, as well as the burning issue of taking over the power and resisting the dictatorship of Troika. Is it even possible to design and bring into life a realistic utopian power within the existing frame of the financial and political union, one that will make a radical shift from the prevailing "neoliberal consensus"? And if it is, what are the necessary strategies and forms of organization? All these questions will be discussed - just two months before Croatia's accession to the EU and one month before the Altersummit in Athens - by the "most dangerous man in Europe", a name that the leading mainstream media gave to Alexis Tsipras, and "the most dangerous philosopher of the West", as they call Slavoj Žižek, a regular guest of the Subversive Festival.

Alexis Tsipras
Greek left wing politican and a member of the Hellenic parliament, president of the Synaspismom political party since 2008, head of the SYRIZA parliamentary group since 2009 and Leader of Opposition since June 2012. He studied civil engineering at the National Technical University of Athens As a university student he joined the ranks of the renovative left movement and was member of the executive board of the Student's union of the Civil Engineering School of National Technical University of Athens, and also served as student representative at the University Senate. In 2009 Tsipras became a leader of SYRIZA parliamentary group. In the 2012 Greek legislative elections SYRIZA became the second largest party in the Greek parliament and the mainopposition party.

Slavoj Žižek
Slovenian philosopher and cultural critic working in the traditions of Hegelianism, Marxism and Lacanian psychoanalysis. He has made contributions to political theory, film theory and theoretical psychoanalysis. Žižek is a senior researcher at the Institute of Sociology, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, and a professor at the European Graduate School. He has been a visiting professor at many important universities. He is currently the International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London and president of the Society for Theoretical Psychoanalysis, Ljubljana. He has been called 'the most dangerous political philosopher in the West'. He is a traditional guest and Parteigenosse at Subversive Festival. He has published over 50 books that have been translated into 20 languages. He writes on many topics including subjectivity, ideology, capitalism, fundamentalism, racism, tolerance, multiculturalism, human rights, ecology, globalization, the Iraq War, revolution, utopianism, totalitarianism, postmodernism, pop culture, opera, cinema, political theology, and religion. Some of his books are The Sublime Object of Ideology (2002.), The Ticklish Subject (2006.), Violence (2008.), The Parallax View (2009.), First As Tragedy, Then As Force (2010).

Srećko Horvat
One of the founders of Subversive Festival and Subversive Forum. Author, publicist and translator. Published seven books in Croatian. His latest publication -- entitled Attention! The Enemy is listening! -- is a collection of interviews with Amos Oz, Francis Fukuyama, Gayatri Spivak, Stéphane Hessel, Zygmunt Bauman and others. He is also editor-in-chief of the critical theory dossier Up & Underground and deputy editor of the journal for cultural and social issues Zarez.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Bill Hicks Sane Man (1989) Full Video

Bill Hicks' "Sane Man" is a concert performance from the summer of 1989 - although most of the material in this show can also be heard on his "Dangerous" album, there's something to be said for watching the man on film. His passion for his subject can only go so far on CD, and his few visual gags don't translate well.

The image of Hicks as a visionary, howling unregarded in the wilderness, has been overdone among his hardcore fan base, but watching "Sane Man" shows how accurate that description really is. His act attacks runaway consumerism, the pornography industry, non-smokers, the nature of American politics and all points in between. His interaction with his audience is not typical of a stand-up comedian, as he goads and cajoles them into feeling as angry about his topics as he himself does - sometimes it works, but at other times Hicks seems totally isolated on stage.

More than ten years after his death, Bill Hicks' voice deserves to be heard by a wider audience. "Sane Man" is a fine place to start. 

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Green Death of The Forests

Green Death of The Forests is an unusual film. It is both a hard hitting portrayal of the causes and consequences of deforestation in Indonesia, and a film which captures the tranquility and calm of wild nature. It contains no narrative or dialogue and yet helps us understand complex commodity chains.

It was made with a small camera by a single person on a tourist visa, and has beaten much larger production teams, and healthily funded groups to the most prestigious prizes in environmental film-making.

Green needs to be taken seriously. That means it, and the issues it touches upon, need to be studied critically. We hope that this will facilitate the action and thinking that Green requires. For it is difficult just to watch it, but what to do requires some thought.

 A young orangutang lies dying in a care facility from the film, Green Death of the Forests

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Syd Barrett - Under Review

Released in the UK on 23rd January 2006, the "Syd Barrett - Under Review" DVD is an hour-long look at the musical history of the former Pink Floyd frontman. On the Chrome Dreams label, it promises "rare performance footage never before on DVD" - a boast common to many DVDs coming out these days.
It does not really deliver much other than a historical account of Syd Barrett as a musician from the perspectives of a random collection of people.

The documentary is a mix of footage of Syd with the other Floyds, in performance, in the studio and live, along with commentary from contributors such as authors Chris Welch and David Parker, Uncut Magazine’s features editor Nigel Williamson, journalist Malcolm Dome, and perhaps most interestingly, (albeit frustratingly brief), former Soft Machine bassist who backed Syd on Madcap Laughs, Hugh Hopper.
This documentary is marginal to say the least. It could be called Syd Barrett 101 - the so-called experts seem to be just giving their opinions about Syd's work. Some make mistakes with song titles and albums.

Here's the link to the article concerning Barrett's visit to the studio during the recording of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" in '75
Link to the BBC session version of Terrapin -

In this video Roger Waters speaks about his life, work and friendship with Syd Barrett. This almost hour long discussion sheds some light on what Syd was like as a band mate and artist.