Wednesday, March 30, 2016

An Elegy for Allen Ginsberg [2006]

Witness the last days of the Beat poet whose works would capture the very essence of the 1960 counter-cultural movement in an informative documentary featuring Allen Ginsberg's final television interview as well as remarkable deathbed footage shot by underground cinema icon Jonas Mekas. In addition to candid discussions about everything from Ginsberg's personal life to his literary career, home movie footage of the Howl author as a child and archive footage allow contemporary fans to witness such landmark moments as his 1965 reading at Royal Albert Hall and chanting at the 1968 Democratic Convention. Previously unreleased footage of Ginsberg performing with Paul McCartney is also included, as are interviews with Dick Cavett and William Buckley, and the heartfelt memorial service in which Patti Smith bid her old friend a particularly poignant farewell. In the final sequence, Ginsberg invites filmmaker Mekas to his New York loft as he lies on his deathbed and prepares to embark on the ultimate adventure.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Albert Camus - The Madness of Sincerity

Camus's writing and thought describe a possible alternative. This is the alternative to so much of the contemporary social predicament, in which indolence, indifference and a resigned lethargy in the worship of technology are so often only countered by a corrupt nihilistic violence and a hatred of the Other. Witness the bombings, the consumption, the political demagogues fostering hatred and neglect of our fellow human beings, which are increasingly becoming the hallmarks of what passes for civilization and its discontents today. We are caught in a downward spiral as money and prestige are offered up as solutions, rather than symptoms. We must resist this catastrophe and re-invent the self, rebuild our relationships with each other and the state and exclude those that would see life as either a cynical exercise in satisfaction or in a bound filial duty to a non-existent God and his egotistical and hypocritical servants on earth ("a mire of tyranny or servitude" -  "The Rebel") .

In the writings of Camus; "The Outsider", "The Myth of Sisyphus" and "The Fall" particularly (full PDF for each text from links), we can find an ethical strategy for making the bitter flax of post-modern life into a nonetheless difficult weave of individual spirit through a creative new pagan sensualism, that is sensitive to others and joyous of the self. I humbly suggest today, as we place our rampant greed before the basic laws of planetary survival and as people are increasingly turned into commodities as shoppers or surgically modified objects plugged into networks of information, that we have little choice but to listen to the absurd and the existential.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Develop the Mind of the Dakini (In Four Parts)

In order to prove self-nature to be inherently real we rely on sensual experience. This equation is not logical. In this video from 1989 Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo takes us on a journey into our assumptions of our nature and contrasts them with enlightened mind and supreme generosity. Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo is an enthroned tulku within the Palyul lineage of the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. In the late 1980s, she gained international attention as the first Western woman to be named a reincarnate lama.

The Buddha teaches that there is a nature that is the true nature that cannot be understood in terms of understanding 'something'. This nature is not contained within a conceptual, and therefore aberrant, framework. This nature as a state of awareness is not 'from something to something' it does not posit an object outside experience. It is an awareness that is free from ideation. There is not a specific subject and object within this state of awareness. It is not intellectual, nor is it emotional. There is no separation from it within it. Every thought we have about what supreme generosity should be about is based on our sole desire to prove self-nature. It is understood in such a way to cause us to believe generosity as a set of rules (like a moral code) that one has to follow in order to 'be generous'. Utilizing supreme generosity in that way makes for a lesser accomplishment. It is too superficial.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Rolling Stones: Under Review 1967-1969

The Rolling Stones - Under Review 1967 - 1969 is a 90 minute documentary film reviewing the music and career of the band during, arguably, their most creative period. In the second half of the 1960s the sound of the Stones changed dramatically, while concurrently Jagger and Richards' songwriting hit an all time high. These advances didn't just affect The Rolling Stones forever, they changed Rock n' Roll forever too. This DVD includes rare musical performances (many never before available on DVD), and obscure footage, rare interviews and private photographs of and with the band. It also contains contributions from; 1960s NME editor and friend of the band, Keith Altham; Village Voice music editor, Robert Christgau; Stones backing vocalist, Merry Clayton; Stones session musician, Byron Berline; Rolling Stones biographer, Alan Clayson; Keith Richards biographer, Kris Needs; ex-Rolling Stone magazine editor Anthony De Curtis, Mojo magazine's Barney Hoskins, Uncut magazine's Nigel Williamson and many others. In addition, live and studio recordings of Stones classics have been added, as well as footage of and comment on many of their pivotal influences during this period.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Donald Cammell - The Ultimate Performance (1998)

Donald Seton Cammell (17 January 1934 – April 1996) was born in Edinburgh on 17 January 1934 into a formerly wealthy family that had lost its considerable fortune in the crash of 1929. A precocious boy, he obtained a scholarship to the Royal Academy and after further studies in Florence successfully set himself up as a portrait artist in London in the early 1950s.

By the mid 1960s he had given up painting to concentrate on filmmaking. His first two scripts, The Touchables (d. Robert Freeman, 1968) and Duffy (d. Robert Parrish, 1968), combine crime and hippies to unremarkable effect (The Touchables was re-written by Ian La Frenais). Cammell decided to try the same formula again in his next script, but to preserve his work insisted on directing as well. His agent, the aspiring producer Sandy Lieberson, paired him with cinematographer Nicolas Roeg as co-directors of Performance. The film brilliantly melds the narcissistic glamour of London's East End gangsters and the late '60s rock star phenomenon, but its mixture of homoeroticism, violence and rock music so alarmed its backers that it sat on the shelf for over a year before its release in 1970. The final version, completed without Roeg in Los Angeles by Cammell and editor Frank Mazzola, is a rich, sophisticated and stimulating work, elliptically shot and magnificently 'performed' by its stars James Fox and Mick Jagger. The themes of masculinity in crisis, sexuality, death and rebirth, transformation and extreme violence would re-appear throughout the rest of the films Cammell directed, all of which were made in America.

After a number of false starts, Cammell accepted an offer from MGM to direct Demon Seed (US, 1977), a science fiction horror story about a supercomputer that imprisons the wife of its creator inside their home so as to make her bear its child. Although eventually taken out his hands, its lurid premise (from a novel by Dean Koontz) is offset by a strong performance from Julie Christie and a kinetic 'shock' finale that has an emotional ambiguity reminiscent of the ending of Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby (US, 1968). Cammell subsequently wrote a number of scripts, spending a long and fruitless period collaborating with Marlon Brando on Jericho, a project that was never made. The only one of his films over which he maintained complete control was White of the Eye (US, 1987), co-written with his wife China Kong, a sympathetic look at a homicidal psychopath featuring an uncompromising performance by David Keith as the misogynist killer.

Wild Side (US, 1995), Cammell's last film, was first released in a version heavily re-edited by its production company, but was eventually returned to an approximation of his original intentions by Kong and Mazzola and re-released as Donald Cammell's Wild Side (2000). With its original non-linear structure restored, this version closely resembles Performance in its fragmentary editing style - full of flashbacks and flash-forwards - and in its candid and exhilarating sex scenes. A true visionary, Cammell sadly only completed four films as a director before committing suicide at his home in Los Angeles in 1996.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Kieran Hebden & Steve Reid 'Tongues' A Film

'2010 has generally been a fantastic year, but looking back it's the sad loss of my great friend and musical collaborator Steve Reid back in April that is one of the main things that comes into my mind. As a tribute and also so that he can be remembered I wanted to get some more of his story out there by arranging with the people at Domino Records to have this unreleased film from 2006 about the making of our album Tongues released online. The film shows footage from the studio sessions for the album but also includes live footage from the touring we did that year as well as interviews with people we worked with such as Gilles Peterson and Nigel Godrich. As you'll see in the film Steve was an amazing human... an incredible spirit and a powerful and soulful musician.' - Kieran Hebden, Dec 2010

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Art of Tripping (1993)

Part 1

Part 2

The Art of Tripping was broadcast in two parts in 1993 during the Without Walls arts strand on Channel 4 (UK). David Gale was the writer, with actor Bernard Hill playing the part of the narrator and guide. Music by David Gilmour, Devised and directed by Storm Thorgerson

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Reagans Speak Out On Drugs (1988)

Done using 16mm film, this parody of the Reagans' "Just Say No" campaign is one of the earliest film mashups. VHS video copies were later distributed, and in the early 1990s it was screened on cable-TV and at many festivals in the U.S. and around the world. In 2005 shortly after YouTube was launched it became one of the first viral videos (although all previous postings were unauthorized*), and it helped define and popularize the political mashup meme category, and is considered a pioneering remix video. This all-new digital transfer of "The Reagans Speak Out On Drugs" was created to commemorate the film's 25th anniversary. "The Reagans Speak Out On Drugs" was created by filmmaker Cliff Roth.

Cliff Roth is an American filmmaker best known for a 1988 parody of the Just Say No anti-drug campaign called "The Reagans Speak Out On Drugs." The short re-edits footage from a presidential address by Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan to suggest they are inaugurating a pro-drug campaign. The audio from that film was sampled by Black Grape for their 1997 song "Get Higher."

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Alain Badiou On the Need for a New Communism

French philosopher Alain Badiou is particularly interested in the relationship between the historical moment, movement, and organization. In his youth he was a Maoist, but, with the failure of the Socialist States, he re-evaluated, like many philosophers, the role of the party form of organization. However, he has not abandoned the universal, but rather is constantly searching for the creation of a new universal and ideology. This month, Badiou visited New York City and was guest at Columbia University, where he emphasized the need for what he called a new communism.

 Recorded on 23rd December 2015