Tag Archives: film

Raw Muscle: Premier

A glimpse into the hyper masculine world of extreme body building.

Film maker and friend of BST, Lea Gratch, will be premiering her latest work — Raw Muscle — in situ at Muscleworks Gym in East London this Wednesday.

The film is an in-depth look at the subculture of body building and follows on from Lea’s earlier documentary about the Hells Angels’ annual Bull Dog Bash. Doors open at 7.30pm.

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Vanishing Point

‘Spotting’ youth trends rubs them out.

Christiane F is a David Bowie-soundtracked ’70s film about a young girl’s descent into heroin addiction. The film — if you haven’t seen it — is a bit of a morality tale but worthy of note for the fantastic scene where Christiane and her friends go rollicking through a subway to the sounds of ‘Heroes’ (from 6:58).

I often refer back to this clip when thinking about ‘youth culture’ and what that label really means. This is a little glimpse of what being young feels like. It’s a clip about being reckless and guileless and joyful and living in the absolute now. At 36, I know that I am officially old because I’ve started to think that teenagers now a) all dress the same b) are obviously nowhere near as cool as teenagers from ‘my time’. I am, of course, wrong on both counts. Because I’m no longer there.

We’ve written here before about how the internet and specifically social media has enabled young people to ‘remove’ themselves from the mainstream. Traditionally, young people have done this through tribes and youth movements – be it the heroin-based club scene in Christiane F or Emo. And there is an ocean of thinking about how this links back to identity and belonging and so on. But it is the act of removal that so-called trend-spotters and yoof culture analysts always seem to miss.

As an adult, you’re not supposed to be able to see or read some aspects of youth culture. Like a teenager refusing to friend her mum on Facebook, if you’ve been allowed in you’re probably not seeing the genuine article. Likewise, identifying and labelling youth trends damns them to page 8 of the Sunday Times Style — and what fresh hell is that?

Full disclosure: I used to work at The Future Laboratory as a trends analyst. That’s analyst *not* spotter.

With thanks to Jess, for reminding me.

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The Ghostmodern Condition

A riddle — Q: When is a thing not a thing? A: When it’s a void with the form of that thing.

Take a a Platonic solid, a cube. Then…

  1. Divide every face of the cube into 9 squares, like a Rubik’s Cube. This will sub-divide the cube into 27 smaller cubes.
  2. Remove the cube at the middle of every face, and remove the cube in the center, leaving 20 cubes.
  3. Repeat steps 1–3 for each of the remaining smaller cubes. Forever.

At each stage, you’re left with a fractal curve called a Menger Sponge:

[More animation here]

At the limit point of infinite recursion, you’re left with a cube which has infinite surface area, but which is all hole.

We offer this empty solid up as a model of an aesthetic we’re labelling ghostmodernism within which — of the spine, the spire, the span that holds the form to one form: the wire in the rose — only that span, the form of the form, remains, as the form itself has now become infinitely detailed, yet in that process, of the void.

So, you ask, what does ghostmodernism look like, in the wild?

Exhibit One — this exquisite laser-cut chair from Gallery Fumi:


[view full-size on Flickr]

Exhibit Two — the plot of the film Inception, while having the surface modernist form of a heist thriller, recurses down into the frozen time ‘down there’ deep in stasis of Cobb’s dreamworld, the narrative ‘arc’ now a pathological curve.

Inception narrative visualisation

The ghostmodern is not inherently evanescent, although I’d happily claim Doug Starn’s Big Bambu installation as an edge-case.

These thoughts also return to us our dreams of the hyperbolic surfaces of modern being — there’s another post coming soon linking these thoughts…

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An Interview with Andrew Logan

The Alternative Miss World contest returns this year after a 5 year hiatus. We talked to its founder, Andrew Logan.

BST: Why are you holding AMW this year?

ANDREW LOGAN: Jes Benstock of Living Cinema shot the last event but didn’t have enough money to edit. So he then raised money with a new idea which was to take it right back to 1972 and to show how culturally it had influenced so many people and things. With me, I suppose, at the head of it. It is very much a family and friends thing. Very family-orientated but absolutely huge at the same time.

Can anyone enter?

Yes. I think we have 19 or 20 entrants this year.

What are the criteria for entry?

The contestants kind of find their way there. We don’t have auditions. It’s about transformation. Of course, it would be nice to have hundreds of people. But it’s quite tight and everyone takes 2 minutes on stage. And if you’ve got 20 people on stage that takes an hour. It kind of limits itself — finds its own level.

Can you confirm who the judges are this year?

We’ve got Ken Russell, Zandra Rhodes, Richard O’Brien, Tim Curry, Amy Lamé, and Betty — my housekeeper of many many years. And Tony Elliott. And then Philip Hughes who gave me a wonderful show up in Ruthin Craft Centre up in North Wales and he also published the book on my work. Altogether there are about twelve.

[The judges tend to be] the kind of people I’ve been involved with. And people that I admire. I’m not into names, names mean nothing to me. It’s just a bit of paper. That’s not the point of it.

You’ve described AMW as a family affair. Can you explain a bit more about that?

My brother Quentin has been in quite a few now. And my sister has been in every one. My mother judged it a number of times. My brother Peter used to the music and him and his wife — they both entered it. It was in 1973, when Derek [Jarman] shot it. Peter was doing the music so he had to get up — as the music was playing, walk up and down. It has always been a family thing.

Where do the similarities to Miss World start and end?

Contestants have a questionnaire which they fill in. Daywear-swimwear-eveningwear. Great isn’t it? It’s three outfits. It’s also fantastic to have an interview. It’s such a simple idea really — we just enlarged on that. In 1972 Miss World was huge in the UK, like it is in India is now. Every household watched it. Every household! No one escaped it.

Crufts Dog Show was the real inspiration. I’d been to Crufts Dog Show and we had one of the forms, for the dogs. Which kind of inspired the form for AMW.

There have been several films made already of the contest. Can you tell us a bit about the film that was made of the 1978 contest?

[The director Richard Gayor] was interested in disappearing tribes — so he chose us. He had been to 1975 so wanted to film 1978 and actually made a very beautiful movie. That’s the movie you should see. It’s about the event and the build up. It was the first time that 35mm handheld cameras had been used in this country and it was lit beautifully. Very sensitively done. I remember the credits — they said the AMW in mirror pieces. We laid it out on velvet and threw it up in the air and then reversed it. It produced a wonderful, magical movie and it’s timeless. You look at it and you wouldn’t really know it was 1978.

This year’s theme is The Elements. Can you tell us about how the themes work?

[The central theme of transformation] is timeless. There is a continuum between this generation of contestants and previous ones. Sometimes, I’m sitting there and someone comes out and I think — I’ve seen this before. Of course I don’t say that — I smile and applaud. Of course I’ve seen it before — there are only so many things you can do with the human body. Even though some of the transformations are absolutely fantastic.

There is always a theme. But I don’t know what the contestants are going to come as. I have the form, I read out the name and the description of the outfit and we do that all the way through the performance.

When you launched AMW the UK was in recession — and now we are again. It seems that AMW comes back whenever we need it most.

When I started the event and as it unfolded, I saw more and more that I wanted to continue with this event ‘til I dropped dead — brought in on a wheelchair. It’s fascinating that the format remains exactly the same and yet you get these things that happen. We had the war in ‘82- that was Miss Aldershot [who won]. There was punk in ‘75 — that was shot by Mike Ballard — the art editor for Interview, Andy Warhol’s magazine. The Alternative Miss World seems to indicate what is happening — or what is going to happen.

What’s the most surprised you’ve been by what someone came out wearing?

I think it might have been before someone came out. And it was my friend, the late, great Divine. I met him through Zandra and he came to the Alternative Tower of London. It was 1977 — it was the Queen’s Jubilee and we had a day-long party and he came to that. We became firm friends and he co-hosted the 1978 event.

I was getting ready in a caravan at the back because it was being held in a circus tent. I’d only ever seen him as a man — as Glenn. And a door opened and there… was Divine. He said, The look on your face, I’ll never forget it. I was a bit surprised.

Most of the others… Ok. When the donkey fell of the catwalk. That was a surprise to me. The donkey was the throne because it was in a circus. The donkey was fine because he fell on all these soft contestants in their outfits. I really wanted to have an elephant but it’s a good thing we didn’t because if that had fallen on the contestants it would have been most unfortunate. The whole thing is about surprises — you never know what will happen. All you can do is stand there and let the thing unfurl.

This year, a lot of health and safety seems to have crept in. however, it means that you have to use your imagination even more — so if you can’t use fire — what will I use? The postitive effect is that it stretches the imagination even more.

I remember the last contest drew some controversy because the then director of the Royal AcademySir Norman Rosenthal – took part.

Norman’s great fun. He got some artists to help him out, including Sarah Lucas. He didn’t win, by the way.

Do you see AMW as anti-establishment?

It’s what people make it. I just put it on — that’s it. I leave all the interpretation to others.


Other than the films, what other documentation do you have of previous contests?

Each contestant before they go on is photographed. So we have a documentation right back to the beginning. David Bailey came one year — he did 1973 — and took some pictures. That documentation is really important.

I want to do a book of these wonderful images. I have everything here. I’m just waiting for someone to come along and say they’d like to do an AMW book which I’d be very happy with.

You’ve mentioned Piers Atkinson whose work is currently part of the Stephen Jones hat exhibition at the V&A. Do you feel like AMW has nurtured talents like his?

Piers started here in 1995 for the Fire AMW. He’s actually here [in the studio] today. He’d just left college and came up and helped me work on the contestant numbers that they wear.

We have all these funny little customs and you need someone to help out with them. He worked with me for a number of years and then went on to work with Zandra. He did Daily Rubbish for Fashion Week and now he’s producing a souvenir programme for AMW.

Have you ever held AMW outside of London?

It’s very English but I’ve negotiated many times over the years to get it held someone else in the world. Places such as Japan, America — which was going to be a huge tour of all the big cities of America. Fantastic! Well, that didn’t happen.

And India but then a man set himself alight for Miss World. And we thought, well it might be a bit difficult — they might get a bit muddled up… I would love to take it somewhere else. We have many Russians coming this year if we can get their visas sorted out.

I think AMW is very English but it would transfer somewhere else but it’s never had the opportunity.

To conclude, can you tell me a bit about Andrew Logan?

I was trained as an architect. I think I am very different from any other artist anyhow. I think my work is unique. There’s no one else working like I do. I just happen to be based in London. But I am a great traveller. If I wasn’t an artist I think I would have been a traveller.

[Thanks to Andrew and his team for the interview and photo access. AMW 2009 - The Elements, is at the Roundhouse, 2 May 2009. Book tickets here. Jes Benstock's film, The British Guide To Showing Off, is due for release later this year]

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You Have Until Tomorrow (To Assemble My Missile)

Addictive TV get their teeth into Robert Downey JR’s super hero debut. Turn up the bass…

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French Femicide

Rock star who beat his actress girlfriend to death is freed from jail after serving just four years

people_trintignant_marie_1.jpgAs with the defence of ‘homosexual panic’ in gay bashings, crimes of passion seem to have an automatic ‘get out of jail’ card. We were angered and dismayed to hear that Bertrand Cantat — who hit actress Marie Trintignant an estimated 19 times in one attack — has been freed from jail half way into his eight year sentence for her murder. Apparently a ‘model prisoner’, Cantat now intends to resume his career as a singer and no doubt benefit from the deeply dubious halo effect of being ‘the left wing popstar who smashed his girlfriend’s head in in a jealous rage’.

Born Jan. 21, 1962, in Boulogne-Billancourt, just outside Paris, Marie Trintignant started her film career at age 5 when she appeared in “Mon Amour, Mon Amour,” which was directed by her mother and starred her father. She went on to act in more than 50 films and nominated 5 times for a César. She was also the mother of four children.

La Meute (The Pack), a feminist organisation, said that Cantat’s release sent the wrong signal to men in France, where one woman is killed every three days by a partner.

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RIP Deborah Kerr

The star of Black Narcissus dies aged 86

BlackNarcissus4.jpgKerr starred in The King And I and From Here To Eternity but it is for her role as a sexually-deranged nun in Black Narcissus that we think she should be most fondly remembered.

She was nominated for the best actress Oscar six times and was given an honorary award by the Academy in 1994 (as is the way with brilliant actors who continuously miss out on the Academy’s votes). Kerr, who had suffered from Parkinson’s disease for a number of years, died in Suffolk on Tuesday.

Source: BBC.

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The Simpsons meet Couture

Harpers Bazaar and Linda Evangelista publicise the upcoming Simpsons movie.

In a très élégante piece of pre-film release publicity, The Simpsons feature in a spread with ubermodel Linda Evangelista and other fashion darlings.

Via Dlisted. simpsonsbizarre3preview.jpg

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Grey Gardens: the sequel

Out-takes from the camp classic.

see better.jpgCriterion have released Beales of Grey Gardens, containing not-before-seen footage from the original documentary. According to the blurb:

The 1976 cinema vérité classic Grey Gardens, which captured in remarkable close-up the lives of the eccentric East Hampton recluses Big and Little Edie Beale, has spawned everything from a midnight-movie cult following to a Broadway musical, to an upcoming Hollywood adaptation. The filmmakers then went back to their vaults of footage to create part two, The Beales of Grey Gardens, a tribute both to these indomitable women and to the original landmark documentary’s legions of fans, who have made them American counterculture icons.

We agree with mr FourFour who says that Grey Gardens started to make a whole lot more ‘sense’ once he turned on the subtitles [we nicked the above still from his blog]. We’ll be watching the new edition with them on as well. “I really see better with the whole thing over my face”. Indeed.

Via WOW Report.

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R.I.P. Robert Altman

The veteran film maker dies aged 81.

mash.jpgA five-time Academy Award nominee for best director, most recently for 2001’s Gosford Park, Altman finally won a lifetime achievement Oscar in 2006.

“No other filmmaker has gotten a better shake than I have,” Altman said while accepting the award. “I’m very fortunate in my career. I’ve never had to direct a film I didn’t choose or develop. My love for filmmaking has given me an entree to the world and to the human condition.”

Obituary at Seattle Pi.

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