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Saturday, 24 September 2016

Friday, 23 September 2016

a wet day - verse by Bill Hannan

a wet day

I would like to write about
things of beauty
that are joys forever
summer days
to which thou art incomparable
sweet showers that make us
long to go on pilgrimage
sounding cataracts
lonely clouds
visions splendid
of sunlit plains extended

unfortunately it’s raining
the birds are plumping their feathers
against the drips in the trees
I consider a pot of tea
and wonder what’s to nibble
dusk is growing chilly
some cars have switched on headlights
the eucalypts are weeping
over lost lands
I am alone in the house
wondering what to write about

Editor's Note: Bill Hannan was my English and French teacher at Moreland High School in the early sixties, He has remained an engaged and engaging figure with active interests across local and Australian history, literature, politics and the arts. 

Thursday, 22 September 2016

On all media - Rod Bishop discovers Stromae

Album Cover
Stromae: Racine Carrée Live (dir Luc Junior Tam/Gautier & Leduc, 2015). Blu-ray/DVD/You Tube/VEVO
A singer responsible for a viral music video (“Formidable”) with more than 154 million hits on You Tube should be widely known. But Paul Van Haver, who performs under the name Stromae, is Belgian and despite his multi-lingual skills, sings only in French. Widely revered in French speaking countries, he is left to rue the way English speakers seem only to like songs with English lyrics.
The 31-year-old sings and raps while fusing electronic dance with house, salsa and Congolese samba. He is the product of a Rwandan father (Tutsi) murdered in the genocide and a Belgian mother. A former student at the Brussels film school, he counts Nicolas Sarkozy and Jean-Claude Van Damme among the early fans of his music.

Racine Carrée (Square Root), available in HD with English subtitles on You Tube (5,254,488 hits), is a mesmerizing two-hour concert filmed in Montreal a year ago.Using world-class animation and lighting, Stromae and his band, sartorially dressed in bow-ties, knee-length pants, long socks and bowler hats sing about debt, work, Twitter-addiction, a missing Daddy, material consumption, identity dualities, men, women, kids, transgender, mussels, Belgian frites, AIDS, Papuans, the environment, love, peace, violence and cancer.

It might sound heavy but the music has a consistently playful touch and Stromae is a compellingly charismatic performer. And the audience? They don’t come any more involved or energized than this vast crowd of Québécois.

Editors Note: An entire concert seems to be here on Youtube

Journey to Pordenone 2016 - Barrie Pattison reports from his first stopover in London

The idiot who said if it doesn't kill you, it makes you stronger, must have been thinking of this trip.

Maurice Elvey
Highlight of the London leg was the BFI mediatheque, one of the few services they offer for free, an eccentric to say the least collection probably composed on the basis of knowing how to get the rights for nothing. They have a couple of Maurice Elveys more interesting silents - the Matheson Lang version of The Wandering Jew with the then Mrs. Elvey, Isabel Elsom (the aunt from the Mexican Spitfire series) complete with Mantilla and castanets doing the part Peggy Ashcroft handles in the sound version, and his Bleak House with Constance Collier -  both in decent copies.

Hitchcock is every where of course. (They are doing a season of his silents in a rue des Ecoles commercial picture house. Match that locally Herald guy!) The mediatheque has a reel of what appears to be his first known job as director, a two reeler with Seymour Hicks and Ellaline Terriss called Always Tell your Wife of which the second reel is lost. The theory is that all the Hitch touches are in that lost reel because there is nothing in the material on show to suggest his presence, just unfunny kick in the pants comedy of marital infidelity played in drab studio interiors.

Ten Bob in Winter, Lloyd Reckord,right
However the most intriguing aspect of the BFI operation is that they have a better collection of my English work than I do. Both the Lloyd Reckord films I worked on, Ten Bob in Winter and  Dream A 40 are on offer and there I am talking to Bram Stoker's nephew for his Dracula documentary. However my finest performance must be the NFT session where, with a full head of hair, I can be seen (forty five years ago!) asking the great man a question.

Watching that after this time is a curious experience.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Japanese Classics by Imai and Shindo at the Art Gallery of NSW

The lack of a Cinematheque in Sydney means that events like the Classic Section of the forthcoming Japanese Film Festival have to be played in whatever venue can handle 35mm screenings with the amount of love and care required by the parent supplying film archive. 
Blue Mountains, Tadashi Imai, Japan, 1949
So it’s at the Art Gallery of NSW in Sydney, (ACMI in Melbourne), and that has the great virtue for the aging and impoverished who regularly attend the venue of being FREE. Not a bad deal.

The program consists of 8 old films, 2 on 16mm and the rest on 35mm. The directors are Tadashi Imai and Kaneto Shindo. Both were major figures in their day. The website devoted to the festival is rather light on information though there’s a little more on the usual excellent AGNSW leaflet produced no doubt by in house film curator Robert Herbert, at least to the extent of having an intro as to whom the two directors are.

In Sydney the venue is the Domain Theatre at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (Lower Level 3) Art Gallery Rd, Sydney NSW 2000
The films screen a couple of times each including some evening screenings. Tickets are issued at the Domain Theatre one hour before on a first come first served basis. Films start at the advertised time and doors open 30 minutes before. Latecomers not admitted.

Some additional details  here

From the Archives - Eric Burdon at the Basement in Sydney (five years or so ago)

Eric Burdon (1973)
I went to an Eric Burdon and the Animals concert in the late 60s at the old Festival Hall in Melbourne. He was on a double bill with Roy Orbison. The Big O came out and did a beautiful set and brought the house down with ‘Leah’. Those in the crowd who were there for Orbison were ecstatic. “Better than the record!” screamed one fan behind me, a cheer I have very occasionally since used at other concerts myself, usually to the general bewilderment of those nearby.

The interval between the two groups dragged out. Then on came Burdon and the Animals until someone noticed that the drummer was missing. Off went Burdon and the Animals and about ten minutes later, a sheepish, apparently stoned, drummer appeared along with the rest of the group and the show went on. Burdon tried valiantly to salvage something from the shambles and by the time he got to ‘House of the Rising Sun’ the crowd was in a forgiving mood. By that time the original Animals had mostly all departed, notably Alan Price who was off writing music and becoming a star composer/performer in his own right, contributing famously to the soundtrack of Lindsay Anderson’s  O Lucky Man. The original group got back together once only for a very fine album ‘Before We Were so Rudely Interrupted which has the best ever version, known to this man, of Dylan’s “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue’.

One thing the original group never managed was a film of its own. Lots of Brit rock groups of the sixties did so but not the Animals - too dour probably and too unlike a pop group. I seem to recall that they did make an appearance in the background of a Raquel Welch picture called The Biggest Bundle of them All. But, memory plays tricks, and it seems, if it in fact happened, that it is an appearance so modest and so distant that they don’t even get credited for it in the IMDB. So Burdon has been left largely to his own devices and for four decades or so he has toured the world giving pretty much the same show each time. He was at the Basement last week and the crowd was mostly blokes and mostly blokes at or near Burdon’s age of 65.

By now the show starts on time and by now the once diminutive Burdon has filled out quite a bit. He’s almost gnomish in his figure, short, squat, hiding behind shades, pudgy little fingers pointing at the band in playful mock recognition as he comes on and launches into the slowest ever version of one of his big hits Horace Ott’s classic ‘Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood’. But the slowness has a purpose. It seems to take an eternity to reach the karaoke moment when he can climb up off his stool and begin the

            I’m Just a Soul Whose Intentions are Good…

And allow the blokes, finally, to come back with the reply


He had us in the palm of his hand and there we stayed for the best part of an hour and three quarters including a couple of great encores finishing with Tina Turner’s ‘River Deep, Mountain High’. There were two more numbers allowing for audience participation, “It’s My Life’ and ‘We Gotta Get Othis Place’. But not ‘House of the Rising Sun’. That belonged to Eric. The Animals had taken it over from Bob Dylan who used to sing it at his early pre-electric concerts until the Burdon/Animals version became definitive. Dylan had to stop singing it because then people thought he was copying Burdon or wanting to be a rock star. Burdon even did a new number ‘The Secret’ which he said was on his new record published by Bush Records. Hmmm. It was nice.

The great man’s voice is still in pretty good shape. He has a band which appears to like him, especially the cute young bass guitarist. The piano player seems as old as Burdon and just as adroit. The others are kids. It’s apparently hard to remember all the song lyrics. Occasionally Burdon resorted to glancing at a book containing the words of the songs. Nothing like Frank Sinatra in his last days standing there with the lyrics coming up from a screen  below him but a sign that it aint easy doing a couple of hundred nights a year on the road as you head towards your seventies. The Basement was a great venue for the night. Close, warm, heady. …just right for aging rockers and their aging coterie of fans.

(First published on awhile ago)

Happy Birthday Sophia Loren - A wow of an 82 year od

Sophia Loren today
Now I dont want this tto become a habit but the Huffington Post has posted a fabulous little compendium of the splendid sight of Sophia Loren in more than a dozen of her most glamourous roles,. You can find it if you press the button and click here On Sophia Loren.

Needless to say in the manner of the G-Rated Americans, it contains no reference at all to the sequence which first turned the world or at least 12 year old Brunswick schoolboys staring at the lobby cards outside Hoyts Padua at the top of the hill on Sydney Road. Boy on a Dolphin. The moment when Sophia emerges dripping wet from the Grecian sea in Jean Negulesco's masterpiece of  50s Hollywood pulchritude is one of the very greatest in Loren's fabulous career. A fan has posted this rather good bit of editing here on a pan and scan version but you'll get the idea. All part of growing up.
Sophia Loren in Boy on a Dolphin