I think I’ll flag this up today. ”Proposals to introduce new legislation which would pardon gay men convicted under historical gross indecency laws will be brought forward ‘in due course’, the government has said.” While I am a bit wary of such retrospective legislating – imposing contemporary values on the past – I think this is somewhat overdue. The work done by Alan Turing and his colleagues not only helped end world war two, it also arguably lead to computers. I do not think history should record Turing as a criminal just because he loved men rather than women. He was a great man, a genius who deserves our gratitude and respect. Thus this is one of the (very) few things this government has done which has my support.
Even though the gig I was so looking forward to yesterday never materialised, it still turned out to be a pretty awesome day. I have recently been working with Chocolate Films on their 1000 Londoners project, meeting every Tuesday in Woolwich for group work. While my individual film is going ok, the group was still looking for a subject for our film. Lyn had been mooted, but since there is already a film about her – this one – I thought it best to go somewhere else. Then yesterday, I had a great idea: the guys at the cafe in the park would make ripe material for a Londoners film. I suggested it, showing the guys my blog entry about it, and we all got on the bus for charlton. Mind you, to be completely honest, my suggestion could have been influenced by the fact I was dying for a cappuccino, but hey ho.
I’m pleased to report that, once we got there, my colleagues were as enthusiastic as I was. It is a charming, very photogenic little place, full of books and the smell of coffee. They have Japanese staff there though, so there is also a strong oriental influence. The guys were very taken by it, and the owner of the cafe, Mike – an excellent chap who I have become quite fond of in recent weeks – seemed quite enthusiastic. Hopefully we’ll soon get rolling on a script and/or shooting plan; I really think this will make a great addition to the Londoners project.
I rolled home feeling quite pleased with myself. Between this, my own Londoners film and the film festival, it is turning out to be a very productive few weeks. I feel busier than ever. On the cards today, for example, is getting the dialogue I’ve written onto my Ipad. But I now know I can sort it; things like this make me more and more confident in what I’m capable of. And this is only the start: hopefully making these films will lead on to even bigger things. I can’t wait.
Lyn told me yesterday that we are going to see Kate Tempest tonight. Never having heard of her, apart from my usual optimism at the prospect of a night out, I didn’t know what to think. But having just seen this example of her linguistic incredibleness, I’m now suddenly really looking forward to it.
I can’t give the Rio Paralympic closing ceremony a proper review as I can’t find it online yet, but I just watched the highlights. Of course, for me personally, nothing could compare to actually being there four years ago, so perhaps I’m biassed. However, from what I just watched, the Rio ceremony was incredible. It was an extravaganza. While I unfortunately didn’t spot a Brazilian Paraorchestra, I especially liked the wheelchair dancing, and will certainly have to take a closer look at them. I wasn’t so sure about the inclusion of Calum Scott though. Whoever told that tuneless dude he could sing needs their ears examining. I thought the ‘taster’ from Tokyo was quite intriguing.
So, there we have it: another paralympic games is over. Much has been said about how London 2012 was a real game changer for the paralympics, bringing it up to the same level as the olympics in terms of esteem. I think Rio continued that; at least, I hope it did. Now it’s on to Tokyo, and judging by their submission last night, they seem eager to add to that trend. I’m looking forward to seeing what the Japanese do in four years’ time. As for 2024, my money is still on Paris, but that remains to be seen.
I have the great pleasure of reporting that the inaugural Charlton and Woolwich Free Film Festival came to an end last night a tremendous success. It has been an outstanding couple of weeks. The final event yesterday, a walking tour of the locations used in Antonioni’s Blow Up (1966) was fascinating. It was filmed in Maryon Park, just down the road from here – a park which I go through quite regularly on my way to Woolwich. Never having seen Blow Up, I’d never thought much about it; but yesterday morning, ahead of the event, I thought I’d give it a watch (in the process discovering how to ‘rent’ films on Youtube). I’m very glad I did: for one, that tour wouldn’t have made much sense had I never seen the film; but more importantly it’s quite a fascinating little text about photography. It’s about a fashion photographer who finds he has accidentally captured an image of a dead body in one of his photos. You can therefore read it in the context of the idea of Punctum. Moreover, the film also has a lot to say about urban life, capturing much of the area around Woolwich as it was fifty years ago. That’s what fascinated me: the way the run down, industrial, mostly victorian landscape contrasted with the green seclusion of the park. I even learned yesterday that there is an entire area of grass in that park, up some stairs, that I never knew existed.
After the Blow Up event, I came home to have a bite to eat, before heading to the White Swan for the film festival wrap party. I’m still not drinking, so I was in two minds about going, but I’m glad I did. I’ve made so many good friends on this process; Gavin, the guy running it, is one in a million. There was laughter, speeches, and hearty congratulations. The plan now is to let the dust settle for a couple of weeks before meeting to discuss what went wrong and what went right. We’ll then start to plan next year’s event. After the success of last saturday, I’m already trying to come up with ideas for what I could do. I have really, really enjoyed these past couple of weeks. I was thrilled to be able to participate as I did, and I can’t wait for more.
You may have noticed that I haven’t said anything on here about politics for a while. That was deliberate: I’ve been avoiding the issue. Politics in this country has become too fucked up for me to comment; I’m getting too angry about it. On the one hand, we have a government trying to reintroduce a draconian system of streamed education which reinforces class devision and dooms kids as second class citizens based on an essentially rigged test. On the other hand, we had to watch as a bunch of semi-nazi stains on humanity, calling itself a political party, congratulated itself for completely fucking this country by ‘winning’ the referendum. They only did so through lies. I wanted to hit every xenophobic piece of shit in that room as they grinned their brainless grins, and welcomed their new leader. Anyone capable of coherent, independent thought knows this country is fucked because of them! And meanwhile, where is Labour? Where are the voices pointing out the stupidity of it all, calling for a second referendum on the grounds that the first was won through lies? Nowhere! Nowhere to be seen. There is nobody currently standing up to these bullies and xenophobes. It gets me so angry that I start yelling at the tv whenever it comes on; so angry, in fact, that I better just avoid politics altogether.
Congratulations are in order today. It gives me great pleasure to announce the engagement of Alex Thomson to my friend Charlotte Jones. They have been courting for some time, and I have watched their relationship bloom over facebook. Back at uni, I always knew C would one day make some lucky guy very happy indeed. I wish them both all the happiness in the world. I will have to insist, though, that Lyn and I are invited to the wedding.
Last night saw my second public speaking engagement as part of the Charlton and Woolwich Free Film Festival. A few months ago, the guys I work with at school asked me to do the introductory address to their screening of Shorn the Sheep. It took me a while to get hold of a copy of the film, but eventually I penned it and delivered it last night. I think it went really well: it wasn’t a very long speech, but I think I made some quite salient points, noting the link between the contrast between urban and rural in the film to the work of Walter Benjamin, and also suggesting that that could be read as a metaphor for autism. Tracey and Kathryn, the teachers I work with at school, seemed really pleased. As with my talk on Saturday, hopefully a video will appear online soon. My second public talk went as well as the first, and I must admit, I’m now hooked.
A few days ago I tweeted the following question: ” The 5 biggest franchises: bond, lord of the rings, star trek, star wars and harry potter. Do any other film series come close culturally?” I genuinely thought those were the five biggest franchises. Yesterday, though, I was made aware of something even bigger, but which I hadn’t bothered to take a second glance at: Marvel. Growing up, I was never into comic books, preferring prose, film and tv; so I suppose characters like spiderman and superman didn’t capture my imagination in the same way as Frodo Baggins, James Bond and captain Picard did. Yet, glancing at the Wikipedia entry on it just now, the Marvel universe is colossal. As a single fiction, it spans characters and worlds; it comprises many different stories, all intertwined. Here at last might be the new fascination I’ve long been looking for. It seems ripe for exploration; I’m curious about what people see in this set of superheroes that I’d previously dismissed as ”for kids”. Not only is it a departure for me in terms of plots and characters, but the base material – comic books – is entirely unexplored terrain, an art form I’d never even considered. The question now is, where to start. Apart from having seen X-Men, I know almost nothing about this labyrinthine set of interwoven fictions.
Quite late last night, my brother Luke sent me a link to this video about music as it is used in the Marvel films. I thought I would flag it up here, not because I’m particularly interested in the marvel comic book franchise – although, given it’s now bigger than bond, star wars and harry potter, a closer look might be in order – but because this video constitutes the type of thorough close textual analysis I’m interested in. As I said in my reply to Luke just now, ”In terms of proper theory, not much has been written about music in film. Recently though, there have been quite a few bits of good analysis about it. It’s interesting to see how forms of analysis are emerging online which are no less engaged with film than more traditional forms.” New manifestations of filmic love are emerging online which, while taking the form of chatty, upbeat ‘fun’ videos, are no less intellectually rigorous than that undertaken in prose. Mind you, I have yet to see anyone in a video reference someone like Lacan or Bazin, but it’s still early days yet.