Saturday 6 May 2017

East Finchley Open Artists: Exhibition News

East Finchley Open Artists: Exhibition News: EXHIBITION NEWS Howard Hodgkin, Absent Friends, National Portrait Gallery, 23 March-18 June 2017 FRANCESCA ALBINI writes:- W...

Tuesday 28 March 2017

Free Fire - Film review

From Wikipedia: 'Free Fire is a 2016 British action-comedy film directed by Ben Wheatley, from a screenplay by Wheatley and Amy Jump. It stars Brie Larson, Sharlto Copley, Armie Hammer, Cillian Murphy and Jack Reynor.' It will be released in the UK on 31 March.

Free Fire. That's pretty much it for the plot. So why should anybody want to sit through 90 minutes of gratuitous violence? Because it's very well orchestrated and compelling. The interweaving of the free-jazzy music with whistling and rumbling gun shots, other sound effects, surround-sound voices, is very clever, and so are the lighting, photography, and location (a shabby warehouse). The characters are quirky, each in their own way, and funny, but not excessively so. In a way, it's like watching a cheap Seventies movie with modern definition of image and sound. A treat if you have bouts of nostalgia... But the question arises: whom is this film for? What is the target audience, what will be the effective audience? Not strong enough to be a cult movie, not Hollywood enough to be a Hollywood movie, it will probably linger in a state of DVD limbo.

The following is NOT a spoiler. Talking with the projectionist after the screening, he suggested that if it had a different ending, it could appeal better to a Hollywood, mainstream, audience. As he didn't suggest what ending would have worked better, I went through all the possible endings in my head, that would have made it more commercial, but didn't find any convincing ones.

My verdict: if you want a very pleasant 90 minutes of a well directed and acted mindlessness, if you enjoy well choreographed stunt work and revel in the anxiety of closed spaces, you will love this film. I know I did.

Saturday 25 March 2017

The Sublime Art of Faffing

As in a dream where our pursuer cannot catch us nor we escape, Achilles could not overtake Hector, nor could Hector shake him off.  The Iliad, book 22, ca 760–710 BC

The feeling of not getting anywhere, or of running on the spot, or like a headless chicken, is not new. Neither is the desire and the anticipation of getting somewhere, of getting things done, of bettering ourselves in a way or another.

Before apps, google and mobile phones, I had my Mum. When I felt that I wasn't getting anywhere, or that I wasn't solving the problem that I wanted to solve, we would make ourselves a cup of coffee and we would sit on the couch with pen and paper. The only interruptions were my dad, and the phone, that in our house was ringing constantlyApart from that, the process was quite simple. I would state a problem, we would discuss a goal, and organise a plan of action. She would pose questions, I tried to answer, and she would give me suggestions. The feelgood factor was incredible. We were solving everything. Of course, we never had a follow up session on any of my problems, because the next time we sat down there would be a new problem to tackle. 

FORWARD TO NOW: Ah, isn't it great that now, instead of Mum, pen and paper, we have an app for everything, a million ways to be organised, retrieve information, and all the stuff we can set up in order to convey our message! Social media, connectivity. We can set up a blog, set up a website, a Facebook page, a twitter account... Then we can set up an app that connects them all. And, see, everything is set up to receive and distribute our amazing content.

So why am I feeling like Achilles chasing Hector? Why am I feeling the buzz of all of these apps and connections and opportunities, and find that the only thing that is not flourishing is... content? Because I spend all of my time and energy perfecting the Sublime Art of Faffing. Here is how it works. I discover a new app that can schedule my amazing content across all the different platforms. How exciting. So I register, and then I have to link it up to my various accounts, which proliferate at a frightening rate. It goes without saying that I have forgotten most of my passwords. Easy, I have an app that contains them all, so all I need to do is sign in. Ah, but the app doesn't recognise my location, so it sends me an email to verify that I am who I say I am, although I am not where the app wants me to be (at home). But while I search my email, my email app decides to update, and I have to wait until it's done. While I'm waiting, I do something else, like look something up, which reminds me that I haven't updated my calendar, that I double booked myself, that I have to cancel something. I check my fb page for the latest news and events, get distracted by something else, finally retrieve my email verification code. Connect all the accounts that need to be connected to show my amazing content, and guess what? I had no time to create any.

Monday 20 March 2017

The Lost City of Z - my take on

Quoting from Wikipedia: 'The Lost City of Z is a 2016 American action adventure biographical film written and directed by James Gray, based on the 2009 book of the same name by David Grann. It describes real events, about British explorer Percy Fawcett who made several attempts to find an ancient lost city in the Amazon and disappeared in 1925 along with his son on an expedition. It stars Charlie Hunnam as Fawcett along with Robert Pattinson as his fellow explorer Henry Costin and Sienna Miller as his wife Nina Fawcett.'

I'm no film critic, in fact I have very little knowledge of cinema, and never wrote a film review in my life. At the same time, I am very fortunate to be able to attend film previews, every now and then, so I feel sort of an obligation to share my impressions.

This film is amazing and deserves to be seen on a big screen, so, don't wait for the DVD to come out, like I usually do, go see it big, the bigger the better.

It's 1.40 minutes of total immersion into a world of adventure, discovery, war, deaths, births, love, envy, friendship and poetry, and what makes it extra magical is that it is a true story. Photography and settings are extremely powerful, and convey more than just a sense of history and place, there are human emotions, fear, horror, the unknown and the totally surreal, like an opera performed on a log stage in a settlement in the middle of the jungle.
Fawcett's journeys to charter uncharted territories are followed at a distance by his wife, whose poems accompany him and his companions. But the strongest piece of poetry is her quotation from John Browning: '...A man's reach should exceed his grasp'. In other words, you never entirely fulfil your dreams.

I have recently attended a workshop on mobile journalism where the photographic rule of thirds was, maybe rightly so, strongly advised. So, I took special interest in the framing of the scenes, because in most cases it seems to be crossing over to almost centre frame, leaving space between the character and the edge of frame. I think that conveyed a double effect, exposing the character to the unknown surround him, and crowding the centre of the frame to convey the sense of claustrophobia that the jungle gives together with its sense of vastness. Contrasting elements of old world and new world, 'civilized' austere world and dynamic, fluid and terrifying wilderness, snakes, panthers, piranhas, mosquitoes, but, most of all, humans in their might and vulnerability. The end of the story is almost a spiritual transition. Enjoy, be scared, angry, elated and mesmerised.

And, if you have a spare hour, it's definitely worth watching this talk by David Grann, the author of the book on which the film is based.

Friday 17 March 2017



Ideas and how to retain them

Where do I get my inspirations from? Easy. I get inspired by a lot of things. I see or read or hear something, and I get an idea. The problem is how to retain it. I might go to an art gallery and see a painting that inspires me. The inspiration I get very often has little to do with the original work. I don’t want to copy a certain painting, I want to retain and work and pass on the inspiration that came to me by looking at that painting. So how do I do that? Taking a picture of that painting doesn’t seem to work. When I look at it later, it doesn’t talk to me in the same way. The other solution is key words, but on their own they also lose strength. I tried different apps, like Evernote, OneNote, google keep. They are definitely useful but what I would need is an app that helps me identify and retain my mental process, that goes from the trigger, i.e. the painting or book or conversation, to the excitement that precedes the idea, to the idea itself. I somewhat think that it would work in columns or panels. Brief description or picture of the work; raw impressions, ways of translating it into my creative world. While I wait for somebody to come up with this ideas app, I might just stick to a notebook, and then read it aloud into google docs and organise it later .

Why do I find it more useful in retaining ideas than writing on Evernote on my phone? Two reasons: I can’t type as fast as I think, but also in my notes I doodle and also my writing changes with my emotions and so the written note seems to retain more of my mood at the time of writing.
As I said, I get inspired by a lot of things, so I’m never short of ideas, but still, a lot of thoughts get lost and perhaps some of them are good thoughts.

Originally posted on medium

Wednesday 11 January 2017

Reflections upon 2016

I'm at a bloggers meetup, there are about ten people around a white table with colourful jellybeans that I seem to be the only one eating. We are all writing about last year and next year. So, here goes. In January I found it more difficult to walk. In February I went to Malta on a cricket trip with the Eccentrics cricket team. Malta was amazing, like something I've never seen and yet remember. It was medieval and full of imaginary Knights roaming the dusty streets. Hubby injured his ankle at the cricket match and I almost laughed thinking that now I had to help him walk. In April I got a brand new hip, hubby cooked and I spent the days weaving,
making jewellery and relearning to walk. I then walked in Italy and in the California desert. 2016 was good. 2017 will be my blogging year, where I won't let validation sickness get in the way of my creativity. I'll keep on growing like a tree, twisted and torn, but with many new branches, a few dead leaves and lots of new green ones. I will be like my cherry tree in the winter. Proud of change.