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Showing posts from April, 2021

Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival 2021

As the eleventh edition of Alchemy’s Hawick-based festival of experimental film moves online due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, its programme features 171 works of film and artists’ moving image. These span live screenings, an on demand programme, exhibitions and new commissions, plus talks and events to accompany them. Highlights include -    Charlie Chaplin Lived Here Saturday May 1 st , 3pm-4.15pm, and on demand with audio description for blind and partially sighted audiences. Set in London in 1969,  Louise S. Milne and Seán Martin’s new film focuses on the parallel lives of two great film-makers who never quite meet, as Chaplin visits his old haunts incognito, while Scottish film-maker Bill Douglas and his friend Peter Jewell makes a student film about Chaplin’s childhood and early years in the city. Douglas would go on to direct his famed trilogy of short films –  My Childhood, My Ain Folk , and  My Way Home - based loosely on Jewell’s life, as well as his only feature,  Comrad

Jim Steinman - An Obituary

Jim Steinman – Songwriter, composer   Born November 1, 1947; died April 19, 2021      Jim Steinman, who has died aged 73, was a songwriter and composer of boundless pomp and fantastical circumstance, whose defining moment came with Bat Out of Hell (1977), the feast of Wagnerian rock bombast that became the debut album by Meat Loaf. Meat Loaf’s own larger than life persona was perfect for Steinman’s operatic compositions, which were brought to life by producer Todd Rundgren, who had presumed Steinman’s construction to be a Bruce Springsteen pastiche. Whatever, the record’s impact was as big as its sound, with an estimated 50 million copies sold worldwide.    With a background in musical theatre, Steinman’s anthemic canon didn’t so much break the pop mould as explode his way through it with enough fire-power to keep small nations at bay. After Bat Out of Hell, he did this just as spectacularly with other artists, including Celine Dion, Air Supply and wrestler Hulk Hogan, whose theme tune

Ruth Ewan - A Jukebox of People Trying to Change the World

Cooper Gallery, Dundee (online) Jukebox Jive ‘Too many protest singers Not enough protest songs’   And then Ruth Ewan came along with  A Jukebox of People Trying to Change the World . Twenty seven years on from this perfectly reasonable observation by Dundee-raised Edwyn Collins in his euphoric 1994 smash hit, ‘A Girl Like You’, this latest iteration of Ewan’s rolling programme of socially driven songs shows just how much times have changed.    A Jukebox of People Trying to Change the World was first presented in 2004, and since then has been shown in London, New York, Venice, Bordeaux, Liverpool and Louisiana. Ewan’s ongoing folkloric excavation, à la Hamish Henderson or Alan Lomax, has developed so it now contains an ever-expanding collection of more than 2,000 works that might be broadly described as protest songs. This provides the perfect set list for the sort of political cabarets that have given voice and inspiration to protest movements for decades.    This time out, the  Jukeb

Annea Lockwood – For Ruth

Counterflows At Home   The sound of laughter is what strikes you first in For Ruth, the nine and a half minute sound work composed by Annea Lockwood. As the flagship piece for the 80-something New Zealand born composer’s tenure as featured artist in this year’s online edition of Counterflows, the annual Glasgow-based showcase of free thinking music, the laughter is infectious.    The laughter too is the unselfconscious kind that erupts uncontrollably when two people find boundless, all encompassing joy in and with each other. The birdsong, sounds of lapping water and more ethereal echoes that filter through between add a filter of sense memory to such intimate exchanges.    For Ruth is drawn from recordings of telephone conversations between Lockwood and her late wife, fellow composer and kindred spirit of more than four decades, Ruth Anderson. The calls took place shortly after the couple first met in 1973, during the first giddy flush of what was initially a long-distance romance.  

Paul Ritter - An Obituary

Paul Ritter – Actor Born December 20, 1966; died April 5, 2021      Paul Ritter, who has died from a brain tumour aged 54, was a quietly brilliant character actor, who had the ability to inhabit each new role to the point of being unrecognisable. He became an increasingly familiar face as the eccentric and often shirtless patriarch Martin Goodman during the six series’ of Robert Popper’s  sit-com, Friday Night Dinner (2011-2020). Martin’s many off-kilter tics included greeting his grown up sons as “bambinos” and smearing tomato ketchup on his bare chest.    He was odd in a different way as shabby forensics genius Randolph Miller in all twenty episodes of Paul Abbot’s deadpan Manchester-set police drama, No Offence (2015-2018). Ritter could be scary too, as he was playing Anatoly Dyatlov, the bullying engineer at the heart of the real life nuclear power plant disaster in Chernobyl (2019).   Previous to this, Ritter had come to prominence as Guy Hainesin James Bond film, Quantum of Solac

Bertrand Tavernier - An Obituary

Bertrand Tavernier – Film director Born April 25, 1941; died March 25, 2021      Bertrand Tavernier, who has died aged 79, was a filmmaker who applied an endless curiosity about human behaviour and the world it exists in to a weighty and expansive vision across almost forty features that took French cinema beyond the New Wave. Tavernier was perhaps best known in the UK for English language features that included ‘Round Midnight (1986), which starred real life jazz musician Dexter Gordon as an addict saxophonist. Over forty years as a director, his range embraced everything from slow burning cop dramas to historical period pieces, all driven by a political sensibility that loomed large.   This was clear from his debut as a director on The Watchmaker of St Paul (1974), which drew from a story by Georges Simenon in its study of a father and the detective searching for his teenage son after he apparently killed someone. Corps de Torchon (1981) was adapted from Jim Thompson’s pulp noir nove

George Segal - An Obituary

George Segal – Actor Born February 13, 1934; died March 23, 2021    George Segal, who has died aged 87, was an actor who rode a wave of grown up comedies during  the 1970s, when Hollywood was exploring some of the new freedoms opened up the decade before. Segal evoked the amorous ambitions of assorted hapless but usually well intentioned roués at odds with their lot. He did this with an understated twinkly-eyed dryness as he sparred gently with a role call of actresses who similarly defined their era.    He starred with Barbra Streisand in The Owl and the Pussycat (1970); played a suburban bank robber alongside Jane Fonda in Fun with Dick and Jane (1977); and – magnificently – played opposite Glenda Jackson in A Touch of Class (1973). Out of this came a kind of post me-generation focus on romantic shenanigans that took screwball comedy into more intimate areas.   Segal first came to prominence for his Oscar nominated turn in Mike Nichols’ big screen version of Edward Albee’s play, Who’