Blakeson - Writer

Cardiff-based film, theatre and gig reviews, cultural ramblings, whingeing, short films, etc.

Friday, August 24, 2007

30 Century Man

I finally managed to see “30 Century Man”, Stephen Kijak’s documentary about Scott Walker - the missing link between Lulu and Ligeti - at Chapter, Cardiff. I had feared that its thunder had been stolen by Alan Yentob’s “Imagine” film on the same subject which was on TV a few months ago; but although there was much shared material, some big-screen-friendly psychedelic animation effects and a greater emphasis on the musicological provided value for ticket-money. Since I’ve long been a devotee, the film contained little information which was new to me; it was simply good to watch such icons of cool as Bowie and Eno babbling like idiots, lost in frustrated admiration, and to catch glimpses of the master at work. While Chapter seemed to entirely misread the intentions of the piece by describing it as “slyly tongue-in-cheek” in their brochure, the film avoided a hagiographic tone by including long-time romantic Walkerite Marc Almond’s dismissal of 1995’s remarkable “Tilt” as “rubbish”, and pointing up the absurdity of a classically-trained session musician rhythmically punching a side of pork in order to get the perfect percussive effect for a track on his latest work, “The Drift” – absurdity which is acknowledged by Walker himself. My only criticism is of the somewhat hackneyed use of rostrum-camera slow-zooming around stills and newspaper articles illustrating the Walker Brothers’ 1960s heyday, but I guess this is inevitable given the lack of video footage – and, of course, all the tapes of his TV series were wiped by the idiots who were in charge of such things at the BBC in those days. It was a pity to hear Scott saying that he’s unable to listen to his albums once he’s finished them, having put so much emotional energy into the composing and recording process. Maybe eventual senility will allow him the distance required to appreciate the work of towering genius which is “Scott 4”.

Sad to see that, according to the latest issue of A470, the Welsh Academy’s newsletter, Leonora Brito, Wales’ most important Black writer, has passed away. Awful news for her family, of course, as well as for the wider literary community, since her work provided a corrective to the nostalgic romanticism of a lot of Welsh writers who reference Tiger Bay in their work. Her story “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe” provided the title for a highly-recommended anthology of Welsh short stories published by Parthian (and I’m not just saying that because I’ve got one in there); and I fondly remember the radio dramatisation of “Dat’s Love”, the title story of her first collection, about the internationally famous torch-singing diva returning to her Cardiff factory-girl roots. A great loss.

A belated “hats-off” to Steven Moffat, for his TV series “Jekyll”, and to the BBC for indulging him. A much-needed dose of barking madness.


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