Blakeson - Writer

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

Thursday, April 10, 2008

"Son Of Rambow" / Artes Mundi '08

I greatly enjoyed Garth Jennings’ “Son Of Rambow”. It’s one of those British films about life-defining small victories (see “The Full Monty”, “Calendar Girls”), given extra potency by its underlying theme of outsiderdom, with a side-order of religious separatism. Bill Milner and Will Poulter are excellent (if implausibly articulate) as the two 1980s schoolboy misfits who team up to shoot a home-video sequel to “Rambo”, eventually involving a phalanx of extravagantly-coiffured fellow students. The special effects – more DIY than CGI, in the spirit of some of the production team’s most notable pop videos (e.g. for Supergrass, Radiohead, Blur) – contribute to a satisfying, cinematic feel, and while the story does, of necessity, veer in the direction of cuteness towards the climax (and the sixth-form common-room sequence seems a tad irrelevant), the gritty humour more than makes up for it. It’s quite rare to see a film so squarely aimed at boys, especially one which hits the target so successfully.

I paid a visit to the National Museum of Wales, to take in the latest Artes Mundi Exhibition, which is as much a celebration of internationalism as of contemporary art, featuring works by Afghan, Indian, Malian, Brazilian, Romanian, Australian, Portuguese and Scottish artists. While I was impressed by the meticulous craft-oriented work of NS Harsha and Abdoulaye Konate, the piece which leapt out at me was Dalziel & Scullion’s large-format panoramic ecologically-oriented landscape photograph “More Than Us”; although Mircea Cantor’s exhibit – two video-works and a small sculpture entitled “Diamond Corn” were sufficiently unsubtle to provide immediate food for thought, and Rosangela Renno’s twin-screen video installation looked promising if I’d had two hours to spare.

The recent rejection of a radio play by the BBC has left a bitter taste, not only because the script was, I felt, one of the best I’ve ever written (featuring intelligent Black British characters, a rarity in Radio Four drama), but because I had to chase them up after seven months (the promise being that they’ll get back to you in three). This is even before mentioning the patronising tone of the “professional” reader’s report – it used the word “talented” twice, but also suggested that I was unfamiliar with the basics of writing a radio drama; despite my having had five produced over the years. At least it’s the kind of piece which could work on stage, with a little re-writing.


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