Blakeson - Writer

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

Thursday, April 29, 2010

“Don’t Breathe A Word”

The latest “On The Edge” production at Chapter was a semi-staged reading of “Don’t Breathe A Word” by Cardiff-based poet Susan Richardson. It traces a writer’s relationship with her journal, from childhood to old age and beyond; the main protagonist played by Polly Kilpatrick, and the voice in her head (variously encouraging, undermining, censorious and ignored) by Rebecca Knowles - both excellent. While the life itself seemed somewhat idealised (numerous uncomplicated love affairs, a comfortable lifestyle despite only modest literary success), the story (played out on a set comprising only an armchair and several small piles of books) was told with great charm and fluency, Bethan Morgan’s direction foregrounding the humour, and her scoring subtle and sensitive. I guess the author’s aim is to highlight the general invisibility of women’s stories; I found it somewhat more inspiring than I had expected to.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Stokes, William

On impulse (and because it was free) I attended an evening of “new” folk at the Cardiff Arts Institute. A “No Sweat” event, first up was personable singer guitarist Josh Morgan (and pal on percussion, etc.) – very passable, if a little Jack Johnson (but better, obviously). The second band on were Leeds-based duo-with-friends, Joseph & David, who delivered some deft, poignant melodies. Headlining were Stokes, William, who were pleasingly intense, played their favourite song (“Zion”) twice (which more bands ought to do) and also fitted in a Passion Pit cover before inviting the other acts on for a hoe-down at the end of the evening. Lovely.

More music :- "Love In Vain".

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Artes Mundi 2010

I visited the Artes Mundi 2010 exhibition at the National Museum of Wales – as stimulating and sporadically poignant as ever. The broad theme appears to be the shifting ground of national identity, although whether this reflects the current preoccupations of the art-making community worldwide or the need for the prize’s curators to demonstrate its relevance to Wales is unclear. There’s a lot of defamiliarisation going on, prompting us to contemplate exoticised representations of the mundane - historical leaflets, factories, museums themselves. In terms of ideas, the most intriguing works, to me at least, are Yael Bartana’s videos promoting (semi-seriously?) the idea of mass Jewish immigration to Poland – plus you get free posters, which is always good. Aesthetically, Adrian Paci’s short film “Per Speculum” is particularly striking. But it’s all well worth a look.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

"Kick-Ass" / Malcolm McLaren

I’m not sure how much I enjoyed “Kick-Ass”. Developed alongside the comic by Mark Millar, this New York-set Brit-flick about super-heroes and super-villains with weaponry in place of super-powers is certainly slickly directed by Matthew Vaughan, cleverly scripted (by Vaughan and Jane Goldman) and well acted – Aaron Johnson is excellent in the lead role, as are Chloe Moretz as Hit-Girl and Mark Strong as the chief gangster. It also manages to maintain a consistent tone – light without being entirely shallow, and on a nodding acquaintance with the real world. I found it hard to warm to, however - maybe because I was uneasy with the idea of an eleven-year-old girl blithely slicing, dicing and machine-gunning bad guys; the right-wing tabloids have been too busy complaining about the colourful language she uses to notice that the film tends to adhere to their agenda in terms of family values and summary justice. The parodically blatant set-up for the inevitably inferior sequel was a little irritating, also. Still, as cinematic thrill-rides go, it ticks most of the boxes.

Sad to note the passing of Malcolm McLaren, who had a disproportionate effect on the cultural lives of much of my generation thanks to his role in bringing us the Sex Pistols. And not only punk – he was also responsible for raising the profile of rap and “world” music, thanks to his surprisingly excellent “Duck Rock” album; not to mention getting opera into the pop charts. I think his unique gift, however, was as a spinner of yarns to gullible journalists and broadcasters: I well remember his long, involved, and entirely fictional tale, told on Radio One, of spending weeks attempting to track down Syd Barrett to act as producer on the Pistols album, only to eventually find an immensely fat, totally bald man in an upmarket gentleman’s club, who brusquely told him to formally make the request via a letter in his pigeon-hole. A rare character.