Monday, 26 July 2010


Please come visit me here
Thank You!

As you can see this address is still live, wih its hideous new design, but archive content has mostly been deleted. Fear not! I still have everything on file should anyone need references :-)

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Sincerity = Bullshit

"I am so depressed by the number of novelists who think that being sincere is enough" - so said Tom Sutcliffe yesterday on Radio 4, in reference to some excruciating novel whose title I don't remember.

Case in point: an interview in the paper today with Turner prize-winning artist Martin Creed, who suggested that "People aren't stupid. They know what's fake and what's not. They respond to things. Art is just things in the world, usually an arrangement of colour and shapes. It's people who have the feelings and reactions."

The second part of this statement is an interesting reduction, and vague enough to make any sort of counterargument conveniently difficult. As for the first part: are people really not stupid? Do they really know what's fake and what's not? I'm not so sure about that one. I'd even go so far as to say that the entire industry relies on people being gullible and rarely capable of forming their own opinion, whilst desperate to make an impression.

But at the same time, if sincerity isn't enough (and can't even be accurately quantified), where is its value as a tool of judgment? It seems to be a rather outdated, Romantic notion that's no longer relevant. To further question Creed's 'creeds': I think we're now less and less able to "respond to things". There's proof of this everywhere you look. But should I care that the man is full of shit? I have enjoyed some of his work afterall.

Big questions. Script to read. I might chose to continue this later.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

The Film That Changed Her Life...

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Monday, 24 May 2010

Yinka Shonibare

Monday, 3 May 2010

Varda month at the BFI

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Ginger Killer

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Monday, 22 March 2010

Environment / Character

“A traveller is interested and curious and wants to immerse himself in a place; a tourist never really gets anywhere. Beautiful places are now increasingly evasive in the modern world, which makes it difficult to get anywhere for anyone. But every now and then you turn a corner or drive into a horizon, and you realise you are travelling, that something is coming towards you and presenting itself. A place opens up to you and you see it, it tells a story and you live in its presence. And this is a glorious feeling, when it happens.” (Wenders)

Everyone likes to start with different things. Making stories out of nothing, in their heads, in conversation, in pictures or on paper. I always start with the place - without a landscape I see nothing. So I need to keep moving. But the exhiliaration of travelling through places or people is impossible to hold on to, because something just happened, then, and you weren’t quick enough for it because you couldn’t measure it.

For now this is as much as I can say about *the jungle experience* I'm currently experiencing, jungularly. Suffice to say that 1) it really is glorious 2) the New Age Traveller scene I was part of for so many years is becoming increasingly nauseating. But armed instead with indescribable understandings, I'm left strangely joyful.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010


∙ i only used one side of it ∙ excuse me? ∙ i’ll pay half ∙ it’s a toothpick ∙ it’s the principle ∙ [silence] ∙ you have to be joking ∙ i never joke about money ∙ i don’t know what to say to you sir ∙ i think you do ∙ do you want me to say it? ∙ not really ∙ is this a test? ∙ you appear to find me challenging ∙ i find you a tooth prick

Earthbag Building

Over the weekend I found myself on an island off the coast of Thailand, attending a workshop on how to build using bags of local natural materials instead of concrete.

Adapted from old military practices, Earthbag Building is a recent trend in sustainable architecture that’s been springing up around the world over the last ten years or more. It’s cheap, simple and it looks great: check out Julien's retreat up the road, designed and built by himself into the existing mountain (above = view from the top).

All the walls, floors and surfaces you see in the pictures below are filled with earthbags, with a thin layer of cement used as outer reinforcement. In this way they also follow the natural curve of the ground and rocks.

In the meantime, if you want to find out more about Earthbag Building, you can read all about its development in this excellent blog, written by its inventors and regularly updated.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Project: Impossible?

Monday, 1 March 2010

Ooh! Hef, You Naughty Thing.

The legend of Hugh Hefner has always fascinated me. My mental projection of the 83-year-old King of the Playboy Mansion, draped in his bunnies and boobies, may well be nothing more than a comic caricature. Who really cares? Hefner is, as we all know, a pop culture icon. But essentially he's a very simple symbol of energy, charisma and pure joie de vivre. Somewhere in the midst of the circus, he's also a symbol of honesty.

In this quarter's issue of TANK, Hef talks to Xerxes Cook a bit about feminism and the building of the Playboy empire.

“I’ve felt from the very beginning that women were the major beneficiaries of the sexual revolution, because it was the women who were kept in bondage, viewed as little more than cattle, or something owned by the husband or father. I attempted to change all that, but I changed it from a male point of view. When the feminist movement turned against Playboy, I felt it to be very counter-revolutionary.”

Of course, Hugh Hefner would say something like that. But his argument is a good one. And as a young modern feminist, I have never found Playboy’s content offensive, even if it's not my taste. I’m more interested by how the magazine’s reputation was founded on the showcase of literary genius such as Gore Vidal, Norman Mailer and Jack Kerouac, as much as the showcase of naked ladies. Or its famous interviews with Martin Luther King, Nixon, Lennon, Miles Davis and Roman Polanski.

Elsewhere Hef points out that “Being a sex object, if understood properly, is a compliment”. This, I think, is really what I’m trying to get at. The feminist backlash of 60s and 70s was probably inevitable, then. But today’s highly-strung, paranoid haters are too quick to project their jealousy, insecurity and resentment on to the nearest scapegoat. Obviously the debate is more complicated than that, and I wouldn't want to be a traitor to my generation. But it would be nice if everyone could just learn to relax and have some fun.

The starting concept for Playboy was simply that beauty is everywhere. It’s a celebration of sensuality, of the body, of life and art. Hefner himself is a pioneer, an entrepreneur, a shameless hedonist and a life artist. He’s stopped at nothing to reinvent himself, to become the person he wanted to be. It's not my thing, but he seems to have done it with integrity... and I think that’s pretty cool.

The Life and Times of Hugh M. Hefner is published by Taschen, out now.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Chris Ofili: When You Think You Know a Guy...

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Director's Seminar

Everything I know about film, I’ve learned from interviewing brilliant filmmakers: all of whom have graciously let me bore them with my questions while maintaining the illusion of freestyle conversation. And for that I'm truly grateful. As it turns out, filmmakers learn from each other too. In this month’s Dazed & Confused OUT TODAY! I get a unique opportunity to step aside and disappear, playing puppet-master to two very visionary (and very hot) directors, Cary Fukunaga and Alfonso Cuaron, as they talk music, Kubrick, manipulation and conceptual dogma.

* Test Spread: Double Click for Full Size *


Also in this month’s Dazed: Cut & Wrapped leads with my piece on 28-year-old French filmmaker Mia Hansen-Love. Her second feature Father of My Children caused a storm at London Film Festival and won the Special Jury Prize at Cannes last year. I found the film quite hard work at first. But Mia – who was 5 months pregnant when we met – turned out to be really cool. She taught me loads just by being herself: radiant, earnest and full of passion, she had a sort of luminous aura that really took me by surprise.

Mia Hansen-Love

Monday, 15 February 2010

Wednesday, 10 February 2010



Friday, 5 February 2010

Commercials for the Status Quo

So far my biggest discovery of 2010 has to have been German New Wave cinema - a sort of hangover from the French New Wave that lasted well into the 80s, with its own unique blurry vision. Until now my knowledge of the genre has been limited to a handful of Werner Herzog and Wim Wenders films, and not even the best ones at that.

Walter Salles, one of my favourite (Brazilian) directors, once described Wenders’ Alice in the Cities as having “altered my perception of cinema”. After seeing Alice a couple of weeks ago I felt exactly the same: it's now right up there in my top films of all time. At the skeleton of the story, a journalist with writer's block goes on a roadtrip across 70s America, and ends up parenting a little girl who's mother abandons her at an airport.

As for the rest, you'll have to see for yourself. This three-scene medley (not in the order of the film) went some way into snapping me out of whatever compelled me to delete my entire blog last year – specifically the line “you treat your stories and experiences as if they were raw eggs” (6.50).

At the same time, the second scene from 2.40 expresses to some extent where my head was at with the internet in the first place. "The inhuman thing about American TV is not so much that they hack everything up with commercials, though that’s bad enough, but it’s that in the end all programmes become commercials. Commercials for the status quo. Every image radiates the same disgusting, sickening message; a kind of boastful contempt. No one image leaves you in peace: they all want something from you."

They all want something from you. Maybe it sounds simple, but it was true then just as is it is now. Only now, there's no escape...

Krauts to watch: Volker Schlöndorff, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Alexander Kluge, Edgar Reitz, Margarethe von Trotta. And probably many more I've never heard of either.