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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tears Dry On Their Own

News of Ingmar Bergman's demise dominated my news radar yesterday. My immediate impulse was to blog about the passing of this great film-maker from Sweden. At the same time, I felt there was nothing I could add to the many nice things said about him. (Just do a search on any decent search site and you'll see what I mean if all this has passed you by like a puffy summer cloud.)

While acknowledging his artistic prowess, I must confess that I'm not really a big fan of Bergman; mostly because none of his films have marked my life in a significant way. This is not to say that I don't like the films of Ingmar Bergman. Far from it. I showed his Persona to my students just a few months ago. It is a very beautiful and disturbing film. The Seventh Seal is undoubtedly on my personal Top 100 Films list. I've seen two or three other films by Bergman, but while I can honestly say that watching his movies is a treat, its not the sort of thing I go out of my way regularly to experience. I don't know why that is. It's just the way things are with me, I guess.

What's for sure is that artists like Bergman are not able to start out doing what he did nowadays. Art making has changed considerably in the last half a century...and that's an understatement, if there ever was one. So to cherish the work of Ingmar Bergman is to appreciate a master at work on an art form that has evolved and mutated or matured (depending on your point of view) almost beyond recognition, from the perspective of budding film-makers.

And now, just this morning, news of Michelangelo Antonioni's death makes me think that the great architect of the universe is organizing a conference of great film-makers in the great beyond.

Unlike Bergman's films, Antonioni's work has left a very indelible mark on my personal artistic sensibility. I am not only referring to the obvious mammoth influence he exerted through the era of Italian neo-realism, even if that aesthetic is one that's very close to my heart. Two of Antonioni's films are among the reasons why I love film. I refer to the two works he made between 1966 and 1970: Blowup and Zabriskie Point. Between them, these two films capture the essence in some of London and California's beautiful and ugly sites of what was later celebrated as "the sixties". What's real and what appears to be real are obviously not the same thing. Antonioni's films are a great place to contemplate this.

When you live as long as Bergman (89) and Antonioni (94) did, and produce the sort of art works they did, it's hardly difficult to say that while they will be missed they lived a good life.

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Friday, July 27, 2007


I've been playing about on the Simpsonize Me website. There's also a Simpsons avatar maker on the official Simpsons' movie website. Here's what I've come up with so far. Apparently, this is what I'd look like if I were to appear in The Simpsons.

I'm now also using a slightly modified close-up of my 2-D Simpsonized avatar on my Facebook and MySpace profiles.

In case you haven't noticed, summer's here...and so is The Simpsons Movie.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

You Know I'm No Good

This morning I took a group of students in my free elective Film and the Moving Image module to the National Media Museum in Bradford. I had never been to the museum before but I knew it had a long-standing reputation as a photography museum and the site of one of Britain's IMAX theatres. As it turns out it was indeed a great way to spend a Saturday away from the regular Scarborough routine.

The IMAX film I chose for us to watch is a new one called Deep Sea 3D. It has remarkable underwater cinematography, a full-blown Hollywood score by Danny Elfman, as well as narration by Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet. As anyone who has ever experienced a 3D show at an IMAX will tell you, being there is beyond words.

The 13th Bradford Film Festival started yesterday and this was the main reasons why I planned this museum visit for today. I must admit that I had hoped for things to be better organised with the festival and that I would be able to select from a rich programme of screenings and events. As things turned out I had to settle for a new Romanian film called A Roof Overhead, which has an intriguing story of two depressed women who are released early from a psychiatric hospital due to financial difficulties at the institution. It sounds like a comedy and that's exactly what it is, especially when the two end up on in the remote Danube delta living in an ancestral home without a roof. The film is well-made, the acting is fine and the narrative is handled nicely. However, the end is quite anti-climatic and it leaves you with a feeling that the filmmakers just needed to end the film, perhaps because just like the mental asylum they had run out of money. After all money is a major element of the plot in the whole story.

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you're probably thinking: so if he spent all day in Bradford today (a Saturday) whatever happened to this week's podcast. Fear not, I prepared my podcast earlier in the week, so by the time we got back to Scarborough I only had to put on some minor finishing touches to. While this blog entry may appear to be about a field trip for my students and whatnot it's also here to announce the latest edition of Mużika Mod Ieħor.

I had a hankering for something with Maltese lyrics recently, partly because I haven't played too many songs in our native language. Podcast number 58 opens with a song called Inti Ħabib from Mystic Dimensions . This is an unexpected source for a song in Maltese and the style is unlike any other we've heard before where the singing is in Maltese. Mystic Diversions is an Italy-based trio, which you may recall includes Maltese musician Aidan Zammit. I'm pleased to be playing Aidan's music again on my podcast but I'm even happier to hear him sing in Maltese on this Mediterranean escapade.

Maltese musicans who live abroad appear regularly on Mużika Mod Ieħor. They're all over the world and some of them are quite prolific. Andre Camilleri fits this description perfectly and is no stranger to regular listeners of my podcast. His recently renamed band, The Broken Hearts, has just released what I believe is the first Maltese-Austalian CD album for 2007. It's called One Fine Day and from it I've selected to play Cut All the Weed.

X-18 is looking for a drummer. So I figured it's time to play some of his music on my podcast. I should have played something by X-18 ages ago. After all, one of the first four releases from Pinkpube back in August 2005 (when I first started podcasting) was by X-18. From that debut Pinkpube release I bring you Unknown Masterminds Yet to Be Discovered.

Since I'm lamenting acts I should have brought you earlier on in the podcasting series, I'm closing this week's show with a song by The New Harmonics. Inside is an enjoyable song that shows a steady hand in its treatment by Boriz Cezek and company. I'm not sure why I hadn't played anything by The New Harmonics before but at least I can drop it now that I've actually done it.

I really appreciate feedback from my podcast listeners. I especially like to receive recommendations or requests for particular musicians or songs. You can either contact me directly or leave a comment right here on the blog.

The RSS feed for the Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast is available here or you can simply click here to subscribe directly with iTunes. You can also add the latest episodes to your My Yahoo! page.

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