gill moore photography

Archive for the 'film' Category

Manchester Artist heads off to “Th’Arctic” …

As ever Kate @ the Manchizzle shows she has the proverbial finger on the pulse of all things interesting and arty in the Manchester region.

th_arctic_image

Kate gave a mention to local artist Rebecca McKnight and her mission to explore the icy beauty of “Th’Arctic” (that’s Lancashire for The Arctic in case you were wondering).

A place so cold that the Ocean frequently freezes solid and only the hardiest of animals and plants survive. It is here the Polar Bear, Arctic Fox, Wolverine and Arctic Hare find their natural habitat.  For much of the year things are so unbearable that most living things hide away til the warmth of the short summer gives them a nudge to briefly explode into life. Though, if you are lucky, you may catch sight of the Aurora Borealis to take you mind off the biting wind!

jan_curtis_aurora

I got to know Rebecca last year as we both had work displaying at the Chorlton Arts Festival. This was May 2008 and she was already focused, excited and working hard on plans for the trip, so I have seen first-hand how dedicated she has had to be to make this project happen.

The logistics of pulling something like this together requires nearly as much determination and effort as surviving the Arctic elements. Sponsors and funding, website, journal, publicity, technical gear, experienced mentors, involvement of the community, travel plans, flights, visa’s, communications … not to mention a map and route! I’m sure that’s only the half of it.

She is hoping to become one of the first British people to ski up to 300 miles pulling a pulk (sledge) from Resolute Bay to Grise Fiord, the most northerly Inuit community in the Canadian Arctic. So, getting supremely fit prior to the attempt has been one side of the preparation, plus this trip is also a live art project which aims to “explore personal identity in relation to situation and environment.”

The use of the word ‘live’ was not a mistake. Check out Th’Arctic website, which has regular updates from the location, a live tracker map showing the groups progress and there is the ability to send the Team a text or email to keep them all on their toes and gain a real insight into the experience. There are no photo’s on the website just yet but as they have only just arrived at base camp I am sure some amazing work will surely follow.

The actual trek starts tomorrow (1st April) and the latest weather conditions sound tough (-60oC and blizzards). So best of luck Rebecca and everyone else, what a fantastic effort to bring such a dream trip to life.

You can follow things and send messages of support via:-
Th’Arctic website
Facebook page
artist’s talking a-n website
The Big Screen Manchester

plus there will be a live-link up with the team which is being co-ordinated with the guys at the Cornerhouse on Saturday 18 April.

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My favourite films of 2008.

filmframe

I usually bore all my filmy mates with my favourite films of the year, but hey, now I have a blog I can be even more indulgent!  My favourite music list will follow shortly, as soon as I’ve taken some more evaluative pills.

  1. There Will Be Blood /Paul Thomas Anderson, USA … ambitious, layered, passionate, engrossing, well acted.  Old-fashioned parable, epic in a good way.  Stunning cinematography.  Needed a great central performance and thankfully we got a top of the range Daniel Day Lewis acting class.  Powerful stuff.  Just spoilt by a drawn-out ending.
  2. The Dark Knight /Christopher Nolan, USA … very enjoyable, disturbing, moody and magnificent, Heath Ledger’s Joker lifts it notches higher on the entertainment levels.  Delve deeper and the messages are thick and potent.
  3. Juno /Jason Reitman, USA … original, funny, involving, imagine a comedy about abortion working so well. Great screenplay.
  4. No Country For Old Men /Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, USA … clever and creepy, vacuous, mans dark side exposed, not much hope on show.  Always interesting but worryingly uninvolving.
  5. Happy Go Lucky /Mike Leigh, UK … just the antidote I needed post “Old Men” and “Will Be Blood”, light of touch, beautifully acted, jaunty, charming and sweet. A film with a heart.
  6. Lars & the Real Girl /Craig Gillespie, USA … I really loved this, its original, affecting and thoughtful.  You are slowly drawn into a quite odd world which is brought to life wonderfully.
  7. Of Time and the City /Terence Davies, UK … rich, moving, interesting, thoughtful, individual, a very personal elegy and an essay on life.
  8. Charlie Wilson’s War /Mike Nichols, USA … entertaining, well acted, surprisingly better than I thought.  Philip Seymour Hoffman should have won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for this.
  9. Gomorrah /Matteo Garrone, Italy … realist and gritty, suffers a little being post-“Sopranos”, anti-gloss gangster deconstruction. Tight jumpy editing, visually strong and visceral.  Deserves to be seen widely.
  10. Sweeney Todd /Tim Burton, USA/UK … rich in colour and pantomime,  good fun, I closed my eyes sometimes but the sounds were even worse.  Burton back on form.
  11. The Kite Runner /Marc Forster, USA … emotive, a strong visual hook tells a universal tale.  Strong but slightly flat.
  12. Wall-E /Andrew Stanton, USA … innovative and exciting first 40 minutes, imaginative story then plummets to dullness. How could such potential diminish so quickly?  Massively disappointing.
  13. Indiana Jones /Steven Spielberg, USA … couldn’t resist, my hero returns for more hokum.  Better than Indy 3 nowhere near as good as Raiders.  Old Harrison just about pulls it off, thankfully the laconic Bogart delivery doesn’t diminish with age.
  14. Gone Baby Gone /Ben Affleck, USA … well told crime tale, sturdy acting.  Delayed release due to freakish parallel with real UK child abduction case in the news.
  15. Burn After Reading /Ethan Coen/Joel Coen, USA … poor, almost embarrassing acting and casting, the Coens back to coasting mode.
  16. Hellboy 2 /Guillermo del Toro, USA/Germany … what a let-down, the best bit by far (which produced the only audience laugh) is the singing of a Barry Manilow song.  Save your pennies and watch that clip on YouTube.

Missed but heard good things on:

Hunger (UK), 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Romania), The Class (France), Waltz with Bashir (Israel), In Bruges (UK/USA),  Man on Wire (UK/USA)

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“Silent Light” – Update. It’s being shown on Film 4 tomorrow night!

A little late in the day, but I just happened to notice a film I blogged about back in April is being shown in the UK tomorrow evening (Monday 11th August) at 11.30pm on Film4.

“Silent Light” is the latest film by the talented Mexican Director Carlos Reygadas and was given it’s theatrical release in 2007. The pacing is described as “funereal” so it might not be to everyone’s taste, but it is described as “overwhelmingly powerful” by the Guardian.

Below is some information on this award-winning film taken from the Radio Times website, my original post can be found here. I was initially struck by the beautifully composed still images from this film and I vowed to track it down and give it a viewing. Tomorrow evening will provide the perfect opportunity. :-)

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Excellent websites for Movie Reviews …

For the film fans amongst you, here are my two favourite sites for checking out reviews for movies old and new.

1) metacritic.com (“Metacritic compiles reviews from respected critics and publications for film, video/dvd, books, music, television and games. Features the nifty Metascore which shows the critical consensus at a glance by taking a weighted average of critic grades).


2) mrqe.com (“provides a searchable index of all published and available movie reviews.” Includes 69,993 titles and 684,131 articles).

 

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“Tokyo Story” a film by Yasujiro Ozu (Japan) 1953

This is a wonderful film I saw last weekend. I have listed below some random facts and opinions. I hope it intrigues and encourages some of you to see it and do let me know what you think.

  • Brief Plot : Two elderly parents from a small seaside town in southwest Japan pay a visit to their busy children in Tokyo – a journey that, before the introduction of the bullet train, took almost a day.
  • Released one year after the end of the Allied Occupation of Japan, showing the changes and transitions on the road to a modern Japan.
  • “This film is the Director’s masterpiece: tender, profoundly mysterious and desperately sad” (Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian)
  • A classic of World Cinema (BBC)
  • Made post World War II, released in 1953 and shot in black and white.
  • One of the best 100 Films ever made (Time Magazine).
  • Sight and Sound magazine called “Tokyo Story” one of the three greatest films of all time”.
  • The Best Film Ever Made declared in 2005 by Halliwell’s Film Guide.
  • Simple yet universal theme of families and how they can drift apart.
  • 100% Japanese reflecting a very different culture and society values to the West.
  • Many filming techniques are quite alien to those familiar with mainstream movies.
  • Trademark Ozu style: slow and still, low camera angles, minimilist, static camera (as a mere observer), lack of action, uneventful plot, no upbeat ending, landscape or wide-shots are used to allow a “chill-out” and separate scenes, characters often filmed sideways allowing the viewer to feel in the middle of the conversation, scenes often filmed in profile and framed within a building.
  • The Director pioneered “ellipses” where major events are discussed but not shown within a film.
  • “Tokyo Story” was not released in the US until 1972.
  • Ozu made 54 films (26 in his first 5 yrs), which were very popular in Japan but under-appreciated in the West.
  • There is a lack of editing and scenes are often shot in one take.
  • Because of this lack of manipulation the viewer slowly becomes emotionally engaged with the characters and eventually by the end of the film the cumulative effect is that it hits home with power and honesty.
  • Ozu does not point fingers instead he creates more of a contemplative meditation on the transitory nature of life.
  • One of the most sympathetic characters Toriko (the daughter-in-law) is played by Sesuko Haro who features in many of the Director’s other films. The actress never gave interviews and refused to be photographed, she retired from making films at the height of her fame.
  • The viewer is drawn towards the characters through subtle gestures, observation of Japanes social manners and conversation, tiny details echo the bigger picture with wonderful camera framing and cinematography.
  • Sound plays an important part, the rhythm of journey pervades the entire film, from background steamboats to speeding trains. A ticking clock or the sounds of the city subtly compliment the major themes of the story.
  • One of the Director’s favourite films was Orson Welles “Citizen Kane”.
  • My favourite key message “the beauty of life is often found by standing still”
An amazing website detailing images and journals from Ozu’s huge back catalogue can be found here it seems to be part of the University of Toyko website.

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“The Chorlton Bench Project” by Gill Moore. Preview Night, Chorlton Arts Festival @ Chorlton Library, Manchester.

Last Friday 16th May saw the launch of the 8th Chorlton Arts Festival.  The programme covers visual arts, dance, music, film and with 18,000 visitors to last years festival it seems to grow more popular, bigger and better each year.  It is all based around a 1 mile square area in the South Manchester suburb of Chorlton, Manchester, UK.
I was lucky enough to be chosen to exhibit my most recent work “The Chorlton Bench Project” and I was delighted to be able to bag my number one venue at Chorlton Library.
Friday was the Preview Night for all the visual artists.  Part of the Festival’s appeal is that venue’s can range from an Art Gallery such as Arison, a plant nursery, barschurches and even a first for the festival someone’s own house becoming an ArtHOUSE.
After weeks of hard work and preparation things went right to the wire for my Exhibition;  I kid you not, I had people queuing at the door.  But bang on 6pm I was ready and my Preview Night was up and running. The most popular bench in Chorlton was named shortly after the start.   Lance Crookes, who features in one of the photographs, very kindly accepted my invitation to make the announcement.  The winner was Mary’s Bench which is fairly close to Jackson’s Boat alongside the River Mersey.  Voted Top Spot due to number of visitors, bench aesthetics, bench user vibe and having a darn lovely view.  Apparently the Chorlton Kingfisher can be seen from this spot.
Three other popular shots on the Preview Night were: “smile” on the Blue Bench, “After The Storm” from the Flower Bench and “butties” on the Triangle Bench.  To see all the images selected for the exhibition together with some further information on the “The Chorlton Bench Project” just click here.
Many thanks to those generous souls who selflessly helped with the exhibition and to everyone who made the effort to come along to show their support.  It would have been a very lonely night indeed without you all, I had a fantastic time and I hope you all enjoyed the evening.  The free wine just lasted til the end thank goodness :-)  I have done a quick little montage from pictures taken on the evening (thanks Mike!).
I had loads of feedback notes in the suggestion box, I am so glad I put that up, I always feel a bit self-conscious writing in a comments book so I thought I would try out the box and see what happened.  There were many lovely positive words which are enormously helpful and encouraging to me.  I have posted a few below (I hope people don’t mind).  The handmade postcards sold well, certainly worth all the effort.
This time I’ve been much more organised on the publicity front.  I had fab support from Helen @ Marketing Doris.  I got a little feature in the South Manchester Reporter, though my cunning plan to ensure any picture of my good self would have to be tiny was thwarted as they upsized the small file I gave them and so not only was the picture of me printed, it was big AND fuzzy. :-(
Whilst putting up the exhibition, I got chatting to lots of people who were interested in the images.  This is just what I had been hoping for, folk were reminiscing on their favourite benches, gently chiding me for ones I had missed out,  stories behind some of them (the flower bench grew from a previous Arts Festial which had a nice symmetry).   I even met my local councillor Val Stevens …. a mine of information on Chorlton plus a few of the people who featured in the shots who came along to say hello; it was lovely to see their reaction to the finished work.
“The Chorlton Bench Project” Exhibition will be on display at the library until the end of May, normal library opening hours.  After that, I would love to take the work somewhere else and possibly produce a book illustrated with stories from the locals and with hand-drawn maps of the area and where you can find each bench.  I  have been contacted by a local school who want to write and perform a drama based on one of the benches (I shall let you know how that develops) and an idea that came up on Preview Night was for a web-based International Bench Project (where people could upload their own bench shots from around the world) which would be amazing.  So watch this space …..
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