Wednesday, 26 October 2016


even les miserables. hate it when people rant about les mis when they saw the movie, omgosh seriously though, there's so much more to it when you read the book:


This is a psychological thriller with pretty good reviews everywhere. The director is Australian, Joel Edgerton and he does an excellent job with thin material; it is very well put together and beautifully edited. Briefly, it’s about an upwardly-mobile young couple recently moved to Chicago for a new job/fresh start and the husband runs in to an old school friend from twenty or so years ago who then follows him home, takes an unhealthy interest in his wife, keeps leaving them gifts, keeps turning up outside at unexpected moments and generally won’t leave them alone. It turns out that the husband bullied this guy mercilessly at school; so, what does he want now?
Quite a nice premise. Keeps you gripped more or less to the end and there are some subtleties in the screenplay, like the wife wondering what kind of monster she has married and the husband realising that he has a job that he isn’t really qualified for and has a classy wife that is too good for him. It isn’t a simple stalking film.

Best of all Rebecca Hall is in it: she transforms everything she appears in.


We missed this first time around at the beginning of the year. Wasn’t that bothered if truth be told; I read the book ages ago and couldn’t really see how a film might improve on the reading/imagination experience. And it doesn’t.
Matt Damon is in it and I don’t know how much he was paid but money can’t buy what he brings to something like this. It isn’t just great acting: it’s an everyman character that never overwhelms the telling of the tale. Tremendous, I think.
I am not going to slag it off. How can you slag off something that made $650m at the box but only cost $110m to make. But I much preferred the book.


We watched this on TV.
Mathew McConaughey is in it, as is Reece Witherspoon in a minor role [is her career over now?]. I wasn’t fussed with it: another American film in which all is resolved with guns.
It is a kind of modern take on Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations with Pip and his secret liaisons with Magwich. Here Magwich is played by McConaughey, hiding on a river island after having been chased by the law for the murder of a man down in Texas. The Pip person is a young boy, Ellis who brings him food and fuel for his boat and tries to reconcile him with his long-time girlfriend, Witherspoon. That’s it really; that’s the story. Reviewers draw comparisons with the greats of American literature: Hemingway; Huck Finn; Peckinpah; the river and the island as a boys-own adventure ground. Peckinpah I suppose because of the violent shoot-out at the end. All very American; all very male.
It’s got good reviews though. Maybe I just don’t know my American literary references well enough to make the necessary connections. And the guns; again.


Image result for linocut reduction

The International Print Biennial is on all over the North East just now: every commercial gallery is showing something, so it is a big event. We spent yesterday traipsing around some of those galleries to see what was there.
There is a wide range of techniques and styles; at the Biscuit Factory they have maybe 200 works, all no larger than 100x100mm for sale at prices from £50 and upwards but nothing costing more than £150. There is something terribly attractive about miniature art; the detail the ambition. We would have bought something but couldn’t think where to put it. We have too much stuff already.
I think my problem with print is I don’t appreciate the work involved. Also, I don’t really understand why an artist would choose silkscreen over lino-cut for example and what the limitations are. I don’t appreciate technique in anything: not in art; not in music; not in sport, not in literature either for that matter. You can knock off the greatest guitar solo ever recorded with amazing finger technique but if it isn’t musical, it will end up in my trash bin. So a lot of these works by famous Japanese lino cut practitioners passed me by; my loss I guess.


Image result for filipino nurses

I posted this in The Guardian yesterday in response to a piece about migrants in the NHS:

I am in and out of hospital a lot these days. Five years ago, which is when my illness really kicked in 95% of nurses were white/British. Now the ratio is more like 75%/25%; the 25% being Asian in this part of the UK.
I have no statistics to support this assertion only my own observations as I lie in bed on the ward. They are not just doing the bed-changing and the hand-holding; there was a Filipino nurse in A&E running the entire ward single-handedly and doing a great job in incredibly difficult circumstances [drunks/violent old guys/ other old guys falling out of bed]. What she couldn’t handle however were the visitors. The visitors who came outside of visiting hours; the visitors who arrived en-masse instead of keeping to the rules of only two at a time; the visitors yelling into their phones, keeping everyone else on the ward awake and very much aware of their presence. Because a Filipino nurse cannot tell a white woman what to do. Cannot tell her to switch off her phone or come back later when the first group of visitors have left.

I used to think that if they could come back at night and observe the nurse’s kindness to their old dad; changing his sheets that he poo-ed on; spoon-feeding him mashed potato for fifteen minutes; keeping an eye on him and ensuring that his pillows are puffed-up, then their racist attitudes would evaporate but now they do turn up at night and they see all this and they still talk to her like she crawled from under a rock.  

What they need of course is support from the Matrons but there are no Matrons: they have all gone into private nursing banks for twice the money.  

I thought I would post it here because it achieved 20 Likes and quite a few complimentary comments.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016


Image result for georgia o'keeffe santa fe

We went to the Georgia O’Keefe Exhibition at the Tate Modern on Saturday on a lightning trip to London. £35 to get in and it was heaving.

I am not a huge fan and found it quite disappointing.  The works were largely the earlier black & white line drawings with their sensuous sexual connotations; the flower stuff [not many of them, thank God] and barely half a dozen of her intense colour landscapes. Which were what we made the effort for.

When we went to Santa Fe the second time we visited the Georgia O’Keefe Museum; I remember we took the bus for some reason. I didn’t know her at all then, just a vague awareness of her as an American landscape painter. They had curated the very best of her New Mexico output, what a shame they didn’t lend it to the Tate for this exhibition but some Dweed has decided they should show her arc. Are we interested in her arc? I am interested in Picasso’s arc because it’s all precociously brilliant but this is someone still looking for her groove: bit like early Hendrix before he came to England. She gets there in the end but £35?  

Having said which, I think the painting at the top of the page which is not in the Tate but is in Santa Fe, is outstanding. The white band just above the tree-line is inspired.