Polaroid would be better

When choosing my new glasses, including the slightly shifty “free” second pair, I allowed myself to be “upsold” the reactive glasses. There was a nagging thought that this wasn’t quite the correct choice, related to an incoherent semi-memory of a friend’s advice. My solution to the problem I previously had with rimless glasses has been to wear them all the time, meaning that I’m much less likely to sit on them. The side-benefit here is that I can see what’s going on in the world at all times.

One of the first events at which I benefitted from this new clarity was the preview of Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel at the BFI. It’s just as successful as Moonrise Kingdom, which itself marked an improvement after the waywardness of the Darjeeling Limited. The Hackney WICKed Takeover at the V&A was a strange event. It was so busy I had to queue to get in, which was a particular affront given how close my office is. The private cinema within a wardrobe was too busy, sadly, and in general, as my companion observed, there was something awry in the reality of the Hackneyites’ transposition to South Ken. The next day I thought I was going to the last day of A History of Redbridge in Maps at the Redbridge Museum in the library at Ilford. (My sense of efficiency was disappointed to note on arrival that it had been extended until June…this does of course mean it’s still available to view, which is unusual for one of my retrospective listings) The interesting revelation here was that there were plans for an airport in Redbridge after the end of the second world war, but they were ignored in favour of what was, at the time, a small airport in West London. You could also see how rapid was the housing and population growth enabled and stimulated by railway development. [link to Flickr set]

That afternoon I caught the last day of the Isaac Julien show at Victoria Miro. The main attraction was the premiere of Playtime upstairs. Other people had noticed it was the last day, and they were only being admitted upstairs in batches. There were people sprawled around the room on the floor. The arrangement of the seven video screens meant that there wasn’t a single focal point or definitively preferred viewpoint, though there was a clustering of spectators along one of the walls. As new people arrived, they had to pick their way through the crowd daintily, picking which would be their main screen of interest. When the other screens went blank and only one had something happening, it was odd to see everyone’s heads turn in that direction (this effect rotated across the seven). Certainly I haven’t been part of such a large commune of art brinkspeople before [link to Flickr set] – it was only just possible for me to see the whole thing before the gallery closed at 6pm. I liked the little in-joke of the James Franco character, in his monologue about the art market, referring to the growth of various sectors,

Even video art.

Isaac Julien

That evening I saw Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street at the South Woodford Odeon. The main disappointment here was that I had higher expectations of dwarf throwing (based on advance reports) than the film was able to deliver.

On Sunday 2nd March I saw Jeremy Deller’s touring English Magic show at the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow. As usual with Deller, I liked the acerbic blurbs. There was someone making prints of an owl in flight, the image taken from the video that showed, amongst other things, a fine bit of bouncy Stonehenge mayhem with the soundtrack being a steel band cover of Voodoo Ray, the original being part of my musical birthright as a Mancunian, in the late eighties. (The following Thursday we went to a late night opening at the same gallery, the specific attractions including a film premiere related to English folk rituals and a performance by the Melodian steel band from the video:

Quite lovely to experience their A Guy Called Gerald cover live. He was behind us in the queue for coffee and there was a diffidence-based face off.) English Magic is now showing in Bristol and then it moves to Margate. [link to Flickr set]

I made a quick stop at the Barbican to see the We Create “weekender”, which included a large blue orb emanating sounds, plus a live projection of people’s silhouettes being manipulated and live remixing of a set of performances on individual instruments onto a video wall. [link to Flickr set]

L’Eclisse, which was on the Monday at the BFI as part of their Passport to Cinema season, provided a rather different view of money-market excess. Antonioni sly as ever, showing the end of an affair at the beginning, and the remorseless continuation of the surroundings in which the second affair failed to prosper, at the end. Also, I must note that most financial operatives don’t look like Alain Delon in his prime, nor do their paramours resemble Monica Vitti. The endearingly bad-tempered introduction to the film included the assertion that the best art is

Poetry, beyond the reach of the intellect

and that

Stories are only of interest for what they lead to.

While everyone stayed for L’Eclisse, five people walked out of The Last Man, a Lebanese vampire film I saw on the Saturday, including a couple who were twenty minutes late arriving anyway. Most odd.

Georgians Revealed at the British Library included more examples of children chafing against the arbitrary restrictions imposed on them in public.

No, that’s a gentleman’s buckle

said one parent in answer to a child’s suggestion of an item’s identification, while another said:

It’s an exhibition, you’re not supposed to play.

Harris’s List of Covent Garden Ladies concluded one example with the following:

Everyone will find her bush, small as it is, well worth the expense of entering.

Right at the end there was a clever room, on the floor of which was projected a large scale map of Georgian London, with displays around the walls focusing on individual numbered areas, which you could then walk to.

That weekend concluded with the third in the series of British Screen Classics at the Tricycle, hosted by Jim Carter. I couldn’t avoid the feeling that he was referring to us when he mentioned seeing a “few familiar faces”, who’d been at the previous events. Brassed Off is quite an unsettling film in some ways, and all the better for it.

It turns out that proper sunglasses would be much better than these ever-changing pretend ones. Hmmph.


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