In Norwich, we have an independent and relatively small cinema - Cinema City. It is the most personal and comfortable picture house in Norwich. Today we managed to get into the early showing of the new Charlotte Rampling/Tom Courtney film 45 Years. The film is set in Norfolk and some of the Norwich street scenes were shot literally 100 yards from the cinema. So it was very much a case of spotting people we knew.
Sadly that occupation was slightly more interesting than the film. That's where I may be flying in the face of art. There is no doubting that this is an artistic film in an understated way. It seems to have garnered universally good reviews. To me it was just tedious. It would be too much of a clever play on words to suggest that it seemed to last 45 years.
So what of the plot. Seemingly happily married couple looking to hold a party for family and friends to mark their 45th wedding anniversary. Wife discovers that husband had a relationship with another woman before they met. Women died in Switzerland and the film opens with a letter to the husband stating that his first love's body has finally been found. Wife discovers a few other things as well, but very little happens and it all becomes rather tedious. I won't give any more of the plot away suffice it to say that there isn't much more plot.
Let's just say two of the most interesting aspects of the film seemed to be whether husband Geoff is going to renew his library ticket and the mention by name of a well known Norwich do-it-yourself shop - Thorns. The film rambles, none of the themes are properly developed and it all becomes very tedious awaiting something of note to happen. To my mind it never does. I know that there are subtleties to the drama and plenty of nuances. I like my cinema to be a touch more blatant, however, and this is just too subtle. There seems to be a move at present in producing dramas and films where there is little action and the viewer is left to make up their own mind about what happens next. How much the couple's marriage is affected by what happens is left to the imagination.
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Finally got to make a proper visit to the Jeff Koons exhibition at Norwich Castle Museum today before it closes at the end of the week.
For me it wasn't so much about Koons as to the question of when is art art and when is it pretentious crap? Koons' work seems to leave that question unanswered. Not knowing much about the guy, I was surprised to read that many of the exhibits were designed but not made by him.
According to the Internet, critics are sharply divided in their views of Koons. Some view his work as pioneering and of major art-historical importance. Others dismiss his work as kitsch, crass, and based on cynical self-merchandising. I can honestly see both sides of this argument. Today he has between 90 and 120 regular assistants producing his work for him. So basically he is a designer of ideas. So does this make him an artist or not? There is no doubt that his work is colourful and some of it is interesting but where does art finish and everyday life take over?
One of the exhibits is a series of basketballs encased in what appears to be a plastic container. Koons seems to have made a series of artworks featuring basketballs as if the objects take on a character of their own. The description suggests that by encasing the basketballs he is taking away their usefulness and suspending them in something much greater. I am sorry this is not art. If it was, every display in every sports shop in the country would be art rather than items for sale. Likewise Koons display of vacuum cleaners isn't art, otherwise every hardware shop in the world would be an art installation.
Then there are areas that become very pseud with their description. A number of mirrors in the shape of cartoon and animal characters inform you that by looking into them you can feel that you are the centre of the universe. Presumably you can get the same feeling shaving or putting your make-up on in the bathroom mirror each morning irresepctive of whether it is in the shape of Mickey Mouse or and elephant.
There is merit to many of his works - I particularly like Winter Bears which are interesting and fun. They first appeared in a 1988 exhibition entitled "Banality" but once again they were produced by skilled craftsmen and not Koons.
So after half an hour in the exhibition I was still not sure about its relevance.
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Radio Two marked the 50th anniversary of the meeting between the Beatles and Elvis Presley. This momentous meeting took place on August 27th, 1965, and was marked by the radio station playing the top 50 best selling tracks from both artists. Certainly a day of great nostalgia. I have never been a great fan of Presley's although I do acknowledge his considerable contribution to rock music. The Beatles on the other hand loom large in my musical education. I have always been intrigued by the whole Merseybeat scene and the way the Beatles came together to produce the greatest pop music the world has ever known. I will develop this theme in a later blog.
So just what were the respective number ones on Radio Two? Well for Presley it was "It's Now or Never" and for The Beatles it is "She Loves You."