kagablog

September 2, 2008

chris letcher – deep frieze

Filed under: music — ABRAXAS @ 11:11 am

June 9, 2012

John Kirby Sextet – Musicomania

Filed under: harry, jumping,music — ABRAXAS @ 12:28 pm

“The Biggest Little Band In The Land”, the John Kirby Sextet from the 1947 movie “Sepia Cinderella”.

Charlie Shavers – trumpet
Buster Bailey – clarinet
Charlie Holmes – alto saxophone
Billy Kyle – piano
John Kirby – bass
“Big” Sid Catlett – drums

John Kirby’s band was at the height of their popularity from 1938-1942, with their sophisticated, elegant and light style of swing. Here we have Sid Catlett replacing drummer O’Neill Spencer who died in 1944.

John Kirby was of mixed race, but was brought up in the black community. There are some amusing anecdotes of him with Fletcher Henderson’s orchestra where they would use him to get things that were only available to white people (a certain gas station is one of them). So no, even though a couple of them are fairly light-skinned, they are all black.

June 8, 2012

John Kirby – Zooming At The Zombie

Filed under: harry, jumping,music — ABRAXAS @ 9:14 pm

John Kirby (December 31, 1908 — June 14, 1952), was a jazz double-bassist who also played trombone and tuba.

Kirby was born in Winchester, Virginia. In 1926, he moved to Baltimore, Maryland, a town he is still linked to by some. He played with Chick Webb and Fletcher Henderson. In the early 1930s, he performed some amazingly complicated tuba work on a number of Henderson’s recordings. In an unusual move, Kirby picked up on the double-bass at the time when tuba was falling out a favor as the orchestra’s primary bass instrument (few tuba players continued their role in the orchestra by switching to double-bass).

Kirby started his own band in 1937. The John Kirby Sextet, known as “The Onyx Club Boys” (usually including Kirby on bass, Charlie Shavers on trumpet, Buster Bailey on clarinet, Russell Procope on alto saxophone, Billy Kyle on piano and O’Neill Spencer on drums) would become one of the more significant “small groups” in a Big band era and had the first recording of Shavers’ song “Undecided”. Vocals were often performed by Maxine Sullivan, who also became Kirby’s wife in 1938 (divorced 1941). .

Kirby tended toward a lighter, classically-influenced style of jazz, which has both strong defenders and ardent critics. He was very prolific and popular from 1938-1941. After World War II his career declined and he died in Hollywood, California, just before a planned comeback. In 1993 he was inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame.

Unlike other then-popular “novelty” jazz groups (like Raymond Scott), the Kirby Sextet is not particularly well remembered today, although in New York, the Wayne Roberts Sextet (formerly the ‘Onyx Club Sextet’) pays tribute, and in France it is commemorated by the band ‘Kirby Memory’, with vocals by Flora Sicot. His small group light jazz style is a great example of how swing can also be elegant.

August 17, 2011

Winnie to premiere in Toronto

Filed under: south african cinema — ABRAXAS @ 4:48 pm

Darrell J. Roodt’s latest film Winnie will have its world premiere at the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in Canada.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Roodt and the film’s stars Jennifer Hudson and Terence Howard will walk the red carpet at the gala screening at the Roy Thomson Hall.

The Canada/South African co-production is described on the TIFF website as an ‘epic biopic tracing the controversial life of one of South Africa’s most revered and reviled figures: Winnie Mandela’.

The festival will run from 8 to 18 September and will also feature world premieres for the latest films by Nick Murphy, Gary McKendry, Joel Schumacher, Gianni Amelio, Agnieszka Holland, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Anne Fontaine, akin omotoso and Geoffrey Fletcher.

Other stars on the red carpet will include Robert De Niro, Jason Statham, Clive Owen, Ralph Fiennes, Nicolas Cage and Nicole Kidman.

May 4, 2011

CLAIRE ANGELIQUE’S MY BLACK LITTLE HEART SCREENING – BIOSCOPE

Filed under: south african cinema — ABRAXAS @ 5:53 am

************** FILM MAKER IN ATTENDANCE***************

My Black Little Heart

Friday 6 May 2011 21:00

The Bioscope – Johannesburg

286 Fox Road – Maboneng – Street Life on Main

R40

‘Occasionally at festivals such as the National Arts Festival one unearths someone one genuinely believes will rise above current constraints to become a beacon for others to follow. Claire Angelique is one such individual. Part kook, part poetess, resplendently slugging a can of Guinness, she holds court on all matters filmic.” – Mark Lloyd

‘one of the best drug movies I’ve ever seen’ – Andrew Worsdale

‘you’re horrified, but you can’t quite tear yourself away’ – Shaun De Waal

‘This powerful film My Black Little Heart, by Claire Angelique, is about female sexuality, freedom and the rituals of friendship. It is a striking example of S.A cinema at it’s best’ – Barry Ronge

“To be assaulted by a South African film made by a young Durban girl which is totally original and unique and which is made with a total respect and understanding of film language is very rare, She is one the best that we have in South Africa, and her talent should not be ignored.” – Trevor Steele Taylor

“Claire is unique, a true individual. She sees the world in a way that no one else does.” – Darryl James Roodt. “

“If she never makes another film after My Black Little Heart she will go down in history as the author of the most powerful South African film made to date.” – Aryan Kaganof

FILM MAKER IN ATTENDANCE

EXCLUSIVE Q&A WITH CLAIRE ANGELIQUE POST SCREENING

Claire Angelique is the first female winner of the

STANDARD BANK YOUNG ARTIST AWARD for film.

Her new feature film PALACE OF BONE premiers at the

NATIONAL ARTS FESTIVAL

GRAHAMSTOWN 2011.

Durban city’s underbelly gets ripped open in Claire Angelique’s début feature film My Black Little Heart. The Bioscope is proud to be screening this film, certainly one of the most daring and ground breaking film to have come out of South Africa.

There is only one other screening planned of this film in May, so make sure you get to see it.

Set and shot in the city of Durban, My Black Little Heart pummels the viewer into a world where Internet porn on Durban’s beach front meets Nigerian voodoo in the inner city and a young girl from the wrong side of the track-marks finds herself stuck in a hazy sub-city seaside vortex of decrepit flats, poisoned streets and abandoned office blocks littered with self mutilators, ex-cons, gangsters, street delinquents, hustlers and addicts.

Telling the tale of a heroin user/dancer, My Black Little Heart, is beautifully shot by Anthony Dod Mantle (behind the camera of many of Lars Von Triers films). Using mostly non-actors, the film’s dark subject matter finds its counterpoint in its dreamlike and non-linear narrative. It chronicles both a deeply personal narrative and a city in transition. With a soundtrack by Chris Letcher and a resonating local narrative, the film presents a thoroughly original view of the world. Durban has never looked more beautiful or more ugly

May 9, 2010

Dread, beat and blood

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LLOYD GEDYE

Warrick Sony doesn’t mince his words — a characteristic that resulted in his music being banned by the apartheid state in the 1980s.

Whether it was the The Last Kick/ One Verwoed in the Grave, with its great chorus — “This is the last kick of a dying horse” — or the cracker, Bigger than Jesus, which was banned at that time, the Kalahari Surfers were on the cutting edge of social commentary and protest music in South Africa.

Well, the firebrand Sony is back — and he is angry.

With his new album, One Party State, Sony returns to the overtly political song structures he created in the 1980s, but with a dystopian dubstep edge added to the mix.

Sony is on the attack and he has the ANC-led government firmly in his sights. Lock and load.

“I am feeling a rage that I haven’t felt since the bad old days,” says Sony. “A rage at being the joke of the world, being ashamed to be from here again is too much.

“We have something approaching anarchy with a government so wrapped up in criminal prosecutions and court cases and infighting and backbiting that it is hard for it to find time to govern,” he says.

“I have been feeling that a lot of the idiocracy going on now is not unsimilar to what we were dealing with in the 1980s. The kind of ‘Should I cry or should I laugh?’ moments with our political personalities that are very familiar to a lot of us who were creating artistic work during the apartheid years.

“I feel people should express what they feel,” he says. “The YouTube track with the Juju sample — “Bloody agent, bastard” — called Revolutionary House I think is a case in point, very much like what we were doing in the 1980s, turning the whole race thing around, making fun of it, lightening it.

CONTINUES BELOW

“Anyone can dance to that track and laugh, too, especially when you are on the dance floor and Juju’s voice booms out at you: ‘Don’t come here with that white tendency, get out’. It’s a magical moment of supreme irony,” he says.

Sony, who spent most of February and some of March touring the United Kingdom on the African Soul Rebels tour with Malian diva Oumou Sangare and Benin’s funk masters Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou, says it was incredibly weird when he returned to South Africa.

“Coming back home was bizarre. I had missed out on a chunk of our history,” says Sony. “There had been Juju’s corruption claims, Jub Jub’s motor-car deaths and the murder of Eugene.”

Without a doubt it was a crazy time in South Africa’s history and One Party State sounds like the perfect soundtrack to the mad events we are living through.

It’s a dark, ominous monster of a record that skulks around the room, looking intimidating but offering a release from the madness, too.

“I actually wanted this album to comprise songs similar to what I’d done in the 1980s, but I had completed a lot of music that I felt was just music without a centre or a soul,” says Sony. “My friend Fletcher [African Dope founder and Cape Town DJ] lent me a whole lot of dubstep CDs.

“I loved the tempos, the simplicity, often of the electronics, and mostly the scary atmospheres, which for me gave it the edge that a lot of other dance music was lacking,” says Sony. “I relate to that. South Africa is a scary place. For me the best kwaito tracks have that edge, that attitude. They should scare you like the original Yizo Yizo tracks from mid-1990s.

“One Party State was material that I had been working on since Panga Management and was always next in line,” he says. “The African Soul Rebels tour came up and I set myself the deadline of having the album ready for the tour.”

When I ask Sony whether this album could be seen as a successor to Panga Management: South African Dub Chapter One — South African Dub Chapter Two, perhaps — Sony says no.

“This album is more to do with the content and a lot of the content is pretty scary,” he says. “Thinking Man’s Terrific Dub Volume One would be better.”

He is right. Take a listen to the chilling crime narratives that make up the track Frontiers of Madness, which is presented in an achingly beautiful way, like a long-lost outtake from Tricky’s Maxinquaye.

“Good people have left, criminals have rights,” sings Sony in the background. “The violence of the state has been replaced by the violence of criminals who are holding our democracy ­hostage,” he says.

How can you disagree with the man? South Africans live in fear to the point where we are not even conscious of it any more.

When the album closes with the hidden track, Pigs at the Trough, which juxtaposes chants of Long Live the ANC, Long Live to the sound of pigs eating their fill, it left this reviewer with a sense of satisfaction that Sony is back on the case.

this interview first appeared on mg.co.za

July 3, 2009

Crimes of the heart

Filed under: shaun de waal,south african cinema — ABRAXAS @ 11:00 pm

Two South African films showing at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown (July 2 to 11) might be classified as “indie” productions.

Not that we really have an indie film sector as such. In the United States, where the term originated, “indie” means lower-budget films other than those made by the big studios, and we don’t have studios of that ilk in South Africa, so maybe all our films are indies.

But “indie” is also a look and a feel, and both Crime and My Black Little Heart have that feel. Perhaps it’s just the relatively minor budgets, though the latter wasn’t a whole lot cheaper to make than White Wedding, which is very much a mainstream movie (and a commercial success).

It is also the apparent determination of both movies to tell an uncomfortable story head-on — and not to attempt to ingratiate themselves with audiences by getting all entertaining.

Both deal with trauma, either as a specific event and its aftermath (Crime), or as the pain and unhappiness generated by drug addiction (My Black Little Heart). Which leads one to wonder: when narratives are about trauma and pain, what’s the pay-off for the audience? It may feel helluva good for one to watch a movie about a whole lot of suffering, as if you were getting the unvarnished truth about life rather than mere escapist fantasy, but where’s the fun for viewers of unremittingly dark, traumatic films?

I don’t really know. This is a question I keep pondering, not just in relation to certain movies but also about some novels. The issue was raised when JM Coetzee’s Disgrace became, briefly, part of a national discourse about self-perception and representation (of, in part, “the other”).

If I recall correctly, one view expressed at the time was that Coetzee wasn’t actually such a gloom-merchant as it seemed from his books, but rather a charlatan who sort of pretended to be so gloomy because that’s what we expect of “high art”, of serious literature with a “message”.

I think that’s a silly argument, and I can’t see Coetzee’s gloom as anything other than genuine, but it does make one ask about the usefulness and/or the pleasure of depressing art works.

No thinking viewer or reader likes to slip into the position of the empty-headed hedonist who just wants to be entertained.

CONTINUES BELOW

Rather, we want to feel tougher than that, able to take a bit of hardcore high art — work that claims to speak about something real and relevant. It feels more meaningful than laughing at Seth Rogen or being thrilled by Jet Li.

Is that just intellectual snobbery? After all, we’re not all artistic masochists. If we got nothing enjoyable or stimulating from such works, would we watch or read them? There is, surely, an authentic desire to get from such a work a sense that it has penetrated to a more profound level of reality and has come back with insights we need to hear.

It may be a need for what Aristotle famously called catharsis, the emotional release achieved by vicariously participating in the tragedies of others.

I think I tend to deal with this question on a case-by-case basis; that is, I try to decide if a particular novel or film (traumatic or not) worked for me or not, and why. This may have as much to do with a day’s mood or preoccupations as anything else, and may also have to do with the way trauma is presented in fictional narrative, which feeds into the much larger question of realism and fantasy. As far as realism goes, at least, there may be some clues in Crime and My Black Little Heart.

Crime is about a well-off bourgeois (Kevin Smith) who comes home one evening to find that his wife (Kim Cloete) has cornered a man (Tsepo Desandro) who broke into the house. She believes he is one of the men who hijacked her a few weeks before, and she wants revenge.

What to do? (Apart from get better security.) As the increasingly heated discussion between husband and wife proceeds, the film flashes back in fits and starts to the earlier hijacking and the trauma visited upon the wife.

And traumatic it certainly is. Crime gets harder and harder to watch as it goes on. That’s mostly because the events it portrays are hard to come to terms with, and because they haunt all our lives in South Africa (except perhaps politicians with bodyguards and motorcades). It’s also hard to watch, though, because the acting can’t always bear the weight placed on it as the characters become ever more unhinged — which is really to say, I suppose, that I wasn’t entirely convinced by their emotional journey.

Cloete, for instance, is very good in the hijack scenes but seems to be straining in the discussions with hubby.

My Black Little Heart, by comparison, is very convincing indeed — almost too much so. In a meandering, back-and-forth way, it traces the experiences of a young Durban woman who’s a heroin addict. It’s ugly, it’s sordid, it’s depressing. And, as in so many such narratives, from Requiem for a Dream and Candy to Melinda Ferguson’s autobiographical book, Smacked, the line from addiction to dereliction to prostitution and violent abuse seems to follow a horribly inevitable course.

It is undoubtedly courageous of writer-director Claire Angelique to make such a film, let alone to cast herself in the lead as Chloe (though the credits tell us coyly that Chloe is played by one Skyf Umlungu). And My Black Little Heart is undoubtedly a good film. The acting never feels like acting, the storyline seldom feels contrived (I place a question mark next to the Nigerian-voodoo passages, shockingly photogenic though they are — they feel like exotica for a non-African audience). The narrative confuses at points, and one is not sure if that’s just muddled storytelling or a deliberately “non-linear” approach, but it doesn’t matter much.

This story is compelling for as long as it lasts — you’re horrified, but you can’t quite tear yourself away. It’s hard to watch, like Crime, but somehow it delivers more satisfaction to the viewer.

Why is this? You get increasingly irritated with the Chloe character — often you want to give her a very hard slap. You get exasperated by the cycles of repetition that characterise addiction. You fall into the kind of despair that anyone who has dealt with an addict will know. But there’s enough in My Black Little Heart to keep you watching.

I think what makes all the difference is aesthetic stuff. The music by Chris Letcher is excellent, and the grungy-beautiful cinematography by Anthony Dod Mantle (who shot Slumdog Millionaire and a few films for Lars von Trier) is what gives this unhappy tale its poetry.

So, after all that querulous pondering, I come to a conclusion I’m not sure I want to embrace: the idea that look and style and feel, indie or not, can make trauma bearable as a viewing experience. If Crime were more good-looking, would it be more watchable? It might be less realistic.

Perhaps I am just punting the “consolations of form”. Or I’m merely echoing Nietzsche, without knowing whether I agree with him, when he said: “Only as an aesthetic phenomenon is the world justified.”

this review first appeared on mG.co.za

April 4, 2009

dubbed out

Filed under: music — ABRAXAS @ 1:17 pm

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DUBBED OUT

Sat 4th April

ft. the dubstyled wizardry of 2 of Cape Towns favorite Dubstep DJ’s

FLETCHER
FUNAFUJI

Free before 10pm
R20

Doors 9pm

Location:
The Assembly
61 Harrington Street
Cape Town, South Africa

Phone: 00-27-214657286
Email: info@theassembly.co.za

February 12, 2009

shocking and unyielding: my black little heart is a nonlinear tale of drugs and porn that comes at you like the worst trip you’ve ever had, writes andrew worsdale

Filed under: south african cinema — ABRAXAS @ 10:35 am

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Andrew Worsdale hooks up with Claire Angelique, who’s directorial debut “ My Black Little Heart” is South Africa’s first unvarnished drug movie; pity that it might not see the light of day.

“She’s just so drugged up, it’s ridiculous. She’s that close to being toxic,” an acquaintance whispered while a zonked Claire Angelique was fielding questions about her film “My Black Little Heart” after a rare screening at the ‘First Wednesday Film Club’ at Atlas Studios in Johannesburg during November. She didn’t really field questions – the audience was baffled, some shocked and squeamishly nauseated, others restless and worn-out by the unyielding, claustrophobic feature film they’d just seen.

For a movie set in Durban it’s strange to feel suffocated. Angelique hardly ever lets you even look out of a window in her semi-biographical tale of Chloe, played by Angelique herself, a dancer strung out on crack and heroin. There’s very little sight of the sky let alone the ocean in this corrosive tale set by sea, instead there are rotting mattresses, peeling walls in grotty little holes littered with drug paraphernalia and strange sex toys. In this movie there’s a dead foetus (on the beach, nogal), bedsores, a gang rape, intravenous drug use, stoned out of your bracket nakedness, and no redemption, no pat ending to console your fears of addiction.

Virtually impossible to précis, the non-linear narrative comes at you like the worst trip you’ve ever had – and you don’t have to have abused drugs to get it. Perhaps its best to quote the Durban Film Festival programme (the only other public screening the movie’s had so far in South Africa), “ ‘My Black Little Heart’ pummels the viewer into a world where Internet porn on Durban’s beach front meets Nigerian voodoo in the inner city and a young girl from the wrong side of the track-marks finds herself stuck in a hazy sub-city seaside vortex of decrepit flats, poisoned streets and abandoned office blocks littered with self mutilators, ex-cons, gangsters, street delinquents, hustlers and addicts.”

After the Atlas screening many of the audience were lukewarm even disdainful, they were wishing for a happy ending, looking for the kind of sugarcoated absolution you’d expect from Hollywood. There is in fact a last act set in a rehab; but there’s no magic recovery. Instead there’s an uncompromising aesthetic and message to the movie – there’s no easy way out and addiction finally gets repetitive, boring, mundane, crummy and squalid, you soil your soul.

That’s what Angelique shows and that’s why the movie gets self-involved, mind numbing and fetid and it’s also why the film is one of the best ‘drug’ movies I’ve ever seen. Like Uli Edel’s 1970 classic “Christiane F”, a grungy box-office sensation about a young Berlin girl who turns hooker to support her heroin habit, Angelique’s movie is unremittingly grim. In fact Time Out Film Guide’s review of the German cult hit could be applied to “My Black Little Heart”, “the film’s very relentlessness (whether calculated or not) ensures a ‘correct’ gut reaction to the spectacle of a near-zomboid alternation of fix and hustle.”

“I wanted to create a work that delved deeply into the psychology and dark side of our nature, something that would be transcendental and complex,” she says in her droned Durban lilt, “That hopefully wouldn’t undermine our audience’s intellect – as Hollywood blockbusters do. They feed the world with junk food and sooner or later it’s gonna to be bad for your health, mentally by watching this plethora of saturated fat. (With films) I don’t just want to go grab a pizza, I want the food to be the work, I want to feel full and be able to digest what I have seen and heard.”

When I ask her if the film is really about loneliness, she demurs and admits she’s even more confused now than when she made it. But she does offer something, “No matter what happens, you can get raped, people die on you, you lose friends, respect, you land up in jail, your parents hate you, nobody understands why you keep destructing, you become a ‘deathwish’ girl/boy…the thing is that maybe you like it down there, you build a home there, that side of yourself becomes a comfort others who would never dare don’t understand. It becomes a very singular space, there’s light in the darkness, it (becomes) the retreat. I think the film asks the question, when all is said and done, do you want to come back? I mean what the fuck do you come back to 5fm, Morning Live, Happy Families and Sunday roasts…?”

Angelique is no stranger to controversy. Before her foray into film she, like Chloe, was a dancer as well as an award-winning choreographer. She did stuff as a performance and video artist, managed over 15 bands and deejays, co-ordinated and conceptualised youth radio programmes, directed music videos and hacked it out as a freelance journalist. But after being selected for the Berlinale Talent Campus in 2004 she set her sights on making a movie.

“I can’t sing and I don’t have a band, well one that plays music anyway, and I’m too A.D.D to commit to a novel so a feature film seemed the only format really to have been invented so far that can hold people’s attention span whilst giving the filmmaker a solid enough period in order to reach them with a full involved, detailed and emotional story,” she says, adding, “I also seriously needed some money and no one gives a fuck about short films and I hate kwaito so wasn’t prepared to try hustle a music video.”

The amazing thing is she managed to get R8 million to make her first feature. “I basically just hustled companies or producers whose films I liked until I got lucky… I must admit I was quite green at the beginning, which worked in my favour initially with regards to securing finance, because there were no stakes for me. I thought I could make the film with no money at all. I know Durban’s inner city back to front, I know the street people, I know what its like to keep running, so I thought I could just pull it off with a digital 8.”

Being a major fan of European art-house movies she sent out a bulk mail with her unsolicited script to anyone and everyone she felt might respond.
“When one of my favourite young directors, Harmony Korine, shot Julien Donkey Boy under the auspices of Dogme, I had an inkling I would fit in with the Zentropa family.” Zentropa is the Danish company started by famed provocateur Lars Von Trier that established the Dogme 95 manifesto, which called for movies to be made with hand-held cameras, available light and sound and found props. Although “Julien Donkey Boy” didn’t strictly adhere to the rules, this terrifyingly weird kaleidoscopic flick about a schizophrenic young man was made under their mentorship.

Angelique hustled her script to Zentropa young guns Nina Helveg and Sarita Christensen who were looking for something a bit wayward, “Sarita and I really liked the project, which we found to be pioneering and edgy, and we liked Claire a lot,” Helveg told Screen Africa, “But at the same time it was difficult to identify our involvement in the film from a financing point of view, being a Danish production company with no obvious connection to a story set in South Africa or a foreign director. The turning point came when Zentropa’ s German-based co-producer Shotgun Pictures picked up this exact same project through other channels. This peculiar twist of fate convinced us that we should do this film together. And so we did.”

Not only did Claire luck out in getting real money and a proper budget to make a deeply personal underground movie and smash the conventions of South African cinema as well as just shock people for fun, she also got one of the world’s greatest cinematographers to film it. Anthony Dod Mantle, a hot Oscar-tip for his most recent lensing on “Slumdog Millionaire”, started as a D.O.P with Dogme and shot “Julienne Donkey-Boy” as well as Von Trier’s “Dogville” and “Manderlay”. Mantle came as part of the deal, the financial backing with a godsend of a cameraman. The movie looks amazing and by all accounts the accomplished Scot got on incredibly well with the neophyte director.

In a round-table discussion for the ‘Sunday Tribune’ with Angelique and composer Chris Letcher (who contributes a lateral haunting score and layered audio narrative for the film) Mantle said that she guided him more than any other director with references, pictures of people, locations, landscapes, verses and lots of rambling long before the shoot began, “You were a thorough accomplice… We became a kind of strange Siamese twin emotionally even though I wasn’t from Durban…You seem to have a natural sense for the marginal in society, especially the youth, a kind of gritty but intriguing delinquent zeitgeist for the topic.”

Angelique says she was literally given full creative control during production, “Nobody was on my back during the entire process. I think they were a bit scared or in awe of the situation and me. The Danish are really rich and protected so they only like getting their fingernails dirty from a distance.”

But that accommodating distance has now turned into hands-off adversity. When Helveg and Christensen left Zentropa to start up their own company “My Black Little Heart” was left hanging between two companies. “Zentropa own the rights and have stubbornly refused to give them back to the producers or myself who have been trying to buy back the film for years now. Shotgun pictures just got pissed off with Zentropa who were by the end of the saga just a pain in the ass to deal with,” she says dismissively, “Trust film sales is supposed to be selling the film, but its like the last thing on their agenda and they refuse to give it to another sales company though there has been interest. I’m pretty much out of money and luck trying to fight the whole ordeal. Its difficult as well being based here and keeping tabs on the Scandinavians…I just don’t have the energy anymore to understand. Its sabotage.”

The film is stuck in limbo, Ster-Kinekor evidently have a DVD copy (not from Claire), but with the rights tied up a local release seems unlikely – not to mention that it’s a ‘difficult’ movie – not the kind that conservative local distributors like to punt unless it has the reassurance of sub-titles. Claire’s lost a lot of energy and faith in money, especially when it’s unavailable unless you tow the line. “Let’s get one thing straight about dealers and film making…Producers and dealers are the same; they’re stingy until you’re ready to fuck them doggy style and then just maybe you might see a dime (but) I’d choose my dealer over my so called patrons any day. A shot in the arm is worth 5 of you beating around the bush.”

As the year began she was in better spirits, she’s about to begin shooting a short movie “Street Spittin’” and is trying to beg, borrow and perhaps steal the money to do it, and is hoping to make her second feature “Ntbamhlope/ White Mountain” a thriller about muti-murders and biological warfare based on a true story that seems more mainstream than her debut.

And for curious movie lovers “My Black Little Heart” is getting another special screening at the Cape Winelands Film Festival in March. I urge you to see it, and save the wine till after the flick – god knows you’re going to need it.

this article was first published in the weekender

October 24, 2008

my black little heart

Filed under: south african cinema — ABRAXAS @ 10:18 pm

Finally MBLH cuts the grade to bring its fucked up misery and cool to a JHB cinema at Atlas Studio. Director Claire Angelique in attendance, dj and party afterwards.

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Music selected by Claire Angelique. Selected pieces of the journal/book ‘THE LAST INITIATION’ by Claire Angelique ON SALE with a dvd including music videos, vignettes, shorts and documentaries never seen before included. THE LAST INITIATION journal will be on show – a collection of movie ideas, thoughts, poetry, short stories, photos, letters, doctors prescriptions all of monstrous form will be available for the first time for public viewing. The journal has been in the making for close on ten years and shares the secrets behind MBLH as well as suicide attempts, time spent in psych wards on the continent, 12 rehab attempts, childhood photography, hate mail and overdoses unashamed and courageously layed out in hardcover. A question and answer session will be held after the film with the director as well as MY BLACK LITTLE HEART’s acclaimed cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle (Julien Donkey Boy, Last King of Scotland, Dogville, Dancer in the Dark, The Celebration) and MY BLACK LITTLE HEART’s score composer Chris Letcher (ex Urban Creep, Matthew Van Der Want partner) will be available to relay information via telephone. Designed to be a night where every creative boundary is pushed for your viewing and listening pleasure, Claire Angelique unashamedly slaughters all sacred assassins – opening up to the thoughts, dreams and insecurities of an artist whose resilience in pursuing her craft against the conventional is itself a work that is intentionally chaotic and redefines progress.
S. Bradley

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Host:
AKIN OMOTOSO
Type:
Music/Arts – Concert
Network:
Global
Time and PlaceStart Time:
Wednesday, November 5, 2008 at 7:00pm
End Time:
Sunday, November 30, 2008 at 11:00pm
Location:
Atlas Studios
Street:
33 Frost Avenue, Milpark
Contact InfoPhone:
0114827111
Email:
www.atlasstudios.co.za; www.myblacklittleheart.com

July 22, 2008

Controversial New Film To Break Black Hearts:

Filed under: south african cinema — ABRAXAS @ 7:54 pm

Durban city’s underbelly gets ripped open in Claire Angelique’s debut
feature film, My Black Little Heart, due to premiere at the Durban
International Film Festival at the end of July.

WHERE:
Durban International Film Festival
July 25 Sneddon Theatre, 10pm
July 30, Musgrave Centre, 10pm
Bookings through Computicket or at the venue

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For photos, interviews and more info contact one of the following:

E-Mail: rant@mweb.co.za

Phone/Fax: 031 768 31 70 (tel / fax)

Website: www.myblacklittleheart.com

THE STORY:
Set and shot in the city of Durban, My Black Little Heart pummels the viewer
into a world where Internet porn on Durban’s beach front meets Nigerian
voodoo in the inner city and a young girl from the wrong side of the
track-marks finds herself stuck in a hazy sub-city seaside vortex of
decrepit flats, poisoned streets and abandoned office blocks littered with
self mutilators, ex-cons, gangsters, street delinquents, hustlers and
addicts.

Telling the tale of a heroin user/dancer, My Black Little Heart, is
beautifully shot by Anthony Dod Mantle (behind the camera of many of Lars
Von Triers films). Using mostly non-actors, the film’s dark subject matter
finds its counterpoint in its dreamlike and non-linear narrative. It
chronicles both a deeply personal narrative and a city in transition. With a
soundtrack by Chris Letcher and a resonating local narrative, the film
presents a thoroughly original view of the world. Durban has never looked
more beautiful or more ugly.

THE DIRECTOR:
Claire Angelique (see www.myblacklittleheart.com for more info)
‘No stranger to controversy herself, Claire Angelique is indisputably one of
Durban’s most creative, talented, polemic, self inventive, self destructive,
witty and intellectual characters whose career at the age of 29 years has
already followed a highly charged and chaotic path.

She is a highly gifted writer, director and survivor whose avante garde
behavior, curiosity and eccentric need for disengagement has found her
either squelching through a morass of sleazy backstreet’s littered with
insalubrious characters or diving into a heated pool on the roof of a 5 star
hotel in the south of France. One thing she’s not – is boring. A black humor
satirist with a keen ear and eye for political commentary which she
manipulates in a palimpsest of pop cultural idiosyncrasies – her study of
the degeneration of her time is highly skillful if not often tragically
terrifying. A brave yet sadly triumphant voice that speaks from the distance
within.’

‘Interfice errorem, diligere errantem’ – kill the sin, love the sinner

Executive Producers: Peter Aalbaek Jensen / Peter Garde
Producers: Sarita Christensen, Nina Helveg
Director / Writer: Claire Angelique
DOP: Anthony Dod Mantle
Sound Designer Kasper Janus Rasmussen
Grading: Stefan Ciupek
Editor: Anders Refn
ZENTROPA PRODUCTIONS (DENMARK), SHOTGUN PICTURES (GERMANY)
TrustNordisk International Film Sales

Cast:
Eric Coolfire, Belinda (The Winston), Chris Hurst, Blaq Hitlah, Tiger,
Graham Barnes, Raymond – the Drummer, David Gouldie, Ashwin Singh, Joe,
Caterpillar, Scotty and Ingrid.

Music:
Original Score composed by Chris Letcher with music by Crossing Point, Lilo
and Diesel Rotgut…

After Parties:
to be advertised – www.myblacklittleheart.com
——————–

May 2, 2008

richard haslop’s albums of the year 2007

Filed under: music,richard haslop — ABRAXAS @ 2:15 pm

31. Syd Kitchen – Across (No Budget)

– it seems ironic that, at just about the time that Kitchen’s quirky, highly individual but equally highly skilled songwriting appears to be finding a wider audience (a mainstream TV commercial; the much sought after McCabe’s gig in Santa Monica, California; a possible US-made film documentary; the appropriation by a large corporation of his Africa’s Not For Sissies slogan, needless to say without credit or commercial advantage to him, for a T-shirt), arguably his best album ever consists of four long solo acoustic guitar instrumentals named after the four elements, Earth, Air, Fire and Water – each displays exactly the right combination of artistic drift and internal development, referencing, without fuss or fanfare, the numerous musical influences in his life, and together forming a fifth element, (the title of his compilation album notwithstanding) the quintessential Kitchen

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32. Ghost – In Stormy Nights (Drag City) / Boris (with Michio Kurihara) – Rainbow (Drag City)

– I have decided, on buying Julian Cope’s book, “Japrocksampler” (a belated successor to his “Krautrocksampler” that I read twice), to spend more time than I have heretofore done investigating the outer limits of Japanese rock (indeed, my exposure to the subject has been such that Japanese rock seems to consist entirely of outer limits, which is just fine with me) – Ghost and Boris (with Ghost’s voice of God guitar player Kurihara) are contemporary bands, not dealt with by Cope – yet the psychedelic spirit so favoured by Saint Julian never leaves them, whether it’s whimsical and folky, like much of Ghost, or darkly menacing, like much of Boris, or ear splitting, brain frying, stomach pummeling experimental noise freak out, like the rest of both – and it’s all fabulous

33. Panda Bear – Person Pitch (Paw Tracks)

– notwithstanding how much you thought you heard this connection before, what is most striking about “Person Pitch”, the Animal Collective’s Noah Lennox’s second album under his Panda Bear moniker, is just how much it sounds like what Brian Wilson did, does and, given that the stylistically quite wide-ranging and thoroughly contemporary production infused with an indie rock sensibility simply means that it sounds like a stylistically quite wide-ranging and thoroughly contemporary Brian Wilson infused with an indie rock sensibility, might yet do – it’s all marvellous, though, especially the vast Bros, which seems to incorporate everything Lennox does best into one 12 minute epic

34. Battles – Mirrored (Warp)

– a quartet out of Don Caballero and Helmet, amongst others, Battles has managed (absolutely and outrightly in some opinions, nearly in mine, which may be coloured by the damage done to my musical psyche by having lived through the grandiloquent schemes and creations of its antecedents), with its first release, to make progrock acceptable – this is some achievement, and the fact that this complex instrumental (with a few vocal sounds for leavening) collection of technological and intellectual trickery does work must be down to the band’s approach (do you call the kind of aggregation that would make his kind of music a band, I wonder), which, though undoubtedly serious, is never pompous and allows all sorts of humorous and even comic book asides into the process

35. Paul Motian / Bill Frisell / Joe Lovano – Time And Time Again (ECM) / Floratone – Floratone (Blue Note)

– this Motian trio is about as sure a guarantee of musical excellence, and even occasional genius, as it’s possible to find in any style, and the fact that they can do this stuff with their eyes closed (a figure of speech, you understand, as many musicians quite literally do what they do with their eyes closed) doesn’t mean either that it’s not worth doing or that they do it any less brilliantly, if arguably a little more abstractly and impressionistically this time – Floratone, a project that focuses musically and titularly on the South (mainly the post-Katrina South), includes drummer Matt Chamberlain as Frisell’s equal partner and features the Frisellian guitar tone, texture and compositional sense in spades, but the fact that both are listed as providing “loops”, and two non-instrumental producers receive equal band credit, says everything about the importance of the overall sound in relation to the actual notes being played

36. Beirut – The Flying Club Cup (Ba Da Bing!)

– Beirut’s 2006 “Gulag Orkestar” had to be a one-off … surely – a 19/20 year old American incorporating authentic-sounding Eastern European folk forms into an indie rock mosaic that spread from the Smiths to the Magnetic Fields and Neutral Milk Hotel … how on earth was he going to repeat that without simply repeating it? – well, he has, by doing much the same thing, only better and with increased maturity, and there are times that I believe I actually prefer this one – I can’t wait to see what he does next, though I’m secretly hoping it’ll be more of the same

37. Chris Letcher – Frieze (2 Feet/Sheer Sound) / David Kilgour – The Far Now (Merge)

– I read a piece written by London-based South African Chris Letcher (also the name of his band, by the way) some years ago about attending a Pavement gig and loving them to distraction – I always thought his work with Urban Creep and his duo with Matthew van der Want, which many South Africans knew, wouldn’t have prepared you for that, though his contribution to the first Lilo offering, which nobody anywhere even heard, may well have – on Frieze, his solo debut and by miles the finest locally related songwriting release of the year, all of that comes together in an intelligent, beautifully crafted, unpretentiously classy, yet slightly quirky rock/pop package on which Special Agents, a clear favourite from the past, is improved without showing up the songwriting quality around it – David Kilgour’s only connection is that he, too, comes from a country better known for rugby players than songwriters, in his case New Zealand – Kilgour is a veteran whose worth has even been formally recognised by his government by way of the Order Of Merit, his contributions to the Clean critical to the birth and development of what became acclaimed in indie rock circles home and away as the Dunedin Sound – but his solo career, too, has been a model of drop in anywhere you like and you won’t be disappointed consistency and understated melodic flair, and “The Far Now” is no exception

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38. Rachel Unthank & The Winterset – The Bairns (Rabble Rouser/EMI) / June Tabor – Apples (Topic)

– just in case there’s been any doubt, the sublime Tabor proves, in her sixtieth year, that she is almost certainly the finest interpreter of the English folk tradition and contemporarily written neo-tradition, at least among the women, but maybe overall – as ever, this assessment goes way beyond her magnificent voice to include her choice of material, the real drama with which she invests it, and the way she gels with her restrained but marvellously sympathetic musicians and they with her – Rachel and Becky Unthank are young (their combined age is quite a bit short of Tabor’s) singing sisters plainly and proudly from the Newcastle region who seem already to have inherited a little of Tabor’s willingness for gentle boundary stretching – despite Rachel’s headline billing, the piano centred Winterset is a real collective (with four female voices exquisitely if slightly unusually arranged) prepared to take chances both within (I Wish) and outside (Robert Wyatt’s magnificent Sea Song) the tradition, and it all works

39. Radiohead – In Rainbows (Self released)

– it would be a pity if “In Rainbows” was only remembered as the album that caused a sea change in the way records are marketed (of course, whether or not it does remains to be seen, as an artist probably needs to have achieved a certain level of success to take on the industry juggernaut in the “pay what you think it’s worth” way that Radiohead did), because that might confuse future audiences into overlooking the fact that this is a very good record, perhaps even the band’s best for a decade – I’d have paid full price if I’d had to

40. John Surman – The Spaces In Between (ECM)

– this is the second of Surman’s projects for ECM in which the master of both the baritone sax’s rich sonority and the soprano’s sinuous mystery carefully intersects formal composition and well-directed improvisation, so that it’s often unclear where the one ends and the other begins – Surman, featured here with double bass and string quartet, adopts a lyrical, English compositional feel, yet finds space for both Middle Eastern influence and a revisiting of his own great ‘70s jazz-rock composition, Where Fortune Smiles

December 21, 2007

cunt & censorship

Filed under: censorship,sex — ABRAXAS @ 7:09 pm

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Censorship

In some contexts, ‘cunt’ remained a socially acceptable word until very recently: “in rural areas [of England in the 1960s] the word was still being used as an ordinary everyday term, at least when applied to a cow’s vulva” (James McDonald, 1988). However, besides this location- and usage-specific example, ‘cunt’ has been the primary English language taboo for over five centuries. I have attempted to ascertain approximately when the word first became taboo, and have also documented the history of its media censorship.

The censorship of ‘cunt’ is a cyclical process: initially, the word was socially acceptable, then it became taboo, and more recently it can be found with increasing regularity in both print and broadcast media. This gradual mainstream acceptance represents an erosion of the word’s taboo status.

‘Cunt’ was used medically by Lanfranc, who, in the early fifteenth century, wrote: “In wymmen [the] neck of [the] bladdre is schort, [and] is maad fast to the cunte” (14–). Two hundred years later, however, the ‘cunt’ taboo was firmly in place: Minsheu rendered it “Cu [and] c” (‘Cu etc.’, 1617) and John Fletcher resorted to “They write sunt with a C, which is abominable” (1622). It is not possible to unequivocally identify the date from which ‘cunt’ first became taboo, though Mark Morton (2003) provides a rough guide: “Up until the fourteenth century or so, cunt appears not to have been a taboo word. […] By the fifteenth century, however, the word cunt seems to have shifted toward the taboo. […] Near the end of the seventeenth century, the word cunt was firmly ensconced in obscenity”.

Southwark’s ‘Gropecuntelane’ dates from 1230, indicating that, at that time, the word may have been bawdy but was not obscene. Similarly, the earliest example of a ‘cunt’ surname is that of Godwin Clawecunte from 1066, and the latest is Bele Wydecunthe’s from 1328. Lanfranc, writing one hundred years later, does not disguise the word, though Geoffrey Chaucer does.

Chaucer, in his Canterbury Tales, employs the deliberately faux-archaic spelling ‘queynte’ (variants: ‘queynt’, ‘qwaynt’, ‘quaynte’, ‘queinte’, ‘coynte’, and ‘coint’; modern spelling: ‘queint’) as a substitute for ‘cunt’. Eric Partridge suggests that, to form ‘queynte’, “Chaucer may have combined Old French coing with Middle English cunte or he may have been influenced by the Old French cointe” (1931), and Mark Morton suggests a link to ‘quaint’, though the simplest explanation is that Chaucer added the ‘nte’ mediaeval suffix of ‘cunt’ to the feminine ‘qu’ prefix. William Shakespeare’s “acquaint” in his Sonnet XX (1609[a]) is a disguised reference to both ‘quaint’ and ‘cunt’. Andrew Marvell uses similar literary camouflage in To His Coy Mistress, with a reference to “quaint honour” (1653):

“Thy beauty shall no more be found;
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song: the worms shall try
That long preserved virginity:
And your quaint honour turn to dust;
And into ashes all my lust”.

Three hundred and fifty years later, an If… cartoon by Steve Bell also disguised ‘cunt’, this time by rendering it as the faux-French “QUEURNT” (2003). Perhaps this comic example adds a new dimension to Chaucer’s ‘queynte’, which can be seen as a similarly exoticised rendering of ‘cunt’.

The Canterbury Tales, which are full of more minor swearwords such as ‘shit’ and ‘piss’ though not the tabooed ‘cunt’ (except in disguised form), were written at the very end of the fourteenth century, thus it seems that ‘cunt’ was an acceptable term throughout the Middle Ages, becoming taboo during the late fourteenth century. Peter Fryer contends that “it has been avoided in written and polite spoken English since the fifteenth century” (1963). There was almost certainly a period of transition, during which the word’s status gradually changed from acceptability to taboo, just as, five hundred years later, it is in transition again, from taboo to acceptability.

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Swearing And Cunt Censorship

The earliest recorded linguistic taboos are Middle English blasphemies such as ”slids’ (‘God’s eyelids’) and ”sfoot’ (‘God’s foot’). It is interesting that these early curses were related to parts of God’s body – the eyelids and feet – as contemporary swearing has become secularised though bodily taboos have remained: from eyelids and feet we have moved to erogenous zones such as ‘cunt’, ‘cock’, ‘tits’, and ‘arse’.

Whilst the church exercised considerable power over society in the Middle Ages, its authority diminished following the Reformation of the sixteenth century. With this revolutionary iconoclasm came a reduction in the potency of religious profanity, thus, for example, the insulting term ‘devil’ was significantly weakened: “the first use of devil as ‘merely a term of reprobation’, sometimes playfully applied, [occurred] after the main ructions of the Reformation” (Geoffrey Hughes, 1991).

The transition from religious to secular swearing, reflecting the concurrent transition in society, changed the boundaries of linguistic taboo. Religious curses (‘damn’) were replaced by taboos relating to bodily functions such as sexual intercourse (‘fuck’) and excretion (‘shit’). In the twentieth century, these in turn were joined by new taboos relating to ‘politically incorrect’ language, including homophobic (‘queer’), sexist (‘bitch’), and racist (‘nigger’) abuse.

In Swearing, his history of profanity, Geoffrey Hughes notes that “genital, copulatory, excretory and incestuous swearing” has now largely replaced religious oaths: “[the] great and obvious force behind most medieval swearing was Christianity […] the grisly invocation of Christ’s body, blood and nails in the agony of the Crucifixion seems as grotesque and bizarre to us now as modern […] swearing would have seemed to medievals” (1991).

Jesse Schiedlower traces the history of swearing from religion to sex and beyond: “Throughout the centuries, different topics have been considered incendiary at different times. Several hundred years ago, for example, religious profanity was the most unforgivable type of expression. In more recent times, words for body parts and sexually explicit vocabulary have been the most shocking […] Now, racial or ethnic epithets are the scourge” (1995).

In The Curse Of The C-Word (2001), Mark Irwin calls ‘cunt’ “THE ULTIMATE INSULT” and “the most obscene non-racial English curse” (2001[a]), though he also suggests that racist insults such as ‘nigger’ may eventually replace ‘cunt’ as the ultimate taboo: “Even in the 1970s, [‘nigger’ appeared in] TV sitcoms and in print – even in children’s books – while the words fuck and cunt were never seen […] The move from religious to sexually orientated [swear]words took place 300 or so years ago in English [and a] hundred years from now, words such as cunt and fuck may be viewed as quaint oddities” (2001[b]). In The Aristocrats, a fictional vaudville act is named “the Nigger Cunts” (Paul Provenza, 2004) precisely because ‘nigger’ and ‘cunt’ are, at the time of writing, the two most offensive English words.

After the Reformation, literary censorship was performed by the Privy Council and theatrical censorship was the portfolio of the Master of the King’s Revels. Mindful of these restraints, William Shakespeare’s references to ‘cunt’ are all in disguised forms. Thus, in Measure For Measure, we find ‘counsellors’ used as a pun on ‘cunt-sellers’: “Good counsellors lack no clients” (1603[b]). Similarly, in Henry V, Katharine confuses the English terms ‘foot’ and ‘coun’ (‘gown’) with the phonetically similar French ‘foutre’ (‘fuck’) and ‘con’ (‘cunt’), calling them “mauvais, coruptible, gros, et impudique, et non pour les dames d’honneur d’user. Je ne voudrais prononcer ces mots devant les seigneurs de France, pour tout le monde” (1599).

In her analysis of Shakespeare’s sexual puns, Pauline Kiernan (2006) has identified references to ‘cunt’ in the most innocent-sounding phrases: she translates Shakespeare’s “tallow-face” (from Romeo And Juliet, 1597[b]) as “greasy-cunt”, and his “vocativo […] Genitivo” (from The Merry Wives Of Windsor, 1602[b]) becomes “vocative-Cunt […] Genitiv-Cunt”.

In Twelfth Night, Malvolio virtually spells out the word: “By my life, this is my lady’s hand! these be her very C’s, her U’s, and her T’s” (1601[b]). Sir Andrew Aguecheek understands the cheeky allusion: “Her C’s, her U’s, and her T’s: why that-“, though he is swiftly interrupted by Malvolio before he can state the obvious. ‘C’, ‘U’, and ‘T’, of course, spells ‘CUT’; the missing ‘n’ is contained in the ‘and’ of “and her T’s”, with ‘and’ “no doubt be[ing] pronounced ‘en'” (Peter Fryer, 1963) to heighten the similarity. Shakespeare’s “carved” in The Taming Of The Shrew (1596) is an indirect reference to ‘cunt’, as the definition of ‘carved’ is ‘cut’.

Four hundred years after Shakespeare, ‘cut’ and ‘cunt’ were still being confused. David Lodge punned on ‘Silk Cut’ with his phrase “Silk Cunt” (1988). John Spellar delivered a speech in the House of Commons, as reported by Simon Hoggart: “[Spellar tried to say] “We recognise that these cuts in the defence medical services had gone too far,” but he inserted an unwanted letter “n” in the word “cuts”. It still made perfect sense” (2000).

‘Cut’ was itself a recognised euphemism for ‘cunt’ in Shakespeare’s time, and there are three reasons for this: firstly, its almost identical spelling; secondly, its meaning as ‘water channel’, alluding to the vagina and its fluids; finally, its meaning as ‘wound’, which alludes to the vagina as a gash. None of these reasons persuaded Dover Wilson, however, as he steadfastly maintained that Shakespeare’s ‘CUT’ was merely “a typographical error for C-U-E” (Eric Partridge, 1947). A further ‘cut’/’cunt’ pun was provided by Thomas Middleton, whose A Fair Quarrel includes a reference to “callicut” (1617).

this article continues here

November 4, 2007

JOURNEY TO IXTLAN (1976)

Filed under: nikhil singh,reviews — ABRAXAS @ 8:34 pm

Directed by Martin Scorsese

screenplay by Carlos Castaneda

soundtrack by Robert Fripp

starring Micheal Crighton, Alexandro Jodorowsky, Omar Sharif, John Cassavetes and Louise Fletcher as La Gorda

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Martin Scorsese originally intended to direct Jack Nicholson in Hunter.S.Thompson’s FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS in 1976. But after failing to aquire the rights, Scorsese instead turned his attentions to the ‘unfilmable’ Carlos Castaneda books. The result is the classic which we have come to know as JOURNEY TO IXTLAN. Here, at the height of his visual acuity, Scorsese’s mis en scene’s of ‘modern sorcery’ in the sun stripped squares of Oxaca, Mexico City and the brutal magnificence of the Sonora desert capture the ethos of the entire decade. It is interesting to note that Micheal Crighton, the director of COMA and author of such blockbuster fiction as JURASSIC PARK, was once the original choice of director Nicholas Roeg for the lead in his opus THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH. The seven-foot Crighton foreshadows all his fictions in his cold portrayal of the elusive Carlos Castaneda. Scripted by the elusive Castaneda himself [Whom Scorsese never even met! All negotiations were done through the publisher and a mysterious intermediary group called Cleargreen.] The screenplay rapidly sheds its obvious psychedelic overtones and grapples with the jugular of magical reality itself. Shot in lush, panoramic realism, under the photographic direction of a young Dante Spinotti, the film captures the timeless cycles and expanses of the desert in which its protagonist grapples with magic and spiritual identity under the mercurial tutelage of the feather-hatted Don Juan [played by a ruthless and yet maniacally hilarious Jodorowsky]. Omar Sharif creates a startling and terrifying character in Don Genaro, don Juan’s aide de Camp. Together this duo make a Jungian Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, rainbow-tripping their way through the wreckage of sixties motif’s toward the Everyman-like uncertain future of the Castaneda protagonist. The nihilism of the piece is captured by Louise Fletcher’s cameo. In her poignant monologue, after a fatal psychic defeat at the hands of Castaneda, she describes, without any emotion whatsoever, how she was forced to stalk her own son and seek his death in her quest for spiritual freedom. This brutal, yet compelling pathology lies at the heart of the heartless seventies, captured ruthlessly by Scorsese, a decade which began with the doves of peace and ended with the corporate uprisings and soul-veneer of the eighties. A lush soundtrack by Robert Fripp underscores all of this, lending a bittersweet clarity to this post-modern quest for freedom. [Brian Eno plays guitar during the jaguar hunting scene!]

the recent re-release of this classic masterpiece on dvd is a worthy addition to any psychedelic-enhanced week-end…

October 12, 2007

SAVE SOUTH AFRICAN MUSIC:

Filed under: music — ABRAXAS @ 8:02 am

SAMQC Open letter to the Minister for Arts and Culture, Mr Pallo Jordan
Open letter to the Minister for Arts and Culture, Mr Pallo Jordan
From the SA Music Quota Coalition (SAMQC)
Oct 2007
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Dear Minister
In light of recent statements by prominent SA music figures about the government’s treatment of South African music, we would like to add our contribution to the debate by addressing your speech of 22 August at Moshito 2007.
We commend the DAC’s commitment to providing production facilities for fledgling artists, particularly in rural areas.
However, when you say that “the greatest single constraint on the launching of a musical career for the new artist is access to recording facilities,” you are overlooking an even greater constraint – one also facing the majority of long standing South African artists: the lack of airplay in their homeland.
It is great to talk of export, but how will the world become aware of South African music when South Africans themselves are prevented from listening to it?
The SA content quota of 25% for commercial radio is not only too low, it is also often meaningless, because ICASA allows stations to include gig guides, interviews and promotions as part of their local quota.
When the official body protecting the interests of local music (ICASA) behaves as though local music is of no significance in the current music culture, especially “youth culture”, it is no surprise that much of SA music is treated as a poor relative by many broadcasters.
France has a commercial quota of 40%, with the result that French language acts share shop front space with global stars. It does not happen overnight, but Ireland, Canada, Australia and many other “secondary” markets have transformed their local music industries. The results have been excellent, with benefits not only to the quality of local music, but also to export revenues, job creation, and the “image” these countries present to the world.
Without exception, these successes were kick started by a strong governmental position on local content. We believe it is possible to balance global trends with national identity. Without this, the commendable initiative by the DAC to create production facilities for our young artistes will serve only to create a generation of young artists with songs that are not heard, recordings that have no route to market and talent that lacks a platform for national exposure.
You state, and we agree, that “cultural industries are serious business”. The structures protecting the national interest in iron, minerals, fishing, sport and many other areas are strongly enforced and defended here in South Africa. Why not our music?
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Some time ago, ICASA travelled to various SA centres, where experienced music industry professionals gave them a simple, clear message: give SA music the oxygen of airplay. Half a decade later, they preside over a system which, on most commercial stations, is nothing more than a cultural tragedy. Airplay is confined mainly to international acts that faithfully reproduce the “American Brand”, or local acts whose music and message also closely resembles the US template. The sales successes of the few exceptions to the rule prove the connection between play and demand, and also beg the question: Why are so few SA artists given the kind of heavy rotation afforded overseas acts? Do we have to examine the thorny subject of payola?
The surrender of SA radio to this kind of formatting means that the majority of SA artistes are excluded from local radio. And no airplay means no demand.
The lack of demand leads to local CD retailers relegating SA albums to a separate section. In many cases, their sales people have never even heard of the local artistes whose CDs they stock. Their advertising promotes mainly overseas artistes whose airplay, sales and live revenues leave the country, leaving nothing dedicated to building South African musicians’ profiles or the domestic industry..
This has lead to the steady demise of the national live circuit, with most SA acts hammered down into their regional bases.
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Returned exile drummer Louis Moholo-Moholo receives the national accolade of The Order Of Ikhamanga from the South African President. Celebrated singer Busi Mhlongo was honoured at a function attended by the deputy president for her contribution to South African music. Vusi Mahlasela tours internationally on Dave Matthews’ record label. Chris Letcher is the UK Guardian’s artist of the week. Honourable Minister, we must ask – if you, or we, were to listen to any of South Africa’s commercial radio stations, would we hear the music of these acclaimed artists? We must ask why these and many other artists are not heard on our radio airwaves. Many SA artists find it easier to make progress in their careers by leaving South Africa. They are forced to choose between giving up their musical calling, or writing off their beloved country as a home base. Every time this happens, South African culture loses.
Music is as important to a nation’s sense of self as is its sport, food, or wide open spaces. It is no exaggeration to say that transformation is urgently needed.
Mr Jordan, we respectfully ask you to make the changes so desperately needed to allow the South African music industry to grow and flourish..
Close the loopholes.
Raise the quota and enforce it.
Allocate more national frequencies to accommodate SA’s rich musical diversity.
Most importantly, appoint a monitoring body that will get the job done and earn the respect of all stakeholders in the SA music industry.
There will, no doubt, be protests from the minority who benefit from the current status quo, but in a few years the naysayers will be forgotten… much as they were with the new flag.
We invite the minister to visit the members’ list page of our website at www.samqc.org.za, and read some of the comments from the hundreds of production companies, independent labels, management companies, musicians, music lovers and – yes – even overseas fans of South African music.
South Africans, and their music, deserve to be heard – especially in their own country. Not because it’s South African, but because it’s brilliant.
Yours sincerely,
The South African Music Quota Coalition
Evan Milton
Bongani Mahlangu
Johnny Clegg
Jo Day
Louis Mhlanga
Jannie van Tonder
Robin Auld
www.samqc.org.za
samqc@samqc.org.za