Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Catching up, new book, film fun, etc

Lapsed grievously (no it's not RC guilt!), in not having written up the blog for exactly 2 months. But much has happened during that time, of course: inspiring – rescued Chilean miners; sad but inevitable – deaths of Tony Curtis and Joan Sutherland; gruesome and/or surreal – the Pope's visit to UK; and the usual depressing jawjaw deadlock between Israel and the Palestinians, as mediated/invigilated by an increasingly powerless Obama administration, biassed as always in favour of the occupiers… But enough of World-stuff and Large Issues.

We've been to visit friends in St Ives, Paris and Wales during this time, and have also produced a new book Haiku At Seventy, which will be launched at Exeter Picture House on 8th December: if anyone out there happens to be local – you're very welcome to come along! (The newly refurbished Picture House, with its fine bar/cafĂ©/gallery is indeed impressive.) I'm very much in the mood to read again after some recent gigs, especially the latest, at the Dylan Thomas Literature Festival on Guy Fawkes Night. A full house and lovely, lively audience, with fireworks over Swansea docks as a spectacular backdrop!

This is a necessarily brief post, but I'll end with another weird and wonderful recommendation, the newly released dvd of Andrzej Zulawski's extraordinary 1981 film Possession. This manages to combine psychodrama, horror, politics and is filmed stunningly in Berlin's Turkish area, Kreuzberg, in sight of the dreadful Wall. It has one of the most ferocious and bravely committed performances by a film actress that I've ever seen: Isabelle Adjani giving her all! The performances, script and photography are all, shall we say, striking, while the emotional and physical mayhem, after 30 years, remain gorily convincing, the special effects still awesome. Adjani got a deserved Best Actress award at Cannes, but the film was regrettably butchered (by half its length!) in the USA, and greeted with general incomprehension and supercilious moral outrage elsewhere. But Zulawski, a longtime Polish exile in Paris, is a considerable and very intelligent filmmaker, as anyone who checks out the fascinating extras and interviews on the dvd will soon learn. I've already previously praised Z's earlier film The Third Part Of The Night, but it now seems that this new, full-length version of Possession (not to be confused with a later novel of that title by boring Dame Byatt) will reach a wider audience and transcend its earlier reputation as a lost, cultish film maudit. Fair enough: it's a dark classic of sorts, a flawed gem, but a gem nonetheless.

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