Friday, 16 March 2012

The Altered States of London

Good week so far.. experiencing the mini-Scala revival of Ken Russell Forever at the HQ of the new Scala activities, The Roxy Bar and Screen (beneath The Shard, where the pic was taken). I became a member at the weekend just in time for their double bill of ALTERED STATES and Russells take on BARTOK.

Both excellent.

ALTERED STATES, is I remember, a very strange ken Russell film and I think some of the younger audience were a bit surprised by it. Instead of crazed nuns, OTT sex and art horror the movie plays now more like the cusp between Kubrick and Spielberg. It is incredibly sober and well put together for a KR film with a magnificent oscar nominated soundtrack by classical composer John Corigliano and dialogue written by Paddy (NETWORK) Chayefsky from his book.

KR could be brilliant with his actors and the central romance angle to Altered States is very strong. Seen from then, in the early 80s, dominated as it was by the incredible effects sequences, we compared the movie with Doug Trumble's BRIANSTORM and AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON. Seen from now it is the brilliant characters carved out by William Hurt and Blair Brown (among others), which stand out and make it closer to the human Goldblum/Davis tragedy within THE FLY of later that decade.

On a big screen in HI-DEF ALTERED STATES would be amazing and would stand comparison with 2001. Those who like a bit of humanity and characterisation may even prefer it.

BARTOK was one of Ken Russell's rarely seen BBC Monitor documentaries on the Hungarian composer Bela Bartok. Long classical black and white music videos, this initially looked like hard going but eventually came good (perhaps because I recently visited Budapest and really liked the place). Highlight was KR's video for Bartok's BlueBeard. Bluebeard leads his wife down to see his final terrible secret -- through a stylised 70s building (New Zealand House apparently) to her eventual doom. Looked amazing even in crackly black and white.

After six months of not finished a book I am tearing through William Gibson's Zero History at flank speed. Much easier to read than Spook County (previous one) it is perhaps because London 2012, Hubertus Bigend and Blue Ant suddenly seem a lot more real and believable. Got into a great routine listening to the magnificent LL show every day. I must be in a good mood, I quite like the sound of the new Paul Weller album.

The Guardian has me doing a hi-tech Time Team archaeological dig looking for and collecting old documentation.

From the new flat I'm house-sitting on Grays Inn Road I'm reading. writing, updating my blog playing good computer games and getting out and about - where am I finding the time for all this?
(TV in flat is broken)

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