Arts Review - Lent 2011
Contents Contemporary Issue
Eton is now comfortably in its middle ages, not quite the tottering pensioner with lumbago, or the spirited youth that carved out the path of giants. And with this inevitably comes its mid-life crisis: wondering whether its tennis courts are big enough, whether its cafeteria still looks good in that sleek glass and doesn’t need another floor, and whether the clocks in the gymnasium run at the same time as the rest of the school. It sits firmly in the present, with glances back to its past and bold sweeping gestures, like a cascade of cannon shots fired in succession: supporting the naissance of the Pre-U, looking eagle-eyed into the future, past left-wing threats to single-sex education, to money-spinning billionaires whose ears need silk spun words to part them with their money, and to the education of more disadvantaged boys.
4 - The Plot Against America 6 - Cormac McCarthy 8 - Astonishing Thor 9 - A Theory for Today? 10 - The Art of the Imagination 12 - Modern British Sculpture 14 - Olympic Towers 15 - Gaudy Gaudí 16 - The Sound of 2011
And so we come to the stunning horror of the present, half way between the past and the future, whilst Eton stands ready to replace the Tate Gallery as the home of art. Having disentangled ourselves from the mothballed prints that line the walls of College Library’s latest testament to the wonderful world of Art, and having decided not to steal Keats’ death mask, we found time to make this magazine.
18 - 50 Cent is In Da Club 20 - Film Round up 21 - 127 Hours 22 - Saris with Sylvia Plath 23 - Talking from experience
Banter returns in our new comic section, as we battle with the field game woes of an Old Etonian, the unseen diary of a master stolen from The Chronicle’s vault, and The Vulture comes back to his roosting post for another term’s entertainment. The rage against the machine underpins the issue, secretly subverting every keyword, as we wait for the miracle appearance of the Astonishing Thor and the film of the century The Avengers. The Arts Review’s Present issue consigns 2010 to the past for the final time, and leaps boldly into 2011, with sections on upcoming music and film.
24 - Diary of a Master 26 - The Final Pages
The Arts Review is: The Arts Review would like to thank: SEH, JLG-M, ARML, Hamish Park, Dan Byam-Shaw, Oli Johnson-Munday, Ercole Durini di Monza, Phil Hart, Robin Muir, Shiva Chauhan, Tariq Mir, Hisham Zaman, Bertie Heppel, Foxy, Geordie Hazeel, Adam Robinson, Curtis Jackson, Thor, and everyone in the team!
Editors : Theo Park, Hamish McLaren, Harry Eagles, Charlie MacKeith, James Hogan, Eugene Loh
THE VIEWS EXPRESSED IN THE ARTS REVIEW DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT OFFICIAL SCHOOL SENTIMENT
Arts Review - Lent 2011
Designer: Laurence Booth-Clibborn
The Plot Against America Hamish Mclaren explores the work of Philip Roth
Whilst Europe is overrun by the Third Reich and the Far East falls beneath the glare of the Rising Sun, America is at peace, an island of calm amidst a sea of destruction. Roth narrates as a young Jewish boy the harrowing experience of living within a country descending from enlightened, liberal democracy into repressive tyranny. History is painstakingly rewrought: Roosevelt has failed to win a third term in 1940 and a new president, Charles A. Lindbergh, renowned aviation hero and anti-Semite has led the Republican Party to victory as a surprise candidate. From the very first line Roth introduces a brooding ‘perpetual fear’, an emotion which continues undiminished throughout the entire scope of the narrative. Alongside this key, unifying element of fear is a huge stress upon the passage of time; each chapter title is preceded, almost as if it were a diary entry, by the dates between which the events of that particular chapter fall. Moreover, at the start of each chapter Roth devotes the first paragraph to a quick summary of the fictional Roth family’s situation. These combine to reinforce upon the reader a sense that the text is indeed the painfully recalled memoirs of a careless young boy, taking certain climatic dates as his milestones.
Arts Review - Lent 2011
The sense of siege which permeates the Roth household stems from the constant emphasis of the deep divide between the ‘Goyim’ and the embattled, frightened Jews. The anti-Semitic riots which spilt blood during the depths of the depression cast a sinister shadow across the narrative: ‘...the Irish, armed with sticks and rocks and iron pipes, regularly came streaming up...seeking vengeance against the Christ-killers...’. These events which scarred the childhood of Philip’s father have echoes in the vicious pogroms of the final pages of the book. As the situation worsens and the police can no longer be relied upon, the Jews of Newark form their own defence force in anticipation of the worst. Indeed, upon the assassination of Walter Winchell, a heroic Jew running for the Democratic nomination, the lurking hysteria is thrust brutally to the fore by enraged shouts of, ‘ “They shot Walter Winchell! Winchell is dead!”... “Go get your bats! The war is on!” And he didn’t mean the war against Germany.’ Alongside this beleaguered atmosphere is one of eroding distrust in America’s ability to protect minorities from the murderous bigotry of the ‘goyim’ majority, for increasingly the authorities stand aloof: ‘The Boston police did nothing to restrain the rioters.’ The parents of the fictional Philip Roth argue back and forth over the wisdom of fleeing to Canada, whilst through the floor above the scared child that is the narrator slowly begins to comprehend their utter helplessness: ‘ “The little one’s in the kitchen, and he’s frightened enough.”’
Running alongside the main narrative of Philip’s life is the tragic fate of his cousin Alvin. Initially a sincere idealist repulsed and enraged by the new administration and by his job as a secretary to an unscrupulous builder, Alvin defies his uncle, Philip’s father, to abscond to Canada and from there to enlist in a British commando unit raiding Nazi-dominated France. During a mission he loses a leg to a grenade blast, and thus re-enters Philip’s life a terrifying, bitter cripple. All his heady idealism has bled away into the soil of Northern France, so the gaunt, legless Alvin makes a profound impact on Philip. Superficially, he elicits his childish terror at his grotesque appearance: ‘His stump...Do I have to look at it? Will I ever have to touch it?’ Yet on a deeper level Alvin’s new-found apathy leaves Philip deeply shocked, for he is ceaselessly, ‘...struggling...to suppress disgust with the futility of everything.’
A further theme of the novel, bizarre though it may seem, revolves around Philip’s hobby of stamp collecting. He treasures his book of stamps more dearly than almost anything else, thus an early crisis of conscience occurs when Philip finds himself unable to tear out the stamps which portray the aviation achievements of the despised Lindbergh. Rather more disturbing is the nightmare Philip suffers early on in the novel wherein the stamps of his collection undergo a sinister transformation. Upon each scene of pristine, rugged American beauty is thrust a menacing swastika, whilst all the portraits become that of Hitler glowering out at Philip: ‘...the portraits were now the same and no longer of Washington but of Hitler.’ Roth’s portrayal of the sly, insidious corruption of a liberal state is so disturbing precisely
because it is so outlandish and yet, at the same time, alarmingly believable. He meticulously moulds together a series of events which, individually, do not cause terror but which, in combination, produce the abomination of a facist America, a country embarking during the twilight of the novel upon a series of brytal pogroms and appears to be preparing to join the Third Reich in its attack upon Great Britain: ‘... House Republicans introduce a bill calling for the declaration of war against the Commonwealth of Canada...’ As Roth himself cries out, ‘...what a repugnant spectacle our country had become! Falsehood, cruelty and madness everywhere...’
Arts Review - Lent 2011
Cormac McCarthy Robin Muir examines one of the greatest writers of our times In his 77 years, American novelist and playwright Cormac McCarthy has had ten published novels, a Pulitzer Prize, a James Tait Black Memorial prize, a National Book Award and a National Book Critics Circle. The list goes on and, although he deserves every one of these awards, it’s a shame that he’s only recently been widely acknowledged for his ability to create works ‘of such terrible beauty that you will struggle to look away’ (Tom Gatti writing on The Road for The Times). This is, perhaps, due to his reclusive nature, preferring the company of scientists than other writers and only ever giving one major interview to The New York Times. McCarthy’s desire to stay uncompromisingly close to his work is revealed in his choice to live in El Paso, Texas, part of the landscape for many of his finest works, including The Border Trilogy (a collection of three novels; All the Pretty Horses, The Crossing and Cities of the Plain) which follows the separate passages of sixteen-year-olds John Grady Cole and Billy Parham into adulthood. McCarthy recognises the fierce and rugged beauty of the American western frontier in ‘the grasslands in a deep and violet haze’ and ‘the shapes of trailing moss in the rips below the ford where they flared and twisted electric green in the morning light’ (All the Pretty Horses). However, McCarthy constantly insists, through his delicate yet rough prose, that the land of the West in The Border Trilogy is something impossible to tame: a wild and dynamic force symbolised beautifully in the wolves in The Crossing that ‘burned with some inner fire’.
Arts Review - Lent 2011
his influence from Milton’s Paradise Lost, with an apparently imperfect paradise.
The unrestrained beauty of nature remains a constant theme throughout the trilogy, and mirrors the freedom of man within it as well as providing some of McCarthy’s most memorable writing. This newly found freedom in the lawless land of the novels is of course not without its consequences, as evidenced by the remark in The Crossing that ‘if they were old enough to bleed they were old enough to butcher’. The trilogy also shows, therefore, the painful responsibility of independence in the hostility of the world. This fragility of humanity and its goodness is shown immaculately in the Dedication:
‘I will be your child to hold And you be me when I am old The world grows cold, The heathen rage The story’s told, Turn the page’ Throughout The Border Trilogy, the reader is persuaded of the elusive, Edenic qualities of the western frontier, but a land that sees the brutality and violence of parts of The Border Trilogy may appear to be an odd metaphor for Eden. This is not paradise; the beauty and freedom of nature is balanced by its hostility. It is a paradise of equilibrium. McCarthy is perhaps showing
The brutality of the West is taken to further extremes in Blood Meridian, one of McCarthy’s earlier works. This goes further in deconstructing the romanticised and refracted mythology of the West in the mid-19th Century. Blood Meridian follows the experiences of ‘the Kid’ as he joins the notorious Glanton Gang and their role in America’s westward expansion and Indian scalp-hunting. With the almost unbearable violence of the novel, McCarthy creates a ‘new’ world that is intensely Neolithic:
‘They fight with fists, with feet, with bottles or knives. All races, all breeds. Men whose speech sounds like the grunting of apes. Men from lands so far and queer that standing over them where they lie bleeding in the mud he feels mankind itself vindicated…’
The irony of the human nature shown in Blood Meridian is that with the ‘progressive’ expansionism of America into a wild and uncivilised land, we actually see a regression of man into an ungoverned, uninhibited and animalistic creature. An equally unsettling achievement in Blood Meridian is his creation of the character Judge Holden, who gradually is shown to be a satanic embodiment of a transcendent, pervasive evil: ‘he never sleeps. He says that he will never die’. Parallels can be drawn between Holden and Milton’s Satan in Paradise Lost, partly because he is slightly divorced in the reader’s mind from being genuinely human on account of his totally amoral nature, hairlessness, shrouded origins (the Judge seems to just ‘appear’ out of the desert) and his desire to be somehow like a God in his knowledge of the world: ‘whatever exists without my knowledge exists without my consent’. However, Judge Holden’s inhuman qualities
‘War is the ultimate game because war is at last a forcing of the unity of existence. War is god.’ - Judge Holden, Blood Meridian. are shown mainly in his terrifyingly placid assertion of violence as a necessary and life-driving force. With all similarities to Satan and his bizarre nature aside, he is, quite simply, a terrifying character. Cormac McCarthy is a truly important writer. He gives an unparalleled and genuine understanding of the West, as well as a fascinating portrayal of human nature in its unrestrained, basic condition.
He also provides powerful, shocking but deeply moving and captivating tales of the epic struggle of human goodness. Ultimately, McCarthy’s language and writing provide us with his greatest assets: be it the hypnotic landscapes of a turbulent and beautiful environment in The Border Trilogy or the frighteningly real, hostile and dying wasteland of The Road, Cormac McCarthy’s writing is truly unforgettable. McCarthy is someone who truly deserves to be read. Do so, and you will not regret it.
Blood Meridian: Or, the Evening Redness in the West is available from Amazon for £4.71 The Border Trilogy: All the Pretty Horses/ The Crossing/ Cities of the Plan is available from Amazon for £5.79 Arts Review - Lent 2011
The Astonishing Thor Theo Park reads his first comic
This new comic offers the perfect bridge between art and literature, short snapshots of beautifully drawn and coloured spreads, and a fast-moving comic with a well-known back story: the Norse myths. But its greatest strength is that Thor becomes little more than an exaggerated version of us, with his weaknesses and strengths overplayed. He forms just one part of the series of films which Marvel have been using to build up to The Avengers, such as Iron Man, Thor, Unbreakable, and many more, which explain something about the nature of the comic character, his creation, his enlargement, and his fall. They touch upon our essential humanity in a way that only art can. The words here add to the story, but the beauty is in the pictures, in the images they invoke and the ideas they foster. They draw up an image of a man, ask questions of what a man should be, what he ought to do, and how he ought to behave. To explain this, little more can be ventured than a story of mine, called Where They Fell, which follows.
There will always be heroes and villains, men who will risk their lives in pursuit of a goal; on one side, destruction, on the other, protection. Reversed: creation, limitation. The theme pervades every medium of art, and the characters, the protagonists, emulating their heroes in their own internal way, like Harry Potter seeking his parents or King Arthur following in and bettering his father’s footsteps. Thor is exactly that. He is part hero, riding waves of water in his earthshaking entrance in the comic The Astonishing Thor, crying ‘waves are but water, wind but air,’ and declaring himself guardian of the universe. Part villain: human to his faults, drinking and gambling his father’s riches away, and left bereft of his powers through failure (the subject of the new film).
Arts Review - Lent 2011
Outnumbered one hundred to one, surrounded on all sides, it was agreed that peace would be reached, at a small cost. One man each month was to be sent to them to be sacrificed. All agreed. The sacrifice would be democratically chosen, and the least popular would leave to be killed. They whispered it might even be a good way of getting rid of those they disliked.
A Theory for Today? Eugene Loh explores objectivism
Each month they came and collected tolls, and each month the sacrifice came. After so many months, there remained little over fifty men in the village. Again the vote was carried out, and again the organiser of the votes stood ready to announce the results. But he had no result to announce; instead he stood and said ‘There shall be no sacrifice. All men chose themselves.’ The organiser of the votes stood at the gates, as all his predecessors had done. The army came as it always did, five thousand strong, to collect the sacrifice and show their power. The legate spoke, ‘Where is the sacrifice?’ and the organiser responded, ‘There is no sacrifice.’ He died where he stood. The legate marched into the town square with his army, saw the bereft town, and asked himself whether he had truly killed all of them. But before his eyes were fifty men standing in the town square behind makeshift barriers. The legate fired the first shot, and the army moved. The villagers fought, and every single one died. And where they fell, their blood stained the grass, and for every pint of theirs, ten more was shed.
The Astonishing Thor can be bought from The Forbidden Planet, Shaftesbury Avenue, SE1 0UP for £2.85
This being the Arts Review, initially I was rather reluctant to contribute an article whose emphasis will undoubtedly be on philosophical themes. Nevertheless, I have taken it upon myself as an imperative duty to set right the many unfair criticisms made against Ayn Rand ever since the publication of her masterpiece, The Fountainhead. Yes, her works are very long (Atlas Shrugged is 1186 pages in my edition!), and yes, her opinions may sometime be rather extreme (she called Kant ‘the most evil man on Earth’). However, her unique philosophy of Objectivism, articulated and expressed masterfully in her two novels (and yes, they are novels, not a thesis, hence the inclusion of this article in the Literature section), is so influential in the fundamental principles which govern our Capitalist society, that in my opinion her relative obscurity at Eton is surprising to say the least. The number of boys who are acquainted with her ideals seems to me very few, and the impression I get is that she is not appreciated amongst the beaks with due respect either. It is, however, my
profound belief that, given the current economic climate, the ideas she laid down all those years ago have gained a whole new dimension of significance. But more on that later.
Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism states that the purpose of human existence is the pursuit of one’s own happiness through self-interest, and as such the only society which makes this possible is one founded on laissez-faire capitalism. As regards the economy, therefore, it rejects all forms of state intervention in the market, and calls for total freedom for individuals to act in whatever way they deem best to achieve their ultimate moral happiness. Initially, this does sound like a selfish justification of the banks which caused this financial crisis, acting purely for their own personal gain, with no regards for wider consequences. However, current evidence will support my claim that politicians’ favourite method of responding to crises (which they often created themselves or inherited from previous administrations anyway) is by coming up with more national programmes and regulations, inevitably with the intention of robbing those who worked hard for their wealth and spreading it amongst the poor. Sounds a bit like Communism, the tried, tested and most importantly FAILED experiment? The pretext is that these programmes are imposed in the name of equality and fairness, but personally I see no fairness in a system which tries its very hardest to create a climate where those with skill, who have put in their hard work, have to feel small and unimportant, because all the government do is condemn them for being ‘dirty rich’ and attempt to squeeze out as much cash as possible from their earnings. This, I fear, is what our world is inevitably heading towards at this rate. And look at what governments have proposed to try and get out of this current crisis: the Obama administration has spent most of their time in office conjuring up as many regulations as
they could to control how rich certain organisations could become, and has there been any marked improvement for America? Unemployment is just as high, growth is practically non-existent, and as a result poverty has not subsided in any recognisable amounts. No wonder the Tea Party are so agitated and angry at his government: while I disapprove of some of their methods, if I were an American I would have every justification to fear for the future!
Eton, I believe, is not such a society. It respects and honours achievement of all kinds, whether it be academic, musical, sporting or through social work. We are given an unimaginable amount of freedom, compared to most teenagers in say Asia, at any rate. Some will inevitably abuse that freedom, or at least make very little practical use of it, and that is their choice. In my opinion, there is a limit to how much can be done to encourage those who are not willing to make constructive use of their time, because ultimately the motivation must come from within. The ideal for me would be a community which rewards and commends effort and achievement, acceptance, whether from masters or from the boys themselves. This, I believe, is the highest motivation to achieve which can be given to a human being. And, I repeat, Eton is a community founded on these principles. All I have left to say now, then, is that I wish such a commitment to individual achievement could spread to the rest of the world. Before you go away, make sure you read the two novels: they will do your soul much good!
Atlas Shrugged can be bought from Amazon for £6.70 The Fountainhead can be bought from Amazon for £6.11 Arts Review - Lent 2011
Art & Architecture
Art & Architecture
The Art of Imagination Adam Robinson explores the ideas that have influenced art It is certainly true that art, in all forms, has always relied on, and most probably always will rely on, an external influence of some sort. Paul Gauguin wrote: ‘Art is either a plagiarism or a revolution.’ Whether in style, process or subject matter, it is clear that even those who revolt against tradition and strive for something wholly original rely on a certain stimulus from that which they contradict. It seems that artists will always try to create works that serve as solutions to their predecessors’ problems. However, just as influence is impossible to avoid, imagination constantly affects art. Our mind filters our images and perceptions and then translates them through a medium to create something personal and unique. It is in more recent history that the balance of the artist’s influence has been tipped further in favour of the imagination, rather than tradition. It was only once Europe had gone through the revolutionary times of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century that artists were able to break away from conventional subject matter and illustrate private visions. Francisco de Goya’s prints, such as The Giant (above right, c. 1818), portray a nightmarish image that demonstrates his personal vision. They also represent one of the first explorations of this new-found freedom among artists that would otherwise be constrained by society. Sadly, as is
Arts Review - Lent 2011
the way with the passage of art, some of the greatest revolutionaries are forced into seclusion by those who cling to tradition. The imaginative William Blake was considered mad during his lifetime and invented his own mythology to paint from. The figure of Urizen, who we are familiar with from Blake’s painting The Ancient of Days (below, 1794), was one character that gave him a totally original and personal subject matter. Eleven years younger than Goya, and more of a natural recluse, Blake delved deeper into what Goya had been exploring. Blake’s inner eye demonstrates the birth of the art of imagination. Refusing to draw from life, his works represent one of the purest forms of imagination art. However, some of his paintings take influence from literature, such as The Lovers’ Whirlwind (1827) from Dante’s ‘Inferno’, and The Night of Enitharmon’s Joy (below, 1795), which draws dark symbolic parallels to Shakespeare’s Macbeth (IV. I). The artist who first inspired me to think about the balance between traditional influence and imaginative influence in art was Matías Duville, from Buenos Aires. He is a man who believes he ‘can explore what is beyond the visible’ and the ‘direct base of knowledge.’ Like Blake, he refuses to draw from life and is influenced by his dreams about Alaska that began in early 2008. Having never visited, and refusing to look at pictures or books about the landscape, his
works remain entirely influenced by his mind’s eye. Some may criticise contemporary art for its lack of traditional displays of talent. Vasari wrote that Tintoretto, who broke from renaissance tradition, made strokes that ‘show more force than judgement and seem to have been made by chance.’ Tintoretto’s efforts are a reminder of a smaller revolt similar to that of the modern medium revolt. Jackson Pollock’s abstract expressionism (One: Number 31, below left, 1950) demonstrates an imaginative manipulation of paint that made even himself ask his wife: ‘Is this a painting.’ This break from traditional technique was a key stage in the shift of the avant-garde from Paris to New York. The modern art market did not reject these new ways, rather fuelled by the public; it became more willing to accept new, imaginative works, as they understood the dangers of society’s prejudices. However, it would be ignorant to say that we are in control of all of our prejudices. This state of supposed awareness came out of our recognition of the public’s previous failure to recognise talented innovators such as the impressionists and the three reclusive rebels after them: Cézanne, Van Gogh and Gauguin.
lacking the intellectual calibre that those masters upheld. One aid that they had is the rule of tradition which many contemporary artists lack. These rules limited their scope and thus made achieving their goals easier. In fact, the rules gave them goals. An old master cannot put anything as his altarpiece for his patron, but a contemporary artist can put anything in his space for the public. This is why I appreciate art that involves imagination as each work ends up being personal and unique to that artist, in more than just ways of manière.
It is this new trust in imagination and lack of fear of braking from tradition, which opened the door to a whole new set of ideas about art. Throughout the 1980s both Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons innovatively used vitrines to isolate their sculptures. It was in fact Damien Hirst’s A Thousand Years (below right, 1990) which caught the eye of Charles Saatchi and triggered one of the most influential partnerships that art has known. A Thousand Years was a revolutionary piece; encompassed in a glass case, it contained maggots, flies and a cow’s head. This concise and isolated demonstration of life and death shows a new type of imagination and one that was no doubt fuelled by the thoughts of the 25 year-old artist whilst working in a mortuary. As those who enjoy the great masters of the 15th and 16th centuries will know, there is no doubting their beauty and technical perfection. So I am certainly not criticising them. However, I stress that artists of imagination should not be dismissed as
Arts Review - Lent 2011
Art & Architecture
Art & Architecture
A Review of Modern British Sculpture Our reporter reviews the latest Royal Academy exhibition The entrance of the Royal Academy’s new exhibition of Modern British Sculpture is dominated by Edwin Lutyens’s Cenotaph. At 8 metres tall it’s imposing to say the least and invites us as the audience to question whether what is arguably architecture is in fact sculpture. Although it is a replica of the 1920 Portland stone original in Whitehall, its resemblance is uncanny and makes for an incredible entrance into the exhibition. From the moment you step in to the gallery, you are invited to question the differences between art, in the form of sculpture, and architecture. The opening gambit is by a self-professed architect, and yet it is being lauded as an elegiac art piece. The juxtaposition of Lutyens’s Cenotaph and Jacob Epstein’s Circle of Life is provocative, not least because of the contrast between life and death, but also because of the formal affinities that exist between sculpture and architecture. The former commemorates the war dead, whilst the latter acts as a symbolic celebration of human life and the human form. Its positioning is an excellent attempt by the curators at a polemic. In the age of Opie’s disposable, installation art, Lutyens’s Cenotaph represents permanence in an exhibition that is ultimately ephemeral. However, I object to the curators’ (Penelope Curtis, incidentally the new director of Tate Britain, and Keith Wilson) lack of acknowledgement to Charles Jagger’s Royal Artillery Memorial which, in my opinion, is equally if not more worthy of a place in such an exhibition. Arts Review - Lent 2011
‘It’s imposing to say the least’ The second gallery room, entitled ‘Theft by Finding’, contains an array of objects on loan from the British Museum and shows where many 20th century sculptors drew inspiration from. The result was British sculpture with re-invigorated vitality. For example, Henry Moore’s Reclining Figure (1951), a voluptuous figure of a naked woman, was clearly inspired by a piece entitled Reclining Human Figure created by an Aztec sculptor almost 500 years prior. The sculpture appears to follow the contours of the undulating landscape in which it was created and not only represents a post-war recovery but also man’s close relationship with nature. It is no stretch of the imagination to believe that Henry Moore was inspired to create the Reclining Figure having seen an ancient Mexican Toltec-Maya figure in the Trocadero Museum in 1925. The juxtaposition of the new and the old
create a startling similarity. However the room title, ‘Theft by Finding’, is big enough to constitute an exhibition in itself and yet is meagrely represented, making it seem incomplete. The third gallery room, ‘Adam’, contains, as one might expect, Adam by Jacob Epstein. The sculpture is primal and overtly sexual. Its domineering dimensions and dynamism create a heroic depiction of the first man. The monumental Adam detracts from and overwhelms the intricacy of the relatively small Snake by Moore. The room leading on from this, entitled ‘The Establishment of Figure’, seems misguided and lacks coherence and continuity. The room contains Philip King’s Genghis Khan, the monumental neo-baroque Jubilee Memorial to Queen Victoria by Alfred Gilbert, a plaster cast of Frederic Leighton’s famous Athlete Struggling with a Python, and Charles Wheeler’s
Adam. Despite being a contentious issue amongst critics, Gilbert’s place in the exhibition, I believe, is expertly timed. He was a fundamental, nay, idiosyncratic participant in the New Sculpture movement that revitalized British sculpture at the end of the 19th century. However, what I do take issue with is the positioning of King’s Genghis Khan, whose purple plastic would not have looked out of place in a scifi exhibition. I think the curators didn’t really get across the point of this juxtaposition. In comparison with Epstein’s Adam, Wheeler’s representation fails to emit the same raw, primitive energy. The sculpture’s hollow head makes the piece lack depth, and its vacant, deadpan expression lacks engagement with the viewer. The piece, unlike Gilbert’s, signals the culmination of a hackneyed era of art with inspirational works of abstraction from artists such as Hepworth appearing in the same year. All this contrast and contradiction but what is the connection? Wheeler, King and Leighton all became Royal Academicians. We are then shown the influence of oriental ceramics on Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth and Bernard Leach. The next room holds two incredible pieces of abstraction in modern sculpture with Hepworth’s Single Form (Memorial), which was commissioned by the United Nations to commemorate the death of its Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld, and Moore’s Reclining Figure. The following room contains a
panels. Then gallery room 8 contains only one piece, Early One Morning by Anthony Caro – a piece consisting of painted steel that is supposed to embrace the horizontal and vertical, and synthesise the works of Hepworth and Moore.
for bland open spaces of nothingness. For example, Gustav Metzger’s wall of page 3 girls, despite being powerful in its message, lacks the prescient nature of his early works such as Liquid Crystal Environment. It opens up the possibility of dialectic and then disappoints with little evidence supporting any topic. Overall, the exhibition’s vast but rela- The exhibition poses as a symposium tively incomprehensive collection of but then lacks conviction on either end. Modern British Sculpture does invite us to question ‘What is British? What is modern? What is sculpture?’ But unfortunately its aim, to tackle a title as all-encompassing as ‘Modern British Sculpture’ does make you leave yearning for more. As a result, the exhibition
‘What I do take issue with is the positioning of King’s Genghis Khan, whose purple plastic would not have looked out of place in a sci-fi exhibition’ reconstruction of Richard Hamilton and Victor Pasmore’s An Exhibit, a Constructivist assemblage of abstract coloured
seems only to scratch the surface, missing out seminal works in substitution
Modern British Sculpture is on at the Royal Academy, W1 (020 7300 8000, royalacademy.org.uk) until April 7. Daily 10am-6pm (Fridays until 10pm). Admission: £12; concessions available.
Arts Review - Lent 2011
Art & Architecture
Art & Architecture
The Olympic Towers Shiva Chauhan on the masterpiece of the 2016 Olympics After a torrential bidding process, four candidate cities were shortlisted on 4 June 2008: Chicago, Madrid, Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro. Although thought to be the favourite to win, Chicago was eliminated after the first round of voting and Tokyo was eliminated in the second. In the final round on 2 October 2009, Rio effectively doubled its votes over Madrid (66 to 32) and successfully won the Olympic hosting bid. What contributed to Rio’s success?
Rio has once again become the focal point for a global green movement after the events of the UN Earth Summit in 1992, which lead to the Kyoto Protocol. The project will provide energy both to the Olympic Village as well as its people while using natural resources. The power plant will gather solar energy during the daytime some of which will be stored for use in pumping seawater to its height for release during the night, and the electricity generated will then be used for the lighting of the tower or for the city. But the most popular attraction would be the visual sight-sighting. A
social gatherings and events. The cafeteria and the shop will be situated beneath the waterfall, offering some breathtaking views. The public elevator will be able to take the visitor directly from the foyer to the observation decks, the urban balcony and the administration offices.
Gaudy Gaudí Phil Hart investigates the inexplicable with Gaudí
However, it remains questionable whether it is technologically feasible. At least as far as the Brazilian public is concerned, although they embrace the idea, they are also sceptical as to whether the building would actually require more energy than it produces. Not only that, but also the massive volumes of cash
A quick Google image search on Gaudí’s buildings, and what comes to mind? Certainly from the pictures featured here, termite mounds, hobbit houses and, as the Casa Mila’s nickname La Pedrera suggests, quarries. It is certainly true that Gaudí’s non conventional designs have caused a rift between critics and the public for the past century.
What made it win? What made Rio win the bid was none other than what will probably be remembered in this decade as the most remarkable piece of technology, the centrepiece of the 2016 Olympics’ architecture: the revolutionary Solar City Tower. Designed by Swiss architectural firm RAFAA for an international architecture competition, it had three main aims in mind: to bring millions of spectators to Rio’s stadium, through its overwhelming beauty, to propel Rio towards its deserved victory, and to solve some of the challenges of the post-oil era.
Arts Review - Lent 2011
person would be able to view the beauty of Rio from a variety of observation decks located on each floor of the 100-storey building. The urban balcony will be situated at the top of the tower 105 metres above sea level, where visitors have a 360 degree view of the landscape and can experience the waterfall while walking over the glass sky-walk. There will even be an observation deck for bungee jumping. However, not just intended for beauty, the Solar City Tower will house an amphitheatre, cafeteria and shops on the ground level. Both entrance area and amphitheatre will serve as venues for
that are needed for the project would be astronomically large, risking a potential commercial breakdown and maybe even regression of the booming economy. So, will this stunning monument paying homage to decades of hard work and research into green machines be a success inspiring the next generation of technology? Or will it fail and add to the climate sceptics’ arsenal of green tools of destruction? Only time will tell us for sure.
Fortunately, some sense can be made of Gaudí’s seeming derangement when designing his buildings. Already, the Gothic art of Catalonia showed much imagination and this was able to inspire Gaudí. His theory was that thousands of years of change and adaptation had made all of nature’s forms perfect. Contrary to many of his contemporaries, he used the raw shapes of our environment instead of perfecting them into symmetrical accessories for buildings. From this simple theme, it is now possible to look on some of his buildings in a totally new light. The shapes and curves used in Casa Batllό are inspired by their materials. The hand-carved staircase is formed around the sweeping timber banister. The Casa Milà is made to resemble an underwater reef and this brutal appearance is relieved by intricate wrought
iron balconies, each one unique.
adjusted in plaster before being carved.
Gaudí himself lived through an era of brutal conflict, including three Carlist civil wars and a weeklong revolution in 1909 in which many religious buildings were reduced to rubble. Then, only a decade after Gaudí’s death, the horrific Spanish Civil War erupted. George Orwell once commented on Gaudí’s masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia, as ‘one of the most hideous buildings in the world’ and, instead of rejoicing at its survival intact despite the revolutionary horders thronging the street, he thought that ‘the anarchists showed bad taste in not blowing it up when they had the chance.’ Harsh words from an author who wrote so passionately about political change and its effect on our cities. However there is perhaps an echo of the monolithic Ministry of Hate in the austere, crustaceous facades of the Sagrada Familia.
As far as Gaudí goes it is important to note that, as the old cliché goes: ‘Never judge a book by its cover.’ Gaudí’s
Orwell thinks the spires look like hock bottles, whereas I think of humungous termite mounds, and you probably have your own opinion. So what merit does this colossal church have? Well, one could argue that it is difficult to say, yet, as it isn’t even finished. Reading this article you may be wondering why an architect who died in the early twentieth century is in the ‘Present’ issue of the Arts Review. With work having started in 1882, the church was only consecrated in 2010 and, even with all the modern equipment now at their disposal, the year of completion is still predicted to be 2026. With a total of six naves, 18 spires and countless chapels, it will make College Chapel look like a village church. In reality, the building is a shrine to bizarre engineering, such that a short list here doesn’t even do justice to this marvellous building, but here are my favourite features: the columns are bent to hold up the building at an angle equal to that of the resultant forces; the mass of spires represents the twelve disciples, four evangelists, the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ; and each one of the stone statues on the nativity facade were first made and
architecture not only offers satisfaction to those who research the significance of his ideas, but even to those who just go and see the care and attention he put into his projects.
‘Gaudí: more myth than man? No masterpiece goes as far, no work stands as the progress of so many generations’ Arts Review - Lent 2011
Music Harry Eagles, Bertie Heppel and Marcus Jones take a look at a great year in music
LCD Soundsystem: This Is Happening (May 17, 2010) Anyone who heard 2007’s Sound of Silver knew that James Murphy was onto something special: it was at once infectiously danceable and impressively musical, giving a crossover appeal that is continued on This is Happening. The beats are as catchy as ever, as evidenced by tracks like One Touch and I Can Change, and they never feel repetitive. Murphy’s musicianship is on show throughout, in particular the synth part that weaves in and out of the second half of All I Want and the epic slow burner that is Dance Yrself Clean, one of the best examples of fusing danceability and musicality of the decade. There are a couple of curveballs, such as the brash, unsubtle Drunk Girls and the quirky Pow Pow, but there’s nothing on This Is Happening that you wish had been left out. Kudos also goes to Murphy for not trying to recreate the emotional powerhouse that was All My Friends. If nothing else, This Is Happening.
Gorillaz: Plastic Beach (March 3, 2010) Plastic Beach is nothing if not ambitious: Damon Albarn’s creation is easily one of 2010’s most eclectic, disparate, and genre-mashing albums. Throwing any idea of album cohesion to the winds, Albarn instead offers a see-sawing collection of tracks that shows his song-writing at its most raw and uninhibited: he’s stopped filtering his inspiration. The results should be patchy and uneven but, somehow, it all works, giving a spectacular ride of an album that defies categorisation. Pop appeal is a small consideration, but catchy hooks are in subtle abundance and the songs never drag. Songs like first single Stylo and Some Kind Of Nature (with Lou Reed’s evocative vocals) grab you immediately and don’t let go, while others work their magic more slowly, particularly the dreamy Rhinostone Eyes and the soaringly beautiful Broken. Even when Albarn is just having fun, as on the bouncy, cartoonish Superfast Jellyfish, it’s impossible to feel like he isn’t giving it his all.
Pendulum: Immersion (May 21, 2010)
Goldfrapp: Head First (March 19, 2010)
Whether or not you liked the traditional drum and bass sounds of Hold Your Colour, or the more guitar and vocal driven electronic rock of In Silico, you cannot say that Pendulum haven’t set out to satisfy both sides of the spectrum. The album starts off with the more old-school Pendulum sounding Salt In The Wounds, before taking you on an adventure where you encounter drum and bass, heavy metal, industrial, and even a bit of dubstep, all done in a uniquely Pendulum way. Each song feels like the band have devoted their time to perfecting it, with the mixing and production at an extremely high standard. This is not Pendulum live, but as a purely auditory experience, this album does nothing but deliver. Oh, and there’s a collaboration with Liam Howlett on it. Superb, enough said.
The queen of electropop has returned to music moving away from the electro-folk of her last album, Seventh Tree. Although that was a success and showed her musical diversity, it is good to see her doing what she does best with an added ‘view-of-the-future-froma-50s-comic-book’ feel to it that works with her sound. However, she seems content merely emulating the 80s reincarnation that so many artists had done in the previous year, although, needless to say, she does it well. The song-writing seems at times half-hearted and even clichéd and lazy, although it is still head and shoulders above the current eletropop crowd. With this in mind, Head First is a good record, although money would ultimately be better spent on her first album, Felt Mountain.
Arts Review - Lent 2011
Massive Attack: Heligoland (Feb 8, 2010) Teardrop may have catapulted Massive Attack into immortality, but much of the seminal trip-hop act’s work seems to be destined to lie in relative obscurity (ask someone to name any Massive Attack song that isn’t Teardrop or Angel), and this seems particularly true of Heligoland, their most muted, low key album yet. Unlike Mezzanine or Blue Lines, the songs aren’t immediately accesible to all: songs like Rush Minute and Pray For Rain only reveal their genius after several listens. Organic, slow building songs are the order of the day here, and the collaborations reflect this: vocals from Elbow’s Guy Garvey and Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn are in sharp and refreshing contrast to the hyper-produced vocal parts in 100th Window. As on any Massive Attack record, however, the female vocalists steal the show: Martina Topley-Bird, previously a vocalist on Massive Attack collaborator Tricky’s album Maxinquaye, gives haunting performances on Babel and Pysche, while Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval gives the album’s high point on the unabashedly beautiful Paradise Circus. Arcade Fire: The Suburbs (Aug 2, 2010) Arcade Fire have outdone themselves with this latest offering. The sound is much less the big stadium-filling noise of Neon Bible that, although good, was perhaps too much to deploy throughout the whole album. Instead, a few – such as Ready to Start – have retained this and to the usual great effect where others seem more laid back. Most of the tracks still illustrate simple song writing that shows just how well they can put a song together and make it sound good without unnecessary intricate riffs and, for the most part, counteract the blandness that could come from this with compelling and emotional lyrics.
Sound of 2010 Deerhunter: Halcyon Digest (Sept 28, 2010) Deerhunter are the best band you probably haven’t heard of, which is bizarre given that they’ve been around since 2001. Halcyon Digest, their 4th album, is a sumptuously beautiful mix of ambient rock and modern, polished-up shoegaze that should be listened to by anyone who calls themself even a modest music fan. Guitarists Bradford J. Cox and Lockett Pundt are experts at creating an ethereal wall of sound that echoes My Bloody Valentine at their peak, but they never threaten to overcome the haunting vocals that slide in and out of the grooves. A few upbeat tracks, notably Revival and the saxophone-infused Coronado, break up the dreamy meandering, but Halcyon Digest is at its best on the longer, more self-indulgent songs, particularly the sprawling Desire Lines and the incredibly potent ode to recently deceased Jay Reatard, He Would Have Laughed. Foals: Total Life Forever (May 10, 2010) Whether or not you were a fan of the bouncy, dissonant sounds of Foals’ first album, Antidotes, you should be able to find something that you enjoy on this album. Foals have retained the intricate, detailed approach to song composition that gave Antidotes the depth that it had as an album, while also attempting, as most bands should on their second album, to grow and develop. What you get with this album is a varied package of electronic sounds, intricate drum patterns, complex guitar parts and the well-constructed bass parts that Foals use to tie all their music together. The vibe of this album is a lot more mellow this time around, with more use of keyboards and effects, with lead singer Yannis choosing singing over simply belting out the lyrics this time around (it worked well in the other album, but that’s progress for you). Foals have produced with this a deeper, more complex package, without losing any of what made them Foals. Excellent.
Delphic: Acolyte (January 11, 2010)
Eminem: Recovery (June 18, 2010)
The debut album by the Manchester electronic group was critically acclaimed, and rightly so: the sound is tuneful and stimulating and dips into enough genres to be able to attract a large audience, from indie pop to trance. Some things do seem to be repeated: many of the tracks use the same layered voices murmuring over repetitive synths that can make it hard to even distinguish one track from the next, and some songs reach too much of a crescendo and blur into an irritating wall of sound – I definitely felt somewhat assaulted by it in Red Lights, but it’s a sound that will appeal to many. Despite these flaws, the songwriting is good and the singles still have their welcome place on my ‘favourites’ playlist.
I must confess that I was not a fan of Relapse. It appeared to be no more than mediocre rhyming about serial murder, rape and valium, and, while some may say I simply fail to understand the intense emotional perspective that Eminem wrote the album from, I would counter by saying that even the superstar himself said that he didn’t like it, as there was too much shock value. So, with that settled, it is with great pleasure that I review Recovery, as a record that is not only far more optimistic and less ridiculously obscene. The lyrics pack more of a non-serial killer punch, the songs feel as though they really mean something to Eminem, and the backing tracks are well composed and add to the song more than they have done before. There are some good collaborations on this album. Although I genuinely have yet to understand the appeal of Lil Wayne (seriously, what does he do that’s good?), Eminem’s collaborations with Pink and Rihanna, rather than diluting the songs with a more pop vibe, simply give them a better, more varied, and more uplifting feel, which, after the stream of self-loathing and obscenity that was Relapse, I think everyone needs.
Avenged Sevenfold: Nightmare (July 27, 2010) It was a sad day for metalheads everywhere when A7X’s drummer, the Rev, passed away in 2009. But the LA guitar shredders bounced back, and with this album proved that A7X’s ability certainly did not die with the Rev. The album treads the balance beautifully between slower rock ballads and pounding heavy metal goodness, with every song being graced by some of the best guitar solos this side of Jimi Hendrix. The drum parts (played by Dream Theater’s Mike Portnoy) compliment every song perfectly, be it in aggression or precision. Meanwhile, vocalist M Shadows once again impresses, with his husky, half screaming, half operatic voice ripping through every song and showing us all he’s still got it. In terms of comparison to their previous works, it sounds like City of Evil after being taught the lessons that the band learned when making the self-titled album that came after it. An all-round solid display of musical growth, innovation and sheer heavy metal talent.
Belle and Sebastian: Write About Love (October 11, 2010) The indie poppers have changed their sound little with this new album, but all that means is that they have not fixed what is not broken. The song writing remains intelligent and varied, between the upbeat Come On Sister and the slower, more melancholy Little Lou, Ugly Jack and Prophet John. One thing that all songs have in common is their catchy brilliance which marks them out from the noise-obsessed slurry pit that is indie pop. Indeed, I can without a doubt say that the single Write About Love is, in my opinion, the best song to come out this year.
Arts Review - Lent 2011
Whose Music? Harry Eagles tells it how it is Just 10 months after winning a lawsuit preventing the sale of individual songs (in a bid to ‘preserve artistic integrity,’ whatever that actually means), Pink Floyd have pulled off about as big an about-face as is imaginable – as of January 4, 2011, any Pink Floyd song can be downloaded individually. Unsurprisingly, this volte face has been greeted by the hardcore Pink Floyd following with the accusations of hypocrisy, selling out and a lack of the aforementioned “integrity”. Albums like Dark Side of the Moon, they claim, need to be listened to in their entire, unedited, originally intended form to be appreciated properly. Even if you don’t agree with that sentiment (which, incidentally, I don’t), the issue isn’t about hypocrisy or integrity at all. It’s about artists’ control over their material, and Pink Floyd, in my opinion, should be applauded for realising that, in the internet age, the sort of dictatorial control artists once had over how their music was listened to is gone. The purists will still play their vinyl copies of The Wall and Meddle from start to finish, but the rest of the world has the ability to listen to Comfortably Numb directly followed by Kanye West’s Hell of a Life, and no amount of lawsuits or bans on individual track sales will have the slightest bit of influence on that. With any album or song in existence instantly streamable or downloadable online and free of charge, the sort of control implied by Pink Floyd’s lawsuit last year simply isn’t possible. Pink Floyd have come to the realisation that once your music is out there, it ultimately no longer belongs to you. It’s a realisation that needs to be universal. Unfortunately, this will be a slow process. Antiquiet.com posted an article in early 2008 that neatly demonstrated how difficult the transition could be. As is often
Arts Review - Lent 2011
the case, the fault lay more with the distributer than the artist. The case ran like this: following the release of heavy metal band Metallica’s 2008 album Death Magnetic, a Swedish fan remixed the album to his liking and posted it online. A journalist named Jonn Jeppsson then downloaded it, enjoyed it, and mentioned it in a newspaper review of Death Magnetic.
is probably unknown to them) in terms of artistic ethics, this sort of thing is appalling in the extreme.
The story should have stopped there but, when Universal Music Sweden found out about the review, they cancelled an interview that Jeppsson’s newspaper had scheduled with Metallica, as well as savagely condemning Jeppsson and his review:
‘Trent Reznor provides the multi-track source files for his songs and encourages fans to hack them apart. He sees the album purchase as the beginning of the relationship with the fan, rather than the end. He sees a fan remixing his album as the most ultimate show of devotion.’
‘The reviewer is referring to a torrent where someone has altered the original songs. The reviewer explains exactly where one should go in order to download the file that is totally infringing copyright. It’s not only an illegal file, but an altered file. The reviewer also writes that this is how the album should have sounded… Filesharing of music is illegal. Period. There’s nothing to discuss. That fact that Sydsvenskan [the newspaper for which Jeppsson had written] has a writer that has downloaded this music illegally and then makes mention of an illegal site in his review is totally unacceptable to us.’
The crux of the issue is that the music is ultimately for the listener, and that a piece of art exists not just as the creator intended it, but in and of itself. It would be the height of arrogance and stupidity for any artist to suggest that their official version of a piece of art is the best possible version. The sort of control that Universal Music and other record labels try to exert, and that Pink Floyd have so wisely relinquished, is both contrary to the spirit of music and simple viability, and is hugely destructive to the potential of music as a medium.
Notwithstanding the fact that this statement is wrong on several technicalities – file-sharing is not illegal in the case of music that is not commercially released, like the Death Magnetic remix, nor is the remixer’s site – the idea that a band, or, as in this case, its legal representatives, should view a fan altering the music for non-commercial purposes as illegal is slightly terrifying. Even if Universal Music have some convoluted legal high ground (and the meaning of the phrase ‘spirit rather than letter’
To provide a startling contrast, the article goes on to praise Trent Reznor, Nine Inch Nails frontman and co-creator of the soundtrack for David Fincher’s film A Social Network, for his proactive attitude:
50 Cent is In Da Club Charles Park rages against the machine 50 Cent’s In Da Club portrays the apparent highlights of being a successful rapper: namely fame, money and love – but those fruits of success and the means by which the rapper achieved them are admittedly far from admirable. In particular, the song associates love with polygamy, jewelry, cars, and other shallow trademarks of ‘success.’ The song’s recurring theme of romance may appeal to many, but 50 Cent in fact advocates an incredibly one-dimensional and self-centred psyche to this. He offers us a plethora of four-letter profanities and does not fall short of getting the point across that he is undeniably rich−in a love song. Regardless of the remarkably crude qualities of In Da Club, it peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, and has been included in the list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time by Rolling Stone Magazine. Either the music business is a huge scam, or we have become immune to such a dirty and mindless form of entertainment. 50 Cent’s slow-paced and monotonous rap style can be likened to the equally slow pace at which we as humans have morally evolved. Society appears to have
come to a protracted slump, turning to drunken stupors for entertainment, and crediting others according to their number of album sales. 50 Cent himself validates this outlook on life with one statement:
‘I’m into having sex, I ain’t into making love’ This reflects the primitive mentality of society with regards to sex, the most intimate interaction between two people, as the song detaches love and sex, dividing them into two separate activities, the latter having been cheapened into a form of media. The actual music video for the song depicts 50 Cent getting intimate with at least five different women, revealing his true moral values. Another outstanding aspect of the song is its mass apeall. Personally, I was exposed to this exact song in primary school. Fortunately, I saw it in a negative light due to the excessive swearing and explicit principles, and did not grow up as a victim of the culture envisaged. Yet it is evident that In Da Club did not have the same effect on my peers, as today, it increasingly becomes acceptable to drink to excess and take drugs, simply because our idols do it.
thrown into a vicious cycle where the media outlets want to expose us to such music – but only because it is profitable. In other words, we as the consumers are supplying huge demand for artists such as 50 Cent to fulfil our insatiable appetite for sex, drugs, cars and the rest of what today’s Hip Hop culture entails. This places those on the receiving end on a parallel to those broadcasting the music: the morals of our society can only go downhill as younger generations decide what kind of behaviour is acceptable and, as an adolescent, it is not hard to see that sometimes, we favour our own reckless judgments over those of our parents. The target of 50 Cent’s music is one of great vulnerability, and anyone can see this upon scrutinizing the youth and their fickle tendencies. Music must find a way of becoming a more positive medium of transferring information especially in consideration of those impressionable adolescents in the midst of formulating their goals for the future and for life; its failure to do so at times should be a serious cause for concern.
We have been
Arts Review - Lent 2011
Film Round-Up Charlie MacKeith looks ahead to a brave new world of cinema Cowboys and Aliens
Despite having one of the most curious titles of the year, Cowboys and Aliens certainly has promise. Most encouraging is the fact that these cowboys are set to be played by two action superstars. Harrison Ford will be dropping Indiana’s whip and picking up a revolver to play Colonel Woodrow Dolarhyde, while taking a break from Bond is Daniel Craig, playing the lone cowboy abducted and donated to a strange, alien doohicky by his new friends. Direction is set to come from Jon Favreau, the director of the Iron Man series. Aliens aren’t the only ones bringing danger, however, this big budget feature is a comic book adaption; a hit and miss genre at best. However, a great cast, a big director and an even bigger budget should mean Cowboys and Aliens is one of 2011’s big guns.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Comparisons can be drawn to Shrek, a series with a phenomenal start that blew most others in the genre out of the water, promptly followed by two utterly disappointing sequels. But Shrek Forever After only proved otherwise. Yet, the decision to ‘push the boat out’ and make a fourth big budget caper with Cap’n Jack Sparrow is certainly risky. One wonders if this is another Harry Potter moment. However, this next instalment seems to have found some firm material upon which to base its plot – legendary pirates like Blackbeard are on the agenda, while Sparrow will be searching for the mythical Fountain of Youth. The beautiful Pénelope Cruz and (slightly less so) Ian McShane join the cast. This will no doubt be a box office hit due to the popularity of the franchise, but would do very well to stay afloat critically, given the fate of those movies which have gone before.
The Hangover Part II It’s impossible to miss out this film, given that it came out the summer before last and yet one can still overhear people telling others that they consider themselves a ‘one−man wolf pack’ and talking about Carlos the baby. In the second instalment, the dysfunctional group of four will once more be heading for a hangover, this time in the far less familiar territory of Bangkok, a city famed as a party capital and the home of lady-boys. The director has promised an even more risky ride than before, with characters like Mr Chow returning no-doubt to worsen the situation. A sequel might be risky territory, given that director Todd Phillips recently showed himself not to be the invincible man of comedy he was once considered with 2010’s flop Due Date, which promised Hangover-esque hilarity, but couldn’t secure popularity, even with Galifianakis and Downey Jr. in the leading roles. Nevertheless, if The Hangover Part II proves half as hilarious as the first, it should be a hit, and definitely worth a watch.
There’s plenty more hitting our screens this year. Various things green and nerdy will riddle the cinema, with Seth Rogen playing a millionaire vigilante in The Green Hornet, and Ryan Reynolds stepping out of his rom-com comfort zone to play a protector of the universe in The Green Lantern. Transformers will be troubling the planet once more, as will aliens in the new Simon Pegg / Nick Frost collaboration, the humbly named Paul. Chris Evans will play a super hero for the second time in his career, moving from the Human Torch to the Marvel super-soldier Captain America, who has not been portrayed on screen for over two decades. Sherlock Holmes will be back to fight Moriarty as promised in the first of Downey Jr’s turns as the famed detective. Potter fans will delight and mourn this summer, too, as Lord Voldemort and the not-so-young wizard finally get the better of each other.
127 Hours Geordie Hazeel reviews one of the best films of the year Following the success of Slumdog Millionaire, Danny Boyle’s most recent venture is 127 Hours, an adaptation of Aron Ralston’s memoirs: Between a Rock and a Hard Place, first premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September 2010. It is the gut-wrenching tale of a climber trapped alone and out of contact in the remote Blue John Canyon of the Utah desert; it is the 5 tense days he fights for survival and considers the impossible feat: amputating his arm, trapped by a fallen rock, in order to save his life. To say it short and simply the film does not disappoint, living up to its 100% ‘fresh’ rating from Rotten Tomatoes’ top critics and IMDB’s 8.3/10 score. Descriptions from friends meant I was expecting a harrowing physical and psychological battle; yet, rather than just wince and cover my face, I quickly began enjoying the fast−paced action and witty, clever script. Indeed the film is so entertaining largely due to James Franco’s charismatic and likeable portrayal of Aron. Indeed, rather than dwell on his dire situation, he constantly cracks jokes to his camera; while grimly consuming his own urine he jokes that it tastes like a ‘bag of piss.’ The affable, fun loving character that Franco portrays is constantly fighting against his depression and vulnerable state, it is his battle to stay positive and not ‘lose it again’ that makes the film so exciting and intriguing. The scenery of the Utah desert is absolutely stunning, but it is not only
visually pleasing: as the camera pans out post-fall, it illustrates his isolation and helpless state. At the start of the film the open scenery is his home, his playground. It is a means to expend Ralston’s frenetic, puppy-like energy; his cycling and bounding across gullies are perfectly accompanied by Slumdog Millionaire composer A.R. Rahman’s frantic, rhythmic music. Yet, when he falls, the transformation is absolute, the landscape becomes his prison and his boundless energy is replaced by resilience and resourcefulness. The colourful flashbacks and hallucinations that Boyle interweaves with Ralston’s grim reality stop what could potentially become a monotonous story. This is aided by the zippy, close-up camera work that leaves no area untouched, creating a gritty realism, an almost tangible tension. It is Franco’s reaction to his situation, expressed in his ‘Vlogs’, that allows his wry humour to resurface constantly, breaking the grim atmosphere when it threatens to overpower both him and us. The
scene both eagerly anticipated and dreaded throughout the film is realistic and graphic: Rahman’s music screeches as Franco hacks through his sinew and severs nerves with a blunt knife and we feel the full extent of his pain and experience his astounding perseverance. Yet, the question that is on everyone’s mind as they filter out of the cinema, stunned by Danny Boyle’s latest project, is: ‘Would I be able to do what he did?’ Before seeing the film, I would have immediately responded that amputating my arm would be a small and easy price to pay in order to live but, having experienced the full force of Ralston’s survival story, I’m no longer so sure. Even if the question remains unanswered, the film’s true purpose is to do justice to one man’s incredible and inspiring journey; James Franco’s touching performance certainly achieves this and, at the same time, makes the journey personal and involving. At the end the relief he experiences as he walks from the cavern into the daylight is not just his, it’s ours as well.
So, 2011 looks to be a good year for come-backs, comic-books and comedies alike... Arts Review - Lent 2011
Arts Review - Lent 2011
Saris with Sylvia Plath Talking from experience Tariq Mir danced on the streets in Edinburgh ‘So, shall we get a movie from Slough?’ is one of those very ‘normal’ questions my mother asks me every time Short and Long Leaves come around; it’s one of those questions that is asked automatically as soon as I sit in the car ready to return home, whilst every other parent asks their son: ‘How are you? What shall we do this weekend? What about dinner?’ In this sense, it only proves one thing: that Bollywood is an incredibly important part of South-Asian culture. Of course, I have to admit that, despite my family being one that actively seeks out Bollywood films, we are more English than most South Asian families. For exceptionally conservative families, Bollywood has become an escape from the real world; whilst some of my contemporaries would disagree with me, I would say that Slumdog Millionaire is a realistic portrayal of India and of its culture. It is by no means the only portrayal and most certainly does not convey every aspect of Indian culture but, nevertheless, there is a sense of realism that some Indians would dismiss as prejudice and misunderstanding of the country venerated as Mother India. From childhood, every South Asian child is exposed to the world of Bollywood and, as one grows up, it becomes their choice as to whether they will continue to pursue the previous generation’s obsession with the Indian Film. My family was one of the first to traverse the seas to England from the Subcontinent – my grandmother was one of the first to see the immense amounts of change overcome British society. With this migration came the Arts Review - Lent 2011
Bollywood film and now it is common to find it in the Odeon What’s Showing lists. For many, Bollywood indeed is this: ‘those annoying musical films that have about seven different dance numbers, the same plot in every film, and so many melodramatic and exaggerated twists, as well as the same actor and actress playing every role.’ This is a brutal generalisation on the part of the European, but there is such a degree of truth in it that when a friend of mine said it, I am almost certain I had heard myself say it at one point or another. It would be a lie to say that I don’t enjoy it, but the absurdity of Bollywood film is sometimes something hard to digest. I remember once visiting Edinburgh. A huge crowd had gathered around one of the major parks and most of my family wanted to see what the commotion was. Having pushed my way through, I found myself watching one of the strangest scenes in my life: a woman sitting on an electronic wheelchair being ‘courted’ by a man dressed as a matador, holding a crimson shroud as if she was some Spanish bull…
Whilst some might say it’s cool, the absurdity of the songs sometimes even exceeds Sylvia Plath stuffing her head in an oven. At points, I was forced to ask, whilst growing up: ‘Mum, how did she change clothes so quickly?’ or ‘Mum, I thought they were in the house – why are they now in Egypt?’ Somehow, the main character is wearing a pink sari at one point and then she is suddenly wearing a raunchy black shalwaar at another, or is in the middle of a temple and then suddenly has been shifted to an incredibly random place, the most typical being the Alps or the Great Pyramids of Giza, or even the Forbidden City in Beijing… Of course, these films epitomise what the Indians would call tradition, something that most Subcontinental peoples would say has been lost in the West. Bollywood is, without a doubt, an escape, as any other form of entertainment is; but a family-friendly option, one that opens one up to a world that is so frequently typical and obvious, and yet also romantic and entertaining.
Hisham Zaman interviews a new boy in his year Mohamad joined RGGP this year as a Sixth Form Scholar, fresh out of the conflict in the Middle East. He lived as a refugee in Lebanon, going to a camp school. He has unique views on everything and gives a perspective of why we cannot afford to forget those in need even if they aren’t in the headlines. He is part of the a generation of Palestinians who have been disconnected from their heritage and land, and found themselves having to adapt and find their place in the world. Hopefully, they will be the generation to find their feet and end the struggle. This is what he said when put on the spot about the dynamics of the conflict. What is the most troubling thing about the situation? The situation is getting more complicated year after year because the new generations have become disconnected from their land and only know about it through their parents and grandparents, but they are connected spiritually. Of course, the issue of the refugees, in my mind, is most troubling. All negotiations, at the moment, fail to find a fair solution for their needs. If the new generation is disconnected then do you think it’s time they will move on and stop worrying about it? No, because they strongly believe that they have a right to their land and that no one can take that from them. If we are not Palestinian, we have no iden-
tity. The Lebanese and other governments refuse to acknowledge us as citizens. We can’t live as refugees for ever. Is the conflict still one based on religious differences, or do we have religion-fuelled political strife? As a Muslim, I don’t have any problems with Jews in particular, but the hard-line Jews are firm in their belief that they have a religious right to take land in Palestine, a belief that they alone are the chosen people and thus should occupy the land. They have taken every opportunity to expel Muslims and Christians under this premise and have called Jews from all over the world to come and settle in Palestine. Religion really shouldn’t be an issue but the argument that the Israelis use to justify their seizure of land makes it a religious issue. So why do you think the peace process isn’t moving forward? I think that increasing the settlements in the West Bank is one of the most important issues that is hampering the peace process. The main aim of negotiations is the two-state solution and, if the Israelis continue to build and encroach on our land, then naturally it will be a barrier to peace. Most Palestinians and Israelis want all the land, so for people to compromise it is very difficult. We, the Palestinians, want the 1948 boarders, the Israelis like it the way it is. What do you think is a likely outcome? In order for peace to be achieved we need to think about the borders, refugees and Jerusalem as a capital for both states. For example, with reference to recent leaks, it was said that
a possible compromise was that only 100, 000 people would be allowed to return to Palestine. This is hugely problematic as, who would choose the people who would return? How can one person have more of a right to return than others? There are over 40, 000 refugees living in Lebanon and millions more around the world. They have no country, no nationality and no citizenship. What’s going to happen to them? Another asserted solution is to have land given to Palestinians in Chile or Argentina but, let’s face it, that is ridiculous. It’s just very complicated. Is there a win-win solution for both sides? Perhaps a one-state solution, so that we can live peacefully together, one in which we can live side by side as equals with equal opportunities and equal rights. No one seems to consider it, but that way we wouldn’t have to squabble about borders or relocation. Having come to Eton, what is most striking about people’s views on the situation? For me the most shocking thing was people referring to the land as Israel, as back in Lebanon everyone refers to it as Palestine. So if there was one thing you could tell people about the conflict in general, what would it be? As this conflict goes on, it affects everyone: Jews, Christians and Muslims. It even causes a lot of tension in the international arena. The most important thing you can do is to try and help those in need and lobby governments to bring a swift end to the conflict.
Arts Review - Lent 2011
Myths of Masterdom Thursday 13th January Sadly, the first day of the new half meant chapel duty. ‘Bread of Heaven’ was accompanied by the familiarly enthusiastic attempts of the house master in the next seat to me to demolish the eardrums of everyone within range. The choir, on the other hand, only got a small grunt of disapproval at the announcement of the anthem – the sad truth is that, for all their talent, the majority of the student body was either not listening or still asleep. My friend the housemaster approached me at the end of the service and spoke so quickly that, before I knew it, I had been signed down to chaperone the next E Social. There are only so many times you can ask him to repeat something before just giving up and nodding politely like when granddad starts talking about ‘those damn reds’.
Friday 14th January The smartarse scholars in my C Greek div have started passing notes to each other in some obscure Ionian dialect and seem to be perpetually smirking behind my back. I tried to make a point by asking the porky one with the pudding-bowl haircut when the battle of Marathon was. The smug sod replied that, as time was a non-linear quantity, ‘it could be tomorrow.’ I bloody hate Collegers. The one at the front with the enormous hair who doesn’t seem to understand any of their jokes approached me at the end of the lesson and asked me to help him found DubSoc because apparently he ‘just really bloody LOVES dubstep’. I said I’d get back to him tomorrow, largely because I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about but also partly because I want to. Later. On the corridors at bedtime, I had the misfortune to knock only once before entering one boy’s room. The telltale screen slam and look of utter shame followed. I can only hope he was gaming.
Arts Review - Lent 2011
Saturday 15th January I spent my longed-for Saturday afternoon attempting to umpire the only match of Field Game in which the boys knew even less than I did. The F League remainders, as we have become known, consist of boys who look as though a strong gust would carry them away – and the larger ones they seem to orbit. Every now and then they would turn to look at me as if something was outrageously wrong but, as far as I could tell, no singular moment of the 40 minutes of ball–chasing was any different from any other. That is until an absurdly large boy with a hefty beard who I was astonished not to have spotted before stormed the pitch and made for goal. Too late the weedy Long looked up from the copy of Fixtures he had illegally stashed in his sock for mid-match entertainment and, before he could make his panic-stricken leap for safety, the ball struck him clear in the face and he cannoned backwards off the pitch. After long consultation with the rules I decided that a ball can indeed be made rougeable off the nose but by this point everyone except our poor wounded player had gone. I am writing this in the San in between various repetitions of the story, each accompanied by most unprofessional howls of laughter from the nursing staff.
Sunday 16th January I returned home last night to find a crudely written note pushed under my door from the DubSoc Colleger. It said he wanted me to read his poetry because apparently I ‘just look like the sort of guy that would really GET it, you know’. My English teacher flatmate actually quite liked it: ‘If music be the food of love // Dubstep fits me like a glove: // Deep. Profound. Aggressively sexual.’ I’m not sure whether it’s meant to be addressed to me or not but I feel I ought to talk to someone about it...
Monday 17th January I met my tutorial group today for the first time, all of us having forgotten to turn up on Saturday. I thought that we would have a little debate to break the ice but, after having to fetch a globe from the geographer next door to prove where Tibet was – ‘no, sir, it’s one of those made-up places like Mordor and Timbuktu’ – it descended into anarchy. Try as I might, I couldn’t persuade them that ‘your mum’ was not a valid point of information and, eventually, I got so frustrated that I let them leave early to actual ‘woops’ of enthusiasm.
Tuesday 19th January There was a very embarrassing moment as I stopped a boy in the street to ask him to shave his scraggly beard only to discover he was in fact just a small History teacher several years my senior. Also, that strange Colleger has added me as a friend online. I didn’t see it could do any harm to say yes and I had been stuck on 499 for ages...
Wednesday 20th January The canonical rift in the Divinity department is apparently getting worse by the day. The Anglicans and Catholics have started going at it like religious turmoil was out of style. Rumour has it one of the Catholics has posted the 95 Reasons We Are All Going to Hell – most of which seem to focus on the clergy’s night–time habits – on the door of College Chapel. The Protestants struck back using a vicious smear campaign involving a senior Catholic chaplain and a toothbrush moustache to rival the propaganda used in James Schools’ own battle of Syracuse during the great coup of 2006. At present, they are arguing over who should get custody of the Jews, if it came to a separation, but there doesn’t seem to be any clear end in sight. My new virtual friend has been ‘poking’ me at all hours of the day and night and constantly giving me updates on his own thoughts and moods. I am in way over my head here...
Arts Review - Lent 2011
The Final Pages
The Final Pages
Ante Etonam The old Etonian would like to thank the gods of shooting for another fine season. Admittedly, the invitations were not as forthcoming as they have been in recent years because of these unfortunate economic times forcing up taxes and stopping the usual inaugural bonus from coming through. The old Etonian takes consolation in the fact that he was left with a couple more days to keep up with the hunt and make an annual return to Eton for the field game season. However, the old Etonian was profoundly disappointed by the derogatory comments he received about his age during these ‘new’ camp versions of bullies, recently introduced by the health and safety adjudicatory contactless competitiveless rumpolestiltskinian monitory advisory review committee, as well as the constant mimicking by boys of that frightfully uncivil rapper from Camden Dapdub with the use of words such as ‘like’ and ‘rut’. The old Etonian fears that the old values of Eton are diminishing with boys being limited to 1 beer after field game matches and no gin whatsoever in sight. In the end, the old Etonian decided that, after the disapproving look he received from a rather tubby slap–headed beak whilst taking out his rizzla’s and fresh Virginia tobacco, it was about time he called the Bentley over to head over to Lord Marquis Juraniumasquin’s estate for the next day’s usual shooting fixture.
Surviving Short Leave Returning to school is always a strain. Parents recite the same lines about how delicious their tea at the ritz was, and their short break to New York, whilst you secretly wish you could go to sleep because unlike like them, you haven’t gotten any sleep over the two days you had off. It was enough time to think about filling up the bath, and just enough time to get out of it, and get dressed to go downstairs again and see everyone. And then there was the admin. If you survive the torment of a twenty boys wanting to know to exactly whose room the staff have moved things, and where they can find their prized, top of the line, £600 chair that mommy paid for, then you have to tuck the cheeky little F Blocker in, who thinks he can get away with staying out of bed for twenty more minutes because he was only brushing his teeth. Then you have to deal with all the excuses as to why the purple-haired B blocker with vomit on his jersey has come back to the house at 1 o’clock, and hear how it was really Flossie’s birthday back home and they wanted to make a thing of it. Just when you think it’s all over and you’re lying down to a cup of tea, the scrawny C Blocker, who’s probably been out smoking twice already, despite only having been back for two hours, comes up, tears in his eyes. Having survived listening to his life story, and how the girl of his dreams left him, you then hear that several of the E block have received rather strange injuries in some form of ‘Corridor Cricket’.
Arts Review - Lent 2011
Vulturius... As the vulture tucks into a hearty meal of School Hall asbestos and the cobwebs gathering in the electronics section of the Design Department, he watches the feeble boys scurry back and forth playing what is known as the ‘Field Game’. From high atop his lofty perch on College Chapel (he was taken on a tour by the chaplain 200 years ago and has been stuck there ever since), the intricate formations and tactics used remind him of the Great Snowball War of the winter of 1939. All the same, he laughs at their ignorance of the true nature of the Field Game – it is, in fact, an élite conscription test designed to select the toughest, most able men to train in the war against Harrow. Apparently; the only way to beat this fearsome enemy is to run back and forth for 40 minutes chasing a ball, making them so confused about why we would possibly play this game that their heads swivel off their shoulders and rifle into the upper atmosphere. Or maybe the vulture just made that up – after all, he had been feeling light−headed since he celebrated Jesus’ birthday (old Etonian, don’t you know) by pilfering all the confiscated ‘schnouts and bevvies’ from the Lower Mandem’s secret stash.
Seeing as this is, in fact, The Arts Review and not The Lad Review, the vulture feels somewhat inclined to include some of the artistic observances he has seen this year. For a start, the Rock Society can no longer exclude from its membership those with reasonably loose jeans after the European Court on Human Rights insisted it is a form of child abuse and discrimination on the grounds of whether or not one wants to have children in later life. Meanwhile, the Praed Society continues to produce poetry of great renown – some of the great works such as ‘Octopus Angst’, ‘Toast Boat’ and ‘Oh God why doesn’t anybody like me?’ continue to amaze readers a whole three days on. On an aesthetic note, the Art Schools is still a building site, forcing all the staff, technician and pupils to work in the broom closet, having to crawl around and whisper so as not to bring about a seismic earthquake which would cause the whole of the parade ground to collapse into the hole underneath the Farrer Theatre. Apparently certain C–Block art students are still unaware of this and so continue to blast out grimy dubstep whilst trying to capture the delicate beauty of the wildflowers they are painting.
One Final Note: O! Wanderers in the shadowed land Despair not! For though dark they stand, All woods there be must end at last, And see the open sun go past: The setting sun, the rising sun, The day’s end, or the day begun. For east or west all woods must fail.
J.R.R.Tolkien ‘All Woods Must Fail’ Arts Review - Lent 2011
Published on Mar 29, 2011