Never Let Me Go - Movie! Starring Keira Knightley

My dissertation has been put on momentary standstill this morning as I discovered that one of my favourite novels, Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, is coming to the big screen, and with a very impressive cast.

Starring:
Keira Knightley
Andrew Garfield
Carey Mulligan

Screenplay adaptation by Alex Garland
Directed by
Mark Romanek

I understand that many are annoyed by Keira Knightley. Still, if we look at her two best film roles in The Hole and The Duchess, we realise that the part of Ruth in Never Let Me Go is a neat amalgam of both. Ruth’s character has all the adolescent hurt and terror of Frankie in The Hole, yet all the English-summer apple-blossom rosiness of Georgaina in The Duchess. I still have faith in Knightley and generally consider her to be trumping herself in each role now.

Mark Romanek is a strong director, just judge him by his two major career feats – One Hour Photo and Scream. In One Hour Photo, Romanek destroyed Robin Williams’ typecast and created a fascinating and terrifying thriller about voyeurism, perverted obsession and weirdly enough morality and benevolence. While Scream remains to be one of the most estranged and powerful music videos considering its minimalism, and to date is still the most expensive music video ever made ($7 million - almost topped by Mariah Carey's Heartbreaker).

Andrew Garfield (pictured below) will be brilliant playing Never Let Me Go’s lead male Tommy. The boy-crush that both Kathy and Ruth fall in love with, he is a fruitful and beautiful young man who suffers temper fits and inner-turmoil. Garfield will be perfect for the theatrical demands of this part which blend romantic lead with acrid trauma. In my view Garfield, who won a BAFTA in 2008 for Boy A (despite being a Californian), is a cross-between David Tennant and Tobey Maguire, but only younger and much thinner. Never Let Me Go is bound to establish Andrew Garfield as a UK hearthrob, Heat's torso of the week - watch out!

As for Carey Mulligan (also pictured below), her face is just incredible and she always manages to make her parts intense and interesting. She's truly set for the role in this movie, I bet she's a fan of Ishiguro's novels too.

Finally, do we need to discuss Alex Garland? Regardless of what you pessimists think, I continue to support my view that both The Beach and 28 Days Later are brilliant films.
Ishiguro is one of Britain’s best novelists and hopefully this movie adaptation will bring him the glorious mainstream recognition that other adaptation favourites like Ian McEwen and Joanne Harris have previously enjoyed.

I’m really excited to see Never Let Me Go, it will be an incredibly challenging film to make considering the novel’s suspense, slowly released twists and of course Ishiguro’s famously unreliable narrator. I just hope Romanek can sustain the novel’s power, lust, masochism and sensation. Ishiguro’s subtle command in writing over sexuality, memory, friendship and loss is simply phenomenal. I’m just anxious the film might not live up to his untouchable literary worth.
Right, back to my dissertation!

Stars of tomorrow: Alex Garfield and Carey Mulligan
Below: Behind the scenes shot of the star trio, courtesy of www.carey-mulligan.net

Mondrian: The Painter Mispainted


Would Piet Mondrian be pleased to see kids walking around with his artwork plastered across their trainers? I don’t think so. Although I can see Nike’s attempted sense of tribute, I think it is an insulting over-simplification and commodification of Mondrian’s genius.

Would Mondian be pleased to see naked men walking around in his artwork? Very much so.

Forget everything we discussed last week about Moschino’s naked tie look. Here is the ultimate marriage of high art, fashion and nudity… Mondrian.

But jokes aside, I want to take a step back and consider Mondrian’s legacy. Has he been horrifically misappropriated by fashion designers of today?

In 1965, twenty years after Mondrian’s death, YSL was the first notable designer to incorporate his famous paintings of black stripes with block primary colour into a collection of clothing. Since then Mondrian’s neo-plastic designs have been ubiquitous, from wrapping paper to crockery to car adverts, and of course 2008 saw Nike’s Mondrian-homage trainers (pictured below).

Yet to be such an integral part of mainstream pop culture and consumerism was not necessarily part of the Dutch artist’s vision. Born in 1877, Piet Mondrian was an insular man who looked more like a chemist than an artist. He was arguably a sadomasochist too, known to paint until his hands blistered and to study his canvases closely until his eyes began to stream. He was a great thinker.

In 2009 people look at Mondrian’s work and say words like ‘uniformity’, ‘regularity’, ‘restriction’ and ‘simplicity’. They are wrong. They forget that Mondrian’s work was a vast rebellion against the uniformity of proportional representation, and an attack at fine art’s tendency to recreate scenes of nature. To Mondrian nature meant death and his paintings were a protest against it. He fled from fascism too: from Paris to London in 1938, and then London to New York in 1940.

David Sylvester wrote with brilliant insight of Mondrian’s paintings: “a straight line is infinitely extendable, and the open-ended space between two parallel straight lines is infinitely extendable”. As a colour theorist, Mondrian reacted against nature and used harsh, striking, very superhuman blocks of primary colour.

Art critics have compared Martin Creed’s 2001 Turner Prize winning piece “The lights go on and off” to Piet Mondrian. I disagree. I think if Mondrian was alive today he would be painting kitsch farmyards and romantic sunsets in a gut-rebellion to our bland and over-digested familiarity to minimalism.

Would Piet Mondrian be pleased to see kids walking around with his artwork plastered across their trainers? I don’t think so. Although I can see Nike’s attempted sense of tribute, I think it is an insulting over-simplification and commodification of Mondrian’s genius. Similarly, the YSL Mondrian-inspired dress engages with his work on a surface-level product-recognition plane, but fails to converse with his depth and resistance.

The white boxes in a Mondrian painting are not blank spaces, they are complex white brush-stroke arrangements, created laboriously and touching upon the perverse.

Which is why to paint the naked body in a Mondrian style… I think he would appreciate. The 'naked Mondrian look' dissipates the middle stages of business, misinterpretation and commerce. An advocation of nudity is a beautiful rebellion against authority and the radical proximity between the painter and the painted is just fantastic.

Anyone want to join me?



Below: One of Mondrian's 'lozenge' paintings from thw 1920s. A good example, in my opinion, of his taciturn, insular and intellectual approach to art. A million miles away from the invented, bold, happy-clappy fashion representation of Mondrian.

The Jack of Hearts is written by Jack Cullen

Cowell’s Got Talent: The Susan Boyle Foil

As an audience we are expected to marvel and dry our tears as we share the revelatory moment that Simon Cowell, Piers Morgan and Amanda Holden realise just how superficial they are.

When in reality their self-satisfied sense of surprise is superficial itself. The whole Susan Boyle ‘sensation’ is manipulated, scripted and edited by producers to create a climatic moment that will catch the media’s eye and consequently hook in more viewers… and boy has it worked.

I don’t usually rant on Jack of Hearts, but I feel I just need to get this off my reality TV chest…

From the beads of sweat on Ant n’ Dec’s sky-rise foreheads, to the baffled cow-penned audience who are being signalled to give a standing ovation… the whole program Britain’s Got Talent is tediously contrived, not to mention self-congratulatory.

The fact that Susan Boyle released her own CD in 1999 is living proof that the whole epic unveiling of her ‘undiscovered talent’ is just an ITV ploy. She must have had to sing at some sort of selection round too, where viewer-rating-worthy candidates are sifted out.

On this tiresome topic of “never judge a book by its cover” (a popular phrase amongst those who have never turned a book's cover) - I fail to understand how viewers feel so joyously liberated by an “appearance shattering” celebration of “true talent”, when they self-consciously tune in to watch Simon Cowell, who is so orange and artificial that most television sets struggle to depict the high contrast of his ferrety little second-hand Action Man grin.

I admit Susan Boyle has a strong voice; she seems to be a lovely woman and was no doubt unaware of the media fanfare that she was deliberately webbed up in. She is a perfectly sufficient singer, if not a bit anachronistic, and I wish her the best of luck. Sadly for her, and fortunately for us, pop stardom is 1 million % about either your visual communication or your ability to write music innovatively.

Finally, why is Amanda Holden so taken aback by Boyle’s talent, calling it “the biggest wake-up call ever”? Surely she didn’t pick Les Dennis (spelling?) for his sexual seduction? It’s annoying when she barks “I know that everybody was against you”, glancing nonchalantly over her shoulder as if telepathy is just another of her many D-list celebrity attributes. What she means is “in the script that I’m clutching with my prostitute-red nails, the audience will be edited in production to be seemingly against you”.

Finally Finally. What’s Piers Morgan doing on the panel? Is he about to release another book in supermarkets?

Rant over.

Why You So Nasty? ... was Robbie's Rudebox ahead of its time?

I bought Robbie Williams’ album Rudebox in a garage for £2.99 last week. I remember mocking it in 2006 when it flopped in the UK, but now I must eat my Adidas cap, for the record is surprisingly not too short of brilliant.

Now I must write a Disclaimer here: I have never been a Robbie fan. In fact, I’ve always thought him arrogant, cheesy and…well I’m just not his target market really. The Robbie Williams experience is for middle-aged women who don’t get enough sex, to wobble about on a saturday night flapping their bingo wings to Rock DJ, or balding Barrys in short-sleeve satin shirts, flinging sweat around to Let Me Entertain You.

Despite its global success (landing at number 1 in Germany, Italy and Switzerland) Rudebox didn’t sell enough copies in the UK, resulting in a couple of big firings at EMI, and the lead single, also called Rudebox, was robbed at the charts by three big hits also released that summer – SexyBack, Promiscuous and I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’.

Yet playing the album in the car this week, I feel a justified urge to rush to its defence:

With an understated electro heart and an Adidas-drenched fashion theme, Rudebox is Robbie Williams’ stylish personal tribute to the 1980s. Written at a time when Williams was coming to terms with depression, the album offers a rich and varied set of collaborations that boasts Pet Shop Boys, William Orbit, Mark Ronson, as well as a few quaint touches –like backing vocals from Keith Allen’s daughter Lily.

With fantastic production on some tracks, Williams successfully manages to sing worthwhile covers of big 80s songs like The Human League’s Louise, while still maintaining his personality and charm.

Lyrically, on the surface Rudebox comes across as blunt rhyming couplets interspersed with naff quips about current affairs. When one takes a second look though, we find a self-disparaging pop star indirectly hinting at some atramentously dark truths. Poetry, dare I say.

So for £2.99 - a bargain - and in my opinion the only provoking, truly listenable and interesting album to come out of the Robbie Williams hit factory. (Yes, including that stupid and wet Nicole Kidman album).



If Williams does reunite with Take That, I appreciate that he’ll make himself millions, but it will sadden me to see him re-attach himself to that pack of winging, aging, uninspired desperados. BUT: if you’re reading this Robbie… cash in on the gimmick if you must... but return to your world of rollerblading supermodels (non gender specific), cocktails and private beaches ASAP please!

Here are some quick appraisals for my seven favourite tracks on Rudebox:

Rudebox: The sassy title track. Some lyrics are borderline controversial like “dance like you just won at the special Olympics”. But ignoring the sapphic connotations, it’s a great pop number with an infectious cyclical chorus.
Lovelight: A beautiful Stephen Duffy cover that enters some sensual post-Jamiroquai territory. I love the deep electro-funk intro that makes Kanye’s imitative Flashing Lights sound like a child on a biscuit tin. Check out some brilliant YouTube clips of Robbie performing this song live.

Bongo Bong and Je Ne T’aime Plus: A very sophisticated cover that adds a nice sultry pop gloss to Manu Chao’s classic. Lily does her little-girl backing vocal thing, but years before Dizzee wanted some of the action on his track Wanna Be.
She’s Madonna: A weird combination of witty and spaced-out. Drift away with this interesting tribute to one of the few living pop stars who really does have a place in history.
Never Touch That Switch: An apocalyptic allegory for insular emotions? Whatever it’s about, it's punchy, gameshow-esque and hopefully you will love it too. Some cool remixes available on iTunes.
We’re The Pet Shop Boys: Neil joins in with the vocals, while Robbie pushes his pop career closer to a more sophisticated tangent of gay culture, an arena that he’s always teasingly targeted himself at.
The 80’s: Another splendid track!




The Jack of Hearts is created and written by Jack Cullen

The Tie Is High: Naked Ties 2009

Three years ago Moschino, with a trademark overdose of humour, launched an unexpected look: the tie tan line (above). Of course for the everyday man, who lacks a team of two dozen make-up artists, such an estranged bodily acquisition would require hours of sunbathing with nothing but a tie on. Well (gladly?) for summer 2009 it seems we will have the opportunity to do so…

Last night in a rather arty bar, somebody told me that a major designer is launching beach ties, to wear on a bare chest with swimming trunks. Sadly by this morning I had forgotten the designer’s name (perhaps you can help me out?). Still, here is a mini feature on the background to this look:

Jennifer Aniston famously wore nothing but a red, white and blue tie in GQ’s January issue, which predictably flew off shelves since it was her raunchiest ever shoot to date. It is this photo which dominates Google images when one types ‘nude tie’ / ‘naked tie’ / ‘nothing but a tie’ etc.
Yet the origins of the nude tie, in fact, lie in more serious pornography, which I do not want to fully illustrate here but I am sure Google will happily assist. It’s a classic Playboy look, apparently quite high up there with girl cops and French maids (?!).


However, fine artists have employed the nude tie look for decades. David Hockey is arguably the forefather of depicting men in semi-composed formal wear. John Glembin, Adam Bouska and Mori Yusuke are three more artists who have adopted the look in their work, and are featured below. (Adam Bouska, who is famous for his reels of male nudes, is set to be one of the biggest fashion photograpers of the next few years).

Hugo Boss and French Connection are amongst several designers to have used nude tie men in their advertising.
Interestingly, Yale University is famous for hosting secret naked parties in secluded private libraries, where often the men accessorise with just a black tie. I imagine Yale are not alone in their indulgence, and the nude tie look has featured at numerous debauch parties and drunken post-wedding pool sides across the globe, dating (and debating) back to Laurence Olivier probably.
In literature William Golding springs to mind, for his two tribes of distressed mau-mau choir boys run around his allegorical island in Lord of the Flies, savagely naked in body paint and Rambo-style modified ties.
So, with this much cultural heritage, who could feel like a fool sporting the look this summer now? Well, me for a start. (Unless you’re supplying the champagne Mr Conran).
Photos Below:
1) Jeniffer Anniston shows us that she's still fine.
2) Don't burn a fag hole in that Hugo Boss tie!
3) Mori Yusuke uses floral prints to bring out the look.
4) No more clean laundry? The perfect oppurtunity to try a nude tie.
5) John Glembin Photography
6) Adam Bouska Photography
7) Guerilla-Geek or Cold War Chic: Why not contrast a rigid bureacratic tie with a 70s commando feel and leave your underwear at home?



The Apprentice Episode 3: Lesbian Action!

Did anyone else just see that bizarre clip of Debra and Paula holding hands during the Katherine Jenkins recital? Lesbianism in The Apprentice, I say! Also – is it really a treat to watch Katherine Jenkins sing? Even worse, a private recital so you can’t even have a cheeky check of your phone from time to time...

Of course, holding hands is more than acceptable behaviour between heterosexual women, one of those many liberties that women in our culture enjoy that men don’t, like high heels, but it did look a bit loved-up and candle-lit on screen didn’t it?
Ignite certainly deserved to win this time, their Body Rocker product looked pretty cool. Whereas Empire’s product looked like a budget terrorism device. Anyway, it's about time I gave you guys my official lowdown on the characters, I mean candidates, on this year's series. Here’s a Jack of Hearts breakdown of the remaining contestants. Let me know if you agree:

Debra – She was a harsh team leader, with a harsher and grating voice. Her eyes are a little too close together and she really bullied Lorraine in this task. Also, what’s with the spelling of her name? Boo you whore. Mind her hair, it'll slit your throat.
Norool – During the pointless racism card that Deborah pulled I felt Norool should have stepped in and made his point of view heard. Afterall, they were bickering about his racial status, although really it was because he wasn’t attractive enough for the advert. He has to go soon; he’s failed to bond with the other lads.
BenFancies himself SO much, which is sort of understandable yet incredibly injustified since he looks like a self-tanned mole. Pin-striped suits are soo 2002. Also,“I’ll bite his teeth out”, ??, is that an Irish phrase lost in translation? Quite good at sharpening his eyes though. So poising AND posing, if only he were that wee bit taller.
Philip – Although the first episodes depicted Philip as polite and well-spoken, he has become progressively more and more like a winging, irritable, almost primative character. He's an estate agent... enough said.
The American Girl Kim – I like her a lot. She’s cool. “I play tennis and I go dancing” – haha. I find her voice refreshing. She's doing America proud. Another favourite.
The Blonde Girl Kate – Doing the yellow-hair-orange-face thing is so difficult. She’s not as bad as some girls who try it. But come on – she’s basically a repeat of Michelle Dewberry from Series 2, but not as strong. Who knows, she might turn it all around soon though, especially if she starts a mid-series affair with Howard or Ben... the more Heat coverage the better.
Howard – There’s something weirdly attractive about him, but he seems a bit evil too. Quite a cool kid and surprisingly bitchy. Undecided. Is he a closet homosexual? That would explain a lot, and please me. He either fancies Ben a little or sees him as an alphamale threat.
James – Surely he’ll go soon? He reminds me of Morrisey with his teary eyes and self-pity. Can he sing though? I think he’s too soppy for The Apprentice and would be better off as a spiritual leader. Where on earth did he used to be a nightclub doorman? St. Ives? Oh.. Surrey.
Maj – An alright fellow I suppose but a bit oafy. There’s nothing dynamic about Maj and he’s full of negative energy. I didn't see him offering anything, a bit of a commentator. He reminds me of the guys who work in my local 3 store... a pain.
Mona – Hardly speaks and has a nervously ambiguous smile, weirdly like the Mona Lisa (it had to be said). I don’t mind her, but she won’t hang around for long unless she starts pulling some rabbits. Statistically Sir Alan goes for white men who lie their CV, i.e. not Mona.
Yasmina – what a demanding bitch - no thanks. I'm sure the cameras are deliberately making her a wicked witch and I'm sure some people will find her abrasive ways admirable, but I personally find her a bit cumbersome, like Jo the big-boned aggressive one from S Club 7.

It’s always hard to predict The Apprentice. It’s not really about Sir Alan finding an employee, but about good quality television. And for these reasons it is near impossible to guess the course of the series. Like Big Brother, storylines and false impressions are oozed out of raw footage. I love The Apprentice, but you have to see it for what it is – an entertaining loser’s game.