I’ll be writing a post soon about the last ten years and the effect they’ve had on me. One of the very many things I have to be grateful for during this decade is discovering the films of Adam Curtis.
Curtis’s documentaries focus on the political and social history of the 20th century, criticising much of the psychological methods of power employed during those years. In The Power of Nightmares, Curtis illustrated how governments learned that the best way they could explain their worth to us in a post-cold war world was by building a new culture of fear directed at enemies which could never be defeated. The Trap investigates the various definitions of freedom and how these contrary views impacted on societies.
It Felt Like A Kiss is instantly recognisable as a Curtis film (the Helvetica typeface, the often shocking archive footage, the powerful soundtrack). But it is significantly different to those I mentioned above. Detailing “how power really works in the world”, IFLAK eschews any narration beyond occasional visual prompts. The film is instead a tapestry of powerful images played over a soundtrack of some fantastic music from the 50s through to the 90s. Like some kind of amazing, extra-long pop video.
And in It Felt Like A Kiss, it’s the music that I most adore. Ranging from Roy Orbison to the Velvet Underground to the Phil Spector-produced title song, Curtis selects a phenomenal playlist of well known and more obscure pieces. The soundtrack reminded me of how much I loved some long-neglected albums, and finally got me to listen to a ton of ‘Wall of Sound’ records, many of which are of unimpeachable quality and beauty, however mad their producer is.
The film cannot currently be obtained legally, so you’ll have to download it. I’m hoping that Curtis will release his documentaries on DVD some time soon (a box set of those would be fantastic). If you’d rather not download a film illegally, you can listen to much of the soundtrack on this Spotify playlist.
I’ve just discovered that Spain is the world’s third largest producer of wine. Behind France and Italy (I must admit that I can’t remember the time I last tried a glass of Italian), Spain produced nearly four million tonnes of wine in 2005. I suppose that it makes sense: from the ubiquitous Rioja, through Cava to the Valencian fare sold for four pounds a bottle in England, almost every region in Spain produces its own variety of God’s greatest gift. Personally, I’m a great fan of Priorat. The Catalan county which gives Priorat its name has a minuscule population of fewer than 10,000. And yet it manages to produce a wine whose quality and richness is even now being ‘discovered’ by the bodegas of New York City and London. Read more about Spanish and Portuguese wine at Catavino.
Speaking of wine, Gemma and I watched the film ‘Factotum’ tonight. An adaptation of one of Charles Bukowski’s semi-autobiographical novels, it tracks the jobs, drinks and women of Henry Chinaski who weaves his way between work and bed and racetrack in the form of Matt Dillon. I hadn’t read Factotum before. I loved Post Office and Ham On Rye and so knew – more or less – what to expect. I wasn’t disappointed. The direction and acting in the film were smart and well adapted to the subject material. I laughed my head off at parts. And it stars Marisa Tomei… always a good sign, right Costanza?
Graeme at South of Watford drew my attention to the mad ravings of a Libertad Digital blogger today. Pio Moa (or Pio Mio, as I call him) wrote a piece yesterday which basically argued for the use of violence to wrest power from the democratically elected socialist government. The justification he offers for starting a new civil war is that the socialists conspired to bring about the Madrid bombings two years ago in order to steal the election which followed days later. Naturally, this theory is totally lacking in evidence but then most crazy conspiracy theories are. It would be easy for me to say that this guy needs to drink either more wine or less wine, depending on his current wine consumption.
Pio, I’d be more worried about the crack if I were you.