Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Sagrada Unfamiliar?









I returned to Barcelona recently. While mostly eating my way around the Catalan capital I did venture back towards the cathedral Sagrada Familia. I was curious enough to see what they’d done with the old place. The last time I visited the towering landmark was in 2001 and Liverpool FC were on their way to a cup treble. So I presumed, quite rightly, that substantial progress had to have been made on the building. It’s an incredible, monumental structure both inside and out. It’s towers now stretching towards heaven as Gaudi had envisaged.

There’s one problem however… The parts of the cathedral completed by Gaudi are completely different to the rest of the structure completed after his death in
June of 1926.

Gaudi’s work is organic in texture and drips with life. It almost moves and crawls when looked upon. The work done after his death simply doesn’t measure up. It’s too modern, too angular and doesn’t have any of the textural qualities of the original. The figures are stark and hard. The organic qualities have been replaced by hard angular lines. (See images above.)

You can hear the coercive conversations of committee councillors desperate to keep budgets in place and costs to a minimum. Stone costs more than concrete after all...

Despite all of this it still remains an incredible building, and if you get the chance go and see it for yourself. But in my opinion it’s just not what Gaudi’s vision was…

Friday, 11 February 2011

54th World Annual Press Photo Contest

This year's winner is Jodi Bieber from South Africa.

Her moving portrait shows Bibi Aisha, an 18 year old woman from Afghanistan who was mutilated by the Taliban after she ran away from her husband, complaining of violent treatment.

Bibi was then abandoned and left for dead. Fortunately, this wasn't the end for her. She was later rescued by aid workers and the American Military.

After some time at a women's refuge in Kabul, she was taken to America where she received reconstructive surgery. Where she now lives.

This isn't just a photograph. It's the kind of image that stays with you long after seeing it. It could easily become as famous as 'Afghan Girl' shot by Magnum photographer, Steve McCurry. It has the same (if not more so) haunting quality.

Below are some more images from the competition:

Thursday, 10 February 2011

The Fighter

David O Russell directs Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale in the true story of Massachusetts-born boxer "Irish" Micky Ward and his brother Dicky.

The screenplay was written by 8mile's Scott Silver and The Bourne Ultimatum's Paul Attanasio. The similarities between this and 8mile are obvious, but in a good way.

Dicky, played by Bale is a hard living boxer, come trainer, who's own destructive lifestyle threatens to ruin his brother's chances of being successful. And it's this destructive relationship the film focuses on.

Yes, it's a film about boxing. But it's more to do with the friendship and loyalty of two brothers.

Wahlberg turns in a good performance, but the real star is Bale. His portrayal of Dicky, the local hero, who struggles with crack addiction is the kind of performance that the Academy love. Even if think Christian bale is a bit of dick. You have to admire him in this.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Gabriel Orozco

Gabriel is an artist, originally from Mexico, who is famous for his experimentation with objects he's 'found'. Which he then alters to give them a unusual twist.

For example, one of his sculptures is a Citroen DS which he has sliced into thirds, removed the middle and then carefully pieced the outer two halves back together to create a familiar yet surprising piece.

This is a theme that seems to flow through most of his work. The round pool table with no pockets. And the chess set that consists entirely of knights. Another element to his work that is immediately apparent is his love of geometric patterns.

Below is a flavour of what he's done. To see more of his work go to the Tate Modern. His exhibition is open until until April 2011.

Monday, 7 February 2011

The Vaccines

The Vaccines are a new band from London formed last year.

So far they've only released two singles (Wreckin' Bar Ra Ra Ra and Post Break Up Sex) and they have another on the way.

But why am I telling you about a band that only has two records to their name?

Well, in this short time they've appeared on Later with Jools Holland. Been named 'Track of the day' by Q. They were 3rd in the BBC's sound of 2011. And they've been nominated for Best New Band of 2011 by MTV.

Plus, they've just announced they are supporting Arcade Fire for their Hyde Park gig in the summer.

'Post Break Up Sex' has a Ramones sound to it - but until they release their album it will be difficult to tell what 'style' they have.

I like it and think they could go on to great things. So remember, when they're hugely successful, don't forget where you heard about them first.

(Or, if they turn out to be another bunch of chancers whose success goes to their heads and ultimately ends up, up their noses. Pretend we never mention it.)

You can hear the single here:

The album, What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? is out on 21st March.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

John Barry

Sadly, the great composer passed away on January 30th. And although you may not have heard of him. You will have certainly heard his music.

With a career that spans over 50 years and includes five academy awards, a BAFTA and a Grammy. He will be remembered as one of the great film score composers of our time.

So, take a minute, turn up the volume and listen to him as he conducts one of his most famous works: The theme to Goldfinger.

This is just one of the Bond soundtracks he wrote. In total he has twelve to his name.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Before 'A Kings Speech' and 'Black Swan'

Unless you've been living in a box, you'll know the two films battling it out to be the most awarded at this year's Oscars are: The Kings Speech and The Black Swan.

Having seen both, I can say they're two very good films. But everyone's talking about them, so you don't need a recommendation from me. Besides, at SnogDogFrog we tend to lean away from the mainstream, so we're not going to talk about them. We're going to look at what came before them.

First, in a Kings Speech, Geoffrey Rush steals the show. So let's look at some of his other films which are just as good. And in the case of 'Shine' better.

Shine: The film that put Rush on the map. In this film he plays the highly dysfunctional piano prodigy David Helfgott who struggles with being a musical genius while suffering with a mental illness. The scene where he plays the piano in the cafe is a classic.

Quills: This is set in a Napoleonic asylum, where Rush embodies the irrepressible Marquis De Sade, who fights against a tyrannically prudish doctor, to publish his sexually graphic novels.

The life and Death of Peter Sellars: Rush stars as Peter Seller's in the feature adaptation of Roger Lewis' book about the actor best remembered as Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther movies.

And what came before The Black Swan? Well, it won't surprise you to know that when it comes to all things dark, Aronofsky (the director) is the master. If you like being deeply disturbed you'll love these:

Pi: A paranoid mathematician searches for a key number that will unlock the universal patterns found in nature. How can a film about maths be so good? See it for yourself.

Requiem for a Dream: The drug-induced utopias of four Coney Island mates are shattered when their addictions become stronger. And spiral out of control. Never mind 'just say no' if the government wanted an anti drugs film, they should show the kids this. It would scare the shit out of them.