Category Archives: Performance Art

Jarman – Volume Two (1987-1994) | The BFI presents six final features from the iconoclastic artist, plus 66 superlative special features, on Blu-ray

It has been 25 years since British filmmaker Derek Jarman died, aged 52 (on 19 February 1994), and yet his artistic legacy continues to live on. Embracing the experimental, the political and the artistic, his cinema was fearlessly unique but also touchingly personal and truly inspirational.

The BFI’s second Limited Edition Blu-ray collection brings together Jarman’s final six features, made during a prolonged burst of creativity and political activism that followed his HIV diagnosis in 1987, and all of them featuring his artistic muse, Tilda Swinton.

These include The Last of England (1987), War Requiem (1989) with Laurence Olivier in his last screen performance, The Garden (1990), Edward II (1993) with Steven Waddington, Wittgenstein (1993) with Michael Gough, Blue (1993) with composers Brian Eno, Coil, Scanner and Simon Fisher Turner, and the posthumously-released elegy to Super 8, Glitterbug (1994), with music from Brian Eno.

All the films are presented in High Definition for the first time in the UK, and the box-set includes 66 amazing special features – both new and archival, plus trailers, galleries of rare stills and promotional materials, and a 100-page collector’s. This truly is a must-have, and a perfect companion to the BFI’s first volume (1972-1986), which contains In the Shadow of the Sun (1974), Sebastiane (1976), Jubilee (1977), The Tempest (1979), The Angelic Conversation (1985) and Caravaggio (1986).

•••THE FILMS AND THOSE EXTRA FEATURES IN DETAIL•••

THE LAST OF ENGLAND
Jarman’s highly personal allegory of England in the 1980s. The film combines images of inner-city decay, footage from home movies of three generations of Jarman’s family and a post-apocalypse vision of London ruled by a para-military authority.

Dead Cat (1989, 20 mins): Derek Jarman and Genesis P-Orridge feature in this startling surrealist film in which a young man is terrorised and humiliated, later engaging in a mechanised, industrial sexual encounter
Isle of Sheppey (1984, 7 mins): edited highlights from a VHS video shot on a location-hunting expedition, featuring Derek Jarman and cultural historian Jon Savage
Depuis le jour (1987, 5 mins): Derek Jarman’s sequence from the anthology film Aria
Depuis le jour: audio commentary by producer Don Boyd
Remembering Derek Jarman (2014, 13 mins)
• James Mackay Remembers The Last of England (2019, 14 mins)
• Don Boyd Remembers The Last of England and Aria (2019, 16 mins)
• Homemade Stuff and Wild Ideas: Simon Fisher Turner on Derek Jarman (2019, 16 mins): the composer looks back on his involvement with Derek Jarman’s art
• Another Derek: Jarman’s Life Away From the Limelight (2019, 5 mins): interview with artist filmmaker John Scarlett-Davis
• An Odd Morality (2019, 4 mins): interview with Lee Drysdale
• Another World for Ourselves (2019, 9 mins): director John Maybury on meeting Jarman
• David Lewis Remembers Dead Cat (2019, 15 mins)
• Audio commentary on The Last of England with James Mackay, Christopher Hughes, Christopher Hobbs and Simon Fisher Turner
• Galleries

WAR REQUIEM
A must-see for anyone who wants to immerse themselves in Benjamin Britten’s choral masterpiece, Jarman’s film interpretation includes readings of Wilfred Owen’s World War One poetry and disturbing images of wars since. Tragedy without the triumph, in other words. Features Nathaniel Parker (as Owen), Laurence Olivier, Sean Bean, Patricia Hayes and Nigel Terry.

Books By My Bedside: Derek Jarman (1989, 25 mins)
Derek Jarman in Conversation with Simon Field (1989, 32 mins)
Requiem For Jarman (2008, 37 mins): recollections on the making of War Requiem
• Don Boyd Remembers War Requiem (2019, 38 mins)
• John Maybury Remembers War Requiem (2019, 8 mins)
• The Nature of Super 8 (2019, 8 mins)
Caravaggio was Accidental (2019, 10 mins): Simon Fisher Turner remembers his first feature soundtrack for Derek Jarman
• Before The Last (2019, 15 mins): James Mackay recalls working with Derek Jarman on The Angelic Conversation and Imagining October
•Derek Jarman Presents (2019, 27 mins): John Maybury remembers the Super 8 filmmaking scene
War Requiem trailer
· Audio commentary on War Requiem with Don Boyd
War Requiem image gallery

THE GARDEN
In the last of three very personal films, Jarman used an explosive combination of scenes and images to bring together his loves, hates and desires – united by his imagery of the Passion.

Derek’s Shoot in Dungeness (1990, 6 mins): rare behind-the-scenes Super 8 footage shot on location at the time of The Garden
The Wanderer (1991, 30 mins): experimental film by David Lewis based on the Anglo-Saxon poem of the same name, featuring Michael Gough and Michael York
Kiss 25 Goodbye (1991, 7 mins): experimental short on the 1991 OutRage! ‘kiss-in’ protest at Bow Street police station
Clause and Effect (1988, 19 mins): the gay community unites against Clause 28
Orange Juice (1984, 41 mins): Derek Jarman’s location shoot for the promo for ‘What Presence?!’ by post-punk band Orange Juice, fronted by Edwyn Collins
Shooting the Hunter (2015, 5 mins)
• James Mackay Remembers The Garden (2019, 15 mins)
• Anything Can Happen (2019, 11 mins): Richard Heslop on working with Derek Jarman
• David Lewis Remembers The Garden (2019, 15 mins)
• The Other Great Masterpiece (2019, 6 mins): John Maybury considers Jarman’s enthusiasm for gardening
The Garden trailers
• Life with Derek (2018, 44 mins): Composer Simon Fisher Turner’s collage of audio clips

EDWARD II
Jarman’s trenchant sort-of-modern-dress adaptation of Christopher Marlowe’s play about the downfall of the medieval monarch, richly-textured with atmosphere, but with the homosexual content expanded, embellished and politicised.

Derek’s Edward (2009, 24 mins): the making of Edward II
Ostia (1987, 27 mins): Jarman embodies Pier Paolo Pasolini in this ambitious student film imagining the last hours of the Italian director’s life
Ostia director’s audio commentary
The Clearing (1993, 7 mins): short film by Alex Bistikas starring Derek Jarman and Keith Collins
The Extended Derek Jarman Interview (1991, 70 mins): With Colin McCabe
Cut/Action (2019, 8 mins): Video essay with music and narration by Simon Fisher Turner
• David Lewis Remembers Edward II (2019, 4 mins)
• The Same Spirit (2019, 6 mins): Don Boyd remembers Jarman’s later years
• Truly Beautiful (2019, 19 mins): interview with costumer designer Sandy Powell
Derek Jarman in Conversation with Colin McCabe (1991, 97 mins, audio only)
• Galleries

WITTGENSTEIN
Jarman executed this critically-acclaimed Channel 4 film celebrating the life of Austrian-born philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein in just two weeks (on a tiny £300,000 budget). Visually stunning, with some fantastic costumes (from Sandy Powell), it explores Wittgenstein’s repressed homosexuality alongside his reputation as one of greatest thinkers of the century, and features Michael Gough and John Quentin as Bertrand Russell and Maynard Keynes.

• Karl Johnson on Wittgenstein (2007, 9 mins)
• Tilda Swinton on Wittgenstein and Derek Jarman (2007, 10 mins)
• Tariq Ali on Producing Wittgenstein (2007, 9 mins)
Wittgenstein: Behind the Scenes (1993, 22 mins)
Wittgenstein: An Introduction (2007, 4 mins)
Face to Face: Derek Jarman (1993, 41 mins): Jarman discusses his HIV status and sexuality with Jeremy Isaacs
• Producer Tariq Ali on Wittgenstein (2014, 7 mins)
• Jarmanalia with Simon Fisher Turner (2019, 17 mins)
• Films Made by a Painter (2019, 5 mins): James Mackay reflects on Jarman’s distinctive style as a filmmaker

BLUE & GLITTERBUG
Blue – the third film in the highly-personal trilogy begun by The Last of England and The Garden – received a standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival for its uncompromising look at what it’s like to live and work as an artist with the emotional and physical agonies of AIDS. A challenge to conventional filmmaking ideas, the film sees Jarman (and friends) musing on life, death and living with AIDS using vocal and musical testimony against a blank blue screen. Its a fitting goodbye from a director who never once compromised his principals or his own vision. The posthumously-released Glitterbug is a wonderful elegy to Super 8, featuring a compilation of shorts in which the likes of Adam Ant, William S Burroughs and Marianne Faithfull all contribute.

21st Century Nuns (1994, 10 mins): A look at the British chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and their ‘colourful’ activist efforts at fighting homophobia. Great to see this included, as it features some dear friends (some of whom are no longer with us), and is a reminder of just how far we have come with gay/lesbian/transgender rights.
Delphinium: A Childhood Portrait of Derek Jarman (2009, 13 mins)
• James Mackay Remembers Blue (2019, 15 mins)
• Simon Fisher Turner Remembers Blue (2019, 8 mins)
• David Lewis Remembers Blue (2019, 13 mins)
• Hard to Imagine (2019, 8 mins): John Maybury recalls Jarman’s journey towards Blue
• After The Garden (2019, 10 mins): Richard Heslop remembers Jarman’s later days
• Total Magic (2019, 6 mins): production designer Christopher Hobbs looks back upon Jarman’s fascination with occult imagery
• After Neutron (2019, 8 mins): interview with Lee Drysdale
• The Best Mentor (2019, 9 mins): John Scarlett-Davis on Jarman’s artistic legacy
Glitterbug and Beyond (2019, 7 mins): James Mackay on the production of Glitterbug
• David Lewis Remembers Glitterbug (2019, 7 mins)
Bliss (1991, 40 mins, audio only): the London debut of the avant-garde live show that helped raise funds to produce Blue, featuring Derek Jarman and Tilda Swinton. This is another of my personal favourites as I was in the audience for this performance, and ended up meeting and chatting with Jarman after the gig. He later gave me some Super 8mm film to shoot my own experimental short, Cruising Headstones.
• Galleries

Michael Gough in The Wanderer

 

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Jarman – Volume One: 1972-1986 | Six of the best from the iconoclastic British artist collected and restored on Blu-ray

Jarman Volume 124 years have gone by since his death aged just 52, but the legacy of British filmmaker Derek Jarman (1942-1994) lives on, and his highly personal work has lost none of its relevance or impact. The BFI have now released the first of two deluxe limited edition box sets that bring together six of his feature films on Blu-ray for the first time.

In the Shadow of the Sun (1974), Jarman’s debut abstract short film is comprised of a series of Super 8 films and is provided with a soundtrack from music group Throbbing Gristle. Personally, it was thanks to this film that I started experimenting with my own short films, and turned me into a big fan of Throbbing Gristle, Psychic TV and Coil.

Sebastiane (1976), Jarman’s debut feature film, spoken entirely in Latin and featuring an ambient score from Brian Eno, is an homoerotic account of the life and martyrdom of Saint Sebastiane (Leonardo Treviglio), a Roman soldier who is exiled to a remote outpost where his commanding officer (Barney James) becomes obsessed by him.

Jubilee (1978) | Queen Elizabeth I (Jenny Runacre) is transported through time from 1578 to 1978 by her astrologer John Dee (Richard O’Brien), where she sees what has become of her once glorious kingdom where law and order has broken down. Adam Ant, Toyah Wilcox and Jordan co-star.

The Tempest (1979) | Jarman creates his own interpretation of Shakespeare’s final play. Abandoned on a remote island by his brother Antonio (Richard Warwick), Prospero (Heathcote Williams), the former Duke of Milan, engineers a shipwreck to bring Ferdinand (David Meyer) the Prince of Naples, and his daughter Miranda (Toyah Wilcox) together in a bid to restore peace between Milan and Naples.

The Angelic Conversation (1985), a selection of Shakespeare’s sonnets are read by Judi Dench over atmospheric music by Coil and tableaux images of landscapes and people.

Caravaggio (1986) | A heavily stylised biopic of the Renaissance Italian painter Caravaggio (Nigel Terry) who falls in love with his muse, street thug, Ranuccio Thomasoni (Sean Bean).

Derek Jarman’s first six feature films have all been newly scanned at 2K from original film elements and are presented in this first box set alongside some incredible extras (listed below), all drawn from Jarman’s archive of workbooks and papers held in BFI Special Collections, plus a host of interviews with key cast, crew and friends, which have been exclusively produced for this release.

You can purchase Jarman – Volume One: 1972-1986 direct from the BFI bookshop or from Amazon and HMV (in the UK).

SPECIAL FEATURES
Sebastiane: A Work in Progress (1975): newly remastered from 16mm film elements held by the BFI National Archive, this sadly incomplete early black and white work-print differs significantly from the finished film. This previously unseen alternate edit – assembled in a different order, featuring a different soundtrack – was never subtitled or released
The Making of Sebastiane (Derek Jarman & Hugh Smith, 1975): previously unseen Super 8 footage shot on location in Sardinia
Jazz Calendar (1968): a rarely screened documentary record of the 1968 ballet by Frederick Ashton, performed by The Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House, for which Jarman designed sets and costumes
Sloane Square: A Room of One’s Own (1974-76)
• John Scarlett-Davis remembers Sebastiane (2018)
• Message from the Temple (1981)
• TG: Psychic Rally in Heaven (1981)
Pirate Tape (WS Burroughs Film) (1982)
Toyah Willcox: Being Mad (2014)
• Jordan remembers Jubilee (2018)
• Lee Drysdale remembers Jubilee (2018)
Stormy Weather: the Magic Behind The Tempest (2016): Toyah Willcox and Stuart Hopps share their memories of working on The Tempest
• John Scarlett-Davis remembers The Tempest (2018)
• Don Boyd remembers The Tempest (2018)
A Meeting of Minds: Christopher Hobbs on collaborating with Derek Jarman (2018)
Fragments of Memory: Christopher Hobbs on working with Derek Jarman (2007)
To the Cliffs: James Mackay on working with Derek Jarman (2007)
Derek Jarman: The Films that Never Were (2018): A look back on unrealised Derek Jarman features, including Egyptian period drama Akhenaten and science fiction horror Neutron
Akhenaten Image Gallery & Neutron storyboards
• Audio commentary for Caravaggio by cinematographer Gabriel Beristain
Caravaggio in Docklands (1985)
Kind Blasphemy: Nigel Terry on Derek Jarman and Caravaggio (2007)
• Tilda Swinton on Derek Jarman and Caravaggio (2007)
• Italy of the Memory: Christopher Hobbs on Caravaggio (2007)
• Dexter Fletcher on Caravaggio (2014)
• Christopher Hobbs remembers Caravaggio (2018)
• Derek Jarman interviewed by Derek Malcolm (1986, audio only)
In the Studio: Caravaggio soundtrack recording sessions (1986, audio only)
• Derek Jarman’s Caravaggio notebook (Gallery)
• Five galleries featuring storyboards, production designs and Jarman’s notes on Caravaggio
• Image galleries
• Original theatrical trailers for The Angelic Conversation and Caravaggio
• 80-page collector’s book

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Exhibition (2013) | Joanna Hogg’s minimalist drama is a beguiling affair that requires your full attention

Exhibition dvd cover

From Unrelated/Archipelago director Joanna Hogg comes Exhibition, a minimalist arthouse drama about fifty-something artists, D (Viv Albertine) and H (Liam Gillick), going through the anguish of saying goodbye to their beloved ultra-modernist West London home which they have loved like the child they never had.

Exhibition (2013)

Writer-director Hogg is certainly one of British cinema’s most unique filmmakers, and her speciality is depicting human relationships in a very realistic way and finding expression and communication that lie between words. For her new film, Hogg invites the viewer to observe her two characters alone or together, but not necessarily engaging, as they go about their daily lives in their beige-hued abode. It’s a beguiling study of a long-term relationship, but one that demands our full attention. I almost switched off after 20-minutes as the two characters (she’s sad, he’s a bit of a dick) did nothing and said very little, before I found myself seduced.

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The house (built in 1969 by modernist architect James Melvin, who lived in it with his wife until he died aged 99 in 2011) is the third character in this acute dissection of upper-middle-class life; an enclosed space that provides both comfort and confinement for D and H, whose intimacy Hogg shows to be as much about apartness as togetherness. An air voyeurism permeates their glass-box bubble as we are forced to watch the couple’s awkward sexual fumbling, do mundane things, act out performance art, and tinker on computers. But its all part of Hogg’s design, as is the use of non-actors (Albertine was in the seminal punk band The Slits; Gillick is a Turner-nominated artist) which adds to the realism that Hogg strives for.

Exhibition (2013)

Slow-moving it certainly is, but it’s the little things that count (like the sounds within the house and in the street); and these give substance to the anxieties that the couple face as the reality of their decision (to sell) dawns. This is especially felt when the real estate men (including Hogg favourite Tom Hiddleston) turn up and start nit picking at making the house kid friendly for the new wealthy Chinese tenants. Dry humour abounds, with particular aim at bourgeois Londoners and intellectual arty types; while Hogg shoots her sleek drama with a painter’s eye (there’s a Lucien Freud vibe in the sex scenes) and a surrealist’s imagination (Luis Buñuel would have loved the cake cutting scene).

Exhibition (2013)

Exhibition certainly requires repeated viewing to fully appreciate the director’s unique vision. It just requires patience. But stick it out and, like me, you too will be falling for its beguiling charm. Plus, the house is pretty cool too!

Exhibition is released on Blu-ray and DVD from 23 June from Artificial Eye, and can be rented on BFI Player (£10.00)

 

This is Not a Dream (2011) | How to change the world with your video camera… or create your own

This is Not a Dream

From Time Out London cabaret editor Ben Walters and art historian Gavin Butt, This is Not a Dream sets out to show how with a camera and some imagination you can change the world. The video revolution of the 1970s and 1980s has given avant-garde, experimental and radical video-based artists the ability to defy reality with fantasy. This illuminating documentary looks at how 12 such artists have used video to bring their dazzling, often anarchic, visions to light, beginning with Andy Warhol’s seminal TV Party hosted by Blondie’s Chris Stein and style guru Glenn O’Brien. Interspersing these interviews, drag fabulist Dicki Beau performs I Want to Be An Artist, a wonderful homage to Quentin Crisp, and Orson’s Innocence, a melancholy tribute to Orson Welles.

This is Not a Dream

Among the interviewees are Vaginal Davis, on the San Francisco queercore scene; multi-media artist Nao Bustamente on her brush with notoriety on The Joan Rivers Show; David Hoyle on the perils he faced adapting his avant-garde comedy for Channel 4’s The Divine David; and Kalup Linzy on how soap operas have informed his art. Britain’s Holestar focuses on London’s fiercely unique transgressive cabaret scene, while fellow artiste Scottee reveals why food plays an important role in his films and stage acts. Finally, Cole Escola and London Cabaret award-winner Alp Haydar discuss the cathartic experience of turning personal issues into video art and how YouTube has helped them reach a wider audience. It’s fascinating stuff and hugely empowering.

Click on the links to check out the YouTube channels for Dickie Beau, Dara Birnbaum, Nao Bustamante, Cole Escola, Alp Haydar, Holestar, David Hoyle, Kalup Linzy, and Scottee.

Order the DVD here

For more details about this and other Crossovers DVD titles (click here)

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sgFC-syz0qI%5D
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