Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Guillermo del Toro: A Life in Pictures

Watch Bafta's Q&A With The Mexican Director

A few months ago I went to one of Bafta's Life in Pictures events with Guillermo del Torro, the Mexican director of Pan's Labyrinth and Hellboy. Bafta have now put 30 minutes of highlights on their website and if you're a fan of Del Toro, his films or creative swearing it's well worth watching.

He talks with the critic Jason Wood about his early filmmaking attempts in Mexico, his battles with Weinsteins over his Hollywood debut Mimic, his visionary work on Pan's Labyrinth and of course his new film, Hellboy II.

I'd previously seen Del Toro at a Q&A following a screening of Pan's Labyrinth and was struck by how joyfully profane his language is. This man has a wonderfully foul mouth. One of my favourite moments at the Bafta event (sadly cut from the video) was Del Toro's response to an audience member's question about his forthcoming adaptation of The Hobbit. The director conceded that it was a big task, especially since he'll be working with and following in the hairy footsteps of Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson. He likened this relationship to marrying a widow: "You have to respect the memory of the husband but you know that at some point you're going to have to fuck her". Nicely put.

The event concluded with a peak at the Hellboy 2 trailer. I enjoyed re-watching the first one on TV on Sunday and I'm looking forward to seeing the new one tomorrow. From the trailer it does look like our hero gets besieged by Pan's Labyrinth extras and Luke from Bros. I can't wait.

Related links

Guillermo del Toro: A Life in Pictures
- watch the event
Guillermo del Toro Films - fan site

Bafta Events - almost all are open to the public

Monday, 18 August 2008

Radio On!

Five BBC Radio Shows To Listen To Between 10am-1pm

Photo: barb_ar @ flickr

The silver lining of the George Lamb shaped cloud that hovers over BBC 6 Music's mid-morning schedule is that I've been forced to search out new delights for my pre-lunch listening.

Before Lamb's controversial appointment my work-day radio habit was Gideon Coe between 10 and 1 before tuning into my favourite American station, North Carolina's WNCW, for the afternoon. With 6 Music's live output during the morning no longer to my taste these are the five shows I'm listening to most on the iPlayer.

Gideon Coe

George Lamb's brilliant predecessor now has a graveyard slot but thanks to the iPlayer it's possible to listen to his three-hour evening show in the same morning slot he used to occupy. I think Gid's become more of a duffer with his nightly show and I imagine him presenting it wearing slippers.

God's Jukebox with Mark Lamarr

This superb Radio 2 show is broadcast at an even more unsociable hour than Coe's. Few people seem to like Mark Lamarr an in individual; he often comes across as arrogant and rude. There's no doubt that he has excellent musical taste though and his enthusiastic, eclectic picks from the 50s to the present day are the nearest I've heard to the musical education I've had from Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour.

Marc Riley

Mark Radcliffe and Marc Riley's nightly Radio 1 show in the early 90s was the first programme that really hit me as genius radio. While his erstwhile colleague gets comfy at Radio 2, the man Lard continues on 6 Music in much the vein as he's always done with wonderful session guests and surreal non sequiturs.

Guy Garvey's Finest Hour

My 6 Music pal Jane tipped me off to the Elbow front-man's weekly radio show. His band have always struck me as dull but behind a mic I was immediately won over by Garvey's Mancunian charm. Evidently we have similar musical tastes and as a musician Garvey gets much more out of his guests than most other DJs. Perfect in every way.

McClean's Country

Another co-worker, Rory, suggested that Ralph McLean's Friday night show on Radio Ulster would warm my twang-loving heart. He was right. If I was a DJ I'd imagine my playlist would be remarkably similar to McClean's - a mix of quality new Americana like Hayes Carll and Cherryholmes and the non-cheezeball end of the country spectrum: Steve Earle, Gram Parsons, Tones Van Zandt and the like.

Related Posts

In Praise Of... Gideon Coe

Related Links

6 Music - Gideon Coe

Radio 2 - Mark Lamarr's God's Jukebox

6 Music - Marc Riley

6 Music - Guy Garvey's Finest Hour

Radio Ulster - McClean's Country

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Seeing Double

When Two Films Are Better Than One

I've not bought an issue of the BFI's film mag Sight & Sound for years but this month's cover feature on double bills caught my eye. Watching two films in a row is one of the most enjoyable ways to spend four hours and I was intrigued by what they'd recommend. S&S likes to wear its arthouse credentials on its sleeve and the critics and cinema programmers they've asked to select dream double bills drop names like Frank Bozage, RD Pestonji, Dusan Makavejev and dozens of other filmmakers I've never heard of.

There are some recognisable films in the list though. Mark Kermode picks The Wicker Man and Don't Lock Now. Western expert Ed Buscombe pairs The Searchers and Rio Bravo. The American critic Graham Fuller goes for "episodes from the same demented dream" Apocalypse Now and Aguirre Wrath of God. I'd have gone behind the scenes of Francis Ford Coppola and Werner Herzog movies instead and shown Hearts of Darkness, the brilliant documentary about the horror of making the Vietnam nightmare followed by Burden of Dreams, Les Blank's insider's view of the twin madness of dragging a boat over a mountain and working with Klaus Kinski to make Fitzcaraldo.

Here are four more of my perfect matches. Leave a comment to share your top twos.

Leningrad Cowboys Go America (1989) & The Band's Visit (2007)

In the first film an insane band of Finns try to live the American rock'n'roll dream. In the second an Egyptian police band experience extreme culture shock on their tour of Israel.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Vallance (1962) & Lone Star (1996)

John Sayles' film about the truth behind past events in a small Texas town seems like a deliberate riff on the famous line from John Ford's western, "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend".

The War Room (1993)& Bob Roberts (1992)

Two documentaries about American political campaigns - one fact, one fiction. Without much access to Bill Clinton, the Pennekabers focus on the equally charismatic James Carville and youthful sidekick George Stephanopoulos. Apparently Tim Robbins refused to release the soundtrack to his spoof doc because he was worried that its satirical songs would actually be used by right-wingers.

Salesman (1968) & Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

You wouldn't think films about salesmen would be gripping but these are both favourites of mine. There's something quite tragic about the men in the Mayles Brothers' doc as they try to flog bibles door-to-door in Florida. There's even more tragedy (and quotable dialogue) in the David Mamet classic.

So, there you have five double bills that I'd joyfully sit through. Is it a decent list? What would your selections be?

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Wilco at Wrigley Field

Jeff Tweedy, baseball and a brand-new Wilco song

(c) Deb Bernardini. More photos at

I was excited to read yesterday that Jeff Tweedy pitched the first ball at the Chicago Cubs game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday. Wilco also sang Take Me Out To The Ball Game during the seventh-inning stretch. Wrigley Field, home of the Cubs, was the first place I saw a baseball game. It's a beautiful stadium; built in 1914, covered in ivy - it's unusual for an American sporting arena to have a real sense of history.

Wilco's vocal contribution to the game and an interview with Tweedy are on YouTube:

During the interview Jeff talks about the band's Lollapalooza appearance the night before in which they all wore Nudie-style suits.

Stereogum has more photos from the gig, the set list and most importantly, an MP3 of the a new work-in-progress song called One Wing.

MP3: Wilco - One Wing, Live at Lollapalooza (from Stereogum)

It may seem sedate but baseball is definitely the most rock'n'roll of sports.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Bob Dylan 2.0

Bob Dylan's official website,, received a major face-lift last week as part of the announcement that Tell Tale Signs, Volume 8 in the Bootleg Series, will be released in October.

The site's always had lots of excellent content including lyrics to every Dylan song but the re-launched site has introduced a range of social networking features. The most interesting is the attempt to gather user-generated content on every show Dylan's ever played. I've added my thoughts on the first time I saw the great man play, at the Fleadh in Finsbury Park four years ago. It's clear that only a few fans have so far joined in; I was surprised that no one's yet said anything about Dylan's infamous "Judas" gig in Manchester in 1966. Still, usability issues aside, the potential is here for something rather wonderful. When we made the BBC's site for No Direction Home in 2005 we asked people who'd seen Dylan live in the UK between 1962 and '66 to send us their memories and were inundated with recollections.

The other noteworthy aspect of the new site is that you can download a free MP3 of one track from the new album. Dreamin' Of You is a Time Out Of Mind outtake, and is, to be honest, pretty unremarkable. You can hear it below or download your copy at Let me know what you think of both the song and the new website.

Bob Dylan - Dreamin' Of You

Related Posts

It's A Mad Mad Mad Bob World - my take on I'm Not There

The Other Side of the Mirror - Dylan at Newport
The Return of Radio Bob - in praise of Theme Time Radio Hour

Related links

My Page at - visit me at Bob's new and improved official site

Related Posts with Thumbnails



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