Archives for May 2008

Ageless Glamour

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Ellen West - web producer | 10:04 UK time, Friday, 30 May 2008

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The usual sound of scrabbling as the postman tries to get Vogue, Private Eye, the LRB and a number of communications from credit cards through my letterbox in one go. When I open the Vogue plastic cover (not very stylish, I'm sorry to say, but a drab grey) I pause. This doesn't look right. The issue is called 'Ageless Glamour' and the cover shows Uma Thurman 'Facing forty with glamour'. This sounds a little to me like 'Facing cancer with courage', which doesn't seem to be the right tone for a supposedly celebratory issue.

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Sincerely, L Cohen

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Ellen West - web producer | 12:19 UK time, Tuesday, 27 May 2008

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Having used a Leonard Cohen pun for the title of the last entry it felt very appropriate to be listening to the great man himself in an extended interview for Front Row. It was terribly touching, listening to Cohen talking about the stage fright that led him to excessive drinking and a move into a monastery in the 1990s. There was also a very funny anecdote about Cohen and Bob Dylan meeting in a Parisian café and discussing how long it took them to write songs (Cohen seemed to find it a much more tortuous process).

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I remember you well in the Midland Hotel

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Ellen West - web producer | 17:16 UK time, Monday, 26 May 2008

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Tomorrow night we are pulling on our bias cut gowns to film an evening of 1930s glamour at Morecambe's Midland Hotel. Initially frequented by socialites and celebrities (including George Formby and possibly Noel Coward and Winston Churchill), the hotel was used as a hospital during World War II, but never regained its early popularity. Following a lengthy restoration, the hotel will reopen next month, and we saw the chance to both explore an architectural gem and hold a delightful event. Friends of the Midland Hotel will enjoy a set by the BBC Radio 2 Big Band, featuring the beautiful voice of Beth Rowley. The item will be on the show around the middle of June and we'll hopefully have some extras up on the site.

Cannes Prizes

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Ellen West - web producer | 13:41 UK time, Sunday, 25 May 2008

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So the Palme d'Or goes to The Class, the tale of an inspirational teacher in a tough school and the first French film to win since Under the Sun of Satan in 1987. If you feel like testing your French you can visit the BBC News feature about the award and watch a clip. The films that win at Cannes are often more interesting that the frock-fest of the Oscars and I'm looking forward to seeing this year's winners, in particular Three Monkeys, which won the Best Director award for Nuri Bilge Ceylan, and the Dardennes brothers' The Silence of Lorna.

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Full of Eastern Promises

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Ellen West - web producer | 14:39 UK time, Saturday, 24 May 2008

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Finally got round to watching David Cronenberg's film about the Russian Mafia in London, Eastern Promises. I'd been put off by the slight naffness of the title, but the film is, in fact, fascinating. Viggo Mortensen gives a brilliant, and very physical, performance, as a gangster whose body is covered in the traditional tattoos of the Russian Mafia, but who retains an independent spirit. Playing what must be the most attractive motorbike-riding midwife that London has ever seen, Naomi Watts is solid and sympathetic. She is drawn into the Mafia underworld when she attempts to trace the family of an orphaned baby whose mother died on her ward. The plot has been criticised for being far fetched, but that somehow feels like the wrong way to approach the film. The mix of menace and beauty, combined with the director's characteristic obsession with the body, makes Eastern Promises both feel very accessible (unless you are in any way squeamish) and also characteristically Cronenberg.

Captain Caveman

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Ellen West - web producer | 15:43 UK time, Friday, 23 May 2008

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Ricky Gervais is making his first film as a writer and director, This Side of the Truth, and in a daring mix of formats, Karl Pilkington has been invited on set as an extra. For those of you who have a horror of spoilers, you are unlikely to guess what the film is about from Karl's role as a caveman - Karl is pictured below with the director of the item, Liam.

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Some questions about whether we just want to have a piece about Karl and Ricky in the first show or if it would be interesting to revisit the item in the second programme. All will depend on how the footage cuts down. Have a look at Ricky Gervais's blog about making the film, it's really funny

He's a god, he's a man, he's a ghost, he's a guru

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Ellen West - web producer | 12:43 UK time, Wednesday, 21 May 2008

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Found out at the last minute about the recording of a BBC Four Session with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and so got to see them for the second time in a week. It was quite a different experience from watching him perform at Hammersmith; sitting in the intimate space of LSO St Luke's where BBC Four now film their sessions. Cave seemed in relaxed form as he encouraged the crowd to dance and joked about ITV being his favourite channel (at least I assume he was joking - he did laugh as he claimed to be "more of an ITV man" than a BBC Four viewer). As well as old favourites like Red Right Hand and Into My Arms, Cave and the Bad Seeds performed tracks from Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! Including We Call Upon the Author and Midnight Man as well as the title track. He did, in the end, persuade a small group to dance in front of the stage, and these brave souls jumped about and gazed adoringly at Mr Cave. Let us hope that they are edited kindly.

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