Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Palimpsest

I had a wonderful gig on Monday night at Free Beer Show in Oxford, a legendary institution of the Edinburgh Festival in its 'term-time' home. If there are any readers out there in Oxfordshire (out of my readership of three of course - if that), please try to go, it's Monday nights, a really fun night with fantastic headliners. I got to open for Al Pitcher, who you can check out on YouTube and is very funny.

I was really happy and buzzed about how the whole thing went, so the next day I decided to treat myself and go see a matinee at the cinema. I'm an unapologetic film buff, with very little in the way of discerning taste, or taste at all, so I packed a sandwich (no kidding, I'm not paying £3.90 for a hot dog) and a newspaper (to read during the commercials at the beginning), and off I went to the Finchley Road VUE to watch:

DEATH PROOF.


You've probably heard all the talk about how this movie sucks, etc, and it doesn't, really. It wasn't great, but anyone who denies that there isn't a primitive, innate thrill in watching a car chase in which a stuntwoman hangs, freely, off the bonnet of a car is a low-down dirty liar. Yet, it is one of the great questions of our time whether or not Quentin Tarantino is an immature hack whose movies are too long, or a post-modern genius. I think it's a beautiful thing when pop-culture enters into such dialogue - audiences engaging with it on a number of different levels. Is it exploitative, is it entertaining, is it empowering? Is it intellectually stimulating - the sudden switch of tone, genre and visual style halfway through seems to belong to a theatrical tradition that includes Brecht's verfremdungseffekte and Sarah Kane's Blasted. And am I a total dickhead for bringing up Brecht and Grindhouse in the same sentence?

To borrow a usage from Germaine Greer, Death Proof has been physically altered once through transaction with an audience, transforming from a single, generic tribute to a standalone film that is in itself an experimental double-bill. Thus, as an artwork it is a palimpsest - a place of dialogue between artist and viewer. The word originally refers to a parchment that has been erased and written over, and Germaine Greer uses it to refer to the phenomenon of graffiti - tagging and re-tagging. But while I'm probably being to wankily analytically about a stupid movie I watched at one in the afternoon yesterday, the mental equivalent of stuffing your mouth full of maple syrup and bacon, just to make myself feel better about waking up late and being totally unproductive - the palimpsest lives on, a wonderful concept that goes a long way to helping us understand artworks (in galleries or otherwise) in a post-modern culture.

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There's an actor in Death Proof named Sydney Poitier. Not Sidney Poitier, mind you, star of In The Heat of the Night and To Sir, With Love. But a young, black actress, and Sidney Poitier's daughter. How confusing! It catches you off guard when the credits roll and you see "Jungle Julie" was played by Mister Tibbs. I didn't even know he had a daughter. I just sat there, thinking: 'Did Sidney Poitier have a sex change?... ... and travel back in time?'

++++

I'm going to put a list of links on here - if there are any readers more than three that want to be on there, comment and include a link.

I've been reading this comic a lot this week: Least I Could Do and listening to this amazing podcast about the art of stand-up comedy: Behind the Bricks.

So I'll leave you on this Wednesday morning and get back to work now. Here's this:

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