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Film Review: Le Jour se léve (Daybreak)

jour-de-F
PG (92 min)
Director: Marcel Carné
Cast: Jean Gabin, Jacqueline Laurent, Arletty
French | 1939 | Subtitles

If Michael Bay films are 90 minutes of action sequences strung together by dialogue spewed out of a random word generator, then Marcel Carné’s Le Jour Se Léve (Daybreak) is the antithesis of these movies.

Le Jour Se Léve is a painting, its brush strokes: the words of writer Prevert. His mastery of the written medium creates a tapestry, woven in the poetic discourse between lovers and rivals.

The subject matter is held in great stead by the talented hand of Carné, and it is easy to see why Le Jour Se Léve is considered by some to be his masterpiece. Although the film is a work of realism, the direction preempts the form of the American noir that would boom in the following decade. Staple tropes of noir filmmaking come into play to create some beautiful uses of light – back when films treated shadow with as much respect as they did its counterpart – as well as bringing an air of suspense and sexuality to the piece.

The film is about a man, Francois (Jean Gabin), who has recently committed a murder and is looking back on the events that lead to him to taking such actions. To say the film is about a murder (as I was told before watching it) is like being told Pulp Fiction is about two guys sent to collect a briefcase. It is about two guys sent to collect a briefcase, but that synopsis hardly does justice to the content of the film.

Jules Berry plays the murdered Mr Valentin, and does a fantastic job in creating a reprehensible villain in a film full of grounded, realistic characters. An almost Jack Nicholson level of manic creepyness helps bring to life this original role.

The main issue I have with Le Jour Se Léve however, is that I’m not sure what it wants me to feel. Do I feel sympathy for Francois as he sits on his bed, alone and confined, surrounded by bullet holes? Francois, the jealous, womanizing thug? The murderer? Do I feel for the women he has hurt along the way but who are ultimately the catalysts for his actions? Do I feel sorry for the murdered Valentin who beats and mistreats animals for a living?

Throughout it’s 93 minute run time, as strong as the dialogue is, it’s power starts to wain when you realize it’s the only thing holding the film together. The intimacy between characters is captured with a genius subtlety, and techniques such as long establishing shots and extended flashbacks shown via dissolve transitions show a maturity beyond the films years. But when there is little else waiting for you at the end of your journey than the murder scene from the beginning? Well, ones attention can’t help but wonder…

Ultimately, Le Jour Se Léve will probably be a love/hate film for many people. If you aren’t invested in the characters, you’ll be bored to death by it. But if you’re a sucker for meticulous camera movement, gorgeous dialogue, fantastic acting and exposed nipples (approximately two whole seconds to be precise), then this film is most certainly for you.


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Cannon Hill Collective ’14/15 Week Two Blog

In a slightly perplexing order of events, following on from out first Collective first session in which we garbled on about ourselves while a room full of (what was at the time) strangers psycho-analysed our body language and deepest passions, we decided to spend week two getting to know each other a bit better.

This love-in took the form of individual presentations about ourselves. Presentations being an incredibly loose term for the genius that unfolded when you give a room full of artists free rein to talk about themselves for five uninterrupted minutes.

I’ll start with myself because history is written by the victors and I am the one with the proverbial pen in my hand.

Omar’s presentation

First of all, call me Murdock.

I’ve never been a fan of talking about myself when there are so many other interesting things in this universe. Why are we here? What is the secret ingredient in the Colonel’s chicken? And so fourth. So I decided instead to represent some of my passions and inspirations physically, using my own personal artefacts. Among them included my limited edition Pokémon GameBoy Colour, a Johnny Cash biographic graphic novel, an original Polaroid camera, a clapper board, a pen, and other objects of intrigue. I shall spare you the details behind each one and what they represent, and move on to the second part of my presentation.

I then got each person to pose with an item of their choice and snapped them. Below you will see the final outcome as I delve further into the evening…


Mercy’s presentation
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Mercy being a woman of the world decided to treat us to a montage of her childhood across (off the top of my head) Yemen, America, Ireland and the UK. We were treated to photos of an intercontinental smile and were warmed by images of happy families, striking on-stage performances and huddles of friends in a presentation that simultaneously held our hand through a persons life, and drummed up 1001 questions about it all in one go.

Jess’s presentation
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Compared to Jess’s presentation, mine can only be described as vacuous and insipid. Jess very movingly spoke to us about her time at university studying fine art, her championing of anxieties and losing someone close to her, and how it all reflected in her own work, which was stunning. Her confidence in herself and her work was inspiring to see.

James’s presentation
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Well. Where do I begin?

Very rarely do you get the chance to see a performer so totally and utterly in their element. I can only compare having the privilege of watching James speak to the time I watched Slash tear apart his guitar at Download ’12. James talked us through his life, what choices he made and why in an engaging and inspiring way using props, stories and humour. A phenomenal public speaker and a motivational person to be around.

Callum’s presentation
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Callum treated us to a video of his peers describing him in one word. Callum then took these words and elaborated on them, giving us an insight into his core beliefs and principles.

Catrin’s presentation
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Catrin’s presentation was an emotional roller coaster, consisting of peaks of awe as we marvelled at her handmade puppets, troughs of agony as we learned many of them were damaged and broke in the post, and corkscrews of relief as we learnt the puppets were indeed salvageable. Telling us how and why she got into puppetry, Catrin showed us videos of her work with near-life size puppets, cutouts the size of a fingernail and shadows to remind us how magical the rarely-used medium can be, combining art, engineering and performance into one beautiful piece.

Sarah F’s presentation
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Sharing her passion with us, Sarah decided to imbue us all with a new skill: Finger knitting. The principle is (relatively) simple, one replaces the needles involved with knitting with your fingers and weave two strands of wool together, creating beautiful pieces such as the rugs brought in by Sarah. At least, that was the idea. In reality, I just trapped myself in a Chinese finger trap of wool and reminded myself how terrible my hand-eye coordination is. But it further developed my appreciation for the skills people like Sarah have that I can only dream of.

Heidi’s presentation
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Heidi is a woman after my own heart. Not a fan of talking about herself, instead she wears her inspirations and passions on her sleeves, creating a quiz about them for us to decipher. Among the things we learnt in this entertaining and engaging quiz are: What happens at King’s Cross Station stays at King’s Cross Station, Heidi’s favourite album; London Calling was released in 1980 in America.

Sarah H’s presentation
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Another born performer, talk to Sarah for five minutes and her passion for drama dazzles you. Her presentation consisted of ‘an audience with‘ style montage reserved for the likes of washed-up celebrities going though expensive divorces, but Sarah’s five minutes were filled with humour, detail and a maturity well beyond the young woman’s years. I found myself hanging on her every word, encouraging her to continue with my attention, lost in a world she created for me with her words and her performance.

There’s still more to follow as unfortunately we couldn’t squeeze all the genius into the two hour slot we had to work with, but one thing is for sure, this second session got me incredibly excited the prospect of collaborating with such a varied and talented pool of artists.


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Film Review: Magic in the Moonlight at mac birmingham

MagicIntheMoonlight-f
12A (98 min)
Director: Woody Allen
Cast: Colin Firth, Emma Stone, Eileen Atkins
English | 2014

Magic in the Moonlight is a charming, whimsical tale that is entertaining without ever being enthralling. Set in the 1920s French Riviera, it is shot beautifully and invokes the trademark feeling that I get when sat in front of the latest Woody Allen cinematic slice. Colin Firth is his usual debonaire self, this time as a world famous illusionist with an enormous ego hellbent on exposing fraudulent mystics, and Emma Stone is generally captivating barring a few uncomfortably modern line readings as the fraudster in his sights. It was witty, classy and clichéd. I watched with content which then turned to pride after I correctly guessed the major plot twist 20 minutes before it happened. It has nowhere near the amount of bite as Allen’s last film, Blue Jasmine, but it was a worthwhile 100 minutes spent, even if the predictable love story between the 54 year old Firth and 25 year old Stone is quite gross.


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Film Review: The Riot Club at mac birmingham

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15 (107 min)
Director: Lone Scherfig
Cast: Max Irons, Douglas Booth, Holliday Grainger, Jessica Brown Findlay
English | 2014

I went into this film having read the play on which it is based, Posh, only a few days ago. It was therefore an interesting experience to see how the film made the leap from stage to screen. It’s certainly been Hollywoodified in order to appeal to a broader audience and a new love interest has been woven in who accentuates the class divisions explored in the film. This new take means the portrayal of class division is more blunt and subtlety is certainly not one of its strengths, but the very strong cast featuring some of the leading lights of the new generation of British acting talent charm, dazzle and repulse. As a young fresh faced actor it feels like I’m receiving a constant Chinese burn when watching a 28 year old play an 18 year old but personal gripes aside, Max Irons and Sam Claflin in particular offer superb performances.

Written by Laura Wade and directed by Lone Scherfig, the film offers a hypothetical example of what the high-class youngsters of the Riot Club (based on Oxford University’s Bullingdon Club) could be capable of and what their ideology might be and it is an entertaining ride. It is easy to be seduced by the allure and mystique of the club and its members in the first half before it all turns sour as their behaviour descends into repugnance.

The film also suggests that the club holds enormous influence in who holds high political and financial positions. It is hard to know what to believe about the real elite dining clubs of Oxford but there is something about the concept of out of control over-privileged toffs running amok that is richly intriguing.


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Cannon Hill Collective ’14/15 Week One Blog

Tuesday 7th October

This years incarnation of the Cannon Hill Collective began in terrific style at 6pm today. At least I hope it did, having missed the first 7 minutes due to painstaking traffic on the Bristol Road I have had to fill in the blank (So sorry – I vow to do my utmost to never miss a moment more).

However, upon arrival I was immediately in the grasp of our first challenge, which was centred on ACTIVE LISTENING. Hearing that I was developing this skill left my mum VERY pleased.

After being split into groups, one person was asked to sit in a chair with everybody else sat on the floor around them. Whoever was in the chair then spoke for a minute about anything; themselves, what they do, what they like or maybe how their day had been. Each floor dweller was given a different category, so that when the speaker mentioned something that fit within their category, they would note it down. In my group the categories were:

a) facts

b) passions

c) emotions

d) intuition (meaning what could be inferred either verbally, maybe through the subtext of what they were saying or non-verbally by reading their body language)

Once everybody had a go at being speaker and master of each category, the unlucky Louisa was left as the odd one out having not had a chance to speak. She then did so with every hawk-like member of the collective studying her every word and move.

Active Listening Exercise

(Please excuse my embarrassing scribble)

Some things that came out of the exercise was that we can all be very intent listeners, that whilst some of us feel at ease performing to crowds, to talk openly and honestly about ourselves is out of our comfort zone, and that many of us aren’t aware of our physical ticks and idiosyncrasies.

Next – FOOD BREAK

Another fascinating exercise untaken was silent speed networking/dating. We were handed paper and pens and had one minute to communicate solely by drawing or writing. Amy Martin, our phenomenal facilitator, noted that this exercise is a great leveller that numbs the potency of the loudest voice in the room to dominate networking. My proudest discovery during this task was to find out that Jordanne was best friends at school with my best friend’s sister, who I have known for her entire life. Cool.

The two-hour introductory blast of interdisciplinary and collaborative development ended with parish notices and admin, making sure everybody was on the same page and knew about how the programme will run and what our first bit of homework is going to be!

And that was week one. Hasta Luego.


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What’s The Agenda in pictures

What’s The Agenda went off with a big festival BOOM, bringing in creative people from all over the city to create, instigate, and talk about art for social change.
Collective
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“Occupying mac’s Foyle Studio for the duration of the festival, an array of installations and performances awaited those who entered. Haiku poetry, immersive theatre, sculpture, film and visual arts exhibition Side View were just some of the vessels employed here to investigate when art becomes a political act and how creativity can incite positive social change; a mixing pot which lay testament to both the collectives’ broad range of skills and the breadth of mac’s support for the regions diverse creative future.

Drawing in a variety of changemakers throughout the weekend, the final flourish was spoken word event Bare Bones and post-show discussion debate.4.social.change (DB84SC) with Birmingham gems Vanley Burke, Zia Ahmed, Jodi Ann Bickley and Immy Kaur making up the panel. An achievement in itself, the evening not only gave brand spanking new performers a stage and an audience, but created a meaningful discussion with the public about themes raised throughout What’s The Agenda? – loneliness, heritage and gender issues – acting as the exclamation and question mark at the end of a collective statement.”

– Taken from online review by Illustrated Brum.


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#NextGenBrum Cannon Hill Café

New collaborative commissions for young people and emerging artists aged 16-24yrs at mac birmingham
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Deadline for submissions: 1st March 2014

Cannon Hill Café is a new programme aiming to develop emerging artists by offering young people aged between 16-24yrs the chance to engage and connect with mac birmingham: by initiating, producing and delivering their own events.

The aim of these commissions is to encourage new and meaningful creative collaborations as part of theNext Gen programme at mac birmingham and to create roles for young people as producers, curators, programmers, artists and leaders. Offering young people resources including, space, production support and funds to make creative work, collaborate and test out ideas.

What’s on offer?

• 5 x young people’s commissions for an alternative events programme – the Cannon Hill Café

• £500 on offer per event

• Use of space, technical support and production support from mac staff and associate producer Amy Martin

• Free skills workshops in; events management, marketing, production and audience engagement

This commission is open to:

• Existing youth groups, youth companies and youth charities or newly formed collaborative groups of young people

• Groups based in the West Midlands

• Aged 16-24yrs – led by young people

Location: Arena Café, mac birmingham, Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham B12 9QH

Fee: Successful applicants will receive £500/per event to be spent as a programme budget

How to apply:

Application is by proposal via email to nextgen@macarts.co.uk

Your proposal should be on no more than 2 sides of A4.

Your proposal should include:

• The skills and experience of you and your group

• An outline of what you’d like to do – your ideas and how you would create a new one off event at mac for young people

• An indication of who you would like to collaborate with or programme, and how you intend to engage your audience

Please note your event must suit a public space café with limited tech resources. You will have access to a sound and light PA, projector, screen and technician. Your event must be on either 6th, 13th, 20th, 27th May or 3rd June between 5pm-8pm. Your event must be a minimum of 1 hour to a maximum of 3 hours in duration.
Successful shortlisted applicants will be asked to pitch their idea on Saturday 15th March 2014.
We understand that proposals will be subject to change and development.
We are happy to receive proposals as video, audio files, or web-based applications.

To help you to develop your application you can sign up to the following free Cannon Hill Lectures in events management and/or take part in an information surgery. Further information below.

#CannonHillLectures

From Set Up to Clean Up, a crash course in Events Management Pt 1 with Amy Martin

Thu 30 Jan, 6pm-8pm | Free | Hexagon Theatre

Planning an event, exhibition, party or workshop? Need help getting started? Then this crash course in Events Management is for you. You will explore the planning process, going step by step through the different elements, along the way creating a useful timeline. You will look at how to get people to attend your event and how to manage the process from set up to clean up.

From Set Up to Clean Up, a crash course in Events Management Pt 2 with Amy Martin

Thu 6 Feb, 6pm-8pm | Free | Hexagon Theatre

Building on from Pt 1 this lecture offers a practical guide to Events Management. You’ll leave with a toolkit that will help you organise future events, the confidence to get started and the skills to manage the process from set up to clean up.

Information surgeries

Tue 28 Jan, 4pm-5pm | mac birmingham café drop in

Thu 30 Jan, 4pm-5pm |  mac birmingham café drop in

Thu 6 Feb, 4pm-5pm | mac birmingham café drop in