Friday, March 04, 2011

Bowlie 2: The World Crashes In

Yes, I am still writing about the recent(-ish) Bowlie 2 festival in Minehead, curated by Belle & Sebastian, the people who brought us the original Bowlie Weekender back in 1998.

One great thing about ATP events is you get the ATP TV channels playing weirdo nonsense into your chalet, so if you fancy staying up all night watching mentalism then this is the place to do it. Likewise if there are no good bands on. I saw very few of the following in their entirety.

The Banana Splits – I remember this from when I was small. It is nice to see that it really does seem to have been primarily made by drøggies for drøggies, attracting a child audience largely by accident.

Respect Yourself – the Stax Records Story – You know, Stax, Southern Soul, big brassy music, that kind of stuff. I am still a bit vague on the difference between Stax and Tamla Motown, but I know that Stax is cooler. From this documentary I was fascinated by the details on racism in the South – like one of the (white) Stax musicians talking about what a social nightmare it could be touring in those bits of the South where diners were segregated, meaning that he could not eat with his (black) fellow musicians.

Permissive - This was a film from the Sixties in which some woman moves up to London and starts hanging out with bands, soon becoming the Boris Bike of her era. It is an odd film – at one level it is like a shocking indictment of the loose morals of people in the music business, but at another it is a bit "Get a load of those tits". It struck me as being a bit like a British film version of those Men's Adventure Magazines I mentioned some time back. The various musicians seem to have been actual members of Comus and bands like that; they look like real catches.

Jadon the Gangster – This was a Nigerian gangster film about a midget gangster (played by a terrifying child). There was another plot about this rich guy whose daughter was secretly having an affair with another midget (also played by a child, making love scenes a bit creepy). It was all pretty cheaply made, and the sound recording was particularly poor, making the dialogue (in heavily accented English) largely incomprehensible. But the acting was rather impressive, and the film seemed well able to roll with its technical limitations. The kid playing Jadon was amazing, turning up the menace big time for the obligatory scene where he reveals to his henchmen that one of them has betrayed him and is about to pay the ultimate price.

Do any readers know anything about Nigerian films? I dimly remember an article in the LRB once, and this film makes the genre worth exploring further. There is also an interesting piece on Nollywood in the Christmas Economist, but it focuses more on the business side than on any must-see films.

Alchemists of Sound – This was a BBC documentary about the BBC Radiophonic workshop. It was great seeing actual footage of Delia Derbyshire talking to camera, though I do sometimes wonder if her greater fame compared to her colleagues comes from her funny name and her rowrness.

An inuit panda production

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