Thursday, June 25, 2020

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Like Hevon, but more fun

Inspired by those two fine wordsmiths Nind and Ray.

Previously on Barnflakes
Welcome to St Decay
Corn + Wall = Cornwall

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts video

It was almost thirty years ago that I linked up two VHS recorders and created Blood and Rain, a montage of film clips and footage I'd shot of rain, to the soundtrack of Bob Dylan's A Hard Rain's A Gonna Fall*. For better or worse, that video (along with the now-classic Red Lipstick) got me into film school.

Well, all these years later, I'm still editing film clips to the tune of Bob Dylan, now with help from YouTube and an Apple Mac. Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts is a song from Dylan's classic Blood on the Tracks album. The song has spurned two screenplays, neither of which got made into films. It seems now that Luca Guadagnino, director of Call Me By Your Name, intends to make a film out of the entire album.

Dylan has apparently only sang the song once live and I don't recall hearing any cover versions, so it's great to hear folk singer Naomi Bedford's wonderful version, for which I have created the video for. The song contains vocals from Naomi as well as twenty other singers and musicians, including her partner and Dylan fan Paul Simmonds (of The Men They Couldn't Hang fame) on guitar, and her son Noah in charge of mixing. The poster image is by Chris Riddell, illustrator and political cartoonist for the Observer.

All proceeds from the recording will go to community causes chosen by We Shall Overcome. 

Bob Dylan's new album, Rough and Rowdy Ways, his first LP of original songs since 2012's Tempest, has also just been released. It's been getting rave reviews, with The Guardian calling it "a testament to his eternal greatness". Three of the songs, including the 17-minute epic Murder Most Foul, were released during lockdown to critical acclaim.

Previously on Barnflakes
The Rebel Soldier
Seven Days of Nothing
Without Joy

Elsewhere on Barnflakes
YouTube Channel

*Unfortunately, the YouTube version prohibits using the actual song A Hard Rain's A Gonna Fall so I uploaded a silent version. You'll need my DVD Homeless Movies to get the full version.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Viva la lockdown!

For about half an hour in the middle of April 2020, a dozen editorial staff in The Guardian got excited about a once-in-a-generation opportunity for a greener, brighter, fairer future. Then McDonald's, Primark, car parks and offices opened up again and it was all over.

I already look back on lockdown with a half-forgotten, half-imagined nostalgic fondness as if it happened many years ago. Did I really walk outside and hear birds singing and children playing? Were there really no cars on the roads? Were car parks and offices really shut?

Most people I was in contact with were enjoying lockdown as much as me, appreciating nature, being productive and creative, spending quality time with loved ones – surprisingly, even those who are usually extroverts, who I'd assumed would go stir crazy, relished either some time alone or being with loved ones, usually a bit of both. Aside from being productive and creative, I enjoyed nature more than I have ever before in my life.

So it seems bizarre that, as a whole, the nation seems so keen to return to the moronic 'normal' of before. You know, people driving 100 miles to get to soul-destroying office jobs every day, grabbing a £3 milky bucket of hot liquid apparently called coffee; at the weekend spending it in a soul-destroying shopping centre. The queues for our local drive thru KFC, McDonald's and Costa, and for Primark and Sports Direct, have left me speechless. The morons are back.

Lockdown was a time of hope, reflection, creativity, love, support. We realised who we were and what we valued. We also realised who was worthless – our politicians, our CEOs, our celebrities (not counting Bob Dylan, naturally).

Cars, car parks, offices, jobs, shops, cafes, restaurants, gyms, sport, cinema, planes. Couldn't. Give. A. Damn. About any of it. I had nature on my doorstep; books and art materials at home; a flask for hot drinks; a phone for keeping in touch with family and friends.

I'll be like the Japanese soldiers in the holdouts after the end of World War II, unaware, or unwilling, to believe the war was over and continuing to fight. I will continue my right to fight – for lockdown!

Previously on Barnflakes 
Shakespeare in the time of Coronavirus, a top ten
Kill Bill(ions)
Top ten things to be positive about during the Coronavirus pandemic
Staying at home: a guide to enjoying lockdown
Armchair atlases

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Notes on Fay Godwin, photographer

Fay Godwin is perhaps my favourite British landscape photographer – a label she hated, insisting on being called a documentary photographer instead. Born in 1931, Fay Godwin's interest in photography began with taking shots of her young children in the 1960s; she had no formal training. There could be said to be two halves to her photography career: the first half consisting of portraits of famous authors and poets of the 1970s, from Kingsley Amis to Philip Larkin, whom her husband, a book publisher, introduced her to.

The second half to her career was as a documentary photographer (she said she would have been a photo journalist if it wasn't for her children) – though, to be fair, she is documenting landscape, and the changes made by humans. Humour me for a second, if you will, and Google the term 'landscape photography' – the result is beautiful, over-saturated sunsets and misty mornings; picture postcard depictions of our idea of a traditional landscape, unchanged since paintings of old. Fay Godwin rejected traditional notions of landscape and beauty. By all accounts a strong-willed, opinionated and daunting woman, she found most postcard photography "absolutely revolting". Despite her objections to such concepts, her photos are actually beautiful, but with a mythical depth much modern photography lacks.

She separated from her husband in 1969; he died suddenly in 1976. Around the same time Fay was diagnosed with cancer, but it didn't stop her stomping around the countryside in all weather carrying a heavy tripod and medium format camera or becoming president of the Ramblers' Association (from 1987-1990). Godwin developed her landscape photography throughout the 1970s and 80s, and produced several photography books to critical acclaim. She called England a "grotty little country" but she liked the light and the history.

In her later years she embraced digital and colour photography, using Photoshop and a scanner to scan objects found on the beach. She died in 2005, aged 74.

Previously on Barnflakes 
Notes on Nicholas Syracuse, photographer
Notes on Max Pam, photographer
Notes on Stephen Gill, photographer

My daughter's top ten films and books, aged 14

1. Howl's Moving Castle (Miyazaki, 2004)
2. Ocean's 8 (Ross, 2018)
3. Spirited Away (Miyazaki, 2001)
4. My Neighbour Totoro (Miyazaki, 1988)
5. Moana (Clements, Musker, 2016)
6. Spider-Man: Far From Home (Watts, 2019)
7. Ponyo (Miyazaki, 2008)
8. Star Wars (Lucas, 1977)
9. The Truman Show (Weir, 1998)
10. Tomorrowland (Bird, 2015)

1. The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
2. Divergent by Veronica Roth
3. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
4. To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
5. One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
6. More Than This by Patrick Ness
7. 5 Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott
8. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
9. Ingo by Helen Dunmore
10. After the Fire by Will Hill

Previously on Barnflakes
Top ten Studio Ghibli films
My daughter's top ten films, aged 13
My daughter's top ten books, aged 12½ 
My daughter's top ten films (aged 12) 
My daughter's top ten films (aged 11)
My daughter's top ten films (aged 10)

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Neil Krug and Pulp Art Book

I love Pulp Art Book, a psychedelic, LP-sized tome of Cindy Shermanesque, fictional B-movie stills taken with sun-bleached out-of-date Polaroids of Joni Harbeck, model/girlfriend, then wife, of photographer Neil Krug. The creative duo Krug and Harbeck first published the photos on Flickr, causing a wave of publicity, which resulted in two volumes of Pulp Art Book bring published, Vol 1 in 2011, and Vol 2 in 2012.

I originally assumed the pictures were taken in the 1960s or 70s, and Krug a grizzly veteran from the counter culture movement. Au contraire; he is a 36-year old, L.A. based art director, creating album covers for the likes of Tame Impala (above, a deserted desert diamond mine town in Namibia I've always wanted to visit) and Lana Del Rey.

Notes on Nicholas Syracuse, photographer

Young American photographer from Arizona who travels the States photographing drifters. The above photos are from his black and white project Highway; his other project, Traveler, is in colour. Both can be found on his website.

Alternative Call Me By Your Name poster

I love the film Call Me By Your Name; I love the soundtrack album, and I love the book. The only thing I hate is the poster design, which is the same for the film, soundtrack and book. Eugh. it’s so bland and generic. And I hate that hand-written font in yellow. And the weird embrace of the characters. Now listen – I don't say mine, above, is any better – but at least it combines the main elements of the film: music, the infamous peach and the rescued antique arm from the sea, which Elio shakes hands with whilst Oliver holds it.

Look at other alternative posters – usually called 'fan art', which makes it sound so teenagerhere. (Whilst browsing, I hadn't realised its acroymn, CMBYN, was a thing, and half-read it at first as a cross between CORBYN, former Labour leader, and CMYK, the four colours – Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black – used in printing. Go figure.)

The soundtrack proved immensely popular, which is odd considering how eclectic it sounds – it ranges from modern classical to awful 80s Europop, and helped hugely by a few Sufjan Stevens classics – yet perhaps that's part of its attraction. The vinyl releases in particular, including, naturally, a limited edition peach-scented version, sold out immediately. Then there's a limited edition blue vinyl, a transparent red and even a regular boring black vinyl.

Previously on Barnflakes
Poster for The Last Movie
The Morris Dance Murders Movie 
See You Next Tuesday & Wednesday

Sunday, June 07, 2020

Barnaby's cupboard

Guest post by Graham J Macey, author of On the Road with Heitor: Journeys of Hope, Healing and Peace, Further on up the Road, Volume 1 : A Journey through Corona: A Winter in Spain and Volume 2: 'Lockdown', all available on Amazon

I like my old nose. If I could get it out the cupboard and put it on, 
then I would.
Katie Price

Everyone is discovering things these days – small things and big things – nice things and not so nice things… everyone is an explorer on their own unique journey of discovery and adventure… here are just a few examples of these wondrous journeys of self-discovery…

One of my brothers discovered that he likes growing beards – while my other brother discovered that he most definitely doesn’t.

Some people have discovered that empty roads are great places to find out how fast your car or motorbike or truck or tractor will actually go – while others have discovered that they like working from home and that the kids can now draw patterns in the dust on the car.

I have discovered that I quite like cooking and that it’s nice to keep some food in the fridge after all – but I have also discovered that the local Pizza shop do free home deliveries on orders over £10.

A lot of people, it seems, have discovered that they like being a racist and blaming ‘foreigners’ for all their problems – while many have discovered that caring and looking-out for others turns out to be the very best way of caring and looking-out for yourself.

Some people have discovered that if you over stock on toilet rolls then you can’t always rely on being able to return them for a full refund – while lots of other people have discovered that they like painting rainbows and hanging them outside their houses, and that they like clapping and saying thank you.

Many have discovered that they love and treasure their family and their home more than they ever imagined – while others have discovered that they would rather fix the catch on the garden gate than spend another five minutes with their partner.

Boris Johnson discovered that he is not invincible after all – while some of his friends discovered that, if you’re going to tell people to stay at home, it might be a good idea to do the same.

Some politicians discovered that it’s a real wheeze to stand in from of the camera and promise people all kinds of benefits and support – and then spend the rest of the day inventing loopholes to get out of paying them a penny.

There are at least one or two sad souls in this world who have discovered, when faced with their balance sheets, that the numbers just don’t go high enough – while their employees have discovered, to their immense relief, that you don’t need so many toilet breaks when you can’t afford to eat.

Some people have discovered that it’s fun to spy and report on your neighbours – while others have discovered that it feels good to ask their neighbours if they need anything.

I have discovered that writing is really hard if you can’t sit outside your favourite café in the sunshine with a notepad and a pen – while my good friend Barnaby has discovered that the strange blank featureless piece of wood in his kitchen that he has puzzled over and mused over for so long, is actually a sneaky little cupboard in disguise…

Way to go, Barnaby!

Discovery is the ability to be puzzled by simple things
Noam Chomsky

Flickagrams #19

Close-up of a feather.

Untitled (L.A. in Cornwall reflection)

Previously on Barnflakes
Untitled (Fish & Hips)
Untitled (legs in air)

I've never seen The Wolf of Wall Street

I used to work with a guy called Joe who said he had never seen Star Wars (and, presumably, neither its sequels and prequels), which he mentioned about once a week (like me saying I have no TV), and it became a thing (almost a cliché). The thing with a thing is, it becomes consuming, and you have to keep it up. He could never see Star Wars, ever. He couldn’t see it once and say, I didn’t watch Star Wars for the first 35 years of my life, then I watched it. I mean, that’s not bad actually, not watching it for 35 years, but not as good as being able to say you’d never watched it.

It would be like being an alcoholic falling off the wagon: I didn't touch a drink for 35 years, then I did, and got raging drunk – Joe's equivalent would be binging on all nine Star Wars films one Saturday night. And, like an alcoholic, the temptation is always there – in the supermarket, the off licence. In Joe's case, Star Wars, on TV, online, in the supermarket, the charity shop. I know how Joe feels: Wolf of Wall Street is free to watch on Prime*, so it’s right there. I could watch it and not even tell anyone I’ve seen it.

It was a boast, implying he had no time for such things, that he had better taste, a kind of moral high ground — he's better than you or me; though he wasn’t, he was as mainstream as anyone else. It came across as a bit pretentious: he could almost be saying I haven’t seen Star Wars but I have seen Werckmeister Harmonies, but I doubt he'd ever watched any foreign films. I actually felt sorry for him, and there was a slight tinge of sadness in his voice, as if he was deprived, as if it was inevitable he had never seen Star Wars and never would.

I've Never Seen Star Wars is apparently also a comedy talk show on Radio 4 and a TV programme. The concept came from creator Bill Dare, who had never seen Star Wars. The format of the show is to have guests try out new experiences, such as actor Nigel Havers watching The Simpsons, getting a tattoo, eating a MacDonald's and listening to The Smith Hatful of Hollow – you know, stuff the rest of the planet does on a daily basis.

The Guardian also have a regular film column, The classic film I've never seen.... (insert classic film from Chinatown to The Shawshank Redemption).

It may not be a classic but I have never seen The Wolf of Wall Street but also, I haven't liked any Scorsese film since Goodfellas in 1990, and haven't seen a lot of them. Now, I tell people I haven't seen Wolf of Wall Street and they're like, Why Not? And I have to say I really don’t approve of hedonism or money or late-period Scorsese, and perhaps sound more pretentious than Joe. No one ever asked Joe why he'd never seen Star Wars. It was just greeted with quiet awe. Or indifference.

Most Scorsese post-Goodfellas, from Casino onwards and continuing with Cape Fear, Bringing out the Dead, Shutter Island and The Irishman, amongst others, feel like insincere Scorsese parodies of himself. It happens to us all, with age. Robert de Niro has done a similar thing with his latter acting career.

I thought I’d always love Scorsese films; it was Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and The King of Comedy which got me into cinema. But unlike, say, football, where a fan will follow their team through thick and thin, I feel no such loyalty to Marty when he makes such clunkers as Hugo.

Killers of the Flower Moon, the new Scorsese flick currently in production, a crime film starring DiCaprio and De Niro (or DeCapriNiro – they should be a coffee, right?), does not, unsurprisingly, excite me at all.

*I avoided The Wolf of Wall Street one more night recently by watching Happy as Lazzaro on Amazon Prime, an extraordinary Italian film from 2019. What starts off as an Italian neo-realist film in the style of Tree of Wooden Clogs turns into a time-travelling slice of magical realism, with hints of The Village.


Journey to Exeter Services

Though local traffic had almost got back to ‘normal’ levels, we were surprised to find the highway virtually empty, leading me to surmise that we were in a post-apocalyptic road movie, which was sort of true (lockdown mostly felt over). The trees and foliage either side of the highway felt wildly overgrown and green (a good thing); there were birds of prey perched on the median strip, various abandoned car parts were littered along the shoulder and signs of fresh road kill were abundant (a bad thing).

We did some shout-singing on the way; we were euphoric screaming U2’s Without or Without You, and just reached the “Ohhh Ohhh Ohhh Ohhh” bit at the end when the traffic news on the radio suddenly interrupted us. It was a huge comedown; the “Ohhh Ohhh Ohhh Ohhh” became an anti-climatic “Oh”.

The Moto Services didn’t dispel my apocalyptic road movie feeling. Most of the shops and food places were shut but the toilets were open. The lights were on, music was playing from loudspeakers, but no one was home. Traffic cones, warning signs and black and yellow hazard tape reinforced my feeling.

Anyway, we successfully handed over the merchandise, a teenage girl, and went on our way. I tried counting the traffic cones for some roadworks along the highway, gave up. I estimated it to be 4,000. Then I looked up how many cones are in the UK: impossible to know precisely, but 1.3 million approximately, 140 million worldwide.

Monday, June 01, 2020

Welcome to St. Decay

Cornwall as it's never been seen before, in glorious infrared. Welcome to St. Decay – the book – celebrates Cornwall's mining heritage through a luridly-bright colour palette.

Taken over a six-month period walking and cycling around the Cornish countryside from St. Agnes to St. Austell, the book explores nature's gradual but inevitable reclamation of the man-made, focusing on abandoned engine houses where ivy climbs the chimneys and walls. For me, these engine houses are as grand and beautiful as any cathedral or castle and deserve to be celebrated.

All photos were taken by me with an infrared camera, and the book was designed by myself.

Book specifications:
Softback, full colour, 62 pages, size 120x120mm.

Get it on Etsy now!

Top ten songs about films

1. Song: The Seventh Seal by Scott Walker
Film: The Seventh Seal (Bergman, 1957)
"Anybody seen a knight pass this way?
I saw him playing chess with Death, yesterday"

2. Song:
Debaser by The Pixies
Film: Un Chien Andalou (Bunuel/Dali, 1929)
"Got me a movie
I want you to know
Slicing up eyeballs
I want you to know" 

3. Song: Nebraska by Bruce Springsteen*
Film: Badlands (Malick, 1973)
"I saw her standin' on her front lawn just twirlin' her baton
Me and her went for a ride sir and ten innocent people died"

4. Song: 2HB by Roxy Music
Film: Casablanca (Curtiz, 1943)
"Oh I was moved by your screen dream
Celluloid pictures of living
Your death could not kill our love for you
Take two people, romantic
Smoky nightclub situation
Your cigarette traces a ladder
Here's looking at you kid"

5. Song: Brownsville Girl by Bob Dylan** 
Film: The Gunfighter (King, 1950)
"Well, there was this movie I seen one time
About a man riding 'cross the desert and it starred Gregory Peck
He was shot down by a hungry kid trying to make a name for himself
The townspeople wanted to crush that kid down and string him up by the neck" 

6. Song: E=MC2 by Big Audio Dynamite 
Films: Performance, Walkabout, Don’t Look Now, the Man Who Fell to Earth and Insignificance, all directed by Nic Roeg.
"Man dies first reel, people ask, "What's the deal?
This ain't how it's supposed to be; Don't like no Aborigine" [Walkabout]
"Took a trip in Powis Square, pop star dyed his hair" [Performance]
"Met a dwarf that was no good, dressed like little Red Riding Hood
Bad habit taking life, her calling card a six-inch knife" [Don't Look Now]

"Space guy fell from the sky, scratched my head and wondered why" [The Man Who Fell to Earth]
"The King of brains, Queen of the sack; executives have heart attack
It's assault course celluloid the money makers would avoid
Sometimes notions get reversed – centre of the universe" [

7. Song: Like Dylan in the Movies by Belle and Sebastian 
Film: Dont Look Back (Pennebaker, 1967)
"Don't look back
Like Dylan in the Movies"

8. Song: Lyla by Coco Rosie 
Film: Lilya 4-ever (Moodysson, 2002)
"It reminded me
Of a movie I just saw
About a little girl
From Yugoslavia
She got sent away
They made her prostitute
She ate McDonald's all day
And never had a chance to play

9. Song: The Union Forever by The White Stripes 
Film: Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941)
"Sure I'm C.F.K.
But you gotta love me
The cost no man can say
But you gotta love me" 

10. Song: Breakfast At Tiffany’s by Deep Blue Something
Films: Roman Holiday (Wyler, 1953); Breakfast at Tiffany's (Edwards, 1961)
And I said "What about Breakfast at Tiffany's?"
She said, "I think I remember that film
And as I recall, I think we both kinda liked it."

*Springsteen also wrote a song called Badlands which has nothing to do with the classic Malick flick of the same name.
**Film references and dialogue litter the songs of Bob Dylan, most frequently on his 1985 effort, Empire Burlesque. One keen Bobcat has found references to 61 films in Dylan songs..

Flickagrams #18

After heavy rains followed by sunshine, the remnants of arsenic and copper create beautiful, surreal colours in the Tailings lagoons at Wheal Maid, near Redruth, Cornwall.

Previously on Barnflakes
Wheal Maid Tailings lagoons