Stage to screen workshop in Nottingham

27th April 2016

I’m very much looking forward to this workshop on Saturday in Nottingham. The event is free but do please register online if you would like to attend – there are just a few places left. I hope there will be plenty of time for exploring ideas together, and I’ll write up a note about the discussions early next week. The image, of course, is of David Tennant and Mariah Gale in our 2009 BBC television film of Gregory Doran’s production of Hamlet for the Royal Shakespeare Company. read more »

Tuesday links

26th April 2016

Last weekend was a touch busy, what with getting Prince Charles, Judi Dench and one or two others on screen, so forgive these Links being a couple of days late.

• William Shakespeare, playwright and poet, is dead at 52: among the very best of the many Bard-related articles from the weekend is this New York Times obituary written by Louis Bayard as it might have been in 1616.

Only Angels Have Wings – Hawks’s genius takes flight: Michael Sragow on Hawks’s great 1939 aviation film, newly released by The Criterion Collection in the US and – thrillingly – in the UK too. read more »

The making of Shakespeare Live!

25th April 2016

Saturday night’s celebration of Shakespeare on BBC Two and in cinemas, Shakespeare Live!: From the RSC, started life back in November 2013. Illuminations was not involved as a production company, but in my role as Director, Screen Productions for the RSC I have been working towards Saturday’s realisation ever since then. You can judge for yourself as the programme is on BBC iPlayer for another 28 days but I think it’s fair to say that those of us involved in the project are happy with its realisation. And of the many highlights this is the one that has attracted most of the attention:

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Sunday links

17th April 2016

Next Saturday, 23 April, I am one of the producers on the Royal Shakespeare Company-BBC collaboration Shakespeare Live! From the RSC. It is going to be a great show, and you can see it at 8.30pm on BBC Two and in cinemas. But it is not leaving me much time to post, apart from this further set of links to stuff that I have found interesting in the past week.

• In excess of the cut – Peter Greenaway’s Eisenstein in Guanajuato: a really good piece by  David A. Gerstner for Los Angeles Review of Books on one great director’s take on another (above), released in cinemas and for VOD this week. read more »

Sunday links

10th April 2016

Taxi Driver - link below

Links to interesting stuff from the past week.

• How offshore firm helped billionaire change the art world for ever: the first of two stories about what the Panama Papers reveal about the high end of the art market, this from the Guardian team…

The art of secrecy: … and this from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists – the articles are complementary, and compelling for anyone interested in auctions, galleries and collectors. read more »

Baird experiments with an eye

9th April 2016

I am fascinated by the history of early experiments towards television, including those made by one of the key pioneers John Logie Baird. One of the strangest tales that I have just been reminded of in my reading today concerns the inventor’s encounter with a human eyeball. Ninety years ago, in the spring of 1926, Baird was struggling to get the photocell technology he was using to achieve sufficient sensitivity to light. As his wife Margaret recorded Baird recalling in her 1974 memoir Television Baird, read more »

The West Wing for real

8th April 2016

Given the dismal state of television criticism in this country, I guess I should not be surprised that BBC Two’s Inside Obama’s White House has not attracted more thoughtful attention than it appears to have done to date. For the Guardian Mark Lawson wrote a typically thoughtful and well-informed piece about the series and access documentaries and Philip Collins contributed an appropriately enthusiastic piece for Prospect: ‘journalism of the highest calibre’. Daisy Wyatt in the Independent was won over but Christopher Stevens for the Daily Mail dismissed the first episode as ‘dull… no plot, no tension, no good lines’, and I can find little else that engages in any detail with what for me is a really remarkable achievement. read more »

Film as data

7th April 2016

Some of today’s richest and most stimulating research projects in cinema and media studies have at their heart the tools of data analytics. And Marina Hassapopolou at the NYI Center for the Humanities has just put online a highly informative blog post that is a great introduction to the range and breadth of this cutting-edge work. The works cited in her piece are a good place to begin exploring further, as is the website for an upcoming conference in New York, Transformations I. The sub-title for the conference in mid-April is ‘Cinema and media studies research meets the digital humanities’, and while the full programme is not yet available there is a good reading list and an invaluable listing of relevant research projects, most of which have substantial online presences. I am only barely literate in this field but I intend to try to educate myself further by tackling some of this reading and engaging with a number of the projects over the coming weeks, and I’ll aim to post reflections.

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Unblocking the blog

6th April 2016

So just what seems to be the problem? We have a shiny new web site which, while far from perfect, is a big step on from what was here before. While we were working on how to structure the new site I argued strongly for keeping this blog somewhere near the centre. But now the blog is here I’m not completely certain what or how to post. There are many things I want to share and comment on, and (but?) I do that on Twitter all the time. Then there are things that I want to reflect on at length, had I but world enough and time. Even so, I seem to find time to do that in occasional essays and articles. But so far, apart from faltering steps towards re-starting Sunday links, I am neither sharing nor commenting nor reflecting here with any consistency. As a songsmith who never seemed to suffer from writer’s block once wrote, ‘Why an’ what’s the reason for?’*

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Sunday links

3rd April 2016

Now, with some post-Dublin additions…

• The art of being in the wrong place at the right time – behind the scenes of social media newsgathering: a remarkable reflection by David Crunelle from medium.

Lost in Trumplandia: the fascination remains despite the horror, the horror, so here’s a very good piece for New Republic by Patricia Lockwood, with some fine photographs by Mark Abramson.

Julius Caesar, 1908: it’s frustrating that that BFIPlayer has entirely superseded the BFI posting films to Youtube, not least because it prevents embedding, but here is a link to a wonderful silent Vitagraph condensation of Shakespeare’s play.

• Rétrospective Raoul Ruiz: La Cinémathèque française has launched a great tribute to the late much-lamented director (until 30 May), and even if you can’t get to Paris for that, the trailer for it is a thing of beauty.

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