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Friday, 26 February 2010

Win a pair of tickets to see Father of My Children - Winner of Cannes' Un Certain Regard

In the spirit of keeping our eyes peeled for what's happening in the arts world, we've just organised a fantastic prize for one lucky reader! As you know, if you read this blog regularly, I see the arts as interdisciplinary, flitting between the gallery, cinema and theatre. I have a serious commitment to film, and so, I was delighted to find out the one of Cannes' prize winning films (Un Certain Regard), Father of My Children would be opening nationwide from 5th March.

To celebrate the March 5th release of Le père de mes enfants/Father of my Children - We have a pair of tickets available to attend a Q&A screening on 3rd March with Director, Mia Hansen-Love.

The preview screening for the gentle drama, Father of my Children, will be held at the Cine Lumiere, London. The event will begin with a champagne reception at 7:30pm and will then be followed by the film’s screening at 8:30pm. After the screening the guests and winners will be invited to stay for an opportunity to put their questions about Father of My Children to the film’s director Mia Hansen-Love.

Father of My Children concentrates on Grégoire (de Lencquesaing) a happily married father of three and an independent film producer who somehow manages to juggle the never-ending demands of his company with his domestic responsibilities. Glued to his mobile and chain-smoking his way through meetings and crises, he maintains his sense of humour despite the incessant demands of his work. In addition to massaging artistic egos and keeping one step ahead of his bank, he reluctantly joins the family on an Italian holiday, but on his return, Grégoire finds he can no longer maintain any sane work/life balance. Wonderfully reminiscent of Truffaut’s Day for Night in it’s evocation of the world of European cinema.

For your chance to win just answer the following question:
What is the name of the director and film, who's featured in the current issue of Aesthetica Magazine?

Please send your answers to Alexis Smith at office@aestheticamagazine.com with Father of My Children marked in the subject line. Please send by 12pm, Tuesday 2 March. All correct entries will be added to prize draw and the winner selected at random.

Good luck!

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Revenge and Familial Bonds: Katalin Varga & The Horseman

The theme of revenge and familial bonds are explored in two brutally honest new releases, Katalin Varga (Peter Strickland) and The Horseman (Steven Kastrissios). Katalin Varga was released on DVD and Blu-Ray yesterday, and tells the story of the title character, banished by her husband and her village with brutal ease and left with no other choice than to set out on a quest to find the real father of her son, Orbán. Taking Orbán with her under another pretence, Katalin travels through the Carpathians where she decides to reopen a sinister chapter from her past and take revenge. The hunt leads her to a place, she prayed eleven years prior, she would never set foot in again.

Filmed in Transylvania, the disturbing story of the past catching up with her attackers all-too-closely mimicks old-testament mentality of an eye-for-an-eye. As Katalin vows to seek retribution, the cycle continues as others follow her lead along the way. There are points in the film where the revelations of her disturbing past seem to draw the viewer to her side in agreement; but I felt there were a similar number of scenes that questioned Katalin’s extreme methods, and willed her to get herself and her son out of the situation she had put them in.

Perhaps the most impressive point of this film is the soundtrack. The intensity of the storyline is calmed almost to a similar point of tension, as the sparse song sung by Katalin and Orbán is a disturbing lament in the chaos. The beautiful shots of the countryside along their journey, coupled with lingering, almost still shots of their surroundings, counteract the brutality of the protagonist’s actions but adding an eerie atmosphere of strange, natural exquisiteness.

The Horseman, due to be released on DVD and Blu-Ray on Monday (1 March), follows Christian, a father who is sent a horrifying pornographic video – featuring his recently-deceased daughter. Like Katalin and full of revenge, he soon spirals into a world of violence and recklessness as he follows the links through the industry with his unique methods of brutal questioning.

Driving through north Queensland to locate the final suspect, he reluctantly picks up Alice (Caroline Marohasy), an awkward young runaway and an unlikely bond develops. But as the crime is pieced together, an ugly truth is revealed that leads everyone down a dangerous path. The causes of Christian’s daughter’s murder make for a vicious and extreme set of characters, emphasizing the brutality of human vice. The Horseman is immersive, disturbing and brings out the very worst in those characters hidden behind the edges of a shady industry. At times the methods of questioning, carried out with such quiet, pent up fury by Christian and his trusty toolbox, make you wonder how could possibly have thought them up.

The Horseman is more of a revenge horror than Katalin Varga, due to its brutal, and graphic portrayal (think fishhooks and pliers), the latter is almost a meditation on what a violent past can do to a person, and the consequences, both living and dead, that come from that past. Also the opposite outcomes of the two titles seem to on-one-hand reward revenge, and on the other, illustrate the futility of such vendettas.

At the end of each of these films, I’m not sure whether we ever feel a sense of justice or whether there’s just a hell of a lot of mess that has been left behind, but the unsettling depictions of these characters throw up a lot of questions about humanity in the process.

Katalin Varga is available on DVD now on Artificial Eye Releases. For more information, please see click here

The Horseman is released on 1 March on DVD and Blu-Ray on Kaleidoscope Entertainment. For more information, please see www.thehorsemanfilm.com

Monday, 22 February 2010

Creating Icons: Gavin Bond in London

Gavin Bond is one of the UK’s most successful contemporary photographers having shot highly intimate and exciting images of many of the last decade’s most celebrated icons. From phenomenal front covers for leading music magazine Q and fashion magazine GQ, through arresting imagery for hit HBO dramas, to behind-the-scenes reportage of catwalk shows and concerts around the globe, Bond’s work has captured the hip zeitgeist of the Noughties.

It’s this marriage of popular culture and art, the mélange of high and low, which fascinates and encapsulates us. Again, this type of photography skewers the boundaries of art and design, contemplating the role of the celebrity in our culture. Seeing as Bond’s work highlights the music icon, somehow it seems more glamorous and less smutty than say, images of Jordan. I suppose, Bond invites into an exclusive world, giving us a glimpse of some of our idols. This topic is explored in our “New Generation of Fashion Photographers” feature in the current issue.

This new exhibition of music photography brings never before seen images to the UK, allowing music fans to get up close and personal with contemporary rock greats. Bond’s distinctive style gets beneath the skin of his subjects to reveal personalities, emotions and moments usually unseen in public.

From stunning personal portraits of legends such as Grace Jones, Ozzy Osbourne and Steven Tyler to innovative sequences of bands such as The Killers and U2, Bond’s images, shot from dressing room to stage, demonstrate the elaborate talent that has propelled him to the top of the industry.

The extensive portfolio brings together ‘behind-the-scenes’ shots of bands on the road, images of live performances at some of the world’s biggest music events, innovative studio shots and intimate personal portraits to create a visual record of the last ten years in music.

Eloise Rowley, the Idea Generation Gallery Manager said:
“Gavin Bond’s photos evoke many of the greatest popular cultural photographers of our time. His portfolio of work stands alongside world renowned photographers. It is a privilege to host the first exhibition of his music photography.”

Bond, a graduate of London’s infamous St Martin’s Lane School of Art, made his name primarily in the fashion sector, coming to prominence for shooting from the hip to capture fashion in an unstructured and refreshing way. It was Bond’s images from catwalks, backstage and the after parties across the world that brought his name to the forefront in critics’ minds. Bond’s own star status grew organically as he moved into editorial work for leading fashion publications worldwide.

In 2007, the photographer collaborated with Guy Hepner to produce Volume I, a portfolio of 12 prints, housed in an artist designed clamshell box. The portfolio was such a success that it sold out in four days and went on to be put up for auction at both Christies in London and Phillips de Pury in New York. November 2008 saw the release of Volume II, another stunning collection that was equally successful. Bond is currently on a world tour with universally recognised band Green Day to create his first book, released at the end of this year.

“After being in New York for 11 years I am truly excited to come back to where it all started, to have my first show on home turf as it were. The industry is changing very quickly, its so important for me to grasp as much of what the future holds in multi-media, it is a big learning curve and always a challenge but very exciting and rewarding at the same time. The diversity in what I shoot is key to keeping things interesting, as they say variety is the spice of life,” says Bond.

Gavin Bond: Music is at Idea Generation Gallery, 23rd February – 21st March. www.ideageneration.co.uk All photos © Gavin Bond.

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