Morrissey – miserablist, martyr, madman – he has been called all of these things and more. For those who didn’t grow up following The Smiths in the 80’s or worshipping Moz as a solo artist in the 90’s, it’s easy to forget how universally the music press, other pop stars, and his own band members disliked the singer. Criticised for being perpetually dour, arrogant, and combatant in his beliefs, he has for a long time been a target of disdain, ridicule, and disgust. After decades when his only real ammunition has been the songs he has written, he has finally put his thoughts down on the page in his controversial book, Autobiography (2013). Controversial because he requested that his publisher, Penguin, publish the book as a hallowed Penguin Classic (unheard of for a new title), resulting in jibes and outrage by the British press. Controversial also because it’s a no holds barred account of his time in The Smiths and as a solo artist. Read more
Snails in the Rain (2013) is a new film by Yariv Mozer and part of an increasing trend in Israeli films exploring gay themes, like the recent Out in the Dark (2013) and the documentary, Undressing Israel (2013), which Mozer also directed. The film follows Boaz (Yoav Eruveni), happy in a relationship with his girlfriend, who starts to receive anonymous love letters from a man. The letters trigger memories of his days in the Israeli military and his repressed life starts to unravel in sexual confusion and anxiety about who he is.
Yves Saint Laurent (2014) is the first of two biopics to be released next year about the late designer. This first film features Pierre Niney in the title role, an actor who shares an uncanny resemblance to the man who revolutionised how the way women wore clothes. It also has the blessing of his longtime partner, Pierre Bergé, who gave the filmmakers unprecedented access to his private life and work. A second film (simply titled Saint Laurent and currently in production) will feature Gaspard Ulliel, who has already featured in a convincing promotional image for the film. It is interesting how the French suddenly show interest in a historical figure so that a number of books and films appear at the same time. This also happened in 2009 with the releases of Coco Avec Chanel and Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky, both depicting different times in Chanel’s life. The film will be released early next year.
A couple of weeks ago I was out with some friends in Shoreditch, a district of London I had never been to before (though one I had heard plenty about), and became curious at the similarity amongst the throngs of men gathered on the streets on this particularly rainy Saturday evening. All of them had significant facial hair and they were covered in a cornucopia of intricate body art. This trend has, of course, been apparent on catwalks and in magazines for some time now, but to see so many bearded and tattooed men in one place was rather a shock. London is an intense melting pot for what’s going on in fashion generally and there was no mistaking the fact that being inked, having a beard, wearing a denim shirt, lots of tweed, braces, and boots has become the uniform of the moment. Read more
An essentially human trait we all possess is the ability to learn from our mistakes. What goes wrong in life often provides far richer lessons than our victories, lessons we can apply in the future. While that’s the theory, it’s not always the practice. After the sprawling mess that was Born This Way (2011), fans were hoping that Lady Gaga would learn from the experience and produce something more succinct and accessible. No lofty statements, no interminable track listing, and no badly Photoshopped cover art. Things looked promising earlier this year. Gaga was the guest of honour at the Watermill Benefit Auction in New York and she looked great: slim, healthy, and natural, with brunette locks and a simple black dress. All the peripherals were gone and it was an exciting prospect that the artist might be going back to basics, both in her couture and her composition. How wrong we were, as this messy, uneven album illustrates. Read more