The True Little Tramp Shortlisted at Tolpuddle!

Exciting news, comrades! Hollywood Hegemony’s film produced in co-operation with Norwich Stop the War Coalition, The True Little Tramp, has been nominated for Best Activist Film at the Small Axe Film Festival 2014.  Full listings are available in the linked text.

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‘Of Gove and Gramsci’ now on The Norwich Radical

The Norwich Radical is a new web-based media project established for “the purpose of providing progressive analysis of politics and the arts.”  It’s a “broad coalition of activists, writers, students and workers coming from an array of political backgrounds,” something that has been lacking on the left in Norwich for some time – and promises to finally provide a platform for the wide range of interests and talents of activists and ‘ordinary’ people – which more often than not goes to waste. I’m very excited to have contributed my article “Of Gove and Gramsci”, which you can now check out along with a host of other great content on their page via the linked teaser-text below. 

This is a battle of ideas and ideology, and the Education Secretary knows it. Culture connects on a human level and draws out debates on supposed common sense; it carries the potential to lay bare the hegemonic drip of dominant capitalist ideas into perceived ‘nature’. That brings with it the potential to challenge the ideology of the status-quo.

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Of Gramsci and Gove: Hegemony for Hearts and Minds

When Michael Gove came out as a fan of Antonio Gramsci – the thinker known in certain sections of academia as “the last acceptable Marxist” – there was of course outrage from the left. “Michael,” they cried, “you have, if you ever read him, missed the point.” But clearly, so did they. Gove, it has become clear over the course of his dismembering of the education system, very much understands Gramsci. Because we, who stand against this government’s wanton destruction of the welfare state, are not fighting a war of facts. As Chavs… author Owen Jones rightly points out on a regular basis; were that the case, after four years of calamitous cuts and pig-headed privatisation, we would surely have won by now.

Gove understands and fears Gramsci.

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We Are All ‘Sick’: The True Genius of “Frank”

Everyone who participates in creativity knows the brief spark of fury ignited by somebody else suggesting ‘slightly’ changing how you do things, in order to get ‘big’. It’s not an entirely irrational evolutionary self-defence mechanism, a flinch in preparation for an assault on your very sense of self – because by ‘big’ they mean profitable, and by ‘slightly’ they mean irrevocably. But at the heart of any creation is a communication of the creator’s world-view – and through modifying it for the sake of profit, we often run the risk of silencing that communication; of murdering that world-view and destroying the creator’s connection to the world in the process. That terrible possibility is what really makes director Lenny Abrahamson’s pitch-black psycho-satire Frank the most compelling viewing the year 2014 has (or, I’d venture, ever will) offer up.

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BAFTA Tour Night at the Norwich Film Festival!

So I was lucky enough to attend the BAFTA tour night of the Norwich Film Festival on Thursday – check out my thoughts through the linked text below. 

Cinema goers welcomed the BAFTA tour to the Norwich Film Festival on a wet and windy Thursday night. But even amidst the gloom of some textbook British summer weather, those in attendance at the Odeon on Riverside were still cheered by a plethora of UK-based talent on show, followed by a Q&A withKeeping Up with the Joneses director Michael Pearce. The British Film and Television Arts compiled eight shorts nominated for a prestigious BAFTA award into a feature length package, which also featured two films (Island Queen and I am Tom Moody) which wowed at last year’s NFF.

Intriguingly, the films synchronised brilliantly as a coherent package, despite being produced entirely separately by up-and-coming film-makers from all over the country. Each short featured in this cinematic scrapbook commented on some aspect of claustrophobia, isolation or social alienation – and the (often unsuccessful) struggle to overcome or escape them – giving a pointillistic portrait of the hopes and fears of modern British society in the process.

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The True Little Tramp

Well here it is, the film that took over 3 months to finish is finally here, and not too shabby even if we say so. 

In February 1914, amongst economic turmoil and international conflict, Charlie Chaplin first tumbled onto screens as the Little Tramp. 100 years later, with homelessness rising, massive cuts to social security, and another government on the war-path, Jack Brindelli and friends consider what the Tramp’s legacy tells us about modern times. Enjoy – and please share as widely as possible.

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Check out “The True Little Tramp” on the Norwich Film Fest

Greetings HH followers – I know I’ve slightly neglected you all recently, but I have been busy working on my new film on 100 years of Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp. Get excited. I have also written a not-insubstantial article on the subject for the Norwich Film Festival, which you can view by clicking the taster-text below, if it takes your fancy. It not only features an actual illustration by me (Jack of all trades etc), but also outlines what you’ll see in the film – so check it out.

From culturally illiterate education minister Michael Gove’s humourless panning of comedy classic Blackadder Goes Forth, to the banal, Buzzfeed-esque ten point summary of the war by BBC historian Dan Snow (great-great-grandson of war-time Prime Minister Lloyd George) – there has been a concerted effort to reinvent the horrors of WW1’s mechanised conflict as not only necessary, but actually a bit of a lark.

Caught recently in the crossfire of this ideological conflict, having characteristically stumbled into a tricky situation not of his making, is Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp – who reached his own historical landmark last month. The beloved character, who first appeared on screens in February 1914, is no stranger to this historical process himself of course. The Tramp, once revered by the poor and reviled by the rich as a figure of rebellion, has become so shrouded in historical mystification that he can be warmly remembered by the very people he was once a statement against. Even the Daily Mail, who backed the Nazis around the time of Chaplin’s anti-fascist classic The Great Dictator (1940) now fondly remember the Tramp’s antics, in an ideological shift akin to Royalists 100 years from now warmly recalling that rascal Frankie Boyle’s jokes about the Queen’s haunted vagina!

Yet even now there is something troublesome about the man in the bowler hat, big shoes and baggy trousers – something that remains unreconciled with dominant accounts of history, which disturbs the rich and powerful. This is where Chaplin’s legacy enters the war debate...

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Check out the Women’s Film and Television History blog

My review of The Song of the Shirt (1970) and many other interesting reads await on the Women’s Film and Television History blog, which you can visit here (or by clicking the sample text to my review below). It’s a site well worth a look for a more academic exploration of cinema and gender.

The Song of the Shirt poster

At first glance, The Song of the Shirt (Clayton and Curling, 1979) is hard to enjoy. The opening consists of migraine-inducing overlapping texts; squawking free-form clarinets, and jumbled quick-fire quotes. It seems initially that this attempt to deconstruct the grand narratives of liberal history, and reform the component parts into a radical critique, lacks any kind of structural coherence. However, it soon emerges that this is actually a brilliant foreshadowing of the structure of the film. Eventually, out of the chaos comes a brilliantly orchestrated profundity...”

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Check out “Selling The North” on the Norwich Film Festival!

My new feature article for the Norwich Film Festival has gone live. It regards the exploitation of the myth of the Southerner in the light of two of this year’s Oscar contenders. It’s got slander, abuse, and KFC in it, so why not go check it out by clicking the sample text below, ya’ll?

Or else there will be Cage-based consequences…

Over the course of the 150 years since the American Civil War, Southern Americans have been the go-to group when it comes to a caricature everyone can get behind giving a good kicking. In the fallout of the war, the hillbilly character originated from Northern news writers, as a kind of primitive parallel to the ‘civilising’ process of industrialisation sweeping the country in the second half of the 1800s. The South had been left in ruin after the war, economically crippled and hit by bad harvests – and the ordinary folk there were subsequently painted as a primitive embarrassment. At the time America’s leaders were becoming obsessed with carving out a new image in the eyes of the world, and the poor, ‘ignorant’, ‘lazy’ South didn’t fit with their ambitions to expand the market empires they thrived from. One example to sum up this frustration, featured in Rich Hall’s brilliant BBC film The Dirty South (2010), comes from The Baltimore Sun in 1912, who suggested the only two remedies to such folk were “education and extermination.” Yikes – with an attitude like that if he’d been born a century later the writer could’ve landed a career in the ATOS PR department!

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Love and Chaos: A Belated Review of Monsters

As February 14th’s sickeningly saccharine celebration of ‘wuv’ approaches with all the grim anticipation of a trip to the gallows, it’s a depressing time to be film enthusiast. With Hollywood’s unobtainable, absurd and often psychotic assertion of what “true love” means, even if you aren’t adrift in a sea of solitude, cinematic relationships might as well be alien pornography. Perhaps then it’s no surprise that one of the most beautifully honest depictions of a human relationship this decade comes from a garage film about extra-terrestrial mating rituals.

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