Tag Archives: FACT Liverpool

Spit Spot

Immigrant au pair, visa status unknown, brain washing children in her care at the local park.

This is the kind of claptrap that would generally be seen in The Daily Hate-mail or The Scum. The report would continue to say that the female, who was said to have come in on the east wind, meets with a male artist and match seller to brainwash the impressionable youths with ‘fantasy tales’. Yet this is exactly what occurs in the formidable P. L. Travers’ Mary Poppins. This makes for an indulgent and easy read during these festive days and nights.

Mary-Poppins-walt disney and PL Travers

The tales were drafted when the writer was recuperating from a serious illness,

to while away the days, but also to put down something that had been in my mind for a long time.

I went to a screening of this iconic cinematic work last Xmas at FACT Liverpool. Oh! to see it through the eyes of a child. It is quite trippy, but now as an adult: singing, dancing penguin waiters, choreographed sequences on rooftops and an Uncle who appears to be high (literally) on laughter. Say no more! I also was quite disturbed by the fact that I actually found Mary Poppins, the domestic goddess with routine and a slight hint of healthy anarchy, strangely quite attractive.

mary poppins

I went to see An Audience with Julie Andrews earlier this year, a chat show-like occasion at the Liverpool Echo Arena. This had to be the most surreal event of the year. Andrews did not look a day over 10 years younger than when she was actually playing the part of Mary P. The evening concluded with the compère for the night, Aled Jones, encouraging the audience to sing along (Julie just smiled appreciatively) to ‘Climb Every Mountain’, complete with a backdrop screen of the lyrics. I momentarily thought I’d been had and it was actually a U.K.I.P convention, expecting a rendition of Cabaret’s ‘Tomorrow Belongs to Me’, to follow. ‘SPIT SPOT!’

At times the tales in the actual book of Mary Poppins have a slight dark edge, Mrs Corry sticking star wrapper papers onto the night sky, for instance. They remind me of the work by The League of Gentlemen. I do wonder whether it is wiser to introduce the stories to my three-year-old nephew, perhaps when he is a little older. But for now he is safe with the film. Just keep away from the singing Bird Woman.

bird woman

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Rear Window

The sizzling summer heat forces people to open up their windows and extend their living space outdoors. From my study window, a tapestry of real life drama plays out amongst my neighbours. Debbie Harry claims that the apartment block where she lives in New York City was the building that the writer of Rear Window – Cornell Woolrich – lived. The view from his residence worked his imagination into drafting a short story that went on to become one of Alfred Hitchcock’s cinematic classics.

The rotund master of film had a deep understanding of human behaviour. He stated,

Drama is life with the dull bits cut out.

I recently had the pleasure of watching Rear Window on the big screen at Fact Liverpool and I was once again captivated.

RearWindow Movie poster

A wheelchair-bound photographer, L. B. Jefferies played by James Stewart, spies on his neighbours from his apartment window and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder. It is a treat for the eye to watch Grace Kelly, in all of her sensual elegance as Lisa Carol Fremont, on the big screen.

rear-window-first-outfit-sitting-down-2

Jefferies finds himself in a conundrum. He is frightened of committing to Lisa. As he works through this problem, he sees a variety of his neighbours at different stages in their relationship, the newlyweds, the bickering couple and the one that kills his wife. The human trait of voyeurism is explored in the film and is still as rampant as it was then, today. Perhaps the windows have just changed?

Take the television for example, Big Brother, which is essentially a room of people interacting, clashing and, in some cases, screwing. Is watching this no different to peeping out of a window? The obsession with watching others is intrinsic to our society, whereas once there were known curtain twitchers in a street, now it’s a little bit more advanced. Facebook and other social media allow people to look without the other person really knowing. I often hear things like,’Oh, I haven’t seen her in ages but I am friends with her on Facebook.’ This translates as, ‘I am watching what she gets up to, looking at her photographs and reading her status updates.’ A socially acceptable type of stalking, perhaps?

We all know what curiosity did to the cat.

As I sat watching Rear Window, I was struck by the cinematic cleverness; as the bamboo blinds go up to reveal the view from the window, the audience immediately made the voyeurs. The watcher watching.

We’ve become a nation of peeping Toms,

complains Nurse, Thelma Ritter, condemning James Stewart’s character, before merrily joining in.

rear_window grace

A very telling comment!

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