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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Climate Camp, London Gathering – Review

Written by Zofia Walczak

The biopic. It’s a strange bird. When your subject is Ray Charles or Johnny Cash the thing must write itself. The drugs! The women! The soundtrack! But it’s this kind of lazy obviousness that has put me off watching the likes Ray and Walk the Line, stomach perhaps to my discredit. They’re probably as good as everyone says they are. If they’re not? If they’re as hackneyed and clichéd as I expected? Well, dosage at least I can enjoy the music.

With Sex & Drugs & Rock n Roll I couldn’t help myself. I’ve been a long-time admirer of Ian Dury’s work and especially the juxtaposition between his seemingly knockabout lyrics and the tight musicianship of the Blockheads. I caught some of the hype, information pills a couple of Andy Serkis interviews about his preparation for the starring role and that was it. My distaste for the biopic was gently put aside for an evening.

If you’ve seen the poster, you’ll already know that Serkis is magnificent. And if you’ve got any sense you’ll also know and love the music (or be on your way to discover it round about now). Right there are two reasons you should go and see this film. Another is a wonderful opening credit sequence by none other than Sir Peter ‘I’ve done more than just the Sgt Pepper cover, you know’ Blake. But don’t expect to get much else. Fair performances from the rest of the cast and attention to period detail do not raise this biopic from goodness to greatness.

The film is in loose chronological order, with the occasional flashback to a troubled childhood. The story touches upon Dury’s contracting of polio and subsequent disability, his relationship with his father, his unstable family life and a tempestuous time with his bandmates and, of course, the music. It rattles through, giving us the odd bit on how much of a bastard Dury could be, or how he came up with some of his most famous songs. But there’s little depth and no tension to hold it all together. The film opens with Serkis’s Dury saying something along the lines of ‘Never let the truth get in the way of a good story’, but then the film appears to do just that.

This film is clearly a labour of love, a love for both for the music and for Dury himself. But if there’s a good story arc in Dury’s eventful, colourful, lyrical life – a beginning followed by a middle and an end – the writers haven’t found it. For example, Dury’s mate the Sulphate Strangler is introduced grandly, but then does very little and exits the story in a bit of throwaway dialogue. And the relationship between Dury and his son Baxter forms most of the film’s action, but I didn’t get wrapped up in a real story. It’s just a bunch of stuff that happened.

But these are niggles. What you want at the very least from this kind of film is an outstanding central performance and excellent music, both of which Serkis himself gives. He sang Dury’s words so well that I couldn’t keep his face out of my mind when later listening to the original recordings. What you also want is an insight to the real Ian Dury. Despite it not having as good a plot as, say, 24 Hour Party People, it does give you an idea of what sort of man he was.

Despite ticking the essential boxes, the film doesn’t have that extra bit to make me watch the film rather than listen to the records. As far as I’m concerned, the biopic can be rather tricky, but this one deserves to do very well.
S&D&R&Rresize

The biopic. It’s a strange bird. When your subject is Ray Charles or Johnny Cash the thing must write itself. The drugs! The women! The soundtrack! But it’s this kind of lazy obviousness that has put me off watching the likes Ray and Walk the Line, salve perhaps to my discredit. They’re probably as good as everyone says they are. If they’re not? If they’re as hackneyed and clichéd as I expected? Well, at least I can enjoy the music.

With Sex & Drugs & Rock n Roll I couldn’t help myself. I’ve been a long-time admirer of Ian Dury’s work and especially the juxtaposition between his seemingly knockabout lyrics and the tight musicianship of the Blockheads. I caught some of the hype, a couple of Andy Serkis interviews about his preparation for the starring role and that was it. My distaste for the biopic was gently put aside for an evening.

If you’ve seen the poster, you’ll already know that Serkis is magnificent. And if you’ve got any sense you’ll also know and love the music (or be on your way to discover it round about now). Right there are two reasons you should go and see this film. Another is a wonderful opening credit sequence by none other than Sir Peter ‘I’ve done more than just the Sgt Pepper cover, you know’ Blake. But don’t expect to get much else. Fair performances from the rest of the cast and attention to period detail do not raise this biopic from goodness to greatness.

The film is in loose chronological order, with the occasional flashback to a troubled childhood. The story touches upon Dury’s contracting of polio and subsequent disability, his relationship with his father, his unstable family life and a tempestuous time with his bandmates and, of course, the music. It rattles through, giving us the odd bit on how much of a bastard Dury could be, or how he came up with some of his most famous songs. But there’s little depth and no tension to hold it all together. The film opens with Serkis’s Dury saying something along the lines of ‘Never let the truth get in the way of a good story’, but then the film appears to do just that.

This film is clearly a labour of love, a love for both for the music and for Dury himself. But if there’s a good story arc in Dury’s eventful, colourful, lyrical life – a beginning followed by a middle and an end – the writers haven’t found it. For example, Dury’s mate the Sulphate Strangler is introduced grandly, but then does very little and exits the story in a bit of throwaway dialogue. And the relationship between Dury and his son Baxter forms most of the film’s action, but I didn’t get wrapped up in a real story. It’s just a bunch of stuff that happened.

But these are niggles. What you want at the very least from this kind of film is an outstanding central performance and excellent music, both of which Serkis himself gives. He sang Dury’s words so well that I couldn’t keep his face out of my mind when later listening to the original recordings. What you also want is an insight to the real Ian Dury. Despite it not having as good a plot as, say, 24 Hour Party People, it does give you an idea of what sort of man he was.

Despite ticking the essential boxes, the film doesn’t have that extra bit to make me watch the film rather than listen to the records. As far as I’m concerned, the biopic can be rather tricky, but this one deserves to do very well.

S&D&R&Rresize

The biopic. It’s a strange bird. When your subject is Ray Charles or Johnny Cash the thing must write itself. The drugs! The women! The soundtrack! But it’s this kind of lazy obviousness that has put me off watching the likes Ray and Walk the Line, visit web perhaps to my discredit. They’re probably as good as everyone says they are. If they’re not? If they’re as hackneyed and clichéd as I expected? Well, store at least I can enjoy the music.

With Sex & Drugs & Rock n Roll I couldn’t help myself. I’ve been a long-time admirer of Ian Dury’s work and especially the juxtaposition between his seemingly knockabout lyrics and the tight musicianship of the Blockheads. I caught some of the hype, a couple of Andy Serkis interviews about his preparation for the starring role and that was it. My distaste for the biopic was gently put aside for an evening.

If you’ve seen the poster, you’ll already know that Serkis is magnificent. And if you’ve got any sense you’ll also know and love the music (or be on your way to discover it round about now). Right there are two reasons you should go and see this film. Another is a wonderful opening credit sequence by none other than Sir Peter ‘I’ve done more than just the Sgt Pepper cover, you know’ Blake. But don’t expect to get much else. Fair performances from the rest of the cast and attention to period detail do not raise this biopic from goodness to greatness.

The film is in loose chronological order, with the occasional flashback to a troubled childhood. The story touches upon Dury’s contracting of polio and subsequent disability, his relationship with his father, his unstable family life and a tempestuous time with his bandmates and, of course, the music. It rattles through, giving us the odd bit on how much of a bastard Dury could be, or how he came up with some of his most famous songs. But there’s little depth and no tension to hold it all together. The film opens with Serkis’s Dury saying something along the lines of ‘Never let the truth get in the way of a good story’, but then the film appears to do just that.

This film is clearly a labour of love, a love for both for the music and for Dury himself. But if there’s a good story arc in Dury’s eventful, colourful, lyrical life – a beginning followed by a middle and an end – the writers haven’t found it. For example, Dury’s mate the Sulphate Strangler is introduced grandly, but then does very little and exits the story in a bit of throwaway dialogue. And the relationship between Dury and his son Baxter forms most of the film’s action, but I didn’t get wrapped up in a real story. It’s just a bunch of stuff that happened.

But these are niggles. What you want at the very least from this kind of film is an outstanding central performance and excellent music, both of which Serkis himself gives. He sang Dury’s words so well that I couldn’t keep his face out of my mind when later listening to the original recordings. What you also want is an insight to the real Ian Dury. Despite it not having as good a plot as, say, 24 Hour Party People, it does give you an idea of what sort of man he was.

Despite ticking the essential boxes, the film doesn’t have that extra bit to make me watch the film rather than listen to the records. As far as I’m concerned, the biopic can be rather tricky, but this one deserves to do very well.

S&D&R&Rresize

The biopic. It’s a strange bird. When your subject is Ray Charles or Johnny Cash the thing must write itself. The drugs! The women! The soundtrack! But it’s this kind of lazy obviousness that has put me off watching the likes Ray and Walk the Line, visit web perhaps to my discredit. They’re probably as good as everyone says they are. If they’re not? If they’re as hackneyed and clichéd as I expected? Well, at least I can enjoy the music.

With Sex & Drugs & Rock n Roll I couldn’t help myself. I’ve been a long-time admirer of Ian Dury’s work and especially the juxtaposition between his seemingly knockabout lyrics and the tight musicianship of the Blockheads. I caught some of the hype, a couple of Andy Serkis interviews about his preparation for the starring role and that was it. My distaste for the biopic was gently put aside for an evening.

If you’ve seen the poster, you’ll already know that Serkis is magnificent. And if you’ve got any sense you’ll also know and love the music (or be on your way to discover it round about now). Right there are two reasons you should go and see this film. Another is a wonderful opening credit sequence by none other than Sir Peter ‘I’ve done more than just the Sgt Pepper cover, you know’ Blake. But don’t expect to get much else. Fair performances from the rest of the cast and attention to period detail do not raise this biopic from goodness to greatness.

The film is in loose chronological order, with the occasional flashback to a troubled childhood. The story touches upon Dury’s contracting of polio and subsequent disability, his relationship with his father, his unstable family life and a tempestuous time with his bandmates and, of course, the music. It rattles through, giving us the odd bit on how much of a bastard Dury could be, or how he came up with some of his most famous songs. But there’s little depth and no tension to hold it all together. The film opens with Serkis’s Dury saying something along the lines of ‘Never let the truth get in the way of a good story’, but then the film appears to do just that.

This film is clearly a labour of love, a love for both for the music and for Dury himself. But if there’s a good story arc in Dury’s eventful, colourful, lyrical life – a beginning followed by a middle and an end – the writers haven’t found it. For example, Dury’s mate the Sulphate Strangler is introduced grandly, but then does very little and exits the story in a bit of throwaway dialogue. And the relationship between Dury and his son Baxter forms most of the film’s action, but I didn’t get wrapped up in a real story. It’s just a bunch of stuff that happened.

But these are niggles. What you want at the very least from this kind of film is an outstanding central performance and excellent music, both of which Serkis himself gives. He sang Dury’s words so well that I couldn’t keep his face out of my mind when later listening to the original recordings. What you also want is an insight to the real Ian Dury. Despite it not having as good a plot as, say, 24 Hour Party People, it does give you an idea of what sort of man he was.

Despite ticking the essential boxes, the film doesn’t have that extra bit to make me watch the film rather than listen to the records. As far as I’m concerned, the biopic can be rather tricky, but this one deserves to do very well.

Last Saturday and Sunday the first Climate Camp regional gathering took place in London. It was the first chance for the group to discuss future direction and specific plans and activities for 2010 in a more London-specific context, price and a chance for me, a Climate Camp virgin, to finally discover what the meetings were like.
room
Saturday morning saw 80 people packed into the hall in Tottenham Chances, and this soon became about 200. I suppose I was wary before the meeting, many loosely political meetings I’ve been to in the UK and abroad have involved flaring tempers, a battle consisting purely of the defence of individual and collective egos, and one or two power-hungry people hogging the limelight preaching about ‘equality’ and ‘democracy’ having only ever theorised it but never practised it, and making everyone else want to vomit with boredom.

Instead, the Climate Camp facilitators did a truly brilliant job of making sure speakers kept to the point, the timetable was stuck to, and that specific questions were answered, while keeping the atmosphere friendly, inclusive and very creative. They were lively, assertive and meticulously organized, but down to earth and not annoying…no mean feat, so a thumbs up from me for even achieving that!  A delicious, hearty vegan lunch was also provided on both days, of which most of the food was skipped.
chickpeas

food[Many thanks to Amelia for photos]

I could not make it for a lot of the discussion (unfortunately I had to work in job no.2 for much of the weekend), but managed to catch up on everything thanks to the detailed tweets of the Climate Camp London Twitter account.  So here’s an overview of what happened, a mixture of their tweets and my own notes:

An initial de-brief on Copenhagen opened up the discussion. It was agreed by the majority that although COP15 was a failure on the international political level, it gave a huge opportunity for a lot of parallel action and discussions to take place and highlighted on a large scale that the traditional political system isn’t working.

One of the first topics of discussion was the need for the Climate Camp movement to diversify and create more local and international outreach, and to make social justice and education a central focus. As an example of local outreach we heard about Ward’s Corner in Tottenham, a community development which residents are fighting for after plans to knock it down and build (surprise, surprise) new, expensive apartment buildings.
wardscorner

 The need to engage on a global scale was also discussed. There was a brief, informative presentation on the history of Haiti, and a lot of discussion on how the problems there are exacerbated by man-made environmental degradation and capitalism. The group then discussed what could be done to help Haiti collectively.

It was agreed that Climate Camp should continue to deal with big systemic changes (highlighting current democratic deficit) rather than only lifestyle changes like 10:10. It was also agreed that any action taken by Climate Camp must focus on providing positive alternatives and not just being critical. Rather than raising awareness, which many NGOs already do so well, the approach of Climate Camp should be more solutions-focused.
diagram
Localised meetings were a strong theme of the gathering. It was argued that they would allow more local outreach, and allow more people to attend and find out about Climate Camp. Meeting in smaller, more local groups would also allow for more discussion and participation. Many people expressed concerns about a loss of identity within the movement as a whole, lack of communication between groups and loss of focus. This was coupled with the fact that it may also be difficult to form large enough groups in certain areas of London. It was evident however, that the advantages and need to try the idea out outweighed most fears. It was broadly agreed that local meetings should be tried out, with alternating London-wide meetings every other week.

One of the final topics of discussion was about whether Climate Camp should officially endorse the Klimaforum declaration, drawn up during COP15. No consensus was reached however, and it was agreed that this issue needs to be studied and discussed in more detail.

Future possible gatherings and action were discussed, including whether it would be wise to demonstrate on May Day. There was much talk about making sure that large groups of people are not isolated by Climate Camp demonstrations. It was clear there were varying views on the nature and outcomes of direct action and protest. Despite this, almost everyone agreed that action must be solutions-focused and offer positive alternatives, rather than being seen as only critical.  After two days of much impassioned discussion, little official consensus was actually reached. However, as one facilitator pointed out, a lot of ground was covered and no hurried, bad decisions were made.

There will be another, smaller meeting at SOAS this (Tuesday) evening, so if you’re curious or keen to get involved in some way, it’s worth checking out their website and coming along to listen and have your say.

kidscorner[The great KidsCorner]

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One Response to “Climate Camp, London Gathering – Review”

  1. jamie says:

    Great summary of the weekend, thanks.

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