PREVIEW The Truth About Art Channel 4, Sun 6 Dec, 8pm.
Newspapers of a certain persuasion have a penchant for badmouthing modern art as shocking or downright off-putting. So thinks Waldemar Januszczak, an art critic With a mission, ’I wanted to make an art history series that got its hands dirty,' he says.
Not that Januszczak’s, The Truth About Art, which Will get to grips With nature, sex and religion over it’s three week run, gives the press a verbal left- hander. More that he tackles a few misconceptions, one of which is the ’myth of ciVilisation’. Whether searching out ancient cave paintings in southern France and Zimbabwe or talking to artist Damien Hirst in rural England about life and pickled animals, Januszczak tackles the story of art, kicking off the first programme With the beasts of the field, ’Animals are a metaphor With one overriding message: life is transient,’ believes Januszczak. Think 17th century Dutch art stuffed With dead animal flesh,
High drama in Corrie. Viagra in Sunset Beach.
Only in the hunk desert of Coronation Street COUId Dumpy Des Barnes ever be considered a ladies man, Faced With a choice of little Ashley, Fred ’I say, boy, I say' Elliott, Leering Les Battersby and that other ageing Iothario Ken Barlow, any desperate gal would plump for Weatherfield’s unluckiest bookie.
But, sadly, Des has seduced his last blonde. Natalie has been left as the not-so-merry-Widow after her son Tony’s drug dealer mates did him in. Tony has now made a hasty exit down SOuth, never to return until the producers need someone else killed -- he'd already done for Judy Mallett’s mum. Meanwhile, Des's funeral threatened to turn into a mighty rammy as Natalie's new in-iaws took exception to her covering up for him.
Doobtless it Will all settle down, Even in its new shock! horror! guise, Corrie has a habit of smoothing over the difficult things in life. In most soaps, bringing in a transsexual would ruffle feathers a bit, but, rather subversively, Hayley and ROy have been transformed into the new MaVis and Derek, With that evening classes and 'interesting’ hobbies. Roy’s singing at that operatic somety audition is the most shocking thing about them.
But if it's topical you want, you can't
118 THE “ST 3- ':'l Dec I998
Coitus in the art: Waldemar Januszczak and friend
think Hirst's fly-zapping installations littered With dead bluebottles — mortality has been a constant fascination in art. As Hirst succinctly puts it, ’The big issue is that you live and die.’
However, Januszczak feels that science has taken the mystery out of mortality ’Now we can cOunt the number of atoms in Damien Hirst’s cow,’ he says. Today’s animal art is more a case of blood, guts and tabIOid press Jibes along With insidious pollution.
Take the artist Cornelia Hess- Honegger, who is trailed around the pastoral landscape that Surrounds Sellafield Nuclear Station as she catches insects Hess-Honegger meticulously paints these creatures, mutated by radiation. ’These horrible radioactive centres are the snakes in our garden of paradise,’ believes Januszczak, who sees Hess-Honegger’s art as a picture of 20th century vulnerability. ’It is my secret ambition to try and make a programme that Will adeQUately arm us for the 21st century.’ (Susanna Beaumont)
.-.. ; , “ll, Bookie of death: Corrie's Des Barnes do better than the weird mix of complete unreality and docudrama that is Sunset Beach, where alongside their version of the Monica Lewmsky story, there's now a Viagra plot too.
Foxy bad girl Annie secretly doses husband Gregory With 'Niagra’ their no-relation-at-all ’Wonder Drug For Men' only for Izim to be inc‘onveniently stuck in a lift With ex- Wife OIiVia, the still—pouting Lesley Ann Down Their subsequent breathy shenanigans were the funniest thing to have been on TV for a long, long time. (Andrea IVIuIIaney)
PREVIEW EX—S: The Wicker Man BBCl,Wed 16 Dec, 10.05pm.
A 1973 comedy-cum-voodoo sacrifice mOVie set in a remote Scottish island and starring Edward Woodward as a CalVinistic cop, Christ0pher Lee as a pagan laird and Britt Eckland’s pert buttocks never sounded like a recipe for a blockbuster. But, despite bombing at the box office on Its initial run, The Wicker Man went on to turn in a healthy profit and to become regarded by many critics as Britain’s finest horror mOVie.
EX—S: The Wicker Man re-discovers the CIaSSIC mOVie 25 years after its first release. Edward Woodward and the director, Robin Hardy reVisit the film’s locations, while Christopher Lee defends the film which he regards as the high-water mark of his career.
'The Wicker Man is probably one of the most remarkable films ever made,’ says Lee, who spends much of the mOVie in drag or, at best, in a kilt. ’The proof of that is that it has become a cult film all over the world.’
The documentary Will also be shown at the GFT on Mon 21 Dec, followed by a screening of the film. (Peter Ross)
FILM OF THE FORTNIGHT
The Red Shoes BBCZ, Sat 5 Dec, 12.45pm.
There are those who argue that Cinema is the ultimate artform because it can fuse the greatest talents from all other media. Maverick filmmaking duo Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger certainly believed so, and their Vision reached perfection in 1948’s The Red Shoes. With the art designs of Hein Heckroth, the choreography of Robert Helpmann, the photography of Christopher Challis and the dancmg of Mona Shearer, The Red Shoes becomes something masterful and magical that transcends what’s normally served up as Cinema.
Shearer plays a yOung ballet star torn between her loyalty to a stern impresario and her love for a yOung composer. Her dilemma — career over personal life, creatiVity over reality — seeps into the blood of the film itself, which sets backstage banter at Covent Garden beside scenes treated in a beautifully expressionistic Visual style.
Best bit: The set-piece ’Red Shoes’ ballet dance on film never got better
REVIEW The Lucky Suit BBCl, Mon 30 Nov k a a it
It’s not often that a qUirky 25 minutes makes the licence fee feel like a worthwhile investment. Yet this short film from the mind of Caroline Paterson aka Ruth in EastEnders, actually borders on the wonderful.
A depressed stand-up comedian stumbles from a Glasgow theatre With a bottle of whisky and an unopened can of worms. Meanwhile, two homeless rose-sellers debate the ethics of their trade. The street-Wise one sees it as ’floral prostitution’, the simple-minded one (Robert Carlyle in non-radge/psycho shocker) Views his business as honest and human. When they chance upon the stand-up's hotel-room key, a new and sinister/comic world is opened up to them.
A signature score from Latin accordion genius Astor Piazzolla adds to the genuine weirdness of this film, similar in feel to the hotel pai‘anOia of Barton Fink. After The Lucky Suit, who can say What Paterson has up her sleeve?
Tartan terror: The Wicker man
Pump action: Moira Shearer and Leonide Massine in The Red Shoes
Flower power: Gary Lewis and Robert Carlyle in The Lucky Suit