Rubber-faced Mick Jagger

I'm going to be away for most of the week so will point you in the direction of Nothing To See Here which continues to document the nether reaches of the British Isles and beyond. I've recently added a tribute to one of Glasgow's oldest shops Tam Shepherd's - an old-fashioned joke shop, as well as our first Asian entry on Bangkok's penis shrine. We always need contributions so please get in touch if you can suggest somewhere new.

Lindsay Anderson

The film that has made the biggest impression on me lately is Lindsay's Anderson's O Lucky Man! (1973). At over 3 hours it's quite a commitment but it's the most fantastic, entertaining, inventive 3 hours I've seen in a long time. Summarising the plot doesn't really do it justice: Malcolm McDowell reprising the Mick Travis character from If... is an aspirational travelling coffee salesman trying to get up the greasy pole but more often sliding in the other direction. I took it as a swipe at ambition (others say it's about the justice system or capitalism while If... is about education and Britannia Hospital is about health care). Alan Price pops up throughout with some wonderful songs, like a sort of earthier Ray Davis. There is a superb cast of classic British actors - not exactly megastars but familiar faces on the small screen. Arthur Lowe plays multiple parts including an African general. It's surreal and black but also coherent and funny in a way that leaves a slow-burning smile long afterwards. It's hard to imagine a film like that being made now. I loved it and have been trying to learn more about Lindsay Anderson ever since. Findings so far:

  • Britannia Hospital (1982) completes the Mick Travis trilogy. This has another fantastic cast including the divine Leonard Rossiter. I haven't seen it yet but will rent the DVD.
  • The Free Cinema movement was founded by Lindsay Anderson, Karel Reisz, Tony Richardson and Lorenza Mazzetti. The short sweet manifesto stated: "Implicit in our attitude is a belief in freedom, in the importance of people and the significance of the everyday". The introduction to O Dreamland rails against traditional British documentary film-making for being impersonal and lacking any kind of viewpoint. Social documentary should "dot its own i's". More info in Lindsay Anderson's 1977 notes on the Free Cinema movement.
  • O Dreamland and other Free Cinema films are available on Four Docs.
  • His 1966 film The White Bus is showing at the GFT as part of the Glasgow Film Festival on Friday along with a 1969 documentary on the making of it. The films will be introduced by Karl Magee archivist at the The Lindsay Anderson Archive at Stirling University.

I'm still learning about all this so any other pointers welcome.

  • The full Thai name for Bangkok translates as "The city of angels, the great city, the eternal jewel city, the impregnable city of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukam" - the world's longest place name.
  • Shows which side of the road countries drive on, plus some theories on why it's this way. Timely, as seems peculiar that Thais drive on the left when Thailand was never a British colony (via TMN).
  • Lots and lots of quality mp3s.
  • Tasty SE Asian stir fry.
  • ... by its cover. There are plenty of great ones here (via Ace Jet 170).
  • Lovely (via things).

I'm off to Bangkok now and didn't get round to writing what I mean to for next week. So instead I'll recommend Four Docs which is a meaty Channel 4 site full of documentary films free to view online. There's a lot of modern stuff but it's the archive that caught my attention. Highlights include:

  • Patrick Keiller's London (1992) - online in its entirety. It's better on the big screen but if you've never seen it before this is a great way to try it out.
  • The Battle of Orgreave (2001) - Mike Figgis and Jeremy Deller's recreation of the battle in the 1984/85 miner's strike
  • Momma don't allow (1956) - Tony Richardson/Karel Reisz film about London working-class youth.
  • We are the Lambeth boys (1959) - Karel Reisz again.
  • O Dreamland (1957) - I was looking for this when I found the site. Lindsay Anderson's documentary on Margate. Like proto-Martin Parr.
  • Terminus (1961) - John Schlesinger's look at the comings and goings of London's Waterloo station

Plus lots of Humphrey Jennings films and great post-war social documentaries. Enjoy.

Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok

I thought this was some crazy sci-fi set but it's Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, from the astonishing Stuck in Customs which is full of amazing, hyperreal travel photography. Trey Ratcliff, the owner, is currently photographing Chernobyl.

I'm off to Bangkok at the weekend. Any hints or tips?

I'd just like to say thanks to everyone who commented in the last week. I'm amazed at the amount of stuff coming up - all new, all exciting. I'm going to be away the week after next so I think what I'll do is tidy up the suggestions and post them up then. I was going to do one last call for anything else, so if you want to add anything that didn't fall into the earlier categories speak now.

I also thought that as so many of you gave me something back you should get a chance to ask me for something, so I'm doing requests. If there's anything you'd like to see more of, or less of, or if there's anything you're curious about or want feel free to ask. I'll do my best to oblige.

Day 5: music. I didn't think I was too bad with music, having my finger maybe not on the pulse but a pulse at least. Last year I enjoyed lots of new music and lots of old music as well. I'm trying to thing of what was new: King Creosote, King Biscuit Time (two bands from Fife with King in their name - what are the chances?), Maximo Park, and one Sufjan Stephens song which left me wanting more. The most different band I heard was The North Sea Radio Orchestra who have an amazingly distinct sound, like a sort of Broadcast meets University Challenge. Also found today these lovely people - Hamilton Yarns from Brighton who sound like Ivor Cutler crossed with Oliver Postgate. Sweet. I still end up listening to the same old stuff though and need a bit of variety. One new blog Crying All The Way To The Chip Shop looks like it's full of inspiring stuff. What else am I missing?

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