Just An Observation Friday September 20th
Well the central heating is on whilst a more regular glance at TV schedules and upcoming cinema releases indicate that my annual hibernation mode is kicking in. A refusal to discuss the Festive season until at least December-despite media interference and instigation- is still in place though and shall remain resolutely so as long as is humanly possible.
Talking of TV schedules this week has seen two outstanding and inspiring programmes ‘Fabulous Fashionistas’ and Marianne Faithfull on ‘Who Do You Think You Are’. With the youngest of the participants- Faithfull- of these broadcasts weighing in with a hefty sixty six years behind her what is perhaps most surprising was the volume of attitude, verve, youthful spirit and dynamics on display which showed most of their younger contemporaries up as lacklustre and older in spirit if not in years.
‘Fabulous Fashionistas’ was in fact a revelation; focussing on six women who having ignored the vagaries and demands of the fashion industry, their peers and the ageing process summoned up enough energy to kick a society- which denigrates and ignores those of a certain age- in the teeth and give them more than a race for their money. In fact these women –numbering amongst them an 87 year old dancer, a 70 plus model and a ninety year old MP-were an inspiration, encouraging those who think youth is an essential component to satisfactory living that growing older is nothing to be ashamed or scared of but instead something to even look forward to.
It is certainly a controversial thought in a world where we are sold images of models, celebrities, musicians etc who seem to be getting younger by the year that age is perhaps an advantage rather than a disability. None of these six women has bowed to the rigours of growing older, with one claiming that it allows her more freedom and the main objective is not to let one iota of traditional ageing into their lifestyles. Of course occasionally this is unavoidable but their attitude towards such setbacks was encouraging as they considered them merely that, setbacks, and something to be overcome rather than dwelt on.
Marianne Faithfull is in the same age category as these women but unlike them has lived her life in the spotlight since the age of seventeen. Her mistakes, triumphs, addictions and sexual shenanigans have been exploited, frowned upon, eulogised, revered and mythologized many times over but this programme looked at her background, or more correctly that of her mother Eva Sacher- Masoch.
As interesting a life story as that of her more famous daughter and a baroness-how authentic this title actually is was raised for discussion during this programme- Eva had fled Berlin in the thirties due to her progressive thinking and hatred of Nazi doctrine eventually settling in Austria. Having Jewish ancestry was always a problem to her at this horrible time for Jews in history and her position in Vienna was always insecure and never more so than when it was invaded by the Russian Red Army where she and her mother were both raped by soldiers.
Faithfull drank all this knowledge in and eventually got beyond her mother’s mythologizing of her status and background-something Faithfull has embraced and decried in equal measure herself over the years- gaining some family ground to set her own footing upon.
What was also interesting about this programme is how Faithfull herself has approached the ageing process. Always a great beauty in her younger years that is now a distant memory due to the lifestyle she pursued. When set against her contemporaries of the sixties era such as Lulu, Cilla and Sandie Shaw initially she is not wearing well when measured against their botoxed and coiffed appearances but whilst they have settled into an old age of conformity and showbiz relics Marianne remains relevant. Instead seeing her wandering the Streets of Vienna wrapped up in a parka she had more beauty, style, grace and poise than those three could muster up in all their years combined. Her beauty comes from her knowledge, movement and class and spending two minutes in her company would probably be a more rewarding experience than any number of hours spent with her former contemporaries.
At the end of the day she will always having had the advantage of having lived the life of Marianne Faithfull whilst the others will have had to have make do with the lives of Lulu, Cilla et al. I know which I would prefer.
It seems to be premiere time both in and about Edinburgh this week. First up was ‘Sunshine on Leith’ a musical set to the music of the Proclaimers. Never a fan of the band I must admit I remain sceptical and my trepidation is not assuaged by statements such as ‘You will be surprised just how many Proclaimers songs you actually know.’ Er, no I wont! I can tell you now that is precisely two and that is merely because I have been force fed them over the years-usually by hearing them nightly from the Lady Boys tent situated yards away from my house every Festival- and can’t say it is something I want to explore much further although it may be a bit like the time I went to see Mamma Mia and realised within five minutes that the film was preposterous, the acting diabolical but after admitting this I sat back, switched off and enjoyed the proceedings anyway. Reluctantly!
Much more appealing is the film version of Irvine Welsh’s ‘Filth’ which premieres on Monday. This is more likely to be up my street and if previous premieres and parties surrounding Welsh’s output are anything to go by it certainly looks like it will be well worth investigating.
What is disappointing however is that both these premieres are being held at the bland, faceless, soulless monstrosity the Vue Complex in Leith Street rather than the more traditional Cameo Cinema. Snubbed during the Film Festival, where the Cineworld complex was favoured, these are lean times for this cinema which is probably my personal favourite in the city. No longer opening its doors for screenings during the daytime I hope this does not signify the beginning of the end for this last of the independents-along with the Dominion- in Edinburgh. Although it may not be as high tech or modern as the newer cinemas it still manages to retain something of a true cinematic experience and it would be unfortunate if this was the latest victim to be lost to corporate blandness.