The writer formerly known as a performance artist takes a winter trip to the Hull Screen (and he only had to pay once...)
European cinema has a substantial post-war tradition of coming to terms with, exploring or challenging 20th Century fascism and, in particular, Germany's uneasy goose-stepping heritage, its subsequent national 'identity crisis', and its more recent spasms of political unrest.
For example, the flirtatious - and some might say notorious - excesses
of Night Porter (Dirk Bogarde in self-destructive, and unlikely, kinky
fun with a former concentration camp internee); Pasolini's orgiastic
Salo (which updates De Sade's most exhaustive work into a 20th Century
decadent milieu); several of Rainer Werner Fassbinder's late 1970's films
deal with post-war malaise and discontent (The Third Generation, Autumn in
Germany); Downfall, an ambitious feature about Hitler's last days in his
Berlin bunker (and an international hit); the claustrophobic U-boat opus
Das Boot (also much acclaimed).
More recently still the Red Army Faction, all tousled hair, firearms and tight trousers, have been revived for the delight - if that's the right word - for ultra left-leaning cinema audiences.
Dennis Gansel's The Wave (2008) is loosely based on events that took place in a high school in California (that bastion of all that is progressive - or ridiculous - depending upon one's stomach for the somewhat outlandish...), in which a charismatic teacher convinces his students to form a pseudo-fascistic sect.
Gansel doesn't find it too difficult (admittedly, not unsurprisingly) to transpose this story upon Germany's current blank generation youth, who appear to have no unifying rallying call (apart from the usual teenage preoccupations with drink, drugs and sex).
The film stars Jurgen Vogel as Rainer Wenger, the maverick teacher who instigates the unfolding psychodrama - with inevitably chaotic results. Wenger is one of those suspiciously 'with it' teachers (the kind who drop references to 'waccy baccy' or who might enthuse about the latest De La Soul LP, etc); with his skinhead, confidant swagger, tribal tattoos, and a fading Ramones T-shirt, he is clearly a loose cannon amid his much more staid colleagues.
To hammer the point home, the film's opening sequence is of Wenger careering down suburban streets, car windows down, with loud rock music driving him - despite a curious absence of a mullet haircut - to attempt some in-car head banging.
And he lives on a houseboat, which, I suppose, is another (rather obvious) visual indicator of his 'unconventional' status.
So naturally he's popular with his impressionable students - which helps when trying to establish a new Reich in the 6th form.
This alarming turn of events comes into play when Wenger is reluctantly assigned to teach a module on Autocracy, which rankles with him considerably - he would much rather be running classes on the principles of Anarchy instead. But he soon finds himself able to subvert his subject and, subsequently, his pupils.
He does this at a breakneck (and not very convincing, narrative-wise) speed: halfway through his first lesson he has already rearranged the desks from cosy group tables to old school - quite literally - single file authoritarian rows. And the students can't call him 'Rainer' anymore - it's strictly a deferential Mr.Wengerfrom here on - and they must put up their hands and be asked to stand before he allows them to speak.
There are one or two malcontents within this regime change but - as one must when running a tight ship - these elements are soon weeded out and socially ostracised.
This is a prim, proper and liberal school where the kids actually seem to care about their homework and their grades, and this sinister and sudden ideological shift is initially presented as exciting and rebellious.
An early classroom scene shows Mr. Wenger encouraging his pubescent troops to stamp their feet in unison, ostensibly to disrupt the classroom below (being administered by one of Wenger's teaching opponents) but, in actuality, to inculcate within them a herd-like militaristic mindset.
Reviews, Books - Mosaic by Clive Ashman Reviewed by Tim Roux
Officially launched last September at Brough's Petuaria Centre, the town where it happened, on the 60th anniversary of the worst unsolved crime in British archaeology, Mosaic is the novel based by writer Clive Ashman on its known facts.
If you have ever read Marguerite Yourcenar's The Abyss, a classic and
intensely haunting reconstruction of daily life in sixteenth century Europe
Reviews, Books - The Mermaid Chair by Tony Flynn Reviewed by Tim Roux
In 1980, Tony Flynn published A Strange Routine, a compelling
map to his terrain of loss - the loss of his mother, of his wife, of his child,
of his past. Twelve years later, his Body Politic came out, another outright
masterpiece, this time including an extended mourning for the victims of state repression.
It has been sixteen years since then,
Reviews, Arts - November 08 - All Systems Go: Red Gallery Group Show By Philip Wincolmlee-Barnes
According to their publicity (and not counting numerous one-off live events and screenings) this
is the gallery's 108th exhibition. This certainly shows my age, as I've been involved with the
space in one capacity or another for over ten years now.
Not that there appears to be much in the way of personal wear and tear over this time: I still
get asked for ID in public houses and in off licences.
Reviews, Arts - From The Postmodern To The Pastoral: Two Recent Exhibitions in Hull By Philip Wincolmlee-Barnes PortEst Exhibition Photographs by Andrew Quinn
PortEst (Red Gallery, Sept/Oct) was an exhibition by three Estonian artists -
Jane Remm, Piret Peil and Minna Hint - in which the theme of portraiture was subjected to a variety of treatments in different media, making for a diverse and captivating presentation.
Francis Bacon used to say (usually whilst somewhat addled) that he was trying to
Reviews, Arts - A Walk Through H: Some recent cultural musings around Kingston Upon Hull By Philip Wincolmlee-Barnes
Contemporary Art: either you're 'out' or you're 'in'. Either you 'get' the somewhat jaundiced,
laconically ironic stance of much of this work - you know, of how we're living in a post
modern world bereft of a single 'grand narrative' - or you remain nonplussed at the
often obtuse outpourings of these 'so-called artists'. And many of them don't even
have proper jobs (whatever one of those might be...).
Reviews, Theatre - Johnny Comes Home at St Columbas, Drypool By Richard Axford
It's not usual to give the ending away when writing a theatre review, but in this case you will
forgive such crassness. Credo Arts Community have produced an excellent follow up to their last
After a piece based around death and loyalty, this time they explore the pangs of despair
surrounding family breakdown, and the various responses to resolution of the problem.
Reviews, Theatre - Tuesday 3rd June 08 - Dolly at Hull New Theatre By Steve Rudd
A Rockman Music production, this grand old celebration of the glamourous
life and times of Country legend Dolly Parton pulls out all the stops to entertain. Even on the opening night of its debut UK tour, the show drew a huge crowd of Dolly fans who were in the mood for singing and clapping along to all her best-known hits.
Reviews, Books - Here, Bullet by Brian Turner Reviewed by Michelle Dee
Here, Bullet is as startling as it is direct.
The anthology of poems written by the multi award-winning U.S. war
veteran Brian Turner uncovers the landscape of the war in Iraq with
unswerving honesty and importantly he writes from a non-political viewpoint.
Brian Turner saw active service for seven years which included leading an
Infantry Team in Iraq with the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd
Infantry Division in November 2003.
Reviews, Theatre - Wednesday 19th March 08 - The Bat Trilogy at Hull New Theatre By Steve Rudd Photos by Matt Rudd
Back in black and ready to rock the venue from the rafters to its foundations,
Steve Steinman vaulted into an epic rendition of Life is A Lemon without delay,
the incredible power of his vocal delivery reaching the row furthest from the stage with ease.
I should know: that's where I was sat, yet the sights and sounds even from back there were to be savoured.
Having mimicked Meatloaf for almost twenty years now, Steve Steinman's
Reviews, Theatre - Saturday 2nd February 08 - Steve Steinman's Bat Trilogy at The Futurist Theatre, Scarborough By Steve Rudd
Pulling out all the stops to put on an electrifying show, Steve Steinman and
his hard-rocking entourage pulled into Scarborough on what was a freezing
Fortunately, fans of Steve and his Bat Trilogy tour showed up in their
droves, crowding into The Futurist to witness one of the first shows of
his new tour... and with some scandalously talented
Reviews, Out of Town - Wednesday 6th February 08 - Open Mic Night at The Locomotive Inn, York By Michelle Dee
A bit of a thisisUll gang night out this one, with CillaUberwebfuhrer,
Jane Fozzy Foster
and Michellethe scribeDee. Representing Ull tonight Joejust got signedHakim and
mad as a bicycleWatts.
Our trip out to York began with a vicious nasal assault, as we got stuck behind a
fertilizer tractor just before Market Weighton. In the back of the car it smelt as
though a rat
Reviews, Cinema - VUE HD Digital Cinema, Princes Quay By Dave Fox
I feel a bit of a naughty writing this, considering my friend is running the new cinema
in St Steven's Square (sorry Sal) but I am so impressed with Vue, the new cinema on
the top deck of the Princes Quay.
I've just recently got into the High Definition at home with Blue Ray and HD TV so
I was buzzing when I heard about a brand
Reviews, Events - Wednesday 19th December 07 - Off The Road at The Adelphi By Michelle Dee
Jane Foster opened the show by taking a traditional Christmas poem and bringing it right up to date.
So 'Twas The Night Before Christmas was set on a decrepit council estate with characters more attuned to Christmas spirits rather than the spirit of Christmas.
Jane delivered the five minute piece with a cool ease and her references to local
Reviews, Books - Pleading Guilty by Paul Genney (Dedalus Books) Reviewed by Nick Quantrill
On the face of it, Henry Wallace, barrister in Hull's Whitebait Chambers, has it all. A well paying job and a comfortable life, but when solicitor's runner, Pauline Dawson, enters his life, everything changes.
Overcome with the pressures of a changing work place and his growing lust, Wallace starts to overheat.
Feeling guilty and angry, his relationship with
Reviews, Theatre - Saturday 13th October 07 - Vampires Rock at Hull New Theatre By Steve Rudd
It's safe to say that Steve Steinman is one of the hardest-working singers and performers in the UK.
No sooner did he finish his Bat Trilogy tour on the brink of summer, and he was getting back to
grips with his other great show - Vampires Rock - in anticipation for the current Autumn tour
that's sweeping up and down the country in style.
Reviews, Theatre - Monday 15th October Disposable People A Croft Creative Production By Andrew Pearson and Thom Stridd At The Boatshed Hull Marina (show runs from 15th - 20th October) By Michelle Dee
Monday evening, inside a cavernous boat shed on Hull marina, a tale of international importance and concern is unfolding. A terrible tale; a tale of modern day slavery, which the general public support, without a moment's thought, on a daily basis. That new leather bag you bought, those shoes,
Reviews - Thursday 20th September - Poetry And Music - ThisisUll At Babylon Bar, Cleethorpes By Michelle Dee
Having missed so many of Joe Hakim's recent out of town dates (Harrogate, Camden,
Southend) I was sure as hell not going to miss this one over the river in Cleethorpes.
He was joined by Mike Watts who has recently been accompanying Joe on his excursions
and flying the spoken word banner himself somewhat.
Also supporting Joe on this rare
Reviews, Events - Wednesday 22nd August Off The Road Poetry Performance Music Adelphi Club
Got in to this late due to being on the radio so first off apologies to all the acts I missed.
I'm quite sure you were brilliant and zany in that order. To be honest I have it on good
authority that performance poet Mike Watts who opened the show was indeed all that you can
read more of his poems in the poetry section on this site.
I also know having seen his zany act at Umber Gob Part 1, that
Reviews, Events - Sunday 19th August 07 - ThereplicagooseEgg support Chris Mayo at Durty Nellys
Hull's brand new comedy sketch group ThereplicagooseEgg had just over a week to prepare for this,
their first ever live show produced by Carnival 69 and they didn't disappoint a packed
Even though not one of their 4 members had ever had any stand-up experience, their unique,
clever, yet twisted approach to comedy carried them through, with a little help from Masked Dan.
Reviews, Theatre - Lord Of The Rings The Musical By Andy Dykes
Lord of the Rings the musical arrives on Drury Lane after a popular stint in Toronto. Riding on the coat tails of the Oscar winning trilogy of films and billed as a visual spectacular, the stage version is hotly anticipated by the London crowd.
Tonight the Theatre Royal is packed with theatre-goers eager to see just how Tolkien's voluminous tale
Reviews, Books - Daniel Mayhew - Life and How to Live it (White Horse Publications)
Reviewed By Nick Quantrill
Writing successful novels about music or bands is a notoriously difficult thing to do,
and something that rarely succeeds.
Step forward Daniel Mayhew to prove the exception to the rule with his debut,
which tells the tale of Serpico, the band formed by flatmates, Reilly and Jacob,
and the adventure that ensues when Reilly takes a week off work sick, and binging
Reviews, Films - 300 By Lee Cassanell
Due to the extreme cheapness of pirate DVDs it is often tempting to hand over a couple of sweaty coins to a council estate heavy at Walton Street market rather than pay six English pounds for a seat at your local cinema because that way you can smoke your lungs black, order a pizza, sit in your pants and not have to brave the uncomfortable chairs,
Reviews, Theatre - The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler at Hull New Theatre By Becky Martin
How The Vagina Monologues reflects wider anxieties and atrocities in modern society.
Thank God for Eve Ensler! Finally a strong female figure with the tenacity to stand up for and work to protect women and young girls all over the world, initiated by her wonderfully comic and complex tales of women's experiences of their own sexuality
Reviews, Games - Mr Smoozles Goes Nutso Reviewed by Daniel Chaplin
The game was very enjoyable and I think that the game was created for 6-12 year olds.
The playability of the game was extremely good but on the other hand I did not understand on how
to play the game because I could not find any instructions.
The game is about an alien attack that brain washes one of Mr. Smoozles' friends and kidnaps another.