‘Imaginary Man’: Julien Temple’s superb documentary on Ray Davies

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Director and Kinks fan, Julien Temple beautifully captures Ray Davies’ wistfulness in his excellent documentary on the former-Kink, Ray Davies: Imaginary Man. Davies is allowed to gently meander around his past life, talking about his childhood, his family of 7 sisters and 1 brother, his early days with The Kinks, the development of his writing skill (the quality and consistency of which now makes him seem at times better than, if not on par with Lennon & McCartney, Jagger & Richard), and onto his life of fame, of parenthood, of growing-up, all of which seemed to happen so fast.

It would seem Davies has always lived his life with one eye on the past—from the nostalgia of The Village Green Preservation Society through to his film Return to Waterloo, Davies takes solace from the past. It gives his music that beautiful, bittersweet quality, as Milan Kundera reminds us that:

The Greek word for “return” is nostos. Algos means “suffering.” So nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return.

But it’s not just about wanting to return to some mythical past, it’s also about loss—whether this is the loss of the past, of opportunities, of career, or, even of memory—for without memory we are nothing. Memory keeps us relevant, and all artists want to be relevant. Throughout Temple’s film, Davies makes reference to this sense of loss, from the remnants of Hornsea Town Hall, to the changing landscape of London, or the songs he has written. And put together with the brilliance of the songs, the wealth of archive, and Ray Davies’ gentle narration, Temple has created a clever, beautiful, and moving film, which leaves you wanting to know and hear more.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds

Stations En Route to Ray Davies’ Film Masterpiece: ‘Return to Waterloo’


‘Kinkdom Come’: A beautiful film on Dave Davies


 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Kinkdom Come: A beautiful film on Dave Davies, the other half of The Kinks

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In June 2004, Dave Davies suffered a stroke as he was exiting a lift, in BBC’s Broadcasting House.

Suddenly the right hand side of my body seized up and I couldn’t move my arm or leg. Although I didn’t lose consciousness, I couldn’t speak. Luckily my son Christian and my publicist were there, so they carried me outside and called an ambulance.

Though he had warnings signs - waking up one morning to find he couldn’t move his right hand or speak when he opened his mouth - and was examined by a doctor, nothing indicated the imminence of his stroke. As Dave later wrote in the Daily Mail in 2006:

I was told I’d had a stroke - or, in medical terms, a cerebral infraction. An ‘infarct’ is an area of dead tissue and there was a patch of it on the left side of my brain - the bit that controls movement on the right side.

The doctors told me I had high blood pressure and that this was what had caused the stroke. They thought I’d probably had high blood pressure for at least ten years….

...Two weeks after my stroke, I finally plucked the courage to pick up my guitar. I held it across my lap, pressing on the strings. I could feel everything but the hand itself was virtually immobile.

I knew I was going to have to work very hard if I was to get better, and I started using meditation and visualisation. I thought if I could visualise myself running, walking and playing the guitar, it might prompt my brain to remember how I used to be.

It took Dave 18 months of physio, determination and hard work, to get “about 85 per cent back to normal”.

I believe my stroke was meant to happen to slow me down. I’d like to write and male films and start a foundation where I can help people be more spiritual…

...For now I appreciate my slower pace of life. I feel I have discovered an inner strength which I know will see me through any adversity.

Made in 2011, Julien Temple’s pastoral documentary Kinkdom Come is a touching portrait of the other half of The Kinks, Dave Davies.

Opening with Davies in the wilds of Exmoor, where he revels in the desolation and the quiet, Temple’s film moves through Dave’s life story, examining key moments in his childhood, his career as guitarist with The Kinks, his openness about sexuality, his (some would say torturous) relationship with his brother Ray, and the damagingly high cost of that all of his fame, success and position as “iconic Sixties figure” has cost him.

Throughout, Dave comes across as an honest, gentle soul, slightly lost, beautifully innocent, almost ethereal, as if he is a visitor from some other galaxy.
 

 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Julien Temple’s ‘Mantrap’ starring Martin Fry and ABC

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Julien Temple directed Mantrap, an under-rated and often considered “lost” featurette starring 1980’s New Romantic group ABC. Like a lot of Temple’s work it’s full of quirky originality and style, which compensates for the lack of script. Mantrap can be best summed-up by its Wikipedia entry:

Martin Fry is asked to join [a] band as they embark on tour heading east through Europe. But at the height of their popularity the band tries to secretly replace Fry with a Russian spy in order to sneak him back behind the iron curtain. It is then up to Martin to battle his doppelganger and make the world safe for New Romantic Synth Pop.

Temple is a true maverick, who has more than a touch of genius about him. His films always deliver great visual imagination as disguise for a weak script (Absolute Beginners), but when Temple has a good script, like Frank Cottrell Boyce’s Pandaemonium, or is working with straight non-fiction narrative Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten, the superb documentary on Dr Feelfgood, Oil City Confidential, or The Filth and the Fury, his talents soar.

Though slight, Mantrap is well worth watching for 101 reasons, from its classic soundtrack by ABC, its style, its visuals, its concert footage, Martin Fry’s good looks, its silliness, its joie de vivre….etc.

Seminal New Romantics ABC and punk filmmaker Julien Temple pay homage to 50s espionage flicks in this hour long folly from 1983. Martin Fry has the look of a Hitchcock protagonist, but by his own admission, his acting was a little “mahogany”. Temple captures the isolation and paranoia of the former Communist Bloc, but forgets to tell a story in the process.

Nonetheless, this curiosity from the naive dawn of pop-video has enough to keep fans and casual viewers entertained. The 6th form script about some Cold War double dealing will occasionally make you wince, but is padded out with some wonderful footage of ABC’s (sadly never repeated) World Tour.

B-Movie regulars and wannabes try their best amidst the ensuing nonsense - but it’s pretty much in vain, so don’t expect John le CarrĂ©! But do delight in a soundtrack taken from arguably the greatest debut album of all time - “The Lexicon of Love”.

 

 
See the rest of ‘Mantrap’, after the jump…
 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Freed: Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs

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Severely ill and stroke-prone, Last of The Great Train Robbers Ronnnie Biggs was released by British officials into the free light of day last Friday.  After the ‘63 robbery, which involved the mail car hijacking of what would be roughly $70 million in today’s dollars, Biggs and his cohorts were quickly rounded up.  The money wasn’t—the bulk of it has never been recovered.  And after scaling a 30-foot prison wall and skipping off to Rio, it looked like Biggs wouldn’t be, either.  That is until 2001, when craving “a pint of bitter,” Biggs returned to England to resume his sentence. 

Beyond his decades as a fugitive, though, what best cemented Biggs’ outlaw celebrity status back home was his cavorting with The Sex Pistols.  Shortly after their final performance at Winterland, the Pistols flew down to Rio and recorded a couple of tracks with Biggs.  Their “collaborative” results—No One Is Innocent and Belsen Was a Gas—surfaced in both the film and soundtrack for Julien Temple’s The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle, from which a vid of Innocent can be seen below.

 
In The LA Times: Great Train Robbery Outlaw Gains His Release

Written by Bradley Novicoff | Discussion