The Green Room
I'm genuinely shocked and saddened, as I believe are many others around the world, that Anthony Bourdain, at the height of his fame and success, chose to take is own life in a Strasbourg Hotel, whilst filming for a new series of his hit show, "Parts Unknown".
In the wake of other notable suicides in recent times, designer Kate Spade, and musicians Avicii and Chris Cornell, American networks are predictable abuzz with opinion-makers and influencers thrusting themselves into the limelight, calling for closer attention to the warning signs, and other options open to those who might potentially succumb to the depths of depression.
All that said, Anthony Bourdain's tragic death is a shocker.
I have always since childhood, had a fascination with TV chefs, and indeed in the UK, we have has so many notable faces, from Fanny Craddock & Johnny, through the Galloping Gourmet & Ken Homm, the blissfully boozy Keith Floyd, to contemporary chefs including Hester Blumenthal & the insufferable Gordon Ramsey, and novelty presenters like Andrew Zimmern. As a family, we've sat through countless episodes of Master Chef, and Jamie Oliver feels almost like an extension of the family.
But not withstanding of this exposure, Bourdain for me went far beyond the foodie thing.
His stance has always been distinctly rock & roll; a no reservations, no holds barred dive into the experience of life, with which I felt a powerful affinity. Travel, food, drinking & experiencing, are all part of the pleasure of being on this earth, and a pay-off for the many more painful aspects.
When someone takes their own life, those more painful aspects have clearly overhauled everything which makes it all worth while. Everyone I think, has faced these moments when you weigh it all up. I have, and the answer was yes; we'll give it another spin of the glass... you never know. This was what I was certain, would have been AB's standpoint, especially have fought through drug-abuse and a life of pretty hard toil, without seeing great results until "Kitchen Confidential" changed his life overnight, at the age of 44.
So were these elements personal or a comment on a society which he had seen right up close, and possibly so offended what I believe to be a super sensitive side to the guy, that he saw no sense in what he was doing or where he was going.
The was genuine grief and shock visible among his CNN colleagues over this week-end, as well as the regular thud of band-wagon jumpers, finding their space. This short piece doesn't go nearly far enough to describe my personal feelings on the fact, rather like an esteemed teacher being unveiled as a fraud. It leaves a gap... how could a guy who took life on, warts and all, enjoyed and lived it to the full, just want out ? We'll never know. There is a great deal of Anthony's humour, drive and personality, in his last interview conducted by Fast Company, which I recommend:
I can only hope that he's found peace wherever it is that we go when we do throw in our hand and check out of this complicated and cruel life. Take care Tony.
I find myself once again writing about cinema, but once again, I find find that this medium throws up, ever so once in a while, an offering which really alters my perspective on communication in general. Rarely does this happen in fashion, and rarely does it it happen in photography, unless we are consider reportage and the World Press Photographers currently being exhibited at the Corso Como 10 Gallery in Milano.
From the very first in-your-face frames of a terrifying baying dog, counter-pointed by the calming voice, and then the figure of the film's dog-groomer hero, Marcello, Matteo Garrone draws us into a violent and disturbing world. From the opening sequence, I couldn't take my eyes from the screen.
Such is the performance of the cast, brilliantly assembled by Francesco Vedovati, and in particular relative unknown Marcello Fonte, and such is the beauty of the photography in this harsh setting, that "Dogman" truly stands out os a reference for all wannabe film-makers in my opinion.
Based loosely on the true story of the "Il Canaro della Magliana" the film sets the scene for the murder which forms the movie's climax. Everything up to then is meticulous, and exquisitely constructed character and social study, highlighting the ease with which people justify their own existence, that of others, and intervene... or not, when situations become untenable.
The performance by Marcello Fonte is utterly spellbinding, and worthy of every leaf on the Palm D'Or he so deservedly won at this years Cannes Festival.
The only downside of having seen this example of cinema at it's very best, is that it really makes it tough to watch movies of lesser craft and value subsequently. A rare and wonderful occasion to restore faith in Italian Cinema, or at least a small part of it. That said, the film is as one might expect, very far from being commercial; I watched it at my local Cinema Moderno, along with a disturbingly grand total of 8 other "bums on seats". Hopefully the Cannes success will drive footfall to theatres... we live in hope!