A Bigger Splash

What a strange film this is.

Fab cast –  Ralph Fiennes and the drop dead gorgeous Tilda Swinton.

Clothes to die for.  Well, Ms Swinton’s at any rate.  Her 1940s and 1950s Dior-designed look is too, too fabulous and she was a visual joy.  Those backless dresses are simply stunning.

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But as for the film overall…well, it always seems to be on the brink of delivering some huge drama, what with all that slightly faded retro look to the cinematography, and the dusty winds whipping across the scrubby landscape.  It kept feeling as though Something Significant Was Happening.  But I never quite knew what it was.

I didn’t, for example, get the point of the super elegant slightly older French lady and her younger trout-pout-y companion (daughter?).  I never quite fathomed what they were doing, nor what their point was in furthering the narrative.

I didn’t really like the buffoonish characterisation of the local carabinieri, and the autograph scene was beyond weird.  That was a moment which I thought Must Be Very Significant.  But on reflection, it might just have been rather silly.

I did like the look of the film, though it was all a tad too languorous and l-o-n-g-d-r-a-w-n out.

Yes, be honest, not sure I fully understood the plot, but neither did my two companions, which was reassuring.

But Ms Swinton was brilliant, hardly talking at all, because her ageing rockstar character has an injured throat, but yet communicating stunningly, without ever really speaking.

Ralph Fiennes was fun as an irritating motor mouth.

Can’t decide if I’m getting prudish in my old age, but there seemed to be loads and loads of superfluous full frontal nudity.  We got it, first time round –  hot, Mediterranean, old lovers, tension, passion.  No need for Mr. Fiennes to strip off every time he dived into the pool.

DAVID HOCKNEY A BIGGER PICTURE at the ROYAL ACADEMY

The  timing of my visit to the Hockney exhibition could not have been better. An early weekday morning, and the weather was grey, windy, piercingly cold, with a hint of snow. London at her most miserably winterish.

The contrast between the freezing grey outside and the explosion of colour inside the Royal Academy was electric. Just walking into the first gallery was like a dose of warmth and sunshine.

Today was my Road to Damascus moment as far as David Hockney is concerned.

I knew a little of his work – “A Bigger Splash”, obviously, and some of those extraordinary photo collages of the Grand Canyon, but, to my shame, not much else.

To my eternal shame, I didn’t even know know Mr. Hockney is a fellow Tyke.

But this morning, if a fairy godmother had waved her magic wand and given me enough money (and ginormous walls) I would have bought every single painting there, so bowled over was I by the work of this wonderful talent.

Wandering round the galleries full of colour and happiness made me feel happy. I know I had a daft, dippy expression, smiling at people –  but then again, everyone else looked happy too, and smiled back, and chatted, so obviously I was not alone, in the feel-good stakes.

I have frequently been moved by seeing a particular masterpiece – the Madonna of the Rocks last week, for example at the Leonardo Exhibition at the National Gallery –  but never have I felt so incredibly happy at an exhibition.

And never have I felt so ridiculously proud of being a Yorkshire(wo)man.  There, I’ve said it.  True, I have never actually seen my native west Yorkshire looking as riotously colourful and vibrant as Mr. Hockney’s landscapes, but I have seen the hedgerows full of meadow sweet and hawthorn bushes that he so eloquently paints, in the countryside I remember as a child.

Favourites from amongst these amazing pictures ?

The effect of all those canvases in “The arrival of spring in Woldgate East Yorkshire in 2011 (twenty eleven)” was amazing – an array of fabulous little details of grass and flowers and shadows and leaves, all contributing to a stupendous whole.

And as for those films (digital video) –  utterly glorious and I laughed out loud during the dancing, as did my neighbours in the projection room, and when Mr. Hockney appeared, brandishing a mug, lots of people applauded.

The exhibition is a delight.  An utterly delightful treat for the senses and the soul.

I am cross with myself that I have wasted so many years of my life not knowing enough about David Hockney : today I became a total and utter adoring fan.

Mr. Hockney’s talent and exuberance and mastery of so many media is impressive.  Damn it, why can’t I do such amazing things with my iPad ?

Entry to the exhibition costs £14, and you really do need to book.  I was incredibly lucky, walking by yesterday afternoon and being told I could go straight in, or choose whatever time I wanted, but I understand that booking online isn’t quite as easy.

I opted for the first time slot, 10am, when the Royal Academy opens, and by the time I left, it was getting quite crowded, so I would advise the earlier the better.

There is more merchandise in the shop than you can shake a stick at, but if you buy only one thing, let it be the catalogue.  It’s heavy, and at £29.95 it’s expensive, but it is well, well worth it.