Tuesday, April 25, 2006

TOP SPOT - Rubbish

TOP SPOT is a sixty minute movie by British artist Tracey Emin. Admittedly, what I know about modern art could be written on the back of a postcard, but as it happens I have found Emin's work interesting and provocative whenever I have seen it in a gallery. So, despite the generally bad press, I was interested to see her debut feature. However, I am sad to report that TOP SPOT is the most incompetent and depressingly naive movie I have ever seen. Let's deal with the incompetence first. (Remember that it's not been a week since I watched RAG TALE - a movie that made me nauseous it was so badly filmed - and I think TOP SPOT is WORSE.) The movie was apparently made on £165,000 and alls I know is that someone is walking round with £160,000 in their back pocket. It looks cheap and nasty, which is a shame given what can now be achieved with Digital Video. There is no attempt to correct for lighting or sound effects, and no mastery of the technical aspects of shooting footage. Most of the camerawork is straight to camera monologue or painfully slow tracking shots. Even more painful is when you hear Emin do her directorial commentary on the DVD. She so clearly had great ambition for the project - talking about how the Margate sunset is beautiful - and completely fails to capture any of the breathtaking shots she was aiming for. But enough of that - let's move on to the naivety of the subject matter. Emin's movie is, like much of her art, semi-autobiographical. It focuses on a bunch of school-girls in the British sea-side town of Margate. These girls cut school, hang out in amusement parks, have casual sex, fall in love with guys who they think are in Egypt but are actually locked up, get abused, get raped, get pregnant....You get the picture. It's all fairly gritty stuff, and might have been both interesting and provocative if carried off. However, the stilted acting, not least from Emin herself, and the unrealistic dialogue combine to make TOP SPOT utterly uninvolving and often crass. Worst of all, we have a final shot of Emin herself taking off in a helicopter and flying over Margate. Cut to images of bomber planes blowing the place up. Clearly, this is meant to be symbolic of Emin leaving her past behind her in spectacular fashion. However, it comes across as a bit of self-aggrandisement, not to say ironic coming from an artist who has so completely plumbed her own back-story in the name of art.

TOP SPOT premiered at London 2004. The film was not given a commercial release in the UK because Emin was angered that the BBFC had (rightly, to my mind) given it an 18 certificate. Now, of course, it would be very cynical of me to suggest that she withdrew it because she knew it would get a horrible critical reception....

No comments:

Post a Comment