March 5, 2009

CRANK UP THE BOX:

Darkness doesn’t always mean authenticity: David Peace’s Yorkshire thrillers make fantastic TV but dubious history: a review of Red Riding (Rachel Cooke, 05 March 2009, New Statesman)

They are superbly directed, magnificently acted, brilliantly designed, cunningly written. They fit together, puzzle-like, only truly making sense once you’ve watched to the end (trust me: in episode two, the fog will lift). In my notebook, I’ve written down only two criticisms, and these sound nitpicky now that I repeat them: Rebecca Hall’s Yorkshire accent, which was as intermittent as the 1970s electricity supply, and how one character – Eddie Dunford, cub reporter – went to live in a motel. A motel? With a neon sign? In 1970s Yorkshire? We did not know such glamour!

It is years since we’ve seen investment of this kind, emotional and financial, in a British TV series, and you feel it in every scene. Hard to know, sometimes, whose face to watch: the star (my belief that Andrew Garfield is some kind of young genius is rapidly turning into a religion), or the supporting cast (Sean Harris as Bob Craven, a bent copper, is so repulsively convincing, you start to dream of a hot shower the moment he sidles into frame).


MORE:
-ESSAY: The Red Riding Quartet (David Peace, CrimeTime)

My earliest influences were Stan Barstow, John Braine, Alan Stillitoe, David Storey and Barry Hines. I was born and raised in Ossett in West Yorkshire, which is where Stan Barstow is also from and, although I have never met him, it was an inspiration knowing that the author of A Kind of Loving lived on the next street. From these writers I moved onto Greene and Chandler, Beckett and Burroughs. But my teenage reading aside, generally I have been influenced more by individual books rather than perhaps the entire work of an author, and as much by non-fiction as fiction. The list is a long and changing one but essentially: Edwin Drood, The Mystery of Marie Rogêt, The Wasteland, The Trial, Red Harvest, Compulsion, In Cold Blood, A Clockwork Orange, Beyond Belief, Jack's Return Home, The Exorcist, True Confessions, Falling Angel, Red Dragon, Somebody's Husband, Somebody's Son, Evidence of Things Not Seen, He Died with his Eyes Open, Error of Judgement, Libra, American Psycho and Bloody Valentine. Two Japanese writers not widely read in the West are Ryosuke Akutagawa and Kenji Nakagami; Akutagawa's short story In a Grove was written in about 1927 and, together with another of his stories, later formed the basis of the Kurosawa film Rashomon. In terms of structure and narrative, In a Grove continues to be a very big influence. Nakagami has two collections in English, Snakelust and The Cape. For want of a better comparison, his work is similar to James M. Cain or Jim Thompson in both its intensity and honesty. But if I had to name my favourite writer or biggest influence, it would be difficult to chose between Dante and Orwell.

But to be honest, I think the single biggest influence upon me was growing up when and where I did.


-REVIEW: Red Riding (ScreenRant)

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 5, 2009 7:36 AM
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