Thursday, 15 January 2009

Literary Pretensions

Woah! Ash appears to have been on something of a blog frenzy during my apathy...

So, to business. The balding bloke pictured above is none other than writer David Peace, and if you are paying attention, you will be hearing a lot about him over the course of this year. There are several reasons for this, of which more later; firstly, a little background info...

Mr Peace hails from Ossett, near Wakefield and is therefore well acquainted with the West Riding of Yorkshire, and this is reflected in his work. Having left England and headed east to teach, he ended up in Tokyo and found himself writing about Leeds and the era that he grew up in.

For those of you that have not read any of his stuff, it generally features a combination of real events given a fictional sheen - if only to protect the innocent - and not-so-innocent.

One of his most famous books, 'The Damned United', a dramatised account of Brian Clough's well documented 44 days in charge of Leeds has been adapted into a movie starring top werewolf and Tony Blair/Kenneth Williams impersonator Michael Sheen (soon to be seen adding Sir David Frost to his schtick in Richie Cunningham's adaptation of West End/Broadway smash 'Frost/Nixon'), who appears to be going for some sort of hardest-working-man-in-Hollywood award, if not an Oscar. Anyway, I digress slightly.

'The Damned United' kept it real and spent the summer filming up here in good old Leeds, giving a bunch of locals some dodgy seventies hairdos to stand in as LUFC's famously vicious "Dirty Leeds" squad of 1974 and is set for release in cinemas on March 27; however, it is not really my reason for mentioning Mr Peace in the first place.

Another of Mr Peace's projects, 'The Red Riding Quartet', has been adapted into a trilogy for Channel 4 (to be broadcast sometime around Easter), with a screenplay by 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' (the movie, I hasten to add) writer Tony Grisoni and directed by James Marsh, Julian Jarrold and Anand Tucker, which was also made up here in Leeds in the late summer last year.

An altogether gnarlier prospect than 'The Damned United', 'Red Riding' weaves together a bunch of real-life events from the region's recent history including the hunt for The Yorkshire Ripper, the fitting up and unjust imprisonment of Stefan Kiszko and the high levels of corruption of the high-ranking Police officers leading the hunt for the Ripper, as well as the scandal of Leeds Internaional Pool architect John Poulson and some brutal Se7en-style killings.

The Guardian seems to be backing 'The Red Riding Trilogy' as a new benchmark in crime drama, featuring as it does practically all the professional northerners working in the acting business in the UK today, including fake Doctor Who David Morrissey, ageing droog Warren Clarke, seen-been Sean Bean, Paddy Considine, Mark Addy and Peter Mullan, as well as rising stars Andrew Garfield and Gerard Kearns.

It should all make for some fine viewing, as the books are highly praised for their grit and intelligent, punchy style and it looks like these films will be the same. But here's the real point of all this; eagle-eyed viewers may get to see one of our favourite venues, the legendary Brudenell Social Club in a cameo in the '1983' film as a rather seedy journalist drinking den.

Cool, huh?

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