Coops, like my mother and many more of you, has embraced Movember and grown quite the handsome pair of lovelies under his nostrils. It is soon time for him to divest himself of the hairy stripes and once again resemble the baby chimp we have known and loved for so long. Will you donate something towards the Prostate Cancer Charity before he cuts, shaves and moisturises tonight? If you’d like to do this, you can do so here, and your personal level of happiness will be raised by a tiny but important fraction after doing something so kind.
Thank you, please carry on.
At last a moment to post on Patrick’s portrait. As you may remember from a previous post, Patrick made a “reverspective” portrait of me, and I have painted him, in order to do arty swapsies. The painting is large, as most of mine seem to be – this one, in acrylic, 5ft high by 4ft:
As some of you seem interested in how these come together, I took a few photographs of the stages along the way to show you.
So that wonderful holiday – Jesus’ Birthday – that some of you love and some of you hate is upon us again. The 500 requests of “Please tell me what to get my wife for xmas, she’s a huge fan…?” have already started to appear in our in-boxes and make us cry. Other than recommending the obvious perfectly made CH4 DVD box sets and incredible books by our own favourite wizard we usually get a little stuck for ideas. (Those of you landing here from a link via our emails will hopefully now understand).
It’s going to be cold and wet, there’s no point going out and so we – DB’s very own web-based assistants (Phillis & Abeo) – have spent a few hours arguing and screaming and finally put together (in NO particular order) a nice little list of what you can watch whilst recovering from excessive amounts of Christmas pudding, biscuit selections, extremely trivial pursuits and TV bile. DB watches no TV unless it comes in a boxset, so none of this reflects his own opinion.
Here they are – please let us know if we forgot anything in the comments:
1. Sherlock Holmes BBC remake
After excessive tweets telling us to “watch this… OMG” we did so – reluctantly. A remake of anything as sacred as SH better be damn good or a kitten gets electrocuted. “TV remake” is never a phrase that brings any joy to our ear, however the BBC really delivered on this one. It was not only a fantastically gripping series it’s a well fitting, fresh and fun remake that helped update the character to modern day Baker St. From the blogging journals of Watson to the slick overlay of typography that help us see Holmes’ mind at work – this was a series that truly delivered and got us all a little bit wet.
What’s so DB-esq then? Not only has it been mentioned several times on the web that the BBC remake of Sherlock Holmes was based on DB himself, but there’s some hints at dress sense and behavioural ticks that seem a little too coincidental for us. A poor decision not to include goatees resulted in 3 people nearly losing their job, only to be saved by rampant use of waistcoats.
DVD available here – but the iPlayer is worth checking out for a free version.
2. Sherlock Holmes (Guy Richie version)
Not only were we approached to try and get DB on the red carpet for this show there were a few rather enthusiastic offers to ensure we reviewed it well regardless of what we thought. I think with this movie it’s very much one you’ll either love or hate and some people are divided. We personally didn’t think it was the greatest remake to hit the big screen but there’s definitely a lot of fun to be had in this version and it’s certainly worth checking out. It feels very Hollywood and RDJ certainly adds to this. But Jude Law (a good friend of DB’s) helps bring back the traditional, stiff-upper-lip, tea-drinking, pipe smoking, English sense of pomp and tradition we all crave here in Blighty.
What’s so DB-esq then? Well there’s the obvious sexual frustration at the loss of the RDJ goatee we were forced to make love to in Iron Man, it’s at times unkept and even non-existent, but a good use of waistcoats, super thin canes, stylish hats and the constant internal voice during fisticuffs is a nice reprise. It could be argued there’s more of DB in Jude Law but let’s not go there.
DVD and reviews available here
3. The Illusionist
When we first saw the poster for this movie we all did a hefty double take. Was that DB himself in the poster? We have heard that DB was an inspiration for the role. Any mention of a movie made about an illusionist is always met with well earned snobbery on our behalf but to date Edward Norton’s portrayal has been considered as one of his best roles. Paul Giamatti and Jessica Biel both give equally brilliant performances along with Rufus Sewell who is a rather satisfying baddie. It’s a brilliant movie with a solid story that many of you will have seen given its giant success at the box office. If not you really should check this one out.
What’s so DB-esq then? Fantastic goatee maintenance throughout the film, good use of waistcoats and canes, a glowing crystal ball and lots of illusions – oh and Norton is a lovely.
DVD available here
4. The Prestige
Christian Bale and Michael Cane? Sounds like a familiar team. The Prestige was a giant success and it’s release within months of The Illusionist gave 2006 a rather magic feel. David Bowie also makes an amazing appearance as Tesla who you’d be more than forgiven for not recognising at all. A great movie with a very sinister feel to it – yet another must see for any fan of the illusionary nature.
What’s so DB-esq then? The matter-transfer box is based on the exact technology that drives all Derren’s live shows backstage. Initially Bale approached DB to help style and sculpt the perfect goatee arrangement – unfortunately Bale became difficult to work with and the research was abandoned. Bale often burst out at random intervals and shouted about “trashing the lights” at the barbers – the relationship quickly broke down. Bale was forced to use a fake and the resulting bushel of facial hair that appears momentarily throughout it a real shame. Great magical storyline that’s nice and dark with plenty of twists to feed your noggin.
DVD available here
5. Little Britain
Possibly the funniest thing on TV in the early 2000’s was Little Britain. If you didn’t like it – there was something wrong with you and since then “computer says no, I want that one” and “kerfuffle” have become part of our everyday language. Top of the list for us was failed hypnotist Kenny Craig who’s catch phrase I really shouldn’t have to remind you of.
What’s so DB-esq then? Matt Lucas has said in interviews that “Kenny Craig would love to be and thinks he is Derren Brown, unfortunately ended up as Paul McKenna in makeup”. Originally Kenny had no goatee – but it was later added when Derren offered to supply his own personal trimmings to Lucas who is unable to grow his own. Check out that waistcoat too.
DVD available here (although seriously! At least one – if not all of your relatives already own it)
6 Lie To Me
If you want a great actor to make a show then Tim Roth is an ideal candidate. Many people often think Roth is American born and bred because of both his rise to fame in Reservoir Dogs and his ability to mimic all kinds of accents so perfectly. Lie to me is an excellent series – Roth is a loveable rogue with deliberately few manners and a hat full of skills. Based on the work of Paul Ekman, Roth’s brilliant Dr Cal Lightman is able to extract the truth from people, possessing seemingly brilliant, mind reading abilities that are dark and mysterious yet very likable. If you’ve not seen this – give it a try, worth it for the highly useful references to micro-expressions alone.
What’s so DB-esq then? The choice of a lightly haired, highly animated, receding Englishman with mind reading abilities and a stare that could kill a rhino may or may not be a coincidence. Roth’s goatee is a shameful mess, but this in no way ruins what is almost a near perfect show.
DVD available here – the show is also currently on TV too.
Back in 2007 Mitchell and Webb decided to take a light poke at the magic community. In what seems like the “Peep show as Penn and Teller” it’s a pretty funny watch and has seen its cult status amongst Peep Show fans sustained even though it was initially disliked by outsiders.
What’s so DB-esq then? Not only is DB actually in this movie – for but a tiny second – the character played by Webb moves into a parody of DB. Objective made the film so we know this well. No one has taken credit to date – but the decision to remove the goatee was rather a bad one and is the sole reason this film was refused Golden Globe and Oscar nominations.
DVD available here
8. The Mentalist
If you were to take Lie To Me, add a sprinkle of woo-woo, swap out the main character for an overly buffed, goatee-less super-hunk, you’d end up with The Mentalist. It’s good fun.
What’s so DB-esq then? Well apart from the endless reviews saying “This is Derren Brown as a detective” – or similar such statements, we have it from the makers of the show that it is based on Derren himself. The main writer, it turns out, is a huge fan of our little boy, which makes Derren go all blushy and giggly. We say give it a go and see what you think. The use of waistcoats actually stopped this being removed from the list.
DVD available here
9. Family Guy
Simpson’s rip-off Family Guy has been around long enough for even the most sheltered, culturally unaware individuals to have at least sneaked a view. Unless you’ve been living in a cave or are just plain brain dead you’ll have seen at least a few moments of this sick and twisted cartoon nightmare, that none of us here at Brown Towers would ever watch, quote or own complete box sets of.
What’s so DB-esq then? The character Stewie is clearly a rip off of DB’s own super eccentric, self-critical alter ego with a strange accent – Bizarre Rant Man – many people only get to see DB perform on this live on stage. However for those of you who really are super closeted and clearly out of touch with any form of popular culture, here it is again.
Derren does Stewie. Link to bizarre rant
We couldn’t actually find a convincing 10th (and lets face it if you missed the sarcasm of the 9th then stop reading now and get off the internet). But if you do come up with a good 10th – leave a comment and the best one will get a nice little xmas surprise.
One of the things we get asked most is if you the fans can ask Derren a question. Well now’s your chance!
The Svengali Tour Brochure will include an interview made up entirely of questions submitted in this competition.
1/ One question per person please
2/ Please include your first name and general location (so we can say who the question is from in the brochure, if you don’t we will put from ‘anonymous’)
3/ You must enter via the link provided below
What’s your favourite TV project to date?
How do you enter? Head over to the following page:
If you find you’re having trouble loading the page it may be because thousands of you are trying at once! If so, please try the form again a little later.
The competition is open until 6pm Friday 3rd Dec.
The winning questions will be announced/shown in the Svengali Tour Brochure
YOU HAVE TO ENTER VIA THE FORM PROVIDED ABOVE, ANY QUESTIONS SUBMITTED VIA FACEBOOK, TWITTER OR IN BLOG COMMENTS WILL NOT COUNT.
Patrick is a remarkable and deeply fun artist: his works are hard to describe but I shall do my best. In fact, watch this wonderful three-minute film here and you’ll get the idea. They play with our eyes and minds and make us actively participate in the works. His pieces lunge out of the wall at you but you cannot tell as the perspective is painted in reverse… so that a bookcase or a line of Venice houses appears to recede into the distance but is in fact painted upon a trapezium that narrows as it approaches a vanishing point that is in fact struck right out in front of the picture. The effect is an image that appears to physically shift with you: when you pass it, it follows you. I have a few Hughes pieces in my flat: visitors can be seen stopping in their tracks before the first they encounter, swaying from side to side, bobbing up and down. Without exception they cannot tell how it works: they think they’re watching a clever projection until they step around to view the side of it and its three-dimensionality pops into apparentness and they all but drop their drink in disbelief.
Patrick is also a dear friend: his charisma and generosity strike everyone who has the delightful experience of meeting him. He’s seventy, handsome, impressively tall, dresses impeccably in bold, colourful suits and long scarves, and wraps his deep intelligence within a joyous playfulness that is reflected in the range of optical toys and jokes that fill his eccentric flat. He’s a lovely, lovely man, and a radiant example of how I and anyone should hope to be at his age.
I heard Patrick was applying his ‘reverspective’ approach to portraits. Some of you may be aware of the ‘reverse mask’ illusion where we look into the back of a mask and still think we are looking at a face pointing out at us. I have the Einstein head (as mentioned in The God Delusion) and other pieces that work on the same principle. Here’s a delightful old video of Richard Dawkins demonstrating the illusion:
The face variants of this sort of perspective trick work especially well on me. Whereas most people cannot see the ‘true’ nature of Patrick’s pieces and can flip back and forth with hollow faces, I am the exact opposite. So I was excited to hear that Patrick had cast his own face to make a ‘reverspective’ portrait of himself, and we spoke about making one of me. Patrick suggested a portrait swap: one of his of me for one of mine of him. This was hugely flattering and exciting.
It was my turn first: I headed over to Patrick’s studio in east London to be photographed and cast. The pictures tell the story:
Patrick’s studio – you can see his portrait between us in the background.
His colleagues cut a sheet of cardboard to accommodate my unusually chiselled features:
And I don a swimming cap which will stop my hair from getting plaster in it. I think this was the only expression I could make with the cap on:
Vaseline applied. At this point I’m starting to get aroused.
And I’m just going to presume those are drips from the plaster process.
I actually found this quite relaxing. Same way i quite enjoy the dentist: something about not being able to move or do anything, I switch off well and go to my happy place.
Patrick thought this would be funny. Had no idea he had done this until I looked back at the photos:
The removal begins. I gesture for a pen and paper and write the following plaintiff note:
It fucking did.
Gin and Tonic, I think. A look inside the cast, and the illusion is already working:
Time then passes. I photograph Patrick to do my own portrait. After a couple of weeks I receive news that the portrait is complete. I head over to see it, but first Patrick’s partner, the writer and equally gorgeous specimen of humanity Diane Atkinson, prepares an excellent supper. Patrick shows me some of his new toys, including a ‘true mirror’ which shows you as you actually, genuinely look (instead of in normal mirror-image as you can only ever see yourself). It’s a disturbing experience. I order one for myself that night: you can buy them here.
The finished, painted portrait is astonishing. Ironically, it does show me in mirror image: it’s a logical result of the casting-and-reversing process that the finished piece offers a flipped version of the subject.
It now sits in my library – it needs flat, soft light to work at its best. Whenever I walk past it, I see it pay close attention and watch my every move.
Video doesn’t quite capture the real-life effect. The movement is bigger, clearer, and so inextricably linked to one’s own movements that it’s a very eerie experience. But here’s a look at it:
And in a separate post – most likely tomorrow – I’ll set out how I painted my own portrait of Patrick. Ta-ta for now.