Fan Fare

Entertainment behind the scenes

Daytime therapist, nighttime filmmaker captures Soviet life


Photo by Daniel Bases

He’s a physiotherapist by day and a filmmaker by nights, weekends and everything in between. Semyon Pinkhasov has captured facets of Soviet life that rarely get shared beyond Russia’s borders, even after the fall of the Iron Curtain.

(For story, click on

The self-taught, self-financed, award-winning amateur documentary filmmaker has seen his films shown worldwide at festivals and on Russian and English-language television channels. Focused on the arts and the sport of fencing (U.S. Olympic Team Coach in 1984), he tells stories about Grigory Fried, who has run a music appreciation club in Moscow for 45 years without taking a kopeck; Tikhon Khrennikov, the first and last secretary of the Union of Soviet Composers; and Boris Efimov, perhaps Stalin’s favorite cartoonist.

One film about German fencing legend Helene Meyer, whose half-Jewish heritage provided Adolf Hitler with political cover to stage the 1936 Olympics, won for best screenplay at the 2009 International Festival of Sports Films in Moscow. But what drives someone with no background in film, journalism or the arts to dive into movie making? Roll the video:

Photo: Documentary Filmmaker Semyon Pinkhasov is shown in his Manhattan apartment on June 21, 2010. REUTERS/Daniel Bases

Too old for Glastonbury?


Glastonbury1.jpgGlastonbury, at 42.

While I worry about whether I have packed my ear plugs, the conversations of music fans around me on the train to Glastonbury this morning make me feel very old indeed. What does not help is that everyone in my crowded carriage from London’s Paddington station looks less than half my age. One girl in a high-spirited group reads a text from a friend describing what she was up to in a college library late the night before (hint: it was neither reading nor sleeping). A boy discusses what drugs he is hoping to score at the festival. Alcohol is a popular topic, overall, as is first-year university exam results.

That can be quite an intimidating range of topics for a man of middle age. Add to that the mind-blowingly bewildering geography of the sprawling site when you get here and I begin to wonder whether I am too old for this gig. A Glastonbury “virgin” too. Really, the shame.

What no Subo? BRITs under fire


SuBo1She wowed the world last year, was Britain’s top recording artist of 2009 and has also conquered the United States. Yet Susan Boyle was overlooked completely by the BRITs voters when the nominations were announced late on Monday.

The theme of the night was girls and young women, with Lady Gaga, Lily Allen, Florence & the Machine and Pixie Lott all picking up three nominations apiece. Only one male act won so many – boyband JLS.

from UK News:

Raging against the X Factor machine

Simon Cowell says the Internet campaign to keep X factor winner Joe McElderry from the coveted Christmas No. I  spot is aimed at him rather than the type of music the show produces.

He calls the campaign stupid.

But critics of the show loathe what they call the "karaoke" of X Factor and thousands have backed the push to get an anti-establishment track by American rockers Rage Against the Machine up into the top slot next week.

The Strokes top NME album of decade poll


strokes2New York band The Strokes’ 2001 debut “Is This It” topped music magazine NME’s album of the decade poll, beating British rockers The Libertines’ first album “Up The Bracket” into second. The result was decided by a panel of musicians, producers, writers and record label bosses. Here is a rundown of NME’s Top 20 from the “Noughties”:

1. The Strokes – ‘Is This It’; 2. The Libertines – ‘Up The Bracket’; 3. Primal Scream – ‘Xtrmntr’; 4. Arctic Monkeys – ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’; 5. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – ‘Fever To Tell’; 6. PJ Harvey – ‘Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea’; 7. Arcade Fire – ‘Funeral’; 8. Interpol – ‘Turn On The Bright Lights’; 9. The Streets – ‘Original Pirate Material’; 10. Radiohead – ‘In Rainbows’

Robbie on course for another No.1 album


robbie1Robbie Williams looks set to maintain his impressive UK chart record this weekend, with his latest album “Reality Killed the Video Star” on course for the number one slot come Sunday which would make it eight chart-topping studio albums out of eight since he went solo after leaving Take That in the mid-1990s.

It hasn’t all been plain sailing for the 35-year-old, whose previous album “Rudebox” was poorly received and recorded sharply lower sales than his previous efforts. He failed to make it big in the key U.S. market and has said he suffered from chronic stage fright — a surprising admission from someone renowned for his cheeky grin and apparently indomitable character.

from Tales from the Trail:

“Fiesta Latina” changes the rhythm at Obama White House

hosts President Barack Obama celebrated the growing contribution of Hispanic culture and music to the United States with a "Fiesta Latina" at the White House, part of a musical series started by First Lady Michelle Obama.

Latin music "moves us and tends to make us want to move ourselves," the president declared.

from Global News Journal:

A reminder that Greece was not always democratic

Visitors to Greece's capital these days cannot escape the fact that a general election is on he way.  But it is not just the constant discussion on television and the excited newspaper headlines about a U.S.-style debate between front runners that lets you know.

Peppered across the city are political stalls, open for the public to come in and be persuaded to vote on Oct. 4 for whichever party is hosting them. The style ranges from a bench and chairs manned by two ageing communists in the northern suburbs to a rather slick structure in Athen's central Syndagma Square touting the worth  of the ruling conservative New Democracy party. For some reason the latter was blaring out The Clash's "Rocking the Casbah" on a recent sunny morning.

Oasis play down split rumours


oasisLead singer Liam Gallagher has issued a typically blunt rebuttal to rumours and speculation that Oasis, arguably Britain’s biggest band of the ’90s, had played their final gig.

The rumours began after Liam and his older brother Noel, the band’s guitarist and songwriter, announced they had fallen out and were communicating via the band’s website or on Twitter. Then, when Oasis cancelled a gig at the last minute over the weekend, the doomsayers went into overdrive.

Play it again, Sam?


We’ve all been there — sitting at a rock/folk/country concert, politely waiting for the band to get through its new songs and start belting out the reasons we came in the first place. But if we do that, do the performers then have a responsibilty to deliver the oldies? And in a form we want to hear?

A couple of recent performances have underlined the issue. As Fan Fare noted recently, Yusuf, the former Cat Stevens, left some fans disappointed at the recent festival in Cropredy. He delivered a fine bob1set, but primarily stuck to new songs and some obscure old ones. He was unprepared to give the crowd the big hits it was hoping, indeed asking for.