The British Guide to Showing Off Movie Review

This documentary about the extraordinary sculptor and performance artist Andrew Logan couldn't be more colourful if it tried. And like Logan's work, it's entertaining while also making an important point.

The film traces his life from childhood to becoming a fixture on the swinging London art scene in the late 1960s, with lively present-day interviews narrating a fabulous collection of photographs and old footage, some of which was shot by Derek Jarman, who won Logan's 1975 Alternative Miss World.

Meanwhile, Logan and his team are setting up the 2009 edition of his riotously lurid Alternative Miss World in North London.

In Logan's world, everything's better when covered in gold-leaf confetti, and the joyous atmosphere he creates is infectious. The competition, first held in 1972, judges poise, personality and originality, exactly like Crufts dog show, which was Logan's inspiration. The event now merges scenes that didn't exist in 1972: club, party, art, fashion, gay. This raises clear parallels between Logan in London and Andy Warhol in New York, and the film includes anecdotes about their odd friendship.

Alternative Miss World has been documented before, including in a 1980 Cannes-selected movie that faced legal battles for using "Miss World" in its title. But Benstock realises that the competition is inextricably linked with Logan's life and work: essentially the pageant is one of his sculptures, depicting a fantasy society in which there are no barriers to age, nationality, gender or sexuality.

Along the way, participants and friends offer candid views of Logan and his work. "There's a resistance in the art world to anything that's enjoyable and upbeat," says Brian Eno. "Snobs underestimate Logan's crowd-pleasing sculptures and architectural expertise. But his work has had a huge impact on the arts and fashion." And we also visit the Welsh village where his museum is located; he was the first living British artist to have one.

Benstock assembles this with a witty visual flair, blending the priceless photos and footage with sparkly animation. The 2009 competition is documented both on-stage and behind the scenes. Then at the end, Logan immediately turn his attention to finding a sponsor for the 40th anniversary event in 2012.

Although he worries that the Olympics might upstage it, it's more likely to be the other way round.

Cast & Crew

Director : Jes Benstock

Producer : Dorigen Hammond

Starring : Andrew Logan, , , , , , Amy Lame, Michael Cashman


The British Guide to Showing Off Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: 15, 2011


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