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Ivor Cutler: Looking for Truth with a Pin (2005)

An affectionate tribute to the Glasgow-born Cutler who has been Britain's best kept secret with his mix of poetry, music, painting and comedy.




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Credited cast:
Ivor Cutler ...
Alex Kapranos ...
Andy Kershaw ...


An affectionate tribute to the Glasgow-born Cutler who has been Britain's best kept secret with his mix of poetry, music, painting and comedy.

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15 April 2005 (UK)  »

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An enjoyable collection of memories and stories on this unique talent but could have used a bit more of a structure
23 April 2005 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Ivor Cutler came to be born in Scotland after his Grandparents arrived in Scotland on a ship having been told they were on their way to America. Having never really fitted in with anyone he went to school with on account of being the only Jew in his circle. As an adult he became a teacher in London, again with his own unique approach to the role. An appearance on a television show playing the organ and delivering his poetry brought him to the attention of the Beatles and started his career that would last until he retired at the age of 82 – a career that would be heralded by John Peel and see him become one of the best kept secrets in Britain.

I can remember the first time I ever heard Ivor Cutler – it was on the Andy Kershaw radio show on Radio 1 – and it is not a time that you could forget easily because his is such an unique talent that it is unlikely you have ever heard anything like it before. This documentary takes on the hard task of delivering the man's colourful background and perhaps a bit of insight into who he is; but it mostly works. Only really knowing his albums, I was quite engaged by his back story and the "sadness" that sits at the heart of many creative and funny people. The film doesn't do this that well, as it struggles to really produce a real structure but it is full of nice little stories and memories from many contributors that are interesting and quite pleasant. Of course if you have never heard about Cutler or his work then you'll struggle to get into this because you'll still be trying to get your head around the clips of his work; but for those who have more than a passing interest in him, this is a nice addition to your knowledge base.

Overall, the audience for this film will be limited as I can't imagine too many people will be hunting it out and it is not the way to get into Cutler. Instead this is an interesting collection of stories and memories, which really could have used a bit more structure but still worked as an appreciation of Cutler and who he is. Given that Cutler has now retired, I would actually like a fuller documentary that is more interesting, better structured and so on, but until I get that, this is certainly good enough to do the business.

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