I find it very depressing. Casts a shadow over everything he’s done. What was he playing at?
Year: 2017 Director: David Bruckner
The setup to this is very reminiscent of The Descent (a group of friends commemorate the tragic death of one of their number by taking a trip into the wilderness). Only this time it’s a group of cocky lads and it’s a hike through the wilds of Norway.
You get lots of great character friction as the tension builds straight away. It’s clear they can’t quite believe they decided to forsake a weekend of carnage in Amsterdam or Ibiza instead of getting back to nature.
Taking a shortcut through a creepy forest, things descend rapidly into full-on nightmare mode.
I can’t imagine anyone being disappointed by this (anyone who likes horror that is). It’s got all the conventional thrills, spills and scare jumps you might expect, but also a dash of humour and an ingenious sense of weirdness.
There’s a line early on where they take shelter from the rain in an abandoned cabin: ‘So this is the place we all get murdered then’. A lovely, knowing moment: we all know we’re on a horror film (audience and characters alike) but we don’t know WHAT KIND of horror film yet.
As the film keeps » Continue Reading.
Year: 2017 Director: Dennis Villuenieve (spelling??)
Well now. This is a big event for me. The first film had a powerful effect on me and continues to draw me in for regular viewings. How does this long belated sequel stand up?
I won’t put any spoilers here – I’ll save that for the comments.
It’s achingly ‘worthy’, that’s the best way I can put it. Dennis Villenueve is a safe pair of hands as a director, and seems to intuitively understand that peculiar mix of futuristic dystopia and hard-boiled gumshoe feel that constitutes the Blade Runner world. The visual expansion of that world is expertly and sensitively handled – he keeps things moody and smoggy, with a stately, slow-moving camera. No complaints from me on that score.
The soundtrack is also as immersive as the first film, wisely using the same sound palette with a smattering of callbacks to the old key themes.
Overall, you can’t fault the effort that’s gone into this project. It clearly seems to have been a real labour of love and reverence.
But I have to say it left me a bit cold. It doesn’t help that it’s deathly dull. Slow-moving, with ponderous and brooding » Continue Reading.
Even though I recognise it’s sometimes unhelpful to categorise and generalise, I’ve always loved this thing about putting western culture into Generations. You know, the Silent Generation, the Boomers, Generation X, Millennials… It ‘feels’ generally accurate.
I can definitely sense, for example, a generational shift with these Millennial upstarts. A keener social conscience bordering on political correctness, curtailed economic prospects, the ubiquity of technology and culture…
I’m firmly of the Generation X cohort. Born in 1973, I have an acute sense of disappointing my parents, I worship the pop culture of the 60s to 80s, I love Slackers and Fight Club and Star Wars. I’m cynical and nihilistic at heart. I’m insular and I get irony instinctively.
However, reading up on the supposed traits of my generation, I’m bemused to discover that Generation X are apparently happier and content in middle age, and have excelled as entrepreneurs to create a satisfying work-life balance. I sure missed the boat on that one.
Do you believe in these Generation categories? What Generation do you identify with? What do you think Millennials will be like as they reach middle life? And what do you think will come next?
I love this Noel Gallagher story about Bono. I need to make the normal pedantic disclaimer that I’m not really a fan of Noel’s music, but by Jove he has a way of telling a story.
It’s the little details that make this special – the Irish Prime Minister, Bono in a dressing gown, Noel trying to work the telly in a hotel room….
Someone I know “liked” this on Facebook. Hmmmmmmm.
I’m kind of wary about posting it here, as gender arguments can be fractious. But… I don’t know, I just find it really patronising. For those who can’t be bothered reading it all, a feminist artist called Emma has written a comic strip about how men in general unfairly expect women to bear the brunt of household chores and organisation. Not only this, but men make it worse by taking the “well you should have asked me to do that if you wanted it done!” stance, because it forces women into bearing the “mental load” for either doing things themselves or telling their men to do them.
I kind of get what she is saying. Imbalance in hygiene/cleanliness/organisational standards in a relationship can be an issue, sure. But a concept like the “mental load” sounds to me like the worst kind of passive aggressive twaddle – at worst, an excuse for a control freak personality. And then to turn this into a gender issue??
The worst bit is near the end, when she pre-empts men (like me) who are reading the strip and thinking, “I’m not like these men she describes”… apparently, » Continue Reading.
One of the things that annoys me at work more than anything else (and in fact in life in general) is playing phone tennis with someone – you call them and miss them, they call you and miss you because you are way from your desk for a minute, and so on.
I hate phone tennis. And I’m definitely an email person. To me, emails are perfect because they allow you to put your message out there (your carefully drafted, polite message) and give the recipient time to consider a response and reply at their convenience.
I’ve decided there are two types of people – verbal people and writing people. I’m definitely the latter. And I have little patience for people who, after a long email conversation, will need that actual verbal conversation at the end of it to put a full stop on it and finalise what’s been discussed. I’m the opposite – I can have a long verbal conversation (to me, just waffling around the subject) and then I’ll ask you to put in writing what’s been agreed, just to confirm it.
Are you an email person (yay- efficient, logical, decisive) or a phone person (boo – waffling, » Continue Reading.
It’s all too mind blowing for me to attempt to write up a proper review, but I loved it. I thought it was perfect. If this work ends up as Lynch’s last film/TV project, it will be an incredible end to a fascinating career. A head spinning, cantankerous, unique, chilling vision – astonishing for a man now in his seventies.
From the internet storm today, I gather the finale has been quite controversial. But to the people who were perplexed, I want to ask what did they expect? Anyone who has seen Lost Highway and Inland Empire must have known what to expect.
Anyway, I loved it.
Year: 2017 Director: Christopher Nolan
What an incredible film.
You know how Christopher Nolan’s last few films have fallen into a similar pattern? You get a long, slow buildup with lots of talking and philosophising, then eventually you get three or more storylines reaching a simultaneous peak with multiple, cross-cut suspense sequences? While effective on a technical level, it was all starting to seem a little contrived. And bordering on pretentious.
Well, in a stroke of genius, Dunkirk ditches the buildup and plugs you straight into the cross-cut suspense stuff. I was absolutely hooked within seconds. Forget back-story, forget character-building, forget dialogue, forget quasi-intellectual theorising – Nolan strips all that out. This is just an edge-of-your-seat struggle for survival, with the bare minimum of context and explanation.
It’s Nolan’s tautest film since Memento by quite some way, and should hopefully cement his reputation as the A list director he’s always threatened to be. With a constantly building succession of cliffhangers (all scored by Hans Zimmer’s trademark pulsing slabs of orchestral music), it’s the most buttock-clenching piece of cinema since Captain Phillips.
The colour palette is creamy and vivid, the sound design is a masterpiece of sustain and release (waves lapping, » Continue Reading.
Baby Driver and Guardians of the Galaxy are two films this year which have reminded me how sweet it feels to compile a bunch of eclectic tracks into a mixtape. Ditto the CD swap thread here (although I didn’t join in with that and kind of regretting it).
Let’s do a mixtape together!
– No theme. That’s just pretentious. It just needs to flow from one track to the next. You need to keep the listener listening.
– It’s a C90, so we are having two sides of 45 minutes each. (46 at a push).
– I’ll start. You all have a think about what track to put next – first person to post the next track has got it. And so on until we fill both sides.
– To prevent time wasters and comedians, there’s a three veto rule. If any track gets three vetos before someone suggests the next track -its getting recorded over. But once someone has suggested the next track it’s too late – we’ve moved on and you can’t veto any more.
– This might end in chaos, or indifference, or a beautiful mixtape!!!
– Or you might all veto my starting track » Continue Reading.
We’re almost halfway through the 18 episode run, and I absolutely adore it. The contrarian in me loves the fact it seems absolutely calculated to turn off casual fans.
Gone is that comforting, hokey feel. Gone is the warm glow, gentle humour and constant bubbling lounge jazz.
Instead, the horror and weirdness have been turned up to 11, there is still no sign of a discernable, traditional plot, and most of the original cast have been reduced to mere cameos (some only seconds long).
It was getting strange enough, but then episode 8 went off on some entirely unexpected path. No spoilers from me – you need to experience it for yourself.
The music has been uniformly brilliant and often shocking. We’ve had Nine Inch Nails, Take Five and Green Onions.
I’d never dare have hoped it would have been this good. I expected a watered down thing at most – Lynch tamed for TV. But this is more out there than Mulholland Drive and Inland Empire combined.
Anyone else still a fan?
I kind of admire the fact that he’s never going to change, is he? I think he genuinely doesn’t understand concepts like copyright.
Lots of worrying reports. What’s going on?
Against my better judgement, I got up at 2am to catch the new Twin Peaks.
I don’t think I was prepared for how… different it is. Too early to tell yet whether I’m going to like it or not. The tone of the original is COMPLETELY gone. And it’s ugly as anything: Not ugly in a scuzzy, dirty way, but just flat and HD in a way that doesn’t suit the lushness we were always used to.
And it’s as slow as death.
But there’s that unmistakable sense of creeping dread that is pure Lynch. I’ve got the feeling I’ll be hooked within a couple of episodes. I can’t wait to see where it goes.
Year: 1992 Director: David Lynch
It IS happening again…. finally… After all these years, Twin Peaks is coming back later this month for a third and final season. It might well be all too much (18 episodes, ALL directed by Lynch himself) – but I can’t wait. And my threshold for disappointment is very high. It would need to be very bad indeed for me to fault it (says he who loves Inland Empire, a film that even staunch Lynch fans find impenetrable).
The Glasgow Film Theatre currently has a David Lynch season, this being the highlight. One of the selling points of this screening (apart from being LATE on a Friday night) was that it was a 35mm print. But… em… that just meant it was VERY crackly and the sound was quite badly distorted. I didn’t realise they meant the actual print from 25 years ago. It made me appreciate the benefits of digital restoration, which I think suits Lynch better.
Still, it’s a film that needs to be seen on a big screen. You need to hear Laura Palmer’s horrific screams and the house band in the Pink Room at full blast on big cinema speakers to » Continue Reading.
My current obsession with The Beatles continues and I apologise to no-one for this…. This is a bit of fun, so please just look away if you’re fed up talking about the Best Band Ever (TM)…
This week, I’ve been wondering what their album in 1970 would have sounded like if they had stayed together just a little while longer. I think I’ve figured it out.
Let me take you back to late summer 1970….
George Martin is out of the picture (so gone is the polish of the Abbey Road LP), but Lennon and Harrison have both been recording with Phil Spector. They both still love Ringo, who acts as a bridge between them. Ringo puts his own solo career on hold for a chance at one last Beatles LP. And Paul decides, on the eve of putting out a press release saying he’s left the band, to hold off for just a few more months and donate a few tracks to the project. (Paul refuses to work with Phil Spector, however – so all his tracks are solo-produced. He even falls out with Ringo over the fact that he wants to play all his own drums).
I think » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
This isn’t a review of the fiftieth anniversary edition (due next month).
That edition is going to be a full remix job. Presumably they’ve tamed the hard stereo separation (drums in one ear, vocals in another, etc), tidied up some of the vocal fluffs and replaced the EMI Studio echo chamber with some surround-sound digital reverb. I’m excited, but I’m also a little sad as it feels a bit like losing an old friend. (Nothing sounds as majestic as that EMI Studio echo chamber – skip to the line “… in his way, Mr K will challenge the world!” on “Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite” to hear it in all its glory).
Anyway, I felt it was time to prepare my ears by giving the trusty old original edition another spin. Please excuse my indulgence as I try to put this experience into words.
The first thing to say is, naysayers be damned. Pepper is a fine, fine piece of art.
It forms the point where pop music grew up, started taking itself seriously and forming an actual legacy instead of assuming it would fizzle out any day. There’s a horrific bitter-sweetness » Continue Reading.
I’ve just finished catching up to the end of the last series of Game of Thrones (just in time for the new series later this year). After poo-pooing it for ages I finally succumbed last year and within four of five episodes was completely addicted. The last two series each only took me a few days each to watch, once I got into the “binge” mentality.
I had thought about writing a review of them, but it all seems to big to sum up. I am now one of those annoying people who find it hard to explain exactly why you should give up fifty hours plus of your life, but insist “well, you just have to watch it and see!”.
I really struggle to put my finger on what’s so good about it though. In fact, I secretly suspect it’s not even that “good”, objectively speaking, but just has so many storylines and characters crammed in you focus on the good bits and forget the bad bits.
I’m still a bit uneasy with all the sex and nudity. It really does seem gratuitous and awkward (yes, I’ve turned into my dad). More importantly, it makes it difficult to watch » Continue Reading.
Year: 2017 Director: Jordan Peele
This little film is so perfect, you’ll find yourself giving a standing ovation over the end credits. I hesitate to call it a horror, despite plenty of jump scares and some stomach churning gore in the last act.
But good horrors often make you doubt they are horrors at all. A young black man visits his white girlfriend’s parents in an affluent New Hampshire neighbourhood for the first time and… SOMETHING’S not right. Despite her assuring him beforehand that her family aren’t racist, everyone seems to be treating him with suspiciously veiled politeness. And the only other black faces he sees belong to servants and groundkeepers. You want him to, well, ‘get out’, but you can also see what compels him to stay and face up to whatever is actually going on.
Things get weird. And then violent. I was a bit worried for a while that it was going to be one of those films that leave matters unanswered and expect the audience to make up their own minds. I’m all for open endings, but with a mystery as compelling as this, it would just be cheating.
You want the loose ends tied up. » Continue Reading.
Because I think the covers of his songs are just as important (if not more important) than the originals.
I’ll bypass Marty McFly doing Johnny B Goode and suggest that The Beatles singing Rock And Roll Music must be one of their most joyous moments.
What does it sound like?:
I’ve found myself casually dropping the Tubular bomb into various different conversations on these boards recently. So the 1973 LP is obviously on my mind.
But I’d thought I’d be obtuse and review the orchestral version that came out a couple of years later, in 1975. Even extreme Tube-heads might not have taken the time to check this out, so let me be your guide.
Enter Mike Oldfield.
Oldfield is the kind of musical child genius who makes the young Kate Bush look like a slacker. A prodigious guitarist and enthusiastic multi-instrumentalist, he built up the Tubular Bells composition as a kind of musical therapy in his insular teenage years. The huge, unexpected success of the LP (two long-form instrumentals, each a side long) scared the then twenty year-old half to death and sent him into hiding in the countryside.
(Connoisseurs like me also have a special place in our hearts for his two follow-up LPs, Hergest Ridge and Ommadawn. Never again would he scale such beautiful, pastoral heights).
Enter David Bedford.
Bedford (sadly, recently deceased), in his thirties when Tubular Bells came out, was a music teacher and a composer of modernist » Continue Reading.
Recently, Colin H tried to upload some Pink Floyd BBC session tapes he acquired (I know not how), but fell foul of the technical jiggery pokery needed. So I offered to help out (or rather, he asked for a volunteer and no-one else offered).
Anyway, here they are! If I’ve done this right, there should be a link here which will allow you to download them. Thanks to Colin for doing all the hard work in copying these to CD in the first place!
The bad news first. The recording of Apples and Oranges is NOT a long lost session recording. I could tell straight away the quality and balance was that bit better than yer average sixties BBC session, and comparing it to the single recording confirms it. Yes, it’s just a straight copy of the single version. I’ve no idea why this would have been stored on tape, but there you go.
Listening to these reminds my of how embryonic and frankly amateurish the early Floyd were. Syd really couldn’t play the guitar for toffee, could he? (There’s a point on these tapes where the guitar suddenly sounds better, and then I realise that’s where Dave Gilmour replaces » Continue Reading.
I mean, in terms of having all original members intact and no career breaks or splits?
We’re talking nearly forty years, aren’t we?
Whatever you think of the band, that’s quite an achievement, I say.
Did anyone see James Blunt on the Graham Norton Show on Friday? (Still on BBC iPlayer, for those in the UK).
I can’t work out if it was car crash telly or not. I was certainly mouth agape.
After spending over a decade as the butt of a joke, he’s relaunching his career with a song that sounds like a child’s first attempt at RnB, and lyrics that (literally) talk about how: – he’s “a bit of a d**k” – he’s”a bit sh*t” – he wonders why his wife loves him because he has wandering eyes – etc
I can’t work out whether it’s a brave confessional stance, or an actual joke.
It sounds like a comedy song. If Ricky Gervais had him as a guest star on Extras, this is exactly the kind of thing he would have him sing.
James himself seems immensely unsure of himself. Like a rabbit in headlights.
I’m torn between being impressed at his bravery and feeling pity for him. Maybe that’s the plan?
I’m JOKING. Please let’s not do this.