I wrote a thing about the new album by A New International over on Is This Music?. It was a bit scrabbled together while I sat in the office late at night waiting for databases to propagate or somesuch. As such, a prime candidate for pseuds’ corner. That, however, should not dim the fact that the album is pretty fucken wicked
As mentioned previously, I’ve got myself back on the old Cineworld Unlimited ticket. This means I get to use their numerous in-case-you-missed-it type showings to catch up with, well, the stuff I missed. This week it’s the Bafta winners ‘tour’.
Actually, I’m not certain I missed Christopher Nolan‘s Interstellar as just really couldn’t be arsed at the time. Nolan’s work has been a considerable case of diminishing returns for me. With his last – non-Batman – Inception convincing me he was nothing more than M Night Shyamalan with a bigger budget. In view of how much money his films keep making, he’s going to keep getting those budgets. And, pretty much a free-hand. This is not necessarily a good thing.
His latest, is a lunatic
Supposedly this has had physicists up the ying-yang advising on the theory. Like the inexorable Sunshine, this is no guarantee of quality. But, worse, seems to be an accepted excuse to throw the need for internal logic out the window. Add to that some serious pretensions to be 2001 and you’re left with a serious sackload of bollocks.
Plus points; yeah some. The cast are about as good as you can expect. They all give a pretty good stab at handling the mangled exposition that makes up most of the dialogue. Mackenzie Foy, the young girl that’s central to the plot (and who grows up to be Jessica Chastain) manages to give more dimensions (oh, how apt) to her character than most of the more experienced actors in here. (Again, not really their fault.)
Not usually a fan of Hans Zimmer. But, his soundtrack here is pretty awesome. Not a single original moment in it, but it’s pretty damn slamming.
Anne Hathaway‘s still pretty.
Erm, that’s about it. Within half an hour you’ll have taken a guess at where it’s going and dismissed it with the phrase “nah, there’s no way they’d do THAT“.
Yes, the acting’s great. Not just Oscar shoo-in Eddie Redmayne. Felicity Jones does amazingly with very little. The film being based on her characters autobiography, does make her a little saintly. But, she still brings some depth to it.
Maxine Peake is in there too :)
Ultimately, though, this is a Sunday night TV drama. Albeit an enjoyable one.
There are many remarkable things about Whiplash:
The fact that it is (pretty much) the feature debut of writer/director Damien Chazelle. Directed with a stylish, yet understated hand. Just beautifully put together. There were technical problems at the showing we were at. As a result, we saw the opening 5 minutes or so about three times. The cut that introduces JK Simmons‘ band leader Terence Fletcher (everyone wants to be in his band) is just masterful. And, almost as cool as the pan up from Rick’s signature.
The fact that this is based on Chazelle’s own experiences (“based”). If we ignore the absolute horror of that, after the fact this might actually be the key to what makes the film so brilliant. It’s not just a portrayal of obsession or dedication; it’s an expression of what he personally experienced. And, a damn compelling one too.
Of course, there’s Simmons’ performance. Yup, cuddly, saggy faced, empathetic Dr Skoda killing all bets at the Oscars®, by turning in a terrifying portrayal which, though monstrous never becomes inhuman. He really is spectacular. Yet, never does he overshadow Miles Teller in the lead – as Andrew Neiman, the pompous little douche wanting to succeed in his band. The entire cast is handled brilliantly.
But mostly; it’s an action movie, just with drums not guns. Every time young Andrew picks up his sticks he is going into battle. There is a real sense of jeopardy for the character (which I believe all drama theory books will tell you is essential). There are drum solos in this film that will have you on the edge of your seat. Now, there’s a phrase I would never have even imagined, never mind imagined using it.
Here we go again…
I genuinely can’t tell you when I last saw Julian Cope live. But, I can tell you when I first did. It was at Teviot Row House in Edinburgh on or around the occasion of my 20th birthday. That’s a lot longer ago than anyone cares to remember. The glory days of pop stardom (even the second time around) were a distant memory even then, and he was smack-bang in the middle of what would prove to be the period of his greatest output (to date).
In the years since then, I’ve seen him in all shapes and guises. And, from the transcendent to the downright shockingly bad. But most, has been dude with guitar. And, as we all know familiarity often breeds contempt. If it hadn’t been some time, I’d probably have not bothered going to another solo show from him. Especially with the ludicrous ticket price on there. But, thank god I did. It severed to remind me why I’ve spent so much time and money on the smelly old hippy. The newer songs (including the unreleased Cunts Can Fuck Off – he always had a way with a title) aside, and current sartorial choices, this could’ve been any time. On top form both of singing voice and of bollocks talked, he did that thing he does and did it spectacularly. Maybe it’s just been a while. But, it was a very welcome meeting with an old friend. (Which incidentally also happened at the gig. Which it does at his shows.) And, Soul Desert nearly reduced me to tears. He was doing something right.
I intended to make sure I at least write about one album a month this year, if only to kick my own listening up the arse. So, for January, I’ll cheat and point you to my review of the new Phantom Band album on Is This Music?