Posts from 7th January 2004

7
Jan 04

Hank Williams- I’m so Lonesome, I Could Cry

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Hank Williams- I’m so Lonesome, I Could Cry

It is one of those songs that is so perfect that it cannot be talked about, a work of poetry that reminds us of our own mourning and sadness, not only with the plantive lyrics but those instrumental sequences where steel guitars and banjos talk for Mr Hanks when he cannot force the words thru his parsed lips.

sometimes the cannon exists for a reason

I saw Kiss Of Life on Saturday afternoon

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I saw Kiss Of Life on Saturday afternoon. There were three other people in the cinema. Which may seem an indictment of the state of the British Film industry, until you guess how many people actually liked it. I don’t think I am assuming to much to suggest that we all thought it was pretty lousy. There really isn’t anything to like in it.

One the one hand we have aid worker Peter Mullan stick in Serbia. On the other we have his family in London. He can’t get home and his wife is pissed off with him being away all the time. After the squabble he decides to try to make it home. And his wife gets killed on a zebra crossing. We spend the rest of the film cross cutting between Mullan travelling slowly through Serbia with an ominous feeling, the grieving family and the ghostly presence of the mother reliving memories. Maybe it wants to be a film about loss, maybe there is a war/family comparison. But actually it is a film rather unclear of what it is about at all. Performances are nice but pointless, it is shot well though the whole thing does have the air of a film constructed entirely in the edit from ‘meaningful scenes’. And it is dull, trite and even at 80 minutes feels flabby. Debut film, written and directed by Emily Young. She can direct, but maybe she should look at someone else’s scripts.

There are several Turkish places called Mangal in Dalston

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There are several Turkish places called Mangal in Dalston, and my friend R characterises this one as “the one where they’re not incredibly rude to the customers” – I haven’t been to the others so I don’t know if this is fair, except that they are certainly very sweet in this one. Her lamb stew was too salty to finish, but I got so much salad etc with my mixed kebabs that we both had more than enough. Anyway, the point of mentioning this is that kebabs, great in themselves, taste even better when GILBERT AND GEORGE are also eating them, six tables away. Actually we were too far away to see what they had – plus R was too shy to turn round and stare. What I can say is, as a couple, G&G have in no way reached the we-don’t-talk-anymore stage: they both chattered non-stop to one another, very seriously. Maybe they were talking about art. Maybe they were talking about us. What is an easy way to remember which is which? (Bearing in mind I don’t know left from right yet…)

Seeing Waiting For Guffman at the NFT

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Seeing Waiting For Guffman at the NFT made me dwell upon the mockumentary form. It is clear that it is a subsection of parody, but what is often unclear is what is actually being parodied. Is it the overly referential tropes of documentary or the subjects themselves. If the film-maker is somewhat unsure then the eventual outcome is less likely to work.

In People Like Us the form is being sent-up. This relies on the different weekly subject reacting with genuine incredulity at the stupidity of Roy mallard week-in week-out. It is a joke that goes a bit off the boil. However it is clear that in This Is Spinal Tap the subject, the rock band, is being parodied. Whilst the form allows gentle fun to be poked at the rockumentary form, it is quite clear that fundamentally we are here to laugh at the thoroughly ridiculous Spinal Tap themselves. In Christopher Guest?s Best In Show it is also clear that the content of the film, the passion with which people keep and show dogs is the source of the humour. The Office, whose Christmas specials made this all the more clear, uses the tropes of documentary to poke fun at grotesques who are all too credible. The fact that the employees do not step out of the bounds of the possible into the ridiculous, and hence the logical conclusion of the firing of David Brent, is why it had to be short lived. And this is also one of the problems with Guest?s treatment of amateur dramatics in Waiting For Guffman. The subject is not inherently ridiculous, leaving it up to machinations of characters to fill this potential gap in the humour.

In revisiting the style as director, Guest was correct in assuming that telling the story ought to be his first concern. Unfortunately the story of putting on a show is not as funny as the actual show itself (which is given a fair degree of short shrift) and the characters involved. Some of the delight of the asides is illustrated in the final Three Months Later sequences, with Guest?s Corky St Clair running his decidedly odd memorabilia shop in New York. Also the actual set-up of the show does not ring true, the secret of Amateur Dramatics getting bums on seats is by having a large cast. Red, White and Blaine?s cast of five may have made filming easier, but does not convince. Mockumentary is about tone, and lurching from realism to farce makes Waiting For Guffman a touch uneven. Funny, but slight, but a warm up for A Mighty Wind.

In light of Shelob in Lord Of The Ring: Return of The King

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In light of Shelob in Lord Of The Ring: Return of The King, I am considering updating Six Legs Good, Eight Legs Bad. Finally a giant spider, albeit a fantasy one, that is actually unsettling and frightening. In the light of the Spider-Man 2 trailer I am considering writing a piece on giant octopus movies and why they aren’t as scary as sharks. Actually I am much more likely to dwell on the fact that for such a popular character, Spider-Man has a really rubbish set of villains.

Spotted

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Spotted!! By a “homie” of this parish near the Wimpy Bar in West Ealing: a bed shop called – and he kids me not – Daniel Bedding Centre. Hilarity! Ensue! Ect!

Meanwhile, in what is undoubtedly the world of jazz, Kunto Hartono, 26, has been declared the holder of the Indonesian national record for longest drum-beating after playing non-stop for three days.

WHAT??? I didn’t name him….

35. ALAN BRAXE AND FRED FALKE — ‘Rubicon’

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The thing you notice driving into Paris is that you never see the word ‘Paris’; you just see more and more and bigger buildings with huger adverts glowing from their rooftops; more neon, more glow and gloss; each billboard a little more chic than the last; nothing to say ‘You Are Here’, just the pulse and surface beauty of a great city gradually overtaking you. Except – of course – the traffic seizes and thickens as you approach, its torpid flow dulling the majesty. But imagine if it was night, and the road was empty save for you?

34. ONE T AND COOL T — ‘The Magic Key’

This is one of the twee-est records I have ever heard. It is a Euro-rap tune by a small boy who dies too soon on ‘the street’ and then goes to heaven from where he delivers lines like ‘Had a meeting with my maker / The superhuman baker / He popped me in the oven / And set the dial to lovin”. It makes ‘Where Is The Love?’ sound like ‘Shook Ones Part II’ and yes I adore it. Not on an emotional level — in fact if I read back my description I feel a bit sick — but just because it’s so, so pretty, a sparkly confection of tweenypop hooks that I find irresistible. ‘But it’s about somebody DYING!’ says Isabel in horror every time I play it — I try and reply but my cheeks are stuffed with marshmallow.

33. CLEARLAKE — ‘Almost The Same’

The music on this is totally old school indie, Bizarro-style, which obviously I have no complaints about, but the thing with Clearlake is always, always the guy’s absolutely remarkable voice. Lugubrious isn’t quite the word — he has a pureness of tone that stops him sounding precisely miserable but still the overwhelming impression is of damp flannel, leaves clogging drains, comforting cups of tea and resigned shrugs. In its Pooterish way it’s actually quite sensuous.

32. JAMELIA — ‘Superstar’

One of the very few times someone messaged me on Soulseek it was about Jamelia. ‘U HAVE TO TAKE ‘SUPERSTAR’ OFF YOUR FOLDER’ it said. Wow! I thought, busted for copyright fraud by Jamelia’s street team! Time for a showdown with The Man! ‘Why?’ I answered. ‘BCOS SHES IN POP AND SHES NOT POP’. Oh, alright then.

Actually though, she’s pop. And as such a little bit hard to write about. If t is the no. of times you want to hear the chorus to ‘Superstar’ in your life and n is the number of times you have heard it then appreciation a is equal to t — n. The result of this equation tells me that ‘Superstar’ is my 32nd favourite song this year. There is something very English, very London about Jamelia, though — not the vibrant bits of London but the ordinary bits like Colliers Wood or Wandsworth High Street, with their Woolies and their Dallas Chickens.

31. GRAFITI — ‘What Is The Problem’

On this monstrous thread Anthony Miccio wags his finger at conceptual dance records. He would really hate this one, a funny record about a nagging argument which sounds like being jabbed repeatedly in the chest by a fuming keyboard. Nobody online seems sure whether this was a Streets rip-off or side project: as with Mike Skinner, it’s the shabby vocals that make the tune. A touch harder, or a shade whinier, and ‘What Is The Problem’ would have been insufferable — as is, it’s a motion-capture of total frustration.