Posts from 26th July 2004

Jul 04


FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 434 views



Obviously the show’ll still be a fetid crock of shit and will still feature that horrific voiceover woman (and James effing Cannon), but…


The joys of random stupidity

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The joys of random stupidity — sure, Showgirls is coming out in an elaborate DVD edition and all, and none less than Marc Almond has proclaimed his love for the Beyond of the Valley of the Dolls of its day, to paraphrase a section of his recent book. But that’s the type of camp classic, though deserving of its title, which was almost unavoidable — like how the folks behind Mommy Dearest gave up on trying to selling it as a serious story and went ahead and pushed the ‘NO MORE WIRE HANGERS!’ aspect. You can’t blame them either, what the hell was Dunaway thinking?

Random stupidity is sorta more fun in the end, though. To wit, Love Camp, to give it one of its many titles, as perfect a piece of tripe as the late seventies/early eighties Europorn world ever coughed up. Much like Showgirls, where one of the attractions of the new DVD is a commentary track merrily ripping into everything about it — apparently some dude in Seattle gained a lot of fame for hosting regular viewings of the film while talking about it, and he has been rewarded suitably — Love Camp could have something similar somebody could do for it — and I did, many years ago when I first taped it off TV randomly because I thought the title sounded suitably ridiculous. As with any such film shown on HBO or Cinemax or whatever I got it from, all the actual sex was cut away, leaving only the plot. So confounded was I by the end result that, a couple of years before I knew about MST3K, I was moved to narrate the oddities of the movie as it screened to friends and willing (or unwilling) victims.

The edited version really can be the only way to see it — runs for about an hour and fifteen minutes (still two hours too long), and is a carcrash of everything and anything. I once described it (in said edited non-sex form) to friends as ‘the world’s only Marxist cultist ex-porn musical,’ and I will stand by that statement until it is proven otherwise. Among its features:

* A badly bleached pseudo-hero who looks like he’s been hitting the coke too hard called Dorian — played by the effervescent Christian Anders, also the writer and allegedly the director, he’s a ridiculous fop of a man with a silly dubbed voice, and is therefore perfect. His job is apparently to recruit nubile women to the cult when not doing blow, which perhaps has its advantages.

* A cult leader called the Divine One, played by Laura Gemser, star of innumerable Emmanuelle films and therefore all too used to this by now. Less an actress than a presence, she’s not quite Dietrich to Anders’ von Sternberg, but there’s a parallel there if you squint. Among other things she talks about Gandhi and at one point during a celebration of random sex boldly insists “Love for any other person is egoism!”

* An American senator, sort of a John Warner-meets-John Forsythe type, who apparently has taken time away from a tense reelection campaign in order to go to Cyprus with his nubile young daughter (about which more later), be greeted at the airport by greasy men, make bad double-entendre comments about incest to the local press and then proceed to do nothing for the rest of the film beyond getting a bit drunk, threatening Dorian and then finally saying Dorian’s actually a nice guy. In this respect the film is refreshingly true to life.

* The daughter. At least the dubbing would have to insist it’s the daughter, but I have to wonder. Anders apparently had trouble with this ingenue, in that while the credits claim one Simone Brahmann, also an Emmanuelle veteran, played the part, no less than three separate actresses clearly are portraying the ‘daughter’ at one point. Differences in facial appearance, tanning quality, etc….it is quite possible Ms. Brahmann was a shape-shifter, though, so let that pass. If anything it would be a fine talent for an actress in such films.

* Tanga. Ah…Tanga. Sascha Borysenko‘s only film role, about his only acting role. If he was acting, I suspect he thought it was a documentary. Muscly bodyguard to the Divine One, as well as half of her on-call love sandwich (don’t ask) and random stealthy murderer, he combines the bodies of everyone in Pumping Iron with the look of the biker guy from the Village People and Lemmy’s muttonchops. At times he appears to have been greased then partially fried. Bold in his takes to the camera, possessed of the ability to hide behind air or blades of grass when stalking escapees from the cult, and eventual deliverer of the only triple-entendre line in the whole film, he is one of a kind. Thank god.

And there are more characters, oh yes, but I can’t talk about the whole film…well, I take that back, I easily could. But to hit some highlights.

* The opening Eurodiscopop “Give Up Your Soul to an Everlasting Love,” which is astounding. Anders himself sings it, in English, in a pinched high voice that turns the lyrics into “Geev Up Yoor Sool to Ahn Ever-laasting Looove,” arguably an improvement. It then features in an a capella mix as Dorian walks down the beach with his followers, and lemme tell ya, they get some great reverb off that sand.

* Moments of DEEP! MEANING! accentuated with long pauses and dramatic musical fanfares of the type of slow-rock-backing with spacy synths that flourished only during the time of “Dream Weaver”‘s reign on the charts. Oh, and smeared unfocused lenses, of course.

* Talking breasts. At least that’s what the editing would imply.

* Huge drunken feasts wherein the only food on offer for the revelling hordes appears to be a roasted and dessicated dog.

* Los Lobos in a brilliant cameo playing backing music for the capering goon who sings about how the Divine One is back. He’s a treat, this fellow, especially when he sings to the Daryl Hannah equivalent doing splits on the ground in front of him (who is then filmed with the butt cam). He then follows that up with air guitar for the solo.

* The many moods of Tanga — glowering, annoyed, contemptuous. All accentuated by his marvellous cleavage, meaty and glistening. He is often discovered lurking behind rocks, crouching behind sheep and hiding in the shadows. I deduce nothing from this.

* Dorian’s chamber of love or something, wherein he has boldly placed on the wall above the fake windows the words “WE ARE ALL LOST.” The effect of this statement is slightly reduced by the fact that the slogan appears to have been created with masking tape.

* The world’s lamest whipping scene. Tanga is a fucking wimp, even Gemser does a better job.

* The two gay guys. No more, no less. “You’re prettier than I am.” “No, you’re MUCH prettier.” *first fellow looks distractedly off towards the director, then hits second fellow with a flower* “No, YOU’RE prettier.”

* The big hole in the cave covered by the gigantic Necco wafer.

* The bomb in the throne. Logically the throne doesn’t blow up, the building does instead.

* Delayed reaction kung fu. In fact, ALL of the kung fu, thanks to Dorian. Anders apparently thought himself a suave martial arts badass, and you have NOT lived until you’ve seen his two moments of glory. First he takes out the random thug with a series of squeals, the noted Ball Grab, and a look meant to convey fierceness but which…well, it can’t be described. I also can’t really describe the flurry of ‘punches’ he throws at Tanga at the end of the film — the Foley artists were obviously high — but it is gratifying to see Tanga take him out with one punch.

And so forth. It’s a joy, a salutory reminder that when you’re watching Kyle MacLachlan’s digital-restored erection as Elizabeth Berkley crawls all over him in that pool that there are other ways to the same end results.

Assistant to Food Critic

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Assistant to Food Critic (MediaBistro)

Interviews have begun for the incredibly sought-after job of assistant to the food editor of Vogue magazine, Jeffrey Steingarten.

Jeffrey is also author of the best-selling The Man Who Ate Everything and It Must’ve Been Something I Ate, both pubished by Knopf) and was co-host of the cable TV show NY Eats.

Jeffrey’s current assistant, Elizabeth, has successfully completed her two-year term, and he is looking for someone to take her place. The ideal candidate is equally effective at library research, shopping and cooking, repairing Xerox machines, speaking foreign languages, mise-en-place, writing clearly, doing errands, eating in fabulous restaurants, and even travel. The ideal candidate is a complete omnivore, or at least eager to become one.

The ideal candidate does not, of course, exist. But Jeffrey is looking for someone who comes close and is at the beginning of her or his professional career. Jeffrey’s assistant is paid by the hour as a Vogue freelancer, receiving, as he once did, no benefits whatsoever, but some expenses.

There’s plenty to get mildly irate about

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There’s plenty to get mildly irate about with this Guardian article by The Usual Suspect on McFly but, for our present purposes, take note of the tone of voice with which he talks about four intelligent, successful, talented – and I suppose this is the crux – late teenagers. Two of McFly are eighteen and one is nineteen. Even the youngest is over the age of consent*. But you’d never get that sense from the article, or most writing on the music that, ick, ‘pre-pubescent tots’ wave banners at.

The first point, as evidenced by NYPLM itself I suppose, is that it’s never enough for a band like McFly to appeal just to the prepubescent. Not only do they not have enough money, they can’t drive to out-of-town Brit-malls like the Trafford Centre. And, let’s face it, no self-respecting capitalist/artist is going to limit their audience that dramatically. I mean, come on, naming the band like that – ref: M.J.Fox, 1985 – is, if anything, much more cynically aimed at the nostalgic parents of the pre-pubescent or, at best, literate media-savvy types reading over-worked blog entries. In its own way, its just the same as Robert Zemeckis making seventeen year old Marty speak to the eighties teen audience via his own fifties adolescence. After the famous spate of teen-product fosusing attention on the fifties, the eighties kids have risen to power and are asking the young to carry their nostalgia for them.

But that’s not the main point I was bothered by. After a string of articles talking about ‘messed up, typical teenager’ Avril Lavigne, yet again we have a piece conflating the difference between, say, twelve and nineteen. Avril, like Busted and three quarters of McFly, would just have finished her first year at university, a good one probably, studying something artsy or vaguely liberal. They may well have become well-versed in those ‘particularly arcane passages from Proust’. They’ll have experimented with mildly psychedelic drugs and had to survive in a major city, alone and parentless. Reams and reams has been written about sexualising the young, whether in the wake of ‘Baby One More Time’, Tatu or Chris Morris. But nothing has been written about a generation of ‘young adults’ being defanged and characterised in the name of teen entertainment. Perhaps because it’s all the more obvious in the cinema, the closest we’ve got is that joke in Scary Movie about the ‘high schoolers’ being far, far too old. I mean, think of the building blocks that built the stereotypical teen identity: Brando and Dean, surly and existentially early-twenties. Hell, how’s about Michael J. Fox and Marty McFly. Even with a market supposedly regressing and repressing faster and faster, there have been relatively few true teen idols. Child stars, yes. Idols to teens, plenty. Late teen heart-throbs, loads. But thirteen, fourteen, fifteen year olds sunning themselves in the limelight, not many. Instead we get eighteen year olds, nineteen year olds, twenty one year olds, twenty five year olds becoming twenteenagers. With a pout and a natural nostalgia for the unremembered early nineties, they make the music and then dance to it in the school ties they’ve only just dispensed with. Or, in film, we get Jennifer Garner, Tom Hanks and Jamie Lee Curtis as our teenage cut-outs.

So, we get the Guardian talking to McFly like fifteen year olds, having to justify themselves as fifteen year olds, having to explain away an imagined malevolent hand compelling their childish selves to sell things to even more childish consumers.

Your homework: watch Stuart on Big Brother and marvel at his ability to sense this, enjoy this and use it to his advantage. After all, he is, just as the press kept telling us about the Tatu svengali – inhale, tell me about your mother – a psychologist.

*Autobiographical note: I am, if this makes a difference, twenty two. Which is a fine age to be.

FT Top 100 Films 55: POLICE ACADEMY

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FT Top 100 Films

(Deep breath, here goes, even I’m having trouble here. I mean it is no Citizens On Patrol.) Is the message at the heart of Police Academy
a) That the police will become ineffective and a laughing stock if they relax entrance restrictions
b) That anyone pure of heart and good can be effective police officers by dint of hard work?

The film does not want you to think about the difficult question in its premise. Is Commandant Lessard’s Academy so useless at teaching because previously its recruits were already the best of the best? This is hard to believe when you consider the police. In which case frankly these new recruits with disabilities ranging from being psychotic to having a quiet voice (!) seem to do a lot better than they need to. Either way as a commentary on law and order or even social policy it seems to shirk its serious responsibilities for a lot of sexist, racist and homophobic jokes.

Perhaps the reason Police Academy spawn so many sequels is due to the unfinished nature of this debate. Certainly Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment takes our new recruits out of the safe environs of the Academy to see if they really are ready to deal out justice. They are, as a rule, not. But yet again that film fluffs the question of whether sheer numbers of unsupervised raw recruits can ever replace well trained experienced law enforcement officers. Instead of a detailed riposte it is happier to give us a lo of sexist, racist and homophobic jokes.

The US never really got to see the Carry On films, which is exactly what the Police Academy films are. Stuffed with lesser comedians that Jacques, Williams and James, and without the wit to transplant its ensemble to alternate situations to at least give some variety, the Police Academy films are the poor mans Carry On Constable. And when you consider the rich man who has plumped for Carry On Constable is probably only just living above the breadline, then this poor man has almost definitely starved by now. Which is probably a lucky escape.

I Was A Goblin: Introduction

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I was 9 when I first heard of Dungeons And Dragons. I was 22 when I played my last role-playing game. When I think about or talk about being a teenager I tend to put the heaviest stress on music and how important it was to me. Then books and comics, and then maybe a nod to the angst and sexual frustration side of things. Dungeons And Dragons, and its warty kin, don’t get much of a mention. As I was saying in the pub the other day – it’s not that I’m ashamed of them exactly, but it’s not the kind of thing you talk about with people who didn’t, er, do it.



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“Beyond that, though,” says mr blissblog, “I’m not sure of the extent to which you…can make the charts the foundation of a pop theology. After all, they’re simply a structure for tabulating what’s selling, a statistical format. There’s no aesthetic essence to chartpop…” Um hullo yes that’s EXACTLY THE POINT!! The fetishising of an “aesthetic essence” (viz the boiling away of the particular to establish a GENRE or a MARKETING NICHE or a MOVEMENT or an ATTITUDE or TREND) (ie ignoring what may be difft/interestin/exciting abt such-and-such a record or song or performance in favour of a general rah-rah bigging up of the specialist section of the record shop it’s stacked in/section of the musicmag it’s reviewed in) as the grounding for excellence = the ROCKIST FOE IN PLAIN VIEW. The charts – in this theology – throw stuff in front of you for reasons which is (in strictly aesthetic terms) merely random, or anyway so scrambled that you can’t read back from the ultimate public selection to the formal material choices that went into its making.

this WASN’T JUST a matter of paul m’s wickle indie dahlings charting huzza!; i think it wz much more a matter of “his” postpunk terrain and “manufactured” pop overlapping, soundwise and affectwise, esp.once you switched away from the bogus critical territory of intentionality (which always boils down to making sociological assumptions) (viz: when these foax make this noise it is GOOD bcz they have read that book; but when THOSE foax make the same noise it is bad bcz they have not and also are gurlz probably)

(also also: but wz it a jibe at r.cook? —> i really REALLY doubt it, for exactly the reasons SR gives; cookie’s address to music wz/is pretty rigorously universalist – he wrote abt the WHOLE of jazz (king oliver to derek bailey)* plus HARDCORE plus 80s SOUL plus AFRICAN POP plus PSYCHEDELIA plus REGGAE plus PINEFOXIAN MOR plus THE FALL plus plus plus (anyway *i* certainly didn’t read it as anything except a jibe at Rip Rig and Panic) (haha the jazz insects supported them – a couple of them were nice but most of them were dicks)

*jazz which has been mangled even worse than rock by rockism (i argued once on ilm that “jazzism” wd be an acceptable alternative => the line quoted is a good reason why “popism” in content-free formulation (though at a pinch you cd argue that eg simon cowell is a popist – if (that is) he exactly maps quality onto sales) (which in fact i don’t think he does)

[post courtesy two bald men fighting over a comb productions]


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The other copyright battle: pop’s unexpected longevity has a major commercial downside. “Once out of copyright, the BPI fears such potentially lucrative recordings could be exploited without recompense to the performers or the copyright holders.” – yes, this is what ‘out of copyright’ means. The article mentions the 95-year copyright terms in the USA, though doesn’t talk about how this has been extended several times from its original limit. That sets a precedent for UK legistlators – but the recording industry also has to defend what amounts to special pleading for rock music: records by pre-rock hitmakers have already been allowed to slip quietly out of UK copyright.


Do You SeePost a comment • 386 views

BACK FROM THEE DEAD SHOCKAH: Laurence Olivier “resurrected for film role”!!! Their words, not mine!! Sheesh, goths! 

But moving on, next up we’ll have robots replacing actors and then FILMS OF ROBOTS and then FILMS OF ROBOTS WATCHING ROBOTS and hurrah: Turner Prizes all round!

THE SQUARE TABLE 6/ The Shapeshifters – “Lola’s Theme”

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THE SQUARE TABLE 6/ The Shapeshifters – “Lola’s Theme”

Pop Factor: 673 Controversy Score: 260

My appreciation for Lola’s Theme considered as the image of a dance track:

A. THE BUILD: it seems like it’s always been around, a Summer constant even though I only heard it for the first time – hmm, when did I hear it first? – I’ve forgotten, its slow fade-in to my attention forgotten in the shine of its unvarying presence.

B: THE PLATEAU: “Oh what’s this?” “I know it, it’s that different person song, oh what’s it called?” “Who’s it by?” “Damn, I can’t remember” “Is it a current song?” “I don’t think it’s out yet”

C: THE BREAKDOWN: One too many plays, one too many repeats, one good song dulled by the endlessly looping radio playlists. It becomes an unwelcome earworm, a tired pleasure at best, an irritant at worst, ignored at most.

D: THE PEAK: And suddenly in an office or on headphones it comes to life, its familiarity turning sweet, pleasing me for the twentieth time, surprising me for the first.

E: REPEAT. 7 (Tom)

Some things just work beautifully, don’t they? 10 (William B Swygart)

I’m a different person. But if I were a bus, I’d need a guide too. 10 (George Kelly)

Radio Edit? What the hell? 3:30 isn’t enough – this needs to be a 20-minute megamix full of come downs and come ups and fade-ins and beat drops and every other glorious disco cliche. Don’t leave me this way, baby – my dumps are full of love & desire & Coca Cola for you. Shake me like a glowstick, big boi. Sign of strength – first verse sticks like teflon, and that chorus is beat into the ground by the ‘Shifters like John Henry did railroad spikes. Also, on a related note, I finally get Daft Punk – it was a long, arduous test (damn my hate for vocoders) (blame Cher), but I finally passed. In comparison, this track (&, I hope, future nu-disco goodness) feels like the bonus points one gets for putting a John Hancock on the paper. Study hard, y’all. 9 (David Raposa)

Salsoul to go. Transistor disco for the coffee bar set. I’m generally pretty quick to show “my life was empty without you” songs the door, but “Lola’s Theme” is gonna be hanging around for awhile. I love the synthetic string/horn section. Sure, it’s no “Crazy In Love”, but it’s still pretty damn insistent. I could see Dimitri From Paris dropping this on a handbag-house revival night. The weird vocal effects buried in the mix add to the French house feel. Not major, but fun. 8 (Henry Scollard)

A bit of filtered house and some strong soulful vocals always gets my vote, and this handles its elements very well. Do I know the song, or does it just sound like something else? Some old Chaka Khan song? Anyway, pretty irresistible. 8 (Martin Skidmore)

I was really looking forward to hear this track, and with such great expectations I was a little disappointed at first. It didn’t sound like a dance track distinctive enough to be topping the charts in a way that Space Cowboy can only dream to do some day. But that’s probably its greatness: a compelling, if maybe a little too adequate, disco anthem with lush strings splashing onto Mediterranean shores. Plus enough filtered charms to reignite the sale of Sherman Filterbanks as if it’s 1999. A Valencia to Rachel Stevens’ Real Madrid, maybe? 8 (Diego Valladolid)

I asked my sister about this. I don’t know what to say myself, I thought if I checked out the ringtone maybe it would sound even better, because it’s like it needs something else. Don’t ask me, I don’t know what. Anyway, my sister started singing that ‘I’m a different person’ bit in a really high-pitched squeal, which made me laugh. I suppose it’s all cheery, happy and whatever. That’s not bad, is it? I won’t be keeping the ringtone though. 7 (Bushra)

How much you like this depends entirely on how much you like the faded in intro, and how often you can listen to it over and over again. I like it a lot. It burrowed into my brain a while ago and I won’t really think about it until suddenly this comes on at a Club FT and I will grin and dance. It does exactly what it sets out to do.

That said after this anything Lola does would probably be a let down. 7 (Pete)

Hearing it, and hearing the voiceover describe it as a “summer anthem” on an advert for a shitty summer compilation, made me hate its plastic, made to order perkiness. But a proper listen did a lot to change my mind- a fairly sumptuous build and release disco number. The kind of thing they weren’t supposed to make anymore, and a soaring melody that I still just about can summon up enough naivety to dig. 7 (Derek Walmsley)

Alas, Simon might try to convince his wife – for whom he’s written the song – that he’s a different person, but Lola’s Theme never really ventures out of your typical disco-glittery universe. I love the bubbly intro, the female vocals, the euphoria trumpets and even the Roger Sanchez synths. Like any good club slash pop song it works on both the dance floor and the radio. Yet there’s never any real punktum partially because of the extremely trite lyrics and partially because I can’t seem to remember what 70s disco tune it rips off. Grrrr. 6.5 (Stevie Nixed)

And they say the new Prodigy album is dated! Still I guess you can never hold this kind of thing down – in reality it’s a bit ordinary but there is that moment, a moment that could sum up every disco-tinged track of the last 30 years, the predictable inevitable muffled quiet-down-abruptly-then-build-up-slowly crescendo giving way to a strong Balearic sunshower of disco strings casting light on a plateau of vibrant carnivalesque euphoria (sorry about this). Nice appropriation of vocal steal as well. So maybe not so much dated as just ‘right now’, which is fine, I guess. 6 (Steve M)

I like that there horn riff. 5 (Daniel Reifferscheid)

The first time this gets turned on I think “Hmmm. Not really feeling that hook. Maybe it’ll develop.”

Twelve spins later, I’m still not feeling that hook and it never has developed. Sonic treadmill. This IS a contemporary song, right? And it’s on the British charts RIGHT NOW? Really? Whew. So familiar that I thought I must’ve already heard this on Christopher Street and just about a half step below mediocrity. Let’s call it a full step. In the name of love. 4 (Forksclovetofu)

Disappointingly, this bears no relation to ‘Tony’s Theme’ by The Pixies. For whatever reason, this fails to move me in any way whatsoever. 3 (alext)

It leaves me utterly cold.

Those submerged strings are recognisably classic, a deft nod to the disco canon; were I writing a press release, I’d call the horns uplifting. But it doesn’t make me feel anything, not love nor hate, not a mild liking nor a distant disdain. It’s just… there.

And what the fuck is the point of that? 0 (cis)