Posts from 17th November 2004

Nov 04

Fear of voice-over: what is it about documentaries and talking heads?

Do You SeePost a comment • 306 views

Fear of voice-over: what is it about documentaries and talking heads? Why do we need to see people say what they are saying. Given that most docs are edited so’s to make a coherent argument, using talking much as essay-writers use quotations from secondary sources (ie selectively), why bother with interviewees at all? ‘The Corporation’ is well worth seeing, but none of the theatrically released films in this ‘year of the documentary’ live up to Adam Curtis’ TV ‘The Power of Nightmares’.
‘Capturing the Friedmans’ comes closest: there the talking head format makes sense because all the talking heads contradict each other, and you have to fall back on primeval codes of body language to figure out what the hell’s going on.
Julio Medem’s ‘Basque Ball’ is interesting because it makes clearest how much the director is manipulating interview footage by using copious and obvious jump-cuts; for example one interviewee is framed in front of the ocean, the jagged rhythm of the incoming waves emphasizing how much is being left out.
You have to wonder ‘to what end?’ To non-Spanish non-wonks it’s imposssible to keep track of who is saying what (flash subtitles tell us exactly *which* socialist nonviolent etc Basque sect is represented in each interview), so you wonder why Medem didn’t just go for a direct argument film in his own voice, rather than rely on the spurious authenticity of citation.

“Incredible, Mr. Incredible”

Do You SeePost a comment • 248 views

“Incredible, Mr. Incredible”Pixar’s latest is a smash American hit and very good fun and etc., so no surprise there. This is the first Pixar film I’ve been sufficiently interested in to go see in the theater on first run and I was well rewarded. What I’ve noticed about it as a particular pleasure, something others have rightly caught as well, is the fact that it’s not just a ‘superhero’ film or a domestic comedy but also a James Bond film, albeit one with a particular slant.

The elements that feed into this mostly though not entirely appear in the portrayal of the world of the villain Syn-Drome, who most certainly neither looks nor sounds like, say, Goldfinger or Blofeld or the usual such characters. But his base is a dreamworld pitched somewhere between You Only Live Twice‘s rocket base under a false lake (in this case it’s stored in a volcanic cone) and The Man With the Golden Gun‘s kitted out and fitted out private island. The general reference points are much more the sixties Bond than the seventies, though — there’s the specifically John Barry-riffing arrangements (including a subtle nod to the underwater music in Thunderball), the general sense of impossible opulence (a formal dining room for two with a wall made of flowing lava!), the hordes of anonymous henchmen who meet not the happiest of ends.

Then there’s Mirage, the requisite female in cahoots with the villian (also interesting — she’s one of the few explicitly non-Caucasian characters) who comes around to the hero’s side by the end of it. But she’s neither the obligatory sacrificial lamb nor, more importantly, a sexual partner of the hero — as mentioned, it’s a domestic comedy, and the idea that Mr. Incredible might be cheating becomes a plot point but he nowhere gives in, however coyly the possibilities are presented. Instead of also being won over by force of sexual charisma, Mirage switches sides because, quite simply, Mr. Incredible’s morals turn out to be better than Syn-Drome’s. It’s an adaptation for the purposes of the story that works just fine — you can see it as a bowdlerization on the one hand but on the other hand there’s no reason why a movie that (very carefully but openly) plays its cards in terms of sex in some areas need not do so in others.

And that all said, two words: Edna Mode. She owned the movie (and good job Brad Bird did voicing her, that’s for sure!)

dead as the ebu gogo

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 324 views

dead as the ebu gogo

Human extinction within 100 years warns prizewinning scientist

THE SQUARE TABLE 21 / Dizzee Rascal – “Dream”

FT + New York London Paris Munich2 comments • 1,451 views

Pop Factor: 711 Controversy Rating: 286

From a marketing point of view, the double-whammy repositioning of Dizzee in the mainest of mainstreams is startling, particularly as the rest of Showtime is only user-friendly compared to his older stuff. I don’t think “Dream” and BA20 are career-breakers, but I could see him stuck, mediawise, in that Ms.Dynamite role of “the good rapper”, wheeled out to prove the vibrancy of the ‘UK urban scene’ while never really doing much.

Except that I don’t think he’s making these records for any reason other than wanting to make them. The big name rappers drop the odd singalong, nursery rhyme track sometimes – why shouldn’t Dizzee? “Dream” is corny but splendid – that “thankyou” aside gets me right there – and the high-risk distancing effects (his outrageously flat singing, the embarrassed intro) work to stop it all sounding ridiculous, or worse, pompous. I hope he keeps on surprising us. 9 (Tom)

10 and a joker. Not because it’s my favorite track of all time or anything but only because I can’t imagine you’ll send me anything more enjoyable than this. I’ve been on Diz’s dick since the first listen and this only serves to continue my enjoyment. Plus that video! (Forksclovetofu)

Open up the middle pages of “Boy In The Corner” and you’ll see a nice photo of Dizzee’s desk. Lots of photos of his family, demo tapes, magazines and jewelry. “Dream” is the first time he has put that imagery into music. It’s a celebration of what has been. A reaffirmation that although everything changed completely for him in the space of a year, he hasn’t lost sight of who he really is.

It would be to the detriment of his output if such a change occurred. He sounds innocent instead of forced or contrived. There is no pretence (unlike say, Mike Skinner who has to “make-up” scenarios in order to try to keep it real), and because of it, this remains one of the most honest moments of either album. The song just leaves me with the same overwhelming positive feeling about well, everywhere I might (or might not) be heading in life.

I mean, tell me you don’t love that? 10 (MW_Jimmy)

This is the first one in a while that I already knew well. Dizzee is a funny rapper on many levels, sometimes witty but also with a voice that suggests humour anyway, and especially when he sings along briefly – who can resist a smile at the way he sings “true”? What with it mentioning Tottenham (where I live) and sampling the only pop star I’ve met more than once, I feel a real affinity with it. I’m not sure I like it as much away from the often crunchy production of his usual stuff, where it acts as a breezy contrast, with its perky simplicity and lightness, but it’s still an absolute delight – there haven’t been many records that make me smile as much this year. Despite RealPlayer assuring me its genre is ‘foreign rap’ and that Dizzee is an ‘art-rapper’, and whatever the fuck that means, it’s wrong. 9.5 (Martin Skidmore)

Love this song, but I can’t work out why it’s a single: it feels a little too aimless, doesn’t exactly grab you. Charms you, instead, with twee little kiddy-choir, lopsided oom-pah-pah keyboard, single chink of sleighbell, Dizzee chatting about, you know, being a kid and worrying about the future and getting into music and how you’ve got to look after yourself and stay true to yourself, you know? And there’s those little asides – “love the singing, love it,” he says after a chorus, and joins in each time with a flat bellow for the last line, how you gonna have a dream come trooooo? It’s like he’s just sitting there, music in the background, and the way he falls perfectly into rhythm with it no more and no less than happy accident, benign, unworried, content for now. 8 (cis)

Well, I’ve got to hand to him. “Dream” is able to work the same trick as “Fix Up, Look Sharp” (molding a goofy 80s song into a killer hip-hop track), and has the potential to be massive thanks to its perky chorus and universal message to follow your dreams. It makes me crave a Dizzee album full of New Wave remixes, where juxtaposing “Two of Hearts” and heavy grime rhythms makes total sense, where Kajagoogoo has street cred coming out of their ass, and pirate radio DJs toast to the sound of Journey. You’d love that, tell me you don’t love that! 8 (Michael F Gill)

Wow! It’s a Christmas single, Dizzie brings the sleigh bells! 7 (Jel)

Well why not, eh? Glad they added a beat to the single version, the amusing video giving it extra strength – actually quite needed because there won’t be many other singles released (even at this time of year) that will divide people so much. Even some consternation among the Dizziephiles I imagine. My verdict boils down to how funny I found it on first hearing, which it turns out, was a lot. Despite the triteness of the thing and the terrible singing Dizzee still manages to make me like it and that’s something Jay-Z couldn’t do with ‘Hard Knock Life’ nor Nas can do with that new one about how great he and his Dad are. Bless. 7 (Steve M)

Hello, boys and girls. This is your garage pal, Dizzee . This is a song about a rapper. No! This is a song about being happy! That’s right! It’s the Happy Happy Joy Joy song! Happy Happy Joy Joy Happy Happy Joy Joy. Dizzee doesn’t think you’re happy enough! That’s right! He’ll teach you to be positive! He’ll teach your mate to write toonz! Now, boys and girls, let’s try it again! Whatever. Dizzee, I love you but I can’t really put my arms in the air for this one. 6 (Stevie Nixed)

First impression is there’s no funk, just a nodding plink-plonk. It shakes no more ass than Muffin the Mule. His life story drags you in, though- his voice as relaxed and chilled as if he’s reminiscing in the rocking chair. Best of all, it breathes life into the previosly stone dead Happy Talk sample. By the end you never get sick of it, especially the sublime blessing “young lady mothers yeah I got your
back as well, young baby fathers hold it down for your gyal”. An unashamed anthem, a nursery rhyme really, but it’s still got that Dizzee real-life feel. 6 (Derek Walmsley)

Dizzee does Nas doing a PBS PSA, but does so without the historical white-out & the tiny pianist. Instead, there’s some aw-shucks swagger and chirpy puppeting and loads of oopmah-loompah calliope muzak swirling about like so much cotton candy. And even though it’s quaint and cute, there’s something missing – maybe it’s just me coming to grips with someone born from the grit & grime of the LDN getting less up IN people and more up WITH people. Still, it’s nice. Toot toot toot. 6 (David Raposa)

I still haven’t listened to all of Showtime, but this single leaves me with doubts. Where “I Luv U” was exciting, complex, and confrontational, “Dream” is (at best) merely clever and (at worst) embarrasingly trite. Disappointing, but the chorus is endearing camp. 3 (Atnevon)

If grime is old enough to spawn novelty records, I’m sure it can cope with the honest admission that this single is utter piffle. 0 (alext)

I had thought Popjustice was going

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I had thought Popjustice was going a bit over the top with its critique of Band Aid 20 (if you accept PJ’s logic then EVERYONE needs to be on the single to fully reap the marginal benefits – if Sam and Mark, why not Nurse With Wound?). But looking at the entry you have to say they have a point:

“Customers who bought music by Band Aid 20 also bought music by these artists:

Will Young
Girls Aloud
Ronan Keating
Geri Halliwell
Brian McFadden”

Four out of five of whom aren’t on the record.

Download and singles chart to merge

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Download and singles chart to merge – in ‘new year’, i.e. just after the 1000th No.1? Or just in time for it. (Yes I know three quarters of you care less than nothing about this.) (via No Rock And Roll Fun)

“I think that people should steer clear of the Ukranian Snickers”

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 206 views

“I think that people should steer clear of the Ukranian Snickers”

My German Poem

The Brown Wedge2 comments • 1,238 views

My German Poem

This is offered

i) In a spirit of vague solidarity with the Save The Jolly German campaign.

ii) As an example of the uselessness of our educational system/my brain, it being all I can remember from my German GCSE (an A grade at that!).

iii) Because Matt DC asked for it.

It is – I suspect – the only time Freaky Trigger will be running poetry by its contributors. Apologies for grammar and spelling errors – I was 13. Also I can’t do the accents on this thing cos I’m not clever enough with the HTML

Der Schlange
by Tom Ewing

Ich habe eine Schlange
Meine Schlange hat viel Durst
Er geht in zum Cafe
Er hat Getranke und ein Wurst

Fat Man Campaign Update

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 217 views

Fat Man Campaign Update

– 53 people have signed the petition so far, a groundswell of popular opinion we are confident will prove impossible for the martinets at Tadcaster to ignore.

– We are writing to the mayor of Aying, the small town in the Bavarian Alps that gives the Fat Man its proper name, to inform him of this cultural catastrophe. Sam Smiths so-called ‘rebranding’ won’t seem so clever when it’s caused a major diplomatic incident.

– We note with interest a wider cultural dimension to the disappearance of our big-boned plastic chum. The Government launched some Keep Fit initiative yesterday, and we also learned that wily continentals are stealing our pork fat for their sick rites. We at Jolly German HQ say “Hmmmmm”.

A small crumb of good news

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A small crumb of good news: Hi-I’m-Wes to leave R1, mind you the replacements don’t look much of an improvement.