Posts from January 2009

26
Jan 09

ADAM AND THE ANTS – “Prince Charming”

FT + Popular73 comments • 6,982 views

#486, 19th September 1981

“Prince Charming” is the ultimate Adam Ant record, but also weirdly redundant. It’s his manifesto – a series of commandments building up to a credo that’s come to envelop Adam’s whole era: ridicule is nothing to be scared of. But almost every one of Adam’s hit singles had worked like this: the man was a walking manifesto, in slogans and looks and actions and sheer presence. There’s something too harsh, too stark about “Prince Charming”, this undiluted concentrate of Ant-iness.

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BRANDWATCH: BBC vs DEC

FT9 comments • 239 views

Let’s kick the BBC again. For all the rights and wrongs in the current furore over the BBC not showing the DEC appeal for humanitarian aid in Gaza, a key point appears to have been missed. I must admit the arguments over news impartiality, appropriateness of particular cases and so on has passed me by. Sure prime time, post news exposure for a humanitarian appear will raise its profile and hopefully get more people to donate. But surely so will the 1896 news items (and counting) reporting and condemning the BBC. Some might say to the extent that it has much more exposure now than it would have had. After all the BBC are reporting it as news, on the news (with a short clip of the appeal that they will not show), twenty minutes before the slot which they refuse to show the actual appeal. It has been moved up the news agenda.

The only difference as far as I can see is that the appeal would have told you how to donate, where the BBC news item, and unfortunately all the critical news items against the BBC seem to not do this.

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23
Jan 09

My 10 Worst Films Of 2008: 1: The Good Night

FT3 comments • 405 views

I didn’t walk out of the The Good Night because I fell asleep. HA HA – what an irony when the film itself is about sleeping! I did not fall asleep for very long, but I wish I had. You have probably already detected a theme in this list of the kind of films I particularly dislike. Yes rubbish action movies that turn out to be boring. But also middle-class indie smugfests where unlikeable people moan about their not very bad lives and do lots of stupid things. Well The Good Night, which should have been good, turns out to be the worst of these films. EVER.

It stars Martin Freeman in, what is hopefully, a movie career ending film. He plays an ex-minor indie star who is now “wasting his talents” writing jingles. He is miserably married to Gwenyth Paltrow who acts extremely well as a dissatisfied wife annoyed her mopy husband. Which considering Freeman’s main problem appears to be being stuck writing jingles makes her the most sympathetic person in the film because he is an absolute twat.

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SOFT CELL – “Tainted Love”

FT + Popular71 comments • 6,270 views

#485, 5th September 1981

Soft Cell’s reinvention of “Tainted Love” is based on a simple shift in emphasis. In the Gloria Jones recording, the point of the record is the love – it’s troubled, besmirched, but Gloria is strong enough to fight her way past that – or carry through her intention to quit. Either way the decision’s hers. For Marc Almond, the point is the taint. Without the taint, there is no love. “Once I ran to you, now I’ll run from you” – but he’s not running yet.

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Thrill-Power Revisited

FT6 comments • 274 views

Comics Should Be Good links to my old Pitchfork essay on THRILL-POWER, a term I use a lot without ever having managed to give a good summary of what I mean by it. (“Earthlet, if you have to ask, you’ll never know”)

This awesome comment however perfectly indicates why there’s still some way to go before the Dictators of Zrag are fully purged from the US market: “Call me crazy but I’ll take a “story” over a “thrill” any day.”

In terms of current comics discourse, here’s where I think thrill-power fits in:

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My 10 Worst Films Of 2008: 1.5 (Doesn’t count cos I saw it on DVD)

FT5 comments • 270 views

Cassandra’s Dream

If I had seen Cassandra’s Dream in the cinema I would have walked out. As it was I got half an hour in on the DVD and then flung across the room in disgust. (And then cleaned it and hoped no-one at LoveFilm would notice).

I like Woody Allen. No-one is a bigger Woody Allen apologist than me. But Cassandra’s Dream was like pulling teeth. No-one comes out of the mess of Cassandra’s Dream with any credit. Ewan MacGregor and Colin Farrell do not convince as siblings, or as Londoners. Tom Wilkinson can do menacing, but decides not to here instead swopping acting for a set of harsh vowels and fake tan. The conceit of ambitious brothers wanting more from life could have been ripped from a five year old morality play. Again show me a man who is winning on the dogs in the first ten minutes of a film, and I’ll show you a man in hock to gangsters for 50 grand at twenty. Show me a man with a dream of running a big hotel in California (said like El Dorado) at the start of a film, and I’ll show you a man in tears at the end of it. Throw in some glamorous dolly birds and a stupid murder plot you have a film which was too painful to watch.

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22
Jan 09

Who listens to the Watchmen?

FT/6 comments • 173 views

From Douglas Wolk’s Twitter account I snatch the link to the Watchmen soundtrack. Fans of the comic will be disappointed – or perhaps pleased – to note that only a handful of Alan Moore’s chapter-leading musical sources make it in: Warner have for some reason chosen not to opt for the surefire download smash hit that is John Cale’s “Santies”. Leonard Cohen’s battered finances get another boost as “Hallelujah” crops up AGAIN – what it’s soundtracking I dread to think. Otherwise this is heavy on the ‘Nam-era flashbacks and light on modern pop – a sensible choice, since the film’s set in a parallel history so pop in the Watchworld is Not As We Know It. No sign of Pale Horse, though. Perhaps the teaser new track is standing in for them: My Chemical Romance’s version of “Desolation Row” – or, given that it’s 2’59” – three verses of Desolation Row tops.

My 10 Worst Films Of 2008: 2: Silent Light

FT8 comments • 279 views

I think that my response to putting this at number two will be hordes (two) people telling me how much I don’t get it. Silent Light, by Mexican director (I refuse to call him an auteur) Carlos Reygadas, was critically gushed over this time last year. And its just out in the States and has been critically gushed over there too. And I hated it. I and my companion came out after its ponderous two hours, looked at each other with disgust. My friend had said she wanted, as a New Years resolution, to see more arthouse films. I’ll go see anything, so I was pleased to have a companion. But Silent Light annoyed us into almost swearing off arthouse cinema forever. It certainly makes me wary when reviews use words like majesty, deliberate, transcendentalist (OK that last one should have been a clue). Its not just that Silent Light is dull. I can deal with dull but beautiful, and I cannot argue that there are moments of Silent Light which are breathtakingly beautiful. But its the moments between those two moments (the start and finish) which make up the lions share of this film, and that was a story which just didn’t grab and sort of offended me.

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The Strange Death of the UK Charts

FT/62 comments • 5,102 views

This is a graph – done by anatol_merklich off the Poptimists LiveJournal community, so massive thanks to him – showing the number of new entries in the UK singles chart for each year from 1952 to the present.

Plot graph showing number of UK chart hits per year

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21
Jan 09

ANEKA – “Japanese Boy”

FT + Popular100 comments • 5,565 views

#484, 29th August 1981

Inscrutable indeed is the train of thought that led Mary Sandeman to get up in a kimono and transform into the mysterious and bewitching Aneka. It was to prove an unrepeatable flash of inspiration – the dress-up box wouldn’t stretch to a second hit. And to be fair, nothing much about “Japanese Boy” suggests ‘career artist’ – the public’s appetite for syndrums and chinoiserie was briefly immense but always likely to be finite.

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