Posts from March 2009

Mar 09

Complex Semiotics of Music Videos, Pt. Zzzzzz

FT/17 comments • 1,014 views

Music videos: what a pile of shit, eh? Well, not always, obviously but more often than not they’re a cheap set of cliches thrown together for a song that’s not that far off that description and generally rubbish and boring, the only distractions being that someone might be writhing around sexily somewhere in the background.

There’s not a lot I could say about them that hasn’t been said before, particularly in terms of gender politics and yet sometimes, whilst I’m lying prone on my parents’ settee wondering why this time of the morning has to exist and watching 4Music, I’m gripped by an urge to rage and by about 11pm this rage occasionally takes on textual shape and form.

ADAM ANT – “Goody Two Shoes”

FT + Popular57 comments • 5,105 views

#502, 12th June 1982

Ants largely jettisoned, Adam cast around for a new angle. It was a moment in pop history when sudden changes of image and sound were respectable – even expected for some stars. Compared to today’s performers who tend to cover bandwagon-jumping with a figleaf of artistic intent, there was a refreshing honesty about this pursuit of a new look for a new season: pop and fashion were merging in a blare of colour.

Grandad Torino More Like

FT1 comment • 193 views

Like most Clint Eastwood films, Gran Torino takes its time. It never feels rushed, though unlike say Changeling it does not feel overlong. Perhaps the difference is Clint hamming it up infront of the camera, no matter how craggy (and he is craggy alright) he is still a fascinatingly charismatic actor. We know he is a solid director, and a pretty fair script writer. Perhaps his editing could be tighter, but as you sit luxuriating in the clever inevitability and meta commentary of the film on Clint’s whole career you feel he has the right to use this extra time. And just as the film has worked it manipulative magic on you and the credits start to come up, Clint starts singing. And you find your body is so relaxed by the film that it is difficult to get up and run out of the cinema as fast as you need to, Because, well, Clint isn’t a very good singer is he?

Not to go all Tanya on you, but when Clint sang “I Talk To The Trees” in Paint Your Wagon, you could tell why they weren’t listening.

Freaky Trigger and the Lollards of Pop – Series 3, Week 4

Lollards Podcast6 comments • 171 views

They say the proof of the pudding is in the eating, but in this case, the proof of the pudding is in the LISTENING. Because this is a show about puddings, and you have to listen to it to get any nutritional value out of it at all.

Nuncle Carsmile Steve Hewitt welcomes his guests Rebecca Toennessen, Stevie Trousse and Marna Gilligan and wrestle with the great gravy vs custard battle, music comes from Stanley Holloway, Wilco and something that sounds like an army of very, very sad machines.

So nonsense basically, and much misinformation presented as fact as ever. Please feel free to correct us below in the comments.

Mar 09


Do You See + FTPost a comment • 172 views

Duplicity: aka an agent from MI6 and an Agent from the CIA. When They Met it was Murder.

There are certain names which should never be used for films. Anything that comes in a bit too universal, a bit too non-descript, will doom your project. Steer clear of any film called Deception. There is a reason why there is only one film of note called Murder. To this anonymous band of rubbishly incoherent titles we must add Duplicity. Not that there is not Duplicity in teh film (though truth be told the is triplicity and quadplicity at least). But because it doesn’t really make the film leap out at you. Which is the problem with the film in general.

Its got a funky, wish-it-was-by-David Holmes music. Its got Julia Roberts and Clive Owen in a sparky, spunky relationship. Its glib, and perfectly crafted. Basically Duplicity wants to be Oceans 11 with balls, a glitzy entertainment with a splash of substance under the surface. The problem is, in trying to tie a film of double and triple crosses with a meditation on trust, neither themes work.

Mar 09

THE FT TOP 100 TRACKS OF ALL TIME No. 29: PJ & Duncan AKA – Let’s Get Ready To Rhumble

FT/6 comments • 848 views

No jokes, no messin’, we’ll teach you a lesson, a state of confusion to keep you all guessin’!

Wholesome family entertainers Ant (PJ) and Dec (Duncan) have come a long way since that terrible (but thankfully fictional) Tyneside paintballing accident in 1992, where Debbie and Amanda ganged up on the boys as revenge for two-timing them but PJ had taken his protective goggles off for a split second and got paint in his retinas. Whoops! “Geoff! He cannae see man! Spuggy’s done a sick! Nyooaaoorhhhhhhhhh!“.


FT + Proven By Science4 comments • 276 views

“Twittering” – as Mark pointed out in the pub last week – is how the Romans described the sounds made by ghosts in the classical underworld: spectral interactions, grey and fleeting. The topic had come up after we claimed on air that a percentage of the micro-messages released into the Twitteric aether issued from the dead. We had in mind a phantom undernet of hauntings: the ouija board as the original microblog. The truth of ghost twitters turns out to be more mundane, but just as intriguing in its way.

According to a New York Times article, many of the celebrities who have made Twitter jump into the mainstream are – gasp! – employing ghost writers to compose their 140-character updates. Some are transparent about this – Britney’s vastly popular account is run by Team Britney – others are at least honest: “It’s just like how a designer would work” says Kanye West.

The Spinal Tap In The Room

Do You See + FT2 comments • 263 views

ANVIL! The Story Of Anvil: The Story Of A Metal Band Called Anvil: As Seen In The Film Anvil! is a very sweet movie about ambition, dreams and never giving up. At its core are two childhood friends who love playing heavy metal and had a brush with the big time, but since then have refused to give up. Despite ageing, and having tedious day jobs, they still have a dream of making that great album and having that great tour. It is in many ways an analogue to Darren Aronfsky’s The Wrestler, except of course Anvil! is real. Though it is so farcical in places that at least one of the people who came to see it with me refused to believe it. Because whilst it mirrors The Wrestlers “never say die in reduced circumstances” attitude, it also features an extremely likeable pair of leads in Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow and Robb Reiner, it – oh.

You noticed.

The problem with Anvil! is also probably the reason it has had distribution. This Is Spinal Tap. Perhaps too much play has been made on the similarity between Anvil and Spinal Tap, which boils down to having a drummer called Robb Reiner and being a Heavy Metal band from the eighties.

Mar 09

MADNESS – “House Of Fun”

FT + Popular49 comments • 4,734 views

#501, 29th May 1982

“House Of Fun” finds Madness – one of the most consistent and successful singles acts in Britain – on a cusp. They’d made their name with busy, high-impact ska-derived records whose bristling arrangements and comical touches often hid more pointed subject matter. They were heading towards an incarnation as traders in pop art melancholy, an inheritor of the Kinks and prototype for Britpop.

But this record is the band biting off almost more than it can chew. It’s Madness’ skankin’ nutty-boys incarnation pushed to the limits of cohesion, Suggs trying to squeeze a complex sitcom sketch – in which he acts every part! – into under three minutes, jostling for space with a beat and a load of fairground-music instrumental lines.

Look Who Stalking?

Do You See2 comments • 150 views

A semi follow up to Martin’s Lem piece (a writer for whom the only affection I have is due to him sharing the first name with my grandfather). I went to the NFT a few weeks ago to see Stalker. OK, Roadside Picnic is not by Lem, but Tarkovsky did try to rectify what he disliked about his own version of Solaris in Stalker. Namely, he didn’t want it it look like science fiction at all. And so he boils the Strugatsky Brothers novel – already quite cerebral – into an elongated philosophical joke about a writer, a scientist and a priest* in a pub. A very elongated joke indeed, albeit one with a terrific psychological punchline. How well do you know what your hearts desire is, really? No, really? Would you trust the fate of the world on it? Cos really, deep down, aren’t you a misanthropic, evil little sonofabitch?

Stalker is in many ways the ultimate anti-sci-fi movie. It has a vaguely science fiction set-up (aliens list, vanish leaving unstable, dangerous “zones” full of alien technology) but is presented in a near luddite way.