Posts from 18th May 2004

May 04

Cow-Patty Bingo

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Have the national sports media really only now gotten around to the concept of Cow-Patty Bingo?

“Gee whiz Martha, what will they think of next? Donkey basketball?”

BRITNEY SPEARS – “Autumn Goodbye”

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BRITNEY SPEARS – “Autumn Goodbye”

Twinned quaintness: a B-Side, and a Britney tune carried mostly by its sung melody. It’s A-Side was “…Baby One More Time”, which may not be the best of her records but is still the audio/video template for everything else – sexuality as a production gloss, a rampaging text (*mops sweaty pomo brow*) blithely unaware of its own unpleasant implications. The crucial difference between Madonna and Britney is that Madonna is famous for her decisive image-control and Britney’s rep is built on her (apparently) accidental PR messes – domestic violence subtexts; virginity claims; drunken weddings; suicide videos. Weirdly I think this might be why she endures – unusually for a modern pop star, she makes huge, glaring, honking mistakes.

Madonna also never made a habit of doing things like “Autumn Goodbye”, a farewell-my-summer-love burble which sets out the stall for Britney-as-innocent. It has a very nice tune which slides from an aching verse to a jaunty chorus and which is ample reason to ferret it out. Listening to it now though the production – or lack of it – is what strikes me. “Autumn Goodbye”, with its little blurts of canned trumpets and aerobicise backbeat, sounds cheaper than almost anything else under the Spears imprint. In fact it sounds European – Pete Waterman could have done it, or more likely one of his staff could have done it for a half-hearted Steps solo album. I have plenty of tolerance for this sound – doesn’t excite me, doesn’t offend me – but it’s certainly Not Britney. As such “Autumn Goodbye” is a snapshot of Britney before she was Britney – before Team Britney had worked out what to do with her.

Sexually explicit film version of Nick Hornby’s 31 Songs cuts 22 songs to fit the sex in.

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Sexually explicit film version of Nick Hornby’s 31 Songs cuts 22 songs to fit the sex in.

Alright, that is actually a lie. Instead Michael Winterbottom has made what may well be an unreleasable sex’n’concert film where a young couple er couple, each of their no holds barred sex scenes are seperated by the nine gigs they see as their relationship develops. The downside. Words like Primal Scream and Super Furry Animals are mooted. They also, and probably conveniently for soundtracking purposes, go to a Michael Nyman concert. “I’m very pleased to be in the most sexually explicit film in British film history,” said Nyman from Berlin yesterday, “especially as I am not doing anything sexual. I can’t wait to see it.” (Guardian story seems oddly more sympathetic than the BBC one).

And to be fair, even if it is rubbish, it won’t be worse that 31 Songs, the movie.

It seems that my new favourite genre of films is work proceedurals

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It seems that my new favourite genre of films is work proceedurals. Shattered Glass does it for highbrow journalism, and painstakingly spends much of its time telling you how rigourous the editing and fact-checking process is. It then spends the rest of the time showing how a spotty twenty something managed to file loads of stories which were fabricated out of his own feverish, and talented head. The lying aspect of the film interested me intensely (for some reason), and I will return to it in a longer article some time. The film is really good on its own office politics though, which helps ground the increasingly implausible narrative.

Stephen Glass (Hayden Christensen), he whom some how is or will shatter in the title, is awkward, preppy, unthreatening sexually and thoughtful to his co-workers. He gossips, he is generous with gum and everyone likes him. This is the secret to good lying. If people want to believe you, they will swallow things that otherwise they would not look at. The only person who is less taken by Stephen is Chuck Lane (Peter Sarsgard), once a co-associate editor, now the actual editor. The animosity is initially drawn as jealousy, though this may be a slight flaw in the film. In the end Glass does not really like the man who replaced his favourite boss, and therefore does not apply his well worn obsequiousness with him.

It is Chuck of course who is most in trouble when the stories turn out to be lies. The scenes where Chuck is slowly realising Glass is lying, and Glass wheedling with get outs that he devised as a kid (Are you mad at me?) finding for the first time that they do not work. It is one of the best showdowns I have seen in a cinema for the last few years. It is only a pity that a film that gets its hands on the joys of investigative reporting, has to be about the ethics of journalism itself.

Worth watching just to see the star of the Young Darth Vader Chronicles playing a proper petulant youth as opposed to what George Lucas thinks one is like. It also is very good at what Secret Window completely fucked up last week, having a central character who is not the emotional heart of the story. That said it is odd with its period stylings: the film is set in 1998 yet the Diet Coke bottles and Windows 3.1 use seem out of the early nineties. And the irony of course, for a film about lying, is that the film lies too – because this was not exactly the way it all happened.

The Asphalt Jungle. Really.

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The Asphalt Jungle. Really. Ananova runs on the “new kind of volcano” as the selling point here, whilst a small bit of cinematic history would have given them my much better title. Underwater volcanos off of Mexico which spit out asphalt running its own ecosystem. Yet more proof of how tenacious life is, we have bugs who are saying num num to pavement. At least we know what the streets of Atlantis are paved with now.

Tanya’s Round of Rubbish: The Eagles – “Desperado”

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This mob don’t stop. Not happy just to blight the cocktail supping set, the tequila obsessed foursome also have to get their digs into the French Teenage bouzing market. Consider, the French youth have enough to worry about, having to listen to MC Solaar, Johnny Halliday and Depeche Mode every day. You too might be driven to the exceedingly obscene lengths of drinking a tequila flavoured beer. But for The Eagles to then write not just a song, but an album about said beer, well its like capturing Joan Of Arc and then setting her on fire just to be sure.

“Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses?”
Quite clearly the youth of France cannot come to their senses because they are out of their box on a tequila flavoured beer. Henley, Frey – leave them be. And stop singing about tequila.

Tanya’s Round of Rubbish: The Eagles – “Tequila Sunrise”

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Now if anyone asked me to get them a cocktail as part of a standard pub round, I would be more likely to look at their arse and enquire what happened to their previous tail. Frankly the effort of mixing various alcohols together to make something demonically alcoholic and tasty seems an awful lot of time wasted when you could just be slinging back the G&T’s. But apparently some of my sex feel it makes them sophisticated: to which I retort if you need a drink to make you sophisticated, then you don’t know what sophistication is.

I digress. This is I Hate Music, not I Hate Women Who Buy Dido Albums. (Though…). The Eagles were of course an all male group so what they were doing drinking tequila Sunrises one can only guess. Especially for a band who fancy themselves as deep south cowboys some of the time. The Eagles made music which always appears on compilations called Music To Drive To, which of course should be called music to drink-drive to, get your licence taken away and let that be a lesson to you. Partially for drink driving, but mainly for listening to the Eagles. And in this prison you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.

The Eagles were masters of sonamulent adult oriented rock in the early seventies. They defined AOR, for the simple reason that any child would rightly listen to their lumpy plodders and throw their records in the bin. In many ways it is apt that this adulterated tequila drink was their cocktail of choice. A Tequila Sunrise is one of the dullest cocktails ever invented after all. It is just orange juice, tequila and Grenadine, with the later really only acting as food colouring. It is a pretty drink to look at, but rubbish to drink – which is analogous to the Eagles themselves. Except in their various dressing up as cowboys, or corp rock looks the Eagles were never pretty to look at. Tequila itself is a drink most often used to reach oblivion as a shot, and if you were listening to The Eagles I would not blame you. Just don’t get in a car.