Posts from 10th June 2004

Jun 04

Loretta Lynn-Van Lear Rose.

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 371 views

Loretta Lynn-Van Lear Rose.
Loretta is a stronger singer, better writer and more complex personae here then i have seen in a long time–she seems happier too. It would have been an almost perfect album, if it wasn’t for a bukkake of Jack Whites Guitar Wank.

But his massive ego has gotten in the way, and it crowds the legend out. Infurating at best, sickening at worst.

Foolishness Update

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Foolishness Update: This has come true. Even aside from Mr.Boyle’s excellent points, as a marketer I’d like to add one more: if the defining characteristic of your ‘brand’ is that its best assets defect to another ‘brand’ at the end of each year, you are onto a tradition-steeped loser trying to play this down.

Eau De Leathery Child-Man

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Eau De Leathery Child-Man, anyone?

FT Top 100 Films 84: ALIENS

Do You See1 comment • 897 views

Aliens is significant for many reasons. It is a sequel which is in many ways superior to the original. It is an interesting document on the state of the Hollywood war film, and cements more sci-fi and horror cliches that possibly any other film of the eighties. There is much to be argued about the feminist position of Ripley here compared with Alien, the surrogate motherhood juxtaposed with the idea of the Alien Queen. But what really stands out about Aliens is that it has possibly the best novelisation of a film ever.

Alien was novelized by Alan Dean Foster, in what was still a pretty nascent genre. Back then it was not unheard of for novelizations to have scenes which weren’t in the films, ascribe hithertoo unkonown motivations to characters. Alien is okay as a novelization but since as readers we do not know who will survive, Foster rightly does not privilige any of the characters. In Aliens we have a heroine already in place, though Foster spends an awful lot of time developing his version of Newt as well. The themes touched upon above are investigated in much more depth as Foster delves into Ripley’s head. However the book never lets up on the suspense of the situation.

I was 13 when Aliens came out, and unable to see it since it was an 18 certificate. My local library had these novelizations though, and the version in my head surpassed the James Cameron one when I finally saw it. Newt was much more annoying and Ripley seemes a touch more distracted. It turned out that Foster worked from the original script, which has much more information than even the special edition (which restores many of the scenes in the book at the expense of pace). The book has the pace and the depth. These days novelizations are restricted to just describing what happens in the film, and parroting out the dialogue. Aliens, the Aliens in my head, is much better due to Foster.

In The Summertime

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In The Summertime

We’d like to remind you of the Club Freaky Trigger Glastonbury Reunion night, on Wednesday 30th June, at the Chapel Bar in Islington, from 7 until late-ish, FREE ENTRY, happy hour cocktails, yes it’s a Euro 2004 semi-final that evening but lots of us will be watching in a nearby pub and you are urged to join them. What will we be playing? all the usual POP! of course, but especially anything good we heard while wandering around Glastonbury. NB not Muse or Oasis.


Popular5 comments • 1,975 views

#110, 31st December 1960

If you wanted to prove that pre-Beatles British pop was rubbish, this might be a good record to pick. Pop is at its worst when you can detect self-satisfaction, when you feel it’s been made by people who think they have it all sewn up. Cliff sounds smug and bored here, but even if he gave his all he’d not save a record that takes pains to emphasise its own feebleness.

Take the lyrics. “Your love means more to me than all the fishes that are in the sea / But like those fishes my heart starts to swim because I / Love you”. This is nonsense – hearts swimming is a queasy metaphor, and anyway fishes (yes, even all the fishes) aren’t anyone’s idea of an emotional touchstone. But Cliff sings this with a teacherly precision and patience, forcing us to pay attention. Worse, the pause before “Love you” is marked with a pert little double-beat, emphasising the hook just as you realise that nobody’s bothered to write a chorus and that this two-word nothing is meant to be the payoff.

The Harry Potter films I have seen (I and III)

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The Harry Potter films I have seen (I and III) have relied on generally unmotivated plot twists with surprisingly little foreshadowing. Interesting for film adaptation because in general, this kind of thing rarely happens in film itself. Talking the other night about In The Cut there was a fair bit of discussion about the obviousness of the twist in it. It was mostly motivated by knowledge of the ways films work, and that the noughties way is to avoid extraneous characters and every action has a meaning. Cinematic slight of hand demands that the number one suspect is rarely the killer, and indeed that the killer usually someone you have not suspected. In The Cut arses this up by having only four male characters, three of whom are suspects. It is obvious who did it.

The cult of Potter demands that the books are reproduced relatively faithfully. This in particular means little culling of supporting characters. Usually the suspected villain will be foreshadowed: Snape in the Philosopher’s Stone, Sirius Black in Azkaban – usually to be replaced by a character we either don’t know or was completely out of the picture. This actually is rather refreshing, though oddly as a film it is generally preaching to the knowledgable. What is undeniable though is that clever casting does most of the work for them. Oldman and Rickman are well known for their villainous roles, and hence much of the work is done. The films may be an overstuffed, breakneck ride of insignificance – but at least they offer the viewer a way out of traditional plotting.

ELVIS PRESLEY – “It’s Now Or Never”

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#109, 5th November 1960

The calling-card of the post-army Elvis, it’s easy to hear “It’s Now Or Never” simply as a record made by a tamed man. But how big, in truth, is the gap between thrilling a crowd or charming them? Elvis could sell the promise of a kiss as easily as he could the hint of a fuck, and on the belting chorus to this song he’s on fine puppy-eyed form. The problem is the verses, where Presley seems uncomfortable, going over-the-top on the vibrato and – unthinkably – sounding like a wimp.

For students of manipulation, “It’s Now Or Never” is a gem. Its ultimatum is couched in the most simpering terms, and it works just as well for sexual blackmailers as emotional ones. The arrangement is similarly teasing – slow enough for close-dancing but pacy enough to allow a bit of distance if required. The tune, on the other hand, has suffered from its years of sterling service putting the corn into Cornetto, and the whole thing is easier to appreciate than enjoy.


I Hate MusicPost a comment • 425 views


Persusing like I do on occasion the film trade press (waiting for a return to proper SILENT cinema) I came across an interview with Paul Thomas Anderson. Apparently this young whippersnapper has made a number of critically lauded films, including one called Magnolia. I have to say I could not remember seeing Magnolia – until perusing my diary explained why. It had a cacophonous soundtrack which made me walk out after ten minutes.

Anyway Mr Anderson explained that not only did he like the music played on the soundtrack but that it had motivated the film in the first place. A few tracks by Aimee Mann had turned into a tedious three hour meditation on the nature of coincidence starring lots of ugly actors being miserable and horrible to one another. Not exactly a compliment, is it Aimee?

My Pasta Hell.

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 304 views

My Pasta Hell. I have this problem when I knock up makeshift pasta. I have to resist adding tomato. Don’t get me wrong, I love a tomatoey sauce with my pasta, either a gloopy Neapolitan or meaty Bolognaise. But last night with a red onion, garlic, capers and a stub of a pepperoni I say my hand waved for the tin of toms. Finger under the ring pull I hestitated. Did this really need tomato, surely a good slug of olive oil and a few crushed chillis would be all this needed. Going against my nature I put the tin away, and added a stray anchovy for flavour and noshed down.

Was I right? Oh yes. Like I say, I love the tomato, but pasta does not demand it.