Posts from 16th June 2004

Jun 04


The Brown WedgePost a comment • 118 views


Everything You Need by A.L. Kennedy

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 161 views

Everything You Need by A.L. Kennedy

I read her Looking For The Possible Dance several months ago, and liked it enough that I bought some more by her, but I wasn’t expecting to be anything like as impressed by this tremendous novel.

It’s a simple enough story: a writer who hasn’t seen his daughter since she was a toddler contrives to get the 18 year old onto the writers’ retreat island he’s on – without revealing his identity. The story follows their developing relationship, with the one real plot point being when/whether he will tell her he’s her father.

So it’s hardly a thrilling tale, but the greatness is in the telling, and two particular aspects thereof. I’m not a huge fan of conventional, realistic, psychological fiction these days – I think it’s mostly become a dull mode, that it looks like a dead end, even that it’s misguided and pointless. A book like this makes me reconsider – the strength and subtlety and depth of her exploration of her two leads’ (especially the father’s) feelings is very compelling and moving. Maybe this wouldn’t work so well, maybe it wouldn’t even be possible, if she were not a fabulous writer of prose, sentences that consistently feel fresh and right, as if she’s found a new way to say something not out of a quest for novelty and pyrotechnics, but because it’s the exact best way to say what she is wanting to convey. It’s full of figures and touches that feel so right, so perfect, and that say so much. I can’t think of the last mainstream literary novel produced in the UK that has impressed me so much, that I’ve felt so captivated by. I think this is probably a genuinely great book.

FT Top 100 Films 79: BUT I’M A CHEERLEADER

Do You SeePost a comment • 979 views

Anthony Easton says:

Some of this film reviews on IMDB claim that it is far fetched, that straight camps do not exist, and others talk of it as a piece of homosexual propaganda, making fun of the vert services young queers might need. The first should disprove the second, but even then the film is not very effective if it is intended to be propaganda. It trades on the stereotypes it intends to revoke, it says the same things that have been said for 25 years and doesn’t say it any differently. The set design is put on with a trowel, the scenes in a gay bar are the same scenes in the same gay bar since Cruising. The worst thing though, is that it preaches to the converted, its one of those movies where self satisfied liberals can say:”see we aren’t that bad”. It’s like Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner for faggots.

Pete Baran says:

Preaching to the converted? Even worse that that, it manages to to perpetuate the gay stereotypes to a degree that a kid confused of their sexuality might actually take it the wrong way. “Oh, you can’t be gay without conforming to these stereotypes”, which is a pity because at its heart there is a fizzingly fun movie trying to get out. In the end it is a film where we laugh at gay people even though we know we are not supposed to. Best seen as the sweetness in a double bill with Confessions Of A Trick Baby, another Natasha Lyonne film which may play up the dykes in dungarees side but shove Vincent Gallo in an oven, which is never a bad thing.

FT Top 100 Films 80: PRETTY IN PINK

Do You SeePost a comment • 1,015 views

I have to admit from the start, I have never found Molly Ringwald pretty in anything, let alone pink so my views of this film are initially tainted. And I do remember upon first viewing thinking it absolutely ridiculous that Andie ends up with bland Blane rather than loveably ecentric worshiper from afar Duckie. Now I am not so sure.

Pretty In Pink is probably the purest of the John Hughes teen movies (he didn’t direct this one but wrote and produced), in as much as it represents the kind of decisions teens actually make. Sure she is going to go with the good looking rich kid. The “being from the wrong side of the tracks” dillema does not really count for anything in the aspirational eighties – and anyway this is supposedly classless America. Not to mention the fact that Ringwald’s Andie seems impossible to speerate from her Breakfast Club teen princess, which is a completely different class. As a British teen watching it the only conflict was whether she would notice Duckie’s love for her or not. She doesn’t, she goes with insipid boy and probably ends up as conventionally happy ever after as one would expect (ie not really at all).

The fact that Pretty In Pink conforms to the probability rather than the flights of fictional fantasy that much of the (probably misfit) audience demanded* makes it a much bolder film than you might imagine. The cliches of film-maker, the supposed ur-narratives that later films have to be a variation on are actually rather rare. Pretty in pink is one such film, most teen romantic comedies are either variations or subversions of it. And on the plus side it does have the song that its named after in it. Albeit with a honking saxaphone on it. But she isn’t pretty in pink, cos she isn’t pretty at all.

*So much so it was remade with the sexes swapped and the other ending as Some Kind Of Wonderful.


I Hate MusicPost a comment • 606 views


Have we stooped so low that new bands start sounding like the abstruse unloved band of old. I was not surprised when Suede rocked up ripping off Bowie. Bowie had hits after all (somehow, I blame the government for not locking up his freaky eyed mutant arse from the get go). Gene ploughed a lonely but occasionally lucrative furrow in the nineties trying to sound like the Smiths. And as much as it pains me I notice the Smiths were successful.

But this morning, due to a newsagent whom I will not be using again, I caught a bit of a brand new band. The Ordinary Boys. And has a band ever sounded as ordinary? Well yes, actually. You see The Ordinary Boys seem to be some form of Family Cat pastiche band. And really the world was not clamouring for anything more from Stephen Jelbert’s manky misfits. So hopefully the OB’s will go the same way.