Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Jane Eyre – directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga 2011


So after weeks of underwhelming Doctor Who episodes, I decided to go to the cinema instead and risk watching one of my favourite novels ever put into (yet another) film adaptation. Having studied it a million times and finally taught it myself to students, it is the one novel that’s nearly always on a curriculum somewhere that I’ve never tired of; a gothic romance and timeless classic that couldn't possibly be messed up? Well, maybe by the odd unimaginative teacher.

A wonderful screenplay by Moira Buffini, this adaptation wasn’t a disappointment other than a slightly strange shot of Jane fantasising or having a weird episodic apparition of Rochester in place of St.John. This was dangerously close to the final scenes which would have left me possibly having to be tranquilised in my anger if they had got that far and changed the ending (phew…but why was it there, it trivialised her solitude for me) 

The daunting task of movie-upping a much loved classic was successful and happily for me the darker and subtle supernatural elements of the novel were at the forefront; the haunted red room, the strange drawings of Jane’s imaginations all adding to the ever present cloud of doom that sits alongside the growing love affair between the alarmingly young Jane and the rather cruel and worldly Rochester. 

Cast wise, I couldn’t find fault really, Mia Wasikowska was beautifully fitting in the role of a ‘rare, unearthly thing’, a young woman with directness and opinions that were far too modern for the early Victorians, physically understated but striking in gaze and close to the age of Jane in the book which some adaptations have skirted around or ignored. 

Michael Fassbender was a pretty good Rochester for the most although some might say a little too charming and perhaps too good looking. His dark secret, his fatal flaw and anguish, i.e. the mad (and much maligned wife but that’s a whole other story) Bertha Rochester nee Mason in the attic was overshadowing his character throughout. 

Bertha’s presence in the film was too quiet really and I would have liked to have seen more of the crazed and exotic woman that entrapped Rochester with her bursting sexuality that haunts Jane’s nightmares. 

A filmic moment wasted in my view that we did not hear more of the maniacal laugh in those fittingly dark and coldly overbearing corridors and particularly the part where she tears Jane’s wedding veil in dream like horror symbolising the loss of her virginity moving ever nearer.

The film was shot partially in London and mostly in the north of England,  which in my mind, it could only be. Thornfield in particular was exactly how I have always imagined it; a simultaneously imposing, frightening yet beautifully grand hall of secrets and passion, the perfect setting for any story. There were rumblings of shock at the accents in the film but I found it quite refreshing that the characters had, 'god help us' (mature lady in the audience), their regional accents and for those aghast, it was hardly on the scale of ‘Shameless’ and a pretty accurate reflection of Bronte land.  

Structurally it was a surprise being told mostly in flashback from Jane’s arrival at the home of the Rivers in an almost hyperthermia induced delirium. As a pinnacle point in the novel of change in Jane’s outlook and circumstance of becoming an independent woman of the time, I think it worked.

The harshness of Jane’s childhood and the death of her best friend ‘Helen’ was a little rushed perhaps but the cruelty of Jane’s Aunt and cousins and her treatment as a sinner and outcast at Lowood School were well directed.

I found the script faithful to the original novel with little to find fault, the melodrama of this novel which could be criticised for being coincidental and farfetched in places needs to be kept loyally in the era; a modern view that inevitably questions how Rochester gets away with locking a mad wife away undetected for so long can be explained to insignificance if you think of the time; many rich people would have avoided the shame and cruelty of the madhouse and done the same. 

If you consider the novel alone was originally written under Charlotte Bronte’s male pen name, Currer Bell,  due to the difficulty of even getting published as a woman, this tale of a woman’s growing independence and refusal to settle for anything less in a society, although subtle by today’s standards of feminist, was quite controversial and ahead of its time.  

As a woman who doesn’t play by the rules, Jane risked many times being cast further out and Fukunaga’s direction in this film keeps within the history and contextual boundaries of this.

 This current adaptation is loyal and befitting the Bronte tale of early feminist  unrest and passionate yearnings whilst keeping in the harsh critique of convention and religious austerity alongside the talk of spirit and nature that at the time was equated with all that is evil. 

So yes the infamous line and statement of Jane’s independence ‘Reader, I married him’ cannot be easily translated in film but it was clear that she only returned to Rochester on her terms which was as a woman of substance, keeping her honour intact once he was free of his ‘dark secret’ to be her husband. This was, significantly, after his twin soul call 'in the air' as she refused a marriage proposal from St. John that most in her position would be grateful.

I highly recommend it if you love the novel…jump on the trailer below to see if you want to make a last minute dash to the cinema to catch it.


Mia Wasikowska - Jane Eyre
Amelia Clarkson- young Jane Eyre
Michael Fassbender - Edward Fairfax Rochester
Jamie Bell - St.John Rivers
Judi Dench - Mrs Fairfax
Sally Hawkins- Mrs Reed
Simon McBurney- Mr Brocklehurst
Imogen Poots-Blanche Ingram
Romy Settbon Moore-Adele Varens

Friday, 23 September 2011

New Austra track 'Identity' and remixes for The Good Natured...

Austra: next single ‘Spellwork’ and new song on B-side ‘Identity’.

I didn’t think I’d be writing about Austra again quite so soon but with the release of ‘Spellwork’, the news of a new track was something that had to be checked out. ‘Identity’ is quite lovely in a chilled synth way, her vocals taking on a more Siouxsie haunting pop feel. As a B-side, it is as strong as any on the album Feel It Break and being a little airy and effervescent reminds me of the recently re released Geidi Primes by Grimes…it seems there’s quite a lot of electronic talent coming from Canada right now. Enjoy!

The Good Natured- EP Skeleton and new remixes from Crystal Fighters and Creep.

The Good Natured is made up of brother and sister Sarah and Hamish McIntosh along with George Hinton on drums. The trio are relatively new on the scene and at the tender age of 20, Sarah has written three tracks for the EP Skeleton that tackle ideas of escapism from the rat race and broken love affairs, the territory of angst ridden creativity after dropping out of University to pursue her band more seriously. Seems it was a good move as they were noticed by Robyn producer Patrik Berger and whisked to Stockholm.

Skeleton was out in June and shows a lovely dark sensibility in pop which has transferred itself stateside and been released as part of a 7 track mini album following in the footsteps of La Roux. The Good Natured have been compared to La Roux along with Ladytron, which isn’t hard to hear if you listen to ‘Wolves’ below, my favourite from the EP.

Signed to Regal/Parlophone and apparently inspired by her parents’ record collection of Depeche Mode, Siouxsie, Japan and Tears For Fears, an album from them is eagerly awaited. The first single from the EP was the rather catchy ‘Skeleton’, a little more indie pop sounding, an energetic mix of sirens Shirley Manson from Garbage and further back Saffron from Republica. The final track ‘The Hourglass’ is rather good too and again a little different, jump on their facebook to stream all three and listen to the remixes from the likes of Grum which is also a goody.

They seemed to slip under the radar here a bit but were noticed after Crystal Fighters did one of their rather superb Basque folktronica takes on ‘Wolves’, the title track from the EP, tweaking Sarah’s vocals and hitting a few bits of wood cleverly as they do to make it all rather sunset on a beach somewhere more exotic. It’s now available on free download so grab a last slice of summer feel on today, the first day of autumn.

If you’re anything like me and welcome darker evenings and a time of things more ominous, then jump on this rather chilling remix of Skeleton from the eerie girls from Creep…brilliant.

They are about to embark on a UK tour with The Wombats so will be getting more attention in the months to come, admittedly I’d have to be blindfolded and be wearing reinforced ear muffs to get through a Wombat set but nevertheless, a great slot for them co supporting with the other fab newbies Get People.

Related Links:


Related Posts:

Austra Feel It Break Album Review
Austra Live Review

Monday, 19 September 2011

Emika: Debut Album Review

No surprises here, the self-titled debut from Emika is simply brilliant; haunting, ethereal and hook laden in mystery, showcasing a talent with a fearless approach to producing and performing that is unique and welcome in the current tidal wave of crossover electronica.

It is the sort of unblinkered approach to music that pulls from her own mixed English/Czech background and draws on influences from Bristol ‘house’ and ‘dubstep’ to Berlin’s ‘techno’. Emika’s inspiration goes way back into the archives of electro pioneering with her love of BBC Radiophonic Workshop and some of the first generation electro musicians yet ‘unsticking’ a genre sometimes fastened to the past, taking the best bits and placing it firmly in the future for a wider audience of music fans of all ages. Am I gushing, yes well Emika is worthy.

Having fallen head over heels with her early single ‘Count Backwards’ earlier in 2011, it was a much anticipated and excited wait for more releases and the recent double A single Pretend/Professional Loving really did not disappoint.

The only problem with reviewing an album this good is that you just want to sit and listen to it and it’s often too tempting to merely say ‘amazing, now go buy it’… but now for the tracks. The opener ‘3 hours’ is currently and well deservedly all over radio playlists this week and being ripped for eager fans online. It’s a building track with muted vocals lying over and under the instrumentation simultaneously resulting in a rich sound warming up with bass that vibrates to your core.

  '3 Hours' - From Mary Anne Hobbs Xfm show by emika

‘Common Exchange’ is my favourite amongst tracks that are consistently strong making it hard to choose; it however was immediate and the sort you flick straight back on for a repeat of the spine tingling overload of your senses, yes really that good. The intro has a definite Depeche Mode feel to it, breaking into lighter vocalising from Emika, changing the pace and layering the music in deep and resonating ways interspersing charming ivory tinkling at unexpected times.

‘Professional Loving’ is a strong seductive soundscape of creative enslavement and frustration resulting in a moody, down tempo filmic quality. The drama and darkness finalised with a strangely haunting piano close, something that Emika seems to use more than occasionally, a nod to her classical training and expertise at merging different styles and genres of music. ‘Be My Guest’ feels to me like the album’s intermission, its Portishead like spookiness putting stories of  alien sighting and crop circles onto manuscript. Basically, it’s kind of strange and hard to explain sending you into eerie realm with a chance breather at all the glitchy catchiness gone before and about to come.

‘Count Backwards’ is just shadowy perfection, a musical panic attack of countdown to calm within avant-guard creativity. Emika’s vocal shapeshift from creepy whispers to deep penetrating tones within uncomfortably pleasurable listening provoke and draw you into her madness. ‘Double Edge’ wakes you with its jerky movement and clubs up the feel just a margin showing the diversity of her imagination and then throws you headlong into ‘Pretend’ which boasts some of the best live footage seen in a while. The pretence is coldly vocalised along side some stark music with emotion simmering below the surface, this double A side with ‘Professional Loving’ being the perfectly seducing teaser for this album.

‘The Long Goodbye’ is a wail of melancholy, a tribal and divine feel not dissimilar to air of Fever Ray’s solo creativity. Strange and otherworldly, ‘At any given time’…anything could happen in this track. Finishing nicely with a Knife like vocal distortion and soaring depths of femininity showing off Emika’s range. Yes, you kind of lose yourself in random thoughts with this one. ‘FM Attention’ moves on with the distortion, a horror movie soundtrack of claustrophobia, sitting in waiting for you ready with an onslaught of glitchy footsteps.

‘Drop the Other’ and ‘Come Catch Me’ change the pace again and move back into more melodic yet erring on genius in its uniqueness, flirting with a more clubby feel again yet maintaining unpredictability.  The whole album ends with a wonderfully self-indulgent piano epilogue, grandly earmarked ‘Credit Theme’, a beautifully simple come down that grounds and puts your feet back on earth.

Emika’s debut is a seduction of the senses, musically a celebration in originality and quite simply amazing. Now go buy it. Emika is released on the 3rd October with the album launch in London on the 5th at The City Arts and Music Project.

Must Listens and assuming you’ve heard the recent double A, I would go for:

3 Hours
Come Catch Me

Recently put on Soundcloud is this rather fab Album Mix, listen below...

  Emika : Album Mix.... by emika

Full Track list:

3 Hours
Common Exchange
Professional Loving
Be My Guest
Count Backwards
Double Edge
The Long Goodbye
FM Attention
Drop The Other
Come Catch Me
Credit Theme

Related Links:

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Doctor Who: The Girl Who Waited (spoilers)

"Do not be alarmed, this is a kindness"...maybe this was also the Doctor's justification for putting 'future' Amy out of her misery. 

I came to this episode a little late this week after being told it contained one of the saddest moments in Doctor Who in a long time. Hmm perhaps a little touching but after all the complaints about last weeks ‘Christmassy’ feel good factor, I’m amazed the sentimentality of this episode didn't have those unromantic souls reaching for a bucket especially that ‘Rose-esque’ moment with the hands…bleurgh.

So my first observation this week; Karen Gillan is acting after all? Well older 'future' Amy was far easier to watch, much less irritating, pouty and had lost the awkward fidgeting. Which leads nicely to point number two; why on earth did they save the past Amy? Silly men.

The gnarled fingers and wizened features (miraculously not a grey hair in sight) may not be a patch on the peachy face and manicure in the eye-candy stakes of the younger Amy, but how much more useful would her new found, technical, ‘I made a sonic probe expertise and can kick a few handbots backsides in'  be?

So very simply; Amy ‘future' and Amy ‘past’ are the same except older Amy has grown up, is wiser, independent and no longer hanging out for her doctor in shining Tardis to save her. A little bitter maybe but so much deeper and that all adds some character surely?

With Rory once again, there were flashes of affection returning and this could have led on to some more daring observations in relationships regarding time. Imagine her working in partnership with River Song too, there would be no need for the raggedy man and his outdated screwdriver? Probably as likely as the writers revisiting the idea of a female doctor though.

So we can sit back and muse the tragedy, the ‘lost’ years of the relationship between Amy and Rory and the euthanazing of her older worn by ‘waiting’ self? Lesson then girls, don’t bother waiting.  At the end of the day though, youth and beauty too often wins over wisdom and experience.

Ironically Amy talks of the beauty in Rory’s face, his personality written all over him, a personality partially written, if you cast your mind back, by his own wait for many more years as a Centurian in the Pandorica story. On the subject of beauty, Amy reflects;

"And then you get to know them and their face just sort of becomes them. Like their personality is written all over it. And they turn into something so beautiful. Rory's the most beautiful man I've ever met."

Yet when it came to Amy and her entrapment in another dimension, that part of her was deleted; they effectively rubbed out 36 years of the same from Amy’s face, part of her own beauty, returning to a clean and very blank page that will continue to need to be rescued.

Verdict? I liked it from the interest point of view of how it unravelled into predictability. It wasn’t just teatime entertainment and at times looked like a sad reflection of society and its attitude to time passing with the values of youth over experience. The saddest moment for me was just before the Wizard of Oz ‘show me home’ moment as ‘future’ Amy watched Rory carry ‘past’ Amy over the threshold of the Tardis and remembered how much he had loved her. Perhaps a similar thought ran through her mind as she picked up a lipstick earlier, looked at Rory despondently and returned it to its place.

Was she really giving a ‘gift’ of the years back or just realising that being the same person with a few more years of personality written into your face is too often a  lost battle. Very simply, the Doctor for me 'pulled time apart' and rescued the wrong part of Amy.

Well that’s what I thought when watching with a very overtired ‘festival’ recovering head. Not a bad episode although for now the second half of this series has been a bit 'pedestrian' and I'm hoping for something a little more 'gutsy' and adventurous in the next episodes. Did I see a flash of weeping angel in the trailer for the next episode? Or are they wheeling them out and hoping we don’t recognise them in that beeb cuts way? It was a flash, maybe I imagined it.

Related Post: Doctor Who finale or Merlin opener?

Jump to iplayer to watch again or catch up.

Images courtesy of the BBC.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Grimes with Geidi Primes and some new Housse De Racket...

Grimes – Geidi Primes

Esoterically themed musician, Claire Boucher aka Grimes, a Montreal based musician and visual artist is about to tour this autumn and happily, this has resulted in the re release of Geidi Primes, her debut in 2010 on No Pain in Pop.

Her brand of electronic music is diverse, mostly palpating darkness topped with her floating and whimsical vocals, not dissimilar to the other Canadian electronic witchery Austra. Geidi Primes is in places blithe and flirtatious in spirit, not unlike Darkbloom’s ‘Vanessa’ and then switches to the more melancholic air of follow up LP  Halfaxa with some of the tracks embarking into oriental pop sounds.

My two picks from the album have to be ‘Avi’ above and ‘Freyd Rautha Dark Heart’, both of which pulsate with bass, loops with electronics and woo you with her effervescent and airy vocals, more innocent elemental enchantment than spellwork but still leaves you inescapably charmed.

   Feyd Rautha Dark Heart - Grimes by The Rake

If you missed this treat in 2010 as I did, you can get it now released on 12 inch vinyl and CD, a textured album, spiralling in its ethereal moments and strangeness.

Tracklist: Geidi Primes

Sardaker Lauenbrech
Zoal, Face Dancer
Freyd Rautha Dark Heart
Shadout Mapes
Beast Infection

Cheery tune for this week, well as cheery as I get anyway…

Housse De Racket – Chateau

I’ve been trying to get into festival mode this weekend in preparation for Bestival so lots of Bjork, Robert Smith,  Crystal Fighters, PJ Harvey and once slightly sidetracked to middle of the night radio, the only time worth listening to most stations in my opinion, this little gem came on.

I’ve never really listened to them before but this could put a spring in anyone’s wellingtons really. No they’re not at Bestival so why am I waffling on? Well there’s a lot of beepy stuff going on at the festival and something like this would have fitted in nicely plus my mind’s a little all over the place in excitement and this will probably be my last music blog for a week or so.

So to the point, Housse De Racket is a Parisian band with a new album called Alesia. They’ve made some noise with the super cool Air in the past and this album could be worth a listen or two and some are in French if you want to broaden your horizons a bit. It’s quite hooky, has a fab middle eight and nice melody. Listen below and enjoy.

Related Post:
Grimes: Vanessa

Related Links:

Doctor Who - Night Terrors (spoilers)

Doctor Who does CBeebies doing Aphex Twin…

So Gatiss has allegedly written his most scary moments EVER in this week’s ‘Night Terrors’. Maybe if you're ten years old and that’s not a criticism. I liked this episode for it’s unashamedly ‘for the kids’ scare factor plus I like spooky wooden people and tiny replica furniture all packaged up in a period dolls house.

Yes your terrors going into a closet rather than coming out is a slight twist and the boy turns out to be an alien with some of the classic mind erasing that excuses most discrepancies in Who plot, that’s as clever as it gets though. Despite this, there were lots of pale faces, wide eyes and rearranging of soft toys afterwards (and that was just me)  and just sometimes the Sci Fi grown ups need to back off and let it be a children’s show even when it’s not Christmas day cue big soppy dad ending.

There needs to be some filler episodes otherwise we could all tire of the ongoing story arcs and complications, to be honest, I don’t think ‘motherhood’ is in Amy’s acting repertoire, although that may be proved wrong so a break from that plot was welcome. 

Click back to last week’s review, I’d already said she was an ‘Aunt Sally’ and this episode gives many hours of ‘wooden dolly’ impression opportunities too. They were fabulous for their funny zombie like walk and 'Blink-esque' surrounding of the little boy towards the end.

And the best thing to do while watching something for the children, see the adult subtext or inspiration. Clearly Gatiss is an Aphex Twin fan, from the urban decay, or ‘Eastendersland’, the batty old dear with a thing for rubbish, strange short people singing nursery rhyme wanting your soul, real monsters and a status dog. Maybe it’s just me? Check out ‘Come to Daddy.

I just want to play’ *shudder* Makes it a million times more sinister instantly.

Don’t forget to catch up if you haven’t already by jumping on  iplayer.