Saturday, 27 April 2013

Ode to Olivia Colman…

So big smiles on Chris Chibnall’s face this week on the close of his crime drama ‘Broadchurch’ which has been more successful than he could have hoped. He sent out this tweet to inspire other writers;

‘Note to writers: #Broadchurch was a spec script. I wrote it for myself. It’s taken on a life I never dreamed. Get writing. Things do happen.

I remembered another writer telling me never to delete anything, which has set me in good stead recently, although I do sometimes wonder if knocking this blogging stuff on the head would also free up some time for ‘serious’ writing.  Anyway, Broadchurch is over now and although I think the ending was pretty obvious from at least the penultimate episode when DI Miller looks into Susan Wright’s face and says ‘How could you not have known?’ re her rapist husband, I knew this was going to mirror back at her. And it did when her friend Beth uttered the same words to her about her own husband, Joe the killer.

It did take me a little while to warm to it, mostly as I come from a very similar small seaside community and kept squirming, and it did take at least two episodes to not have ‘Doctor’ resounding in my head as David Tennant looked moodily into the distance in a long coat (but minus converse trainers)… but it caught me in the end. Well-written and cast, slightly iffy accents to the trained ear but it definitely captured a small community pulled apart from tragedy. Oh and the beacon burning at the end may have looked a bit blurry eyed sentimental but that’s a big deal down that way.

My only criticism is the scene that verges on abuse apologism, where Hardy explains Joe’s ‘love’ for the murdered boy as if it was hard to understand, and puts it to Miller as if it may actually have been the things we don’t understand about the heart. No. Paedophiles often romanticise their feelings and even from prison, try to send their victims (children that is) valentine cards. 

This highlighted perhaps a flaw in research as I don’t think a man ‘in-love’ with an 11-year-old boy would have made the leap from cuddles to killing without a background. Anyway, series 2 is on the cards so we shall see if it twists and turns any more. I have a feeling the back story of Tennant’s character ‘Hardy’ will be the focus as the flashbacks to his childhood and glimpses of another mystery child on the beach were never explained.

Olivia Colman has been quite rightly praised to the hilt for her portrayal of the detective who could not see what she was getting into bed with so well and twitter hashtagged her brilliance with excited squeals of ‘Give that lady a Bafta!’ Which reminded me of this film…

Tyrannosaur: directed by Paddy Considine (2011)

I would recommend this film with caution if I'm honest. It is hugely triggering for anyone that’s ever been in an abusive relationship and as grim as it is in places, it does show that violence and misery is not choosy of where it lurks in society. 

It rots relationships in impoverished or affluent households, but importantly, the little ray of light in this film is that unlikely friendship can be made in dark times.  Unlikely friendships are a big interest for me, which is why it may have clicked, I admit it is a film that leaves you a little pensive for a while after…I don’t think that’s a problem though.

There does seem to be a tradition of UK film writers that do the grim, the realism, the social comment, which isn't to everyone’s taste unless it’s light and dressed as a soap opera (*ahem* Eastenders) but I don’t think it fetishsizes the poor like perhaps something like 'Shameless' has been accused of. I like the grittier end of 'This is England' more than the cosiness of 'Love Actually'.  As difficult as some parts are to watch in places, it wasn't gratuitous and it did do a good job of revealing the multi faceted sides of domestic violence.

Anyway, the basic premise is an alcoholic, violent tempered man, shortly after kicking his beloved dog to death, kicks off in a post office, gets beaten up and ends up hiding in a charity shop run by a very faith trodden, Christian woman, played by Olivia Colman. There were times when the current climate of ‘privilege checking’ came into my mind as her life seems surfacely ‘happy’ and ‘comfortable’ to outsiders as Joseph (played by Peter Mullan) points out…but was, in fact, as horrendous and violent as the community he is part of.

Without wanting to give too much away, as the story unravels, their friendship deepens and the role of who is the ‘goody goody’ starts to blur as well as the old adage of ‘ behind closed doors’. Privilege checking is only really something you can do for yourself, as nobody really knows how difficult/easy another person’s life is.

So my only criticism, a strange pub sing-along scene that smacked of an Oasis video a bit, it was jarring and lost me for a moment. Other than that, there were amazing performances, particularly Olivia’s ‘ Hannah’ with heart wrenching pleas to her husband to ‘stop hurting me’. Little wonder she excelled at her portrayal of DI Miller in Broadchurch which in comparison was a bit Reader’s Digest. And on top of this, she can do comedy too.

So I recommend this film to those that like the work of Shane Meadows, Carol Morley, although this film won lots of praise from critics and awards, it has been a little overlooked. Oh and to save any disappointment, Tyrannosaur is the pet name of a dead wife who stamped on the stairs and probably a metaphor for inner monster, no dinosaurs to see here. Kudos to Peter Mullan, Eddie Marsan (may never be able to look at him again though) and Olivia Colman.

You can still watch Broadchurch here.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Records among other things…

Right now, I want everything on vinyl, mostly as the minute I acquired (thanks to my brother *mwah*) a record deck, my CD player refused to play. Call me a serendipitous digital luddite type, but I took that as a sign, even if it means re-mortgaging my life to pay for it.

I’ve recently had a birthday so got some records, and used it as an excuse to buy a lot more records. Then Record Store Day loomed, mid month (think about that organisers) and I didn’t buy a single record because I'd run out of reasons/money to be that frivolous... but how cool was it to see all those music lovers wandering off to get their records and CDs. And how sad that record store day used to be every Saturday.

As music is momentous for me, I rarely replace music with a new format, I love that they way you have to play a song is indicative of the time you purchased it. Which is why I still play cassettes, I won’t confess to what ( *ahem* Suede), but the joy of that sort of clumsy noise and weird squeak as you put it in the stereo, and even better, the tape you remember sticking a pencil in to remedy it being chewed up, is all part of it. I’m much more a memory purist than music so I’m sure that there’s a few tracks I could play in a different format to how I originally got it, and it would leave me with memory loss of that school disco, that undergraduate house party where I offered up the first CD I’d ever bought (confession-The Levellers circa 1992).

So I’m not about to throw away all my CDs (and I will be getting my CD player fixed), I will continue to dust off my cassettes every now and then and may even put on my video recording of ‘Desperately Seeking Susan’ in a celebration at some point. I’m never going to buy that film on DVD. And if you say ‘that because it’s shit’, I will just put my hands over my ears and ‘la la la’ my way back to my ten-year-old self and remember arguing with my parents about whether I was allowed to watch it. And aside from all that, over the years, a lot of the music, films and books I’ve got have been gifts and call me sentimental, I can’t replace them.

So, in an itsy bitsy bit ironic way, I hope you had a lovely 'buying music in a proper and physical way, ie, you walked to a record shop and picked it up in your hands' but I will now share with you what have I listened to online like a complete Judas this week. I suppose what I'm saying is, I use online to preview but at the end of the day, I want something I truly love in my hands.

First off, a newbie band for me comprising a girl/boy duo from Belgium called Float Fall, beautiful voices that compliment each other in a very XX kind of way. This track was out there a few weeks back but they promoted the vinyl release of 'Someday' for Record Store Day and its very lovely. Listen and watch below...

Float Fall also have a super live session on Spoor 8 .

 I’ve also heard a couple more tracks off of Emika’s coming album 'Dva' and they are brill with a big ‘B’. Here’s ‘Sing To Me’ and jump on this link for my thoughts on ‘Searching’ where she partakes in a bit of drunk acting. It’s going to be a good album and it's out June 10.

Then, Daft Punk broke Spotify. I don’t have spotify, mostly as it insists on a Facebook account, or it used to, and being asked once is enough to make me prickly about it. Anyway, the song ‘Get Lucky’ isn’t bad at all, a very catchy disco-y tune about, well, bonking really. You can listen to it here. I like it at the moment but I fear it may become overplayed and be kissed with the curse of a summer anthem. I’m just going to let it play for now. Let’s see anyway. It features Pharrell Williams and Nile Rogers throwing shapes in glittery suits *swoonladies... and the daft ones are in shiny helmets.

And in other news, I watched Jools Holland this week, I don't usually as it just makes me wonder why other music shows are no more and his keeps going; he presents clumsily, his hootenanny is famously fake and everything he plays on the piano sounds the bloody same. That's probably his charm though. Anyway, I did watch it and Tracey Thorn was on there, she was absolutely lovely and I had kind of forgotten about her. She's written a pop memoir called 'Bedsit Disco Queen'.  I don't usually read such things but this one looks like it might be good. I will keep you posted on that one.

*I dedicate this post to the mysterious man who runs 'Records' down the road from my house . Once you get past all the Level 42 (urgh!), there's some real gems hiding in his disorganised second hand record store... and he plays the vinyl very loudly to test them as you purchase. This can be embarrassing.*

My next post will be an ode to Olivia Colman. X

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Monday, 15 April 2013

"Making a bedspring sound like a voice or a voice sound like a bedspring" (The Knife...of course)

Back to music after a dabble in politics on the previous post, I so wish blogger was more comment friendly and I could share with you some of the *ahem* more interesting responses I got emailed.

Anyway, The Knife’s album, ‘Shaking the Habitual' has a short film, 'The Interview', an introduction to its politics. See image to the left, it all comes with an amusing comic strip too.

To sum up very quickly, it's about shaking up of the habit of the rule of the white middle class male, of capitalism, patriarchy and the institutions set up that do nothing but limit gender equality, the stereotypes within and without the nuclear family, and in society across the board. It's eccentric; it's all about masking identities and creating a space you feel you can exist. I love this kind of thing. 'The Interview' is directed by Marit Ostberg who did the brilliant 'Full of Fire' Watch below.

I don't think this album would be what it is without ' Tomorrow, in a Year', (featuring Planningtorock and Mt.Simms) a collaborative electro opera and ode to Charles Darwin. Now that album, conceptually and on the ears does challenge although there were a couple I played over and over, particularly 'The Height of Summer'. 'Shaking the Habitual' does have a similar evolutionary sound, tackling head on the societal expectations and perfunctory thinking within a mix of quite primitive and futuristic composing. I do think it 's a bit lazy to write it off as going off into a path that will lose people, and if it does, so what? That's the privilege Karin and Olaf talk of in their interview, a privileged point that they can do as they please which is part of their charm. Yes, there's an ambient thing going on for almost 20 minutes that will test the patience of some, but it's still good and could be used to meditate to (come on positive spin), it's no accident it's called 'Old Dreams Waiting To Be Realised'.

So I'm looking forward to the 21st of April for the vinyl release. I fear I may be ousted to a sound proofed room to listen to it but I will battle through that. There's screechy vocals, there's woodwind action, tribal beat and metallic drums, all mixed up with synths and bedsprings, voices that sound equally human and alien, industry and politics. Let's throw all formula on the big bonfire of burning formulaic norms on many levels. Also, 'Without You My Life Would Be Boring' is very Kate Bush in its eccentricities. 'Wrap Your Arms Around Me' definitely Bjork.   'Networking' sounds like really big spiders tap dancing and that is  *exactly* what networking sounds like in my head, unpredictable speeds and legs everywhere, you will know what I mean when you hear it. 'Fracking Fluid Injection' is a beautiful  insane thing and will definitely get me sent to my room if I try and play it around my people. It makes you want to scream, but 'Ready To Lose' the closer makes up for it and echoes Karin's solo project Fever Ray.

Like most projects from The Knife, the difficult moments are blown away when you click with a track, this one for me still 'A Tooth For An Eye' and 'Ready To Lose'. With tracks this long, you only need three goodies to feel you have an album anyway. (There's more than that though). I think it's quite accessible in places with a lot of dance and ambient influences. Maybe try listening to their collaborative opera from 2010 first, then put this on and it will feel like you're listening to a 'Now!' compilation. I love it more every time I hear it and I'm pretty sure that will grow especially as I'm getting it in a format that makes a 'skip' button an impossibility. I may be quite a loyal Knife fan but I never *pretend* to like something. If you never hear from me again, it may well be because I've been buried in a shallow grave with all my Knife LPs.

Admittedly I do have a special affection for The Knife as they are the first band I ever wrote something on. I probably couldn't have done it on anything else as if we're all honest, getting beyond the words, 'I like this, please listen' can be tricky. They do give you a bit more to ponder.

Related Posts:

A Tooth For An Eye
Full of Fire

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In other news, this weekend is defo disco time as my copy of Ssion's 'Bent' has arrived.  I *adore* this LP and Cody Cricheloe is certainly shaking some stuff up too. Luvvbazzar people X

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