Jan 212014

Brick Lane is a little gem of a film I knew nothing about. Set in London it tells the story of a woman (played brilliantly by Tannishtha Chatterjee) pulled out of her life in rural Bangladesh – shot in rich colours and slow motion and portrayed, in her head, as a paradise – and placed in an arranged marriage in east London – dour and alien and dark. It’s a film about love and home and independence. Satish Kaushik as the husband is also quite wonderful.

Jan 202014

You will never know the thrill I got in discovering to-day that exactly 300 years before I was born, Samuel Pepys was concerned about his inability to fart!

Tuesday 17 May 1664

Slept well all night and lay long, then rose and wrote my letter to my father about Pall, as we had resolved last night. So to dinner and then to the office, finding myself better than I was, and making a little water, but not yet breaking any great store of wind, which I wonder at, for I cannot be well till I do do it. After office home and to supper and with good ease to bed, and endeavoured to tie my hands that I might not lay them out of bed, by which I believe I have got cold, but I could not endure it.

I know I should have saved this until my birthday but I was too excited and would probably forget it by May…

Jan 202014

LABELLE 1974 Nightbirds LP record album vintage vinyl A
Like I guess far too many folk, until fairly recently my knowledge of Labelle extended no further than Lady Marmalade. I had no idea, for instance, that they weren’t in fact just Patti Labelle let alone just how important Nona Hendryx was to the band.

In June 2011 Nona Hendryx appeared, with George Clinton at a talk about the British Library called “Space Children” that opened my eyes somewhat, although I have to admit that this is the first time I’ve listened to Nightbirds as an album, rather than just occasional dips into Labelle’s catalogue.

George Clinton & Nona Hendryx from Labelle in discussion for Out of this World
I think the thing most notable about Labelle is that Nona’s lyrics were thoughtful and smart… and then they sang them dressed like this

And here’s the hit (not written by Nona)

Jan 192014

I can't wait
Of course This Is Spinal Tap was a work of perfectly timed genius. Best In Show was clever and fun, and A Mighty Wind… well that had some great ideas and good moments… but you know what, For Your Consideration was Guest-mockumentary by numbers. It wasn’t as cutting, and didn’t have the occasional sweetness of the earlier films, and frankly it wasn’t as funny as either… in fact I’d go so far as to say it was barely funny at all.

Catherine O’Hara has most of the few good moments in the film, sixteen seconds into this trailer she says “no” – that happens a couple of minutes into the film and is pretty much as funny as it gets…

Anyway… Wikipedia tells me that Catherine O’Hara is Mary Margaret O’Hara’s sister – haven’t listened to Miss America for years

Jan 192014

Hazel and I went on a guided walk looking at the Art Deco buildings of Bloomsbury. At first glance I’m always quite taken by Art Deco but as I look closer, or longer it looks sinister, or vulgar, and sometimes both. Whatever you say though the buildings are often eye-catching, although it helps having someone point your eyes in the right direction.



As often seems the way these days, my eyes tend to get drawn more favourably towards the modern or brutal architecture


Jan 182014

Genesis -Selling England by the Pound
During the summer of 1979 Motorhead entered my life, in 1980 the NWoBHM happened, I don’t know how many headbangers there were in George Abbot School, but I reckon I was one of the first. Of course there were other “outsiders” but what happened with metal in 1979 and 1980 was quite significant.

John Brooke was one of my closest school friends, and he was a Genesis fan. He lived very near the school so we’d go to his house at lunchtime and sit in the bedroom that he shared with his many brothers (I remember it being made up of nothing but beds) and he’d put on Genesis albums and play impeccable air drums. I’d suggest that I have listened to very little Genesis since then, and hearing Selling England by the Pound, places me back in that bed-packed bedroom watching enviously as John accurately hit the imaginary toms and cymbals.

This is a much better album than I remember from back then, but back then Genesis were not a band to be taken seriously. In 1980 they released Duke and with that lost any possibility for serious appraisal. But Selling England is, literally, not by the same band that released Duke. Peter Gabriel would be gone within a couple of years making it, and Steve Hackett a year or two after that. By 1980 they were something to be laughed at.

John became a Motorhead fan, I imagine they never blew the Genesis out of him just pushed it to one side. I’ve long since lost touch with John which is sad becuase he was a part of my life during a very important time.

I often look back at how I was between the age of 15 and 25 with very little pride, I don’t think I was a particularly nice person, but I had some good friends and it all conspired to make me what I am.

This is me I’d guess in 1980 or 1981

Jan 172014

Buffy Sainte-Marie - Moonshot
Ahh… it was a long time coming, but finally we have a Galaxie 500 connection. I knew of Buffy Sainte-Marie a long time before I really knew her. In November 1990 John Peel broadcast Galaxie 500′s second Peel session that included a cover of Moonshot, and even then I didn’t really know Buffy. That’s because I never listened to Peel that night. I know I didn’t because also as part of that session they recorded a cover the Sex Pistols Submission and a week or so afterwards they played their last London show at ULU and the guy in fromt of me screamed “Submission” between every song and I remember wondering what the hell he was shouting for!

Then four years later the internet arrived, and with the internet came encounters with other Galaxie 500 fans, and then a cassette tape of the Peel sessions and finally I knew Moonshot, but still I barely knew Buffy.

At some point between then and now the internet has taught me more. But still I’ve not listened to Moonshot, the album, nearly as much as I should have – it is (mostly) truly beautiful.

As I shouldn’t pick Moonshot, here’s my another fave track on the album because I’m an absolute sucker for a love song, and a love song with strings and listen to that brass! Such sweetness is hard not to love:

Over on A Head Full of Wishes I’ve been blogging about the tracks that Galaxie 500 (etc.) have covered over the years – that series reaches Moonshot next week.

Jan 162014

I decided before watching it that Battle Beyond the Stars was going to be the film that Star Wars could have been – on paper it seemed so promising:

  • It was based on Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai – the planet was called Akir so it’s residents were the Akira!
  • It’s screenplay was written by John Sayles – who I think will likely be responsible for 1987′s film in this series.
  • It was a Roger Corman film so we can presume that he’d make the big (by Corman’s standards) budget go a long, long way.

It had a quite promising start, sure it looked a little ropier than Star Wars, but that’s because Corman’s budget had apparently mostly been spent on Robert Vaughan and George Peppard, but the story was nicely established and the magnificent “seven” rounded up “samurai” were smartly varied and nicely realised.

But then the bad guys came back, and it lost all promise – we had no insights into the characters, no explanation of the battle strategies, no story development – just 40 minutes of shooting, and dying, a bit of sacrifice, and a painful “romance” between the two lifeless leads.

By the end it became hard to care about anyone, even the ship’s self-sacrifice that was supposed to be the heart-rending victory was meaningless.

Sad, it should have been better, after all it had a story with a well proven track-record but, but it was just a disappointment and certainly not the film that I hoped it would be.

Also, hilarious ship with breasts!

OK, in an effort to actually make it through 50 films I’ve decided to give up on doing them sequentially, partly because 1966′s film is in the post but mostly because it’s easier to find films this way.

Jan 152014

Get Carter poster
And, as promised, Michael Caine turns up again. Roy Budd’s main theme to the 1971 British Gangster pic Get Carter is a gem.

Get Carter, the film, is one of those problematic ones… a film you know is good but is frankly too unpleasant to want to revisit too often, I last watched it in 2002, I rated it highly 8/10 (I rate everything I watch with meaningless and inconsistent numbers), but have no desire to sit through it again.

The album I listened to on Spotify was about 40 minutes of music (including a couple of songs), not all of it as hypnotic and engrossing as the main theme. In between every track, however, were little snippets of dialogue from the film, which only reminded me of just how nasty the film is and reinforced my urge to steer clear of it when it turns up on the telly, which it does quite often.

Jan 142014

THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIEUgh! The charm of Julie Andrews, the effortless villainy of Beatrice Lillie, the 20s (via swinging 60s) styles, and a couple of good song and dance numbers can’t hide the fact that this is an appalling film. Dubious on grounds of race, of sex and with the always unbearable Carol Channing to totally kill it when you think there might be some salvation.

And no film signs off leaving as bad a taste in the mouth as this one does with this (near) closing line…

I don’t want to be your equal, I want to be a woman

Truly, truly dreadful!