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I woke up in the early hours of this morning with Pro>Gen by The Shamen in my head - I have no idea how or why it was there but, there it was.

I was never really into dance music - but if someone asked me to pick a 90s dance music archetype this would be it.

I first heard the track in 1990 when it turned up on the One Little Indian Greatest Hits Volume 2 spotify link compilation album - which I think was one of those low price samplers that labels would put out - the first side of disc 1 had The Sugarcubes, The Popinjays and The Kitchens of Distinction on it so I imagine that a cheap double LP with those three on it was worth a few quid.

The rest of the double LP set was of varying quality but Pro>Gen was pretty good … even if it couldn’t make me dance.

Pro>Gen - The Shamen (1990)

A year later it was remixed and re-released and became a huge hit - which was also an odd experience for me - being ahead of the game!

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Bromley #stairs #rust #texture Hazel and I, on a whim, took a trip to Bromley yesterday.

IMG_20190526_134228.jpg

On the train from Victoria we started arguing over Bromley’s most significant resident - in the end I had to concede that it probably was H.G. Wells - but only on a technicality. Siouxsie Sioux is from Chiselhurst.

Bromley
H.G. Wells went to school here
Siouxsie and The Banshees - Arabian Nights

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Mortal Engines concept art

Oh I loved Philip Reeves Mortal Engines books - I read the original four many years ago and am only just working through the Fever Crumb trilogy. I loved the originals so much that they were the book I took to my desert island when I picked my desert island discs back in 2011.

When the film was announced way back I felt a little apprehensive - I knew it wouldn’t be as good as the book, of course not, it couldn’t be. But my apprehension went a little further…

  • I find CGI annoyingly inauthentic. I’ve written about why I like models over CGI before:

    that’s the joy of models over CGI, becuase neither look authentic … but models are real and therefore give authenticity, and with authenticity comes tension.

  • I find Peter Jackson’s films to be overblown and unsubtle.
  • I don’t like modern super-hero films.
  • Look what happened to His Dark Materials, another series of books I loved but whose first (and so far only) film was a disappointment.

But I went in with as much optimism as I could muster. But by the end I felt deflated and annoyed - there was very little to love and all the worst fears of unconvincing CGI, over-reliance on (super-hero-like) action and ridiculously unsubtle plot and script were realised. The heart had been torn out of the book.

Watched: 2019-05-26
Rating : 3/10

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Matewan (John Sayles, 1987)

I can’t remember the last time that I saw Matewan but it could have been around the time that City of Hope got released over here - which was probably 1992. I also can’t remember where I saw it - I was thinking it was in Edinburgh, perhaps at at John Sayles retrospective or part of the Film Festival (or both… or neither) but I can’t find any evidence of that.

What I do remember even after all this time is the film itself, in my head it has remained a powerful and impressive bit of film-making.

So why haven’t I seen it in over 35 years if I liked it so much? I wish I could answer that - I do know that I intended it to be my 1987 film when I did my 50 films series when I reached 50, but couldn’t track down a DVD. So here we are 27 years on - does it stand up?

Yep, it has it’s a great story, brilliantly told and, still astounding to me, based on true events. Astounding that in such recent times human lives were considered so cheap and disposable, that they could be treated with such contempt.

What’s even sadder is that we’ve still not reached a world where this is fixed.

Matewan, WV Massacre

Still a great film.

Watched: 2019-05-21
Rating : 9/10

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Jamaica Inn (1939)

I was worried that Hitchcock’s last early British film might see him going it out with a whimper

Coming after two absolute gems in Young and Innocent and The Lady Vanishes it’s no wonder that it’s practically a forgotten Hitch - but it’s no whimper.

It has a fabulous cast:

  • Maureen O’Hara is beautiful and has some fire
  • Charles Laughton can be relied upon to achieve what no other actor has - being effortlessly brilliant in ridiculously over-the-top, hammy roles (there’s a fine line between a Laughton and a Blessed!)
  • Leslie Banks is wonderfully villainous and surprisingly effective in his grubbiness
  • and even Robert Newton has some charm although he’s no Donat or Redgrave (and to be fair the role isn’t written with the charm of a Richard Hannay or Gilbert).
Jamaica Inn (1939)

The story is a great one, although it feels a bit rushed in places that makes some of the character’s actions seem a bit odd, and the sets and models are nicely convincing - the wreck model sequences are tense and exciting and the murderous wreckers are brilliantly evil.

If anything’s lacking it’s probably Hitch - this is a standard above-average British film of the 30’s - it doesn’t have any flashes that set it any higher.

It’s a great film - but only an average Hitch.

  • Watched: 2019-05-01
  • Source: DVD
  • Rating: 7/10

Jamaica Inn at The Alfred Hitchcock Wiki

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