Thursday, January 27, 2011

Brooklyn and ting...

Three minutes or less...

Japanther - not to be confused with the equally mighty Japandroids - are playing at a small, overcrowded venue near you soon. Their music is typical of the noisy schmoisy fuzz currently emanating from New York; although in Japanther's case they've been plying their nefarious trade for nigh on 10 years.

'Tut, Tut, Now shake ya Butt.' Indeed.

'Radical Businessman'

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bluest velvet..

Although slighly late and slightly early - Lynch was 65 on January 20th and Blue Velvet celebrates its 25th birthday later this year, no blog devoted to film-making and great movies could ignore two such significant landmarks.

Blue Velvet was, and is, one of the great films. It continues to appall, infuriate, mesmerise and reduce to helpless laughter - even after numerous viewings, even after the pause and slow motion buttons have broken after over repeated use.

It's magic. And, a quarter of a century later, still is.

David Lynch is completely unique amongst American film-makers. He shares some sensibilities with contemporary Hollywood but his remains a uniquely personal vision and voice. And that's what makes his work so compelling, so eminently watchable. So Lynchian.

The anniversary re-issue of Blue Velvet, it is rumoured, will contain some scenes that producer Dino de Laurentiis considered not integral to the film - Lynch's understandable acquiescence meant that these scenes have earned semi-legendary status among fans of the movie; it will be interesting to see these scenes in context, and to see how they impact on the narrative as a whole.

If you haven't seen the film, JG Ballard's one line description of it cannot be bettered...

Happy belated birthday, David.

'Blue Velvet'
'Straight Story'
'Good day today'

“like The Wizard of Oz reshot with a script by Franz Kafka and d├ęcor by Francis Bacon.”

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


It's been thirty years since the formation of seminal American rock band, Throwing Muses. One of the hallmarks of this most original of bands is the lyrical starkness and unaffected candour of one of its main songwriters, Kristin Hersh.

Hersh, early diagnosed with schizophrenia, uses her experiences as a sufferer of mental illness to comment on, amongst many things, stereotypical attitudes towards mental health. These conflicting and contrasting attitudes, and her own familiarity with them, are clarified and enlarged upon in her latest memoir, 'Paradoxical Undressing,'

Evocative, brave and impressively well written, Hersh has written one of the most startling, most impassioned books of early 2011.

'Me and my charms'

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Every day isn't like sunday...

From the 16th to the 30th of January, the GFT in Glasgow is showing three wonderful films as part of its Cinematic Americana series.

'Wise Blood,' based on the 1952 novel by Flannery O'Connor, is an unheralded classic - featuring magnificent performances from Brad Dourif and Harry Dean (Stanton). Peter Bogdanovich's breakthrough film, 'The Last Picture Show,' released in 1971, deserves its considerable reputation as one of the benchmark films of the New Hollywood era whilst, 'Heartworn Highways,' the third in the trilogy, shows documentary film-making at its most challenging and intimate.

All three films are marvellous examples of the film industry at its most creative and are well worth seeing either individually or as a genre embracing whole.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Alfred the great...

'Seeing things;' the autobiography of the late Oliver Postgate, was released to unanimous critical acclaim (and unconcealed delight) in 2009. Two years later sees the publication of the biography of Alfred Bestall - the illustrator of the children's perennial classic, Rupert Bear.

Bestall's life is chronicled by his goddaughter Caroline Bott and it's a life full of unexpected surprises - Bestall fought in the first World War, and had a more auxiliary role in the second, however, his belief in the unequivocal goodness of humanity shines through, in this generously written, wholly unsentimental account.

Bestall's art, like Postgate's, seems to have a timeless wonder about it. It belongs firmly to the tradition of great children's storytelling - where amazing worlds are inhabited by beautiful princesses, talking animals, and strange, often frightening creatures...

Included in this post is Jackie Lee's wonderful performance of the theme music from the early 70's claymation series.

'Life and works of Alfred Bestall,' by Caroline Bott

Rupert the Bear

Friday, January 7, 2011

Hammock time...

One of the most magical records of last year was Hammock's 'Chasing after with the ghosts.' There's nothing particularly new or surprisingly innovative in what they do. But what they do; the creation of languid, ethereal soundscapes of undeniable beauty, they do exceptionally well.

Redeye Distribution

'The Backward Step'

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Sweet Unforgiveness...

Serendipity is a great thing...

Aquarius Records have been in existence for over (just) 40 years. Based in San Francisco, they are an old-fashioned record store with a penchant for the slightly psychedelic, the offbeat and the downright darn weird.

'Gentle Persuasion,' a self-released 2010 album by the intriguingly named Doug Hream Blunt is just one of the albums they stock - and, resting assuredly, it is not untypical of their inventory...

MPEG streams of DHB are available on the record store site.

So, Let's Dance!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel...

One of the great films of the 1950's was John Sturges' 'Bad Day at Black Rock.' The cast was one of the finest assembled; featuring new and old Hollywood at its reconfigured best. This reconfiguration included a young Anne Francis - who would later excel in other such '50's movie classics as, 'Blackboard Jungle,' and, 'Forbidden Planet.'

Arnold Laven's 'The Rack,' remains her best film. An underrated piece about an ignored war, (Korea) the film includes early (ish) performances by Paul Newman, Lee Marvin and Cloris Leachman. As war movies go, it excels in creating a sense of Manchurian Candidate like tension amidst a backdrop of confused loyalties and disrupted lives.

It's great, and like all of Anne Francis's movies, eminently watchable.

'The Hired Gun'
Interview for tcm

Pete Postlethwaite was, without any doubt, one of Britain's finest actors of his generation.

Every film he was in was in some sense, a Pete Postlethwaite film; his presence on screen was immense, irrespective of the nature of the role he played, and the time, long or short, he spent on screen playing it. To say he was a master of his craft would be an understatement.

Although he made many films his early performance in Terence Davies' harrowing and magnificent, 'Distant Voices, Still Lives,' remains definitive - especially so in demonstrating the full reign of his incredible talents.

'The Age of Stupid'
'Brassed off'