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Archive for September, 2004

Some films

Posted: September 30th, 2004, by Marceline Smith

I have been forgetting to post about the films I have seen of late. Sadly no Trailerwatch as there has been nothing very interesting being shown (other than THE WORST TRAILER EVER, for L4Y3R CAK3 or however the hell they’re spelling it, which I have erased from my memory).

So, films. A couple of weeks back we rushed to the cinema to see OPEN WATER and were astonished to see how popular it was. Okay, we went on Friday night but it was in the big big room and still sold out. I thought we were the only people who cared enough about ridiculous shark movies but maybe not. The story, in case you’ve been abandoned in the middle of the ocean for a while, aha ha, is the (based on a) TRUE STORY of a couple who go diving and get forgotten about and are thus stuck in the middle of the ocean for two days while some sharks consider eating them, OH NO. All shot lo-fi for that realistic home video feel and with real live sharks and none of those fake or digital sharks (boo). It all trundled along interestingly enough for the first bit where nothing much really happened and even once they got to the abandonment in the sea bit, it continued to be quite mundane rather than ACTION and DRAMA, which was good and unexpected and realistic. In fact, the whole thing was much better than I expected except for the most important bit – the sharks! I guess understandable since they were real sharks but there wasn’t really much shark action at all. No sharks jumping out of the screen at you or biting chunks out of people. Instead there was just the sudden fin above water to make you jump and some footage of the sharks underwater. We soon realised that lots of people are scared stiff of sharks as half the audience would shriek or gasp in horror whenever any shark appeared on screen, whatever it looked like or was doing. This was most amusing when a group of people gasped in horror as footage of A LARGE TROPICAL FISH was shown. Scary. The ending was strangely ambiguous as well, or maybe I just wasn’t paying attention. So, aye, worst shark movie ever. Although it’s difficult to beat the wonder that is Deep Blue Sea, that’s for sure.

The other film I saw recently was HERO which is one of those Chinese “wire-fu” martial arts movies with ponderous historical themes. Like, yes, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Sure, if you hated CTHD you’re not going to like Hero but I didn’t find them that similar as Hero seems much smaller, shorter and down to earth though lacking some of the humour and vastness. Hero tells the story of a plot to kill the king by a group of assassins and each part of the story is re-told as the hero and the king have a kind of battle of wills and work out the truth. I didn’t really make the connections at the time but each telling is colour coded with different colours for truth, fiction and perceived truth and the acting often seems to mirror this, with the fictitious scenes seeming slightly over-acted and the true ones having much more depth of feeling. There’s also the usual beautiful fighing scenes in a variety of fantastical locations including the surface of a lake and the rooftop of a building with thousands of arrows flying around. My favourite scene was the fight in an autumnal forest, the ground strewn with leaves that whirled about through the battle and you see the scene through the dying eyes of one character, the orange trees, slowly fading red. I nearly cried, it was so lovely. The story does drag a bit in places and the political parts grate a little but it’s short enough that it doesn’t matter too much.

Commentators! Recommend me some films that I would like of a similar type to Hero/CTHD/Spirited Away/Princess Mononoke etc etc. – historical, fighting, looks amazing. Cutesy monsters a bonus.

Therese Raquin

Posted: September 29th, 2004, by Chris H

I should have blogged about how good the 1-speed bike, Germlin & Loss Leader show was last week.

But I’ve just been to see Therese Raquin at the Citz. It’s very good but has got me thinking: are there any 19th century novels with a woman’s name in the title that don’t end with that woman debased and dying?

Just a thought.

Russ Meyer has passed away

Posted: September 23rd, 2004, by JGRAM

Russ Meyer has passed away. I know/realise he hasn’t made any films for about thirty years but his movie Mud Honey did give birth to the band of the same name, so there is one tenuous link to our little music land. And generally on a personal note, back around 1995/1996 I had the greatest time discovering his movie stuck on the early hours of Sky Movies Gold where Sky rightfully almost seemed to be embarrassed to be showing them (a move later repeated by Channel Five years later).

Russ Meyer films are utterly tacky, tasteless and exploitation but at the same time pretty funny (in a giggle way) and the sort of films you felt/feel at the same both dirty and hip time watching. My personal favourite is Beneath The Valley Of The Ultravixens, complete with regular appearance of Charles Napier who later turned up as one of the pursuers in the A-Team and cameo by AWOL Nazi Martin Borman. The film is question features a nutty town in smallville America where everyone is at it with eachother to disastrous consequences all narrated excellently by an Uncle Jesse (Dukes Of Hazard) style character delivering a basic “this is the state of the nation” address on small town America, the theme of which, albeit done completely differently, seems to be the main subject of so many of the fantastic US independent films.

The most famous two Russ Meyer movies are probably Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill! which is basically everything the band The Cramps ever stood for on screen and Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls, pretty much the story of Courtney Love and Hole done twenty years early.

Anyways, whatever, I’ve just always enjoyed watching (the good) Russ Meyer movies is all.

A couple of things

Posted: September 21st, 2004, by Marceline Smith

1. I got the new issue of Plan B yesterday and it’s ten times better than the last issue (except for the lack of a fantastic Andrew Clare cover) and and about 50 times better than CTCL. The layout now no longer looks like a slight CTCL update and neither does too much of the content. As well as the full length articles and lovely photos and illustrations there’s now lots of smaller chunks of text and little things to read which makes it seem much less daunting and much more accessible. I like a lot.

2. A downloadable trailer for the new Miyazaki film, Howl’s Moving Castle (more info at Nausicaa, as always). It is indeed a moving castle and it all looks very very Miyazaki right down to the cute little flame monster at the beginning. I am already excited, even though it’s not even out in Japan until November.

Hey, I found out what happened to Nirvana

Posted: September 21st, 2004, by Chris Summerlin

Their singer and guitarist Kurt Cobain was murdered in 1994.

Nirvana

Posted: September 20th, 2004, by Chris Summerlin

In keeping with my current listening tastes and my effort to take myself back 8 years minimum I have discovered an amazing band I feel I need to tell you about.

They were called Nirvana.

They were a punk rock band from Aberdeen in Washington and were sort of wrapped up in the K/Kill Rock Stars thing. If you like Unwound then you’ll have no problems with Nirvana who are, if anything, slightly more polished at times than their big brothers from Olympia.

Their debut album Bleach is quite sludgy in sound and lyrically a little immature but still contains some great moments. It came out on the Sub Pop label and shouldn’t be too difficult to track down on EBay but ultimately it’s a little less satisfying than their contemporaries of the time like The Melvins and Karp.

Their next album Nevermind is a real cracker. I urge you to track this one down and give it a spin. Essentially a concept album about singer Kurt Cobains break up with Tobi Vail of Bikini Kill, this is a fantastic bittersweet pop record albeit with thundering drums (courtesy of David Grohl who’s work you’re probably aware of from his time in Dischord band Scream) and lascerating guitar.

The genius part of this record is the decision to polish the production in a lot of respects. Like The Pixies Doolittle it really adds to the quality of the songs. There’s not a duff track on it, it’s a real pop winner. I’m not sure which label put this out but it shouldn’t be too tricky to get hold of.

After this came a split 7″ with heavyweights The Jesus Lizard. Obviously, nothing was going to quite live up to the might of Puss from the seminal Liar LP but Nirvana did their best with a raucous “Oh The Guilt”. This is fairly rare though, maybe someone should put together a Nirvana box set style compilation?

Their 3rd album was recorded, like most underground US music, by Steve Albini and was called In Utero. This saw Nirvana go in new directions on some of the tracks but not succeed quite as well on others. Milk It and Scentless Apprentice are warzone barrages of noise with Grohls drums taking prominence alongside Cobains screamed vocals. Songs like Dumb and Rape Me are a little too rooted in their older material and don’t sit well on the record. But still, this is close to being a masterpiece. Heart Shaped Box especially melds the pop and noise worlds that Nirvana straddled. It seems to be a tribute in sorts to Cobains partner who I believe was Courtney Love, singer in the LA “riot grrl” band Hole who you might have heard of as Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth recorded their first album. Heart Shaped Box is quite beyond compare and special mention must go to the saucy bassline provided by Krist Novoselic (now a politician). Despite its inconsistencies, In Utero demands to be played loud and is for the most part very dark and compelling listening.

Then they just disappeared sometime in 1994. Whereas fellow bands from their locale like Mudhoney or The Melvins have gone on to something of a resurgence, Nirvana is a name not often mentioned anymore in hardcore or punk rock circles. So yeah, great stuff, well worth a listen.

Quick! Reviews! Little ones!

Posted: September 13th, 2004, by Simon Minter

Here are a couple of new things from the fine, upstanding, idiosyncratic Sheffield Phonographic Corporation.

Like Him + Her + Her + Me is a 7″ single by Champion Kickboxer on glorious heavy white vinyl, which lopes along with one of those Clinic-style circular basslines. It’s pretty weird, disjointed and hollow-sounding slow garage rock, all clomping drumbeats and not-quite-there vocals. Odd, but good.

Speaking of which, A Box of Odd is a compilation CD which is straight out of the Pebbles/Nuggets/Beyond the Calico Wall box – thirteen tracks of dumb, stupid, surf-y garage punk which is generally recorded sloppily enough and performed hastily enough to make it a gem of a selection for any keen freakbeat fan. It features The Motherfuckers, Beachbuggy, Chuck, The Special Agents, Texas Pete and G.G.Action, hopefully all of which have now split up and formed other bands playing the same kind of music.

Elevate

Posted: September 12th, 2004, by Chris Summerlin

Recently I have found my listening tastes have moved back to pretty much what I liked in about 1996. Jesus Lizard, Blues Explosion and Frank Black are getting regular spins. I was at a party last night and we were enjoying Girls Against Boys and “Washing Machine” by Sonik Yoot. Perhaps I am subconciously longing for a return to a period of my life when I didn’t have a shit job and I was getting laid regularly?

Anyway.

In this 1996 revival I feel a sudden need to bring to all of your attentions a severely overlooked and utterly amazing album.

“The Architect” by Elevate.

And they were British. There’s not a duff track on it. It does sound a bit like GVSB. Or The Fall. Who GVSB sound like anyway. But if it was GVSB it would be their best album. Cheers!

Sonic Youth

Posted: September 12th, 2004, by Chris Summerlin

Thanks for the nice comments about the Sonic Youth piece. I think everyone should email them and suggest they reply or I get to properly interview them.

Last weeks Brixton gig perfectly illustrated my problems. The songs rocked, the improv noise was bollocks. Not because I don’t like improvised noise, just that it wasn’t any good.

Talking of improvised noise on Tuesday this week I’m playing with Damo Suzuki from Can. This weekend I spent 4 hours in a very smelly room in Leeds jamming my brain into the ground with the other people playing this show. By the end of it we were cooking, this should be a really good one. Thats kind of a plug so sorry.

In the last week we continued our policy of “weird gigs or seaside towns” with Lords and played 2 very strange gigs. On Thursday we played Club NME at the Stealth club in Nottingham which is kind of like the set of Tron. It was most un-Lordy but yet the gig was a great laugh even if we did have to wait till 11.30 to play. On a school night too. I made a first class ass out of myself by standing on the monitor and it falling over and me ending up on my face. Oops.

Then last night we played a pub on a river outside of Leeds. It was weird. It rained in Biblical proportions and we were outside under a tarpauling kind of affair so rain was lashing the electrics. Very harsh. But fun. I suggest everyone in bands follows the Lordy policy.

You’ve got to be impressed by this

Posted: September 11th, 2004, by Dave Stockwell

This morning I got the latest release by free-pysch-improv-noise hustlers Davenport, entitled ‘Owl Movement’. To the day, it was recorded but one month earlier – on 11th August 2004. And I had to import it from the USofA.

That’s a one month turnaround time. It’s taken my band 13 whole months between mixing a record and sending it off to the printers, and the damn thing’s not even going to get distributed for at least another month yet. Bastards, I say, Bastards!