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Archive for August, 2007

SUNSHINE (Dir. Danny Boyle)

Posted: August 30th, 2007, by Alex McChesney

Question: It’s the future, and you are on a spaceship. A fire has broken out in one part of it, and threatens to spread to the rest of the ship. Do you…

A) Get the computer to open up an airlock, immediately suffocating the blaze?

or

B) Flood the compartment with oxygen – precious, scarce oxygen that you kind of need in order to complete your mission without dying – in order to help the fire “burn-out” quicker?

If you answered B, then you would probably be qualified to join the cew of the Icarus II on their mission to restart our dying star in Sunshine. The Earth is doomed and their mission must succeed in order to save mankind. Sadly, whoever had the responsibility of selecting the handful of men and women who would embark on this voyage apparently just chose some names out of a hat and came up with a group of dull ciphers with dubious problem solving skills. We join them sixteen months into their mission. Some bad things happen and some of the characters die. Then some more bad things happen, resulting in more deaths. And then they either succeed or fail in their mission, but you probably won’t care by then. None of the characters are remotely interesting or have inspired any sympathy, and any sense of the impending threat to mankind is limited by having us follow the ship of exposition-spouting dullards for the entire film, never once enlightening us to the actual situation back on Earth other than to briefly mention that it’s getting a bit chilly back home, until the very final scene.

Seeing a bad movie is frustrating, but not as frustrating as seeing one made by such writer/director team with such a strong pedigree. Danny Boyle and Alex Garland took on the zombie movie in 28 Days Later and made it seem fresh and genuinely frightening again. Why, then, when tackling the sci-fi epic did they fail to resist an overdesigned vision of the future, and a mish-mash of half-digested cliches?

Sunshine is a movie that frustrates not because it is bad, but because it should have been so much better. There’s the kernal of a good movie in there, and the occasional effective moment that promises more than is delivered. When the crew find the “lost” spaceship that went before them, for example, and start to board it, we are treated with some genuinely unnerving single-frame images that hint at a much darker horror than the rather bland one that they encounter. Perhaps it would only have taken one more draft of the script – tightening the dialogue, creating a sense of genuine urgency, and given the characters some, well, character, to thaw out Sunshine, but we’ll never know.

Your favourite movie soundtracks #4: Chris Summerlin on The Straight Story

Posted: August 27th, 2007, by Simon Minter

In 2004 my partner of three years had to move back home to Australia. The night before I had to move her belongings and her in my shitty car to the airport, we sat and drank wine in our front room and listened to music. One of the things we listened to was Angelo Badalamenti’s score for David Lynch’s The Straight Story. The film itself is a masterpiece of agonising sentimentality and the soundtrack is no different. I fully expect Lynch and Badalamenti to have researched the most heartbreaking chords and notes available and then made sure they utilised them to their full effect. It is something else, it really is. It’s almost cruel.

I remember we fell asleep on the sofa listening to ‘Lauren’s Walking’ and woke up when it was light. We spent our last night together on a sofa. A fucking sofa. What idiots. Since that point I haven’t heard the soundtrack or seen the film again. I have gone out of my way to experience neither and I am absolutely sure I will never see the film or hear the soundtrack again. It is that good.

Buy The Straight Story in diskant’s Amazon.co.uk store

For your amusement

Posted: August 25th, 2007, by Marceline Smith

Rubbish band find bad review on diskant two months after it was posted and encourage their fans via Myspace to leave comments telling us we are idiots. Badly spelled hilarity ensues. Go see. I love the timing – HAPPY BIRTHDAY JGRAM!

Best Of Craigslist

Posted: August 21st, 2007, by Chris Summerlin

Craigslist is kind of like the Free Ads in America (though the Craigslist site does appear to have sections for the UK now, anyway…) and, like any public service platform, people get creative with it.

The Best Of Craigslist:

http://www.craigslist.org/about/best/all/

3 random entries selected off the 1st page for you:

You’re not looking for them, but I found your two dogs.

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Date: 2007-08-16, 10:19AM PDT

Sigh. No one is looking for these guys. And I see why. They hump everything in sight, try to dominate our old doggies, try to eat our cats and pee on everything and bark at everything. Neurotic, lick constantly. They know no commands, either in English or Spanish. They are aggressive and probably lived in a puppy mill. You dumped them, probably, and we picked them up before they were killed by traffic. Unneutered, no tags, under 1 year old small males. I hate you, person who dumped these dogs. There are no lost ads on phone poles, no lost ad on Craig’s list, no lost ad in the paper. We put signs up all over, put a found notice in at the local pounds and if you were looking for these filthy little ragamuffins, you would have found them. We are afraid to take them to the pound because under stress, your dogs were snappy and horribly afraid and dogs are judged by temperment for adoption placement. They would not have passed that test. However…..

They are, under their filth, mats and horrible habits, adorable. They have learned “Quiet,” “Come,” “Sit.” They have stopped being so neurotic and we have broken most of their bad habits in just a few days. They are smart and sweet and are looking for guidance and WANT to be good little dogs. One is a purebred little white and buff guy with an underbite, the other is a brown little dog that looks almost exactly like a miniture version of a larger breed dog. They know each other and were obviously (by the same bad habits) raised (poorly) together. We will get them neutered, train them and get them into a good, loving home with people who use the brains God gave them.

If these are your dogs, come on by, I’d like to kick your ass.

Scary Porcelain Dolls

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Date: 2007-07-20, 10:24PM PDT

The thing is, I’m afraid of porcelain dolls. I’m esp. afraid of clowns. These are not clowns, they are just very ugly and evil-looking girl dolls with dresses on. I keep them in the garage, because I’m concerned about them animating at night and attacking me while I sleep.

Please take them away.

MC Hammer Pants

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Date: 2007-06-22, 2:58PM MDT

Guess what,

I was cleaning out my closet and I found 47 pairs of BRIGHT NEON MC Hammer pants. I was going to burn them and dance around the flames to try to make it rain or something, but I thought that maybe somebody would want these. They are absolutely the worst pants of all time. I can’t remember being stupid enough to buy these, but I must have been. Either that or MC Hammer owes me a bunch of rent money. I have them all in a huge garbage sack sitting on the sidewalk. If you want them you must just come pick up the bag and drive away. If anybody comes up and tears the bag and spills those hideous things into the street where my neighbors can see, I will be very unhappy. Garbage collection is on Monday so if they aren’t gone Mr. BFI gets them.

If you want this garbage, email me and I will give you instructions.

Making The Best Of Craigslist the best comedy site for the perpetually bored…

Your favourite movie soundtracks #3: Dave Stockwell on Paris, Texas

Posted: August 20th, 2007, by Simon Minter

Paris, Texas is one of my favourite ever films, and it must be said that Ry Cooder’s soundtrack album is also one of my favourite ever records. And that’s just in its own right. The album barely more than half an hour long, and the majority of it is solely Cooder’s wonderful, slide-driven acoustic guitar with some barely audible sympathetic percussion. As a piece of Wender’s film, it’s a beautiful, transformative catalyst that charges the rolling landscape and directionless characters with ravaging, stark emotion and depth. The simple, lilting theme performed by Cooder at the start of the film, as arid cliffs and rock formations surround the mute man in a red cap called Travis, is one of the finest moments of cinema-making I have ever experienced.

There’s not just Cooder’s guitar on the album though. Harry Dean Stanton, who stars as Travis, pops up to sing a traditional song in Spanish, startling you out of any stoned reverie you might have drifted into. Stanton sings beautifully, by the way. And scattered amongst the delicate filigrees of guitar exploration, the penultimate track “I Knew These People” is the record’s most curious moment; an eight minute monologue by Stanton, with subtle, sympathetic guitar by Cooder creeping in to colour in textures and emotions. It provides the film’s beautiful denouement, and as such, is something to treasure on record… and also a horrendous spoiler if you haven’t seen the film first. Finally, the album ends with a cover of Blind Willie Johnson’s “Dark Was The Night”, revealing the source of Cooder’s inspiration for such weary, broken-down but elegaic blues as these. It’s absolutely stunning.

Buy Paris, Texas in diskant’s Amazon.co.uk store

From the desk of the diskant Overlord – August 15th

Posted: August 15th, 2007, by Marceline Smith

Oh dear, I have been slacking with this. I’m afraid my computer time is still limited because of my RSI so where one thing gains, another loses. Which is my way of saying, LOOK, NEW THINGS. Well, our round-up article on Supersonic is now online. We all had a great time – the bands were great, the weather was perfect, the Custard Factory is an awesome venue and the cake was pretty grand too. Go and read all about it. Similar fun was also had at Hey You Get Off My Pavement in Glasgow the other week but sadly without the lovely weather. It was still great and you can read about that on the weblog.

Over on the Films blog, Simon has started posting up a series on our favourite film soundtracks complete with video of the films in question. If you’ve got a favourite film soundtrack do get in touch and tell him about it and we might feature yours.

If you’re really bored, come join us over on Facebook in the diskant rocks group where you can hang out with us, post photos, discuss things and do whatever else people do on the internet. Waste time basically. See you there!

Current listening: Robyn, Girls Aloud, Electrelane.

Your favourite movie soundtracks #2: Alex Mcchesney on Lost In Translation

Posted: August 13th, 2007, by Simon Minter

Soundtrack albums, for the most part, exist just one step above the novelty record. Bought on a whim, spurred on by little more than the warm association with a flick you may have enjoyed, they often don’t survive more than one spin before being reconciled to the dustier regions of the record collection, itself only an intermediate step towards the charity shop. It’s surprising, therefore, that one of my favourite albums to be released in 2003 (and my most-played record throughout 2004) was the soundtrack to Sophia Coppola’s movie Lost In Translation.

Say what you like about the film. I’m a sappy bastard for whom Bill Murray is a cinematic icon thanks to an early trip to the flicks to see Ghostbusters. This, in addition to the standard geek’s fascination with Japan (not to mention husky-voiced girls in pink pants), makes it one of my favourites, but I’m not blind to its faults and wouldn’t try to defend it against a concerted critical attack on most fronts. Except that of Coppola’s choice of accompanying tunage, of course. Lost In Translation works as a soundtrack because its woozy, gently melancholy sounds echo the jet-lagged ennui of its characters. Lost In Translation works as an album because that thematic link keeps it from feeling like a random collection of tunes. That, and it contains Kevin Shield’s most substantial body of published work in years, while Squarepusher rubs shoulders with the Jesus And Mary Chain like a hipster’s wet dream.

Buy Lost In Translation in diskant’s Amazon.co.uk store

diskant on Facebook

Posted: August 12th, 2007, by Marceline Smith

I keep meaning to mention this. If you are a member of hip new internet sensation™ Facebook, then come join us in the diskant rocks! group where you can talk to us and find out the latest happenings in diskant world. It’s almost as exciting as real life!

The actual latest happening in diskant world is that the Supersonic 2007 round-up article is now online for your reading pleasure. Who says Sundays are boring?

THE ANOMALIES – Employee of the Month (7", Beyond Management)

Posted: August 12th, 2007, by Mandy Williams

Hip-hop from Hereford, you say? This bunch of new rappers reference funk and drum and bass, and manage somehow to mutate it into an overall swing sound. On their debut single they shout “I am the employee of the month. I’ve got a badge upon my front”. In the same breath, they make “Come and join me in the gutter, there’s room for two” sound an inviting proposition.

The overall result is street urchin vocals like Pete Doherty jamming with Jamie T and The Streets to entertain a street party with a ragtime band in tow. As they repeat the ‘Strike Me Down’ chorus you can almost imagine an ensuing conga led by a saxophonist. Or have I just got a very vivid imagination?

The B-side is about the kind of party where all the cool kids are wearing ‘Hats and Glasses’. “We could raise the roof or tell the truth or knock back tequilas in the DJ booth”, they suggestively rap as Penelope Pitstop with her art degree knocks back the five-pound wine.

Goldseal, Murf, Mayhem and Lo create their own form of mayhem. It’s lyrically clever and a musical mix of big band/ska and old school hip hop with brassy little nuances at every turn. Having supported Grandmaster Flash, Goldie, The Scratch Perverts and Groove Armada, The Anomalies (as their name suggests) show us you can be ultra-cool and have a jolly good old knees up at the same time.

The Anomalies

LE RENO AMPS – Poison Letter (7", Pet Piranha)

Posted: August 12th, 2007, by Mandy Williams

Maple and Nero were born of sorrow in the North East of Scotland, found some mates and then three men and a little lady morphed into Le Reno Amps. Apparently they aim to write songs with all the fat cut off so you can sample their buttery goodness. Sound tempting? It is, actually.

Their malevolent missive ‘Poison Letter’ is released on Pet Piranha and apparently “it’s not easy reading but it’s not Yeats either”, with “questionable spelling but the message is clear”. They inform us of these facts over a lolloping melody and a bouncy chorus.

B-side ‘New Man’ bemoans the replacement lover. “Whatever car he drives is not Korean made and I bet she doesn’t think of me when she is getting laid” laments the singer whose ex only talks to him so she can twist that knife.

In the spirit of Teenage Fanclub or The Lemonheads, Le Reno Amps find that irresistible combination of power pop, folk and indie. They mix alt-country balladry with observational singer-songwriting. Arab Strap’s laments, with the more upbeat poppy sound of Belle and Sebastian, perhaps.

Yet the louche mid-western vocals make them sound more like they hail from Albuquerque than Aberdeen. Whether it’s Reno or Rutherglen, these Glasgow based Amps are cranked up loud and well worth a listen.

Le Reno Amps