As my mood fails to improve, tactics have shifted from playing along with it (see previous post) to shocking it into compliance: and this means bringing out The Big Guns. If you’ve never seen Katsuhiro Otomo’s 1988 film Akira (of his own vast comic series), you should really do so at the earliest opportunity. And don’t be worrying about not being able to follow it at all, for the film makes little, if any, sense that I’ve been able to ever ascertain. It’s a massive assault on the senses, a spot-on critique of high-level corruption, a strange sense of future dread from the fact that Tokyo really will be having an Olympic Stadium built in 2019 (and here’s hoping the architects display some sort of knowing sense of humour), and frankly it’s really weird. Visually, it’s a feast. But it would be half a film without the utterly unique soundtrack that backs it up.
There’s much to be said for the re-emergence of vinyl product in today’s musical marketplace. On the plus side, there’s the whole weird sense of community that comes with modern-day actual record buying as it’s a thing that feels like it has passed through many sets of caring hands before it reaches its home and a lifetime of being taken out, dusted down, having the artwork and sleevenotes pawed over and then listened to in captivity. Well, unless they start selling these again, anyway. The downside is provided in a lack of stores these days, leading to many early morning trips to the sorting office to collect yet another parcel that wouldn’t fit through a letterbox (although conversations are then struck with Post Office workers about vinyl, something that doesn’t happen with a box of CDs) and a pricing structure that is determined to keep this new rising to a minimum of collectors, which is a bit of a shame. That said, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that market (as this post will hopefully illustrate), but I’ve ended up ordering a record from the US today that will cost me a total of $38 bought and flown to my door (well, most of the way anyway) because vendors here want £30 before they even start thinking about putting a stamp on it. The rule for standard issues of LPs shouldn’t be so expensive, especially when the exceptions to the standard are the same price or cheaper and come as such insanely high quality packages such as this one.
From the day that I first clapped eyes on the teaser poster for A Field In England (courtesy of the Twins Of Evil‘s amazing artwork), Ben Wheatley’s psychedelic Civil War drama, I was sold. As well as the quality of the image, I was drawn to the whole setting of the piece, as the English Civil War is something that was mentioned while I was at school, but not really gone into much depth (presumably because nobody really came out of that one a winner, except the monarchy). It was an odd era spent largely on the boundaries between believing in magic and wanting to understand science; where warlocks and alchemists locked horns. And Wheatley really conveys all of this while telling a weirdly human story through the middle of it, bringing together great characters and beautiful imagery in the process. Plus, of course, some amazing music courtesy of Jim Williams plus a couple of extras. And an unintentional psychedelic bonus for yours truly, which is making this a bugger to type.
Sometimes you watch a film, and it all just sticks with you. When you’re still going over stuff in your head the day after the credits have rolled and still feel something about the story and characters, you know a film’s worked. That I’m sat here thinking about the deeper aspects of a remake of a slasher film speaks volumes about the quality of Franck Khalfoun’s reworking of 1980 horror flick Maniac whilst also showing up most lesser reimaginings by virtue of it being different, thought-provoking and actually rather good. Taking its cues from a variety of places other than the obvious original source (Michael Powell’s long-reviled Peeping Tom and Michael Mann’s sublime and stylish Manhunter striking chords in this scribe), it piles on sympathy for and (thanks to the way that the main character is depicted) empathy with the tragic Frank Zito.
And how to cement the fact that this is an emotionally-gripping feature that isn’t completely concerned with scalping people? Why, by laying a sumptuous, neon-washed synth score over the top of it.
If it wasn’t for the somewhat random nature of the local postal service, this would have arrived yesterday and fallen rather nicely on the first anniversary of the Death Waltz Recording Company, a soundtrack record label that has been both incredibly busy and wonderfully fastidious in providing records that look and ‘feel’ just as good as they sound – and, such is the popularity of their release schedule, who spectacularly managed to completely bugger up the internet last week when their soundtrack to The Fog became available in a manner that must have had GCHQ absolutely seething. But, as these things are wont to do, the postman was late, I got the red postcard of “while you were out” horror and I had to get up at 7am this morning to pick this up instead. Ah well, Happy Birthday anyway!
This isn’t about looking back though. This new release is the first of a hopefully extended set of soundtracks in collaboration with the classic, eccentric Hammer studios who gave me such lovely and exotic things to look at in my callow youth. And quite frankly, they didn’t come much more lovely and exotic than this.
There’s just something gloriously mad about Blade Runner, as it’s a film that is almost impossible to explain to anyone who has never seen it, especially if they start asking awkward questions like “so, why is he called a Blade Runner then?”
It’s one of those films that has very slowly and carefully created a legend around itself, largely by being utterly baffling until a Director’s Cut appeared several years later to explain it without need for a voiceover and a terrible happy ending. But even when we had to rely on Harrison Ford sardonically spelling the plot out, Blade Runner had that unique something to keep the audience spellbound, which was that there was simply nothing like it. And now, even though the images have been (ha!) replicated ad infinitum, there’s still almost nothing that sounds like it.
First of all, a heartfelt “Happy 25th Birthday!” from this idiot scribe to the lovely people of Sub Pop Records. Which feels kind of strange in a way as, to put everything in an awful “how on Earth did that happen?” historical context, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon was a mere 15 years old when Touch Me I’m Sick was recorded.
I’ll just let the older viewers allow that to sink in for a moment.
Right. So anyway, central to just about everything that made (and nearly broke) Sub Pop the name they are today is Mudhoney. Not was, is. So this documentary isn’t just about where they’ve been, but where they’re off to next.
Men. We do like our gadgets, don’t we? Of course we do. And the more things that a gadget has to tinker about with in a knowing fashion (“knowing”, usually meaning “what happens when I do this?” – generally leading to “honest, it was like that before I came in” mumbled excuses), the better it is, because Tinkering has long since replaced Hunter/Gathering in our genetic makeup, much to the annoyance of everyone else.
And now, after some confusing jiggerypokery regarding the way that our much-loved Transatlantic chums do their dates the wrong way round which had me all excited for watching this on the 2nd of January, Dave Grohl’s paean to a particular mixing desk is finally available to view.
Due to the generally fickle nature of being me as a full-time occupation, I don’t really have many clear-cut favourites of anything much. At any given moment, I will happily profess my undying love for red wine before sneaking off for an unfaithful sip of a cheeky Chenin Blanc, the morning awful barmcakes are decorated variously with sauce both red and brown, and (because I believe Simpsons references to be somewhat obligatory) even my love of clothes pegs is torn between the springy ones and the other kind.
Not so with films. Oh no indeedy. The Wicker Man is hands-down my favourite British Film, my favourite Horror Film, oh bugger it just my favourite film I’ve ever seen, and – quite handily for the purposes of this post – also my favourite musical. Yes. Musical.
It’s also my Most Hated Remake, but the less said about that travesty of woman-hating dreadfulness the better.