Showing posts with label music. Show all posts
Showing posts with label music. Show all posts

6 April 2015

Blu-ray Review - Rude Boy (1980)

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Music, Drama
Fabulous Films
Rating: 18
BD Release Date:
6th April 2015 (UK)
David Mingay, Jack Hazan
Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, Topper Headon, Ray Gange
Buy:The Clash - Rude Boy: Collectors Edition [Blu-ray]

Rude Boy is a fascinating document of its time: it’s a fake documentary about a kid named Ray Gange (who is played by, well - Ray Gange), and he’s a young punk who becomes a roadie for The Clash. The film’s reputation over the years has been mixed to say the least, and The Clash famously boycotted it and got badges made with “I don't want Rude Boy Clash Film” on them. It does, however, have many virtues as a document of a band on the verge of mega stardom and of late ‘70s Britain.

Ray - like so many young punks at the time, is an uneducated and naïve kid who develops a passion for punk music, but despite the leftist views of punk he doesn’t really get it. Ray spouts anti-left wing nonsense and is sympathetic at times towards the fascist National Front. The Clash’s front-man Joe Strummer is in a great scene in which he tries to explain to him why the left is better than the right. It’s an interesting coming of age film that is almost reminiscent of the Robert Bresson’s The Devil, Probably in the sense that it’s a about a young man drifting through life with different ideologies, never truly finding the answer he is looking for.

The film’s obvious highlight is the footage of The Clash which is really them at their peak before they left to become huge in the States. The footage dates around the time of their first album and around the time they started recording their most famous album London Calling - it ends with a song from it, ‘Rudie Can’t Fail’. The live concert footage, with the possible exception of the So It Goes footage for Granada television, is the best document of The Clash in a live environment and all the energy and urgency is on show.

Despite overall enjoying the experience, Ray Gange regrets a lot of what the filmmakers did. They tried to force situations in the film, and all the political stuff was apparently the director’s decisions - he just went along with it. The film infamously has a blowjob scene in a bathroom which is unnecessary and simply there for shock-value and to show how much of a dick the character of Ray Gange is.

Despite many virtues, it’s terribly flawed in so many ways; there is a bizarre unconnected subplot about a black kid who gets arrested and goes nowhere, for example, but I guess it’s there to try and show that white middle class kids shouting about revolution can make it (The Clash) whereas blacks are still stuck where they are. It’s naïve, stupid and really misses the point of The Clash, but ultimately it just makes the film drag.

The film’s length is ridiculous: it’s over two hours long, and the aforementioned subplot should have been left in a skip somewhere outside of Slough. Realistically, 100 minutes would have been a better length, combined with a tighter edit or perhaps just the concert film that The Clash wanted instead. It’s still a very captivating film, however, and the Ray Gange kid - despite playing a total dick - is strangely charismatic on screen.

This new Blu-Ray looks shockingly good for a low budget British film from the late ‘70s; the print shows very little signs of dirt or grain. The live footage already just kicked you in the stomach in previous versions but it almost puts you right in the midst of the crowd. The disc includes interviews with Ray Gange who talks about his reservations of the film, the road manger Johnny Green and the two directors who come off as middle class twats. Like previous DVD editions, it has "Just play the The Clash" feature, a lot of deleted footage and some great earlier footage of them live in Munich in 1977.

Ian Schultz

7 March 2015


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Alexandre Desplat is without question one of the most prolific composers in contemporary film. The 53-year-old Frenchman has composed for over 100 films since 1985 when he began contributing to small movies in his home country. Desplat composed the dark yet beautiful score for Syriana in 2005, and this remarkable musical feat cemented his place as one of the most in demand composers in the business. To celebrate the home entertainment release of THE IMITATION GAME arriving on Blu-ray™, DVD and digital platforms on 9th March 2015, courtesy of STUDIOCANAL, this feature will take a look at Alexandre Desplat's top film scores.


Desplat had a very limited period of time to compose music reflecting the brilliant mind of Alan Turing. Desplat knew that a big-orchestra approach was out of the question—if not just for time’s sake, it was also too outsized for a story reflecting the unique mind of one man. Realizing that the visuals of the film would never be able to depict the process of Turing’s brain, Desplat decided to make that the focus of his music, paying homage to the godfather of computers by using machines to randomly layer multiple piano tracks over each other. The result is a an extremely atmospheric score to go along with one of the films of the year.

The Tree of Life (2001)

Terrence Malick's controversial masterpiece took nearly thirty years to come to the big screen, and with such a heavy burden of expectation, the film needed an equally bold musical score. Desplat delivered such a score in a typically emphatic fashion. His music is one of the film’s great binding forces, gifting Malick the cohesion that he often has difficulty establishing on his own.

The Fantastic Mr Fox (2009)

Beautifully whimsical, touching and bright, Desplat shows his versatility by creating a score that is clearly out of his comfort zone but no less incredible for Wes Anderson’s critically acclaimed The Fantastic Mr Fox. Desplat produces a resonantly beautiful sense of homecoming that speaks to the titular wild animal’s belief that everything will turn out alright in the end so long as his family survives in one piece

Birth (2004)

Even divorced from the setting of the film for which it was commissioned, Desplat’s score for Birth has the feel of a chilly afternoon somewhere north of 66th St. These pieces are some of the composer's most luxurious work—so garlanded with deep drums and dancing flutes that they genuinely begin to take on the feel of the wealthy characters onscreen. The recurring theme is a touch off-kilter, the perfect disequilibrium for a movie about an affluent Manhattan widow who starts to believe that her dead husband has been reincarnated in the body of a young boy.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

Wes Anderson teams up with Desplat time after time due to the almost telepathic connection they have when working on a score for one of Anderson's films. Desplat's natural ability to capture Anderson’s movie worlds in just a couple of notes was critical to the filmmaker’s decision to move into the world of moviemaking where the uniquely quirky ideas he had in his head were finally allowed to be brought to the big screen. The Grand Budapest Hotel's music feels true to the films setting in a historically volatile period, its organ blasts and harpsichord tunes resounding with the call for a great adventure.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

This subtle yet beautiful score – another Oscar nominated piece from Alexandre Desplat – went a long way in providing the audience with the freedom to really experience escapism at its very best. The light and subtle tones used throughout added another layer of mystique and beauty to a film that would change cinema forever.

A Prophet(2009)

A Prophet is the masterpiece from Jacques Audiard, and composing a suitably gritty yet beautiful score was always going to be a near impossible feat. As you would come to expect from Desplat, he scored an elegant selection of music to provide the perfect backdrop to this Academy Award winning film.

THE IMITATION GAME arrives on Blu-ray™, DVD and digital platforms on 9th March 2015, courtesy of STUDIOCANAL

26 January 2015

Sundance 2015 Review - What Happened Miss Simone? (2015)

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Music, Documentary
Sundance 2015
Liz Garbus

Nina Simone is one of those people who requires no introduction, but after viewing Liz Garbus’ stellar documentary What Happened, Miss Simone?, you might be surprised how little you knew about the outspoken songstress.

First and foremost, this is a film about love and music, specifically Simone’s love for music which seemed to go beyond just love and graduate to a fiercely symbiotic relation. Thus What Happened is also about the heartbreak and trauma Simone underwent when those things were perverted in every aspect of her life.

After an enigmatic opening which sees Simone take to the stage, stare near-violently into space then abruptly, and mysteriously introduce herself, Garbus zips back to contextualize the singer’s ominous cynicism. By any respects Simone led a fascinating life, from her humble upbringing flourished a prodigal talent in classic piano, through a fierce marriage, rocket to fame, family woes, embracing a political lifestyle, friendships with Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, falling in with black radicals, collapse of her mental state, fleeing the USA, absorbing and reflecting all the shit she ever put up with, but eventual rescue by friends, and success in later life. This is a riveting documentary about a truly remarkable woman.

Simone was overwhelmingly alone. Hers was the gift of insight, understanding and this - along with other disturbances in her life- drove her to the edge. Garbus understands this implicitly, giving us unprecedented and never-before-seen access to, not just Simone’s career, process, and personal life, but arguably her very soul. Her manic depression, self-harm, and bipolar behaviour, are presented as part and parcel of her anguish towards a world torn apart by racism and greed. Yet, Garbus is wise to keep Simone’s radical, violence-inciting, behaviours at arm’s length, even when the context of the story argues them an act of desperation.

When asked in her later years about the civil rights movement she replies ‘there is no civil rights movement…they are all gone’. I wonder what she would have said about the last 12 months of American history, how she would have reacted to the continuing age of distress. If we can’t know what Simone thinks, we can at least deduce Garbus’ feelings in this bold and fascinating historical cross-section that seems preposterously well-timed.

Endearingly composed of unseen footage, personal letters and diaries, archive interviews, and intimate conversations with Simone’s colleagues and friends, What Happened, Miss Simone? Is a fantastic piece of work. Perhaps a little flashy, you can’t really blame Garbus for a little overdramatic sound editing and dramatic flareflair…she is writing about Nina Simone after all.

Scott Clark

9 December 2013

DVD Review - Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer

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Independent Distribution
DVD Release Date:
25th November 2013 (UK)
Mike Lerner, Maxim Pozdorovkin
Mariya Alyokhina, Ekaterina Samutsevich, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova
Buy: Pussy Riot - A Punk Prayer [DVD]

“They walked into the heart of Russia and took a shit”. So comes the damning opinion of an elderly Russian lady stood outside a Moscow church. She is not alone. Surrounding her are large groups of protesters, holding banners, clutching at rosaries and collectively chastising three women who have long since been imprisoned. Opposite stand another, younger group, worried about the way the rest of the world will now perceive their nation. A protest against the protest all stemming from an original protest on the spot this face-off takes place.

On February 21st 2012 three members of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot donned their now iconic balaclava’s, entered the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour and performed around 30 seconds of their number ‘It’s God’s Shit’. Security stepped in along with members of the visiting public, forcing them back into retreat. By now you’d be troubled not to have a vague understanding of what followed; public outrage, heavy-handed state intervention and Nadia, Katia and Masha now locked up inside the Putinist Russia they so vehemently protest against.

Some back-story is needed and Mike Lerner and Maxim Pozdorovkin’s documentary adequately provides it, rolling through the band’s birth, ideals, and other, less news-grabbing performances. The band was formally conceived the very day Putin returned to office for at least 6 more years following his sole rival’s withdrawal of candidacy. That catalyst spawned a reaction, one unfamiliar to the nation at large. One aspect of the Pussy Riot story that Punk Prayer shines a light on is the landscape into which they launched their brand of protest art. The years of communism under Soviet reign has led to something of a cultural gap in Russia’s consciousness, leaving a country largely oblivious to Pussy Riot’s main calling cards – punk and performance art. You sense the communal outrage comes from confusion; a misunderstanding of their actions and a fear of their motives due to their ways seeming so other worldly to swathes of locals, especially those holding the Church is some high esteem.

Pussy Riot, far from being a trio of chancers armed with three chords and a job-lot of balaclava’s, is a collective infused with art and political ideals. They release call to arms video’s urging other to join their cause, write songs against Putin, feminist anthems and choose the locations for their performances carefully. The headlines came after their attack on the union between the Church and the state that forms the Russian Orthodox Church. It was a song written to be heard at large and performed at the home of the nation’s church where they mounted the sacred, male-only alter and landed three members behind bars.

As noted by Nadia’s boyfriend, the Pussy Riot case is curiously the highest profile court case Russia has witnessed for decades and A Punk Prayer provides an intriguing overview of its ins and outs. The greatest achievement is the level of access which we are treated to. The camera’s are there to take in the prosecution, defence and statements of the court case as well holding interviews with family members, fellow ‘rioters’ and providing footage of previous art projects undertaken by the incarcerated trio. The other side is represented by the Church’s supporters, those gathered to protest against the band and the cross carriers who, decked out like members of an aging biker gang, dismiss the women as ‘witches’ and ‘demons’ who would have been burned in times past.

This all leads to a greater understanding of the argument from both sides without ever really moving the genre forward or unveiling any great revelations. A rather balanced synopsis of a case that caught the world’s attention. Where the film could be accused of not going far enough is to examine aspects that are touched upon but never investigated. The prosecution lawyers who laugh at the claims of Putin’s personal involvement in the case are never questioned why the rumours persist and there is no real effort to look further into the shadowy regime that the band hold in such disdain. There is a moment too when Nadia’s father is grilled by rival supporters, genuinely fearing for his safety yet, despite multiple interviews with him this isn’t a subject breached throughout.

A flawed but fascinating take on a case likely to run and run providing an excellent entry point into the culture clashes at the heart of Russia.


Matthew Walsh

24 September 2013

Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon - TIFF 2013 Review

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Release Date:
7,8,14th September 2013 (TIFF)
Mike Myers
Shep Gordon,Alice Cooper, Michael Douglas,Tom Arnold, Anne Murray, Sylvester Stallone

Mike Myers’ directorial debut is proof not only that he’s a skilled director and impressive documenter, but the subject of his film is probably one of the coolest men to ever live. Shep Gordon, manager extraordinaire, is a power house of productivity, a messiah of good times, and an all-round nice guy. He’s managed Alice Cooper since the beginning of his career, practically invented the concept of the celebrity chef, and has managed to intertwine his existence with the mint of Hollywood and rock royalty by being one of the world’s greatest hosts. So says Supermensch; The Legend of Shep Gordon.

The key to Myers’ film is that he has a genuine respect for Gordon, like the rest of the stars who pop up through this charming - often hilarious - exploration of Gordon’s career. Michael Douglas, Sylvester Stallone, Myers himself, Alice Cooper, Willie Nelson, to name a few, all jump at the opportunity to give candid tales of Gordon’s frankly mindboggling life. From his humble, drug fuelled beginnings hanging out with the likes of Hendrix and Joplin, onwards through his fast-paced career in music and film. His legendary appetite for good times and women are here exceeded only by his love for seemingly everyone he meets.

Myers is an incredibly gifted filmmaker, fusing his zany wit and comic timing with Gordon’s own barmy life. His editing is sharp and gripping; snippets from movies and a great soundtrack make Supermensch nothing short of fascinating viewing. Perhaps Myers gets a bit caught up in his own love for the father-figure, at points making his documentary a kind of advertisement, but a keen sense of ‘the man’ Gordon as opposed to just ‘the legend’ maintains a suitably grounded and heartfelt film. The Alice Cooper chapter goes on a bit but Gordon’s input into Cooper’s vaudevillian act is vast and thus arguably important. Sure, near-ridiculous amount of good praise for Gordon gets silly at points, but only a cynical kind of tabloid gossip-craving would render this an actual fault. Take a page out of Gordon’s book and cheer the hell up.

No matter where your interests lie, Gordon’s life is at worst intriguing and at best mad. This is a highly impressive debut and a thrilling story of a loving friend, hedonist, innovator, and showman. The fifteen year old me wants another Austin Powers, whilst now I can’t help but hope Myers has another go in the director’s chair.

Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon is entirely watchable, vivid, and compulsive filmmaking punctuated by a host of celebrity guests, a great soundtrack, and some psychedelic editing. Myers’ debut film is an impressive exploration of a life well-lived: heart-warming, hilarious, but above all highly recommendable.


Scott Clark

19 July 2013

The Great Rock'N' Roll Swindle Scottish Style, UK Trailer For The Great Hip Hop Hoax

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Dubbed 'The Imposter of music docs,' the film tells the real life story about how - back in 2003/4, Californian hip-hop duo 'Silibil N'Brains' secured a record deal and were set to be massive – however, what no-one really knew was that they were actually a pair of students from Dundee, Scotland, with fake American accents and made up identities.

The Great Hip Hop Hoax was one of the surprise hit film's of last month's Edinburgh Film Festival, it also received some great feedback SxSw and now it's ready for it's cinema/VOD release this September.To promote the film's release Vertigo Films have sent us over the film's UK trailer....

When it comes to mockumentary films the pedastool has been set high with the classic This Is Spinal Tap there's been no one who came close to matching or bettering that film. The Great Hip Hop Hoax might be that film to at least match proving if you want that dream, you'll do anything to succeed and 6th September you'll get that chance to see if the 2 boys from Dundee, the rapping Proclaimers will become the cities most famous sons after Desperate Dan.

The Great Hip Hop Hoax stars Gavin Bain and Billy Boyd.

30 June 2013

Saving The World From Total Boredom This July The Aquabats Season 1 on DVD!

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Join a new generation of super hero in The Aquabats: Super Show Complete Season One comes to UK this July.

Taking outrageously fun entertainment to the next level for kids and adults alike The Aquabats looks set to take over TV screens with an offering of rock out tracks and hearty laughs. This hit CITV TV show finds itself on DVD for the first time in the UK. Featuring a former ska band and a number of set pieces reminiscent of 90’s cartoons and the Power Rangers, The Aquabats are ready for just about anything.

From the creators of Yo Gabba Gabba! and frontman Christian Jacobs comes the perfect blend of live-action and animation! Follow the amazingly wild comic antics of The Aquabats the galaxy's first group of musical crime-fighting superheroes! MC Bat Commander Crash McLarson Ricky Fitness Eagle Bones Falconhawk and Jimmy the Robot will take you along on their most outrageous adventures to protect space from the creatures and super villains out to destroy it! All 13 Season One episodes can now be found in one deluxe collection sure to banish boredom and make anyone an instant fan of the world's most inept superheroes!

Aquabats hits every note with rockin’ success. A blending of both humour, action, animation and music, the Super Show packs in a dazzling performance to make a stunning debut season enjoyable for both adults and kids. With references to 90’s ska and some truly out of this world creations, Aquabats places itself centre stage ready to become an instant cult classic.

The Aquabats! Super Show Season One Arrives on DVD in UK 22nd July. The Aquabats are Christian Jacobs, Richard Falomir, James Briggs , Ian Fowles, Chad Larson. Pre-Order or Buy The Aquabats Complete Season 1 (CITV) [DVD] now!