alexsarll: (default)
A month without an update there, when really I should have posted about the blossom and the moon, the Wapping waters, the Salisbury and the Constitution, and actually watching Eurovision again now the Russians have pissed off enough of their client states to ruin the bloc voting. Ah well. There was an end to Her Parents staying together for the kids, and I finally saw the Indelicates do 'Dovahkiin' live, and orchestral, with a half-lit giant heart the perfect backdrop. And sticky though that venue was, it still has nothing on the decrepitude of the Electric Dog Show's cave, where Quimper and the venue remain unsound, in different yet somewhat complementary manners. Gyratory System are more upbeat, less pummeling than usual - like the music from a Soviet animation about a happy factory. And headliners Howlround do cruel things to old tape, like they're trying to send a 1960s supercomputer insane. Not sure I'd listen to it at home, but mesmerising to watch.
And I even went to a biggish gig, the sort I normally avoid on account of the sort of audience they attract. Turns out the Union Chapel must be enough to deter the talkers, because Mick Harvey (aka the talented one from Nick Cave's bands) was received in appropriately stunned silence as he played some of his Serge Gainsbourg reworkings. It wasn't entirely reverential - how could it be, when he turned the end of 'New York USA' into a wonderfully black joke, or played the obligatory 'Je t'Aime' as deliberately half-arsed karaoke? But people were paying enough attention only to laugh or talk back when it was mandated, to remain spellbound and silent for 'Initials BB' or the heartwrenching possessiveness of 'Sex Shop'.

Went to the Boring conference on Saturday which, unlike its predecessor, was at no stage actually boring. Alas, managed through drink to mislay most of the delegate pack (Chewits, puzzle book) and also the programme, so I can't remember the names of half the speakers. The biggest surprise was the perpetrator of Comic Sans, whose entrance I felt I could not applaud, but who turned out to be OK. His original impetus was valid - a cartoon dog does not talk in Times New Roman. It's not his fault that precisely the same mistake which inspired Comic Sans now applies it indiscriminately where it doesn't belong. Still, I wonder if Alan Moore knows Watchmen was one of the font's key inspirations and, if so, whether that's another reason he considers its influence to have been so poisonous?

Films: Behind the Candelabra is exactly the mixture of camp and misery I'd expected, with only Rob Lowe's scene-stealing a surprise. The Wind Rises is as painfully beautiful as Miyazaki's farewell was always going to be. Kill List confirms Ben Wheatley as a properly uncanny talent, its bad men in the edgelands leaving a creeping sensation akin to a British True Detective. This Is The End, conversely, is an American The Trip, albeit with more sodomy. Maybe Coogan and Brydon will head that way next series. Godzilla was my first IMAX experience, and what better film for a format all about the BIG and LOUD, while BBC4's Duchess of Malfi was equally terrifying on the intimate scale.
alexsarll: (default)
I remember doing one of these with 52 entries, an album which had really impressed me for every week of the year. Last year, 20. This year - a Top Ten. Wow. Obviously there were lots of other albums with brilliant bits (Her Parents, Teeth of the Sea), ones which were pleasant enough backdrops (Ejecta, Edwyn Collins), ones which were only moderately coasting (British Sea Power, no pun intended). But when you're summing up and trying to make 'almost as good as an Elcka comeback album might be' (Filthy Boy) sound like a warm recommendation, you know it's time to hack and slash the list. Honourable mentions to Lady Gaga, Mike Patton and Monster Magnet - who, if still a long way from their imperial height, have made stuff a lot more worthy of ear-space than most of their work in the interim. Dishonourable mentions to David Bowie, Adam Ant, Suede, Justin Timberlake and George Pringle. Between them, each has made music that gave sparkle to a decade. Together, they've convinced an old triskaidekaphobic that 2013 was indeed destined to suck.

Read more... )

Teetering

Jan. 23rd, 2009 05:41 pm
alexsarll: (magnus)
I'm surprised more hasn't been made of Mick Harvey leaving the Bad Seeds. Mick's been working with Nick since The Boys Next Door, and I've always wondered how much of what we think of as Cave is in fact Harvey, particularly when listening to Harvey's other projects. I suppose now we get to find out.

Final Crisis: Superman Beyond's second issue confirms that this is the comic Final Crisis should have been. Yes, Grant Morrison is reusing his old tropes again - breaking the fourth wall, Limbo, the self-evolving hyperstory, creators trapped in creation - but here there's a manic, fizzing joy and ingenuity I'm not getting from the parent Rock of Ages reprise. Some great 3D sequences, too - though should you happen, as I did, to look out of the window with your glasses still on, it brings a real moment of Crisis terror - RED SKIES!
Elsewhere in comics, Bendis' Dark Avengers may not have any lines to equal the best of Warren Ellis' Thunderbolts run, but in so far as it's taking that series' concept - Marvel's biggest bastards given the keys to the kingdom - to the next level, I'm very much interested. Thunderbolts, meanwhile, has gone deeper and darker under Andy Diggle, and this issue includes a considerably more substantial Barack Obama appearance than that meaningless fluff-piece of a Spider-Man back-up strip, albeit to considerably less fanfare.

Have been left with a nagging sensation that I've not used my leisure to best advantage this week, to the extent that I started getting quite angry with myself/the world and had to go wander the British Museum for a while to calm down. Silly, really - even aside from the nebulous business of Seeing Nice People, I've watched another Losey/Pinter/Bogarde masterpiece, Accident; seen the Soft Close-Ups and Mr Solo; and made a reasonably good start on Ulysses, so it's not as if I'm flicking myself off to Trisha just yet.

I know list articles are intrinsically pointless, and I know they're designed to provoke quibbling, so I'm not going to get up in arms about the omissions from the Guardian's Novels You Must Read, or the times where they've chosen a book which isn't the author's best. And I should be glad, I suppose, that one of the seven sections was science fiction and fantasy. But since when was Kavalier & Clay, The Man Who Was Thursday or The Wasp Factory science fiction or fantasy? They may not be dull enough to be literary fiction, but none of them takes place in a world that is not the consensus version of this one - except in so far as they are not true. If we say that the fictional comics in Chabon's book make it an alternate world, then so does the fictional MP in The Line of Beauty, and down that line every book bar the most tiresomely domestic becomes SF. Which would amuse me at least a little, it's true, but is patently nonsense.
alexsarll: (Default)
So I return from the countryside with its pigs and obelisks only to discover that London's been smelling like the countryside anyway. And fresh from storming the pub quiz at the seafront Hook & Parrot, whose new landlord is causing some controvery by bringing poledancers to sleepy Seaton, I head to a rather jolly harbour bar-themed evening in Whitechapel. There's a reminder there about the superfluousness of travel, isn't there? Anyway, Shore Leave - a night I would unhesitatingly recommend except that the next one is yet another First Saturday Of The Month job. Why is everything on that night these days? Still - cheap, friendly, good outfits, great music (too few clubs play Dietrich) and a very big garden for the smokers, complete with a mirrored car.
Among the country things with which London has yet to supply me: more opportunities to chop wood. Which is top fun - it's like exercise, except not boring, because there's an axe.

It was mainly the Nick Cave/Warren Ellis score which led me to take an interest in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, especially since I'm not that big on Westerns. Nonetheless, it is a very, very good film - although also one I'm glad I saw on a big screen, if not *the* big screen, because a lot of its power is in the slow, beautiful shots, the landscape. It never quite explains itself, even while the occasional voiceover makes it feel at times like an unusually well-done reconstruction for a documentary; you're left with echoes and intimations. There are hints of Judas in Ford's betrayal, the role which is necessary to the myth but also doomed to eternal vilification. Or is he the thwarted fan? Maybe it's about wanting to be someone, or failing that, to end them? These were my guesses, but I'm sure someone else could watch it and come up with another handful of motives just as plausible. And that's what I liked; it felt like life. Life in all its grandeur and mystery, as against the even-duller-than-the-real-thing school of 'realism;.
A masterstroke, too, to have Brad Pitt as the only real star. Not that the rest of the cast aren't fine actors, but they're not celebrities. Sometimes, an actor's fame as themselves can militate against their plausibility in a part; here it's an easy, effective way to get across Jesse's mythic status.

I find middling Who episodes like 'Planet of the Ood' or 'The Lazarus Experiment' strangely reassuring. In between the masterpieces and the atrocities, they're the ones which remind me most of the old series, which give me the strongest feeling of continuity.
alexsarll: (bill)
So this whole LJ Paedogeddon business, with loads of fandom communities and the like getting suspended for having illegally wrongcocked interests listed? I'm puzzled. OK, so no concerned citizens objected to my journal having interests such as 'acquiring WMD', 'world domination' and 'international jewel theft' listed - because hey, we know that protecting the dear little children is far more important than enforcing any other silly old laws, right? But this being the case, how come none of this lot seem to have been in trouble?

Will Self on Nick Cave.

My Rubbish Gaydar, season 17 episode 3: I genuinely never suspected David Hyde Pierce aka Niles Crane from Frasier, is gay.

Slightly disappointed by the return of Garth Ennis' too-hot-for-DC superhero satire The Boys. The first six issues were scabrous, but they had real substance to them. The new one, the first from new home Dynamite...it's not very well-produced, it has one really glaring typo, but above all it feels as cheap artistically as physically. It was always puerile in places, but this issue was *just* puerile - rude words for rude words' sake, over and over. It has become like Ennis' lame 'The Pro', a risk this series always ran but previously escaped.

Disappointed also to learn that I'd misheard the lyrics to the Shins' 'Kissing The Lipless'. It's "and secretly I want to bury in the yard the grey remains of a friendship scarred." I'd always taken it to be ""and secretly I want you buried in the yard/the grey remains of a friendship scarred." Much more passionate.
alexsarll: (bernard)
Have finally seen the film Nick Cave scripted, The Proposition. As I had been led to expect, Australia's wilderness had been filmed impeccably, forming a perfect setting for a typically Biblical Cave story (as in one of the bits of the Bible whose story is primal and powerful more than it conveys anything which even the loopiest fundamentalist could take as a moral lession). However, like every film I have ever seen to feature Ray Winstone, it would be significantly improved by the removal of Ray Winstone.
Some other actors who would have given a better performance as Captain Stanley:
Lance Henriksen
Michael Chiklis
Pierce Brosnan
Jack Davenport*
Nick Cave himself
Edward James Olmos
Michael Caine
Damn near anyone except Ray cocking Winstone.

Which makes it rather a shame that the one piece of casting already done for the next Hillcoat/Cave film, Death of a Ladies' Man, is...Ray sodding Winstone.

Taking the evidence of the new Mitchell & Webb radio sitcom pilot, 'Daydream Believers', in conjunction with the patchy current series of Peep Show, they've finally stretched themselves too thin. I suppose most everyone does in the end.
(Speaking of Peep Show - that ad shown during Friday's episode, in which a fairly attractive girl is in the bar with her own drunker self, and the tagline "Make sure you like what you see"? It's intended as an alcohol awareness thing, but I kept expecting it to turn into a variant on the Buffy episode where Evil Willow's after the normal, not-yet-gay one)

In one of yesterday's bowling matches I was, in third place, the highest-ranking male. Which I'm sure must say something vital and current about the obsolescence of gender stereotypes, though its wider applicability is perhaps doubtful.

*This option also playing up the Pirates of the Caribbean resonance the story already possesses.

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