Archive for December, 2008

Neon Horse

December 17, 2008

And now for some music.

Neon Horse are a band I discovered briefly about 18 months ago when their self-titled debut album was released. A music podcast, to which I subscribe, played a couple of their tracks and I was sufficiently impressed that I looked the up on the internet while the songs were playing. Sadly, as an America only release on an independent label it was fairly expensive to buy here and I wasn’t willing to splash the cash for only 2 quite good songs and I promptly forgot Neon Horse.

But a couple of weeks ago I again encountered them on the internet and this time followed through my interest. These guys are great. As someone who struggles to define music genres except in the widest possible terms I couldn’t tell you exactly what type of music they play, but, at least in my head, it sounds like a collaboration between Jack White and the Queens of the Stone Age. Some driving guitar with blues based riffs and some slightly odd vocals that really work.

From the opening track “Cuckoo!” they set out their stall of catchy rock with underlying occasional synth and growling vocals and they don’t let up all the way through. For a debut its very confident in its style. The band clearly know what they want to sound like and how to achieve it, not too surprising as they are all long time musicians from bands you probably never heard of ( Stavesacre, Starflyer 59 etc.) though this project sounds little like any of the other bands they each came from. My only worry about their sound would be that if they produce another album they’re going to have to be careful not to just pump out the same album again, which is always a potential problem for a band with such a defined sound.

Basically in summary I love this band and I think they deserve more recognition. Are they going to get it? Certainly not in this country I guess, but if you get the chance give it a try because these guys rock.

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White Christmas

December 17, 2008

Ok so this is hardly a new film (54 years old i believe) but yesterday I watched it on DVD instead of going to the cinema (though cineworld are showing it today in a one of Christmassy special). Before we go any further let me make this clear: I don’t like musicals. This is a big generalisation but a reasonably accurate one. I may cover the exceptions in the future in a seperate blog but right now lets focus on this film.

It is horrifically cheesy and had it been on the tv I would not have stayed on the channel for more than 10 or 15 seconds, but I can’t say I hated. It certainly made me laugh, both with it and at it, and the scene in the middle where it had the gall to disgusted at “shmultz” was so hypocritical it took my breath away! Ok so it was silly and sentimental and dated but it was also good clean christmas fare.

Without wishing to be a scrouge, I have to say that even admitting that last sentence annoys me a little. I have just allowed a film that I didn’t really like all that much to get away with it because its Christmas. 1950’s musicals are not for me, and the snow song in White Christmas is possible the worst excuse for lyrics I have ever encountered (there are so many words that rhyme with snow yet each line had to end with snow, except the ones that ended with spade… yeah i didn’t think that rhymed with snow either). The dancing was impressive, but I not a big dance fan, though I did catch myself thinking “If you gave them a bit of training they’d probably be able to do awesome martial arts”. That gives you some insight into my mind that I’m not sure is all positive. Anyway…

So I won’t be watching this film again in all likelyhood, but if you want some Christmas cheeze/cheer then this will tick all your boxes.

What Just Happened?

December 10, 2008

So you take a big star cast including Robert De Niro, Bruce Willis, Sean Penn and several others who are recognisable but whose names I don’t know, and Kristen Stewart who seems to be a rapidly growing star who’s in loads of current and upcoming films, and a story about the craziness inside Hollywood with Bruce and Sean playing exaggerated versions of themselves and it all sounds like a pretty good film, right? No, not really…

Basically I was bored for large portions of this film. I laughed about three times, and for me thats pretty poor, I think I laughed more during Doom the movie. It felt like a series of fairly weak, Hollywood based, comedy sketches that had been linked into a film by someone who has seen some Woody Allen. Like I said, there were some genuinely funny moments, (which I won’t tell you in case I kill any amusement you might get from the film should you still decide to see it) but most of the jokes left me silent. I kept thinking “that was supposed to be a joke… why wasn’t it funny?” and most of the time I couldn’t tell you why. The film almost seemed to have inbuilt pauses to allow you to laugh when it thought it was being funny and i found this off putting, especially as I wasn’t laughing…

The acting was fine on the whole so I think the comedy problems are down to script or directing problems, and the fact that the straighter sections of the film didn’t really do anything…

All this seems quite harsh on a film that was merely passable, but I can’t think of much positive to say. Maybe I was just not in the right mood, but I can’t honestly recommend this film to anyone…

Changeling

December 3, 2008

Ok, so today I saw Changeling at the cinema, which has been much hyped as being a possible Oscar winner for Angelina Jolie (though if Oscars were cumulative, on performances over the year, Wanted would have taken her very much out of the running). This film is really good, let’s say that out front. She probably deserves an Oscar for it and so too does Clint Eastwood for another great directorial effort. This film is harrowing in sections and upsetting too,  though not in a crying way, more in an angry way, at least for me personally. People being clearly mean and stupid in films really gets to me (I have intolerance for low intelligence, particularly when combined with cruelty) and the police in this film made me want to punch them. I should point out that in real life I am very much a non-aggressive person and its just people in films that do this to me. All this, however, is an integral part of the film and my feelings just show that it was well acted. You should see this film is really what this all boils down too.

I am definitely becoming a fan of Clint Eastwood as a director. The only other film of his I know I have seen is Letters from Iwo Jima which was wonderfully shot, though even more harrowing than Changeling. This seems to be his speciality, but I can’t knock him for making good, hard hitting films. I don’t think I’ve seen his others but I’m told they’re good. The switchover from actor to director is one I always link in my mind with footballers becoming managers though it seems that footballers seem to do it better and more often than film-makers… not sure if that’s insightful or even relevant but I’m putting it out there…