After all, it's just a ride….

Music

Depeche Mode, Spirit Tour, London 2017

The Basildon boys are back, and like a dutiful soldier I naturally attended their only 2017 UK date, in the hallowed halls of the old Olympic Stadium in Stratford. Regular readers will appreciate that I have been following this band nigh on 27 years, missing only one tour, so here are some highlights with the usual apologies for poor filming techniques;

Here is an amusing and earnest chat with frontman Dave ‘Call Me Dave’ Gahan, from the frequently excellent Nerdist podcast. Unfortunately we missed the first track due to some poor time management issues, but the party only really got rocking when they delved into the back catalogue and the crowd rose to its feet;

As something of an obsessive list person it was brilliant to finally tick off some songs of theirs I have never seen live, and for the ‘proper’ fans I think the two track Martin Gore mid-set sequence was the best I’ve witnessed during the numerous times I’ve seen them;

If you put a gun to my head I think this was the best track of the evening, another back catalogue highlight that chimes with the ethos of their recent album Spirit, which I confidently assert is their best album in a decade;

So yet another great evening, somewhat overshadowed by the events at London Bridge that we learnt about once we retired to a pub in Bow for a final nightcap, but let’s just leave that event undiscussed as that’s the antithesis of what those fuckers want us to do. Instead, enjoy this main set closer which is always an exhilarating experience, 60,000 people in arm swinging unison which is what is uniquely great about these big, stadium events;


Ƭ̵̬̊ RIP

Just logged into twitter, saw the prompt ‘What’s happening?’ in the search field. Twenty seconds later I muttered ‘god-damn right, what the fuck is happening?’;


Distant Dream…

‘I am here to kick-ass and play throbbing synth beats…and I’m all out of plectrums’. Or something;

New album out on the 15th, and a tour in October. I’m a happy man….


Batman Versus Superman – Dawn Of Justice (2016)

 bs4Ah, the indulgent pleasures of a middle-aged man writing 2,000 words on a bloody Batman / Superman movie. So we all know the drill, as we move hesitantly into the millennium Marvel / Disney has successfully transformed a near bankrupt pantheon of media entities into a juggernaut cinema franchise, resorting to its Z list creations to continually feed a ravenous fan-base across formats and platforms. Meanwhile over at Warner Brothers their 1989 acquisition of Detective Comics and the subsequent plethora of Batman and Superman projects have faded into history, as the new executive business plan is to realise an entire cinematic universe, in order to best exploit those merchandise and licensing deals that can be programmed across a variety of delivery models including new media and streaming services. The battle line are drawn, Marvel are clearly winning, and DC/Warner Brothers are floundering in establishing a new iteration of their iconic intellectual property since Nolan’s Batman series was concluded a couple of years ago. Turning to the ‘comic-book guy’ Zack Snyder for 2013’s Man Of Steel seemed a floundering start, with its mere $700 million global haul and a something of a mixed critical reaction. Nevertheless his services have been retained for Batman Versus Superman which has nothing less than the fate of multi-billion dollar franchise on its bulging biceps, and the first bat-symbol of this years blockbuster season. As a strict spoiler avoider I couldn’t ignore the general consensus emerging from the preview screenings of the past few days, while pull-quotes like ‘this is a $250 million tombstone of the superhero genre’ struck an apprehensive chord, but like any good soldier I’ll take my punches, just as long as the experience was in the aggregate worthy of he pain. Despite my antipathy toward Snyder and a general disinterest in Superman as a character I surprised myself by unexpectedly enjoying Man Of Steel but I had set my frosty expectations fairly low for this given the trailers and the rumours emanating from what sounds like an exceptionally chaotic production, and whilst I don’t think it is quite as bad as some its detractors seem to be claiming in the turbulent media maelstrom it’s certainly not very good. How and why? Let me count the ways....

bhyfFor a film whose junket-jacked stars are constantly asserting the complexity of the plot when you boil it down the narrative is literally child’s play. 18 months after the catastrophic Kryptonite rebels attack on Metropolis the world has nervously accepted the presence of an omnipotent interloper in our midst, but the tide of support and public opinion is beginning to curdle as questions of authority and oversight start to be queried. As everyone predicted Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg in quite simply his worst performance to date) wants to co-opt the alien technology for his own nefarious ends, and initiates a plot to discredit Superman (a vacant Henry Cavill) as an immigrant alien, operating with impunity as a potential threat to our shared civilisation. An opening credit montage starts the film rather promisingly, reducing Batman’s (Ben Affleck, or Batfleck for short) entire origin story into five minutes which most films in this gladiatorial arena spend their entire run-time explaining, before shuddering into a jagged and disjointed melange of characters and conflict which is more gelignite than gel. For the first two-thirds I wasn’t loathing this despite the faint incompetence – certain scenes are completely unnecessary, Batflecks hatred of Superman is never appropriately articulated and the specifics of Luthors plot seem overly complex and confusing – but then a few spirited moments of super heroic semiotics raise the attention and amusement, scattered spikes of enjoyment among Snyder’s severe and sombre CGI sandpit. Some of the political dimensions and the moral cost of the righteous battling evil in our name (branding criminals so they get shived in the jailhouse yard?) are raised then resolutely disregarded as this is a film which is really only interested in as much as pixel pulverisation as possible. Mirrored to some of the more controversial breaches of character etiquette that Snyder violated in Man of Steel our new hero also employs tactics and techniques that don’t map to the ideological canon, chiefly concerning firearms and the modus operandi of thou shall not kill. I think that things move on, that these icons that arose eighty years ago need to move and flow with the currents of popular imagination and representation, in order to keep them fresh and revenant, and the notion of indiscriminate slaughter by those valorised as our protectors finds some contemporary purchase. Immigration is an obvious touchstone given Superman inherent origin, as is the 1% influence on our wider lives and security of an increasingly fragile social contract, yet within those frames some of the politics in this film are somewhat distasteful and its no surprise that Snyder is looking to Ayn Rand’s juvenile ideology for his next project.

bfsWith the exception of Diana Prince all the women are damsels in distress to be saved or scream which I really thought we were trying to move past, not to mention one rather odd shot and staged scene with a wasted Amy Adams as Lois Lane in bath-tub which seems more than a little crude and unnecessary. Henry Cavell who inhabited the haunted cloak and symbol rather well in Man Of Steel warps into a bland vessel in Batman Versus Superman, normally I’m quite efficient at separating fantasy from reality (even when costumed actors stride purposely through the sacred halls of government with gloomy gravitas and no-one sniggers) but every single time he popped up on screen unfortunately I just thought ‘twat‘ for his misjudged and loathsome comments yielded from what sounds like a catastrophic promotional programme. On the plus side Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was engaging and intriguing despite the paucity of her screen-time, the first screen appearance of this character’s entire seventy-five pedigree – I hope that film passes the Bechtel test. As for Affleck, well, I suppose he was ‘alright’ as Bruce Wayne, his interactions with Alfred and general demeanour struck from an entirely different origins movie which hasn’t been made, but I wasn’t fond of the whole aesthetic of this Batman across the spectrum of costume designs, technology and gadgets, a much more physcial mountain of a character while I’ve always preferred  the mysterious ghostlike entity using the environment and fear-inducing tactics to his advantage – one of the combat sequences was pretty cool though. Most hideous of all however is Jesse Eisenbergs Lex Luthor which is played as some ridiculous pantomime dame, easily the worst screen villain since Eddie Redmayne’s embarrassment in last years Jupiter Ascending. The finest criminal mind in the universe is reduced to some petulant OCD sufferer who is also afflicted with severe Daddy issues, and every second he’s on screen is simply agonising. There’s lots of trademark Snyder pose shots poised against obvious green screen mattes which aren’t remotely plausible, although to be fair the film does look like a film in terms of the lavish production budget, which points north of a gargantuan $400 million dollars when you factor in P&A yields. Oh, and the soundtrack doesn’t achieve the same seraphim styling that we wanted from the usually great combination of Junkie XL and the man they call Zimmer.

loisIt’s not just the clumsy assembly of materials – for all its title championship bout title I was never entirely sure why these petulant orphans were having a pop at each other – and then there is the dirge of the dialogue. There isn’t a single solitary laugh (OK, maybe giving Scoot McNairy a scooter was funny) or kinda ‘cool’ hero line or quip for the entire 17 hours of this film, you’d expect a little more polish and finesse from one of the more accomplished superhero scribes David S. Goyer (Co-writer with the Nolan brothers on the worlds most privileged vigilante, the agreeable Blade trilogy) incoherently supported by Affleck’s preferred screenwriter Chris Terri of Argo Oscar winning fame. Like Man Of Steel there is a lot of sudden instances, of suddenly explosive events pushing the narrative forward, resulting in a dazed and shell-shocked audience staggering through the blizzards of collapsing infrastructure and dust coated carnage. Yes, as a self-confessed nerd or geek or whatever I’ll admit that there is some intrinsic pleasure in just seeing these characters on-screen (probably best exemplified in a deeply telegraphed but nevertheless awesome arrival of Wonder Woman), interacting, yelling and causing pandemonium and collateral damage that would make ISIS kryptonite green with envy. I know these are archetypes, they are icons of popular culture but there is also no sense of development or change for either character which is basic filmmaking 101, and the screenwriting hinge on which these antagonists decide to push aside their differences is idiotic in the extreme.

bs4Snyder seems to equate murkiness and darkness with depth which is resolutely not the case. The film hints ominously at big bruising questions of power without responsibility, of outsiders acting with impunity of the state, of the deadly real-world consequences of life, liberty and property in a fiction where destructive deities dance through the boundaries of our physical world as if were crafted from paper-mache. In his directors arsenal he repeatedly deploys this technique of framing character development and even motivations in dream sequences which is lazy, he quite simply doesn’t seem to have the intellect or capacity to adopt a position or conclusion which leaves his films wallowing in some Nietzschean nirvana. His stock baroque religious framing is verging on parody (one is also instantly reminded of Deadpool’s ‘hero arriving action shot’ riffing) with all the finesse of a first year art student rifling through a coffee table imprint of pre-Raphaelite prints. I’d be lying however if one little insight into were the series might be going with a few unexpected glimpses of some other beloved members of the DC pantheon didn’t nuzzle my nerd bone, but when your strongest scene is a pretty lady watching some jpegs on her laptop you movie might be floundering. I’m not sure if the attendance of Nolan on the executive producer cadre is an influence but there seems to be a defiant use of grain in the film stock, digitally engineered or not (I assume the film has been shot electronically and can’t be bothered to research) which does drape a visual motif over the series, its pure aesthetics but I quite like the brooding and tortured tempo of the franchise in comparison to Marvel’s in-house cinematography. The final showdown did stir the muscles and started setting the film back on firmer blockbuster ground with the requisite excitement and pulverizing antics, y’know all the ‘cool superhero melee stuff’, but integrating this legendarium into a 21st century mythos remains problematic, the night and day dichotomy of the titular characters far beyond the film-makers capability.

seFor all the epic set-up the Wagernian conflict of the two titans arrives without appropriate aplomb, Snyder has not just Xeroxed Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns yet somehow misplaced the gravitas or decades of frenzied schoolyard debate (Who would win?), prompting the question of why don’t you make your own film and conjure your own imagery you bloody hack? He has also framed some of the material and mechanics of the admired Miracleman series, one of the only imprints I am genuinely overjoyed to see will finally get its Gaiman and Buckingham generated conclusion – I’ve been waiting twenty fucking years for that. When it comes to superhero shenanigans the highlight of the cinema visit was an initial viewing of the next X-Men picture which looks much more exciting than the previous promotional efforts, which tells you which graphic novel stable is still winning this multiplex melee. Naturally in the final stretch we are given a set-up for the next big bad which promises the debut of am exciting seditious DC legend (SPOILERS), but it’s only through some reading around this that an earlier signal in the film alludes to this future which again doesn’t say much for the films ability to communicate effectively and absorbedly – I think I’m in line for next years Wonder Woman picture though. Upon reflection I’m thinking this review reads more critical than the film probably deserves, I’m still an adherent to the grim/dark model of this genre as an opposition to the pop-art mechanism of Marvel’s machinations, and I think there is space for both despite the overall sense of exhaustion that the entire genre engenders. Sure, I was a little bored and twitchy at some points but I didn’t loathe Batman Versus Superman, it passed a few hours on a wet and windy Easter weekend, a three star shrug of a movie which has its nerdtastic moments while the mere mortals stumbled through the dust drenched debris. Hopefully a new director can muster a new creative team to take the reins for the next instalment (this looks pretty funny as well) and inject some fresh thoughts and designs into the format, as judging by this entry Warners are at least trying to distinguish themselves from Disney’s Marvellous box office mastery. As the first instalment of 2016’s superhero sequencing Dawn Of Justice is low density kryptonite that won’t be hard to beat, so roll on Suicide Squad and Dr. Strange and Civil War and X-Men Apocalypse and on and on and on…..

 


Akhnaten – ENO Philip Glass

It seems more than a little flippant and self centred to post something somewhat inconsequential on such a horrible day, but that’s what the fuckers want us to do isn’t it? So pushing events to one side its been a whirlwind week for personal reasons, I won’t bore you with the details but the position this country has gone to when it comes to housing is a cluster-fuck of generational dimensions. I had a slight respite from these problems by visiting the opera last week, not an unknown event but given this was third visit in fourteen years I wouldn’t exactly call myself an aficionado or anything, even if this was the final part of the Philip Glass trilogy, some footage from another performance can be seen here;

There’s not much material leaked from the ENO production other than that provided below, but I can confirm that visually this was amazing, particularly in the latter acts when they broke the scale of the space to gave definition to the arena in a more three dimensional plane of axis opposed to the closer opening movements. The choice of jugglers as some theatrical symbol waned between thrilling to distracting, but the most importantly of all the music was stunning as it built its momentum and tempo over the three hours of performance;

I’m several leagues out of my comfortable idiom but overall this was an amazing evening, we had great seats yet it wounds me that I choose to live here in one of the great cities of the world but never fully exploit its natural resources, artistic and otherwise. So here’s to the next few years, if I can manage to extricate myself from the wreckage of London’s housing environment and not be forced to move further afield;


Carpenters Crafts

For all the wretched losses we’ve endured over the start of this miserable year – alas Andrejz Zulawaki, director of the phenomenal Possession has just been added to the list – we’ve just received some striking news. Firstly, as anticipated, John Carpenter is coming to the UK to perform a few dates of his recent soundtrack inspired album – this fulfils one childhood Menagerie dream. Super special bonus points – the venue for the gig on Halloween no less is only the fucking Troxy which is about ten minutes walk from my flat down Commercial Road. It’s a sign gentle reader, I shall see the maestro in his undead majesty, and maybe if I can swing it, interview him as well;


Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast

A fantastic new acquisition of the year, the best podcast discovery I’ve made for quite some time. You might recognise Gilbert Goddfried as the ‘memorable’ comedian / character actor from movies dating back to Beverley Hill Cop II, but his podcast casts the cultural net wider to conduct interviews with some fascinating characters and examine a broad swathe of Americana, from stand-up comedy to B-Movies, from ancient TV bloopers to pulp comic book controversies. If I said it was the kind of podcast whose theme tune centred on a slide guitar which wouldn’t be out of place during a lurid biker flick title sequence then I think you might get the flavour of proceedings;

Case in point, I’ve barely scratched the surface but have listened to a 90 minute interview with Bruce Dern, and he’s already spilled solid anecdote gold on working with Hitchcock on Family Plot, some early  B-movie antics with Roger Corman, general bitching and chewing rhe fat over the studios and movie world colleagues over his fifty year career, all of which is completely devoid of any anxious publicist sanction over slander or defamation orders.. A final piece of pub trivia – which family is the only to have the mother, father and child all be blessed with a Hollywood Star on the Walk of Fame? The Fondas? No. What about  the Hustons? A decent guess but no cigar buckaroo. No, it’s the rather more underrated Derns, with Bruce, ex-wife Diane Ladd and daughter Laura being the proud recipient of such pointless trivia. In other news I also finally caught up with a strongly regarded documentary on Brando from last year, and pretty good it was too;

Quite an interesting take to construct the entire piece out of Brando’s own interview clips, vocal reminiscences and radio snippets with a total dearth of talking heads or experts pontificating on his genius – the Apocalypse Now insights are essential. It also doesn’t gloss over his family tragedy which has unsurprising echoes with his own familial abuse. Meanwhile, on rather more upbeat news, its the end of the world soon…..


Academy Award Nominations 2016

OScar161Well now doesn’t this all seem just a little frivolous after this week’s terrible bereavements? Nevertheless the remorseless wheels of industry can ever forward, with this years Academy Award nominations. As always this exercise focuses the mind and schedule into sighting a number of pictures which haven’t arrived on our shores, and although there are some gaps in the watch list I take comfort that the majority of nominees were already on my horizon. I realise people have been praising Brooklyn and I’m sure its very good but I just couldn’t muster much enthusiasm for it, but even worse is the appearance of The Danish Girl on a few which just looks painful – a two hour ponderous drama by Tom Hooper is my cinematic equivalent of Japanese water torture. Still I take succour as in a curious development the day-job is intersecting with this hobby in a quite unexpected fashion, following on from some previous exposure to regeneration activities in Essex. I can’t really speak too much about it due to confidentially and commercial constraints, and I don’t wish to sound too mysterious, but let’s just say I am becoming actively involved with the exhibition side of the UK film industry via my current assignment, and will shortly be initiating some interesting negotiations & discussions with some senior delegates….

oscar162But back to the matter at hand. Quickly casting my eyes over the nominees I can’t see any particularly controversial choices, there are no major upsets or major surprises that spring to mind, although I’m sure as usual I’ve overlooked some major snub as it’s not as if I sit here comparing and contrasting the Golden Globe, BAFTA or other award season portfolios as I couldn’t give a fuck. The lack of diversity seems to be the first point of criticism which is not a unreasonable complaint nor a particular surprise, but for me it’s encouraging to see Mad Max represented in so many categories as I concluded it was going to be snubbed due to its genre birthplace. As always I make the same annual disclaimer that awards have precisely zero connection to a movies intrinsic brilliance of lack thereof, the Oscars are the pinnacle of the industry however so this is just a fun parlour game to predict the winners as a worthless thought exercise. So as usual those in bold are the films I have seen, in italics are these I think should win and underlined those which I think will win. With The Reverent programmed for Saturday and other major nominees like Spotlight, The Big Short and Room to follow over subsequent January weekends I’ve certainly got my work cut out for me viewing wise, just as some press screening invites are also starting to barge their way into my schedule – it’s a hard life eh?

Best Picture

mm1

Until I’ve assessed the other nominees this is a hard one to call this year, I’m tempted to go with The Revenant but would the Academy go for the same director two years in a row? Then again Spies and The Martian don’t seem to be best picture quality – entertaining but not particularly memorable – and Spotlight seems too controversial / political and The Big Short strikes me as biting the hand that feeds the studios these days. Where does that leave us? Utterly confused, so I won’t finally call this until I’ve seen The Big Short, Room and Spotlight, but until then we will pray with The Revenant….EDIT – having seen the latter, yeah I guess this is the front runner, even if Mad Max is the more rounded film. No way on earth the Academy is going to give best picture to a post apocalyptic genre picture though….

The Big Short

Bridge of Spies

Brooklyn

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Room

Spotlight

Best Actor In A Leading Role

jobs

I think Leo is finally gonna get his dues, and if the physical conditions he suffered are anything to go by this category is closed. I was toying with the idea of seeing Trumbo given the Kubrick connection – he wrote Spartacus if you follosh civilians didn’t know – and I really can’t see Damon being rescued by the Academy nor Redmayne reprising last years tedious win. So let’s go with Leo;

Bryan Cranston – Trumbo

Matt Damon – The Martian

Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant

Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs

Eddie Redmayne – The Danish Girl

Best Actress In A Leading Role

brie

Hmm, looks like the rumblings of discontent over Blanchet essentially having a supporting role, and Mara being the lead in Carol haven’t quite permeated through the Academy’s aged skulls. Also, perhaps not surprising but no Charlize Theron’s amputee energy? I was considering going to see Joy over the festive break but I just couldn’t summon the energy, I like Jennifer Lawrence but have never been entirely convinced by David O. Russell, maybe I need to reconsider. In the interim I’m going to have to go with Brie Larson who has the momentum for this at the moment, while I’ve got 45 Years on high priority via Lovefilm as its just hit the Blu-Ray rental market.

Cate Blanchett – Carol

Brie Larson – Room

Jennifer Lawrence – Joy

Charlotte Rampling – 45 Years

Saoirse Ronan – Brooklyn

Best Actor In A Supporting Role

Best Actress In A Supporting Role

Best Director

george

There is such a varied bag of material here its difficult to decouple the achievements from the genre requirements – both Miller and Inarritu have obviously crafted searing films in exceptional physical and environmental circumstances, but by all accounts Lenny Abrahamson’s claustrophobic Room  excels in what could be considered an equally challenging space – how do you keep a movie interesting in a single location, and how do you hammer out great performances that reinforce that isolation? It’s a long shot but I’m going with my heart and Miller for this, to storm back with such a masterpiece that will be studied for years to come was quite remarkable,

Adam Mckay – The Big Short

George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road

Alejandro G Inarritu – The Revenant

Lenny Abrahamson – Room

Tom McCarthy – Spotlight

Best Cinematography

rev3

So once again here’s everyone’s favourite Roger Deakins on the shortlist, for his 1,057 nomination in his long and illustrious career. I’m calling it now, while I’m thinking strategically that Lubeski will get this for shooting on location, in magic hour, and achieving those phenomenal panoramas as lenses were freezing and camera equipment shattering in the remote cold  the Academy will finally give Deakins the award he deserves, in what was also brilliant work in those desert scorched landscapes of Sicario.

Hateful Eight – Robert Richardson

Mad Max: Fury Road – John Seale

The Revenant – Emmanuelle Lubeski

Sicario – Roger Deakins

Best Visual Effects

force

It’s great to see Ex Machina here, assimilated among the big boisterous Hollywood SFX houses, with a much more low key approach to visual camouflage. Nevertheless I think Star Wars has to get some love for their fiscally shattering achievements, even if they surprisingly didn’t get a Best Picture nod.

Ex Machina

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Film Editing

mm2

I’m surprised the Academy even bothered nominating the other candidates as this is about as certain a prediction as possible. With that blistering chase narrative, with the mastery of space, cause and effect and the nerve shredding action sequences this is Mad Max’s award without question, and I’ll be furious if it doesn’t steal at least this one award.

The Big Short

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Spotlight

Best Production Design

rev1

Hmm, another difficult call. Again I’m urged to go with Mad Max as the future world designs were fantastic, organically evolved that made perfect logical sense within the hermetic world, but the sweeping prestige pictures like Spies and Danish usually get the attention in this category. Then maybe The Martian will sneak in and capture this one, with its ergonomic, realistic NASA colony designs? Fuck it, I’m putting the pedal to the metal and taking a risk with the really quite seriously cheesed off Max, what have we got to lose?

Bridge of Spies

The Danish Girl

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Best Original Screenplay

inside1

There were raised eyebrows to see an animated film in this schedule, but I can’t imagine a more worthy inclusion given Inside Out’s brilliant combination of internal and external alignments, and the revolutionary absence of a major antagonist to the grist the narrative mill.  Spies is more traditional and as I understand it Compton is a terrific example of the well utilised bio-pic rags-to-riches model, so who knows?

Bridge of Spies

Ex Machina

Inside Out

Spotlight

Straight Outta Compton

Best Adapted Screenplay

mars

No screenplay nod for Sorkin and Jobs? That seems……unusual. As I understand it Carol deviates from the Highsmith original so I’m not sure that will be favoured, so this might be one other place where the crowd pleasing The Martian gets a chance. It’s either than or Room which sounds like it has an interesting little screenplay flip halfway through, so in lieu of seeing the film I’m opting for that…..

The Big Short

Brooklyn

Carol

The Martian

Room

Best Original Score

spies

The only category where I’ve already seen all the nominees, although that doesn’t make the choice any easier. I’m tempted to think some may opt for Morricone as a final tribute to the great man, but having seen the film there is relatively little original material buried in the contemporary pieces and previously chilled chords. I’m going for Carter Burwell’s delicate score for Carol which beautifully complemented the visual elements, of all the nominees that’s the one that most affected me emotionally which makes it a winner.

Bridge of Spies

Carol

The Hateful Eight

Sicario

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Foreign Language Film

Best Original Song

shade

Oh here we go again, just who bloody cares? The fact that the god awful Spectre howling is in here shows just how relevant this category is, so I’m going for the Shades track even though I can’t recall a single cadence of it. Pure guesswork.

Earned It – 50 Shades of Grey

Til It Happens To You – The Hunting Ground

Writings On The Wall – Spectre

Manta Ray – Racing Extinction

Simple Song 3 – Youth

Best Documentary – Feature

Best Costume Design

carol1

As with the production design the Academy favours the historical fidelity, the classy joint which drapes a picture in some prestigious threads. So I’m going for Carol again, and that evocation of the 1950’s wafts from the screen.

Carol

Cinderella

The Danish Girl

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant

Best Sound Editing

mm4

The sound mixing awards usually come down to a battle between the action pictures scrunched with all those Foley blasts, so I’m going with Mad Max instead of Star Wars although veteran Lucasfilm sonic-smith Ben Burtt might harness some respect among the loyal old guard.

Mad Max : Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Sicario

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Sound Mixing

rev2

As above, I’m going with the really quite ill-tempered Max again;

Bridge of Spies

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Documentary – Short Subject

lanz

Well, I’ve heard of Claude Lanzman, the epic director of Shoah so that’s enough of a guess for me.

Body Team 12

Chau, Beyond the Lines

Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of The Shoah

A Girl in the River

Last Day of Freedom

Best Makeup And Hairstyling

mm3

Strange inclusion of the Danish film about the guy who ages quite dramatically throughout the film, a rare domestic box office smash which didn’t translate to a international audience. So again I’m going with the irksome max for one final flaming guitar lick;

Mad Max: Fury Road

The 100-year-old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Diasappeared

The Revenant

Best Live Action Short Film

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I wonder if they send screeners of these to Academy members? I suppose they do, but I’m surprised to see this category still hanging in there on the prestige portfolio, not relegated to the ‘boring’ technical awards which are awarded in the separate ceremony. Guesswork as always,

Ava Maria

Day One

Everything Will Be Okay

Shok

Stutterer

Best Animated Short Film

animate

As above, pure guesswork as always unless I find the time to see which of these may be on-line. Lets go with the Cosmos one…

Bear Story

Prologue

Sanjay’s Superteam

We Can’t Live Without Cosmos

World of Tomorrow

Best Animated Feature Film


David Bowie Tribute

I’ve surprised myself by being somewhat knocked for six by this loss, I’m not much of a music fan anymore but have always been a fan of Bowie, and I think we all kind of knew he had been ill due to that relatively recent withdrawal from public life. He was one of those figures who always formed the background of one’s life however, was always there with those immortal albums and breakthrough songs, and unlike The Beatles or the Stones whom I really couldn’t give a flying fuck about he was a genuinely inspirational figure, so this loss is deeply felt around this quiet corner of the internet. So I have a little screen orientated tribute and I’ll keep my comments to a minimum, starting with this which I was only watching last night as part of my Tarantino revisit – this might be one of the greatest sequences in his entire career, purely because of the marriage of image and music;

Any consideration of his screen persona would be redundant without that era defining turn in The Man Who Fell To Earth, probably the most successful synthesis of his stage and screen persona,

Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence received a Blu-Ray upgrade a couple of years ago and nearly made the cut here, but instead I really want to talk about Judy;

He kept acting into the 21st century, garnering some sneering plaudits for this turn as the enigmatic Nikola Tesla, and apart from critics being critics I never quite understood why. Again he was trading on his slightly mysterious, otherworldly aura which seemed perfect for this role, and so what if the accent isn’t quite identifiable?;

More esoterically here is another path paving moment, before UK actors became the charming Hollywood psychopaths de rigour as exemplified by Gary Oldman or Anthony Hopkins Bowie made a memorable appearance in this nocturnal cult classic – the fact that his name was Colin, making him Colin the Assassin is just…brilliant;

Even when cropping in so called ‘kids’ films he remaining an enigmatic entity, one day I’d love to revisit this on the big screen as I remember this film having a memorable effect on my adolescent mind, and not just because of Jennifer Connelly;

Finally something a little more personal whilst perhaps an obvious choice, but I distinctly remember seeing this on Top of The Pops back in my youth and having my ripe neural pathways frazzled by this combination of oddly violent imagery and nursery rhymed sonic sound. It remains and will always be one of my favourite songs of all time;


David Bowie (1947-2016) RIP

What an absolute wretched start to the year. This isn’t a music blog so I won’t be going there, but the legend was of course something of a screen presence as well, and frequently unfairly maligned in that area if you ask me. Nevertheless I was a huge fan of his music, his persona and his experimental brilliance, the word legend is bandied around far too often but he was unquestionably one of the most unique, envelope pushing popular pop culture artists of the past century. I’ll craft something a little more substantial when the shock has subsided, but I always loved this exchange in one of his overlooked screen appearances;