Category: music

UNDER THE SKIN directed by Jonathan Glazer (UK,USA, 2013)

ScarlettThe greatest movies are those that discretely change your perception of the world. Inspiring auteurs like Alfred Hitchcock and David Lynch play upon the voyeuristic nature of cinema and their strength of their vision lies in drawing the viewer into the kind of dark and sinister worlds ‘normal’ citizens would go out of our way to avoid. Jonathan Glazer can safely be added to this exclusive director’s club.

Under The Skin is loosely based on Michel Faber’s brilliant and disturbing debut novel. The operative word here is ‘loosely’ because so much of the plot has been changed it almost amounts to a different story entirely. The Scottish setting is the same but otherwise the divergences far outweigh the similarities. Even so, the movie captures the essence of the novel by being faithful to the atmosphere if not the details.

In the novel the alienated alien, Isserley, is described as “half Baywatch babe, half little old lady” which is hardly a description that applies to Scarlett Johansson who still manages to look sexy despite wearing a scraggy black wig and manky fur jacket. In fact Glazer makes sex the chief way in which the solitary males are lured to their fate; they don’t have to be drugged.

The movie is seriously creepy although not as explicitly horrific as the book. The victims disappear into a strange liquid, a symbolic and seemingly painless death which is a happy death compared to the nightmarish process of being turned into braised meat that Faber describes. Continue reading

ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE directed by Jim Jarmusch (UK / Germany, 2013)

The future's so dark you have to wear shades.

The future’s so dark you have to wear shades.

Adam and Eve (Tom Hiddleson & Tilda Swinton) must be the coolest vampires ever to haunt the big screen.

They look so perfect together – an Emo Goth and an ice maiden, black on white.

A still of them lying naked together is so faultless it looks suspiciously like it’s been photo-shopped but who cares?

As an ageless undead couple they are  resigned to living by night; wearing shades to protect their eyes from the glare of moonlight. Continue reading

CHRIS ECKMAN – Piazza Saffi, Forlì 9th May 2014

Chris Eckman (left) onstage in Forlì with Paul Austin.

One of the best things about living in Italy is that outdoor concerts and other open air events rarely need to be cancelled due to bad weather.

In the UK, washouts are frequent and music festivals often turn into mud baths.

This free show by Chris Eckman took place in the main square of Forlì in Emilia-Romagna on a pleasantly cool, clear evening. It marked the start of a new season of concerts organised by Strade Blu who in recent years have brought quality artists like Devendra Banhart, Steve Earle, Lambchop and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy to the region. The focus is mainly on folk or

When he’s not playing solo, Eckman is part of The Walkabouts from Seattle and he was joined on stage by Paul Austin of that band. Austin played electric guitar backing to the Eckman’s earthy vocals and crisp acoustic guitar. Continue reading

SEXY BEAST directed by Jonathan Glazer (UK, 2000)

While waiting impatiently to see Under The Skin, I decided to take a look at director Jonathan Glazer’s earlier films.

I was familiar with his inventive work in advertising, notably the Guinness ads as well as his innovative videos with Radiohead and others but hadn’t seen either of his previous movies, Sexy Beast or Birth .

The boldness of Glazer’s debut on the former demonstrates the enormity of his talent. Not only does he assemble some fine actors but he also has the courage to cast against type.

Before seeing this movie, I wouldn’t have put Ben Kingsley down as an obvious choice to play an evil, villain. On paper, Ray Winstone would be more convincing as a violent sociopath. You only have to see Winstone’s charged performances in Scum or Nil By Mouth to know that such a role would have come easily to him.

Instead Winstone plays Gary ‘Gal’ Dove, a washed out hard man who has decided to take early retirement from his ‘career’ as a safe-breaker. Gal has moved to a Spanish villa to escape the “grey, grimy shithole” of England.

In the opening scene he suns himself beside a swimming pool to the sound of The Stranglers ‘Peaches’. A sign that this Mediterranean idyll is about to be cut short occurs when a huge boulder rolls down the hillside and narrowly misses flattening him. The rock splashes into the pool.  Don Logan (Ben Kingsley) as the human boulder is equally disruptive. Continue reading

The late, lamented Frank Zappa preached about the need for constant vigilance against the repressive, self-righteous, bigoted forces who censor what we can see, hear and read.

Zappa was an articulate and outspoken critic of religious fundamentalists who seek to restrict our freedom claiming they are saving us from the devil’s work.

He explained his views during an interview with Larry King which you can see below.

As a way to counteract the Parental Advisory stickers on rock albums, Zappa wrote his own ‘Warning Label’ for a Mothers of Invention album.


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