Category: ageing


YOUTH directed by Paolo Sorrentino (Italy, 2015)

1youth3“Youth is wasted on the young”, quipped Oscar Wilde, or was is George Bernard Shaw?

Whoever made this observation, knew something of the poignancy and sadness of growing old.

All Paolo Sorrentino’s films to date have featured elderly characters struggling to come to terms with the realisation that the best years of their lives are almost certainly behind them. Youth , despite its title, is no exception.Paradoxically, it is more about facing up to the inevitability of dying than the carefree pleasures of our ‘salad days’.

At its heart is the friendship between a retired composer Fred Ballinger (Michael Caine) and Mick Boyle (Harvey Keitel) a film director who believes that he still has at least one great film in him. Continue reading

KURT COBAIN: MONTAGE OF HECK directed by Brett Morgen (USA, 2015)

€12 is a bit steep for the price of a cinema ticket but this was billed as an ‘event’ rather than a straight movie so in the spirit of the theme I thought ‘What the heck!’

The montage of the movie’s title comprises a plethora of mostly unseen home movie footage. This gives the dubious privilege of watching Kurt Cobain grow up in public, starting out as a cute kid and ending as a jaded junky.

Debates will rage about when it all started to go wrong. Was it when his parents divorced?, Was it all down to his addiction to hard drugs? Was it his inability to cope with Nevermind’s overnight success? or Was it mitigated by his relationship with Courtney Love?

You could make a strong case that it was all or none of these.

The reality is that Cobain seemed to be born with a suicidal gene and the images essentially serve as a chronicle of a death foretold. You only have to see the scrawled writings and drawings to see how he lived and died as a tortured soul that those around him witnessed but were incapable of curing. Continue reading

WHITE HILLS IN RAVENNA

WHITE HILLS live at the Bronson Club, Ravenna, Italy – 23rd April 2015

White Hills got a cameo spot in Jim Jarmusch’s Vampire flick ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’ and being a cult band in a cult movie is as close to superstardom as they are likely to get.

Undeterred by a lack of mass following, they continue to put out great albums, the latest Walks For Motorists (which I reviewed for Whisperin’ & Hollerin), is well represented in the show tonight. From it, they kick off with the punchy No Will which morphs into the motorik drone of Lead The Way. Continue reading

viv_albertineCLOTHES, CLOTHES, CLOTHES. MUSIC, MUSIC, MUSIC. BOYS, BOYS, BOYS by Viv Albertine (Faber & Faber, 2014)

I started this autobiography expecting a fun but frivolous account of the punk era. It is all that and more.

Viv Albertine was at the heart of the heady period in the late 1970s when the British establishment were running scared. The Slits were one of the many bands that were inspired by the so-called ‘filfth and fury’ of The Sex Pistols; four feisty females who were not about to let a lack of musical expertise hold them back.

Albertine was the guitarist in that band’s early years. I regret to say that I never did see them play live but I treasure the memory of first hearing them on a John Peel session – four tracks recorded in September 1977 that captured their ramshackle brilliance.

The book contains plenty of fascinating insights into the ordinary world that preceded and followed the extraordinary explosion of rebel yells. Continue reading

CARRIE & LOWELL by Sufjan Stevens (Asthmatic Kitty records, 2015)

It may be a bit early to name an album of the year but Sufjan Stevens’ elegiac seventh album will certainly take some beating.

It is a painfully sad yet breathtaking beautiful record written for and about his late mother, Carrie, who died of stomach cancer in 2012.

In the words of the opening song, Death With Dignity, “I don’t know where to begin”,  but ,suffice to say, I agree with Dave Eggers’s assessment of it as “an emotionally devastating masterpiece”.
Carrie’s death brought a sense of absence even though she was not a constant in her son’s life. She suffered from depression, schizophrenia, had bipolar disorder and was an alcoholic. On top of this, she also did drugs and had other substance abuse problems. It is not surprising that she was a difficult woman to get close to. Yet while the mother-son relationship was fraught and messy, these are songs of forgiveness not bitterness Continue reading

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