Viv Albertine: Clothes Clothes Clothes Music Music Music Boys Boys Boys.


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I missed this when it came out and I see it has (rightly) picked up a bunch of awards.  Not the Pulitzer admittedly, but it’s not a Pulitzer book.

What it is is a damn good read, a hugely insightful rummage around in the mucky underwear of the punk era and, at times, a heartbreaking tale of one woman’s battle with life.

Viv Albertine was the guitarist in The Slits, but by her own admittance it was a struggle to get there.  She painfully explains the process by which she found her voice as meanwhile,  Ari Up, the child singer of the band confidently found her own precocious style.

It’s kind of a rags to rags story with a lot, and I mean a LOT, of bodily fluids shared along the way.

But it’s hugely engaging, often hilarious and deeply affecting.  Her moral code is set up for all to see, to be challenged but stoutly defended throughout.  It’s fair to say Viv has had a few encounters.

Her style of writing is particularly engaging.  She has no aspirations to be the next Donna Tartt but she can, and does, write a great story flitting about, as it does, in time sharing with us the minutiae of fashion in London in the 70’s. (In a small way like Tartt’s ex lover, Brett Easton Elliss, does in American Psycho)

Her description of John Lydon ‘s performance on stage with the Sex Pistols is a highlight and viscerally recreates that whole scene and, more importantly, the culture behind it.

Short chapters.

Short sentences

It drives along relentlessly.

And of course, you reach the end of the punk era with a sense of disappointment. The rest, about half of the book, remains.  How can it hold our interest ?

But not only does it do that, it actually gets even better as we hear of her terrible failed marriage, her horrendous IVF treatments, cancer and her uncertain return to the big stage.

OK, it’s a music book.  But in reality it’s the tale of a tortured woman who had a lot of fun.

It’s compelling and I urge you to buy it.

David Bowie’s goodbye at The Brits


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The Brits was mostly its usual fare – irritating in very large part.

OK, we had a couple of good bits – I’m a bit of a sucker for Adele’s chat and much as I try to hate Coldplay you have to admire the boy’s desperate attempts at being a decent bloke.  And Ant and Dec made us smile from time to time.

But then, in the blink of an eye, it transcended.

We had Bowie’s eulogy.

The moment we all needed.

The funeral he never had.

Gary Oldman stepped onto the stage and the place hushed.

Jeez, I’m filling up again just writing this, like I did listening to Gary Oldman talk about his pal, David Bowie.

My Brit baiting is over.  This was momentous and any show that can have this sort of effect deserves to exist.

This was his opening line.

“We are coming to terms with the magnitude of David’s passing. The Jones family lost a husband and a father. Those closest to David lost a dear friend and the world lost a man, an artist of transcendent talent.”

“A transcendent talent.”

Now, I can exaggerate like the best of you but this was no exaggeration.  This was the stone cold truth.  The world is a worse place without David Bowie and if you need final proof of that listen to Black Star.  Black Star isn’t just a good Bowie album, it’s one of his best and it is THE best record released in 2016.

And that’s a fact.

Oldman’s speech was what the world needed.  I admit I finally shed a tear for David Jones.  I could not possibly have been alone in that.

Then Lorde did Life on Mars.

My only real criticism would be of the awful lighting that dogged the entire Brits.  But, that aside, it too was a suitable tribute.

This is all of it.

(Oldman’s eulogy, preceded by Annie Lennox’s intro and followed by Lorde’s extraordinary performance.)

Why the Big Short disappointed me so much.


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Let’s start positive.

Christian Bale pulls another great performance out of the bag.

(Possibly his second Oscar.)

And so does Steve Carell.  (Should have been nominated.)

And the music is amazing.

As you leave to Led Zeppelin’s crushing ‘When The Levee Breaks’ you could be striding, like a Wall Street Trader, all big balled and bouffant into the night, wind rushing through your long shiny hair all attitoodinal.

You could be walking into a high maintenance Strip Club to be drooled over.

You could.

You really could.

Except you’re not.

Because the last two hours of your life were a mess.

You’ve seen an edit room meltdown.  Let’s face it, in places the editing in this movie is just sub frickin’ prime man.  But I can see why Hank Corwin is nominated. It’s original. (But it’s style over story telling).

This movie is an economics lesson that wants to be so, so, so cool that you might even start to like economics in such a way that it blows it.

But it forgets one very important thing.

Great movies tell stories.

This movie is not a story. It’s SO NOT a story.  It’s just a mess.  And any amount of Led Zeppelin and Steve Carell at his best and Bradd Pitt at his most subdued, modest, handsome, pouty self  doesn’t save it.

It’s a mess.

And that’s why it fails.

(And as for Margot Robbie.  Oh come on.)

 

I kinda liked it all the same.