Upright. New TV series by Tim Minchin.


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I’ll start by confessing that Tim Minchin has done nothing.  NOTHING for me in his fairly long and, largely, highly succesful career, so when it was suggested I watch this I doubted I’d get past episode one.

How wrong could I have been?

By the end of episode eight, binged in two days, the tears rolled down my cheeks.

It’s bawdy, ballsy, rude, ridiculous, hilarious, breathtaking, touching, sincere and is based on a largely unpredictable storyline that twists and turns like a Tasmanian Devil.

It also features a stand out, frankly equal footing, performance by 19 year old Australian actress, Milly Alcock, remember that name, she’s the next Margot Robbie.

A truly excellent TV series, right up there with Succession, Fleabag and Chernobyl as my favourites of 2019.

 

Suspiria: Film review.


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I was thrilled to see the original of this movie by Dario Argento at Summerhall in Edinburgh during this year’s Fringe with the original score performed by Goblin, live on stage.

It was a great experience but, in my view, it’s an overhyped movie with little to recommend other than the astonishing score and the remarkable cinematography in its vivid, over-saturated colour.

The film itself is pretty unremarkable.,

But it was enough to tempt me into seeing the remake which is, in my view, much more remarkable.

It’s an incredibly odd follow on from director Luca Gaudanino’s “Call Me By Your Name’ – a touching and sentimental coming of age gay romance set in Italy and starring the incredible Timothy Chalomet.

This leaps genres like I’ve rarely seen a director do.

Gaudanino’s remake has none of the zing of the original, indeed the colour palette is quite muted.  It’s also dull throughout as a result of the endless rain (then snow).

It’s set in 1977 West Berlin with the Baader-Meinhoff (RAF) gang in full flow and providing a sinister backdrop to what is already a sinister movie.

Guadanino casts Dakota Johnson (50 Shades of Grey) and a malevolent Tilda Swinton brilliantly, but I also liked the performance of Mia Goth as Johnson’s best friend in a crazy dance school.

The award winning dance school that Johnson seeks and gains entrance too after a remarkable audition is actually a witches coven and Johnson appears to be the next sacrificial lamb to the God the witches worship.

But it’s not that straightforward.

It’s a long, slow, considered movie with an inevitable Sixth Act (yes it’s presented in six acts) denouement that’s a fantastic gore-fest.

The movie is getting mixed reviews and I understand that.  It’s really slow.  It’s arthouse not shock mall theatre.  If you want Halloween forget it.

But it’s great.

Really well directed and acted and Thom Yorke’s score is great although less intrusive than Goblin’s.

Recommended.

Cold War: Movie Review.


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The first thing to state about this beautiful movie is that it’s monochrome.  So stunningly so that at times you feel you are in a photographic gallery rather than a cinema.  The quality of the cinematography is quite extraordinary thanks to Lucas Zal.

It’s also in 4:3 format.  Not the square format of Instagram, but close.

We don’t see 4:3 very often these days but Wes Anderson used it to immense effect in Grand Budapest Hotel and so did Lazslo Melis in Son of Saul.

It’s an engaging format that draws you in.  It suggests a time before cinemascope (16:9 etc) and only really works in period cinema of a time.

This time.

But it also lends itself to incredible framing, such as when our female protagonist floats down a river gradually disappearing out of shot, and later in the movie when the chief protagonists leave a bus and walk out of frame in a composition that Henri Cartier Breson would be proud of.

It’s one of the most beautiful movies I’ve seen in many years.

In truth that’s probably its biggest strength.

It is, but it isn’t really, narrative driven.  More episodic than story, but it does tell a tale about director Pawel Pawlikowski’s parents’ love affair set against the Cold War backdrop in his native Poland.

It’s fairly sordid in a way (his mother was abused by her father as a child) but without anything shocking to see.

Imagine, yes.

The two leads ( Joanna Kulig and Tomasz Kot) are magnificent.  Brooding, beautiful (although unconventionally so) and real.

Lucas Zal has a great time dwelling on three particular things.  Crowd shots.  Amazing, Dance sequences. Amazing.  Joanna Kulig (the lead).  Amazing.

In particular, Joanna Kulig has a stand out performance.  She’s not one to show her enjoyment in life.  Sullen most would say.  But it is an immense performance.

It’s a love story, set against the challenges that Cold War Poland put in front of people of artistic belief where communist doctrine made creativity very difficult.

What Pawel Pawlikowski achieves is a mood piece of exemplary, peerless really, detail.

And it’s a musical.

I was constantly drawn to comparing it to La La Land, yet it is so NOT La La Land.  Partly it’s down to Kulig who shares the unorthodox looks (beauty) of Emma Stone.  Partly it’s the framing of scenes by Zal.

And the music fuses from Polish country folk to French basement jazz (which La La Land would have been so comfortable with).

This is an Oscar nomination shoe in.  It’s absolutely brilliant.

And, at 88 minutes, certainly does not outstay its welcome.

Bravo!

A Straight 10 from me.

 

 

 

Possibly the worst Mercury Prize Shortlist ever…


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Unbelievably mainstream.  Some genuinely rubbish records on it (Florence and the Machine).  Entirely lacking in class.

My vote is for Arctic Monkeys but the best act on the list is Nadine Shah.

  • Arctic Monkeys
  • Everything Everything
  • Richard Russell
  • Florence and the Machine
  • Jorja Smith
  • King Krule
  • Lily Allen
  • Nadine Shah
  • Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
  • Novelist
  • Sons of Kemet
  • Wolf Alice

No Young Fathers?  Fuck off.

No Jon Hopkins?  Fuck off.

No Gogo Penguin?  Fuck off.

Anna Meredith Opens the Proms tonight.


I first fell in love with Anna Meredith when she supported Anna Calvi at the, now defunct, The Caves in Glasgow.  It was a bonkers performance and I adored it.  I bought her SAY award winning Varmints soon after and saw her live at Leith Theatre last year opening Hidden Doors Festival.  The best gig I saw in 2017.

My appreciation of her was actually behind the curve because she had already established herself as a highly regarded composer in modern classical circles and that is one of the reasons she will open The Proms tonight and the Edinburgh Festival in August with a commissioned piece about WWI called 5 Telegrams.

Even though I consider myself a big fan nothing, NOTHING, could prepare me for this.  This awesome, really nothing short of awesome, performance in the Tiny Desk Concerts series.  I thought Penguin Cafe had kicked it out of the park a couple of years ago in this series but this kicks it out of the park next door too.

Sit back, relax and enjoy Nautilus (surely the greatest piece of music ever written for the tuba), Ribbons (she even sings, who knew?) and The Vapours.

19 minutes and 4 seconds of utter bliss.  Thank you Anna.