Wednesday, 21 November 2012

A David Essex double bill...with a little help from a stellar cast.

The first of the two films, That'll Be The Day is the better of the two and really sets a standard which Stardust can't quite meet. Ringo Starr totally nails his part, delivering his lines with perfect humour and timing. He's convincing and likeable and also a good sport, appearing in his underwear and there's even a bum shot (I don't think it was a stunt bottom!) Having seen him in A Hard Day's Night and Help, it is strange to see him go from squeaky clean Beatle to cheeky Scous chappy with a bit of a mouth on him, but he makes the transition perfectly. Billy Fury appears as a singer and Keith Moon as a drummer, as the other notable famous cameos. As for David Essex, he appears confident yet unassuming and it's an enjoyable viewing experience. As for Stardust, although given the filming locations of some of the scenes, it was clear they had a larger budget, this sequel fell short of the mark for me. I enjoyed it but it wasn't as good as its predecessor. Ringo Starr had the good sense not to participate in this film. The cliches are just too seems to me that the industry realised that they had to give the world The Beatles again. Early on, it's a street similar to Mathew Street in Liverpool, and set inside a music club inside a cellar, like The Cavern...there's even a house which looks very much the same as John Lennon's house in Weybridge. It would have been in poor taste and a bad career move for Ringo to have included himself in this! Later on, the film goes into a documentary mode, like the Albert Maysles footage of The Beatles. It was just a bit too cliched for me and the acting not as strong, although Marty Wilde was good.

Friday, 16 November 2012


In typical Ken Loach style, this is an honest slice of life. This drew me into the storyline even further as the characters were so convincing - the acting and the casting is superb. That said, one of the characters didn't even audition; he was a passer-by simply watching the camera crews set up and got offered a part in the film. And the lead actress is currently working as a primary school teacher. The characters were easy to like and to relate to, and there were some truly heartwarming moments in the film. It's definitely true to Glasgow life - the sense of humour and sense of community overrides all the adversities the characters face. For this reason, the strings of profanities are not gratuitous and instead genuinely add another layer of authenticity to the plotlines. If you are easily offended, I suggest you buy the edited version;

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive

I admit, the accompanying album, took a while to grow on me; as much as I love the genre, I wasn't convinced by Paul's interpretation of them. Over time, and with the help of this film, I have been converted. And I think it could change a lot of other peoples' perceptions about the man and his music too. It shows there is yet another string in his bow. The interactions between Paul and everyone on this film, from his own crew, to session musicians to famous musicians, are natural, relaxed and on an equal level. This, coupled with his obvious self-deprecating sense of humour and general ability to laugh, put everyone at ease and endeared him to those he worked with and definitely to me watching this documentary. The session drummer described these sessions as being "free", showing how relaxed and friendly it was, which clearly shows in the footage of them recording. Everyone seems to feel comfortable and joyous. It's a fascinating insight into the creative process of this album, and to paraphrase what the bass player on these sessions said, he respects the music, which makes me respect him. Praise for Paul comes from everyone who is interviewed, including Eric Clapton, who despite his own illustrious career, spoke of his reverence for some of the stellar musicians also playing on this record. At this stage in Paul's career, it is good to see him fulfill such a long-held ambition (according to Joe Walsh). He breathes new life into some old songs, is faithful to Sinatra with his cover of We Three and his own contribution of My Valentine is sublime. It fits in perfectly with the rest of the recordings, and is further proof that the man is versatile. Generally speaking, I think Frank Sinatra and his songs are untouchable, but I was certainly impressed by the version of We Three I heard here. The film also goes a little into the history of the Capitol building; from the photographs on the walls of legends who have previously graced its studio floors (ie Nat King Cole, Sinatra and Coltrane, to the continued use of the vintage preamps, microphones and compressors, even the marks left by Les Paul by way of the echo chambers he originally designed...a fascintating taster of how the built environment helped shape this album. Paul said that the last time there was such an adverse reaction to any title he had suggested, it was the name The Beatles, which some associated too much with creepy crawly insects. Kisses On The Bottom had the same impact and it certainly adds another dimension to the (still) cute Beatle.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Kindle Fire...Not too bright.

Much heavier than the this tablet is also physically bigger than its no-frills sibling. With its colour touchscreen, Android operating system and webcam, it looks just like your average tablet. Call me cynical, but it appears very much to be a clever ploy to enourage the purchasing of content and apps, in a less subtle way than rival tablet, as the first thing you enounter is the Shop option, and at the end you will find Offers. You can also see all your purchased eBooks in a more in-your-face way than the Apple iBooks are displayed on their device. Like on the Amazon web site, you are offered suggestions based on your recent purchases. They don't miss a trick! When it comes to actually reading an eBook on the Kindle Fire, the screen looks sharp and it's easy and comfortable to read, although I actually prefer it on the because it's much smaller and lighter to hold and to carry in public. Then again, there is the option on this one to purchase audiobooks too which has its uses. It's also different from previous incarnations in that you simply swipe the screen to "turn" pages, as opposed to there being a physical button as there was before. The News Stand app is good, allowing you to subscribe to and download newspapers and magazines, although it's worth noting that these don't come in HTML format so it's rather visually boring. Lovefilm, Amazon's acquired movie rental/streaming service, is enabled too, allowing access to films and also to TV shows. You can also upload your own videos to the device to watch if you so choose. It seems a bit slow when trying video playback, and this was rather frustrating. The picture quality wasn't as clear as expected. Amazon have attempted to cover all media formats, allowing you to sync with your Cloud account and listen to all your downloaded tracks. The speakers are louder than I had expected, although the sound quality isn't as good as it could be. I think maybe they're trying to do too much with this tablet at the detriment of the quality of its features.