Archive for the ‘me’ Category

War. Huh. Yeah.

Posted: January 1, 2011 in film, me

What is it good for?
Embedded journalists engaging in a spot of career-boosting I’m-hard-as-fook, one-upmanship,it appears.
And making documentaries.

Shot between May 2007 and July 2008 by American journalist Sebastien Junger (he of The Perfect Storm fame) and British warzone photographer Tim Hetherington in one of the most dangerous parts of Afghanistan – the Korangal Valley – Restrepo is vicious in its simplicity.
Named after 20-year-old medic Doc Restrepo, killed early in his deployment with the small outfit, the film snaffled the Grand Jury Prize last year for Best Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival.
It follows a year in the life of a gang of soldiers defending the outpost they’ve created in the valley, known as OP Restrepo (Outpost Restrepo).

The film is apolitical to a fault – every young man here is fighting for his buddy.
Reasons as to why they are in this hellhole, or even in Afghanistan at all, are not explored. The idea is to embed with the soldiers and show that life for them is a cyclical operation of boredom, terror, death and hard graft.
And the footage is stunning. The camera is practically down the barrel of guns as they fire at, and kill, the enemy.
While the deaths of some soldiers were most likely caught on film, they are not shown – the aftermath, however, is.
One incredible scene sees a young soldier told that his friend, who is not 5 yards away, has been hit and killed.

So, you get the picture. War is hell. Junger and Hetherington are hard bastards who care more about their film than about their personal safety. But does the apolitical stance of a film like this make it absolutely political? When I watched it, what went through my head was “why the fuck are they there?”, “why did they join the army?”, “why are they playing war video games on PSPs?”….It seems insane that someone would choose this.
And for what? OP Restrepo was built to defend an area in which a road was being constructed – a road that would help locals move goods around, give better, quicker access. The soldiers never question this. They are ‘at work’. That’s it. Watching a documentary like this, you form bonds in your mind with certain soldiers. The way they just go about their business and handle the fact that every day of work is potentially their last, is shocking. There are jokers, musicians, showmen and grunts. They are all in it together. And when they get home, they’ve lost friends and limbs.

Phone publishing grainy fox pic

Posted: June 26, 2010 in me, Uncategorized
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Tester

Film catch-up

Posted: January 29, 2010 in film, me
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Somehow, events have conspired to allow me to have actually seen a lot of films so far this year – some new, some from last year – and here is what I thought.

The Road

Has been a little divisive. Ultimately, this is a story about humanity and the way a father’s humanity is slightly restored by his gerbil-faced son in the face of horrendous, soul-crushing apocalyptic circumstances. Also the ‘woman’ of the film (Charlize Theron, fully clothed,unlike that perfume ad) goes for a bit of a walk and doesn’t come back. The kid says “Papa, Papa” quite a bit. Does Cormac McCarthy hate women? Probably not. It’s relentlessly grim but I found it gripping. We all know humanity is horrible in general but there are some good people out there right? Cannibalism usually does it for me in the ‘scary as fook’ department too. Viggo’s penis, naturally, makes an appearance early on. Thanks Viggo.

District 9

Stars the guy who will play Murdoch in the new A-Team film. Kind of like Aliens meets Menace II Society. Aliens are ghettoised in Jo’burg (not to be confused with Jo’Burger – unlikely that a million aliens would be ghettoised in an over-priced gourmet burger joint in Baile Atha Cliath) and it’s time to move them to a bigger camp before the locals start getting really mad. Very funny moments in a  well-made, fast-paced sci-fi flick. Also, the South Africans say ‘fuck’ like Jackeens. Ya bleedin’ dope ya.

Inglourious Basterds

Sublime. An OTT actioner with no real factual basis made by a man who loves films and sees it as the purest form of entertainment. Features two set-pieces up there with the best of them – particularly the opening scene. Christoph Waltz is nothing short of spell-binding and, without spoiling things too much, it’s always great to see Hitler in films and especially to see him get machine-gunned in the face. A ridiculously enjoyable romp.

Antichrist

More cock. Jesus, will I ever stop seeing penises in films? Bacon, DeNiro, Farrell, Mortensen, Keitel, Defoe – the list goes on. Antichrist is Lars Von Trier’s ode to the quagmire of dark depression, written while in the throes of it. What he produces here is a staggeringly, often impenetrably, personal piece of work, featuring some of the most beautifully shot sequences you’ll see in film. It is also hugely pretentious and ambitious but somehow Von Trier, and the two wonderful actors, Defoe and Gainsbourg, manage to convince. There’s also a talking fox, always a bonus if you’re watching a film in which a penis ejaculates blood and a woman cuts of her bits with a scissors. A film that is as beautiful as it is awful.

Daybreakers

Another vampire film in which most of the world have become vamps (thanks to a virus, I think) and humans are running out. Ethan Hawke (the novelist and sometime actor) is a vampire scientist working on a blood substitute and Sam Neill is probably the first corporate vampire I’ve seen in the films. Willem Defoe pops up again, johnson inside his pants this time. Pretty rubbish but I always enjoy a vampire film so it was quite watchable.

Moon

Sam Rockwell in a tour-de-force performance as an astronaut in the future, stationed for a 3 year stint on the moon, mining for a Helium-3, a clean energy source used back on Earth. Suffice it to say that things get a little confusing for Sam and his ‘visitor’ and what evolves is a brilliant story, very simple, but expertly handled by the director- David Bowie’s son – Zowie Bowie (who boringly calls himself Duncan Jones now?).Kevin Spacey as the voice of Hal…I mean Gerty…manages not to ruin it all with his nasal, snarky tones and this is one of the best films of last year. Gripping stuff.

Anvil

’80s rock band from Canada trying to get a big label deal for their new album. This is basically a love story featuring the singer, Lips, and the drummer, Robb Reiner, and their struggle to get some credit for years of rocking. Famous talking heads like Lars ‘The Twat’ Ulrich and Slash pop up to sing Anvil’s praises and it seems tha band were just a bit unlucky with their timing as every important metal band seems to love them. Does it work out for them in the end? You’ll have to watch. *does devil horns*

Precious

I’ve seen less misery on Eastenders. A great performance from Gabourey Sidibe in the title role as a down-trodden, obese teen, pregnant with her second child by her rapist father, living with her poisonous mother and just trying to survive. Light appears through the darkness in the form of a new school and a teacher who really wants to help Precious learn to read and write. Harrowing stuff with some fantasy sequences that are completely necessary in the insanely grim story. Not as good as everyone is saying but I suppose Hollywood loves a ‘triumph over adversity’ tale, eh? Worth a look though.

Up In The Air

Clooney is smooooooth as a professional ‘firer’ working for a company that other companies hire to sack employees. Clooney loves air travel and has little-to-no connection with his family…or anyone. Needless to say he meets a woman and a plucky, ambitious younger employee and things begin to ch….blah blah blah.Who cares? This has been massively overrated and is the kind of film that would be great to watch on TV some night but that’s about it. Clooney is on cruise-control and there are some funny lines but nowt too fantabulous. Not as good as Thank You For Smoking or Juno, Jason Reitman’s last directorial efforts.

Un Prophete

Wonderful tale of a young French jailbird’s journey behind bars, and outside them, through the world of the Corsican mafia and organised crime in general. Malik (Tahar Rahim) is great as the naive young dogsbody in jail who gets wrapped up in some horrendous Corsican activity and starts to make a name for himself amongst the Arabs and Corsicans alike in jail, and indeed out of jail. Another film, like Precious and Inglourious Basterds, that remembers the medium and throws in some excellent cinematic flourishes to serve the plot and also because they look good. We don’t need to be beaten to death with the frying pan of cinéma vérité every single day, y’know. Excellent film – pure Scorsese stuff and straight into place as my favourite of 2010 so far.

Avatar

Plot=shit. Dialogue=clunky. So what? If you want plot/dialogue go to something else. If you want your puny mind blown to smithereens by whopping great pterodactyls swooping over your head in 3D, then this is for you. The effects are a cinematic milestone and I was giddy as a child for the whole thing. Even the parts not set in the jungles of the alien planet, Pandora, look amazing in 3D. A visual masterpiece. I can’t overstate that.If your mind doesn’t boggle at the 3D then there is something wrong with you. Why don’t you go to Laser and pontificate loudly how derivative Avatar’s plot is and how you’d rather watch Le Quatre Cents Coups instead? While you’re there, slit your wrists from the hand up to where your arm bends, not sideways. Better wound to bleed to death from.

Paranormal Activity

Hi, 12-year-old Adam. Are you terrified of things like daemons, demons, magick, poltergeists, Ouija boards, ghosts, possession, crashing noises in the dead of night and no escape from the horrors of the Underworld.

Here’s Paranormal Activity. Enjoy.

Honourable mentions to a few films I saw at the end of 2009 that may arrive here soon: The Cove (moving, powerful documentary about dolphin-slaughter in Japan) and Triangle (clever horror/thriller set on a deserted ship starring Melissa ‘Angel from Home&Away’ George, also an excellent film)




Poifecto

Posted: January 6, 2010 in holidays, me
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How was the Christmas?

The weather’s fierce hah?

Jesus, these runners are shite in the snow and ice.

More importantly though, did you have that moment during Christmas where everyone else was in the other room; there’s a gentle murmur of conversation seeping under the door and you were sat in front of the fire with a massive gin & tonic in one of those heavy-based tumblers usually reserved for whiskey when featured in an episode of Columbo where he is chatting to the suspect in their apartment and they offer him a drink (which he declines) and they have one for themselves?

Have you seen the Columbo with Johnny Cash in it?

In that single moment, you forgot any distant problems you had. You were alone but not alone at all. You were drunk but not really that drunk. If you had to interact with shop-keepers or publicans you’d be fucked but you just feel like you’ve a warm glow to your pasty skin and could compete at a mediocre level in a game of Scrabble.

Trivial Pursuit might involve saying things like ‘Burkina Faso’ or ‘photosynthesis’ so best avoid that.

There’s a few days left, you’ve gotten books you like, you reckon you did a good job getting presents everyone else liked and you are not obliged to go anywhere or do anything you don’t want to do.

It’s snowing outside.

And now you’re singing that Martine McCutcheon ‘Perfect Moment’ song in your woozy mind.

It was going well until that, eh?

Difficult to do these things when you have listened to (and missed) such a huge wealth of music this year.

But, just to throw my hat in the ring, here are some albums I enjoyed alot this year.

Enter your disgust at my exclusion of Dirty Projectors at the bottom. For the record, I like the album, I just don’t love it.

I’ve left this quite late so I shan’t do any blurbs for the moment.

Animal Collective – MPP

Grizzle Bizzle – Veckatimest

Raekwon – OBFCLII

DOOM – Born like this

DM Stith – Heavy Ghost

Washed Out – Life of Leisure

Dieter Moebius – Kram

Fever Ray – s/t

St Vincent – Actor

Prefuse 73 – Everything She Touched Turned Ampexian

Wavves – Wavvves

PJ Harvey and John Parish – A Woman a Man walked by

Shackleton – 3 EPs

Fuck Buttons – Tarot Sport

The Antlers – Hospice

Bonnie Prince Billy – Beware

Telepathe – Dance Mother

Mos Def – The Ecstatic

Cass McCombs – Catacombs

Tune-yards – Bird-brains

Bill Callahan – Sometimes I wish we were an eagle

Bibio – Ambivalence Avenue

Hunter – Gatherer – I Dreamed I Was A Footstep In The Trail Of A Murderer

Grass Widow – s/t

Sunn 0))) – Monoliths & Dimensions (one of the important ones from earlier in the year that I had written down and forgotten to put here coz I’m an idiot. Thanks Darragh)

Mistletoe and a whine

Posted: December 20, 2009 in me, Uncategorized
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May aswell nail my red & white colours to the mast here: I love Christmas. It’s just that time of year where things just seem to slow up – not in the shopping sense but…

My mother instilled the Christmas appreciation in me. At the moment, the house in Galway most likely has a million Xmas trinkets cluttering up the porch, snow everywhere, the annual decorations, the table centre piece, the CD playing. And it’s great. I only have the best memories of Christmas from my childhood. There are a few outstanding ones but the one that has stuck with me is cycling up and down our street at 5am on my brand new BMX with a plastic AK47 in my hand and my uncle shining a huge maglight on me so I could see where I was going and whom I was about to rip apart with my high-powered assault rifle. Memories..

But to make things straightforward, here’s a taster of the best (and worst) things about Xmas.

  • The wind-up at work. You can feel Xmas oozing into the office as the tinsel pops up all over the place, people who normally don’t smile begin to crack wee grins and workmates start asking when others are going home for the holidays/is the tree up/how much brandy in the morning is too much/why is everyone not wearing the elf costume to the office like they were told to/did you eat my sandwiches and so on.
  • Town is mental. Proper mental. Not just ‘oo-er what be going on here then?’ or a little crowded – there is a palpable sense of immense danger in every shop and on every street. The roof of TK Maxx has clearly been removed and a million people have been dropped into it to try and find the cheapest Ralph Lauren pyjama bottoms or Ted Baker socks. That Butler’s chocolate shop that does the hot choc drinks? It’s got a queue of people out the fucking door, like a soup kitchen in the Mission in San Francisco. Penney’s is a war-zone. Schuh? Don’t bother. The only options in town are to duck into a pub as soon as you arrive to ‘shop’ and start guzzling hooch. Actually guzzle it too; the drunker you are the better. And watch in horror as the barman ACTUALLY rolls his eyes when you ask for either a hot port or hot whiskey. You don’t like making them, do you not? Sorry to complicate your drink-making job by having you do something other than fill a pint glass with piss-poor imported beer or knock the lid of an Easter European beer for which you are charging me 5 euros and 80 fucking cents! You do know Budvar costs about 3 cent in Prague, yeah? Oh you don’t make the prices – you just serve the beer. Right. I will leave actually yes, because you sir are the rudest barman ever. Good day. I have worked in bars too, before anyone starts.
  • The presents. Christ. Here’s where the booze will lead you astray. You arrive home with a bag full of shit you kind of wanted for yourself and a bag of random crap you blearily snaffled in nick-nack shops in the hope that whoever they are for will come to you in a few days. Those dolly pegs will be great for Dad, won’t they? And those Santa musical socks? The dog can have them; he loves weird chimes and Santa’s red, glowing eyeballs…
  • The regimented approach your mother has to Xmas. The TV must not distract from family time when you arrive home. The Xmas placemats may be 20 years old but they are Xmas. The Xmas CD is on a loop. You end up feeling like a suspected terrorist stuck in a weird Guantanamo-style Xmas internment camp. You are awoken to the clatter of dishes every morning. Everything has that shiny Xmas glow which is great at night but looks weird in the morning. Your orange boiler suit is chafing and they’ve taken away your Qur’an. Dean Martin is on all the time. As is Cliff Richard.(I love all this really)
  • Secret Santa at work. Now this year a few of us are doing it. Firstly, a few are trying to guess who got who but crucially, not in a fun way. In a ‘I KNOW who you got’ way. Another would like it to remain a secret forever so he can buy the cheapest present possible. These people have told me this. They also read this blog on occasion and the great thing is, they can have no argument for their anti-Christmas attitudes. I’ll make them pay. Somehow. Where’s my AK47?
  • Catching up. Catching up while drunk. Being in Galway pubs I’m never in anymore because I’m not home much.
  • The 11am booze fog. What’s that? A Paddy and red lemonade at 11am? You scoundrel.
  • The Snooze (you know it)
  • The Poop (you don’t want to talk about it)
  • The weird hangover of 8 tonnes of food and a gallon of red wine. Not remembering what you and your mother were chatting about til 5am..
  • There’s  more but that’ll do for the moment.

Happy Xmas everyone.

Thanks to events in the real world, I have been seriously lacking in effort with regard to these pages. Interviews, busy days, weddings, funerals. It’s all been going down. I suppose all bloggers are constantly looking at life as ‘content’ for their little online diary and for those who blog specifically on music or film, this stuff can spew forth at regular intervals.

The problems begin when one is not exactly a blogger of anything specific but rather someone who blogs on random odds and ends. And then when it becomes clear that one cannot blog on certain things (i.e. ALOT of things) without ‘giving the game away’, people reading who probably shouldn’t know certain things, that kind of piffle….forgive my cryptic ramble please. And apologies for the self-referential claptrap and for apologising for not blogging in the first place which I know can grate…erk….

So enough. I am in love with Chickatees again. Ah yes, Chickatees. How many do you think you actually swallow when you pop open a bag? Fuck all, I’d wager. They’re all in your teeth. For the diet-crazy amongst you, perhaps this heralds a new form of food non-ingestion therapy. I mean, you don’t ingest Chickatees really.You’ll eat a bag in a minute or two and then pick them all out of your teeth. The key could be to resist the urge to swallow this congealed ball of mulchy Chickatee and plop it in the bin. However, this is more difficult than you think; it tastes bloody great.

AND you can buy them in monstrous bags of 30 or 40 for a few squid too. That, combined with Spar meatballs (amazing) and some Pot Noodles – sure you’re essentially a thrifty Gordon Ramsay producing instant classics upon demand. True your salt intake would probably rival that of a large, floating whale gulping down huge waves by the hour but anyhoo.

I’m also currently sporting a rather fetching ‘tache as you may or may not know. Tis for Movember (donate here) but I can’t see myself getting rid of this badboy too quickly. The amount of action I am getting down darkened alleyways on Camden Street is outrageous. I’m raking it in. The binmen are mad for a bit of ‘tache loving. And I love the feel of their cold black jackets, the smell of Carrolls on their breath…ahhh yes…binmen….

Been busy enough beavering away for a few online publications you are probably familiar with and incoming is State mag’s top 20 albums of the decade…or is it top 100…or is it best albums of the decade in no particular order but with a non-specified number cap…jesus. Anyway, I know I’ve left Smog/Bill Callahan off one of these reeeeally difficult lists and I am going to make it up to him by doing my next post about him and most likely about A River Ain’t Too Much To Love, I think.

Also, Christmas is coming and I fucking love Christmas so, to quote a great man, BABY I’M BACK. I think I’m feeling motivated by R’n’B super-lech, R.Kelly’s banging new single

Actually banging. And without the use of contraception it would seem. Shuddering yet?

Alien vs Predator

Posted: October 8, 2009 in me
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It’s odd to come home and find everything exactly the way it was when I left.

The other half has been gone to the US since Sunday and so I have a 3-bedroom house all to myself for a few weeks. This leads to all sorts of problems, of course, but there are advantages.

Looking after the dog, by myself, is a distinct problem. He’s needy. I am too, but there’s not much he can do to appease me, if I’m honest. The neighbours, who are there all day, come and take him every so often, but in the evenings it’s a face-off.

“Dinner”, his eyes say. “Give me your dinner”

“I bloody fed you 2 minutes ago”, I snap.

“That wasn’t enough. I want more. I especially want that curry you are eating, not that stale Ryvita you just threw on the floor to try and distract me”, his eyes say.

“Jesus, I’m only in the door half an hour – let me relax”, I plead (yes, with the dog).

“Oh ho. Relax is it? ENTERTAIN ME”, his eyes say.

chirpa

This can go on for hours.

grass widow

If the whole no-fi/lo-fi thing is a bit too ‘P4k‘ for you then look away now. I’m a big fan. All the bad recording, tinny sound, hard-to-decipher vocals and homemade t-shirts/album covers/everything makes me feel like I’m back in school listening to Bleach again.
There seems to be very few bands from the Captured Tracks/ Slumberland/ Fat Possum stables that are shit these days. Every second week, there’s some lo-fi gem on tour in Europe and, more often than not, Foggy Notions or Skinny Wolves get them upstairs in Whelan’s where they put on brief, wonderful shows and then sell their own t-shirts.We get this with our local bands so it’s great to get it from bands you may only have ever read about on myspace.

As contrived/trendy/uninteresting as some may decry this lo-fi scene as, I love being in a small venue with the band close enough to touch and having them stand beside you in the crowd to check out the support. I love the noisy melodies. I love the brevity. I love the ramshackle performances and the fact that many of them have never been to Europe before. I love the drums.

There’s a rawness to bands like Vivian Girls/Wavves/Times New Viking/Real Estate et al that remains undiluted by hype and combines the nostalgic chill of twee with the pelvic snarl of teenage.

It’s fast, fun and plentiful.

What’s to snipe at? Nowt, that’s what.

Curmudgeons begone.

So now, say hello to Grass Widow, made up of Lillian, Raven and Hannah. They bring you harmonies and fuzz.
Born from the remnants of Shitstorm (the band indie-chick du jour Frankie Rose left to join Vivian Girls, whom she subsequently left to join Crystal Stilts, whom she has now ditched to form Frankie and the Outs…), Grass Widow have a self-titled 12″ LP and a 12″ EP knocking around at the moment.
Have a peep at Captured Tracks for the EP and Make A Mess for the LP.
Here they are covering Black Hole by The Urinals, a major influence in the lo-fi scene.

Grass Widow – Black Hole

And here’s one from their self-titled album.

Grass Widow – To Where