Saturday, 23rd February

{ONE} CROWDFUNDER OF THE WEEK
From Popbitch: “A man in Newhaven has been petitioning his local council to let him build a statue in memory of Eazy-E from NWA. The council, somewhat predictably, have refused – but they have granted him permission to build a Newhaven Eazy-E Memorial Bench if he can rustle up the £2,000 funds. Anything over and above the target will be donated to a Brighton AIDS charity, so it’s got to be worth a punt, surely?” It’s halfway there, and according to one donatee, “It’s what Eazy would have wanted.”

{TWO} EXHIBITION OF THE WEEK – CORITA KING: POWER UP
The House of Illustration has a terrific show dedicated to the joyful posters of Sister Corita, a Roman Catholic nun who, as the HOI say, “challenged the Roman Catholic Church and offered a bold new perspective on misogyny, racism and war. A contemporary of Andy Warhol, admired by Charles and Ray Eames, John Cage and Saul Bass, Corita’s radical Pop Art brought the sublime to bear on the everyday.” Weaving in lyrics by The Beatles and Jefferson Airplane with advertising slogans, she achieves a mash-up effect not disimilar to Dylan’s “It’s Alright, Ma.” And the free screenprinted posters of Corita’s print-room rules repay close attention.

After the private view, I walked around the newly opened Coal Drops Yard and grabbed a bite to eat in Spiritland, home of an extraordinary sound system, but the noise of the diners talking and clattering cutlery reduced the music to a cardboard thud of bass, a smidgen of trebly vocals, and an indistinct murk of chords. It must be frustrating to be the person working the decks, although maybe when the dining ends more attention’s paid. A good wine list, though, and Coal Drops Yard is pretty spectacular at night (and has a Face magazine outdoor exhibition at the moment).

{THREE} CAPSULE FILM REVIEWS
I watched a bunch of films pre-Oscars, and here are my short thoughts on them.

A STAR IS BORN. Cloth-eared. You’d expect no cliche to be left unturned. The title alone is a moving cliche, made four times, with just the one tale. Miche asked who the current equivalent of Bradley Cooper’s countryish singer, the hilariously named Jackson Maine, would be, but it’s so out-of-time that I couldn’t think of anyone big enough. Ideally, they should have made it with R Kelly or Ryan Adams, but the canvas wouldn’t be massive enough for Hollywood. Bradley wanted giant festivals (they filmed at Glastonbury) and arena-sized crowds of rubber-armed fans screaming through his guitar solos. Like never happens at actual gigs.

The songs by Brad and Lukas Nelson are okay, in an ersatz Townes Van Zandt kind of way, but sadly, Gaga is made to sing what sound like very poor pastiches of Lada Gaga songs with added Jess Glynne. However, she’s excellent, especially when she fights her way through Bradley’s wearisome turn as Mumbly Rock Country guy. Best (worst?) moment – a ludicrously polished performance of an unfinished song that LG had warbled a couple of lines from in a supermarket parking lot the night before. Weirdest music reference – Gaga wearing a Roger Dean Yes T-shirt. So if you like the sound of a famous singer who resembles Jeff Bridges (lite version) giving a helping hand to a Suzi Quatro impersonator, this is the movie for you. For its entire two hours 11-minute runtime.

GREEN BOOK. Curate’s Egg, solidly made. You know how this will go from the trailer, although it cleverly wrong-foots a couple of times and manages to be quite moving at the end. Good performances, great soundtrack, especially the sensational “Goodbye, My Lover, Goodbye”, by Robert Mosely. Who Robert Mosely? I’m sure some readers are way more knowledgeable than me on this one. There’s very little on the web about him – he cut this in 1963 and The Searchers and Lulu (with the Dixie Flyers) both covered it, but both slightly miss the strangeness of the arrangement and melody of the original.

LIFE ITSELF. Babel with added Dylan. I seem to be the only person who didn’t like Girl from the North Country. Now I seem to be the only person who likes Life Itself, a film subjected to a terrible critical barrage. It’s far from flawless (“As a young New York City couple goes from college romance to marriage and the birth of their first child, the unexpected twists of their journey create reverberations that echo over continents and through lifetimes” – eeeek!) but it gains points for a strand that runs through the film that asks whether Dylan’s Time Out of Mind is weakened by the inclusion of “To Make You Feel My Love.” That’s quite mad, isn’t it? The first scenes are played out with three of the album’s songs on the soundtrack. I’m not going to précis the plot; it will just seem corny and ridiculous. Watch it and tell me if I’m wrong. I want to know…

CAPSULE CAPSULE REVIEWS. The first two-thirds of “Buster Scruggs” is mad and brilliant, but the last two segments blow it. “Vice” I found strangely uncompelling, mainly because most everyone in the story is ghastly. “BlakkKlansman” is terrific, if a little slapstick, ”The Wife” is dreadful movie-of-the-week tosh. “Roma” didn’t do it for us – if you want black and white and a tough story then “Cold War” is your film. “Can You Ever Forgive Me? is quite fun, in a depressing way. “The Favourite”? Just bonkers – great acting, but in the service of what?

{FOUR} AND THE ACADEMY AWARD GOES TO… MOONLIGHT (R4)
Stepping back a year, Paul Gambaccini (Rolling Stone magazine’s London correspondent in 1970) presented a beautifully rounded programme about an astounding film. It made me realise over again how gorgeous the soundscape and scoring (by Nicholas Britell) are. And also, that apart from Leave No Trace (not even nominated), nothing touched me this year as much as Moonlight did last.

{FIVE} BROTHER RAY IN NASHVILLE
In a Rolling Stone piece on the re-release of Ray Charles’ Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, David Cantwell talks of Nashville’s response. He mentions the Anita Kerr Singers had Vocal Stylings of “The Genius” in Harmony and says, “The Kerr Singers’ haunted reading of Brother Ray’s “Drown in My Own Tears” feels almost surreal, a slow-motion submersion in depression.” Weirdy sparse and oddly moving, it can be found on YouTube here.

{EXTRA} FROM CURTIS TO SPUTNIK
I was thrilled to be a guest on the rocksbackpages podcast this week. You can listen in iTunes or here and be regaled on the founding of RBP and the book of Five Things.

If you’re receiving the email out, please click on the Date Headline of the page for the full Five Things experience. It will bring you to the site (which allows you to see the Music Player) and all the links will open in another tab or window in your browser.

Comments

  1. No Stan and Ollie in your film spree?

  2. Yes, I just forgot that one, Kevin! Very enjoyable, but more a tv film than a big screener, I thought.

  3. My gran used to live up the road from Newhaven, in Seaford.
    I can only imagine her reaction had I played NWA to her…

  4. Hi. I’m with you on Leave No Trace. It was my favorite film from 2018. I can hardly believe that Green Book won the best picture Oscar. It’s good, but hardly great. Anyway . . .

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