Posts tagged “Music

Good Vibrations / My Life Story


Good Vibrations  -  Front Blu-ray Cover  -  UK Release

Eager to shift thoughts away from The Troubles during the 1970s, music fanatic Terri Hooley (Richard Dormer, TV’s “Game of Thrones”) opens a record store, ‘Good Vibrations’, in the heart of one of Belfast’s roughest districts.  As the shop gains a loyal following, Terri starts a small record label with the aim of launching some of the local bands, including The Undertones whose first single, ‘Teenage Kicks’, is championed by legendary Radio 1 DJ John Peel….  A heart-warming and hilarious true story, Good Vibrations is not a feel-good film – it’s a feel-great film!

2012 –  Certificate: 15  –  British/Irish Film
Rating Details: Strong language, once very strong, and drug use
8.5 out of 10

In 1981 I was selecting what universities might be desperate enough to entertain me with an offer of admission. This, you’re told, is an important decision that could affect your whole life and one you should make after due, diligent consideration.  At my sixth form college we had folders and files bulging with all the propaganda, prospectuses and other marketing materials from all the universities and polytechnics in the country.  At the bottom of one cabinet, filed away under U, was a folder containing a slim, A5 sized booklet, and that’s it.  Unlike everything else, which was dog-eared, scribbled over and had pages torn from it, this little publication was in pristine condition, untouched, unread.  In the early 80s The Troubles were in full swing in Northern Ireland and no self-respecting student from an okay suburb in north-west London was going to even consider the New University of Ulster.  The Undertones was (and still is) a punk band from Derry, which is about 30 miles from Coleraine, where the main campus was for the NUU.  Entirely on the strength of this geographical connection and much to the consternation of my parents, I picked the NUU as one of my five choices of university.  In the end I got offers from three of these, including the NUU.  Six months later, thanks to some less than stellar A Level results,  it’s where I ended up.  (In truth I think it would probably have take just about anyone from England, regardless of their stupidity levels, as it was so desperate for ‘overseas’ students.)  This film explains why this happened and why my life has turned out the way it has.  I’d like to think I’m a tiny, unwritten footnote somewhere that’s connected to this film.  I still have the Good Vibrations price labels on a few records (I didn’t want to peel them off) and without consciously trying to collect them have most of the label’s early releases too. Some wonderful songs were released during that period.  It’s hard to believe it’s almost ten years since John Peel died too.

I’ve never met Terri Hooley and I probably never will, but I think I’d like him if I did. He released the Undertones first single “Teenage Kicks” on his own little label that he started in his record shop in Belfast.  He then got a copy to John Peel, who played it twice in a row on his show on BBC Radio 1.  The rest is well documented history.  If he’d not done this, I’d never have heard of the Undertones and that modest prospectus would have remained hidden in the blue file in the bottom draw.  I think I still have it somewhere as I ‘borrowed’ it from the file; I don’t suppose anyone ever noticed it was missing.  It’s quite an experience to watch a film that tells the story of someone who had such an unplanned effect on your own life.   As a stand-alone movie it’s not perfect.  Of course it has a montage of The Troubles and lots of characters who could only be from Northern Ireland.  (When they weren’t busy marching around, shooting each other and blowing things up, the Northern Irish were some of the nicest and kindest people you could meet.  Better than the English anyway!)  In that sense it’s very clichéd, yet it’s still a really fun and enjoyable watch.   The fact that it’s based on a true story just adds to its attraction.  From my own knowledge of things, there are a number of scenes and touches in the film that really reflect what happened, although I’m sure there’s plenty of dramatisation too. An essential watch.

This is a film about someone who loves music. As such it features lots of great tunes, from reggae through to bands like the Outcasts, Rudi and of course the Undertones.  It also contains absolutely the best music porn I’ve ever seen.  For around 15 minutes it presents the story of “Teenage Kicks” and it couldn’t have been done better.  It’s perfect and a brilliant and loving homage to it.  After a couple of false starts the song finally bursts out on the screen and for 2 minutes and 28 seconds (more or less) we just get to experience the moment it was first played by John Peel.  Of course, the band has written better songs since, but none will ever quite have the impact and resonance of “Teenage Kicks”.   (They even managed to get some actors to play the band who mostly had a decent resemblance to the real people.)  I must have about a dozen copies of it on various records and CDs.  Of course, I already have a ticket for the band’s next gig in London, in nine months time.

The trailer is perfect. It contains “Teenage Kicks”.

Recommended for dreamers, musicians, music fans and anyone who’s ever fallen under the spell of any song.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitation.

Top badass moment? After the great built up, “Teenage Kicks” bursting out of the speakers provides THE most badass experience it’s possible to have.  An iconic tune by the best band on the planet.  Still gigging and still way ahead of their peers.

Good Vibrations at IMDB (7.2 / 10)
Good Vibrations at Wikipedia
Good Vibrations trailer at YouTube

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Go / Boomtown Fair 2014


Go  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK Release

From the director of “Swingers” comes a black comedy tracing the outrageous misadventures of a group of young American delinquents.  18-year-old check-out girl Ronna (Sarah Polley – “The Sweet Hereafter”) is trying to score some rent money before she is evicted on Christmas Eve.  Accompanied by reluctant partner in crime Claire (Katie Holmes – “TV’s Dawson’s Creek”), she embarks on her first drug deal…  Meanwhile, impulsive Brit Simon (Desmond Askew – TV’s “Grange Hill”) is driving a stolen car with buddy Marcus (Taye Diggs – “How Stella Got Her Groove Back”) during a no-holds-barred night of partying in Vegas, as TV stars Adam (Scott Wolf – TV’s “Party of Five”) and Zack (Jay Mohr – “Jerry Maguire”) find themselves in the middle of a real-life drug sting – and a very creepy Christmas dinner…

1999  –  Certificate: 18  –  American Film
Rating Details: Strong sex, coarse language and drug use
8.0 out of 10

I don’t do music festivals.  Never have.  I’ve been to hundreds of gigs over the years but only a few festivals, which have mostly been indoors and only lasted a day; in fact I’ve only been to four outdoor music events ever.  In 1983 I did hitchhike from London to Stranraer in Scotland, got the ferry across to Larne in Northern Ireland, before hitching down through Belfast and then Dublin, to go to the Punchestown Racecourse.  That was to see The Undertones last ever gig (until the band reformed in 1999).  Dire Straits was the headliner, but I left before it came on.  This was still a one-day event, but I slept in a random field in the open by a haystack the night before.  (Until that is, I was woken up in the middle of the night by a lot of very drunk Irish guys, who ‘insisted’ I slept in their tent, which just happened to be elsewhere in the same field.  Being woken up by being dragged along the ground in your sleeping bag in the middle of the night by a load of incoherent drunks is a strange experience).  But that’s the nearest I’ve got to the real ‘festival experience’… until this year.  For some reason I rashly agreed to buy a £167 ticket to go to the Boomtown Fair near Winchester in Hampshire last month; four days of dance, reggae, ska and punk, all mixed up in a ‘pop-up’ town with 38,000 other people. Four days of drinking cider at 10:00am; eating nothing but bread and falafels; getting virtually no sleep courtesy of camping right next to the Hidden Woods and it’s seemingly non-stop diet of what I think young people might consider dubstep; and wandering around in what tuned into a quagmire of mud. I was lying in my tent one morning, holding onto the inner part of it in the hope that the tail end of what used to be Hurricane Bertha wasn’t going to blow it away; I’d never seen tent poles bend like that before.  (Typical Yanks, sending us their worn out, second-hand weather.)  I ‘lost’ my wallet at NOFX, (who were pretty crappy actually); lost my red/black hat (a huge tragedy) as I got too drunk; had something weird happen to my eyes so it looked like I’d not slept for 50 years; got so sunburnt that my nose fell off (well nearly); and spent a lot of time wondering about and occasionally dancing even more stupidly than normal to bands such as New Town Kings, Dirty Revolution, The Skints, Imperial Leisure, Culture Shock and Sonic Boom Six.  For most of the Skints’s set it poured down; not normal rain, but the sort of rain that Noah had to deal with.  I couldn’t have been wetter if I’d sat in a bath in my clothes.  There’s something very surreal about dancing in the pouring rain on a surface that’s rapidly turning into a mud slide.  The best ‘new’ bands were Smiley & the Underclass and (by coincidence) Smiling Ivy.  Other than the music, the other sound I heard most often was people filling balloons full of nitrous oxide to inhale.  In places the ground was covered in the little metal canisters it normally comes it.  We were also asked at least a dozen times if we were ‘selling’ anything.  I never realised I looked so much like a drug dealer.  Then again, about 99% of the people there were younger than me, so I guess to deal drugs is the only reason ‘old people’ go to festivals.  And then there were the toilets…  Would I go again?  Fuck, yeah!  And for those of you interested in the rather random set of photos I took, they can be viewed hereThis is a film about musical culture too, in this case the rave scene at the end of the 90’s.  (Nice segue me.)

So, this isn’t a film about the ancient, Chinese game of Go.  A sort of cross between “Pulp Fiction” and “Trainspotting”, we follow the exploits of a group of young friends over a weekend, seeing the story unfold three times as it focuses on different people.  It feels a bit OTT and kind of dated (pre mobile phones), but is actually very funny and well put together.  I’m not sure what I was doing when all this rave stuff was going on originally.  I seem to remember it was towards the end of the 80s and early 90s.  I own some 12” singles from that period, which would suggest I had some knowledge of it, but that’s all.  Maybe I was totally out of it on E, X, J or W, or whatever letter of the alphabet people took in them days.  Or perhaps I fell asleep in front of the TV for a few years or something.  Yeah, reach for the lasers…

For a film about rave culture, it has surprisingly little music in it and what there is sounds a bit bland.  It’s okay but a bit of a wasted opportunity; a little like this sentence really.  It does have Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride” in it, which seems to turn up in a lot of films.  But it was used in “Star Trek; First Contact”, so that’s a good enough recommendation for me.  

The trailer’s not bad.  Actually it works quite well as an introduction to the film without giving much away.

Recommended for people who work in supermarkets, drug dealers, dodgy cops and losers in general.

2 cats, no chainsaws or decapitations.  Cute cats, awwww.  One has some top dialogue; it’s dubbed into English too, which is great for anyone that doesn’t understand cat language.

Top badass moment?  To raise money to pay her rent, Ronna starts selling aspirin and antihistamines and telling people that they’re drugs.  (That’s drugs as in drugs, not drugs as in, em, drugs).  People buy them and then think they’re having the sort of effect they expect.  It reminded me of how bottled water is sold to the masses.  Marketing pointless crap to stupid people successfully is, begrudgingly, badass. 

Go at IMDB (7.3 / 10)
Go at Wikipedia
Go at Roger Ebert (3.0/4)
Go trailer at YouTube


Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare / Bread Nightmare


Rock 'n' Roll Nighmare  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US ReleaseA hot new rock group… their sexy young girlfriends…  It should’ve been the best time of their lives, but it ended up being a “Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare”!  Recording some new music in an isolated farmhouse, the band gets more than they bargained for when something horrifying stirs in the darkness.  Eternal evil haunts this place and the band members start turning into demons from Hell itself!  After a day of making music – and making love – this band is starting to break up… one by one… limb by limb.  The bands lead singer, John (Jon-Mikl Thor) Triton, holds the key to defeating this horror once and for all… a secret that culminates in a battle between good and evil!  Triton versus the Devil himself!  This is it!  The hard rock cult sensation “Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare” finally explodes onto home video in this amazing Synapse Films Special Edition!  Available for the first time on DVD with rockin’ special features, a killer high-definition video transfer from the original negative and a brain-melting re-mastered 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack!  Featuring head-banging heavy-metal music by rock sensation Jon-Mikl Thor and some amazing visual and special make-up effects!

1987  –  Certificate: R  –  Canadian Film
5.5 out of 10

Bread is the spawn of the Devil.  It’s full of salt and shit calories, doesn’t fill you up one bit, tastes really nice and goes with everything.  Its one purpose is to make people fat.  I eat too much bread.  I can’t help it, I’m addicted to it.  There, I’ve said it now.  That’s the first step on the journey to recovery, so I’m regularly told at the Bread Eaters Anonymous meetings I attend.  Drugs, drink, smoking, gambling and Internet porn all pale into insignificance next to the horrors of a bread addiction.  Like cannabis, it comes it a range of different forms that can be utilised in many ways, loafs, baguettes, ciabattas, roti, French, soda, the list is endless.  Over nine million loafs are sold in the UK every day, as it invades 99% of households and infests them with its evil will, controlling minds and corrupting children in the form of sandwiches, baps and warm, crusty rolls.  That’s sick.  Like the Devil, it has a range of names, such as Allinson, Mother’s Pride, Hovis and Warburtons.  It even has a ‘good cop bad cop’ vibe, with the wholemeal vs white ‘thing’ going on.  It’s also got its own illness too, coeliac disease.  Bread will ultimately lead to the downfall of humans.  However, starting today I’m fighting back against this foul sputum of malevolence and bringer of despair.  Yes, it’s time for another one of my stupid, home-made diet plans!  From now on I’m not going to eat any bread, unless I make it myself.  Let it do its worst, I’m ready for it.  This movie is also about dealing with the Devil.

This is a film that tries to present its main characters as a kick-ass, mother of a rock band.  Indeed, Jon-Mikl Thor is such a character for real and has a bigger chest than most women.   Sadly, as everyone now knows, 80’s ‘rock bands’ were nothing but posers with big hair, who wrote uniformly crap songs.  Like monkeys on typewriters, they occasionally produced something worth listening to, but generally the results were not pretty.  This film does nothing to challenge that observation.  However, its worst offence is to have the band’s leader exhibit all the rock and roll excess of a successful estate agent.  I’m pretty sure that at one point he said everyone should get a good night’s sleep and then did some washing up.  WTF?  Very much a B-movie, this does have some good points, but a lot of it really isn’t that great.  It is a bit endearing in its own way though and I’ve got a soft spot for films about bands and music.  I don’t want to spoil the ending, but it had a twist that is even worse than, “then he woke up and found it was all just a dream”.  Really, it’s that ridiculous.  It’s like they started making the film, decided it was a bit crap, so changed the plot entirely and ended up with something even worse.  Ironically, the DVD looks really good and has a nice cover and loads of extra.  Don’t forget to watch out for the ‘rubber starfish’ too.  Rather frighteningly, it has a sequel lurking out there somewhere.

As a film that’s focused on a band, the music ought to be as important as the characters.  There is a fair amount in it, but sadly it’s firmly grounded in the worst horrors of its time and place.  Prepare to be scared, very scared.

Recommended for bad motherfuckers, rock bands, hairdressers and the Devil.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  John Triton fights and defeats the Devil.  Well I’m not sure about you, but I can’t help thinking that’s pretty badass.   Even Arnold Schwarzenegger struggled with that.

This film doesn’t seem to have a trailer, but this music video is sort of one.  But if you want to hear a really good song called “Energy“, check out this one by the Buzzcocks.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare at IMDB (3.9 / 10)

Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare  at Wikipedia

Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare at YouTube


Suck / A New Challenge


Suck  -  Front Blu-ray Cover  -  UK ReleaseThe greatest rock ‘n’ roll vampire comedy ever made, “Suck” stars rock royalty Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop and Henry Rollins, and brilliant performances from Moby and British screen legend Malcolm McDowell (“A Clockwork Orange”).   The Winners are a struggling band desperate to make it to the top and strike a record deal.  After another mediocre gig, Jennifer (Jessica Paré “Hot Tub Time Machine”) the sexy female bassist, disappears with a young vampire and returns the next morning sprouting fangs and a taste for blood.  One by one each member succumbs to the dark side and leaving a trail of lifeless groupies in their wake, they soon reach the heights of success that they could only dream of as mere mortals.

2009  –  Certificate: 15  –  Canadian Film
Rating Details: Strong language and comic gory horror
7.5 out of 10

Yesterday I walked to work at my new office for the first time.  No longer do I need to trek thousands of miles (well it felt like thousands) each day, face death as I cross the busy A4, deal with selfish pavement hogs along the Oxford Road, heroically climb ‘The Mountain’ or risk loss of sensory deprivation as I bisect the country-sized Tesco car park.  My journey now takes about 15 minutes and I don’t need to set up a series of resupply depots and emergency evac protocols to enable me to take the trip.  A number of other differences were apparent too.  For a start, I had to battle my way through two (yes two) school runs, as I passed two primary schools.  A pavement jam-packed with slow-moving mothers, toddlers in pushchairs and chaotic, hyper-active youngsters, who randomly change direction with no respect for The Rules.  I’m an experienced Pavement Warrior, but this was something else.  It’s only going to be a matter of time before I accidentally mow one of these tiny terrors down and end up in jail forever as a child killer.  Then there were the others, a mixture of students going to the Tesco Metro (I didn’t realise any got up that early) and men and women in business suits, power-walking into the centre of Reading.  On my previous journey, I’d count myself unlucky to be overtaken by even one person, but yesterday it happened twice, as I was left choking on the burning rubber left behind by the soles of two pairs of fast-moving, expensive shoes, worn by who I can only assume are relatives of Usain Bolt.  Unless I’m carrying a heavy bag, being overtaken by someone is a direct challenge to my sexuality, questions my prowess in bed and lessens my status as an Alpha Male.  Clearly more of a sprint than the marathon I’m used to, I’ll not be caught out next time.  Game on…  This film is about a group of people who make a change to how they do their job.

Sadly, this movie wasn’t so bad that I’m able to say it sucks.  Nether was it some sort of  unimaginatively named 70’s porn.  It’s actually quite a lot of fun and does feature a number of real rock stars amongst its cast.  (By the way, who originally came up with the expression “rock royalty”?  It’s an unspeakably dreadful term.)  The cast put in generally spirited performances and the whole thing is really quite endearing.  It’s got Malcolm McDowell in it as well, as vampire hunter Eddie Van Helsing; and let’s not forget that this is the guy who killed Captain Kirk!  That’s real ultra violence.  And while we’re on the Star Trek theme, it’s also got Ezri Dax in it.  Moby (who’s vegan and thus awesome), plays a character called Beef Bellows, lead singer of rock band The Secretaries of Steak.  See, even vegans have a sense of irony.  Jessica Paré, who plays bassist Jennifer, was a bit disappointing.  I’m not quite sure why, but she didn’t quite pull off the vampire diva ‘thing’ that was meant to propel the band to stardom.  Much more of a comedy than a horror, this movie’s a good excuse to while away 91 minutes of your life.

A film about a band needs to have good music, but unfortunately this one suffered a similar fate to so many others and features a lot of mediocre, bland, forgettable, indie rock.  It’s a film about a band of vampires, but the music’s about as gothic as One Direction.  The performances are pretty good though.

Recommended for rock stars, would-be rock stars and vampires (and the undead in general).

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Nicole de Boer has a part in this film.  That’s badass.

Suck at IMDB (5.9 / 10)

Suck at Wikipedia

Suck at YouTube


Things Behind the Sun / I’ve Got a Headache


Things Behind the Sun  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseThere is a buzz about Sherry McGrale’s band among those in the know.  Her song “Never Knew your Name”, a song about the brutal rape of a young woman, is making an impact on the charts and Sherry is already building a reputation as a singer-songwriter.  But Sherry already seems set on a self-destructive, sex and alcohol-fuelled descent, delayed only by her dedicated and devoted manager, Chuck.  When Owen, a senior reporter from Hollywood music magazine ‘Vinyl Fetish’, is given the task of writing a profile on Sherry, he has a head start.  As an old childhood friend, he already knows her background and even the story behind the song, an event that has cast a shadow over their whole lives.  Setting off for Cocoa Beach, Florida, Owen realises this is more than an interview; it is an opportunity to confront the past and put their future in their own hands.

2001  –  Certificate: 18  –  American Film
Rating Details: Strong sex, language and rape theme
8.0 out of 10

Actually I wrote this on Friday last week, but anyway…  I’m sitting here writing this right now, (by which as I’ve just mentioned, means last Friday and not today, Wednesday).  I’m sitting here and it’s very warm, it’s 30C in my living room.  (It still is actually; we’ve had such lovely, warm and sunny weather recently, not at all like an English summer.)  I’m sitting here feeling stupid, because I got ready to go out to a gig, before noticing on the ticket that it’s actually tomorrow night, (which is now last Saturday night) and not this evening, (which then was last Friday night, obviously).  I’m sitting here wondering why it took me 20 minutes to locate my wallet tonight (i.e. last Friday night), only to find it was laying in the middle of the floor in the living room.  I’m sitting here wondering if this is the start of Alzheimer’s.  Then again, I’m sitting here remembering that I’ve been a multi-tasking wizard at work this week, (by which I mean last week, although I’ve been pretty good this week too), despite my in-built gender limitations.  I’m now sitting here thinking I’m suffering from some sort of hormone imbalance.  I’m sitting here wondering why I read medical stuff online too.  Is that all clear?  I hope so, because it’s all pretty serious stuff, a bit like this movie.

It’s hard not to take a film like this seriously, especially when the rape scene was filmed in the same house where the director/writer was raped herself at around the same age as the character in the movie.  I doubt that’s a technique described in many self-help books.  This could have been a truly great film.  It does manage to be a really good film, but it didn’t quite achieve that final leap to amazingness.  Some scenes really worked well and I got a proper emotional reaction from watching them.  But others were comparatively lifeless and I started thinking that they weren’t very realistic either.  Unfortunately, because I need to take this movie seriously, I can’t really mention that the nearest it has to a hero, Chuck, drives a Volvo.  Dear me, I’m really not in the mood to write this tonight.  There’s lots of really interesting stuff I could say about this film, but I’m just too emotionally detached from it right now.  I’ve got a bit of a headache too; I’ve just taken a pain-killer, which I hardly ever do.  Your sympathy is appreciated.  Oh, I couldn’t find a proper trailer for it anywhere either, so I’ve settled for an excerpt of one of its more interesting scenes. Well it’s got some singing, swearing and violence in it anyway.

Getting the music right in a film which relies on it as a major plot element is never an easy thing to do.  In this case they’ve gone for a ‘lead song’ that sounds really like the Beau Brummels 1965 hit “Just a Little”.  (Which I just happen to have an advanced pressing of, where the title etc is written by hand on the label.)  This isn’t a bad choice, as it gives it an ethereal, timeless quality that works well in the context of its subject matter.   The rest of the soundtrack is pretty good too.  A lot was written and performed by Sonic Youth.

Recommended for musicians, band managers, journalists and Volvo drivers.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Under the circumstances, the fact that Sherry didn’t end up wanting to do something very nasty to Owen is pretty badass.  In fact her whole reaction to his news seemed a bit subdued.

Things Behind the Sun at IMDB (7.1 / 10)

Things Behind the Sun at Wikipedia


Bandwagon / The Roberts Stream 83i


Bandwagon  -  Front DVD Cover (US Release)“Bandwagon” is a fresh and exciting indie comedy about four unlikely characters, who together form a band.  Tony Ridge is a tragically shy singer and songwriter who can barely discuss his songs, let alone play them in public.  He meets up with Charlie, an anxious young drummer with a practice space and a mom who makes them snacks.  They seek out Wynn, a perpetually stoned lead guitarist, and finally, Eric, a feisty bass player who’s just given away his instrument as collateral on an overdue bet.  Once the bass is retrieved from an unforgettable drug-dealing redneck the guys are ready.  But ready for what? Is their band about the music, about getting the girls, or just something to pass the time?  They decide that the best way for them to get noticed is to hit the road so they procure Linus Tate, the elusive, but legendary, road manager.  The group soon realizes that life, confined to the space of their not-so-trusty van, isn’t always an easy endeavour.  First-time writer/director John Schultz, a native of North Carolina, has taken full advantage of the striking local scenery during the peak of fall.  Witty dialogue and clever plot twists punctuate a well-crafted story.  An expertly produced sound track, including original songs performed by the film’s band, Circus Monkey, as well as other independent bands, gives the film an edgy, contemporary sound.  A mix of familiar faces (Kevin Corrigan from “Living in Oblivion” and Steve Parlavecchio from “Amongst Friends”) and refreshing new talent round out an energetic ensemble cast.  “Bandwagon” is a good-time venture into young artistic expression.

1996  –  Certificate: Not Rated  –  American Film
7.0 out of 10

My new Roberts Stream 83i has arrived, as a replacement for my old but now sadly broken, Logitech Squeezebox.  It plays FM radio.  It plays Internet radio.  It’s a DAB radio.  It streams music from my NAS Drive.  It sounds nice.  It’s very easy to work out how to use it.  It looks a little too like it was designed by someone with an over enthusiasm for 50’s sci-fi spaceship control panels; Buck Rodgers would feel right at home with it.  What’s there not to like?  Well, two things so far.  Despite giving access to thousands of radio stations available on the Internet, it only give you 5 pre-sets for them, which is a bit perverse; was that bit of the specification sorted out on a Friday afternoon by some thickie on work experience with the company?  Also, and far more annoyingly, it won’t shuffle music from my NAS Drive unless there’re less than about 2,000 tracks or folders in a folder, so it expects me to rearrange my whole, digital music collection to convenience this crappy bit of its design.  I’ve e-mailed the company for a solution; let’s see how long it takes to reply and what it says.  It never fails to amaze me how those that design things never seem to get the details quite right.  This film is about music too.

Wynn, Eric, Tony and Charlie are four losers that have little else in common.  They form a band, go on tour, fall out a lot, deal with loads of angst and in the end come good.  So pretty much like every other film ever written about a band. Having said that, it’s quite a lot of fun and, critically, feels fairly authentic.  Their enigmatic road manager, Linus, also adds a slightly surreal feel to things too.  It’s often hard for actors to look like musicians in films, but in this case they generally do a pretty good job.  It does feel bit dated at times, mainly because these days so much independent music is promoted and distributed on the Internet.  There is a bit near the end where the band is being spoken to by the head of a record company, who’s explaining, quite convincingly, how the band has to do this, that and the other to be successful.  Sometimes it feels like that at work; I spend more time playing the game that doing anything that’s actually making any sort of difference.  It doesn’t matter how many times I have it explained to me, I’m still left with a feeling that there’s a better way to do things.

A film about a band needs to have good music.  With a number of decent, mid 90s, American indie rock songs, this movie does manage to be convincing enough on this level.  In fact a couple of them are actually pretty good.

Recommended for garage mechanics, dope-heads, record shop assistants and construction vehicle manufacturer workers.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  The record company president meets the band and offers it a recording contract.  It turns it down.  That’s defiantly sticking it to The Man, and that’s badass; and in many ways stupid too, but there’s something to be said for keeping you integrity and principles intact.

Bandwagon at IMDB (6.7 / 10)

Bandwagon at Wikipedia


The Rocker: 4.0 Stars


The Rocker  -  Front DVD Cover (UK)Rainn Wilson (TV’s “The Office An American Workplace”) takes centre stage in this wildly irreverent comedy about living your dreams – and embarrassing your family – at any cost.  Twenty years after being kicked out of his nearly famous ‘80s rock group, Robert “Fish” Fishman (Wilson) gets a hilarious second chance at stardom when he joins his nephew’s high school garage band.  Without missing a beat, Fish vows to reclaim the rock-god throne he always thought he deserved… while taking his much younger band-mates along for the rides of their lives!

2008  –  Certificate: 12  –  USA
Rating Details:  Moderate sex references and infrequent muffled strong language

Today is a special day.  From the mid-late 80s until the mid-late 90s, I didn’t really go to see many gigs; in fact off the top of my head I can only remember one.  Then I went to see China Drum at ULU (University of London Union) and everything changed.  It was the band that singlehandedly reintroduced me to live music.  Then after three albums, China Drum split up and the world became a slightly more crappy place.  It’s been at the top of my “wish they would reform” list for years.  Now, twelve years on, China Drum is playing a gig in February in London.  To say I’m a bit excited is like suggesting the sun is a bit warm.  This movie is about something a little similar.

I’m a bit of a sucker for films about music and bands and I really like Rainn Wilson, so it’s probably no surprise that I enjoyed this one.  There’s nothing especially groundbreaking about it, but it’s fun and at times really very funny; it has some great lines in it.  It just about manages to stay on the right side of becoming a parody à la “Spinal Tap” and Fish remains a likable character.  It seems to get compared to “School of Rock” a lot, but I think this is the better of the two films as it feels (okay slightly) more grounded.  It has a number of clever little references in it to other films and ‘pop culture’ and there’s even a small cameo from Peter Best, The Beatles’ original drummer.  The DVD has loads of extras too.  Highly recommended.

Recommended for people who used to be into music and then ‘grew out of it’, but secretly wishes they hadn’t.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  The ending is terribly clichéd, but who doesn’t want to get one over on someone who got one over on them years ago?  There’s nothing like holding a lifelong grudge; even I have one or two.  It’s not the most grown-up way to get rid of the latter, but beating a long-standing nemesis is most certainly badass.  Rock on!

The Rocker at IMDB (6.2/10)