Monday, July 24, 2006

Slow down now.

Excuse me while I recover from a conniption as my third most anticipated film of the year (the first being INLAND EMPIRE and the second Pan's Labyrinth), Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain just got its full-length trailer right here. I really don't have a lot to type -it pretty much speaks for itself- other than it's been six long years since the over-sexed and over-disturbing Requiem for a Dream was unleashed, and now I think we're all ready for a little space-time continuum fiddling. One thing's for sure: The Fountain is going to be very, very pretty.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Bad Night, and bad luck.

I can't feel too bad for M. Night Shyamalan. Not only is his surname the spelling bane of my life, he also makes terrifically 'self' movies. That meaning self-righteous, self-involved and frightfully self-indulgent, unless of course he's being tamed by Disney (as I assume he was with The Sixth Sense and, to lesser extent, Unbreakable - films at least penetrable to us not of the faux-pseudo-intellectual brat variety). Critics have ripped him a new one with his latest Lady in the Water, which makes me happy, but I am assuming it'll still be making oodles of cash.

Here are the reasons I will not be subjecting myself to Lady in the Water:
  • Just like Signs and The Village, the premise is stupid as you like.
  • Just like Signs and The Village, it squanders a perfectly good cast (Question: how do you fuck up the delectable prospect of Sigourney Weaver and William Hurt sharing the screen? Answer: make them stupid, mongoloid-like automatons caught up in apparent genre fiddle-faddle; and whose zero emotional relevance is only capitulated by an equally dour grasp on what people should be saying in these ridiculous situations, only they don't, and never will).
  • Therefore I don't wish to see Paul Giamatti violated in this way.
  • And just like Signs and The Village, it's being sold as a supernatural thriller, when we all know -third time's a charm!- that it'll be a bunco attempt at forced melodrama, and with an unwelcome splash at subverting non-didacticism flung in for the sake of it.
If Shyamalan was quietly wanking away from the limelight, I doubt I'd mind so much at these delusions of grandeur and the even more horrendous allegations of Spielbergian proportions.

A watery tart in your swimming pool does not supreme executive power wield. I'm just happy a sizeable backlash has begun. Let the drubbing commence.

P.S I excitedly recommend Joe Morgenstern's to-the-point and hilarious critique of Lady in the Water - listen here, if you will.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Coming Atractions

Things Miles really, really needs to get round to reviewing:

Chicago by Sufjan Stevens
The Avalanche by Sufjan Stevens
Stop Making Sense by Talking Heads
The complete Long Winters discography
Silent Alarm by Bloc Party

All the other CDs I got for my birthday and/or bought with birthday money

The Shining, Evil Dead 2 and 3, Superman Returns, Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Clerks


This is the To Do list. It's been a week with a very high level of media consumption.

Saturday, July 15, 2006


And just briefly, IGN are offering the first twenty-four minutes of A Scanner Darkly which has left me in a moral quandary. I mean, I'd like to see Winona rotoscoped now, but surely this is ruining things a little? Anyways it's here so I entrust that decision unto you.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Finally Bricking it.

I try to write occasionally when I get depressed, and you'd think doing something that often would make me half-way good at it. Not the case. When I do finally sling the ink, it's sparse and awful, but it nearly always encompasses three crucial elements. These would be dystopia, adolescence, and detective noir. I'm telling you all this because Brick, the critically lauded debut from writer/director Rian Johnson, is a clear amalgamation of the last two; or if you're feeling naughty then all three. After all, discounting science-fiction, our befuddled and brooding protagonist is just as emotionally disparate as Rick Deckard or John Murdoch, and the world he lives in is just as hot-blooded and ethically corrupt. Only this time, he's a teenager.

If the opening of the last paragraph was embarrassingly self-congratulatory, it's only because I'm fiendishly jealous of Rian Johnson. And if you've read anything about Brick, you'll know it's 2006's Donnie Darko. Whilst a certain amount of that writing is on the wall, Johnson is far less eager to please than Richard Kelly, and far less audaciously self-aware (at least not in the bad ways). Brick is a grown-up, potent and haunting piece of work: still zinging enough to wear the fresh-out-of-film-school badge with pride, unafraid to call attention to its economic inventiveness, and yet never haughtily so. It takes time to legitimise its intentions, and thus Brick is far more humble than Darko - it's not as self-catered for a legion of Taranteenies as one might expect. So sure the dialogue is wicked-smart, the music wily, and cinematography painstakingly beautiful; but the movie is hardly an accommodating one and deliberately so. If I were ever to write something like this, it could never be this eloquent, and with such little speech.

It's impossible not to mention Dashiell Hammett at this point, and even Twin Peaks. Clearly, Johnson wears his influences on his sleeve: Emily's alluded-to grubby downfall is similar to Laura Palmer's and more obviously our anti-hero Brendan is a quietly tough nut on the edge of cracking just like Sam Spade. Stylistically, though, Johnson empowers his actors and his screen with an independent vivacity. His world is a decidedly hyper-realistic and dispassionate one, but thankfully entrenched in a believable seriousness for the bonkos to ensue.

I've waited a long time to see Brick, a long time to find out who put Emily in front of the gun, and I cannot over-express my brutal satisfaction. Really very good.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Indie Alphabet 2: Electric Boogaloo with the letter B

B is for . . .
Belle & Sebastan

Miles: Twee, yes. But more accuratey, pop for grown ups. Sex, drugs, insecurity and lovely Scottish people.

Richard: Updating the fey sensibilities of The Smiths to '90s Scotland, Stuart Murdoch and his merry men melt hearts with their folkish harmonies and toy-orchestra instrumentation

Bloc Party

Miles: Here is what's wrong with Bloc Party - The NME loves them. But ignore that and just listen and like me you too will crumble to the charms of Kele Okereke's howling vocals and somewhat Radiohead-esque lyrics over Matt Tong's frequently insane dancepunk drumming. Their second album is shaping up to be quite stunning.

British Sea Power
Richard: British Sea Power deserve a longer write-up from me, because as evidenced by my MySpace name I fucking love them, but here's a taster. They play epic, sweeping, geography-rock (you think of something better) based on ebbing and flowing guitar lines, with haunting, hushed vocals and occasional snatches of birdsong. They've also been known to record one-minute wonders featuring psuedonymed vocalist Yan screaming 'FYODOR YOU ARE THE MOST ATTRACTIVE MAN!' over a wall of barbed guitars. They call these their 'spiky' songs.

Bright Eyes
Richard: Conor Oberst has apparently been dabbling in this music game since he was a tender 13, and may well still be playing the same acoustic guitar. From the dark heart of Omaha, he was instrumental in the setting-up of so-credible-it-hurts record label Saddle Creek, and is a hero to many with his sinister folk, all wordy warbled nasal vocals and string-breakingly manic strumming.

Miles: I like him. *shrugs* I'm Wide Awake It's Morning is on my To Buy list.

Ben Folds (Five)
Miles: Ben Folds is too indie. Well, maybe. And Ben Folds Five certainly were. Whatever And Ever Amen (yes, The One With Brick On) is one of the finest albums of the 90s (Yes, really) and since then Ben Folds has not weakened, but matured. His most recent LP Songs for Silverman is perhaps a little too close to Radio 2 MOR territory for those who long for his "punk rock for pussies" days but Prison Food is the most haunting song he's ever produced.

Badly Drawn Boy
Miles: I like to think of him as the English Ben Folds, though his weapon of choice be the guitar rather than the piano. Notably did a very good soundtrack for otherwise unimportant Nick Hornby adaption About A Boy.

Ben Kweller
Miles: His first album sounds an awful like Weezer, his second an awful lot like... Weezer meets Johnny Cash meets Nick Cave. With occasional piano pop interludes. Self titled possible atempt at mainstream breakthrough to be released later this year.

Bishop Allen
Miles: Click here and go get all the mp3s they have for free on their website. You will not regret it. Unless you are deaf, in which case you just wasted a good 30 seconds of your life.

Miles: Hey, you remember that other band that Damon Albarn had before he became Gorillaz? Yeah? Pretty good I think. Certainly a million miles better than their 90s britpop rivals Oasis. Go find their best of in a bargain bin. It's a very entertaining 17 songs. And then one slightly rubbish dance-techo-experiment thing. Which says it all really.

Indie Alphabet: Once More With Feeling - A

Alright, we're going to get it right this time. One post for each letter with every band we can think of. Got it? Good. So, A!

Arctic Monkeys
Miles: Overhyped, under performing dull as dirt and twice as common. Everything that's wrong with "indie rock" as percieved by the mainstream press and worshiped by the NME.

: It's grim up North, but these internet megastars have enough angular riffs to shake booties from Sheffield to Scunthorpe.

Architecture in Helsinki
Miles: Think The Shins on a playdate with the Polyphonic Spree to see a They Might Be Giants concert for kids only for grown ups. Still with me? Symphonic indie twee pop with more instruments than you can shake a stick at. And they're from New Zealand. Or Norway. Somewhere begining with N.

Arcade Fire
Miles: It's unfortunate that this is next to the AiH one as my only reference point soundwise would once again be Polyphonic Spree. But if AiH is kids music for grown ups, this is grown up music for grown ups. Imagine if Tim Delthingy was manic depressive rather than constantly upbeat. Canadian, apparently. Pitchfork love them lots.

Apples in Stereo

Miles: I am by no means an expert on these Colardo (Possibly ¬_¬) based rockers but based on what I've heard, psychedelic power pop is the order of the day. Guitars that sound like synthesisers, that kind of thing. They seem fun.

Art Brut
Richard: Eddie Argos has successfully made a career out of shouting things about modern art and the Velvet Underground over a backdrop of ramshackle indie-punk. I also happen to have interviewed him, and he really is a lovely bloke. At this point, if I were working for Pitchfork, I'd be contractually obliged to type 'I've interviewed Eddie Argos... TWICE!' or something along those lines. But I haven't, and the joke's getting old, guys.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Hey, You

Dear Everyone

You're wrong, you're wrong, you're wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong.



Dear Miles

No we're not. You're wrong. What is it this time? Better not be a musical opinion thing because that is of course completely subjective


Dear Everyone

It's about Muse. You seem to think that Origin of Symmetry is the pinacle of their achievements and whilst it is a good album with a few excellent songs and is growing on me with each listen... it pales in comparison to the mighty Absolution


Dear Miles

Absolution is nice and all but it's overarchingly bombastic and self indulgently epic and overblown. Also, it does not rock as hard


Dear Everyone

So? There's nothing wrong with being epic and bombastic and operatic. In my opinion at least, it's that very quality that makes Absolution so glorious. You're wrong.


Dear Miles

Well whatever. But are we all in agreement that the new single is pretty horrible?


Dear Everyone

Yes. Yes we are. We should meet up for drinks some time. Have a good summer.