Greetings, Glancers! Once more we torture ourselves by listening to what passes for music in the hearts, minds, and ears of the great unwashed. Today we go back to a year you should all remember well, because it was only five years ago. In 2011 the world was still in the grip of talentless shows, celeb shows – basically not too different from today in that almost every form of popular media which receives any sort of exposure was glossy, bland, and sexualised to the point that we all wished we could be celibate. I mean, just look at the top 10 below, just look. You don’t need to listen at all, I… I wouldn’t do that to you. But what else was happening? The Arab Spring, the March 11th Tsunami, Occupy Wall Street, William and Kate’s Wedding – all horrific events, so it was no wonder everyone was excited when we found evidence of water on Mars; it’s time to get off this rock! Oh yeah, Bin Laden was killed too.
In the music world, Amy Winehouse, Bert Jansch, Gary Moore, Mike Starr and others died. Adele released her horrible second album, a bunch of people you’ve already forgotten won Brit Awards, Lady Gaga did something, Jeff Hanneman was almost killed by a spider, and Nightwish released both a new album and a tie in movie. Help me out here… did anything else happen? No? Okay then, lets get through this as quickly as possible.
I don’t think I’ve actually heard this entire song before, but I know the chorus as it is played EVERYWHERE ALL THE TIME. It’s a pity Rihanna screeches so badly out of her nose because some of her songs are okay. Terrible speaking. Isn’t this the one where the video was filmed 10 minutes from my parent’s house? So the verse is pretty much the same as the chorus, but with different words. Meh.
2: Maroon 5: Moves Like Jagger.
An absolute travesty. Like injecting shards of glass into your eyeballs and having a badger pull them out. I ain’t linking this.
Remember him? Poor Matt. A winner cursed by a win. I’ve never heard this. The verse at least tries something unusual with it’s stoppy, starty beat, but the chorus then turns to X Factor white bread shite.
That’s about it really. We did also get albums from Kate Bush, Radiohead, Chili Peppers, and many more, but I’m just not as familiar with them to pick something great, and without resorting to the bands above I can’t choose anything else. Let me know what else was good in 2011 – there must have been something!?
My Nominations: Animal Treasure Island. Daisy Town. Shinbone Alley.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks was released in 1971, but it’s a live action movie with some animation. And it’s crap. So don’t complain if it isn’t here. That’s okay, because most of the nominations here are crap too and don’t really belong on the list. There wasn’t anything else though.
My Winner: Animal Treasure Island
Let us know in the comments what your favourite animated movie of 1971 is!
Larry Clark’s debut is a bleak and unrelentingly honest look at how city teen life can be. It stirred up much controversy upon its release and is still powerful today. Drugs, sex, violence and no remorse for one’s actions all make this daring film-making, and almost essential viewing.
It is Telly’s mission in life to have sex. Preferably with under-aged girls and if they are virgins – all the better. The film opens with his seduction of one such girl; he spouts all the sincerity and caring words he can muster and she gives in. As soon as it is over he is out the door, mission accomplished, telling his friend Casper everything that happened in gory detail. We follow the two around their city as they steal, talk about sex, fight, get drunk, get stoned. They are part of a young gang which seems to have spread throughout the whole city. Morals are non-existent, but they believe that homosexuality is evil, or at least a joke. AIDS is a joke too, and all other STDs, as none of them have ever heard of anyone who has had any. We see the juxtaposition of guys and girls talking about their experiences, and planning ahead for the night. Jennie has only been with one guy, Telly, and because one of her friends has been with 9 guys, she decides to go to the sex clinic as support. Her friend comes out clean, but Jennie tests positive for HIV. Jennie begins a very slow race to find Telly, perhaps before he can destroy another girl’s life. Telly is once again on the prowl.
Each performance here is outstanding, particularly Leo Fitzpatrick and the late Justin Pierce as Casper. None of the characters repent what they have done – it’s all they have, and they enjoy it. Even Jennie appears to be passive, taking drugs when she should be finding Telly. None of the sex scenes are particularly explicit, but it is the fact of their age, of course, which caused such an uproar. However, this behavior obviously does go on, you only have to hang around most city streets at night to witness it. The violence is also cleverly edited, but like the sex and drugs, we only need a glimpse to set our imagination and disgust off. There are no happy endings or answers here, perhaps giving fuel to those who say this is just exploitation. For me, Clark is simply exposing a particular reality, maybe in the hope that we can do something about it. The fact remains that (some) teens have, and probably always will continue to do these things, but maybe not with such a lack of remorse.
Let me know in the comments what you think of Kids and if it has any message to get across.
Gemma Hayes’s first album was a surprise hit, a success with critics and a select group of fans, but it never made the impact it deserved to on the British or American charts. Selling well in her home of Ireland, and doing okay in other territories it was a sign of a singer songwriter with a bright future. After relocating to LA, and it would appear mulling over what to do next for some time, she returned with this 3 years later. This album is a departure from some of the folk stylings of her first, but keeps the big melodies and hits. The album covers a variety of themes and moves from bleak to joyful in single bounds, but it retains her wonderful voice and much of her arm thrusting guitar work. While not as critically successful as her first album, this is equally good- less experimental but more fluid there are any number of fantastic songs here proving that she isn’t a one hit wonder.
‘Two Step’ opens the album in familiar territory with Gemma’s gorgeous, husky voice playing over soft folk guitars. The chorus bursts open in appealing style and we know that she still has a rock soul burning under her heavy heart as well as an ear for a memorable melody. Lyrically honest as always, she sings of (the central theme of the album) travel, of running away and returning, of the solitude of the road as well as the freedom. The brief middle part shows of her voice at it’s yearning best before returning to the chorus.
‘Another For The Darkness’ begins with tender acoustics and sorrow filled vocals to bitter lyrics. The glorious chorus is only bettered when she plays it live, and with lines like ‘I don’t understand better than most’ she is again baring herself but saying she isn’t the pinnacle some may take her for. A love song, a song about the bad parts of fame she has experienced it is complex but easily absorbed thanks to the delivery and melody.
‘Happy Sad’ is one of the first singles from the album, an up-tempo track with commercial stylings, but it doesn’t really show off her vocals and lacks the edge of Let A Good Thing Go and Hanging On from her first album. Lyrically she shows again her bleeding heart poet side, but there is always hope and sunshine. Typically a love song about her ‘sadder boy’ being the only one who can bring her out of her malaise, it is pretty good but there are other tracks which could have made better singles.
‘Easy On The Eye’ is an utterly gorgeous acoustic ballad, sung in the style Gemma does best- as if it is just you and her in the room and is played for both of you alone. It is her barefaced tribute to the one she loves, emotionally charged and with simple, gentle lyrics which appear highly personal. When played live the crowd doesn’t make a sound- always the sign of utmost respect and adoration.
‘Keep Me Here’ begins in top form with a brilliantly performed dark verse, but the chorus doesn’t fit for me as well as I thought it would. Nice clanging guitars as always and quite lyrically downbeat, singing of the separation we can feel when we are together and there is an air of despair throughout, although this is shot through with acceptance- she is trying to convince the other party that it will never work.
‘Undercover’ is the other main single from the album and I much prefer it to Happy Sad. Everything is so melancholy and honest, the verses sets the tone while the chorus is melodically beautiful and emotional. I often imagine this is heavier than it actually is, maybe I’m used to her rocking more when she plays it live. Either way, either style it remains a great song, I like the siren style backing vocals in the chorus, but mostly it’s the yearning, tearful vocals which stand out.
‘Nothing Can’ is a song I often forget about, I’m not certain why as it is very good. The traveling theme continues and the piano/xylophone melody is effective at creating an energetic mood. Gemma is intelligent enough to recognize that while running away may be a solution for a while, the grass is rarely greener on the other side. She sounds as if she is making a stand here, showing her strength, and being decisive. Some of her chorus vocals are heartbreaking as she blends gentle and husky styles, making this one I should listen to more.
‘Helen’ slows things down greatly, with pianos and strings and her guitar laid to rest. The lyrics look to the past, begin quite placidly, but end on a note of sorrow. Most of the vocals are whispered and it is almost too sweet, but she opts for a pretty anti-melodic lead- this means it is sometimes difficult to remember this song.
‘Something In My Way’ along with EOTE is my favourite song on the album. Everything about this is Gemma perfection- soaring chorus vocals, a gentle, shoulder surfing verse, sublime melodies, rocking guitars and heart felt lyrics. This should have been a single, and it really deserves to be huge especially when compared to most of the other female led dross in the charts. This rolls along at a high tempo, has typically brutal and dark lyrics- like I’ve mentioned before this really becomes timeless when she performs it live.
‘Horses’ has a memorable chorus, but something about the rest of the song doesn’t work for me. I don’t think there is anything special here, especially when it is surrounded by truly great songs. This is pleasant enough, but doesn’t stand out.
‘Tomorrow’ closes the album in hopeful tones with the refrain ‘I’ll be here tomorrow’- great news for the fans as, sweet jeebus, Gemma Hayes is great. It is a fairly simple song, similar to Horses with soft melodies. It is a gentle ending which leaves us wanting more.
‘Pull Me In’ is a short hidden track, showing Gemma’s penchant for experimentation and noise. A simple lyric backed up with distortion and percussion it isn’t anything too remarkable, but still a curiosity.
The album isn’t exactly one of two halves, although I prefer the first songs rather than the last few, with Something In My Way preventing the last part from being overly dreary. You could argue that conceptually the first part is about running away, and second about facing things and deciding to return, but most of that is irrelevant. We have another collection of beautiful songs which for the most part will stay in your mind for a long time- I’ll say it again, catch her live and experience some of these songs for yourself.
Greetings, Glancers! Since the series disappeared from Amazon Prime, I haven’t bothered trying to catch up on any more episodes. I see on the stats though that the old posts get a few views every so often so it’s time to kick off my ‘hilarious’ reviews once more. Looking at the title and the synposis, I have no memory of this episode. Does it feature a deaf, dumb, and blind kid who sure plays a mean pinball? I sure hope so. About that synopsis though:
Ross is a latchkey kid and spends his time after school playing pinball at the mall. Mr Ohlsen, manager of the arcade, leaves him there alone and warns him not to play the ‘Mystery Machine’. Temptation gets the best of Ross and he plays it anyway. He becomes absorbed in the game, loses track of time, and soon finds that he is locked inside the mall.
You see, this is promising. Malls and horror go hand in hand like zombies and chopper blades. And to that the fact (as I’ve probably mentioned here before) that I’ve always loved the idea of being trapped in a mall overnight – as a kid it was one of my dreams. It still kind of is. American Malls, I should add, are a hell of a lot different from the crap we have over here.
While you have fountains and playing areas and multi-levels and hundreds of stores, all I had growing up was a large supermarket (or one on either end) with a few minor stores dotted around it. Everything would be on a single level, and instead of fountains we had tramps pissing in the corner. My favourite destinations were the Toy Store, naturally, and the doughnut joint where you could watch the doughnuts being made, splatting into the fryer, travelling up the belt, and being covered in sugar. For a while there things got better, with higher quality shops and better options – now though it’s just pound (dollar) shops and pointless clothes places. Who buys clothes, seriously?
Regardless, who wouldn’t want to be stuck in a mall overnight. Ignoring being caught by the authorities, think of all the awesome antics you could get up to and all the food you could devour. If there was an arcade, of course you’d have to spend some time there. Which takes us back to the episode. We open as we generally do, with the campfire weirdos prepping for another night of just-pubescent terror. David is playing on his Gameboy (90s, yo) while Betty Anne watches, until Eric turns the game off. Shockingly, David does not use the Gameboy as truncheon to sprinkle shards of Eric’s skull into the fire. Fake Rufio (Frank), Kirsten, and Kiki all discuss videogames for a few moments until Gary shows up to tell his tale, reminding the viewer that in real life we can’t simply hit the reset button when shit goes south. And so, our Tale begins.
We get some nice opening shots of the mall which make 90s me jealous and angry about not living in America. Does anyone know what Mall this is and if it has appeared in any other media? It looks familiar. Ross is our (anti?) hero, hunting for quarters and dimes in the mall’s fountains and he is accosted by what appears to be a homeless person wrapped in luxury bedding. After being interrupted by an indoor-shades-wearing security chump, while sinister thumpy piano music plays, Ross checks out a super-soaker with two giant bronze dildos adorning its surface. Ross goes to speak to Mr Olsen, where we learn that Ross is doing an awful Sylvester Stallone impression. Is this supposed to make him look tough? Italian? It’s a very awkward performance. Olsen tells him to get out after he uncovers a mysterious new pinball machine. What the hell is this store? It looks like a Cobbler’s – there are no furnishings or paint on the walls or decorations of any type, just some old timey cash register and a fiery pinball machine.
Olsen has a change of heart and decides to leave Ross in charge for a while so that he can grab a late lunch. In true forbidden fruit style he reminds Ross not to touch anything, especially the new pinball machine. Can you see where this is going? In Ross’s defence, he does last about four seconds before abandoning his duties and going on a silver ball hunt. He appears to shove his hands down his pants to check his own balls are in place first. Note to employers – if this guy enters your offices, do not approach him or make contact in any way. The mystery machine has a cartoonish court jester as its central relief, surrounded by other regal emblazons. Inexplicably, Ross begins touching his genitals again while saying ‘wow’, and then sticks some money in the slot. As he plays, we get a shot of Olsen hanging around outside, listening and grinning. It’s all highly dubious and seemingly perverted.
A hot girl enters the store looking for her music box to be returned and Ross thinks to himself I have some silver balls I’d like to return to your music box. This scene is very awkward too, at least this time it’s deliberate. She leaves and, you’ve guessed it, Ross rushes out back to touch himself again. After a brief montage of gaming cliches Ross realizes he has somehow been left in the store alone and the Mall has closed. Things take a creepy turn as Ross panics and receives mysterious, prophetic phone calls. Two Gestapo or MIB jump-scare into view and terrify Ross with their detachable limbs. A whole unit of these mindless fucks appear, but it seems they can’t pass over water – must be white-walkers or Baptists or something.
Hot girl appears once more, shrieking about keys and tiaras, while an extra from Prince Of Thieves struggles to hold her without touching her boobs. At least Ross appears to be somewhat resourceful, shoveling handfuls of water towards the MIB which makes them dance out of shot. Is Ross in the game? Has the game come to life? Nobody knows. Still, there’s some good jump-scares and weirdness and old school game noises to enjoy. The musical cues and music in general are pretty funny. He grabs a magical tiara then chases hot girl down a Workers Only entry, only to be jump-scared by Grotbags. That was actually a pretty effective and well timed scare – we’ve had a few of these in this episode, so kudos. I can imagine kids being freaked out by all this – on a personal note, I’ve always found high pitched cackling, the likes of which the witch emits here, to be deeply disturbing. You know those moments you have in the house in the dark where you think something is standing behind you or about to grab your foot as you tiptoe upstairs? It’s high-pitched wails that do it for me – I imagine myself entering a room and seeing a shadow figure rush towards me, wailing, and my sphincter sneezes.
Next up we have more awkward scenes with Ross and Sophie about keys, music boxes, tiaras, an executioner, the witch, thrones – Ross is as confused as us. Things get more confusing when Ross gently rolls a handful of marbles (clearly pinballs) towards the witch. The witch sees them coming but rather than step to the side, open her legs and let them roll through, or simply stand still and watch them bounce of her feet, she somehow does the whole Home Alone back flip onto her arse. There’s a torturous ‘chase the slow moving Tiara’ scene, more weird stuff happens, and just as it looks like the game has been won the bad guys come and send Ross back to the ground floor. Ross learns from his mistakes, grabs the supersoaker, and heads off to battle. After some furious squirting the enemy is vanquished and hot girl is crowned – yay! Just time for a twist ending and some more chatter from the campfire weirdos.
If there’s a message here, it seems to be that videogames are evil and for losers. Presumably as it’s the last episode of the season, Campfire Ross looks directly into the camera and says ’till next time’. Yeah, don’t push your luck, son. Some of the weirdos don’t even return for Season 2. Anyway, this was an inconsistent and weird episode that had good ideas and some good scares, but was let down my poor acting and too short a running time to really explore what they wanted to do. Still, for any kids watching this at the time it would have been a decent enough end to the season.
Lets take a look at the roster from today’s episode. Joe Posca starred as Ross and has some good, mostly bad moments, and according to IMDB he only managed two further credits – as Puerto Rican boy in some TV movie and Drew’s Teammate in some TV series. The hot girl – Sophie – on the other hand was played by Polly Shannon who has had a pretty bright career as writer, producer, and actress. She has been in a bunch of TV movies and series including Leap Years, La Femme Nikita, and The Girl Next Door. AJ Henderson (Olson) makes his second appearance in AYAOTD so we won’t talk about him again. One of the interesting things about the episode is that a few of the actors play dual roles – the bed mummy at the start is also the witch, the security guard is also the Sheriff, and the Wrestler, Nutcracker, and Executioner are all played by Normand James – he of the unnecessary D. He plays three roles here, but that’s all he ever did apparently. Tom Rack has had a long and varied career though, aside from his dual performance in this episode he has also been in many shorts, TV shows, done voice work and bigger movies such as The Human Stain and 300 albeit in minor roles. He also returns in a later AYAOTD episode. Finally, Witch/Mummy is played by Nathalie Gautier who performance her seemed to be her last, having previously been in a small number of unknown movies like Mind Benders and Night Of The Dribbler.
Let us know in the comments what you though of this one. Next time up, it’s The Tale Of….. Sweet Dreams!
Probably the most famous of Van Damme’s early work, Kickboxer is another simple story of revenge and a showcase for his skills as a martial artist. It has some good fights, and some interesting moments showing the arduous difficulty of training and trying to achieve your best while not losing your focus. Although it suffers from some cheesy acting, dialogue, music, and a highly disturbing dance scene, this is a must for Van Damme fans, and those with an interest in martial arts movies who don’t want to stray too far from the West.
Van Damme stars as Kurt Sloane, the younger brother of a flashy American Kickboxer. They train together, but his brother Eric seems to be more interested in looking like a good fighter than actually finding the ability and skill to be one. Eric takes part in a fighting competition and is crippled and almost killed by Tong Po – a fearsome Kickboxer with a great rage and discipline. Kurt decides to avenge his brother, but no-one will train him as they believe Tong Po is too popular and strong. Eventually he finds a wizened old trainer in the middle of nowhere who teaches him to reach his full potential and push through barriers which he never though he could surpass. He also meets Winston Tyler who provides some laughs, and Mylee who provides a potential love interest. Of course it is the fights that matter, and the revenge plot is safe enough to give the fights reason. Rather than cheap montages, we see the tough training regime Kurt goes through, and see Tong Po kicking a cement wall to build up the strength and invulnerability of his foot. Sounds odd yes, but how else would we know he’s a hard lad? Throw in a sub-plot about gangsters and kidnapping and it all builds to a thrilling in ring climax. A good film for fight fans, light-hearted, fast, and worth watching.
Let us know in the comments what you think of Kickboxer – just another crappy action movie or one of Van Damme’s better films?
Official Nominations: The Garden Of The Finzi-Continis. Dodesukaden. The Emigrants. The Policeman. Tchaikovsky.
Look at the names of those movies and their countries of origin – just look. Isn’t this just the most cliché list of ‘Best Foreign Film’ sounding films ever? It’s a strange year for the category, given that the first two choices above were actually released in 1970 and the third would be nominated for actual Best Picture the following year. The Garden Of The Finzi-Continis is a terrible title but a decent film following a group of Jewish people as fascism is rising in Italy – they manage to avoid and largely ignore the turmoil in Europe by being enclosed in their vast, wealthy manor but inner struggles and turmoil begin to surface as the outside world becomes increasingly dangerous. Dodesukaden I covered in my 1970 nominations – one of Kurosawa’s strangest films, while The Emigrants is a fine, but long movie about a bunch of Swedes moving to the US in the 1800s – the journey, the hardships etc. It’s basically The Animals Of Farthing Wood. The final two choices are typically odd – The Policeman is an occasionally funny film about a shy and morale policeman who is trodden on by everyone but eventually gets some notice, while Tchaikovsky is about dinosaurs (a biopic of the composer).
My Winner: The Garden Of The Finzi-Continis
My Nominations: The Big Boss. Bleak Moments. A Clockwork Orange. The Devils. A Fistful Of Dynamite. Get Carter. Red Sun. Bay Of Blood. Wake In Fright. Walkabout.
A whole host of alternatives to choose from this year, so I’m not picking any of the Official nominations. Most of these I talked about in the Best Film category too, so I’ll skip those ones. Bleak Moments was Mike Leigh’s stunning, well acted, low budget debut while The Devils is Ken Russell and Oliver Reed up to no good again, making one of the most controversial films ever. Naturally it is tame by today’s standards but due to the mixture of sex and religion it is still deeply conflicting. A Fistful Of Dynamite is on the other end of the spectrum – another enjoyable spaghetti western by Leone which is not spoken of as highly as his other epics. It’s a problematic film but still one with great entertainment value and Leone’s vision. Get Carter is one of the great British films and one features one of Michael Caine’s best performances – a gritty, no nonsense thriller with a lack of pretense and a sense of inevitability. Red Sun is an odd film which has never received the cult status it deserves – Charles Bronson trading blows and quips with Toshiro Mifune should be enough to sell it to anyone, but throw in Capucine, Ursula Andress, and Alain Delon in a plot about bandits and samurai – all directed by Terence Young. Finally, A Bay Of Blood is a confusing mess, but set up a lot of rules for horror films to come and was a benchmark in blood-letting.
My Winner: A Clockwork Orange
Let us know in the comments which film of 1971 you would pick as Best Foreign Film!