Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Reading & Seeing 17

Jon (Domhnall Gleeson) is a bit of a loser and wannabe musician who's seriously struggling to write a (decent) song. A chance encounter and random offer to stand in for a visiting band's keyboard player sets him off on a bizarre journey into the somewhat conflicting realms of creativity and fame. Most of the band dislike him but not Frank (Michael Fassbender). Former psychiatric patient and perpetual wearer (even in the shower!) of the papier máché head, Frank sees potential in Jon and insists that Jon stay with the band to record their album. It's a rather odd little film, in part inspired by Chris Sievey's comdey persona Frank Sidebottom who wore an oversized, blue-eyed, black haired papier maché head, but this Frank has his own story entirely. It's rather amusing in places but also terribly poignant particularly as it looks at the link between genius and madness. The cast is stellar and the music, unsurprisingly, is a v.strong presence throughout the film - the closing number in particular is bloody brilliant. A gem of a movie, definitely worth a watch.

The Wind Rises
The latest animation from Studio Ghibli tells the story of Jiro who, due to his near-sightedness, cannot become a pilot so instead endeavours to design and engineer them. Throughout his career there are ups and downs, all played out against a recognisable and troubled historical backdrop. Intermingled with world events (earthquakes and the onset of war) is the delicate love story between our protagonist and Nahoko, a girl he saves in the earthquake and is reunited with by chance some years later. The animation is utterly beautiful - the reflections in the water and the dappled light coming through the trees is so perfect. I loved Jiro's dream sequences and his conversations with Italian engineer Gianni Caproni, I also liked the way Jiro would be talking to his team of engineers and then envisage the plane above them, taking flight with the wind blowing all about them. Talking of wind, and aeronautics actually, Mitch and I have been working our way through the Studio Ghibli films and flight, planes and nature seem to be a common theme. The Wind Rises is tragic yet beautiful, something Hayao Miyazaki does rather well, too bad it's the last film he'll make.

He, She and It (1991)
Set in the not so distant future, earth is a scarred husk of a planet largely thanks to the effects of global warming and war. The human race still exists but it's fragmented. Depending on their status, people either live in the protected (and privilaged) domes of the multis - gigantic companies which run everything; the glop - a sprawling sector, home to most of the remaining population and rife with gangs and crime; or the free bases - self contained towns which are run and protected by the citizens that live there, independent of the multis. Although many animal species (and people) have died off due to the sun's strengthened radiation, one thing that has remained, and has only become stronger is technology. The Net (cyberspace) is at the heart of life in this new world. It's where people from all walks of life can communicate with each other. It's also the primary source of entertainment and information storage. As you've probably guessed, this is deliciously SF. The actual story follows Shira an ex-multi employee who returns to the free town of Tivka to live with her grandmother (and expert security software programmer), Malkah. But the talented Malkah has been working on another secret project, a cyborg. A cyborg built to resemble a human - physically and emotionally - but with the strength and stamina of a machine and it turns to Shira to socialise it. It's been described as feminist fiction and I can see why, the female characters steal the show, particularly Nili - a scout sent from an all-women community cut off from the rest of the world. Although the women have their flaws, the male characters (aside from Yod, the cyborg) are weak in more ways than one. It was great to read about some really meaty and gritty female characters and something which I need to do more of. I've got Beyoncé in my head now.

Last week I went to the bloomsbury theatre at UCL to see three youtubers put on a live show. And those ladies were: Hannah Hart of My Drunk Kitchen; Mamrie Hart (no relation) of You Deserve a Drink; and Grace of Daily Grace. I confess I'm not totally up on my youtube channels but I'd watched quite of few of Hannah's videos and a couple of Mamrie and Grace's. My friend Alex (who's way more clued up about this stuff) got the tickets. Once we were in our seats I looked around at the audience and noticed that I was probably one of the oldest people there. However, as soon as the show started I knew that my old age had no detrimental effect on the crazy antics happening on the stage. It was pretty hilarious. I've not heard so many puns packed into an hour and twenty minutes before - those american ladies love their puns. They also (as you may have gathered from their youtube channel names) like to drink. V.silly and smutty as hell - a good show indeed. Here's Hannah's music video about a carrot onesie (featuring Grace and Marmie).

1 comment:

  1. Woah! Frank looks crazy. I've never heard of this film. To my Netflix queue!


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