Thursday, 3 January 2019

Favourite Films of 2018

As funding for feature films gets harder to come by and more opportunities open up in TV production we have seen a growing number of big name film directors switching format from features to TV series in the last couple of years including Jane Campion, David Fincher, Danny Boyle, Park Chan-wook, Michel Gondry and Stephen Frears.

With all this talent moving across and the money available from Netflix, Amazon Prime et al, it’s no surprise that the quality of TV drama has raised considerably and the level of detail and production values are now on a par with features.

And yet for all the quality available I didn’t watch anything on TV last year that I enjoyed as much as the five films listed below and on many occasions found myself giving up on a series after episode 1.

My favourite film was Steve McQueen’s Widows and I tend to agree with his point of view about film vs TV. When asked by Sight & Sound if he had considered making Widows as a TV series like the original McQueen said, “some of this new TV is so rubbish because they try to squeeze out every drop and keep it going, even when it’s over. They drag you along even when the narrative has finished. Moviemaking is about craft, about storytelling, in the best way, just like the novel, the fairytale. It’s the best form because there is a beginning, a middle and an end. Rather than stretching it out. Even the best TV dramas over several series, usually I think you could stitch them together as one shorter thing.”

Top 5 films of 2018:

Widows (Steve McQueen)
Cold War (Pawel Pawlikowski)
Phantom Thread (Paul Thomas Anderson)

Monday, 17 December 2018

Favourite Music of 2018

My favourite album of the year was Neneh Cherry's Broken Politics, her second album to be produced by Kieran Hebden (Four Tet). 4 tracks from that album spearhead a playlist that is this year dominated by female artists, accounting for around two thirds of the tracks.

My favourite music video was the incredibly simple and very charming TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME by The 1975.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

They Shall Not Grow Old

Commissioned by the IWM and 14-18 Now in association with the BBC, Peter Jackson's World War 1 documentary They Shall Not Grow Old, which aired on the Armistice centenary last Sunday, is the most extraordinary film restoration project ever undertaken - not only colourising and cleaning up footage taken from the Imperial War Museum's extensive archive but slowing it down and adding extra frames to make it run at 24fps and creating realistic sound and dialogue to bring it to life. Seeing the horror of war in such detail for the first time is utterly mind blowing. The Wizard of Oz moment when colour and sound is first introduced to the archive footage is especially chilling.

Friday, 9 November 2018

The Clock

Christian Marclay's installation The Clock is a montage made up of hundreds of film clips from scenes that have clocks or watches in them. The piece is 24 hours long and edited together so that every clock you see on screen shows the actual time.

Watching it for any amount of time is hypnotic and strangely addictive. The fact that it is never ending (unless you go to one of the special 24 hour screenings and watch it all!) means you can fully immerse yourself and, bizarrely, given that it makes you so hyper-aware of time passing, it causes you to relax and not worry about time.

The Clock is showing at Tate Modern until 20th January 2019.

Monday, 5 November 2018


Annihilation is Alex Garland’s follow up to his stunning debut Ex Machina. Once again it’s a highly intelligent and thought provoking sci-fi. Worryingly for the future of mid to high budget non-blockbuster releases, the studio decided to scrap plans for a theatrical release outside the US and sold the international rights to Netflix (the modern day equivalent of a straight to DVD release).

Films that ask philosophical questions often prove divisive and tend to score badly at preview screenings. Preview results don’t necessarily translate to box office failure though, in fact Ex Machina also tested badly and yet it recouped it’s budget. We’ll never know how Annihilation would have fared at UK cinemas but with Netflix up to almost 118 million global subscribers at least plenty of people will still see the film, although not on the size screen the director intended. I would urge anyone who watches it to try and do so on the biggest screen they have available - watching it on a phone or tablet won't do justice to the fantastic sound and visuals.

Monday, 29 October 2018

Showreel 2018

Andy Hague// Showreel 2018

The Midnight Beast, Warp Films/ Channel 4
Daddy My (short film), 246 Films/ Sunday's Film
The Backseat (short film), Hidden Art Films
Settlers (short film), 246 Films
Albert (short film), Stathi Twins Productions
Run it Off (short film), Creative England/ iShorts
Berberian Sound Studio (burn-out sequence), Warp Films

Monday, 15 October 2018

Yn Mor

I have just locked my latest short film 'Yn Mor (At Sea)' directed by Zoe Alker. Shot on location in Porthleven, the film explores the relationship between a fisherman (Martin Savage) and his grown up daughter (Jenny Jope). It's a great little film with impressive performances from the leads who speak to each other throughout in Cornish, a language rarely heard on film.

Friday, 7 September 2018

Helen Levitt

Some of my favourite Helen Levitt photographs taken on the streets of New York City in the early 1970's.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Cold War

Cold War is a joy to watch from start to finish and well worthy of all the critical plaudits it has received and the best director award Pawel Pawlikowski won at Cannes.

As with Pawlikowski's last film, the equally stunning Ida, the sumptuous black and white photography by Lukasz Zal is presented in 4:3 ratio and the narrative style is simple and unfussy. It's great to see a film that covers a significant timescale (15 years) do so in a lean sub 90 minute running time proving that a film can be epic without having to be long. Pawlikowski trusts the intelligence of his audience to be able to fill in the blanks as the film makes several leaps forward in time.

Tomasz Kot is excellent as Wiktor but Joanna Kulig steals the show as the force of nature that is Zula. The scene where she comes to life in a club, drunkenly dancing to 'Rock Around the Clock' by Bill Haley & His Comets is superbly executed, bringing to life the excitement the new sound of Rock 'N' Roll was causing all over Europe in 1954.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Paul Fusco

On June 8th 1968 Look magazine photographer Paul Fusco travelled on the train carrying Bobby Kennedy's body from his funeral in New York City to Washington D.C, for burial in Arlington Cemetery. Fusco took around 1000 photos on the trip as hundreds of people lined the tracks to pay their last respects. His images of white and African Americans standing side by side to honor a politician who had done so much for civil rights and racial equality are incredibly moving and amazingly all but two remained unpublished for thirty years.

Watching Dawn Porter's meticulously crafted Netflix doc Bobby Kennedy For President made me realize how little I knew about JFK's younger brother, whose assassination was almost as shocking as that of his elder, more famous sibling.

Related Posts:

Friday, 15 June 2018

Top 30 #5

Everyday - Buddy Holly (1957)
Be My Baby - The Ronettes (1963)
Thunder Road - Bruce Springsteen (1975)
Sweet Jane - The Velvet Underground (1970)
Goon Gumpas - Aphex Twin (1996)
Optimo - Liquid Liquid (1983)
Beardsman Ska - The Skatalites (1965)
Darlin' - The Beach Boys (1967) 
Gimme Danger - Iggy & the Stooges (1973)
Winter Rose - The Bees (2010)
Odessa - Caribou (2010)
I Want More - Can (1976)
Osalobua Rekpama - Sir Victor Uwaifo & His Melody Maestros (1969)
Since I Left You - The Avalanches (2000)
Sound and Vision - David Bowie (1977)
Midnight Train to Georgia - Gladys Knight & the Pips (1973)
Ordinary Joe - Terry Callier (1972)
A Message to You, Rudy - The Specials (1979)
Sitting in the Park - Billy Stewart (1965)
Soul Sister - Allen Toussaint (1972)
You Should've Seen the Other Guy - Nathaniel Rateliff (2010)
Wichita Lineman - Glen Campbell (1968)
Oh! Sweet Nuthin' - The Velvet Underground (1970)
Home - LCD Soundsystem (2010)
This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody) - Talking Heads (1983)
Out of Time - Blur (2003)
Please Stay - The Cryin' Shames (1966)
Seabird - Alessi Brothers (1977)
Keep Your Dreams - Suicide (1977)
True Love Ways - Buddy Holly (1960)

This is my Top 30 playlist of favourite tracks as it currently stands, with a few standout new entries.. 

I prefer to listen to authentic first generation Ska and Reggae and yet will always have a soft spot for The Specials and their timeless cover of Dandy Livingstone's 1967 'Rudy, A Message to You', a track I should probably have included in my list of favourite cover versions.

It's great to finally get a New Orleans artist on the list in the shape of Allen Toussaint's 'Soul Sister'. I've always been a great admirer of the unique sound of 60's/ 70's New Orleans Funk and Rythmn & Blues, the likes of Eddie Bo, The Meters, Betty Harris and, of course, the hugely influential Fats Domino, whose 'Blueberry Hill' very nearly made it this time around.

Graham Coxon's guitar sound undoubtedly contributed a great deal towards the success of Blur and yet my favourite Blur track is 'Out of Time', the first single not to feature Graham following his departure during the recording sessions for their 2003 album 'Think Tank'.

Without Coxon the band were forced to look for new ways of adapting and expanding their sound. Damon Albarn was working with musicians from Mali for his side project 'Mali Music' and an African influence can be heard throughout the album with some of it (including all the vocal tracks) recorded outside in Marrakech giving it an authentic street music vibe.

Out of Time - Damon Albarn (Featuring the Orchestra of Syrian Musicians)

It seems fitting to bookend the list with Buddy Holly, a remarkable talent who achieved so much in his short recording career before he died in a plane crash at the age of 22. 'True Love Ways' was one of the last songs he recorded and, along with 'It Doesn't Matter Anymore', showcased a more mature sound that moved away from straightforward Rock 'N' Roll and makes you wonder what could have been.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Daddy My

Settlers is all finished and ready to hit the festival circuit. In the meantime here is the first film I cut for director Matt Chambers in it's entirety, 'Daddy My' with a touching performance from Rory Kinnear.

Daddy My

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

The Florida Project

Sean Baker's breakthrough feature, the micro-budget Tangerine was shot guerilla style on the streets of L.A on an iPhone 5S in 2015 with a cast of non actors. For his follow up, last year's The Florida Project, he once again found creative ways to make the most of a restricted budget ($2 Million) saving on Production Design by shooting the whole film on location in the brightly coloured hotels of Kissimme, on the fringes of Disney World Orlando.

Another cast of non professional actors (including instagram sensation Bria Vinaite) are joined by seasoned pro Willem Dafoe and slot seamlessly into Baker's dreamlike world, the majority shot this time on 35mm film by DOP Alexis Zabe.

Finding existing locations that need little dressing is something more films seem to be doing these days, and not just in the lower budget bracket. The incredibly eerie looking Six Flags in New Orleans, an abandoned fairground destroyed by hurricane Katrina in 2005, is one of the most popular sites appearing in a whole range of films including Killer Joe, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and the forthcoming Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Garry Winogrand

For his book 'The Street Philosophy of Garry Winogrand' Geoff Dyer has selected 100 photographs by Winogrand and written a page long essay about each one. It's a simple but extremely effective format that Dyer borrows from 'Atget' by John Szarkowski.

Dyer's essays are the perfect accompaniment to the photos that they dissect; playful, irreverent and full of interesting observations. They force the reader to fully engage with each image and study it's details, something it's so easy not to do when flicking through a book of photographs.

Monday, 19 March 2018

You Were Never Really Here

I often find films that make the most lasting impression on me are those that blur the line between dreams and reality and Lynne Ramsey's You Were Never Really Here is one of the very best examples that I've seen.

It's a masterclass in economic film-making, with most scenes covered by just 2 or 3 camera setups but every shot a powerful and necessary piece of the puzzle. The flashbacks in particular show just how much information you can impart to an audience in a short space of time.

Ramsey's film has echoes of Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver (a film that he once likened to the feeling of almost being awake) particularly the scene where Joaquin Phoenix's Joe stakes out Governor Williams campaign headquarters and his bloody crusade inside the brothel where he finds Nina. 

All the action in this last scene is shown through CCTV cameras and Ramsey makes it all the more mesmerizing by choosing to time cut the diegetic music along with the picture, a haunting Angel Baby by Rosie & the Originals - one of a handful of interesting song choices that compliment another fantastic score by the prolific Jonny Greenwood.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Jim & Andy

There were a couple of things I hadn't realised when I wrote the Phantom Thread post. 

Firstly, Paul Thomas Anderson was not alone amongst this year's award contenders in choosing to shoot on film and do his bit to keep the medium alive. In fact, according to this blog, of the 9 films nominated for 'Best Picture' at the Oscars, 4 of them were shot entirely on film (Dunkirk on 65mm, Phantom Thread, Call Me By Your Name and The Post on 35mm) and two films nominated for Best Editing were partly shot on film (I, Tonya and Baby Driver).

Secondly, as is his way, Daniel Day Lewis chose to stay in character as Reynolds Woodcock throughout the Phantom Thread shoot. Vicky Krieps who plays Alma found it strange that the first time they met on set was during the first take of the first scene they shared together. It was interesting to read that she got sick of not being able to speak to him between set ups and ended up breaking protocol, knocking on his dressing room door and inviting herself in for tea, echoing the rebellious way her character reacts in the film when she tries to break Woodcock's routine by making him a surprise dinner. 

Actors who choose to go 'full method' can sometimes prove detrimental to the film making process as can be seen in the recent Netflix documentary Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond that chronicles the shoot of Man on the Moon, Milos Foreman's Andy Kaufman biopic of 1998. Jim Carrey took the concept way too far, staying in character either as Kaufman or his alter ego Tony Clifton (above) and causing all kinds of mayhem on set; getting drunk, crashing cars, wrestling with his co-stars, refusing to answer to the name Jim and generally being a massive pain in the arse to the whole cast and crew and poor old Milos. The backstage footage is amazing and the behind the scenes documentary is actually far more entertaining to watch than the finished film.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018


Bryan Fogel strikes documentary gold in his Oscar winning 'Icarus' for Netflix. 

What starts out as an experiment to show how easy it is to take performance enhancing substances in a cycling competition without getting caught turns into something else entirely when he gets assistance from the director of Russia's anti-doping laboratory, Grigory Rodchenkov. 

The whole documentary is turned on its head when a report is released by WADA (World Anti-Doping Association) detailing Rodchenkov's involvement in a staggering Russian state sponsored doping programme that causes him to flee Russia (with the help of Fogel) and eventually leads to his whistleblowing testimony that alleges the scandal has been going on for years across a whole range of sports.

The film has it's flaws, the dramatic change in direction unbalancing it's overall shape and sense of purpose, but is fascinating and very watchable throughout.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Phantom Thread

Watching a 70mm print of Phantom Thread made me realize how quickly we have got used to digital projection in the last decade and how it's taken some of the romance out of cinema going. When we see film projected these days it can't help but seem nostalgic. The imperfections of the medium that give it it's warmth; the bob & weave, the dust sparkle, the splice marks between reels etc. are far more noticeable now our eyes have got used to clean lines and crisp digital pictures.

Most films that are presented on 70mm do so in order to show off the greater depth of latitude that film offers over digital but I was interested to hear that Paul Thomas Anderson's reasons for shooting on 35mm and then blowing up to 70mm were actually to highlight the imperfections of film. He wanted to dirty up the image and give it more grain, feeling that 35mm stock has become too good, too clean and too close to the digital images that have replaced it.

The film is a triumphant return to form for Anderson after his last film, the divisive Inherent Vice (2014) left many viewers bewildered (myself included). Daniel Day Lewis is excellent as always in what he says will be his last acting role and Jonny Greenwood finally gets an oscar nod for his lush versatile score and stakes a claim for the title of greatest film composer of the modern era.

Monday, 5 February 2018

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri has the razor sharp wit we've come to expect from Martin McDonagh (In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths) but adds a whole lot of heart. 

The tonal balance is perfectly judged and it somehow manages to still be funny even during times of great tragedy. It's my favourite so far of this years big awards contenders and I'd be very surprised if Frances McDormand doesn't sweep the board for her hard as nails Mildred Hayes. 

It seems fitting that such a ballsy female character should win in a year in which much has been done to raise awareness about gender inequality and sexual harassment within the industry in light of the Harvey Weinstein revelations. 

Sam Rockwell is also excellent and fully deserves his nominations for best actor in a supporting role.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Nothing Has Changed

Two years before his death in 2016 David Bowie pulled off a masterstroke of curation by placing the tracks on his career spanning 59 track, 3CD Greatest Hits package 'Nothing Has Changed' in reverse chronological order.

Audaciously kicking off with the off kilter 'Sue (or in a Season of Crime)', recorded with Maria Schneider and her Jazz orchestra, the album shines new light on the records he made in the 00's and 90's with improved mixes and edits (thankfully skipping the Tin Machine years) before zipping backwards through each different persona of his 80's and 70's heyday to his breakthrough success 'Space Oddity' in 1969. 

But it doesn't stop there, it continues back to 'Can't Help Thinking About Me', the first track he recorded under the name David Bowie all the way to Liza Jane, credited to Davie Jones and the King Bees. The only misstep is the inclusion of 'Dancing in the Street' with Mick Jagger. I much prefer the musicless version of that one!

Monday, 22 January 2018

Good Time

Sometimes I can tell that I am going to love a film just by seeing the poster and the Safdie brothers 'Good Time' certainly didn't disappoint. As the poster suggests it's a high octane adrenaline rush of a film with an electric performance by Robert Pattinson, striking visuals from DOP Sean Price Williams and a heart pounding original score by Oneohtrix Point Never which at times reminded me of classic Tangerine Dream (Thief, Sorcerer etc.).

Monday, 15 January 2018

1967: Sunshine Tomorrow

My favourite reissued album of last year was the new stereo mix of The Beach Boys 'Wild Honey', released  alongside a wealth of outtakes, demos and live recordings as part of the 2xCD set '1967 - Sunshine Tomorrow'.

It's always been my favourite album by The Beach Boys but now it sounds better than ever, the new mix giving it greater clarity and allowing you to hear the finer details of the production.

Clocking in at just over 20 minutes, 'Wild Honey' is the sound of The Beach Boys getting back to basics after Brian Wilson had reached a zenith of studio experimentation with Pet Sounds, Good Vibrations and the abandoned Smile album, all of which he recorded with session band The Wrecking Crew whilst the rest of the band were on tour. With a new soulful, stripped back sound and notable contributions from the whole band 'Wild Honey' is like a breath of fresh air.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

American Honey

I'm a bit late to the party here but I finally saw Andrea Arnold's American Honey and it blew me away. 

It's up there with the best of her gritty British work; Red Road (2006) and Fish Tank (2009), but this time she takes us on a road trip through the heart of the American Midwest with enigmatic newcomer Sasha Lane, Shia LaBeouf (in a career best performance) and a motley crew of happy-go-lucky teenage magazine sellers.

Once again presented in Arnold's preferred 4:3 aspect ratio, the film feels fresh and euphoric, with dazzling cinematography by Robbie Ryan and a pumping, irresistible soundtrack. I would go as far as to say it's in my top 10 films of the decade so far.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Favourite Music of 2017

American Teen - Khalid
Dangerous - The xx
Home - Joe Goddard
Since You've Been Gone - The Allergies
No Roots - Alice Merton
Get it Together - Drake
Cuffed - Nick Hakim
Lush - Four Tet
Them Changes - Thundercat
Location - Khalid
Passionfruit - Drake
Uh Uh - Thundercat
SW9 9SL - Four Tet
Outlier - Bonobo
Young, Dumb & Broke - Khalid
Say Something Loving - The xx
Children - Joe Goddard
(How Could Anybody) Feel at Home - Open Mike Eagle
passionfruit - Yaeji
Tonite - LCD Soundsystem
Get on the Floor - The Allergies
Hopeless - Khalid
On Hold - The xx
Daydreaming in the Projects - Open Mike Eagle
LOVE. FEAT. ZACARI - Kendrick Lamar
Drink Dat - Thundercat
Human Heart - Joe Goddard
Angels - Khalid
Test Me - The xx

This years playlist is mainly composed of songs from my 3 favourite albums of the year; Khalid's 'American Teen' (an amazing achievement for a 19 year old!), Thundercat's 'Drunk' and The xx's 'I See You'. I also enjoyed 'Electric Lines' the debut solo album from Joe Goddard (Hot Chip/ 2 Bears) and 'New Energy', a return to form from Four Tet.

My favourite music video is Ryan Staake's genius video for Young Thug's 'Wyclef Jean'. The shoot didn't quite go to plan, in fact Young Thug never even showed up. Instead what we get are cards that explain how things unraveled intercut with some of the footage Staake did get, based on the bizarre ideas that Thug had initially sent him; models riding kiddie cars, children dressed as cops smashing up police cars etc.

Young Thug - 'Wyclef Jean'

Favourite Films of 2017

There were plenty of outstanding films on offer in 2017. 

Films that almost made it into my Top 5 include Nocturnal Animals, OJ: Made in America, Free Fire, Call Me By My Name and The Disaster Artist.

Top 5 films of 2017:

Raw (Julia Ducournau)
Jackie (Pablo Larraín)
Lady MacBeth (William Oldroyd)
Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)
Baby Driver (Edgar Wright)

Top 5 old films I saw for the first time in 2017:

Fat City (John Huston)
Black Orpheus (Marcel Camus)
Poor Cow (Ken Loach)
Tangerine (Sean Baker)
Whiplash (Damien Chazelle)

Tuesday, 5 December 2017


I'm very happy to be working once again with director Matt Chambers (Daddy My) and actress Victoria Emslie (Run it Off) on a brilliant new short 'Settlers', a film I've been looking forward to cutting since I first read the script 18 months ago. It's a dark comedy about a marriage proposal shot on the Isle of Portland which, coincidentally, is where I proposed to Clare almost 8 years ago. I can't wait to watch this one with an audience.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Martin Parr Foundation

I'm very pleased that the Martin Parr Foundation has found a new home right on my doorstep. Based at the Paintworks in South Bristol the foundation will showcase work from British and Irish photographers. Here's Parr's manifesto for the foundation:  

‘Post-war British documentary photography continues to be underappreciated and I wanted to make a small contribution to rectify this. The Martin Parr Foundation will support and preserve the legacy of photographers who made, and continue to make, important work focused on the British Isles.’

It's currently showing Black Country Stories, a Parr commission that focuses on the borough of Sandwell in Birmingham, looking at the way the area has been revitalized by the many immigrant groups that have moved to the area alongside shots of people who still make a living from traditional
Black Country industry.

Monday, 27 November 2017

Top 30 #4

It's about a year since the last installment of my top 30# so time for an update..

Everyday - Buddy Holly (1957)
Be My Baby - The Ronettes (1963)
Sweet Jane - The Velvet Underground (1970)
Optimo - Liquid Liquid (1983)
Carry On Bring Come - Justin Hinds & the Dominoes (1963)
Baby Please Don't Go - Them (1964)
Gimme Danger - Iggy & the Stooges (1973)
Beardsman Ska - The Skatalites (1965)
Winter Rose - The Bees (2010)
Odesa - Caribou (2010)
I Want More - Can (1976)
Bizarre Love Triangle - New Order (1986)
Radio Head - Talking Heads (1986)
Osalobua Rekpama - Sir Victor Uwaifo & His Melody Maestros (1969)
Since I Left You - The Avalanches (2000)
Rival Dealer - Burial (2013)
Sound and Vision - David Bowie (1977)
Midnight Train to Georgia - Gladys Knight & the Pips (1973)
Ordinary Joe - Terry Callier (1972)
You Should've Seen the Other Guy - Nathaniel Rateliff (2010)
Johnny Appleseed - Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros (2001)
Wichita Lineman - Glen Campbell (1968)
Oh! Sweet Nuthin' - The Velvet Underground (1970)
Late for the Sky - Jackson Browne (1974)
Genius of Love - Tom Tom Club (1981)
Home - LCD Soundsystem (2010)
This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody) - Talking Heads (1983)
Please Stay - The Cryin' Shames (1966)
Seabird - Alessi Brothers (1977)
Keep Your Dreams - Suicide (1977)

As an Editor it makes sense that I find myself drawn to compositions that are concise, economical and fat free. A third of the tracks here clock in at 3 minutes or less, in my mind the optimum length for the perfect song. 

One of the exceptions at the heart of the new list is Burial's sprawling 10 minute epic 'Rival Dealer', a track that throws the rule book out of the window and defies categorization or genre. Other standout new entries include a track that one band named themselves after and another (Vampire Weekend) based their whole sound on; 'Radio Head' by Talking Heads, the sample-tastic; 'Since I Left You' by The Avalanches and the sublime 'Wichita Lineman', it's greatness brought into focus by the passing of the legendary Glen Campbell last year.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Blade Runner 2049

I found the excessive 2hr 44 running time of Denis Villeneuve's Blade Runner 2049 to be problematic. To me it felt like the slow pace of some scenes was giving the audience too much thinking time, diluting the philosophical questions the narrative throws up and making the plot seem more vacuumous than it actually is. And yet, having said that, the film has much to admire and is well worth seeing on the biggest screen you can.

The Production Design, Sound Design and Cinematography are all top class. Villeneuve and DOP Roger Deakins have crafted a film that is full of bold, powerful imagery from the rain soaked LA streets familiar from the original film to new locations in an expanded Blade Runner universe, especially striking is the orange-yellow palette of the Las Vegas desert seen here. The sound and music are intense throughout and help create an all encompassing experience that makes leaving the cinema feel like waking up from a dream. Not a bad thing at all!

Thursday, 19 October 2017


I finally got to see one of Adam Buxton's BUG shows when he came to Bristol last month and played at the Colston Hall as part of the Encounters Festival.

BUG is a show that Buxton has been presenting for the last 10 years at the BFI in London in the spirit of Antenna, a music video showcase from the early 00's. He shows a selection of interesting music videos interspersed with rambling chat and hilarious readings of real YouTube comments people have left online under the videos.

It was great to see such an eclectic mix of music videos on a big screen with an audience and nice watching them in their entirety. As I'm sure is the case with most people these days, if I watch a music video online I rarely make it all the way through to the end before being tempted to click on something else.

Here are a couple that he showed. An amazing video shot in zero gravity by OK Go (of 'that' treadmill video fame!) and a video by AJJ that parodies one-take OK Go style vids.

'Upside Down and Inside Out' by OK Go was shot in a reduced gravity aircraft - a plane that nosedives from altitude to provide a brief moment of near-weightlessness for astronauts to use for training purposes. To make the video the band were filmed on a total of 21 flights and cleverly choreographed their moves so that at the end of each period of zero gravity they were static allowing the takes to be stitched together and give the impression that it was all filmed in a single take.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Link Wray

Native American Fred Lincoln 'Link Wray' Jnr is known for his Rock 'N' Roll instrumental track 'Rumble' recorded with his band Link Wray & His Raymen in 1958. It's said to be the first song to use guitar distortion and power chords, inspiring the likes of Jimmy Page, Neil Young & Pete Townshend to first pick up a guitar and paving the way for all future guitar based rock music.

Aside from this landmark track and a few other fuzzy guitar instrumentals I knew very little about Link Wray's work and hearing his self titled 1971 album for the first time recently was as revelatory as discovering Sixto Rodriquez a few years back. 

At the tail end of the 60's Link Wray gave up on music to become a farmer but in 1971 came out of retirement, reinvented his sound and recorded one of the greatest roots albums of all time. 

Recorded on a 3 track tape machine in a converted chicken shack 'Link Wray' is raw and primal, with rasping vocals, out of tune pianos, bare bones drums, claps and stomps. You can clearly see the influence it had on Jack White, most notably on 'My Doorbell' by The White Stripes.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Fat City

One of John Huston's lesser known films 'Fat City' from 1972 is well worth a watch. It's the tale of a boxer played by Stanley Keach who's at the tail end of his career with his life in a downward spiral. It's a far more realistic portrayal of the boxing world than that depicted by the Rocky series which kicked off four years later. The understated cinematography by Conrad Hall is perfectly complimented by Kris Kris Kristofferson's 'Help Me Make It Through the Night' and the overall air of melancholy that hangs heavily in the air throughout. It also stars a young Jeff Bridges, a year after his breakthrough performance in The Last Picture Show.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Robot & Scarecrow

Director Kibwe Tavares follows up Jonah with his best short yet, the technically stunning Robot & Scarecrow starring Holiday Grainger and Jack O'Connell. The film utilises extensive CGI face/ body replacement work to transform them into the pair of misfits who find love at a music festival. Kibwe is due to start production on his first feature in 2018.

Robot & Scarecrow

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Lady Macbeth

2017 looks like being the strongest year yet for the BFI's iFeatures scheme with both Lady Macbeth and The Levelling receiving terrific reviews and God's Own Country, due for release later in the year, also hotly tipped.

Lady Macbeth is a fresh and original period film by first time director William Oldroyd adapted from Nikolai Leskov’s 1865 novel Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District transplanting the story from Russia to the North East of England in the 19th Century.

Everything about the film has an exacting quality. The script is tight, the sound design intelligent and every shot is carefully considered - the static, precise photography of the interiors contrasting sharply with the handheld exterior scenes (shot in a blustery Northumberland) that share common ground with Andrea Arnold's Wuthering Heights.
The supporting cast are all excellent but the film is dominated by an astonishingly brave, strong performance from Florence Pugh in her first leading role.. definitely one to watch.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

John Baldessari

A smart and snappy short doc about the artist John Baldessari by directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman who went on to make the acclaimed documentary Catfish in 2010.

A Brief History of John Baldessari

Tuesday, 18 April 2017


One of the most assured debut features I've seen in a long while, Julia Ducournau's Raw is an intelligently crafted, bold and visceral horror film. It's central theme of cannibalism and reports that some scenes have had audiences heading for the exit or even passing out has gained it a certain notoriety but there is so much more going on under the surface, in what is actually a bittersweet and darkly funny coming of age tale. Highly recommended.