Monday, 24 October 2011

Film Review - "George Harrison: Living in the Material World" directed by Martin Scorsese


George Harrison: Living in the Material World (2011)                1/2

This film is a must-see for all George Harrison and Beatles fans. I realised that it’s a better experience if you have previous knowledge of the band, as the film doesn’t really go over the main historical background. Running for over three hours, with content spanning four decades, it’s the skilful editing and soundtrack which keeps the audience entertained. Adding to the massive amount on material documenting and commenting on the band, this film displays Harrison’s legacy through not only music but his close personal relationships. Bottom line – he touched those he knew deeply.
            Commentary on the creative process in general runs throughout the film, with grabs from Harrison and his musical counterparts illustrating their outlook on life and how it affects their work. For these artists, music was more than a profit-orientated commodity. It’s interesting how Harrison said that to appreciate the non-materialistic parts of life, he had to reach an excessive level in the material world to realise it. The very title of the film draws attention to Harrison’s constant divide between the spiritual world and that of the western world’s top celebrities.
            Insight into the nature of his personal life is rewarding for the audience, who may not have heard from his brothers, son and wife before. We learn about his characteristics, including over-perfectionism, true love for friends and sacrifice. All material is highly praising of Harrison, with no mention of his womanising or the negative side to his drug use. However, it leaves the audience feeling very uplifted and inspired by the end of the session.
            With a mix of still archival photos, interviews from past and present, from friends, family and colleagues, it is truly a great opportunity to delve into the past and create a profile of the ‘mysterious’ Beatle. A large part of the film is devoted to Harrison’s search for spirituality and his principles gained from eastern religion. It makes us question our own beliefs and forces us out of an idle, desensitised state. A pleasurable experience filled with excellent music and insightful commentary – it’s a music documentary which goes one step further.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

R.I.P. Barry Feinstein

Barry Feinstein, iconic music photographer, died this week at the age of 80. He is known for taking characteristic album shots of 1960s rockstars, including Bob Dylan's The Times They Are a-Changin' and later George Harrison's solo album, in the garden with his gnomes, All Things Must Pass. His editorial work extended to Hollywood actors and other celebrities of the time, usually shot in back-and-white.

Feinstein was born in 1931 in Philadelphia and started taking pictures in his teenage years. He entered the professional world as an assistant for LIFE magazine, but got his break when he became studio photographer for Columbia Pictures in Hollywood. In an attempt to uncover 'behind-the-scenes' parts of Hollywood, he strayed from the typical glamorous shots others sought to take. Feinstein will be remembered for not only his iconic shots but his spontaneous and original approach to photography.

Rolling Stone Magazine has created an online album of his most famous works.

All Things Must Pass album cover (1970)

Bob Dylan, Paris, France, 1966

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Film Review - "Footloose" directed by Craig Brewer

Footloose (2011)              

I was suprised at the little amount of dancing in this year's remake of the old 80s dance classic, but the storyline was very similar. Initially I was confused at how it would still be relevant for dancing to be banned in an American town, but the first few minutes of the movie answer that- after a dance party, five teenagers die in a fatal car crash, and the town's leaders subsequently ban dancing, drinking and going out late.
The cast was credible, at least their accents didn't seem too over-the-top and the two main characters are a more tanned and toned version of the 1984 Ren and Ariel. Ren's angry solo dance was a bit of a cringe in the film, with some country fusion rap soundtrack, but showcased his gymnastic talent. Ariel was a believable character, only because we understood her motives for being so reckless, after the distressing car crash.
With a slight element of predictability in regards to the romantic element of the film, it is an otherwise entertaining look at the problems teenagers face and have always faced with parents and friends. The inclusion of some hip-hop music slightly works in updating the film for today's culture and even the line-dancing scene makes it seem a little bit exciting for the audience. Overall, its easy on the eye and might even make you think about how we judge people.

Favourite quote: I just don't know if believe in everything that you believe in. But I believe in you. (Ariel)

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Film Review - "Crazy, Stupid Love." directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa

Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011)              ★ 

This film is part of a new kind of American romantic comedy which is wittier, less sentimental and more authentic in its realization than its predecessors. The cast fits together well, with playboy Jacob (Ryan Gosling) opposite dull dad, Cal (Steve Carell) and Emma Stone playing her usual quirky role, as Hannah, a budding lawyer. The film draws attention to conventions of modern dating and 'picking up', which allows the audience to examine each generation of love story in a different way.

The film begins in an unusual way when Cal's wife of 25 years, Emily, (Julianne Moore) proposes a surprise divorce. Setting up young, idealistic love against an established married relationship, with kids and a house involved, creates a sense of perspective. The younger actors weren't as endearing as their adult counterparts, but nevertheless gave heartfelt performances.

There are some uncomfortable moments - when we repeatedly witness 13-year-old Robbie's (Jonah Bobo) professed love for 17-yearold Jessica (Analeigh Tipton). Or when Cal attempts his first one-night-stand with an ex-alcoholic teacher, who is far too emotional around strangers. However, it sticks true to the "crazy" in the film's title. Love does appears to be crazy at times.

Ryan Gosling's performance is impressive. He manages to maintain his cool, suave persona as Jacob -the charming womanizer who understands the bar scene- while maintaining a sense of integrity and innocence. He is definitely a lovable character.

The final half-hour or so becomes overdramatic, with an attempt at a profound speech on love (by the 13-year-old!) at a school graduation, and a family backyard brawl. All the noise and outpouring of emotion becomes a bit overwhelming and breaks the previously cool atmosphere - but it’s an entertaining watch. 

Favourite quote: The war between the sexes is over. We won the second women started doing pole dancing for exercise.