Sunday Afternoon Movie Club

I don’t know if you’ve noticed – it may have slipped under your radar somehow – but there’s a new Star Wars film out soon. You’d think Disney’s advertising and promotional chaps would have done something to bring this to our attention, right?

In preparation for the big day, I thought I’d spend this weekend gorging on the previous six, until I realised I don’t own copies of Parts 2 and 3, which – go on, lynch me – I’ve never seen, having given up after sitting through the snooze-fest that was Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. Seriously, you know a film is piss poor if the presence of Natalie Portman and Ewan McGregor can’t save it, and if the only thing you remember about it is how annoying Jar Jar Binks is.

Anyway, having re-watched the first one, by which I apparently mean the fourth one, I was all ready to write something terribly witty about how everyone says that basically this is a film about good vs evil, with the Jedi Knights and the Force representing “Good” and Darth Vader and The Empire representing “Evil”, that the Empire are the capitalist bastards, intent on bombing or shooting everything, including little girls (and the Earth) in pastiche John Lewis Christmas adverts.

It’s not quite that straight-forward though; part of this argument is founded on the fact that Darth Vader (bad) is dressed all in black, whilst Luke and Leia (good) are dressed in white, which putting aside the obviously racist connotations of that premise for a moment, doesn’t quite stack up when you consider that the Stormtroopers are also dressed in white. And rubbish at running through doorways.

Anyway, as I attempted to think of something new to write about the Star Wars franchise, a scene from a very different film came into my mind.

This one, to be precise.

For the uninitiated, that’s from this:

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1999’s Human Traffic is, without doubt, my favourite film in the world ever. Don’t get me wrong,  I am well aware this is not a cinematic masterpiece. For a start, it contains one of the most cringe-worthy scenes ever committed to celluloid when they perform an alternative National Anthem, which I’m not going to post a link to, as it will put you off watching it – but it reminds me of a particular time and place in my life, and for that reason alone it holds a very special place in my heart.

Here’s what IMDB has to say about the plot: “Five friends spend one lost weekend in a mix of music, love and club culture.”

That doesn’t really do the film justice. Set in the club scene of Cardiff (and therefore earning a big fat tick from me), it tells the story of a group of friends getting ready for a big weekend, blagging entry to a club via a cameo from DJ God Carl Cox (my heart swells with pride that whilst the club scenes aren’t filmed in it, the scene where they are queuing up to get in was filmed outside my favourite club in the world ever, The Emporium – more of that some other time), having it large, going to a house party and then the ultimate come-down. Which doesn’t seem all that much now I see it written down, but trust me, there’s warmth, wittiness and above all accuracy about the film that, if you’ve ever been into clubbing then a) you will probably already have seen this, and b) if you haven’t, you will fucking love it. Many films have tried to capture the clubbing scene of the 1990s, but none have absolutely nailed it in the way that Human Traffic does.

It stars John Simm, an actor I’ve admired for many years and will watch pretty much anything he’s in and know I’m not going to be let down, as Jip, Shaun Parkes as Koop, Lorraine Pilkington as Lulu, Nicola Reynolds as Nina, and a cameo from Andrew Lincoln as Felix (you’ll maybe know him better as Rick from The Walking Dead, but to me he’ll always be Egg from This Life).

And then, crucially, and totally owning the film, there’s Danny Dyer as Moff.

This is unquestionably Dyer’s break-out role, having featured in the usual litany of TV standards before this. For me, he will forever be Moff (see there’s even a Star Wars reference there for you).

Moff is a small time dealer, sorting out his friends and a few others outside the circle, trapped in a situation where he has to live with his parents – his father is a policeman – and of having no job to fund his…er…extra-curricula activities.

These days, Dyer is sometimes mocked for his image as a professional Cockney, derided for being type-cast in numerous films as playing a geezer, and a quick look at his CV gives you an idea as to why that is. Critics would argue that he perhaps didn’t  exactly over-extended himself. Here’s some edited highlights:

2001 – Billy the Limpet in “Mean Machine” (a Vinnie Jones vehicle, for Christ’s sake)

2001 – Brad in “Is Harry on the Boat?”, a British made-for-TV film, based on the lives of holiday reps in Ibiza where even the title is in Cockney rhyming slang (and which I’m not going to explain here, s’too rude)

2004 – Tommy Johnson in “The Football Factory”, a film about football hooliganism

2005 – Frankie in “The Business”  a cockney gangster movie set on the Costa Del Sol

2006 – Steve in “Severance” (I quite enjoyed this one actually)

2009 – Stanley in “Pimp” where he plays a Cockney..oh, you can work it out.

2013 – Mick in “EastEnders”, your archetypal Cockney hard-man with a heart of gold, running the iconic Queen Vic pub.

I fear it will be the latter for which he is most remembered, that and his frankly cringe-worthy series of programmes, originally for the now defunct Bravo channel if memory serves, where he interviewed various football hooligans and hard men, called, without a hint of irony, “Danny Dyer’s Hardmen”, or for his unintentionally hilarious ( I think unintentionally…is he really that arch and knowing….?) BBC3 documentary where he went off in search of UFOs, which you can watch here, and I would thoroughly recommend you do. Or if you have less time, his appearance on 8 Out of 10 Cats sums it up pretty well. Or for his use of the C-bomb on the same show to describe Postman Pat, which you can watch here but which you might have to sign in to watch, so offensive is the use of the dreaded word.

As you may have guessed, I could post links to Danny Dyer related content all day long. The guy is the very physical embodiment of the gift that keeps on giving, and my admiration and respect for him is the very real embodiment of man-love. Personally, I think he’s savvy enough to know what the public perception of him is, and plays up to it to Ker-ching! cash in on it. Fair play to him if that’s the case.

But all of that is a shame, because his turn as Moff in Human Traffic is utterly brilliant. Watch it – but steer clear of the cash-in “Remixed” version where all of the tunes from the actual film are replaced by different ones which don’t quite work as well in the context of the movie.

Anyway, here’s some tunes from the original soundtrack, chosen by Pete Tong. Well, actually, chosen by me on this occasion, but Pete Tong was the musical director on the film, so you get an idea of just how authentic the film is.

220px-HumanTrafficSoundtrackCDAlbumCoverTchernomushLucid – Scared

R-84766-1083316132_gif Brother Brown Feat. Frank’ee – Under The Water

R-60161-1253409559_jpeg CJ Bolland – It Ain’t Gonna Be Me

 

0762112fd72445089cf88b2df82b2d03 The Age Of Love – The Age Of Love (Jam & Spoon Radio Edit)

R-7974-1186407174_jpeg System F – Out Of The Blue

CS1787287-02A-BIGEnergy 52 – Café Del Mar

Orbital-BelfastWasted-158939 Orbital – Belfast

More soon.

 

 

 

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It’s Chriiiiistmas!!!

I promised myself I wasn’t going to do this.

Stay away from the Christmas tunes, I said.

I had made a pledge to myself. You have nothing to add to the medium of Christmas tunes, nothing your readers won’t already know, I told myself, so steer clear.

But did I listen? Well, here we are, so did I fuck.

Because two things happened.

Thing number one: I worked from home on Thursday. Not the most Christmassy of things to do, I grant you. I spent the afternoon tapping away at my keyboard whilst listening to Radcliffe & Maconie on 6Music. I learned two things from their show:

  1. That the chocolate on a chocolate Digestive biscuit is actually the bottom, not the top (who knew???), and
  2. The Courteeners, a band I had no time for up until now, had only gone and released a rather fine Christmas song.

I could track it down and post a link to it so you can download it for nothing, but the single is released in conjunction with the homeless charity Shelter, so what kind of monster would that make me?

So, you can hear it here, but please go and buy it too.

Well, if I’m going to post a song called “Winter Wonderland”, then I can’t really ignore this, now can I? Taken from undoubtedly the greatest Christmas album ever, I give you:

front1 Darlene Love – Winter Wonderland

Thing number two: as I was sitting here, searching for inspiration about what I could I write, shortly after 1am this morning I had a text from Hel, telling me she was watching a music channel which had devoted itself to playing Christmas records, as they often do at this time of year, and she had heard the following two songs:

Single_Pretenders-2000_Miles_cover_(gatefold) The Pretenders – 2000 Miles

Oh, and here’s them doing the same song, in a rather lovely acoustic kinda way:

The Pretenders – 2000 Miles (Live & Acoustic)

and, this:

david-essex-a-winters-tale-mercury David Essex – A Winter’s Tale

That was co-written by Mike Batt, who of course is much better known for his involvement with this bunch of scrounging homeless benefits-cheats:

cd-wombling-merry-christmas The Wombles – Wombling Merry Christmas

Batt is also known for co-writing this, with Tim Rice, a totally non-Christmassy record, but I was asked to post it a few months ago, so here we go Chad, I finally managed to crowbar it in:

I_Know_Him_So_Well Elaine Page & Barbara Dickson – I Know Him So Well

Ok, so I seem to have got off the Christmas vibe with that one, so let me get things back on track with the final two songs.

Every year, me and my little group of buddies meet up for a Christmas knees-up. same venue every year: The Dublin Castle, or the Scrublin as we affectionately refer to it, in Camden.

The nights generally follow the same pattern: we meet, exchange Christmas cards (I try to think of a new reason why I haven’t bothered writing them this year), then we proceed to get right royally trashed, somewhere in the middle there is a speech, then we plough money into the juke box, all the time waiting to hear the one song that will have us all drunkenly swaying, hugging each other, and singing along. I speak of none other than the undisputed greatest Christmas record ever made:

FairytaleOfNewYork The Pogues feat. Kirsty MacColl – Fairytale of New York

My parents lived in Ireland for a few years; I would pop over there at Christmas to be with them, and on the drive back from the airport, Dad would put the radio on. And this was being played on repeat on whatever radio station he put on. It’s practically their National Anthem.

So, final tune. When Hel told me she was watching Christmas tunes, I emailed her a link to the YouTube video for the next song.  Her response, and I quote:

“They sing Santa, mistletoe, snow and Christmas tree. It’s Christmas song bingo!” You can see why she’s my bezzy mate, right?

Since my only DMCA take down notice has been served by this lot, you will excuse my deliberate mis-spelling of their name, but here’s

MI0002431471 Qatus Toe – It’s Christmas Time

I guarantee, that’ll be stuck in your head for ages now.

Anyway, that’ll ding dang do from me for now.

More soon.

 

 

Friday Night Music Club

As you may have guessed from my post on Wednesday night, I need some cheering up. Luckily, it’s time for this week’s batch of Friday Night humdingers, and happily we’re staying on the crest of the funky wave we found ourselves surfing at the end of last week.

First up, is a song which I’m ashamed to admit first came to my attention via the Soccerette/Catwalk feature on Sky TV’s “Soccer AM” show.

Jean-Knight-Mr_-Big-Stuff-1971 36. Jean Knight – “Mr. Big Stuff”

In case you’re unfamiliar with the reference point, here’s a brief synopsis: High Street Honey, as I believe FHM magazine call attractive young ladies, who is also a football fan, is brought on to be ogled at by the predominantly male studio guests, and to be on the receiving end of some piss-poor gags. She is obliged to wear the kit of her chosen team, which would then have to be removed to reveal the t-shirt the show was trying to flog that season. After this, she and show-host Tim Lovejoy, would perform a cat-walk to the sound of “Mr. Big Stuff”, before the Soccerette gets to chose one lucky winner from the team of football fans who had been picked to participate in that week’s show, usually the fattest/ugliest/rat-faced one with the worst Division Three Footballer’s haircut, to join in a repeat of the catwalk, complete with Zoolander poses and stares into the camera.

Or, to put it another way, like this: Soccerette Catwalk

Anyway, next up it’s The Godfather of Soul himself:

R-834751-1270453275_jpeg 37. James Brown – Get Up Offa That Thing

That’s a strikingly pink cover, isn’t it?

I have nothing to say about the next record apart from the fact that it’s fucking brilliant, but you knew that already, right?

dance-to-the-music-5212440f80906 38. Sly & The Family Stone – Dance to the Music

Next, a tune I came across when I got me a copy of a compilation album called “A Break From The Norm”, which features songs which Fatboy Slim had sampled on some of his more well know tunes. And since I can’t seem to find any images of the single’s original sleeve, you’ll have to make do with the cover of that album instead:

41R6KXWXP5L 39.Andre Williams – Humpin’, Bumpin’ & Thumpin’

I say “well known”, this actually appears on Fatboy’s “Sho Nuff”, the b-side to his number one smasheroo “Praise You”. You can see how well he used it here.

Next, a tune which never fails to cheer me up, reminding me as it does of a car load of us travelling up to a clubbing weekender at Southport’s Pontins Holiday Resort, of all places. But more of that another time.

115142231 40. Definition of Sound – Wear Your Love Like Heaven

And since I need cheering up, here’s one more:

R-71802-1133519580_jpeg 41. Dream Warriors – My Definition of a Boombastic Jazz Style

When this came out in 1990, I was at college, had never heard anything like it, and – impending inappropriate use of the word “literally” alert – it literally blew my mind, which may go some way to explaining why I had to repeat my final year.

Anyway, that’s me perked right up.

More soon.

It’s The End of the World as We Know It (And I Don’t Feel Fine)

You don’t need me to explain, do you?

R_E_M__-_It's_the_End_of_the_World_as_We_Know_It_(And_I_Feel_Fine)_(United_States)

“It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” – R.E.M.

malcolm-middleton-were-all-going-to-die-lk-remix-full-time-hobby

“We’re All Going To Die” – Malcolm Middleton

Predictable choices? Probably. Saddened to be posting them? Definitely.

More soon. Hopefully.