Tag Archives: Music

‘Grease’ at 40: A first-time look at a pop culture classic

We all have our blind spots when it comes to cinema – and that’s a good thing. Being passionate about film is being open to discovery and constantly looking to fill in gaps in one’s knowledge. But when you get to a certain age and also happen to work in film journalism, not having seen certain pop culture touchstones starts to stick out. Until very recently, my biggest blind spot – at least in terms of a film it seemed everyone had seen at least once – was Grease.

And yet, through cultural osmosis, I’ve always felt like I have seen Grease. Not only did I know most of the songs, I knew most of the words to most of the songs. What I didn’t know was what a peculiar musical it is. Take the title track, for instance, which plays over the opening credits and is one of the few songs I hadn’t heard before. One of four original songs written for the film (this one by Barry Gibb), the disco number feels surprisingly at odds with the late-’50s/early ‘60s style of the rest of the soundtrack. It’s a catchy tune, but seems as though it’s been included merely to forge a connection between the film and star John Travolta’s earlier Bee Gees-scored hit, Saturday Night Fever. It’s a curious identity crisis moment, but then perhaps it’s appropriate given the narrative arcs of the film’s leading pair…

Full feature for Little White Lies

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Edgar Wright on car chase thriller ‘Baby Driver’

“I was going to say I’ve not been offered a musical, but that’s not true. I think if it was the right thing and I thought I could do it well, then, yeah, of course.” British writer-director Edgar Wright is speaking to us down the phone from LA. The current topic: how his movies, particularly Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and new film Baby Driver, often take on some of the cinematic language of musicals. “The thing about it with this movie,” he continues, “is doing some of that work in a completely different genre. Baby Driver is not a musical per se, but it’s completely powered by music…

Full interview for The Skinny

Lost in France (Niall McCann, 2016)

In the late 1990s, a group of musicians involved with Chemikal Underground, the Glasgow-based independent record label, hired a bus and went on a road trip to a town in rural France to play a one-off concert. Two decades on, a reprisal of the trip for some of those originally involved is the backbone for Lost in France, director Niall McCann’s affectionate, intimate documentary on the label – exploring what’s made Chemikal Underground and its acts endure for 20-odd years…

Full review for VODzilla.co

Gimme Danger (Jim Jarmusch, 2016)

Jim Jarmusch directing a film about The Stooges is one of those perfect matches of artist and subject. Though the resultant documentary, Gimme Danger, is, at the very least, good, there’s the persistent sense throughout that something’s missing…

Full review for Little White Lies

Gary Numan: Android in La La Land (Rob Alexander/Steve Read, 2016)

With so many music documentaries around that focus on great artists with a tendency towards egomania, it’s refreshing to find one that’s about a musician – and a highly influential one at that – who seems entirely uninterested in self-mythologising. Android in La La Land profiles electro pop pioneer Gary Numan, who was derided and revered in the press in equal measure as he went about selling millions of albums in the late 1970s and early ’80s, before it all came crashing down…

Full review for Little White Lies

Pet Sights and Sounds: Brian Wilson biopic ‘Love & Mercy’

“I honestly grew up more as a Beatles guy than a Beach Boys guy, but I’ve admitted that to Brian, so he’s aware,” says Bill Pohlad with a little smile.

We’re speaking to Pohlad ahead of the UK premiere of his gorgeous and tragic Brian Wilson biopic Love & Mercy at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, and he begins by explaining how his musical alliances started to change. “As I got older, I think I started to appreciate The Beach Boys much more, and then, just spontaneously, about ten years ago, I got into Pet Sounds in a much deeper way. I mean, it’s something I always appreciated, but I didn’t really plumb the depths of it until more recently. And so when this project came along, I was kind of perfectly keyed up for it, I think…

Full interview for The Skinny