True Confessions

Good Vibrations

Sometime in the middle of the 1990s, I spent a week of my holidays visiting the major cities on the island of Ireland. Specifically, I was going to these places to check out their record stores and bookshops. I was based in Limerick, so I made a few day trips by bus to Cork, Galway and Waterford. I also went to Dublin and stayed there with a friend in order to make my first visit to Belfast. This would have been a few years before the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 and I remember a lot of my friends being a bit concerned about me going to Northern Ireland. I wasn’t too worried and was looking forward to visiting the record shops and bookstores I had somehow found out about

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Getting Away With Murder

We’ve been experiencing an early summer in Ireland this week, with hardly a cloud in the sky and temperatures remaining in the late teens throughout. On Thursday, however, I decided to heed Noël Coward’s advice about mad dogs and Englishmen venturing out in the midday sun by taking refuge at the pictures. The venue was The Belltable, Limerick’s main arts centre since 1981. The film was Roger Hamer’s 1949 Ealing classic, Kind Hearts & Coronets, the first of two black and white films to be screened that day. I’m a big fan of the films made by Ealing Studios and have most of them on video or DVD. Kind Hearts is my favourite and it was wonderful to see it on the big screen. It was restored for cinema release in the UK last year and had also been released on DVD nearly a decade ago by the Criterion Collection. I don’t know what version the Belltable used, but the image was brilliant even if it was only in 4:3 format. The film is mainly composed of long- and mid-shots and rarely uses close-ups. This was certainly apt for the theatrical surroundings of the Belltable, and the venue was even more appropriate for the film’s strengths – the script, dialogue and the acting

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Understated But Elegant: 2011 In Film

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I spent a lot of 2011 reading and watching Scandinavian and Nordic thrillers, but I still managed to find time to catch a few new films on DVD and at the cinema throughout the year. I made it to the pictures about twice a month over the last year, though a few of those visits were in the company of my nephews and none of those films made my final list. On the face of it, 2011 didn’t appear to be a great year for movies, but I still managed to come up with a shortlist of twenty that I’ve narrowed down to a final dozen. Here are the eight films I enjoyed that just missed out on my top twelve: Source Code (Duncan Jones); Captain America (Joe Johnston); Hanna (Joe Wright); The Inbetweeners (Ben Palmer); The King’s Speech (Tom Hooper); Lou (Belinda Chayko); The Guard (John Michael McDonagh); Blue Valentine (Derek Cianfrance). The latter was one of two films on my list to feature Ryan Gosling and I’ll start looking at my favourite films of 2011 with the other one he was in

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All Things Must Pass

George Harrison: Living in the Material World is a return to form for director Martin Scorsese following the 2008 release of Shine a Light, his rather lacklustre concert film about The Rolling Stones. Fortunately, his depiction of the Beatle known as The Quiet One has more in common with Scorsese’s 2005 film about Bob Dylan. No Direction Home was over 200 minutes long and in two parts, but still managed to only cover Dylan’s career up to 1966. Living in the Material World is also a two-parter and is similar in length to the Dylan one, but manages to cover the whole of Harrison’s life up to his death on November 29th, 2001. A major strength of No Direction Home was its newly-recorded interviews with an extremely open and talkative Dylan. Living in the Material World makes up for the loss of its protagonist by drawing on a range of interviews with Harrison at various points in his career. It opens by chatting to two of his uncles who talk about the younger George growing up in Liverpool and also draws upon letters written by George to his parents. These are voiced by an actor and would have been more effective if he sounded like Harrison or, at least, adopted a Scouse accent. Visually, the lack of film footage from this period is nicely balanced by a simple but effective use of black & white photographs. Many of these appeared to be newly discovered and we also get to see a lot of unseen footage from his days with The Beatles

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The Right Profile

It’s an awful lot easier to pick a favourite album than it is to choose a favourite song. There are fewer albums than there are songs as the vast majority of long players tend to feature at least ten tunes. Also, we hear songs everywhere and may actually have favourites that we’ve forgotten about. Listening to a whole album, however, takes a lot more effort and it may often take a few listens before a certain album reveals its charms. Personally, there are hundreds of albums that I consider to be great, though there are only a few that I consider to be truly essential. London Calling by The Clash is definitely one of those and, at the moment, I would consider it to be my favourite one. I had gotten into loads of punk bands over a decade after the fact and the first LPs by the Pistols and The Clash were the two I liked the most. Even on their first record, The Clash sounded less punk than their contemporaries and even incorporated elements of ska and rock & roll into their sound. I wasn’t a big fan of its follow-up, Give ‘Em Enough Rope, and particularly its production that made the group sound like so many other hard rock bands

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You Only Live Once

The film composer John Barry passed away yesterday at the age of 77. He’s best known for his work on numerous Bond films but he also won Oscars for Born Free, the Lion in Winter, Out of Africa and Dances with Wolves. All but one of the songs below comes from a Bond film, with four of them bearing the title of the movie from which they are taken. We Have All the Time in the World originally appeared in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, while All Time High was seen as a more suitable choice of title than Octopussy. My favourite piece of music written by Barry, however, was his main theme for Midnight Cowboy. Despite the title of the opening number, it seems, after all, that you only live once

You Only Live Twice (Nancy Sinatra cover) – The Postmarks

The Man With The Golden Gun (Lulu cover) – Emiliana Torrini

We Have All The Time In The World (Louis Armstrong cover) – My Bloody Valentine

All Time High (Rita Coolidge cover) – Jarvis Cocker & David Arnold

Diamonds Are Forever (Shirley Bassey cover) – Arctic Monkeys

Goldfinger (Shirley Bassey cover) – Santo & Johnny

Midnight Cowboy (John Barry cover) – Faith No More

Image taken from here