Iris : A Film Review


Director Albert Mayles. USA. 2014. 1hr 18 mins.
New York Doll
Fashion is for those seeking iconography as seen through a collective obsession of times or self abstraction.
Iris Apfel is such a creature.
You will be surprised how she began with a style which would grace any woman and then set about downing grace for an arcane beauty which becomes her armory. “I don’t do pretty” see soon explains. Why not? Why is because the allegiance to money and hybrid textural pattern and drapery is a bigger payload.
Descent through ascendancy.
Is it female dandyism? Her suppression of a sexual sole.
Through the outer shell?
There have been many designers whose pell mell has been to lead the following crew through hype and wayward stimulation into collecting clothes and paraphanalia in order to entrust their outer shells in hopeful association to the now. Something has to convince them of the reasoning for taking their appearance fetishly towards endorsement of what has become.
Mercifully there are times when fashion has provided an anti-thesis to that represents. The Com de Garçon, Chanel, Parkinson, type of less is more objectivity. Truly ordinary people have been transformed by their acceptance of certain principles of dress and have had their souls lightened.

Formless people, short, tall, wide, stooped, masculine, feminine types all have endless need to wear comfortable and well made clothes.

Iris is a film documentary by the late Albert Maysles who passed in March of this year aged 88 , he having all the composition and natural demeanor and quiet charm to form a penetrating film of the superficial art which makes for good visual kaleidoscopic memoir. For Iris is not young. At 94 she is at a risen star status in New York, so much so she holds centre stage at her husband Carls 100th birthday party and makes his ‘acceptance’ speech for him. Not that she over consumes him or overwhelms him but simply she is the kind of Jewish lady once she gets talking is hard to rein in.

You may have seen this magpie Fashion Guru. She has made a lot of picture driven magazines and found promotion of ‘iris inspired’ fashion houses, exhibitions and helpfully student scholarships a part of being alive.

By being public and doing things s her way of confirming her alive status.
Quite the opposite of sitting bordered and idol after a lifetime searching her search continues.
Nouvelle Search
Once in a while there is a ferocious devoted upsurge in self expression as a movement of retention or marking of territory.
It happens after displacement and after war both uniformed bloody and horrific sudden shifts take place.
1920’s and 1950’s and to a lesser extent 1970’s all saw roles in reshaping nations and global taste and identity.
Pre history also has significant similar occupation of fashion and national vibrancy, concordance, reverence, rectitude and plain wealth expressed across its borders.
Old World Weavers
Old World Weavers is the name of the company the newly married couple set up to follow through with commissions. It is in the name. Just as the Romans ripped off the Asiatics and Middle Eastern Art then this is a small homage to it.
Tribal art is such that it is both normal and extrordinary to watch vats of colourscape, tanneries in places like Morocco go to local industrial scale lengths to craft and create the basic components for the variety of produce, carpets, curtains, textiles of every kind.
Metallurgists, dyers, shoemakers, weavers and secondary intricate button makers, adornments all are examples of offering the God of Light some return for vision and formation.
Blossom or fade
The film through her storytelling speaks of the early years.
Far from being outspoken she tells a tale naturally with the extraordinary touch of a perception which has all things otherwise bland and uninteresting. Very dismissive of lives she knows or cares little about. Charitable?
This is only plausible through the availability of contrast and not the operation mode beauty in all things.
Formative comparison drops
Her editorial gaze is despite an early years mild and soft appearance taken over by an addiction to jewelry which eclipses textiles, design of interiors and her apartment is now only a collection of highly crafted and well painted UN gauche works of art.
None of her collections are in anyway ugly or able to stand the light of day. Instead they are a summoned token of the century she is passing through and like Cleopatra is meant to engage the eyes.

She was born in Queens New York, in the early twenties, and with Carl Apfel, formed a textile company after meeting at various publications and arts occasions which and placed a combination of skills she explains for us needed follow through by traveling which like Sir Hans Sloane brought back containers full of all cultures. They bargained a lot and obtained high end for low rent.

Somehow she became a pillar of what was then regarded as taste but gradually this became replaced by notions and replications.

Architectural Digest v The World of Interiors camps.
Where is the Art
She never really was taken seriously by artists or writers except fashion house chiefs adored her because she helped the churn. No talent arose from her except having that editorial eye which was identifiable as her own.

Known for having glasses the size of a two wheeled children’s bicycle this more became an unshift-able iconographic label.

It is no more no less. It simple is trademark trash. As such it damages her esplanade of virtuous bonhomie and other literal partially conspicuous breaches of standards which do the fashion world a service.
Fashion heights
Alexander McQueen brought busters as a hoc idea when short of runway filling costume. His art was exceptional gearing of the traits and it showed perhaps the onset or preset of greed avarice hidden allegories which now beset the globe which he had not cared for in so far as it belittled tradecraft.

The same can be said of Karl Lagerfield. The remainder such as Giovanni Versace Ralph Lauren etc, are of the glamour magpie camp and discolor and remove insight idea wise and it is lapped up throughout the world of uniform clothes merchandising.

Conclusion ###3
What you see on this travelogue of the Twentieth century is rarely a glimpse of the past but a record of collections and reputation all shifts. It harmonica sees and juxtaposes while being harmless frippery.
It lifts the lid on nothing insightfully unrecognized yet is pleasant and sidewinding. Never will iris be recalled as plain and she has an admirable eye for the detail as sculpture with the ability to acquire for no other reason than that hoards of splendid things.
Stravinsky, Diaghilev, Nijinsky combined sets of extravagant exuberant panoply for a reason which this shines towards but the fact is Firebird resulted. Other balletic interpretations existed whereas here none is apparent other than the capability to convey to a wider audience – commendable though that is in the educational sense – the intrinsic beauty that surrounds us and structure being a dismantable cradle which it is criminal to ignore

To be seen at QFT Belfast from Friday 31 July 2015 to Thursday 6th August 2015.

Eden : A Film Review

Director Mia Hansen Love
cast: Greta Gerwig, Golschiftch Farahani, Felix de Gevry,
Genre: Drama, Music
Language: French with English subtitles
Country of Origin: France 2014 131 mins.

Eden, from French director Mia Hansen Love looks like a movie, vims like a movie and is a visceral blazing dance music festival of a movie.
Joy and Ecstasy
In around twenty years of Electronica many have wondered how the off mainstream, dance genre, which is a part of global pop music will be retained on film as well as paying homage to the core essence of its obvious record for generations who propelled themselves forward into a new century on the vast issue of tracks and digital recordings at hand.

It was not apparent and there have been lame attempts at what is a block of energetic sound delivered for immediacy, digestion, entrancement and thrill. Enjoyment was the sub-cultural text unashamedly and intuitively correct in the sub-real hotly contested near paradoxical pop music it showed contempt for. Recording companies wished to corner the four to fourteen market and went for it tooth and claw.
The ‘are you into that?’ is never more a reality than with dance.
House was a growing up part for me and you would be able to leave a jazz emporium in London pass a club and hear dance music and be drawn into it straight away. Straight through the doors into a roomful of trance ambient, or a steaming rocking House in ripping loud thunderous classic dance pouring out on conscious peaceable smiling faces in tune with it to the second. It was a fusion of tastes interwoven as never contemplated as technology equipped certain DJs and meritorious musicians to experiment with the veil lifted by the erudite electronic keyboard maestros except no lingering classicism except for Thomas Dolby, other ingenues who would find dance superficial or baseless repetitive soup for advancing sexual relations asap. Attractions and opposites, cliches are thinly persuasive.
Permacultural Organisms
What we had stumbled across as the lightening rods of this French duo known as Daft Punk colonised as French House. Their clubs named in this party as ‘DJ Cheers’. It scalloping out and presenting the dynamic of American nineties deep house embedded and coded with soul enriched words and recall. Words and recall. What if sister? What if brother?
They are actually referenced come to think of it.
Those words not used but grabbing the what if we were a brotherhood.

It was certainly a time which sought the removal of prejudice, which expressed togetherness, which emitomised, just as the Band Aid thirthieth anniversary fades away an awakening to impoverishment, of exclusion, division, war – the ’19’ of the (the Simon Fuller, 19 Management, Paul Hardcastle encourager found embedded in Amy) struck a colossal vein in popular consciousness which morphed in many directions. Even informing ‘American’ themed disco anthems and their cross appeal.

Tree lined Parisienne Streets.
The wide expanses of the Hausmann Boulevards and small commercial trading streets, of counter revolution and now Le Haines contested areas within the periphique had a bourgeoise set who sought out along with other sturdy and not so sturdy youth a culture not derived from Mitterand and his merry band of Eurocrats.
Daft Punk
Social thought indeed was in the ‘Air’ (another French electro device) as self confidence after a one man World Cup! – can I lay that down for discussion at least! – a brimful of Zinedine Zidane from Marseille! head butt upfront! brought out a French exuberance once again on the move. Giacometti meet Serge poster culture with a bit of Rough Trade signature self-identity.
Mia’s beautiful vision
The beautifully thought through delivery of a fictional account of the years French House, a repoclaimed Garage Electronic Vocal House albeit nuanced with the indigenous fluid smooth sounds they heard off the local radio from the populations incoming but barely regarded as influential and probably still not.

The permeation was to be embed without knowing. Frankie Knuckles etc. did lay down plenty of the rhythm and soul inflections understood by the French youth while the UK was direct and in your face. So much so it was back at you from the US who recognised the works worth.

The film is like a groundswell of Music. The first tunes hit off in the daylight opening sequence of a gathering through the more parklife tree lined, (London Planes?) into the – and it was the ozone era – where the air got skinned of its protection, our harmful emissions reached towards a revengeful sky, where the lines of Charlie were across credit lines of harmful business and profit was a book to own.

The tunes are the narrative form. They carry the scenes and Mia drops each as an acid drop with splendid servile subconscious alacrity.

The acid is not so deep as to be found wanting or lost. The scene is derived by the fictional account of her brother, Sven Hansen Love who was a DJ of note and merit. The Eden of the title referring to a Radio/Club publication which aroused the senses by written word, contextural art and drafting a of the nearby Daft Punk luminaries.

Who’s in Da House
Time to introduce Daft Punk properly. Da Funk they drop in a home House party. Meet them, Thomas Bangalter and Guy Manuel de IIomen Christo.
Headbangers of corporate idolatry worth. Unlike the fictional character Paul who is so carefully built by the 23 year old actor Felix De Givry who has to cover the whole twenty or so years of Mia and Svens choice of storyboard.

Each delivers. The point is that the music in essence delivers. It is not full of or has any undercurrents of angst, Prodigy, Underworld come to mind but is up front fusions of joyous sounds making for the first time globally probably French music a serious common bonded sound. How else would it go down so well it hard on United States of America in the home of House, Disco and Dance. It grooved and caresses. It was loud while it did it with no hang up chords or lack of creativeness.

Paul delivers. Sven has his own account of club success and this story has the pairing of Paul with Stan, played by ..who is his encouragement along with Clive another partner in the Club nights which shine. Where is that name derived? They call theirs Cheers. Sort of Aquaplane (Danish) good it’s that bad as a name!
They set up club night high in production values. Not Stockwell! Boston! Hoxton! Sweaty! Non-stop partying. chill and outdoor jeanesse dori blend into the noise and only occasionally does a guest get off their head on screen. The acting of the Mia gathered youth are remarkably well behaved and they dance themselves alarmingly like naturally beguiled lovers of the genre.

These are of the current era made up to be of the former era showing the music is so familiar and loved as to wish a revival of sorts to happen. It looked so innocent but plainly wasn’t. Lots of harm through its drug use and dependency put many into an early grave.

The DJ of Paul’s time worked hard and the labour of love meant he could not pay attention to the love in his own circumference. The adorable, adored, partnerships are true shapeshifting. The loss of his first true love Julie, an American already divorced and who gets his talent is what drives him and returns to America to follow her own goals. The next is the childlike presence of a woman earthling Parisienne girl who also shares his music pedigree but eschews all that it sits alongside. She gives him space and he develops because of her catch a mood wisdom.
A Story in two Parts?
Binary is a recent theme, Love and Mercy, Amy and Mitch, Back to Black, Sid and Nancy, Daft (binary) Punk, Paul and Stan, so this is again perhaps a kind of reflection forward.
The relationships are not so carefully balanced though the synergy is.
They are suited. So it is throughout the film. That he finds love in his life but has another love which he – and because of its acceptance and maybe even being able to make numerous people happy – at the expense of the other and for a part his own mother, his own self worth is undercut.

The success of tracks and his club takes him across to America where again a daylight festival, filmically beautifully choreographed human in scenic harmonious dance sequences at MOMA PS1 courtyard plays out as a
natural segment with Mia’s touch excelling here in both the music and interwoven storytelling pace of her holding onto the challenges at ever encounter.

New York, New Times.
The Paul we know, love and trust is in a difficult place and his own refusal to confront what troubles him and face the loving faces staring back at him is heart felt. Young French actors I have noticed don’t do anger convincingly as they try to hard to be ‘honest’ while simply having taken too much of this that or the other and senses have gone to s*** while the taxi(s) or friend rescue them without much in the way of repercussions.

Not exactly a homage to the delirium delinquency, sangfroid, raw mouthed French unspeakables I have encountered in a blessed return to the world.

The true tried tee shirt thievery is ubiquitously labored or is that just French dressing? Sangfroid gestures are no usual but bad manners and lack of recall are fail safe mechanisms deployed by the French and possibly to a greater extent than others.

The story as this repressed editorial account is struggling to explain for you – the story is good well received baleful and a bit clean – the music is monumentally blissimo innocentia reality fast rhythmic creative vibe full – is paced extremely well and directed knowingly skillfully and very expressively human as to reach where other music films leave you cold.
It is split into the parts of Paul’s life where he is mature and childlike at the height of his musical powers – I detected a downward element to the work later as it went on his own productions – to the aftermatch of money being soaked up by extinctions of guestlists – some nights were the leggy models and dancers drank fluid gold and snorted free gear as complimentary incidentals. To the inevitable turn in fashionable gatefillers, to real life booking of ‘names’ for fortunes and small return took it down to an unrecoverable set of circumstances business wise.

Stop to move on
The dryness at the end was an awakening and there was no trailing over the debris as we had seen the slow demise through these zestful eyes.
The photography slowed to a turning tide and some recall was occasionally invite with the Daft Punk pairing appearing every so often as rudders on another ship.
Conclusion #####5
It is worthy of a five in this (locally) mixed bag Summer.
It reminds us when massacres didn’t appear on beaches along with refugees struggling across continental Europe were never envisaged nor were we mistaken that globally mankind was an outfit which can and ultimately will be the suitor to heaven or a vanished planet. This is the story of a youthful experience.
It is a tender well handled tale thoroughly intelligently written and directed with the deft and utterly convincing playing by the principals who along with the extras equally bring to life that hope which this generation. Now hopefully and do have to hold dear as they venture forward.

Once John Lennon explained it for use.

‘Life is what happens when your making plans.’
John Lennon

Through the train window on route to Washington.

John Graham

23 July 2015


Opens this Friday night at QFT Belfast and on general release from then.
House full so Eden TV
Provides a soundtrack for you

‘Eden boasts a truly outstanding soundtrack’
JAYDEE Plastic Dreams (original version)
SUENO LATINO Sueno Latino (illusion first mix)
ALY US Follow Me (club mix)
THE ORB A Huge Evergrowing Pulsating Brain That Rules From The Centre Of The Ultraworld (Orbital dance mix)
FRANKIE KNUCKLES The Whistle Song (original version)
AARON SMITH FEAT. D’BORA Going Round (UBQ original mix)
JULIET ROBERTS Caught In The Middle (gospel revival remix)
JOE SMOOTH Promised Land (club mix)
LIQUID Sweet Harmony
JASPER STREET COMPANY Solid Ground (Spensane vocal)
ROSIE GAINES Closer Than Close (mentor original)
MK The MKapella
BRYON STINGILY Get Up Everybody (parade mix)
DAFT PUNK One More Time
CHARLES DOCKINS Happy Song (4007 original mix)
JT VANELLI The Cricket Song
WATANABE Odoru (unreleased version)
CHEEK Venus [Sunshine People Cheek] (DJ Gregory full length mix)
KINGS OF TOMORROW Finally (original mix)
OCTAVE ONE FEAT. ANN SAUNDERSON Blackwater (string vocal mix)
JON CUTLER It’s Yours (original distant music mix)
VIOLA Little Girl
MASTERS AT WORK FEAT. INDIA To Be In Love (12 inches)
ANGIE STONE Brotha (DJ Spen & Karizma remix)
LOVE COMMITTEE Just As Long As I Got You
CRYSTAL WATERS Gypsy Woman [La Da Dee] (basement boy strip to the bone mix)
PAUL JOHNSON Tak A Lickin [and Keep on Ticking]
DAFT PUNK Veridis Quo
POLO & PAN Rivolta (get a room! remix)
KERRI CHANDLER We Are [I’m Here For You]



PAUL Félix de Givry
LOUISE Pauline Etienne
ARNAUD Vincent Macaigne
CYRIL Roman Kolinka
STAN Hugo Conzelmann
ANAI’S Zita Hanrot
THOMAS (DAFT PUNK) Vincent Lacoste
GUY-MAN (DAFT PUNK) Arnaud Azoulay
QUENTIN Ugo Bienvenu
HERVE Sébastien Chassagne
NICO Laurent Cazanave
ANNE-CLAI RE Signé Bouaziz
THEODORA Léa Rougeron
ESTELLE Olivia Ross
BASTIEN RADIO FG Pierre-François
MIDORI Garel Claire Tran
RENEE Arsinée Khanjian
JULIA Greta Gerwig
Brady Corbet
MARGOT Laura Smet
YASMIN Golshifteh Farahani

Love & Mercy : A Film Review

Dir. Bill Pohlad USA 2014 2hr 1min. Cert.12a.
Cast. John Cusak, Paul Dano, Paul Gametti,
Script. Oren Moverman and Michael Alan Lerner.
Home is where the Love is
The word is out that The Beach Boys sang the summer for us and ever since have recall days without a cloud, without a moments unhappiness, of surf, sand and sea. This reality of course was a false perception.
Nothing was exposed to the theatre of sound and blue and white stripes of The Beach Boys as much as the fulfillment of the wishing it was fun, fun, fun, sun, sun, sun, more than ourselves the musician fan than themselves and chief among them Brian Wilson.
‘The Worlds most important man of the twentieth century – Woodrow Wilson, according to Scott Berg, Pulitzer Prize winner. Maybe it was for culture, Brian Wilson. It cannot be true though as hype and reality are so inalienable conceptual tangible absolutes as to render us to pulp as fiction.

We need the hype of something in popular media to latch onto as escapism is part of the deal. Woodrow Wilson, origins near Strabane. Conned his country into thinking he was well, a President in full capacity of control, when he was abroad for six months and out of the US! The hype of his life was carried by Newspaper and the Washington Briefing which he invented.
Modern Cinema
This was The Beach Boys new world he had created out of the post war years. The USA needed much in the way of family friendly tones of drama and self identity it gave us Doris Day, Dick Van Dyke, Bob Hope, Dean Martin, as well as The Supremes, The Drifters, The Beatles and poor old Elvis tanned, tanked and Tahiti bound out of a war uniform he had a duty to render the Male American in apart from the alternative – often naval gazing reflection on war – and unceremonious cowboys such as John Wayne preceding Shane soon to be Butched up and moved in town. Voight incoming.
Modern ‘Sinema
There were the, American Betty Davis Betty Davis Eyes types the curious admixture of vice and crime noir and Hitchcock rendezvous films for the unsquemish. Blood on the blade was an escape tool also employed to this confection of a.nice cosy world.

For some crystallizations of the America ‘all we ever wanted’ appeared in popular culture of a clean and type which those in the centre of the stardom were equally susceptible to.
Sound booth stores
Traditionally Crooners and Ballad signers told the narrative but the breakaway was and often is assumed by mentioning The Beach Boys.
The cafés next to the record stores with listening booths were hip as cheapster music nowadays churned out as pop.

This year 2015 is becoming in film alone for Music centered films. Whiplash straddled the entry to the year as it became Oscar commodity.
Then advancing were spacious movies of biographical canvas.

That stretch reaches today to Amy, after the Kurt Cobain visual feast. We have Dustin Hoffman to look forward to in The Choir as well as the month of Music Documentaries QFT Belfast is embarking on concerning our more contemporary rendering documentaries. Music of Bjork, Damon Alborn musical based theatre. Even the film Eden on Daft Punk should be well worth seeing. Barely enclosed as Musical or film they again say we are forever to look at music culture against a visual forest of personalities who stood up to entertain us.

Such is this backdrop it is further disseminated as a story of Brian Wilson’s as QFT programme puts it ‘era defining life’ Bill Pohlad runs two parallel tracks as a very unique take on the two voyages undertaken by Brian Wilson. Some one liners are dropped in which are repeatable. Not here. They are about Brian’s essence and wisdom. The veil is lifted on ourselves through such crafting of thought and a huge amount of unheard of musical literacy.

Music he found to be his souls medium of expression. A handful of melodies and away he went. The generous heart of fellowship, of the band found him creating the most fluid and well received pop music imaginable as his counties technicolor open skied haven.

Just over the past weekend fellow Californians The Grateful Dead, play their final concert having amassed a 44 million dollar event. It took place at Soldiers Field Chicago where Jerry Garcia last played June 1995.

They were close to the edge of where Brian Wilson wanted to be as he sought something beyond what they were narrowly fastened into as the Beach Boys. It’s hard to disavow success and the riches.
The performances within this film are awesomely close to perfect. The division and derision of fellow band members who take to tour without Brian return to find his new book of songs incomprehensible and depressing or close to ailing wailing self indulgent aganst driven worry harnessed in notes and chord complexities even seasoned session musicians had found difficult in constructing.

Paul Dano who added pounds in weight to inhabit the world of Brian Wilson is exceptionally close to any perception we are likely to have of the menacing self-examination which in the opening frames curates the medical condition of hearing other voices in his studio settling the arguments of value on the music he is conceiving. It is an adopted case of proprietorial regions of the brain under challenge from each other. Reason for, as Paul Dano transmits, ‘in peril’ alone as Brian cuts a force, a never seen duality on screen before as insightfully played and told without realism or prurience.
We have seen hothouse voices from the depictions of Elizabeth Taylor, in manic episodes, male versions well covered also, yet here the coil spring nuances of thought are demonstrably resonant.
John Cusack is cast into the role of ‘future’ Brian the credits have us told.
This is a case of extrordinary implicit schizophrenia when it is assertainable, perhaps due to hindsight it is expectatious or expressed in only small measure, something more akin to psychoneurosis.
The brain is not even now so easily categorissed but we know a great deal more than then.

The future is made possible by using two actors. The eerily accurate narrowing of the brow, slight hesitant recoil, pulling his will inward through expression abstracts the inner feeling so well Cusack deploys it’s constant question mark for us to engage with. John Cusak is achieving little in the way of help in large part through another main player in this format. The John Landy psychiatrist whose power of attorney seems large and is dealt strongly and dismally with acerbic scenes of disagreement and darkness seen in sunlight.
There is in the construction of Smile, the album Brian assembled while the remainder, Mike Love, Carl Wilson and the other siblings, that is becomes apparent this is no ordinary man and he operates on a split level mind.
Exceptionally honest about his inner senses therefore unable to obliterate, deny, suppress the feelings of hurt found when dealing with the outside world, particularly his father who accounts for the loss of 85% hearing in Brian’s left ear by repeated punching.
The editing by Dino Jonsater match episodes of period unerringly back and forth. The scene where it appears Brian Is having an episodes when making “God Only Knows” one of their masterworks literally routes us the viewer from thinking one thing to seeing another as this finite, glorious tune is brought out. You will be astonished by the sweet and savage use of character here.
Melinda Ledbetter (Elizabeth Banks), the woman who was his saviour is outstandingly portrayed giving a sparkling beautifully nuanced and attractive accurate account as provided through the riches of script deposition and filmic period resonance, fashion and style wise.
She is first encountered in the Cadallaic showroom where a relationship of forces meeting is established without any claims from either. She sells cars, he buys one. One they have an adult and childlike conversation in breaking the rules of attraction through aa heartfelt moment of greeting a friend.

It begins the middle core love story which becomes transitory.
Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti), Doctor Damage. A control freak psychoanalyst whose appreciation of Brian’s condition relies on a fragmentary reponse first initiated from a period of reclusive, very reclusive self withdrawal made by Brian.
Various theories are thrown like projectiles at us. One comes that Brian is consciously aware albeit occasionally, of the regression he goes through at times. His maid and housekeeper keeps the over prescription of Landy a secret and Melinda develops as does Brian a truly bonded relationship.

Not surprisingly this undermines Landy enormously. The effect is to send the film into a multiple of editorial and stimulating scenes of harrowing, joyous action.

Not simultaneous. No the schizo dynamic is over wrought in reality as in Landys mind. So Landys position as Wilson’s personal physician and legal guardian, becomes another fore fronted part of the music dynamic which all along is mesmerizing us. Not least because, here is another master stroke. Atticus Ross blends his own score an Beach Boys work so intensely and ferociously we have a narrative both Oren Moverman and Michael Alan Lerner send director Bill Pohlads head into a tailspin no doubt trying to switch the direction of emotions, the highs and breaking points.

It is a masterwork and in parts where Paul Dano takes off in the studio as a maestro planner of plenitude, we see exchanges of dialogue which are collected and delivered in such environments as the ubiquitous swimming pool.
Homage to a floating baby Nirvana in which separateness is key.
Or the slant across the pool. The water sloping from Paul Danos side and readjusted level when seen from the bands side. Of course some dialogue is superfluous but for those unused to the capers of directors in shoeing in favourite vibes one supplants these.

The conversations, on the terraces of balconies with views it is not reasonable to be expected in a normal world; (the locations of these are breathtakingly beautiful as to be heavenly locations for heady differences and cruel irony) is another master stroke.
The colourscape is never restful as you can drown in the lush pleasure and production ‘shots’ even of roadside stationary scenes are of the texture and whole belying underbelly of misdirection taken on the road to becoming the great Uniteed States of America. They also have a scene watching at Landys choice no doubt a Moody Blues Concert!
He turns to Melinda seated next to him who has just spoken to Brian and asks something like “What did he just say? What were you saying?” Full of not just a controlling irrigation, yes not irritating, misapplied sickness I read this a reflection of Landy wanting to know what both sought of the song.
‘Nights in white Satin’. The duality and multiplicity of uses for the song being Landys own personality.

Conclusion ##### 5
This ends as many do not as a recovery gone right.
You don’t often get that but the journey was costly.
The mercy bit comes in the song. The film is put together with a lot of Americas discovery of itself after the relase from war and is an unprecedented release of a sectio of popular historical biography. A fictionised true life story made for the adoration of millions of fans.
Melinda Ledbetter carried and carries the torch.
The Wilson family have a history told for their own benefit and sustenance as unforensic as is both proper and practical.
It is a work of depth and extrordinary insightfulness.
It explains the lack of medical explanation of so many cross genetic and societal forms of interaction.
The contusions and left orbital senses damage is but one derivation of the harm and bi-polar state he fluctuates from though no such diagnosis or any diagnosis is rightly put across as the closing sequences gather us for the close.

QFT Belfast Fri 17 July to Thurs 30 July 2015 check the screening times lose to the date as times sometimes shift a little.

Julys Calendar

image image

And here is a BT9 Event


Here is a July Calendar which may be suitable for a download/print or inspire you to make your own.

Soon I shall be sending to post a blog review of the film Amy which is on general release from Friday. It is a film I am rating at 4/5 despite it’s many flaws and the inevitable gaps. The woman was beautiful gifted and has left a world which needed more of her than she could give.

John Graham

1 July 2015


Amy : A Film Review

Directed by Asif Kapadia, Documentary, Cert 15. 2hrs 8mins
From the cradle
The North London world of Amy Winehouse was modern life in a close Jewish family. The calendar approach of the chronology leading to her passing is in this film capturing a small part of the true Amy.

It is not a biographical film. Neither is it remotely complete or a true picture of her life. Self provokingly it postulates as a history of the composite music files, both Amateur record, professional parasitic paparazzi takes, concert footage and many personal tapes made by her entourage including decisively her first manager Nigel. A lot of footage making this film is apparently YouTube footage but it’s hard to tell.
The sharp contrast of titles used throughout, even sub-titling for lyrics which is a bit of a cosmic fudge akin to Amy’s dislike of a producers over dub inclusion of strings on one of her tracks is presented across speckled, low res film.

It looks hip. It reads unctuous and for a non Amy audience tells a part of the already seen crushing media and music business hardships she endured.
The period between Frank and Back to Black are, remain a mystery. Despite all the exposure and written words Amy accounts for it simply as a period when ‘I started drinking and I fell in love.” Then after marrying Blake she began at what seemingly is the height of personal fulfillment, taking crack cocaine.

“What Is It About Men,” (“I can’t help but demonstrate my Freudian fate / My alibi for taking your guy”) does Mitch no favours, his “Amy: The Untold Story” — Mitch Winehouse is seen in the film as being a part of her pressures. Ambivalence towards drug treatment is direct and bullshit bravado as is ignoring his own manipulative misappropriated skills in time management.

19 management and other management appall. The ones around Amy, her closes friends are not ‘the management’ but gatekeepers employers. The constant roundabout of Virgin Mobile this and Q awards, Brit Awards etc, with relentless rock and radio appearances are precursors to a breakdown.
Amy was highly intelligent and instead of playing the roster of awards questioned the whole. Why have a best female?
Why not best Artist?
It is only too apparent. The music performances in certain places worked. You could never say she failed in an open air sunlit park gig no more than she failed in a night club atmosphere as it depended on so many things. She was in or out of the grooves he created and constructed.
Her writing is about something else. It gets a good airing but is in the end only a fleeting glimpse of the reality.
Mick Jagger and others are quoted in Chas Newkey – Burdens book with a radically more persuasive dialogue than mere rockumentary can elucidate on. The depiction in visual form of a women’s downfall is treated here as burlesque homage. It is at times fragile and individuals get to express certain things they have longed to express no doubt. When x comes to y the journey is over for the women at the centre and the tragedy is immense beyond measure or retrieval.

Some folk will need to take a long hard look at themselves and have probably done so. Let them heal themselves. Let them access places Amy was forbidden to go and let them experience the healing brought.

Let them use their ears. The soundscape is amazing throughout with additional (occasional strings)assembling at the fine images of Amy stretched across the screen.

The film is set out as a filmic exploration of the mess and entanglements managerial, personal and familial that were scrutinised at times in the media. Many famous people are depicted at their zenith of exposure to Amy.
It sets out to be all that appears for a tag happy prescriptive account, as a prolonged encounter with destiny.
Never missing in bathos the footage takes to the skies in a hovercam, steadi-cam or drone hatchling. Rising above North Finchley, Southgate, Thames at Waterloo, Lee at Camden Lock, Kings Cross or from higher the whole of London we are lifted not only by words or narrative.
The choices made are presumably visual punctuation in a frenetic balls of a horror intervention.
As things come round Southgate Priory is now one of its flagship clinics.
Renown psychiatrists who encountered Amy give freely of confidential details of their post justificatory analysis.
Give us a lesson on the effects of drugs and alcohol.

For a film to make you turn almost to tears it must have sincere and heartfelt truth along the journey. It essentially comes from your reading of the talent of Amy Winehouse.
All else is bile and hearsay, reconstructed, edited for proprietorial reasons.
Double jeopardy
At one point the Director Asif Kapadia cuts a scene in the retreat of St Lucia which her trustworthy bodyguard has found for a family retreat and recuperation which nearly acts as a catalyst for the journey to wakefulness so required by Amy, of her father Mitchell Winehouse, directing his own movie crew around the private gathering which shows – through Mitch’s own footage his berating her attitude when he sidles up two tourists for a selfie and he is merciless in having it on his own footage as a father controlling her attitude when peace and tranquility is foremost in Amy’s thoughts.

It is a father securing his own persona of protectiveness. Of showing her he is there. Witness the crew and his own little film. Then the undercurrent of Amy’s need for him to show her love which he as we say in these parts – ‘he’s a funny way of going about it’ – it is not only like throwing stones at swifts flying above seeking food and pleasure but a despicable tale told for us to be later subjected to and share this private unease.
The Earliest times.
The film misses the early times.
From Amy Winehouse The Biography by Chas Newkey – Burden which I thought was a superb bit of journalistic endeavour though inevitably suffering from gaps as the film, I fill in with some of its points which are illuminating.

The Biography, the book tells a great deal.
It may drop off towards the end of the book as journalist are interviewed about interviews but it copes with the mystery and is hopeful of recovery.
It shows from her singing at school and being told to stop, her mothers Jewish jazz musician brothers, her adherence to Jewish tradition and the contradictory promise of Amy which took in the National Youth Jazz Orchestra (film features) the Sylvia Young School indebtedness of which she said “..Although unlike my Dad, and his ancestors, I want to do something with the talents I’ve been ‘blessed’ with.”

She was a virtuoso from the time her most influential guru – her maternal grandma who became her mother in effect around the time of Mitch Mitchell leaving the family home for an affair and the Sylvia Young School predicting failure in the academic part the coping – inability of Janis her mother to restrain a creative force and where does autism strike? Where were the helpers in the schools or background faith brethren? How bi-polar defendant are events unfolding? Where do food issues enter?
Origins of her genetic gift.
Mitch Winehouse brought the jazz music world into the house they had in Southgate. 250,000 Jews settled in North London and loud was to be a feature of Amy’s upbringing. It seems Mitch was the connoisseur while Janis had the background music genes.

Amy’s brother Alex was a very big influence which she acknowledged and her schooldays were happy day’s and she took up guitar by buying a Fender Stratocaster not that she and her friend at school Juliette Ashby, who features a great deal in the film, had much call for playing blues or heavy metal.. More inclined to act as Shangri-Las and perform as a duo ‘Pepsi and Shirley’ or as pseudo ‘Wham’ backing band they formed a duet as ‘Sweet and Sour’.

Nan had the notion of grooming them, Alex included and Amy was able to sing behind her brothers Frank Sinatra repertoire. He was eighteen to her fourteen. Her own breakthrough she maintained happened around nine!

Troubled teens
Influences and loves are installed from nine until around fourteen and the disintegration from the absence of her father had a mighty effect.
Janis Winehouse had to work as well as look after her family and often would find a party started at the Winehouse residence with music blaring and often the teenage hangers on. Dross music was abashed for jazz and hip hop open sounds.

Amy’s words come across brilliantly on this period through the diligence of Chas Newkey – Burden and his characteristic love of the songs which emerged. The early years are so fascinating and at the same time make you weep for her and the troubled souls she leaves behind.

Chas Newkey – Burden is full of hope and optimism throughout his book and burns out hatred and the caterwaul talk – Jonathon Ross gets a great by-ball roughing it as a fellow commoner in the films TV footage. This film in interview clips is not short but in the book Chas Newkey – Burden repeats the intentional slur on her after some awards thing.
A hip Jonathan Ross. Forget it. Surrounded by Jewish culture though he does take faith in the Unitarians of Golders Green with his family which probably saves him. Others are snipping at her from a distance, Graham Norton, who never knew a Jazz song worth listening to and many cloth eared vampires and DJ sorts.
From the Sheffield premier came these comments.
‘Nick Shymansky, who discovered Amy as a 16-year-old and became her manager, said he could not turn down the opportunity to speak out.

“The reason I did this is actually to focus on her brilliance,” he told Radio Times.

“The dark side is so well documented, available and overly publicised. The one thing you know when you go and see this film is that Amy’s going to die. And I felt that for a long time before the end came.”‘

Julie Birchill got wind of her early but didn’t act on the lead given. Surprisingly. Is that correct? No show?
The former NME rock journalist found herself in conversation on the making of a TV Medical programme about asbestosis – the ironies just pile up – with Amy’s Aunt Debra Milne – a consultant histopathologist who convinced Julie to go see her niece in performance.

As for 19 management Amy put her link down to Tyler James, Chas Newkey – Burden quotes her as saying, ‘I had one gig with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra and Tyler, he was with his A&R guy Nicky (Shamansky), and Nicky said to him, “I heard this girl singing jazz on the radio,” and Nicky said “We’ll my friend Amy sings jazz and she’s great.” I think I must have been about 16. So I think Nicky was the one who convinced me to make a tape.’ The story goes on to quote her ‘I met Simon Fuller, like, two times.’

Fuller was no Svengali or Chris Wright (Chrysalis) type and had a ear but dealt in ‘churn’ of his own kind franchising Pop Idol.
The Chrysalis thing was his start and knowing the Beggars Banquet shop in Kingston Upon Thames I know there is a side to that enterprise, much is owed, to Jazz, darker themes and genuine avant garde or music with a quark strangeness and charm. Did they ever record Hawkwind!?. Certainly Tindersticks and the like. Tindersticks lead singer selling vinyl when it was naff. Not many bands canclaim a track on The Sopranos though!
Amy complained they played her songs in the bar on Emmerdale!
In the book as opposed to the documentary here both are only snapshots but genuinely play a role which escapes the film dealing with the same periods.

Some roads lead to other places and after the Sylvia Young endorsement she won a scholarship at the Brit School Selhurst Croydon which the book covers in some detail.
Brit influence
I can correct some of that because I was involved on the initial phases of it setting up and opening.
The design of the school came about through the genius that is George Martin, not the xyz, mentioned.
Ambitions at the school existed but the forging of them took a quantum leap with BRIT involvement.

It was obvious to him the need existed and he knew how to get it organised so set up the British Recording Industry Trust organizing board or commitment to it.
BRIt had a prospective location at a secondary school wishing to diversify in South East London.

The practice Cassidy Taggart Partnership, I was subsequently to work for, won the Architectural design competition George Martin had set up.
My boss, Brian Taggart, I.O.M. of Liverpool schooling, who is a genius in his own right, designed a formidable praying mantis like building with a very large theatre box central core.
It was over two stories in height and had the structural elements hanging of it supporting and clearing the created opened studio floor space in the process around the block.
So at first floor the whole roof floated above areas without the standard column distances found otherwise.

The central performing space happens to be acoustically of the correct scale and composition. Attention to surfaces and size was the starting block.
Former offices I occupied for the practice had a central Dunlopillo(foam rubber pyramidic sheet) central wall and hoop sound block separating room noise either side!
It was apparent the building fabric and scale has a great deal to contribute as does the guidance much applied from George Martins career as studio producer.

The tuning of it into a finely calibrated Performing arts college took place and it opened at a cost which has been repaid several times over – the budget was extremely small and every trick in the book was used to make the building unique, buildable and functional at an unbelievable cost.

George Martin loved the result. Amy walks up the steps of Abbey Road into the studios he also designed in a house in Hampsted. It was just down the street from where the final detail works of design were formulated in a ‘temporary’ office for the BRIT SCHOOL which was alongside the ‘Spitting Image’ factory. You would go for a smoke on the fire escape staircase and several Dummies seen on TV would be staring from the windows at you. They would shake and sometimes move assisted by the folks indoors (in need of a smoke themselves).

Step one you kiss and hold her tight.
The book tells of Amy Winehouse not liking the school but I can imagine the slim figure crawling the steps of Selhurst station to get to the exposed platform late at night. The echoes of sound still resonating in her head from the building behind and from that cold wet vantage point see North and also wait to be taken down to London Bridge Station. The same is true of many a gig and artist I’m sure. Adele must have felt so much a part of a proper cultural force that London duly provided her and others with opportunities which they were in the vanguard of shaping.

The most revatory pieces come with the analysis given to the songs which she Amy Winehouse has given us.

Of Frank. Well, brother Alex, father Mitchell, Blake, Nicky and all men were possibly Frank (Sinatra) in her eyes.
She opened up in songs as no one ever has before.

Conclusion ####4
Back to Black tracks like you know I’m no good, show Amy as she struggles with the demons. It is bad news when TV take it beyond its angst against fidelity. ‘Secret dairy of a Call Girl’ used it while ‘Rehab’ is made darker than it’s fast loaded tongue in cheek origins. Just friends is high fidelity jazz along the lines of Aretha Franklin at her height.
Some of the takes on her songs as mainstream press and tabloids eschew their purpose driven diatribes are woefully abundantly squeamish to read. They are so unlike the music pilots and jazz messengers of the press whose writings inform.
Imagine the fun and superb judgement the late Derek Jewell would have had in hearing her perform and sing towards a new spectral age of music.
Sadly he is no longer around. He had years though that Amy did not. To see this film is to see only a small part which is how I have sought to construct this set of observations.
To direct you into music as delivered and to return to music and mix it with the current. The film is very well cut and fills a void of a kind but it has soured some.
I feel for people whose participation was an attempt at being free at last to speak their minds. Today tribute. To support the gracious memory of such a breathtaking lady.

She was dynamite unfolding but it need not explode in CinemaScope, is not intended to be trawled over using the very paparazzi footage of news hounds as it is counter to the apparent mine of other records that surely exist.
It is no doubt positive to be reminded of her worth and it is going to be an entry route for many to music of a magnificent kind so what’s the problem? Discuss?

John Graham

2 July 2015


The film opens on 3 July 2015

QFT Belfast Friday 3 to Thursday 9 July 2015 then from

Thursday 16 to Thursday 23 July 2015

Multiple opportunities!