Thursday, 30 June 2011

Billy Joel

The piano man himself, Billy Joel. A man that must be forgiven for some of the worst music ever inflicted on mankind (We Didn't Start The Fire - contender for one of the most dreadful songs ever recorded) for one song: New York State of Mind. Totally one of my favourite songs ever.

Things I did not know until five minutes ago, he used to date Elle MacPherson. He must be really good in bed or something. Come on, what's that about?

Billy is up there with Barry and Neil for me. He is one of the greatest songwriters and although he can't knock them out like he used to, he sure has a back catalogue to be proud of. Just The Way You Are, She's Always A Woman, Piano Man, Scenes From An Italian Restaurant... they just keep coming. He's not aged well, he wrote some terrible songs but I forgive it all for this. Check him out - the man is cool! Maybe Elle was on to something...

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Summer songs - Hips Don't Lie, Shakira

I admit to having a soft spot for Shakira. I think she has a great voice and is more than just a pretty blonde shaking her booty. Anyone who can sing "lucky that my breasts are small and humble so you don't compare them to a mountain" is a legend in my book.

This song is featured in Dirty Dancing 2 (which is honestly, I promise you, worth a watch) but not with Shakira singing it. Once she came along it was a mammoth hit and rightly so. It's the very definition of catchy. I love it and it is, without a doubt, a proper summer song.

It's overcast and rainy here after our one day of 90 degree heat yesterday. So let's watch this and pretend we are in Cuba or somewhere sexy and steamy and are dancing with some handsome Latino man.

Monday, 27 June 2011

The Sure Thing

We come to one of my favourite films of the 80s. I never tire of watching The Sure Thing. Quite apart from the fact it has the wondrous John Cusack in it, it also had a young Tim Robbins and Goose from Top Gun! This makes it the Perfect Film.

College boy needs to get to California to meet The Sure Thing (Nicolette Sherdian in a white bikini) and somehow by means of comic japes, takes a road trip with uptight college girl. Guess what happens? I know, it's hard to see where that plot line is going. I'll give you a clue - they hate each other to start with.

Directed by Rob Reiner at the top of his game, The Sure Thing is a pure delight and a reminder that back in the 80s, there was no need for gross out humour. I miss those days. Call me old but I don't need to see bridesmaids puking and crapping themselves in the name of humour.

Anyway, Daphne Zuniga spent some years in the wilderness after this reappearing in Melrose Place. Last I saw of her, she was in One Tree Hill; she really deserved a better fate.

If you've not seen it (really, why not?) then don't watch this trailer as it's pretty much the whole film.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Summer songs - La Isla Bonita, Madonna

This is one of the all-time great summer songs. It simply oozes sunshine and sangria. Listening to this song in the winter is all wrong but listening to it on a sunny day in June transports you to the Costa Del Sol and the whiff of Ambre Solaire.

Another fab video from Madonna. I never quite got the appeal of the long haired geezer but she looks amazing. As usual, I can't embed it but you can watch it here. I am typing this as the sun finally makes an appearance in London after days and days of grey skies and rain. Here's hoping it's the start of a heatwave.

Friday, 24 June 2011

The Notebook

Sappy love stories, I love 'em. The Notebook is a modern classic of the genre and like Titanic, I shamelessly love it. I can't quite be doing with the present day bit of the story because it's too sad but the main part of the film, where they flash back to when they are young is wonderful.

I first watched this on a plane and had no idea how sad it was. By the end, I was weeping and they were coming round with dinner. The air stewards looked sympathetic and said "Hmmm, The Notebook?" with understanding in their eyes. My sister was next to me and in a worse state so technically this is a film I first saw with my sister although not sure it counts on a plane.

I've since seen it quite a few times and always enjoy it. It's another perfect sunday afternoon film. The leads are great in this and it helps they were dating at the time - it's certainly quite steamy but in a harmless, romantic way.

Here's the trailer. Oh the romance...

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet

It's time for every teenager's favourite tragic story, Romeo and Juliet, or as Baz would have it, Romeo + Juliet. Ampersands are simply not hip.

This is a cool film with the lovers perfectly cast. Leonardo is at the top of his game here and looks so good. Yes, he is very pretty but he has a depth and intelligence to him. Claire Danes is also excellent.

Made back when Baz was good. Well, I say that, he gave us this and Strictly Ballroom and I thought he was fantastic. Little did I know that was it. Then came one of my most hated films ever; Moulin Rouge. I can't even talk about it I loathe it so much. Maybe another time.

Back to Romeo + Juliet which is a good film. It's cleverly done, I love the Rio setting, it's sexy and it has a wonderful supporting cast. Pete Postlethwaite anyone? Paul Rudd? I love Paul Rudd. We may have a post about Paul Rudd soon. It also has the perfect movie soundtrack with Lovefool being my favourite. Whatever happened to The Cardigans? It has one of the few Radiohead songs I like on it too. Although I love the scene where they meet by the fish tank, I could do without Des'ree's warbling but nonetheless it's a winner.

So now I have another film I need to watch again.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Summer songs - Summer Night City, Abba

To celebrate the longest day of the year, I bring you Summer Night City. This has long been one of my favourite Abba songs and it's nice to see them doing a happy video, I love Anna's disco dancing! Look how happy they look in this picture. Ahhh Abba, no band does it like you.

I must book a city break to Stockholm...

Monday, 20 June 2011

Reality Bites

I was reminded of this film today when I heard My Sharona on the radio. How could I have not blogged about it before? It's totally one of my desert island movies.

This film is a 90s classic capturing the end of the grunge period when actresses didn't look glossy and perfect and just relied on being, you know, pretty. It's an X Generation film and being X gen, I lapped it up. I first saw this on my year out in Albuquerque and it fuelled my latent desire to move to the West and just chill out man. Never mind that I am way too old for that now, it's a fantasy I am not willing to give up easily. I could have worked at The Gap!

It's a great rom com but it's so much more than just a rom com thanks to the leads. My love for Janeane Garofalo knows no bounds and she is the star of this movie, I crown her thus for this one line: "Welcome to the maxi pad!" Winona Ryder can be a bit tedious but she is cute in this and as for Ethan Hawke. Crush alert! He was so sexy, I don't know where it went all wrong.

Ben Stiller directed this and really, that man is talented. It's a witty script and here a few of my favourite lines:

"He's so cheesy, I can't watch him without crackers."
"I'm not going to work at The Gap for chrissake!"
"I'm late for a jeans folding seminar. Let's locomote!"
"Can you define irony?"

There are so many more. It also has a classic 90s soundtrack. Man, I just love it and need to watch it again soon.

Meanwhile, here's My Sharona:


I'm always surprised when I talk to people my age (or thereabouts) and they say they never watched M*A*S*H.  It was so good and I wonder what they had to do that was better on a Wednesday night. Maybe they had rocking social lives.

Mobile Army Surgical Hospital was a black comedy set in the Korean war. The film was a proper black comedy (if you've not seen the film, stop reading and go and watch it now). However the TV show was a little sweeter and more sentimental. The early seasons were sensational with the original cast of Frank, Trapper, Henry and Radar. It was truly hilarious. I was too young to watch those early seasons when they aired and so I probably came to it when they brought in BJ Hunnicutt and Charles Winchester. I've since watched them all of course and the early episodes are the best. The show lost a little something when Radar went home. As for killing Henry Blake, I still well up thinking about it.

In my research to bring you this post (mainly, looking up how to spell Hunnicutt), I read that the finale of the show had 106 million viewers. Extraordinary. It was one of the best finales to a tv show ever. When Hotlips and Hawkeye finally kiss! When Hunnicutt spells out Goodbye. It was fantastic.

My criticisms of it are I always found Klinger very unfunny and Alan Alda's sentimentality made the later shows a bit harder to enjoy. Minor points in the grand scale of things though and Hotlips atoned for all that - she was one of the best TV characters ever.

It also had great opening credits that captured the show perfectly. Here they are if a little fuzzy.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Summer songs - Boys of Summer, Don Henley

With this song we may have our first summer song AND power ballad. How exciting. I plumped for summer song in the title as it is summer. Apparently. Although it's not summer in London today. It's cold and wet.

I thought we could do with some sunshine and California dreaming and what better way than with this gem? The Eagles are one of my favourite bands and I always look with interest at any solo Eagles. I've always adored this song, it's so atmospheric. The video is hard to find but I tracked it down on YouTube. It may well be taken down soon as Don (or his record company) is a bit obsessive about copyright. Enjoy it while you can and pretend you are running along a sunny beach in Santa Monica. Ahhhh.

St Elsewhere

St Elsewhere was probably the first medical TV drama I watched. A forerunner to ER and ground-breaking at the time, it was fantastic. It also introduced us to Denzel Washington and Mark Harmon. Not bad going.

William Daniels (aka The Voice of K.I.T.T) was crotchety and perfect in this. Whatever happened to him? I always really liked him and thought he was a great actor. Everyone in this was great and it reminds you how good the Americans are at making these tv shows. However, I never forgave them for killing off Mark Harmon's character with AIDS.

It had some classic opening credits but for some reason they are all blocked on YouTube to the UK so I can't post a link but here is the theme.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Rob Lowe

I read Rob Lowe's autobiography on my holiday (Seville since you ask, lovely, I recommend it). I was expecting to enjoy this book as it's ROB LOWE and it's common knowledge I like him. However, it's actually a stonking good read. The thing that really struck me about it was how easy it was for him to break into Hollywood. He doesn't seem to have the struggling years. His mum moves him to Malibu to be with her latest man (she sounds like a fruitloop) and boom! He's best mates with the Sheen brothers and hanging out with the Penn brothers! In a matter of moments he's auditioning for The Outsiders and away he goes.

Mind you, look at him. He was insanely pretty so it's not a great surprise. The other thing that struck me is that past the looks, Rob is a good actor. Clearly I have always known this but it reminded me of his lesser known films that I am thirsting to watch again: Bad Influence (very good if I recall from years ago) and Masquerade (a Bad Movie We Love). I shall be ordering them from Amazon and having a Rob Lowe evening.  Anyone is welcome to join me.

While I wait, I shall be content with the Rob I have. I recently rewatched St Elmo's Fire so it's the first episode of The West Wing then... the things I do.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Burt Bacharach

Nobody writes a song like Mr Bacharach. Surely if he was English he'd be Sir Bacharach. Legend of the melody, one of my favourite songwriters and he's called Burt. The man has it all. Except a decent singing voice, bless him. But that's ok because he chose some amazing singers instead; Dionne and Aretha. Blissful.

I saw Burt live at the Royal Albert Hall years ago. Probably at least 12 years ago if not longer. And it was magical. He sang a few songs (hence my knowledge that he can't really sing) and he wheeled on singers to do others. It was one of the best concerts I've ever been to as this man knows how to tell an anecdote. You felt like it was just you and him at the bar. Sadly, I had to share the experience with thousands of others.

So, my favourite Bacharach songs are:

I Say A Little Prayer - it's impossible to imagine anyone but Aretha singing this. If you've ever tried to sing this, you'll know how hard it is and how effortless she makes it.

Walk on By - so very sad. I am sniffling just thinking about it.

Arthur's Theme - I love this song. Between the moon and New York City, I know it's crazy...

They Long to be (Close to You) - I always forget Burt wrote this masterpiece.

Do You Know The Way To San Jose? - it's actually easy to get to San Jose, even I managed it. But a wonderful song.

I'll Never Fall In Love Again - a bit too whimsical for me but I still like it.

The songs I don't like are the ones Cilla Black does. I don't know why anyone told that woman she can sing. She ruins Alfie.

My top Burt song is The Look Of Love because the sublime Dusty sings it. It's perfection in a song and I adore it. Check her out! She looks amazing.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Forrest Gump

I remember when Forrest Gump swept the Oscars beating Pulp Fiction, Tarantino said "why doesn't everyone realise Forrest Gump is a black comedy?" Well, Quentin, I realised. I am unashamed in my love for Forrest Gump, I genuinely believe it to be a great film. I think Tom Hanks thoroughly deserved his Oscar. And I think it's technically brilliant; the way they edit the old footage so Forrest meets the presidents is brilliant.

It was on TV last night and so I watched it again having not seen it for years. It's simply great entertainment and I think my favourite bit is how well Forrest does in the army. "Forrest, you're a goddamned genius!" I also love Bubba talking about all the different ways you can shrimp.

It has a fabulous (if obvious) soundtrack and all the supporting actors are very good too. Gary Sinise as Lt Dan, Robin Wright as Jenny. Hell, I even like Sally Fields in this!

Here is my favourite bit.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Summer songs - Daydream Believer, The Monkees

Cheer up sleepy Jean, oh what can it mean to a daydream believer. What a wondrous song this is, even Dawson and Joey warbling it on Dawson's Creek cannot ruin it for me.

In case you missed it:

I am cringing for them.

This is one of those wonderful all-time classic American songs that make you want to eat ice cream cones and rollerskate down a promenade. I love its innocence. Sing it boys.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011


Two posts in one day. I thought I'd spoil you all.

Now then, I am always honest with you and I am not ashamed to admit that I love Titanic. I love it so much that I am listening to the soundtrack as I write this. The soundtrack I bought back in 1997. That I still have on my ipod.

Over the last two evenings, I've been watching Titanic (it's too long for one viewing on a school night) with Teen Boy and I'd forgotten how captivating it it. Yes, it's cheesy, it's got some terrible lines (how many times do they say 'Jack' and 'Rose' to each other? No need to actually answer that) and it's very long. Nonetheless, from the moment it starts I am transfixed. James Cameron is a fantastic director. Terminator 2 is still one of my favourite movies. Nobody does bang for your buck like Cameron. When that boat goes down, you feel like you are drowning with it. Maybe I get too involved.

Specific things I love about this movie:

1. The scale. They built a replica of the ship! Well half a replica. Having watched it, you do feel like you've been aboard the Titanic.
2. The soundtrack. See above. I don't like the Celine song though, I do have some limits to my bad taste.
3. Kate Winslet. Hard to imagine anyone else throwing themselves into this quite like Kate.
4. Leonardo Dicaprio. Beloved of teenage girls everywhere, he's perfect in this. I like Leo, he's a good actor.
5. Kathy Bates as the Unsinkable Molly. I'd like to have seen more of her.
6. Billy Zane! Billy Zane is in it. Wearing eyeliner. Say no more.
7. The action. Once that iceberg hits, it's non-stop action and it's fantastic. The way the water rushes in. The bit where she has to go and save Jack from the handcuffs. Heart in my mouth.
8. The hats.
9. Gloria Stuart. Pure class.
10. All the underwater footage of Titanic. It never fails to move me.

I'll stop at ten reasons. That's quite enough.

I can't pick one scene as one scene alone is just bad. You need the whole film. So here's a trailer.


Chic is one of my favourite bands. Niles Rodgers is a genius. Another album that I loved as a child - Chic's Greatest Hits. When they sang Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah, I thought it was the best thing ever. Still do, truth be told.

Every song on their Greatest Hits is wonderful. Good Times (so sampled but the original is the best), Le Freak (all-time classic disco - no party is complete without this), Dance Dance Dance (Yowsah etc) and my favourite, I Want Your Love.

Effortless, toe-tapping, wonderful. Nothing can go wrong in the world when Chic is being played. Look at that photo - they were sublime. It makes me want to throw something glittery on and dance under a mirror ball. See you on the dancefloor...

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Summer songs - Hollaback Girl, Gwen Stefani

I love Gwen. She's a teenage girl's total dream. Who doesn't want to be Gwen? She's just so cool and funny. I like her music because it's such fun.

This song is all boppy and fab. I mainly love it for Sebastian Bach's rendition of it in Gilmore Girls though. I can't find it on YouTube but it is one of the best two minutes of television ever. It's in Season 6 somewhere when the band split up briefly.

Anyway, for a sunny Saturday morning, here's Gwen.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

One Night in Bangkok

It's perfectly simple, I love this song. Thank you Bjorn and Benny. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. I actually wanted to go to Bangkok just so I could play this. So I did. And I did. And it was worth it.

As it turns out Bangkok is a great place to visit so it wasn't a very expensive pilgrimage. Witty lyrics, catchy tune and beautifully sung by Murray Head (Gold Blend, Anthony's brother). Perfecto 80s. Is Chess any good? Has anyone seen it?

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