Sunday, 30 September 2012

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

This is one of my favourite sunday afternoon films. Marilyn is at her most adorable in this film and Jane Russell is marvellously cynical and has some great lines, "in bed by 9am? That's when life just begins!"

The costumes are fantastic, the songs are fabulous and the central theme that diamonds are a girl's best friend is one anyone can relate to. I also love Two Little Girls From Little Rock. This film is the very definition of they don't make them like this anymore. It's utterly charming.

I believe that the lyrics to Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend are simply some of the best ever written: "a kiss on the hand can be quite continental, but diamonds are a girl's best friend! A kiss may be grand, but it won't pay the rental on your humble flat, or help you at the automat." Genius! There's more: "get that ice or else no dice!" I can listen to Marilyn sing it over and over. She may not have the best voice but you really feel like she means it.

It's made for a rainy afternoon and cups of tea. Oh, and the costumes are divine. Look at these pictures. I want a pink gown with matching gloves!

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Leo Sayer

I'm a little reluctant to write about anyone after my Andy Williams post was followed by his demise. He was 86 so, you know, he had good innings. I am very much hoping Mr Sayer is in fine fettle and has no health concerns.

Leo Sayer could only have come out of the 70s. He had the hair, the silly voice and the general silliness that decade is so fondly remembered for. I've always rather liked him for a handful of songs. Firstly, You Make Me Feel Like Dancing. I almost have no words for this particular version, you have to watch the introduction by Captain and Tennille. It's the 70s in one three minute clip, the dancers, his suit, the set. It's a marvel.

When I Need You. I remember a video of him walking along a beach but I can't seem to find it. This is from the time where it was obviously considered clever to have several Leos in one frame (see Abba and Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody for further fine examples). This is a classic ballad: "it's cold out but hold out!"

Thunder in My Heart. We have two versions to consider. The original in which I think his hair is showcased wonderfully. The first few seconds are priceless.

Then a few years ago, there was a remix. I adore this. I love how he sings 'I'm all yours!" In fact, I'd forgotten how much I like it, it's going on my workout playlist.

Leo is a bit of a figure of fun but for these three songs alone, he is due a bit more respect.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Simon & Garfunkel

I once wrote an essay in an exam on the meaning of The Sound Of Silence in The Graduate and how it was reflecting the alienation of American youth and indeed America itself. What do you mean I did a Mickey Mouse degree? It was deep and meaningful man! It allowed my revision to be watching the Graduate and listening to the soundtrack. Boy, it was a tough life.

Obviously anyone with sense loves Simon & Garfunkel. Simple melodies, sublime lyrics, crazy hairdos and perfect harmonising. What's not to love? Every now and then I think about concerts I'd have liked to have been at and the S&G concert in Central Park is top of my list. I almost feel I was there since I've listened to the album so many times. So with no further ado, I present to you my top eight songs.

We start with The Sound Of Silence. It's the perfect introduction to S&G. Hello darkness my old friend. I can't think of a better opening lyric to a song.

Homeward Bound. The thing about S&G is they make such wistful music. It's not necessarily the music to listen to if you're feeling a bit reflective or depressed.

I am A Rock. I am an issslaaaand. You know, I sound about 85 but seriously, the joy of these songs is how sparse they are; a guitar and singing. Normally I hate that sort of singer/songwriting pretention but when it's done properly, it is wonderful.

Mrs Robinson. Just perfection from beginning to end. Hey hey hey.

Scarborough Fair. Again, it's so sad yet lovely. I love the harmonising in this.

America. Be careful his bowtie is really a camera. One of my favourite lyrics ever.

Now we have a nice chirpy song to cheer us up. 59th Bridge Street Bridge Song.

I guess I have to choose Bridge Over Troubled Water as my final choice. I do like this but it's been overplayed and for me, it's not their best song. Having said that. it's still fabulous and builds beautifully.

My desert island choice would be America, I never tire of listening to it.

This was a tough list, I had to leave our Cecilia, Hazy Shade of Winter and controversially The Boxer. However, we must choose only eight. What would be your eight?

Friday, 21 September 2012

Andy Williams: Can't Take My Eyes Off You

Last year I went to see Jersey Boys. I knew pretty much nothing about Frankie Valli other than he sang the Grease theme tune. The musical is fabulous and if you've not seen it, I highly recommend it. Anyway, little did I know that Frankie wrote this masterpiece.

I've always loved this song and nobody can beat Andy Willliams version of it. I love the way it builds up until he bellows "I love you BABY!" The lyrics are really sweet. My very good friends had this as their first dance song at their wedding and it was lovely as we all bounced round the dance floor.

So a little Friday night magic for you all. Take it away Andy...


Friday, 14 September 2012

Top Ten Female Film Characters

Sisters unite! It's time to celebrate our favourite celluloid women. This list was, naturally enough, difficult. There are plenty of female characters I enjoy but who are, well, a bit wet when it comes down to it. Tracy Lord in High Society is a good example. Grace Kelly is at her most glorious, has some wonderful lines and she's a likeable character but she's all about the men in her life. I wanted my list to be a bit more kick-ass, a bit more feminist, a bit more fierce if you will. There is no order to this list and so we start with the fiercest of them all.

Sarah Connor: Terminator 2

This changed everything. I remember everyone in the cinema gasping when she came on screen; pretty little Linda got some muscles! And she got hard because she had to. Her breaking out of the mental institution is one of my all-time favourite scenes in cinema. Nobody understands that we're all about to die! Looking at a list of some of my favourite films, it's depressing to realise there are few female characters to emulate. Women are usually there to simper, look pretty and be rescued. Sarah Connor was a breath of fresh air. She strides around this film like she owns it.

Susan: Desperately Seeking Susan

Played to perfection by Madonna, every teenage girl of the 80s wanted to be Susan. She was so cool. Her clothes, her attitude, her living out of that suitcase, her swapping her jacket for the rhinestone boots, her wit: "this has to be a cover-up, nobody's life could be this boring!" She didn't need men, she knew what to do with them but she didn't need them. Sometimes I still wish I could dress like Susan.

Marie: When Harry Met Sally

Rob Reiner hit gold with this casting, who wouldn't want Carrie Fisher in their rom com? I adore Carrie Fisher, I want to be friends with her, I know we'd get on just darlin'. As Marie, she gets all the truly great lines in this movie. My favourite is "somebody is staring at you in Personal Growth!" The best scene is the lunch with the girls when Marie goes through her cards of men for Sally and folds one over saying 'married!" I am breaking my own rules a little here as she is a bit desperate for a man but only because of the stupid married man she's been having an affair with, "he's never going to leave her!" However, I am going to make an exception because once she meets Bruno Kirby, it's all wonderful.

Baby: Dirty Dancing

Baby was an activist, a detective (she worked out who was stealing the money!) and she stood up for her beliefs. Most of all Baby learned how to dance and deep down I believe if Patrick Swayze was teaching me, I could dance like that too. She gives as good as she gets with Johnny ("spaghetti arms!") and Jennifer Grey has never been better. I like to imagine that Baby would have married a human rights lawyer and lived in Greenwich Village. No, I don't think her and Johnny would have lasted, it's a classic summer romance!

Mia: Pulp Fiction

It's fair to say that Mia is no role model but man alive, is she cool. From the moment she talks into that microphone and Dusty Springfield is playing, you know she's going to be awesome. Uma Thurman oozes sex appeal in this and just looks so classy. No plunging short dresses for her, just a simple white shirt and black trousers but has anyone ever worn an outfit so well? She has some wonderful lines: "why do we feel it necessary to yak about bullshit in order to feel comfortable?" and she dances a dream. Ok, ok, she overdoses on drugs but I am willing to overlook that. She isn't afraid to stand up to Vincent and therefore she makes my list.

Rizzo: Grease

I am not sure an explanation is even necessary however to avoid any doubt, here goes. She dates Keneckie, she rules the school, she wears tight black clothes to school and a crazy red dress to the prom, she chucks milkshakes around, she thinks Sandy's summer romance sounds like a drag, she feels like a defective typewriter, she knows there are worst things she could do than go with a boy or two and she sings Look At Me, I'm Sandra Dee with gusto. No character in a high school film has ever been better than Rizzo. And nobody could have played her better than Stockard.

Vickie: Reality Bites

While Lelaina drips around the movie being angsty about her work, her love life, Troy etc, Vickie works at The Gap and steals all the good lines. She's hilarious, just looking at her face makes me giggle. "He's so cheesy, I can't watch him without crackers" "I'm late for a jean-folding seminar, let's locomote!" Because of this movie, I will watch anything Janeane Garofalo is in. She's fabulous and so is Vickie.

Trinity: The Matrix and Matrix Reloaded

The Matrix is just a fabulous film from start to finish. Everyone in it is on top form but nobody is quite as cool as Trinity. She is icily efficient and totally on top of everything. She's also good in the sequel but gets a teeny bit drippy however she is with Keanu so she's forgiven.

Thelma: Thelma and Louise

It's very hard to pick Thelma over Louise. Obviously both of them are great but for me, Thelma's journey is more interesting. She starts as a rather pathetic, downtrodden housewife and ends up robbing a store at gunpoint. "My husband wasn't nice to me and look what happened!" She discovers that actually she's hot, she's funny and she's got a talent for being on the run. And she gets to have sex with Brad Pitt.

Scarlett: Gone with the Wind

If I had to pick one favourite from this list, it would be Scarlett O'Hara. Scarlett isn't always very nice, in fact often she's downright mean and nasty but she's such a survivor. She keeps her promises, she loves her mother and she provides for her pretty hopeless family after the war and yes, she has to make some tough decisions to do it but it's do or die in this land. She marries a man she doesn't love to ensure she has a roof over her head and that Tara can survive. She delivers Melanie's baby with a war raging around her. So I won't hear a word against Miss Katie Scarlett. She is the original feisty woman and much as we love Melanie, we'd all rather be Scarlett surely?

Who have I missed? Tell me.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

True Romance

I said I would watch True Romance and last night, the moment arrived. I braced myself and got stuck in. TeenBoy loves this film and assured me it "wasn't that violent". 

Hmmmmm, it's not long before people are being shot down in showers of bloody gore. I can handle that, it's cartoon violence. However, then there was a very nasty scene, I looked over at my sister who had her hands over her face. We were barely 30 minutes in! 

Since this film is now 19 years old, I think it's ok to give some spoilers so... by the time Mr Soprano is brutally attacking Alabama, I was almost immune. But it's not an easy scene to watch although she does get the better of him and after some dabbing with a tissue by Clarence is miraculously recovered in the next scene.

This is a sweet film despite all that. The love story is cute, Tarantino's script is witty and clever and the leads are very good. I've never seen Patricia Arquette do better than this, she's adorable, and I've always liked Christian Slater since Heathers. The cast is unbelievable: Gary Oldman (horribly evil and looking so young), Dennis Hopper (makes you realise there is only one Hopper), Christopher Walken (he's always excellent and is fabulous in his one scene),  and perhaps the best cameo ever; Brad Pitt as a stoner. Totally hilarious. 

Tony must have been inspired by Ridley as the lighting reminded me of Thelma and Louise. See what I mean?

And the costumes are wonderfully kitsch.

All in all, I am feeling remiss that it took me so long to see this and I highly recommend it if you can deal with copious blood and vicious beatings. It's worth being brave if you're a wimp like me because it's a great film and very funny.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Neil Diamond, September Morn

It's September. How did that happen? September is always tinged with a slight sadness for me, the end of summer and knowing you are going to be cold for about six months. However, as always, Neil Diamond is here to cheer us up with this classic. I've seen Neil live many times and I don't think he's ever sung this. It's a shame as I love it. Here he is in full, spangled-jacket glory.

Ahhhhhhh. It's sublime.

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