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This week, it’s all about the
Game DVD and how you play it. WWE Studios’ latest attempt at a family comedy The Chaperone takes us on a supposed hilarious adventure. Starring professional wrestling star Triple H, this movie doesn’t try to tickle your funny bone, instead attempting to lock in a submission so you’ll tap out with laughter…or some such nonsense reference.
Anyway, let’s put on our best smile and see if we can keep it…
And if that doesn’t work, here’s the Not-So-Disturbingly-Cheap trailer:
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Underground music has changed a lot in recent years. Like, a lot. Hip-hop music used to be underground by its very nature, rather than the absurdly bloated cash cow it is now, when rap slang has become the language de jour for advertising copy and management appraisals. Poor old hip-hop. The advent of the internet and the ability to make music being made available to more people than ever, has meant that for unsigned hype you no longer need to read columns or traipse around Chicago (too cold) or Bow Street, London (too stabby) to pick up the latest white label dance craze, House or Grime respectively in above examples. You can now do it from the comfort of your own Multimediamouth themed mansion like I do (He’s the only one who gets one too! Darn small print in the contract- Chris). Giving music away free is the new selling it, get with it!
This evening I’ll be on a date with Chiptune, or Chip Music. The basic idea of which is to make cool, exciting electronica using only the internal workings of games consoles and computer systems from the 80’s and early 90’s. Confused? Don’t be. Back in the old days, before games came on shiny DVDs, they used to arrive on magical devices such as Cartridges. These were 6-8 feet in length, featuring beautiful game artwork scratched like cave paintings into them. They were a religious item, and only worked by following the sacred ritual of insert, remove, insert, remove, blow, insert, play. This ritual is what we had instead of sex, it works in a similar way but less sweaty. These stone tablets would be placed reverently inside a games console that produced all it’s cool noises, not from playing a CD, but from chips inside the console that mimicked sounds and could be programmed to make the in-game music you know and love.
Skip forward a decade and a bit and we now have programs like Little Sound DJ that has been written by, well, nerds and you can pop it into your game boy and use it to transfer your Mario-machine into a musical instrument. You make your crazy rave noise from old computer sound-chips, dance your little socks off, then share it with the world. Kittenrock.co.uk is the online home of some of Europe’s leading Chiptune artists.
What do you wear for such an event? Well, I’ve figured on a little throwback fashion, with my Soundwave T-shirt and jeans with Doc Marten boots. Based on the cover artwork I’ve previously seen, and the last Chip artist I met, I’m going with a hot pink thong with a ladies manicured hand on the front and no cologne at all. Don’t ask.
Part of the beauty of chip music is its accessibility, so a venue isn’t important. In keeping with the ease and convenience with which kittenrock offers its music to us, I’ve invited them all to my house for home cooked food and a little wine. The first thing that you’ll notice about the rabble filling my living room is that they are not GQ models. I’m lucky in this respect because my music dates do not all have to be glitz and shine, but musically this is not the most accessible thing you’ve ever heard. It is however, catchy.
The website itself is sparse and businesslike, letting the albums on display do the talking. As I serve the soup I check out the attractive retro banner below which begins the list of recent releases on the website. A quick click into the releases button reveals…oh good grief Dot.AY has spilled his soup all over his lap. He reassures me it’s not a problem as he’s a palaeontologist. Erm..good. I think.
The album artwork is intriguing, from the deranged and amateurish to the original and downright clever, as a gamer of a certain age I found myself doing double takes as I scrolled down the listings.
One part of the date I find admittedly awkward is that I’m not sure if I’m dealing with deadpan humour, wry wit and off key jibes or a bunch of raving nutters. The chaps at kittenrock do enjoy their adjectives, and I never previously could have envisioned wanting to hear something described as “dystopian Gameboy techno.” There’s a very self-aware feeling of fun at kittenrock, but perhaps it’s a character flaw in myself (IMPOSSIBLE! – Chris) that I am a little concerned that some of the chaps may take it all a bit too seriously and….what? Josstintimberlake has done WHAT in my mashed potato?! Good grief.
Some of the Kittenrock tribe stand out more than others, and it’s probably a personal choice as to which of them you spend the most time with. KOOL SKULL seems to be shouting all the time and Jellica has an unhealthy interest in my pet cat. The whole troupe could be perhaps accused of having a funny attitude towards women, but until you’ve grooved your booty away to the Pornochip compilation you haven’t lived.
It’s difficult, because off-key high tempo deranged gameboy music with crunchy distorted drums wouldn’t be my cup of tea, generally speaking, or perhaps on paper anyone’s, but the more I listen to the more I begin to see the beauty and work that’s put into it. Even in the Locust-esque wall of sound compilations there’s a certain rhythm and melody that makes it hard to put down, you do want to see what’s next.
Having said that, the desert involves too much whipped cream, and you certainly do NOT want to see what happened next with that – Multimediamouth is a family site! After collecting a lot of new music, and doing some admittedly silly dancing, I finally get all the chaps out of my house and flop down exhausted and sweaty.
Just because this date was at home, doesn’t mean we can’t meet elsewhere. Chiptune has as much as a vibrant live following as any other underground dance music. You’ve possibly never seen anything like a room full of dancing people with a DJ at the front of the room rocking out, and on the table in front of him: no decks, no mixer but an old brick-style Gameboy, a Commodore 64 and an Amiga 500. And a mass of cables. On a man-to-man basis, you have to admire anyone who owns that many cables. Definitely up for a second date with the crazy kids from kittenrock.co.uk, and why wouldn’t you, it’s rewarding, it’s danceable and it’s a cheap date!
You can visit Kittenrock here.
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If you haven’t read Captain Britain and MI-13, it is well worth your time, your money, and for this American, worth letting down my jingoistic pride to wrap myself in a world where being British is a badge of honor.
The basic idea of this feature is that, rather than recap stuff from our childhood, we would speak to the people behind the things we fell in love with or remember fondly as kids whether they be movies, films, television, video games, whatever we remember, we find out about.
This first interview was with John Bonner, animator, writer and artist, who was a part of The Childrens Channel in the 80s and 90s, being responsible for creating Link Anchorman, the suave yet kind of crazy figurehead for a channel that wasn’t sure where it was going.
In the interview, John discusses how he got to TCC, what his influences were for the character, the voice behind him Tim Whitnall, favourite shorts, Link’s surprising rise in fame and what he would do if he had the chance to bring him back. He also speaks about his other passion in life, painting, and how he balances that with his comedic animations.
Once again the MultiMediaMouth film team has been diligently watching films old and new, good and bad, on your behalf all week, and here are the results; 8 new reviews for you to pore over including an early UK review of the new version of Jane Eyre, thanks to our US correspondent Oren. I hope you find at least one movie to watch from this selection.
Mike’s Been Watching…
DIR: Pedro González-Rubio
A delicate tale of father/son bonding set on the Mexican Coral Reef of Banco Chincorro, Alamar is one of the most pleasant surprises of the year so far. Its cinema release was unfortunately small but it looks really terrific on DVD with the sparkling oceans and purple skies setting a mood of peace, isolation and paradise – although the inevitable separation of the father and son give the beautiful images a tinge of sadness. González-Rubio shoots it as a kind of docudrama, recalling the work of Robert Flaherty – especially his ill-fated project with F.W. Murnau, TABU: A Story Of The South Seas (1931). There’s next to no dialogue in the film, no plot to speak of and no pace. The relationship, which mainly consists of fishing and cooking, speaks for itself in muted, lulled tones and body language. The father and his son show an understanding when their eyes meet, rendering words useless. I never thought I’d be so captivated by this film but it really moved me – especially a scene where a wild egret finds its way into the home of the family, and the father teaches his son to respect the bird and earn its trust. For five minutes they try to get the bird to rest on the boys arm but their failure is amusing and human. Alamar strips filmmaking back to basics and confirms González-Rubio as a talent to keep an eye on.
HUSBANDS AND WIVES
DIR: Woody Allen
If there’s one area in which Woody Allen has been criminally undersold throughout his whole career it’s as a visual artist. Love And Death (1975) is shot by Ghislain Cloquet, who also lensed work by Resnais and Bresson, and it’s as immaculate a period production as you’re likely to find; the rolling clouds, autumnal battlefields, snowy forests and filtered light is truly gorgeous. And do I even need to mention Manhattan (1979), one of the best looking films of the 1970s, which has become one of the most iconic representations of its city? With that in mind I’m willing to stake a claim that I’m sure nobody has made before: Husbands And Wives is one of the best directed films of the 90s. After graduating from his Bergman-esque period (Interiors, 1978, for example) Allen started to focus on deeply troubled human relationships and the honest complexities of marriage. Husbands And Wives is a brittle, abrasive document of people falling apart but the director brings some stunning camerawork to his trademark insight and acerbic wit. The opening scene where Jack (Sydney Pollack) and Sally (Judy Davis) announce their breakup to Gabe (Allen) and Judy (Mia Farrow) is shot with frantic, hand-held camera that never eases. It’s jarring and unfocused, moving with the same energy of the conflict but never resting on a rhythm. There’s something urgent and probing about Allen’s camera that has never existed before, and it complements the vitriolic bite to his screenplay – a fight between Jack and his new girlfriend Sam (Lysette Anthony) is perhaps the most powerful moment in all of his work. I’ve rarely hated a character more than in that moment, but take that statement as a glowing recommendation. A masterpiece.
DIR: Dario Argento
Although it doesn’t quite reach the masterful heights I’d heard whisperings of, Suspiria is still a rich and stylish horror flick with some of Argento’s most inventive flourishes. As always the narrative is stodgy and disjointed; the Italian auteur isn’t the most naturally gifted storyteller on paper but he informs the content of his stories through slick, almost pornographically obsessive detail in the visuals. The murders don’t have any continuity but because of the colour scheme, lighting and fluid camerawork they take on the form of a lyrical nightmare – almost like a visual expression of fear itself. The first murder takes place in a traditionally elaborate set-piece and the image of a woman lying on a multi-coloured marble floor with glass through her face is a horrifically grotesque Dalí-like abstraction. Suspiria isn’t an especially good film (the screenplay and acting are questionable at best) but it is an interesting work of art which embraces the medium to inform tone, mood and emotion entirely through mise-en-scène. It’s so beautiful to look at, and also brilliantly scored – the combination of light and music in the opening ten minutes is astonishing. Sadly though, as with the work of his biggest influence Alfred Hitchcock, Argento just can’t do endings and this one tails off at around the time Udo Kier turns up for a pointless cameo. Anticlimax would be an understatement, and the obvious and abrupt denouement is a crushing disappointment. If you’re just in the mood for some stylish violence then step up to Suspiria but otherwise take its much-envied reputation with a pinch of salt and severe caution.
Oren’s Been Watching…
JANE EYRE 
DIR: Cary Fukunaga
I’m a sucker for period pieces, especially when they are more naturalistic and realistic than they are melodramatic and overdone. Sure, 19th century literary adaptations are always inherently melodramatic, but with a certain directorial touch, they can turn out to be quite rewarding indeed. The Piano, Sense and Sensibility, Joe Wright’s Pride and Prejudice, The Remains of the Day and Howard’s End (among others) remain the high points of the genre. And now, the new adaptation of Jane Eyre can join the group. The story is a classically melodramatic/tragic tale of romance and the harsh realities of 19th century living, but it is truly brought to life with Fukunaga’s deft, sharp, focused directing. The young American director uses a very un-stylized, earthy palette, naturalistic lighting, historically accurate dialects, costumes and set design, handheld cameras, and other techniques to breathe life into this classic tale and truly intensify the drama and make it more raw. It also helps make this the best film of 2011 so far.
THE PRINCESS BRIDE
DIR: Rob Reiner
No matter how many times I see this movie, it never gets old. I know it by heart by now, but it still makes me laugh. As is often the case, it’s all about the characters – they are just so sharp, so well-written, so larger-than-life and brilliantly conceived and acted – it’s definitely what holds the film together. The film overall is extremely clever in its execution – the metafictional framing device is particularly well-implemented and really adds to the story without being creepy (like the meta framing device in The NeverEnding Story, which gets pretty disturbing by the end). It’s a beautifully written story, straddling the line between parody and genuine fantasy romance, and it works wonderfully, neither the comedy nor the fantasy elements feeling forced in any way. There’s a reason this is considered a modern classic – it’s a funny, charming, clever film that is simply a joy to watch and to re-watch again and again.
Sam’s Been Watching…
EVERYBODY DIES BUT ME
DIR: Valeria Gai-Germanika
I first saw this film at the London Film Festival 2008, knowing nothing about it other than that it was a Russian teen movie, and had far and away the best title of any film in the festival. Like many non-American high school films, this is not an optimistic vision of life as a teenager, and it’s all the more compelling for that.
The film is about three 13 year old girls who, in an early scene, promise to ‘always be friends, until we grow up’. It then charts the rapid disintegration of their friendships, centred around what the school disco. Everybody Dies But Me, as its title might suggest, has moments of melodrama, but it uses them intelligently to depict what can be an emotionally fraught time and one at which things that seem unimportant as an adult can be the most important thing in the world.
The young cast is outstanding, Polina Filonenko, Agniia Kuznetsova and Olga Shuvalova all give raw, real performances, and all look the right age for their characters. Kuznetsova has the most intense arc; her character is abused and brutalised in some way in just about every scene, be it something as straightforward as a beating or the more passive aggressive rejection from her friends. For me though it’s probably Olga Shuvalova; all Barbie doll cuteness and dangerous naivete, who gives the best performance, the one that has most different notes (she’s also outstanding in the upcoming My Joy). Overall, Everybody Dies But Me perhaps overbearing in its unrelenting grimness (especially in the last 20 minutes), but it is for the most part a highly effective and beautifully controlled début from Valeria Gai-Germanika, and made all the more so because she was just 23 when the film was shot.
DIR: Andrea Arnold
At the heart of Andrea Arnold’s magnificent first film, is a series of questions you might find at the centre of a very straightforward revenge thriller; ‘Who is this woman (played by Kate Dickie)?’; ‘Why is she obsessed with this man (Tony Curran)?’; ‘How far will she go, what will she do for revenge?’. The film answers all these questions, but it does so not in the common violent way of films like I Spit on Your Grave or Lady Vengeance, you could call Red Road a kitchen sink thriller; it’s a scrupulously realistic film which goes from being seemingly about revenge to being about the depths of one person’s guilt.
Dickie excels as the city security camera operator who thinks she spots a man she knows one night, and begins to insert herself into his life. It’s a complex performance, and one that is played mostly in looks, revealing inheld emotions (watch during the graphic sex scene for the complexity of what’s going on besides the act itself). Dialogue is largely notable for what the characters omit, and what they lie about, what is real here tends to be what is physical, be it fighting or fucking.
Red Road is a devastatingly emotional film, and when all the films secrets come tumbling out the raw emotion can be tough to take, and that’s what makes Andrea Arnold such an exciting and vital filmmaker, so few films make us feel anything anymore, so few films feel like anything they depict is of real consequence. Here things are raw, real, and unresolved, perhaps unresolvable. Like Arnold’s subsequent Fish Tank, this is a film that find extreme visual beauty in what is often a series of ugly situations. It’s also one of the best British films of the last 5 years.
DIR: Antti Jokinen
You remember all those suburban yuppie horror films of the late 80’s and early 90’s? Well it seems that enough time has passed for them to get uncredited (to say nothing of uninspired) remakes. In a couple of weeks there’s The Roommate, but first; The Resident. Hillary Swank moves into a new place, gets friendly with the owner (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), then backs off, and begins to think there might be something sinister going on in the building. Oh, what could possibly be happening? The suspense is…. completely non-existent.
The Resident could have been made in 1992, in the midst of the glut of movies like Pacific Heights, Malice, Unlawful Entry and Single White Female, the only thing that suggests it wasn’t is the occasional sight of an IPhone. It’s not even an especially good addition to the cycle; the performances are relentlessly okay, the camerawork pretty but uninspired and the score blatantly instructive. Worst of all it duplicates every sin the screenplays of those films were guilty of, especially having an irretrievably stupid lead character.
It’s really a shame that this is the first ‘original’ film from the reborn Hammer Films, it’s not worthy of that legacy, nor that of cameo player Christopher Lee, or even, come to think of it, that of Unlawful Entry. Yeah, skip it.
A note in brief: Welcome to the first MMM exclusive My First Date review, where in the guise of a first date I will take a look at some very popular and some not so popular corners of pop culture and see if I can develop some kind of understanding or rapport with them to pass on to you via my MMM handler. Please try to think handler in terms of secret agent information-passing rather than keeping me in a cage and feeding me tidbits. Although Chris does wonderfully at both.
A note on briefs: I will endeavour to describe exactly what manly underwear I will be wearing on every single date, but receive no freebies or product fees. If you feel the need to send me some new, unworn (I can’t stress this enough!) underwear for later plugging, please do so via the website.
GETTING READY: I was introduced to Rhianna’s Loud through a work colleague. They’d been out partying together a few times and the work colleague suggested I take the CD out on a date. I dated her older sister Rated R for a short time, but we never really hit it off in the long term, just a short fling based upon the odd fun track.
Looking at her, she looks very sexy, all pouty and the like, but also very hip-hop and urban (Hate that phrase, she looks nothing like a car park.) so perhaps it’s time to unleash my inner rapper on the world. Tonight I’m going for a liberal dousing of Jay-Z’s brand fragrance, some baggy jeans (Not scruffy ones though!) and a t-shirt with a great big logo on the front as big as my face. Boxers have to be my Calvin Kleins, but pulled up so high she can see the waistband logo above the neckline of my over-sized t-shirt. I’m ready to hit the town!
THE DATE: I picked a nightclub in Cambridge for our night out, but in deference to the hip-hop culture I know and love I actually sprung for the VIP section. The Soul Tree plays R&B, hip-hop and a bit of dancehall, so I figured with my fly attire it was the way to go. Also, by arranging to meet later I didn’t have to pick a dinner venue, and could arrive already tipsy. By shelling out for VIP tickets, (from the MMM expenses account, naturally!) we got a bottle of bubbly and meant that tucked away in the upstairs back corner we could talk and enjoy the music without it being too ear-bleedingly loud. This kept the added bonus that if she pointed out what a loser I was, I could pretend not to hear her.
First impressions were great!
“It’s so great that we’re into the same things, I mean that opening track, the beat is just like the Outhere brothers! Do you remember Boom Boom Boom?” Oh heavens, she might think that’s sex slang or something, I’m coming on too strong. “That is, Don’t Stop, Wiggle Wiggle?” No, that’s actually worse, on reflection. I’m definitely losing her at this point. Or perhaps I’m not, because not 5 minutes into the date she’s telling me all about how she finds whips and chains a turn on. A little relieved, frankly a little intimidated.
“What I really mean is, it’s cool that we like the same music. I mean I thought Lil’ Wayne’s album was dope, and you liked it so much you actually made a clone of him to go on your second track, amazing. Oh? It’s not him, really? I do apologise.” Sounds just like him, I wonder if rappers sometimes go incognito on albums just for the love of it, like Stephen King did as Richard Bachman. Probably harder when you’ve got all that jewellery and those tattoos with your name on them.
Just when we were getting on so well, dancing away, she says she wants me to love her, like she’s a hot pie. This is one of those awkward cultural differences. I mean I can kind of see where she’s coming from, being American and all, where Pies are all a bit more narrow and full of warm fruit and berries, and served with whipped cream or ice cream, I mean that’s the kind of thing that could be at least a little sexy, but I’m English. She’s waiting for me to speak, but now all I can think about is a balti-flavoured pukka pie. She wants me to love her like she’s a squidgy bottomed pastry surrounded by chips and mushy peas, I feel really hungry and a little confused, I mean, Balti isn’t even a flavour, it’s a kind of oven. Can’t help but feel like I’m getting the wrong end of the stick with this one. Thankfully she breaks the awkward silence and destroys my pie-reverie by unleashing her most alluring feature. Sometimes she forgets about being an R&B diva type and becomes a bit more Caribbean.
This has good things and bad things to it. The mixture of rap with dancehall means that Loud has a bit of a soft spot for guns, which is kinda unattractive, because it’s not cartoony enough like hip-hop does it. Definite highlight of the night for me though is the very tune where her gun bo-bos the most. Man Down is catchy and exciting, and provides a simple enough metaphor to be pop fodder, but it also has a flavour to it that makes it stand out from the crowd. The date is going swimmingly at this point, I just hope one of us doesn’t say something really weird.
Oh no, it was me! I said something really weird. She came out with the pretty simple, but pleasantly powerful “I want you to make me feel, like I’m the only girl in the world!” and I immediately made a joke about I am Legend. I couldn’t help it, I just immediately thought of the cover artwork, all pouty lipped wandering a post-nuclear wasteland as literally the only girl in the world, running from mutants and men who want to make the first baby in a generation, cold sweat running down her bright red fringe as she squats in the ruins of an office block, barely sustaining herself by chewing the mutilated thigh of a raw irradiated sheep. She must think I have the weirdest issues.
I also kind of get the impression that Loud kind of has issues too. The darker melodies on tracks like California kingsize, which seems to be mourning a lost love, (Don’t talk about your ex so much on a date!) or the ballad of a frankly abusive relationship and loving the way they’re bad for each other with chart-topper Eminem’s help don’t actually provide the angst she thinks they do. She’s certainly been upset in the past, and this kind of thing could be related to her mum’s stormy relationship with Chris Brown, but it doesn’t come across as healthy at all. She just sounds a bit clichéd, and rather than making me want to date her more, it made me wish she’d left her baggage in the coat room.
SECOND DATE: I’d definitely go out and party with Loud again, not a shadow of a doubt. There’s even something more to the album that raises it slightly above the rank of guilty pleasure, but probably not one I’d take home to meet my parents. In fact definitely not one I’d take home to meet my parents, I couldn’t trust her to dress decently, my poor old Nan’s eyes would be out on stalks! Also, maybe I’m a prude but I don’t remember pop music being THIS overtly sexual when I was a pup. I mean sexy, yes, but is this not a wee bit too far? With Rhianna’s exciting whips and chains, Lady Gaga bragging how she likes it rough, from a disco stick, no less, when most women prefer firm at best, and Ciara marketing it so good men love the way she rides it, are we not getting a teensy bit closer to sounding like actual prostitutes? With this in mind, I am offering my ghost-writing services to any aspiring lady pop signers out there, I’ve called this one “Intercourse? Of course!”
“SEX! And sexing!
I like it lots and lots,
Sometimes for money, in alleys and parking lots,
Getting lots of willy, I’m always on the hunt
People give me tenners,
And I get out my… (That’s quite enough of that! – Chris)”
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