Archive | July, 2011

Amy Winehouse (1983 – 2011)

29 Jul

I wanted to write about Amy Winehouse and what her death means to me, but I’m not sure that’s exactly what I wanted to express at all. Aside from which, I don’t want to turn this blog into an obituary site for every celebrity that passes way before what I may consider their time.
I think what I’ve decided to say, whether through fault or design (both, if I’m honest) will be more of why her death matters to anyone who has loved her music that isn’t a personal friend or family member. As a person Amy Winehouse spent far too much time getting shit faced in Camden to deserve all our unquestioning respect. Many people over the last few days have said that she had choices to make, and she made them; pity they turned out to be the wrong choices. Save your pity for those who die without a choice, was almost the message, indicating I should have concentrated by public lament on the tragic dead gunned down by a maniac in Norway (as if it was impossible and uncouth to share two lots of regret at the same time). True, they had no choice, and words don’t come easy to express how mind and heart numbingly shocking that has been. Continue reading

Scandal (2011 style).

24 Jul

Few public scandals seem to typify our moment in history quite like the current News of the World soap opera. Arguably the biggest purveyor of unethical and sensationalist journalism now finds itself resigned to a quick death after becoming the very focal point of a scandal now being covered by the rest of the tabloid press, amongst others. How ironic; how post-modern. Or is it now Post-post-modern? I lose track of where we are up to with our official cultural positioning, but one thing is clear, this isn’t going to be over within a matter of months.

Somehow I don' t think the Sunday edition will be out either.

For anyone who’s been living in a place without newspapers recently (North Pole?), the revelations that the mobile phone of the dead Milly Dowler had been ‘hacked’ by The News of the World led to a slow but steady stream of further revelations. This had not been the only hacking incident. No, siree, not by a long chalk. Also, with the news that PM David Cameron employed former News of the World editor Andy Coulson at No. 10, you have to wonder exactly who knew what and how much they knew. Or perhaps some people are just incredibly stupid. Continue reading

The Dracula movies- The Hammer sequels

16 Jul

Perhaps for a modern audience, Britain’s Hammer studios, more than even Universal, have provided the visual shorthand for Stoker’s vampire villain in the minds of the mass collective. Their output ranged from the stylishly sublime to the tackily ridiculous, but they were never boring. Let’s watch…if you dare!

Like Universal studios before them, Hammer films followed up their initial Dracula novel adaptation with a sequel, which came in 1960, with a film that didn’t actually feature the Count himself, so the title was a rather misleading….

 Brides of Dracula (Terence Fisher, 1960)

….which was really a sequel for the character of Van Helsing, rather than Dracula.

But thankfully Van Helsing does return in splendid form, played once again by Peter Cushing , who encounters a rather feeble David Peel, probably cast for his looks, who plays a significantly less effective sub-Dracula type called Baron Meister, a vampire who’s own mother keeps him alive, but chained up at the decadent family castle. This is all until a well meaning visitor, Marianne, played by the beautiful Bardot-esque Yvonne Monlaur, sets him free.
Unfortunately, Peel is nowhere near as good as Lee, but luckily the film makes up for this is most other areas. It’s a very atmospheric movie with definite sinister undertones, and even a hint of an incestuous/Oedipus thing going on between the Baron and his mother, who even becomes one of his victims. Coupled with some great visual photography and Hammer’s usual attention to detail in their stunning set designs, this movie still has plenty going for it. Continue reading