Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Sunday with Seth and Zac, The Beatles and Here's Grace ... and Kathleen !

Frat-boy fun: I got some criticism recently for reviewing Seth Rogen’s THE GUILT TRIP when I have no interest or appreciation of what passes for modern comedy these days, but I was only interested in THE GUILT TRIP (a friend passed me on his dvd, I wouldn’t have bothered with it otherwise) as it was a Barbra Streisand film, and I had been obsessed with Barbra from a long time, since my teens in the early 60s to about the time of her A STAR IS BORN in 1976. It amuses me that people like Seth Rogen are movie stars now, part of our dumbed-down culture no doubt. At least Zac Efron, Seth’s co-star in BAD NEIGHBOURS, is easy on the eye (as Seth says "its like a gay man created him in a laboratory") – as he was in THE PAPERBOY, but if he persists in making movies like this his screen stardom may suddenly start to decline - Taylor Lautner anyone? (I was wrong here - the film is a huge hit!). Here in the UK though we do not get SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE so this new breed of comedians and writers are mainly unknown to us, until their movies arrive here – I hadn’t heard of Kristen Wiig or Melissa McCarthy for instance until BRIDESMAIDS, more gross-out comedy. 
 Our SUNDAY TIMES film critic, Camilla Long, does not mince her words – here’s some of what she says about BAD NEIGHBOURS!. Every so often a film comes along that feels more like an elaborate aversion experiment than an actual film. BAD NEIGHBOURS is such an appallingly moronic comedy that will make anyone with a working pair of ears and eyes never want to see a film again. Rogen plays exactly the same character he’s ever played: a stupid, lubricious, fat loser paired with a woman who wouldn’t look at him twice in real life (because of course all schlubby guys in these kind of movies deserve hot girls) … this is a horrifyingly dumb mess that makes ANIMAL HOUSE look like Antonioni.  Way to go, Camilla!. 

It was Nostalgia Time with that tv show celebrating the 50th Anniversary of The Beatles "conquering" America in 1964 when they first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. This was THE NIGHT THAT CHANGED AMERICA, first broadcast in the States in February - it finally turned up here in the UK this May weekend! Cue a schmaltzfest of the great and good (thats you, Jeff Bridges) as, to our eyes here in Europe, a show of overkill re-worked those Beatles classics, with the two surviving Beatles, happily nodding along, along with Yoko and assorted Beatles wives and offspring. For me, Maroon 5 stole the show with a cracking "Ticket to Ride", and Ed Sheeran practically reduced one to tears with that simple and effective "In My Life" - what a lyric that is! particularly now after all these years. 
Steve Wonder did a neat "We Can Work It Out" while Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart over-egged the simple "Fool On The Hill", and Alicia Keys and John Legend tried to outsing each other on "Let It Be". It all finished with a predictable singalong to "Hey Jude". Good though to see Ringo celebrated along with Paul. Was it a good idea though for McCartney to finish with "I Saw Her Standing There"? Those opening lines "Well she was just seventeen, you know what I mean" could sound rather creepy sung by someone in his 70s with dyed hair!. Its a swaggering young man's song indelibly sung by John Lennon, the first track on their first album. Maroon 5 would have been perfect for it. 
And the paper's "must have reissue" in their music section. A welcome nod to Grace Jones' NIGHTCLUBBING, which I loved on vinyl and is now on the iPod. This though is a new double CD pack with booklet, which I have ordered and will arrive tomorrow, with lots of remixes of those classics like "Pull Up To The Bumper". My late disk jockey friend Rory would have loved it. As The Times says: "The biggest seller of Grace Jones' career is reissued in multiple formats, its chief surprise being her previously unheard take on Gary Numan's "Me! I Disconnect From You". It remains one of pop's most prophetic albums, the crack band assembled by Sly and Robbie creating mongrel music whose diversity was, in 1981, years ahead of its time, and Jones herself, on a sequence of covers and originals, taking vocal detachment and androgyny to a whole new level". 
I finally got to see Grace live over a decade ago in 2002 to be exact, at al all day festival in South London. She was topping the bill, after Yoko Ono, and finally came on as dusk fell, after keeping us happy clubbers waiting for over 40 minutes - and then blew us all away. The most astounding performer I had seen live apart from Nina Simone! 
Good to see the albums like ISLAND LIFE, SLAVE TO THE RHYTHM and those COMPASS POINT SESSIONS and her recent new album HURRICANE of a few years ago still out there. I like INSIDE STORY from 1986 with "I'm not perfect, but I'm perfect for you", and every track on LIVING MY LIFE is sublime, from "My Jamaican Guy" to "The Apple Stretching" to "Cry Now, Laugh Later" and "Unlimited Capacity for Love".Grace still rules in her sixties - as she did with her hula-hoop at The Queen's Jubilee Concert a couple of years ago! I am amazed that I can like Grace as much as I do Joni or Aretha or Dusty or any of the great divas. Perhaps Grace is the uber-Diva. 

Kathleen Turner gives great interview, either in print or on TV. She is in town again for another play here - one I do not know, THE BAKERSFIELD MIST as a trailer park woman who buys a painting cheap and it may turn out to be a Jackson Pollock. Kathleen was wonderful on the Paul O'Grady Show, and in some press interviews. Her voice is so amazingly deep now, and she has great attitude and humour, after coping with health problems. 
I was blown away a year or two ago when finally catching her stunning debut in BODY HEAT from 1981. What a stunner that is. I could watch it over and over, as per my review, at Turner label. 

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