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Where You're Meant to Be review – a funny, gloomy musical labour of love

This diverting documentary about Aidan Moffat’s mission to reinterpret the music of folk singer Sheila Stewart leaves one wanting more

For reasons I can’t precisely explain, this gloomy, funny film reminded me of the experience of listening to John Peel playing Ivor Cutler on his Radio 1 show in the 70s. It follows the Scots musician Aidan Moffat, formerly of the band Arab Strap, as he undertakes an intimate solo tour of Scotland on a mission to revive and reinterpret the work of traveller and folk singer Sheila Stewart, whose music is part of an oral tradition stretching back centuries. This is a labour of love – clearly a work in progress – and Moffat is wrestling with ways of rewriting Stewart’s music with an instrumental accompaniment, and he cheerfully admits he flounders sometimes in performance. The comedy comes in with Sheila herself, who frankly disapproves of what he is doing and crisply tells him he has got her work all wrong. While Aidan is struggling to keep her memory alive, Sheila will acidly tell the camera that her oral tradition will die with her. It’s a diverting little film, though it left me wanting more: more about Aidan, more about Sheila, more about the music itself.

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Where You’re Meant To Be review: “Authentic, funny and heartfelt celebration of music”

Where You’re Meant To Be review by Dan Bullock, June 2016.

I’ve always liked to delve into the discovery of many music genres and deep in the late 90’s, I stumbled upon Arab Strap [the band] and their unique, story-telling narratives. I’d never heard anything quite like it and with Aidan Moffat’s deep Scottish tones alongside Malcolm Middleton’s reflective mix of nomadic and original music I was offered a seat on the metaphorical sail-boat that set me off to places that were beyond my youthful understanding.

Where You’re Meant To Be is director Paul Fegan’s first feature doc that follows Moffat as he travels around rural Scotland to perform re-interpretations of old folk songs, which leads to a final gig at the legendary Barrowlands. Although the original plan of the tour was to socialise in with local communities and celebrate the stories, in retrospect it became something entirely different after they met 79-year old Sheila Stewart, the last in the line of a family of famed folk singers, the Stewarts of Blair, who dated back to the 12th century with gypsy heritage. It’s initially clear that she isn’t a fan of his renewed versions and thought Moffat was disrespecting the history, and doesn’t hold back from her views on such things. Stewart wanted to keep the legacy of those songs the same and although you can understand where she’s coming from, the questions began to arise when Moffat meets more people she once knew: Was she always so precious about their specific history or did time change her?

What struck me, and positively reminded me, is how connected we all are to music in our lives and particularly that of the memories and contexts of a moment. When Fegan and Moffat explore the rural outposts of Scotland, they’re not sure what to expect and although it doesn’t start off too successfully, they undoubtedly find their audience. What’s even more distinct is that it seems to reconnect people who haven’t spoken for a while, which is highlighted at their Drumnadrochit Village Hill (by Loch Ness) gig. That evening is the first to really savour, plus found me a new favourite song with the lyric ‘I’m not really into this…’ which entertainingly describes an imagined small-town orgy.

There are weaving layers between the past and present throughout which, in turn, includes a very applicable point about change. Aidan comments about always doing things a little differently and how it’s not important to him to be the popular one, his want to bring the songs forward to ‘now’ and the modern world he knows is a valid desire. But the past and looking back is full of sentiment and memory and so for many the change can be a scary thing but, in truth, the best thing to do is to go just ahead and change it away. Progress will eventually do it anyway but that doesn’t mean everything before is forgotten. ‘The songs are in the soil’ and that’s okay as well.

Where You’re Meant To Be is an authentic, funny and genuine celebration of folk music and, more importantly, how it tells stories in whichever way you want those to be told. So, in the spirit of Aidan’s new found journey, and with a rehabilitated, forward-looking perspective… “Let’s drink and be merry, all from one glass.”

Where You’re Meant To Be is released in UK cinemas on Friday 17th June.

Find screenings by heading here: Wtmtb Screenings

The post Where You’re Meant To Be review: “Authentic, funny and heartfelt celebration of music” appeared first on The Hollywood News.
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Movie Review – Where You’re Meant To Be (2016)

Where You’re Meant To Be, 2016.

Directed by Paul Fegan.

Starring Aidan Moffat and Sheila Stewart.

Synopsis:

Documentary charting the progress of a Scottish artist as he attempts to rewrite his country’s oldest songs.

“Folk music needs a good editor” Aidan Moffat says at one point during this heartfelt and incisive documentary. It’s just one of the many quotable lines delivered in this wryly humorous exploration of cultural memory and identity. Part music doc, part travelogue across Scotland, the film stands proudly as a unique tribute to a world passed and an inspiring testament to the power of words.

Moffat is best known for his darkly provocative song plays as the ex-front man of cult indie folk-pop duo (alongside Malcolm Middleton) Arab Strap. Here he sets out to explore his country’s past by rewriting and touring its oldest songs. The only thing standing in his way is the 79 year-old Sheila Stewart. The traditional travelling folk balladeer takes a combative stance towards Moffat’s view that the old songs need reworking and tells him so in no uncertain terms. Despite their initial terse meeting, the two develop an understanding and it is their relationship that is the bedrock of the film.

The powerful mixture of Moffat’s lyrical skill and love of grim humour sits well with the accounts of romance, debauchery and existential dread. The footage of gigs in far flung and out of the way towns and villages is captured in poetic playfulness and offers a real intensity to the work. It’s always interesting to watch the faces of the more conservative audience members as Moffat drops in a few well timed obscenities to colour the tone of the old songs blue. This plus the idiosyncratic eccentricities of locals (such as the old timer who instructs his dog to wait in a phone box whenever he meets people) make this the filmic equivalent of a free-spirited open mic night – funny with moments of bleak beauty and always with the potential of stumbling blindly over the edge.

There’s even a slightly confusing insertion of Loch Ness Monster fakery that adds to the weirdness, but not much to the whole picture. But it’s all in good jest and describes something of the nature of performance and show that Moffat is interested in. His mysteriously intoned voice over is a little over done, but from such an honest and likeable screen presence one invariably gives him the benefit of the doubt. He’s a performer after all, and brings the whole thing alive with a joyful barroom swagger.

Not strictly for fans of folk music, this will be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in storytelling, mythology and what we can learn from the past.

Where You’re Meant To Be is in UK cinemas June 17th.

Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★

Robert W Monk is a freelance journalist and film writer.
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Cannes: Curzon Artificial Eye acquires Lars Von Trier's 'The House That Jack Built'

  • ScreenDaily
Exclusive: UK distributor also acquires upcoming sports biopic Borg vs McEnroe, Directors’ Fortnight title After Love and Scottish indie music doc Lost In France.

Curzon Artificial Eye has swooped on four buzz titles at the Cannes Film Festival, acquiring UK and Eire rights to Lars Von Trier’s The House That Jack Built, Shia Labeouf-starrer Borg vs McEnroe, Joachim Lafosse’s After Love and Niall McCann’s Lost in France.

The pre-buy of serial killer drama The House That Jack Built continues the distributor’s long-standing relationship with the controversial Danish director, stretching back to Antichrist and includes Melancholia and Nymphomaniac Volumes I & II. The deal was negotiated with Susan Wendt at TrustNordisk.

The $9.8m project will shoot in Sweden this year, before a Copenhagen shoot in 2017. Zentropa producer Louise Vesth revealed details of the highly-anticipated feature to Screen in Cannes earlier this week, when several early deals were revealed.

The film, originally
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Aubrey Plaza and John C. Reilly Will Deal With Zombies and Love in ‘Life After Beth’

Next year is going to be a feeding ground for hungry zombie fans. Outside of the continuing zombie series The Walking Dead on AMC, fans will be treated to the zombie comedy Warm Bodies – which just began early screenings for audiences – and the Brad Pitt adaptation of the Max Brooks novel World War Z. Aubrey Plaza is known for her comedic skills with the TV show Parks and Recreation and this year’s surprisingly funny indie comedy Safety Not Guaranteed. With her next feature the young actress may be required to do a little more than deliver humorous lines in her typical dry, straight-faced fashion. She talks about the film in a new interview with the Guardian. And it sounds like something horror fans may want to take notice of.

She’s also preparing to star with John C Reilly in Life After Beth, a zombie comedy written and to
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Bill Wells: 'I've more in common with indie'

Snubbed by Scotland's jazz scene, guitar virtuoso Bill Wells has teamed up with ex-Arab Strap man Aidan Moffat for a panoramic meditation on life and death

'I like to think I can do things over a very wide musical range," Bill Wells says. "Even if you're just a session player, you like to think you can be recognised in some way. But if I'm collaborating with someone, I try and find out what's the best thing to do to make the music work. I also enjoy taking control. I like to think there's enough identity there in my own music so that people will recognise it, but I also want to do different things. I like stuff that's very free and very melodic as well."

Wells is a jazz pianist – he's won jazz awards and led his own octet and trio. He's also a session guitarist and a key contributor to Scotland's indie scene.
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Music in the movies: April score round-up

In this week’s Music In The Movies, Glen checks out the latest scores available from such films as Battle: Los Angeles, Never Let Me Go and Rango...

Recently, there have been some fantastic scores from established composers, as well as some great pieces of music from new names, and this year's already seen some spectacular movie soundtracks. Here are some of the scores worthy of your attention this month...

Rachel PortmanNever Let Me Go

Rachel Portman is a composer who I plan to write an article about before the end of the year, and one whose work I’m a fan of. Her work here really is quite excellent – some have complained that it’s a little overly sentimental, but I think, in many ways, it’s lighter than what the material calls for, but is still a hugely effective piece of work.

Portman spent four months working on the score,
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The 'Inception' Soundtrack Playlist: Prepare For A Mind Bend With Beyoncé And Madonna

No matter what sort of movies you are into, your cup runneth over with excellent options at your local cineplex this weekend. You still have the opportunity to see the funny, charming "Despicable Me," the action-packed "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" and the underrated alien hunter tale "Predators." But the big headline this weekend belongs to "Inception," the twist, mysterious, visually engrossing blockbuster staring Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Christopher Nolan (he of "The Dark Knight" and "Batman Begins" fame). Part of the joy of "Inception" is the fact that the plot has been kept vague on purpose, but you can trust that Nolan's warped storytelling (best seen in films like "Memento" and "The Prestige") will well-compliment the surreal visual artistry and mind-bending action contained in the trailers.

It's a dense film, and one that may require multiple viewings in order to fully take in. That's why we've worked extra hard to create the video playlist below,
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