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Okay presentation of a living legend possibly past his prime...
I just saw this on VH1 Classics and am happy that they are playing more and more live shows like this from the BBC (they still document these things somewhat pretty well). I like VH1 Classic but there's been a logically inexplicable amount of Eddie Trunk/Metal showcased on the channel as of late (I can't seem to figure it out either). I hope they make live concert broadcasts like these less rare.
Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson are two artists who - regardless of how off-key they may be singing, how lacking in intensity their playing is (if such things are even relevant), or how low the register they are singing in (which isn't inherently bad by the way) is compared to the original released studio versions recorded some thirty-to-forty years ago - I can always enjoy simply in the knowledge that they wrote all these amazing songs and are still here today to perform them and can forgive comparatively minor gripes in their live performances. Having said that, this performance is pretty okay. Paul's into it and his youngish band is too (how could they not be). I'm not very familiar with them but they are "okay" although they look like someone else's band. And you can never get used to those vocals being done by anyone besides who sang them initially - but they sort of pull it off. Paul looks good for his age (66) and still plays great (again, considering his age).
The big flaw here is in the editing. There are constant shots of the audience seemingly every few seconds. I understand that this is just formulaic editing at it's worst but no one cares how some random guy responded to a particular intro of a song. I'll never understand these shots (or the decision to use them). There should be establishing shots of the crowd but that's it. It's as if the editor thought the music was lacking and that constant editing would attract attention away from the music (if need be). Whatever the case it does the viewer, who is going to ultimately watch this, hence being called the viewer, no favors.
If you are a Mac fan surely you'll eat this up as the song selection is pretty sweet.
If one American band is deserving of a multi-DVD Anthology-like documentary it's The Beach Boys
This is the VH1 special (now on DVD) that formally introduced me to The Beach Boys (beyond the handful of early hits that we all know). Needless to say it made quite an impression on me, just by musical content alone. Brian Wilson is a special (okay brilliant) composer and the Beach Boys are an unassumingly great band. However since viewing this documentary after becoming familiar with the bands' history it's fairly obvious that there is some revisionism at work here, namely from Mike Love.
If there is only one American band deserving of a documentary done in the same exact way as The Beatles Anthology with the same detail, length, affection and use of footage it's The Beach Boys. With the bands complete chronological history represented and full interviews from all parties associated with the band about the good, bad, ugly and embarrassing (they have quite a varied history). Not just the band according to Mike Love.
However this is not that documentary. Far from it. Whereas The Beatles Anthology itself is not too deep and rarely delves into any personal affairs. Surprisingly this documentary does a handful of times but only briefly and very selectively. However the whole Blondie Chaplin, Ricky Fataar-era is barely mentioned, the Landlocked album, The 1975 Beachago Tour, Jack Rieley, Bruce Johnston's firing/quitting, The 1976 NBC SNL-produced 'It's OK' special, The troubled 1977 Largo, MD show after which caused Mike Love to fly to Switzerland and meditate for six months, Eugene Landy, the bombastic 1978 Australia tour, the Adult Child album, the 1980s nostalgia/self-parody contemporary hit-seeking Beach Boys, the solo albums...none of these things and nor are several other substantial items mentioned.
This is basically an updated (but barely) version of 'An American Band' (snippets of footage - some rare - with overlapping interviews, repeat). The DVD special features are pretty nice as they contain a few songs undisturbed in their entirety. All-in-all this is fine for a casual, very-loose overview. Otherwise if you are familiar with the band and it's history, it'll just make you wish for a substantial, detailed history - the amazing, good, bad, ugly and embarrassing (because this band has it all) - just as The Beatles have available in their multi-disc Anthology.
Until that happens, you'll have to chew on this superficial item.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008)
Barely okay as a children's show...laughable for adults
I saw the film (of which there was all of five people in the theater - a first for a SW film) and was prepared for the worst. As that film was frighteningly aimed squarely at the eleven-year old (there are far better things for younger children to watch and adults are presumably/hopefully not so easily entertained) I was wondering what this show would be like.
Well I've seen all five episodes and, it's basically more of the same in smaller increments and with commercial breaks. First of all why they would consciously base the head/faces of the characters in the animation on Thunderbirds (the unintentionally funny marionette puppet show from the mid-60's) is beyond all comprehension. The characters heads on that show were foolish/creepy looking because that was the best they could do at the time. Not so nowadays, so the inspiration of the look alone is entirely questionable.
As for the show itself there's a constant sameness to it that's a bit unnerving - there's a constant lack of scope, everything blends together visually and there's just a basic flat look to it. It sometimes looks like a PS2 game or an old PC game which were silly looking to begin with. This would lead some to believe that this as far as we've come in terms of computer animation and they wouldn't be too far off the mark. The writing is campy, embarrassing and leaves zero elements of surprise. The narration at the start of each show is pretty unnecessary and should be perhaps replaced with a mini-title crawl. The dialog is also a shade campy, pretty cringe-worthy (i.e. virtually anything the Battle Droids - "Roger Roger" and Ahsoka Tano (aka Snips) - "Sky Guy", "Artooey" happen to say) and sometimes the dialog is just moronic. The somnambulist-like story lines are generally pretty rote.
Cartoon Channel has a lot to gain from this show. The ratings will be good as it already has a zombie-like built-in audience of SW fans/blind followers (or clones if you will). But you have to wonder/realize the real point of something like this. This is not something anyone can truly rave about as it being the second coming or any such nonsense as it is barely, if at all, entertaining. Seeing how basically empty the stories are all you can really see this as is a rather transparent exercise in merchandising opportunities. Hasbro has unleashed an entire line of action figures, toys and play sets. Penguin has just released a series of books (children and adult). DVD releases are just around the corner. That's a fairly good, in not just an honest summation of the series: merchandising (and what do you know just in time for the Holidays).
The Cure: 4Play in Charlotte (2008)
Fine presentation of a once-great band clearly past it's peak
I've been a fan of this band for about twenty-years now so I was pleasantly surprised to find out about this 60 minute segment on HDNet TV of a Cure show from June of this past year. The presentation of the band was for all intents and purposes very nice. It was not 'The Cure In Orange' (their amazing feature-length filmed concert by Tim Pope - which is sobbing to be released on DVD) but few films are. No fast editing and all four band members gets a decent amount of screen time which was nice.
I've have personally found The Cure's past few releases to be slightly lacking (in inspiration perhaps) and haven't seen them live in many years. In any case the main problem with The Cure's performance was that songs that themselves that were once nearly mid-tempo are now very slow and fast numbers are now nearly mid-tempo (to be generous). I've seen several older bands of late (Gang Of Four, The Police, The Fleshtones) and something I've learned from them is that being older in age doesn't necessarily mean slowing down the arrangements of your songs because you are few years older (case in point "The Walk" and "Primary"). I don't know if drummer Jason Cooper has much to do with slowing down the arrangements but they are, in turn a different band than before with little distinction in different tempos. This was not the case when old drummer Boris Williams was in the fold. Use of keyboards are also sorely lacking (always a constant in the past - now all keyboard parts are done on guitar).
Another unfortunate is Robert Smith's voice. He's always been one with a distinctive voice, although not a very big voice at that. It's now limp, whiny and fully-exposed in a live setting. This doesn't help their cause for a great live show.
And not to kick a band when they are obviously down (so to speak) but I was actually embarrassed watching two (nearly) fifty-year old men (Robert Smith and Porl Thompson) wearing eye make-up and (in Smith's case) the silly haircut. These are things that probably should have been in been eased out of the image in the mid-nineties. All one has to do is look at picture-perfect bassist Simon Gallup and wonder what Robert and Porl are (or not in this case) thinking. Image is not important (especially in terms of what makes music such as The Cures' successful)and it's just embarrassing and unfortunate when the band leader doesn't realize that himself and insists on wearing the silly make-up. It would be easy for someone unfamiliar with the band to view the make-up motif as style over substance. And to think that this band was at one time supposedly "anti-image".
However if you are a fan that believes The Cure can do no wrong - obviously you'll eat this performance up.
Below average at best or Dull, misogynistic "comedy" for those the lowest common denominator.
For years I've passed up the chance to rent Porky's although it had a reputation of being the mutha of all teen comedies (i.e.immature sex romps). However I'm truly surprised I didn't fall asleep watching this dud. The plot is dull and seemingly obligatory that just loosely ties a bunch of tired and unfunny "gags" and a few mean-spirited pranks together. And don't even start me on the shower scene by saying "wow, nudity." Big deal. Just because someone is well-endowed that does not make him any good in the sack. If you catch my drift. I've seen nudity in several teen sex comedies. This all done in a very not-sexy, not-funny (or fun for that matter) generic way.
There are other films of the same time that were not misogynistic, one dimensional and mean-spirited (see The Last American Virgin, Fast Times At Ridgemount High and The Party Animal). And even more so - those films are actually funny and have characters that you remember. Porky's main cast are pretty faceless, generic "guys". There's no depth or real personality to any of the characters to speak of.
They are a group of friends who don't even seem to like each other. Pee-wee is perhaps ill-suited with these guys and then there's a rather tacked-on sub-plot of anti-Semitism involving Tim who is abused by his Father. Are we supposed to not feel sorry for Tim for being abused because he's an anti-Semite?
Very pedestrian film-making aspiring to be a bit more indeed. Perhaps the film-makers are trying to tell us that prejudice, abuse and misogyny apparently were very much a thing that only existed in the 1950's? Actually I don't think they gave it any thought.
If you are emotionally-stunted to that of a 9 year-old you may like this (because you don't know any better) and for those who believe that everything made in Canada is funny (If SCTV is a 10 then this is -8).
Urgh! A Music War (1981)
Found out why there's no Urgh! A Music War DVD yet...(read on)
Because of an exclusive contract to publish this movie on a now dead format (CED), the contracts for the individual artists are missing. Because you can't renegotiate a contract without the original to amend, no one can touch this. Its currently owned by its original producer, Miles Copeland (founder of IRS records), and he has the film of THREE songs from each band in storage, but because of the legal land lock he cannot release it. If he does some day, we can look forward to a 6 hour 2 DVD special edition.
Pretty sad to say the very least. We can only hope one day (soon) that the original contracts will be found as this will make a MAJOR DVD release!! Oh, human error!!
Police: Around the World (1982)
Amazing compilation film of the Police's 1980-81 World Tour!!!
The Police were very good at documenting themselves. This video is proof of that! Filmed over a 11-month period this documents the Regatta De Blanc tour and then picks up on the Zenyatta Mondatta Tour. It all starts on February 15th 1980 at the Sun Plaza Hall in Tokyo, then in Australia, Cairo and Bombay (two very unusual places for a pop group to tour then or now). Then it picks up in August of 1980 in Spain (where they seem a bit under the influence) and lots of footage from the same show in France as seen in Urgh! A Music War. This particular show has an extremely angry Sting cursing and baiting a member of the audience for throwing mud and stones at him - which prompts Sting to give the audience the finger. All this takes place during the song "De,Do,Do,Do,De,Da,Da,Da" which creates kind of an unusual, surreal contrast to the song. Sting yelling for a roadie to pull this guy out of the audience over the piped-in background vocals of the bridge. All this undoubtedly pumped up Sting and they proceed into a rip-roaring version "Truth Hits Everybody". The film ends with a January 1981 show at The Variety Arts Theatre in LA where the audience had to be blonde (wig/spray/dye/natural) to attend the show. Preceded by silly-would-be interviews of the band with the then-just-departed from Squeeze Jools Holland.
The video is interspersed with the band making a video for "Next To You" with a bunch of sheep and videos for Voices Inside My Head, Canary In A Coalmine and When The World Is Running Down... all unissued on their 'Every Breath You Take: The Videos" collections for some reason.
Hopefully a revised Special Edition DVD will be released with even more footage of songs (and full songs instead of the snippet of song - dialog - back to song sloppy editing job that you get here). In fact if it is ever "properly released" on DVD it could use with a nice edit job showcasing one thing at a time. Along with much more footage considering The Police have miles and miles of live footage that they're just sitting on...probably collecting dust somewhere...that the Copelands are not making any money on.
The DVD would benefit with a lot of extras like The Police In The East BBC special and the Florida show that was broadcast on the BBC.
If you can find it, pick it up. If you already have it then you know that this the best released footage of the Police in their prime!
Frustratingly short snippets and selective subject matter erase any credibility.
The Clash may have been one of the most interesting, important and best rock bands to have ever existed. And this documentary does in fact support that theory. However, the selectiveness of the subjects leaves much to be desired. Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20 - and in the case of the people responsible for this documentary - it's also very selective. There's absolutely no mention of the post-Mick Jones Clash that existed from 1983-1986. Four years of a bands history is an awful lot of time to simply not feel like mentioning. Sure the album this band produced (1985's Cut The Cr*p) may not have been on par with say London Calling but few albums are. To completely fail to not mention it makes me wonder why the filmmakers would simply choose to re-write history as if it never existed. All this does is support the fact that documentaries edit history any way they want. The unmentioned band (Simonon/Stummer/Pete Howard/Vince White/Nick Sheppard) toured the US in 1984 and also did a busking tour of England in 1985. By not mentioning them at all does no favors for any new young fan who actually wants to know about The Clash's history (and not just what was graciously selected for them).
Then there is the issue of obtaining great rare footage only to have seconds of it peppered throughout the documentary! This seems to be the biggest complaint from everyone I know who has seen it. To not add any of this footage (i.e The Clash playing both songs on SNL/Their appearance on Friday's/Tom Snyder/US festive footage/etc) is simply not caring about the band or it's fans. All this does is give bootleggers even more viable footage to sell. Real smart.
Having said all that it is a welcome documentary. And there is the bonus footage of all the existing footage for The Clash On Broadway. Footage that I should add the reason why so little exists is because Topper took out an injunction so that film never be released. Since it was never finished (because of the injunction) most of it was thrown away or deteriorated since it would never see the light of day anyway. Gee thanks Topper, now we really see you in a positive light!
Pedestrian, witless "personalities" commenting on quality kitsch.
In fact they are greatly unfunny and just because they say much in dry tones does not mean that there has to be any inherent wit to speak of.
They have this dull, unattractive (in terms of "personality") and puzzlingly snobby take on what they comment on (sporting events that are already easy targets to begin with). Their commentary in fact is rather terribly pedestrian, obvious and heavy handed which is a shame because the content of the show is something, somewhat dear to my heart - kitschy Americana.
If they don't write their own lines (I don't know who's responsible for such trite) they certainly haven't the charm or witty delivery that such a show calls for (E!'s The Soup's Joel McHale would do just fine).
The one-dimensional, one-note, mono-toned "personalities" of the hosts are actually doubled considering that they're identical twins (two neurotic dudes with glasses, great - they must be "funny").
Twice the unappealing unfunny-ness.
Daisy Does America (2005)
Served by and for the lowest common denominator
Daisy does America.
Hmmm, let's get a random English woman, send her to various middle-America locations where she'll obviously be out of her element and have her exploit these simple folks who have been exploited before (Daily Show, etc) and are inherently easy to make fun of anyway.
The joke(s) must be in the presentation. Yeah, right.
The forced attempt at humor is painful to sit through. Yet another "reality" show (read : who needs writers) that misses the mark. Donovan is painfully unfunny as...herself(?). Cox and Arquette produced this tripe. Which goes to show if you have the money...you will be indulged.
More low humor served by and for the lowest common denominator.