Blakeson - Writer

Cardiff-based film, theatre and gig reviews, cultural ramblings, whingeing, short films, etc.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

"Inglourious Basterds"

I went into “Inglourious Basterds” expecting more of a rip-roaring rampage of Nazi-scalping than in fact transpired - Quentin Tarantino’s latest is more intellectually ambitious than the pulpy war films and B-Westerns which inspired it, and all the better for that. His breathtakingly bold rewriting of the history of World War 2 consists largely of long, extremely tense dialogue scenes, which generally culminate in messy (in terms of both narrative and blood) violence. The film is dominated by the performances of Christoph Waltz (as Holmesian Jew-hunter Landa), and Brad Pitt (as cigar-chomping redneck anti-Nazi Aldo Raine), who both appear to be having a whale of a time, while Melanie Laurent, as vengeful survivor Shoshanna provides the soul of the piece. Packed with a thesis-load of references, this is a story about the importance of language and the simultaneously redemptive and disruptive power of cinema; it’s also a useful reminder of an era in which making war on “the foot soldiers of a Jew-hatin’, mass murderin’ maniac” was generally held to be a good idea. A little more back-story on some of the “Basterds” might have been nice, but maybe it’s good that the filmmaker allows us space to use our imaginations. Masterful.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Big Weekend 2009

Friday Night was emo night at this year’s Cardiff Big Weekend, if the rain-flattened lateral coiffures and teen demographic were anything to go by; I was there for London-based North Walian trio The Joy Formidable, however, whose subtle, indie wall-of-sound mini-epics were pretty impressive. I cherry-picked on Saturday as well, only making the effort to see Melopark, fronted by local heroine Sian from Kosheen, who provided an object-lesson in stage-presence; soulful vocals with dense, folky guitar (provided by collaborator Simon Kingman), and catchy, mellow songs (apparently, largely about her mates in the audience) – most pleasant. The main question on Sunday was whether Leisure Society had more songs as achingly beautiful as the Novello-nominated “The Last Of The Melting Snow”; the good news was that they did, and also treated us to an amusing version of Gary Numan’s “Cars”. Having wandered off to find a vaguely hygienic toilet, I only caught the end of Ebony Bones’ set, but she managed to get the crowd going with her crazy beats – if only she wouldn’t dress so dowdily.

My final band of the festival was Camera Obscura, Peel favourites, and one of the pantheon of great, ‘60s-inflected Scottish pop groups; they played a relatively upbeat set which suited the demands of the occasion, and Tracy-Anne’s fragile vocals carried surprisingly well. Lovely.

Re writing, the only good news of late was a repeat fee for “Tracy Beaker” – staving off poverty for another month or so. I’ve also just started another baby play manuscript on its lonely journey around the offices of various theatre companies.