Sunday, 28 August 2016

Reviewed: Sid & Nancy (1986) - 30th Anniversary Restoration

0091_Sid and Nancy quad.indd

When a filmmaker decides to tell the story of a life that burned so bright yet was cut tragically short, the most impossible task must be to decide where to begin. In the cult film Sid & Nancy, Alex Cox began at the end of Nancy’s story, focusing on Sid Vicious (Gary Oldman) sitting in utter shock while the New York City police swarm around him, peppering him with questions.

It is a stark reminder that this is a story that does not end well and director Alex Cox pulls no punches in his depiction of a brilliant musician, his girlfriend and their co-dependent descent into the hell of heroin addiction.

Andrew Schofield is Johnny Rotten and Gary Oldman is Sid Vicious in Sid & Nancy

Sid Vicious was the bass guitarist of one of the best punk bands of all time and such was his charisma that Malcolm McLaren famously said that if he’d met Sid before hiring Johnny Rotten then Sid would have fronted the Sex Pistols. When his star collided with that of groupie and junkie Nancy Spungen, it was only a matter of time before the two destroyed each other.

Gary Oldman is Sid Vicious and it is no surprise that he won the award for Most Promising Newcomer in the Evening Standard British Film Awards in 1987. He perfected Sid’s vacant stare, his disaffection and his cocky gait, to the extent that watching the film 30 years later he was Sid Vicious, not the man who went on to star in some of the greatest roles of all time. The film also stars Chloe Webb in her award-winning role as Nancy Spungen and Andrew Schofield as Johnny Rotten.

Sid & Nancy is dark and the direction and cinematography focus on the filth and grime that surround the doomed couple during their descent. The most poignant scene in the film features Sid and Nancy in a passionate embrace in a back alley, with a dumpster in the background and detritus falling down around them like some warped ticker tape parade.

Chloe Webb is Nancy Spungen and Gary Oldman is Sid Vicious in Sid & Nancy

Completing the air of nihilism and destruction is a brilliant punk soundtrack featuring live performances of the most well known Sex Pistols tracks (my favourite will always be “Anarchy in the UK”) as well as Sid’s iconic performance of “My Way” for the film The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle. The film also featured original punk and post-punk music from Joe Strummer (who worked extensively on the soundtrack despite being only contracted for two songs), Pray for Rain and The Pogues.

Andrew Schofield as Johnny Rotten and Gary Oldman as Sid Vicious in Sid & Nancy

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of The Sex Pistols’ seminal gig at Manchester Lesser Free Trade Hall and to mark the 30th anniversary of the release of Sid & Nancy, STUDIOCANAL in association with the Independent Cinema Office have restored the film and are releasing a special-edition DVD/Blu-ray on 29 August on the Vintage Classics label.

As we have come to expect from STUDIOCANAL restorations, this one is flawless and it is difficult to believe that you’re watching a film that is 30 years old when the quality is that of a contemporary film.

The DVD and Blu-ray special editions feature new interviews with cinematographer Roger Deakins, director Alex Cox and Don Letts (presenter of Punk on Film at the BFI: Southbank).

Sid & Nancy is available on EST and the new special edition DVD/Blu-ray is available to buy from 29 August 2016.

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Saturday, 27 August 2016

Brand New Pixies Track: "Talent"

Pixies Head Carrier Promo Shot 2016

Pixies have got a brand new track out and it’s… okay. “Talent” is the second track from their upcoming album Head Carrier out on September 30 through Pixiesmusic / Play It Again Sam / [PIAS].

It is not as catchy as “Um Chagga Lagga” nor does it have that distinctive Trompe Le Monde sound that I liked about the first single. It sounds more like Frank Black’s later stuff from Nonstoperotik which was also okay so I guess that makes this a rejected B-side?

I guess the proof will be in the mix and listening to where “Talent” fits in on the new album. I liked all the new material they played at Brixton O2 Academy on 11th July but then again, they didn’t play this track.

Whatever the case, this track has made me go back to Indie Cindy and give the album another try so maybe something good will come out of my lukewarm response?

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Wednesday, 17 August 2016

On Being a Bad Book Lover

The Impossible Reading List

In my previous post, I confessed all about my nasty habits when it comes to hoarding books and not reading them. This post is even worse. Because it's been a particularly crazy year, I've started doing something I've never allowed myself to do before - I've started reading several books at the same time. Gasp. If that is something you do anyway, then this post probably won't even phase you, but if you're one of those readers who diligently finishes a book before starting the next one then I'm sure you'll relate to my tidings of woe. In order of when I started them, here is a list of the five books that I have on the go at the moment:

  1. Cassandra Clare - Clockwork Prince coverClockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices, #2) - Cassandra Clare - I was quite enjoying both this and Clare's The Mortal Instruments series and was reading them in order of publication. And then something quite untoward happened... I started to get sick of reading the same thing over and over again. And if you do read both series (and watch the Shadowhunters TV show) that's exactly what it is.
    The Infernal Devices is the prequel to The Mortal Instruments but you already know what's going to happen a lot of the time because it is already history and fact in The Infernal Devices. And Tessa Gray is perhaps the least fun I've had with a protagonist in a long time. The problem is, I'm too invested in the series to not finish this, and so it remains on my "currently reading" list.
  2. Jemma Wayne - Chains of Sand coverChains of Sand - Jemma Wayne - I started reading this ages ago and even featured an exclusive excerpt of it back in May. The book is set in Israel and London and I was a little unsure whether I would like it but I loved Jemma Wayne’s writing and her valiant effort to remain objective in a very heated topic.
    It is so good and I'm enjoying it so much that I recommended it to my book club for our July read. Despite the pressure to actually finish a book I recommended, I still haven't finished it. And it's good. And I have no excuse.
  3. Sunjeev Sahota - The Year of the Runaways coverThe Year of the Runaways - Sunjeev Sahota - not content with being a bad book reader, I decided to go out and find something I was worse at - going to gym. I downloaded The Year of the Runaways from Audible when it was a daily deal with the aim of listening to it at gym.
    Despite having done so several months ago, I am still only 3 hours into the book. I truly am a terrible gym member.Nevertheless, the book is brilliant and the narration even more so and I'm determined to finish it.
  4. Margaret Atwood - The Blind Assassin - coverThe Blind Assassin - Margaret Atwood - at the end of June, the lovely Carolann from Finding Ithaka mentioned that she had read my very favourite Margaret Atwood book Surfacing. I was a massive Margaret Atwood fan in my 20s and read all of her books up to Alias Grace in 1998. And then the unthinkable happened - I bought The Blind Assassin and could not get into it. Time and time again in the past 15 years, I have tried and failed to read this book and because I am as pernickety as the day is long, that means that I haven't read her Oryx and Crake trilogy or anything else that came out since 2000. Inspired by Carolann's love of a book that I had loved so much, I decided to try again and am pleased to say that I am loving The Blind Assassin this time around. I just haven't finished it yet.
  5. Here I Stand AmnestyHere I Stand: Stories that Speak for Freedom - Amnesty International UK - this is by far the best of the books I'm reading and most of the books on this list are superior reads. This is a collection of short stories from the likes of Matt Haig, Neil Gaiman and John Boyne about some of the most serious issues facing children today: trafficking, poverty, gender identity, racism and bullying. It is my sincere hope that this will be the first of the books I finish so that I can tell readers all about it!

      This was my sorry tale about being a bad book lover and a not-very-loyal one at that. I can only hope that by opening up, I am able to stage a one person intervention and bring my reading practices back under control.

      Are you a one book person or do you keep many books on the go? What are you currently reading?

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    Monday, 15 August 2016

    When Your To-Read List Goes Rogue

    The Never Ending To Read List

    I have a bit of a problem and it is one that I've had in one form or another for many years. Back in the era of bookshops and actual paper books, I used to run wild in the local Exclusive Books on a Saturday afternoon and stumble out with armloads of books which would then sit prettily on my bookshelf and totally impress visitors. Or at least, I hope they impressed visitors because they weren't doing anything else. Many of those books that I so lovingly selected and revered are still sitting there, years later, unread.

    Things improved somewhat around the time I moved to the UK in 2007. Starry-eyed and fresh from having completed the Harry Potter series, I no longer had money to buy books (emigrating is a very expensive undertaking) and I began diligently borrowing new series from the library and discovered Philip Pullman, Garth Nix, Anthony Horowitz, Stephenie Meyer, Richelle Mead, Charlaine Harris and Cassandra Clare. Fabulous authors with fantastic series and I ploughed through all of them.

    And then I began reviewing books on this blog and was contacted by PR companies and suddenly I was discovering the very best in paranormal YA authors: Gena Showalter, Maria V. Snyder, Julie Kagawa, Rachel Vincent. It was a glorious time and I was reading scores of books and finally managed to read 50 books in a year for the first time.

    I'm not too sure where it all went downhill. Over a year ago, I decided that I'd rather read for fun than what I was being sent to review. The reason for this was that I was starting to see a startling similarity in the Young Adult market - whether dystopian or paranormal, we were seeing the same stories, same characters and same clich├ęs to the extent that Twitter accounts have been created about them!

    Looking for inspiration on my own meant that I began to lean heavily on Goodreads to find and discover books and that process has been very good but also very ugly. On the extremely good side, I've discovered the Mock Printz and Beyond Words: A Bloggers' Book Club book groups who aim to only read Very Good Books Indeed (my emphasis). This means that I've been treated to many excellent books this year, so much so that I was considering changing my star ratings to accurately reflect the superiority of these absolute works of written art.

    And then there is the bad side. The to-read list. And boy, does Goodreads make it easy to add books to read. I call my immediate to-read list On My Bedside Table and this list only includes books that I have bought and downloaded to my Kindle or physically have in my possession. And because I am a literary magpie who likes to grab shiny little books and whisk them away to my nest, I went a bit crazy with the On My Bedside Table list and had to force myself (force myself, I tell you) to restrict the reading list to 50 books. Who in their right mind has 50 books piled around them all waiting to be read? Oh, that's right. A magpie. Me.

    Storm Glass
    Grim Tuesday
    A Confusion of Princes
    Spellcaster
    Oblivion
    The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
    Taste of Darkness
    Trapped
    Demon Thief
    Dead Reckoning
    When the Sea Is Rising Red
    Zoo City
    Sipping from the Nile
    The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared
    Shadow Bound
    The Knife of Never Letting Go
    Ultraviolet
    A Tale for the Time Being
    The Lowland
    The Kite Runner

    But let's get back to that magical number: 50. Why did I restrict my On My Bedside Table list to 50 books? well, that was approximately what I was reading in a year so it seemed reasonable. That is until March happened. (Cue dramatic music). In March, I moved house (into a lovely new house which has an entire room dedicated to my music, CD, DVD, LP and book collection but that is beside the point). I only moved a mile up the road but I also changed job and start work half an hour later. The result? I now wake up approximately 3 hours later than when I used to work in London and that means I have 3 more hours a day to read, right? Wrong. I don't know what happened. Not only do I have a to-read list that is simmering and bubbling over like a pot of porridge but I've also practically stopped reading altogether and it's not good. Not good at all.

    So this is me admitting that my to-read list has gone rogue and I don't know what to do about it. In my next post, I'll tell you all about something even more shameful - the books that I'm actually reading right now and haven't finished. I hope that I can shame myself enough into actually getting back to reading again but I'm not holding my breath.

    Does any of this sound familiar? Are you a book hoarder, literary magpie, serial book starter? Confess all below.

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    © 2005 - Mandy Southgate | Addicted to Media

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