Posts Tagged ‘Review’

The Orphanage

April 7, 2008


Warning – probably contains very slight spoilers that would irritate someone as sensitive as I am to them (despite the fact I’ve tried to eradicate them where possible and don’t want to spoil it for anyone).

Glaring plot-holes abound in this moderately entertaining but not-quite-horrific-enough-to-be-called-a-horror movie. Produced by Guillermo del Toro, this was always going to be better than your average heebie-jeebie unsettler – but first time Director J. A. Bayona doesn’t seem to have read his own script through properly, as several scratch-your-head issues aren’t cleared up come the credits.

I watched those gasbags on Newsnight Review going on about how this was a meditation on maternal and paternal fears and discussing how it really gave them the jitters. Apparently the idea of being separated from your child is a concept Mark Kermode, an Evening Standard editor and the host bloke who’s not as good as Kirsty Wark can’t stomach. Well I haven’t got any kids, so I actually felt the adopted parents of Simon were bloody lucky to have got shot of the little swine. He looked exactly like Fred Savage from The Wonder Years – and the similarity was completely distracting for the casual viewer. I can’t imagine what it must have been like having to look after the poor sod with that hanging around his neck.

The plotting problems kick in late on in the picture, which is annoying, as up to then everything’s set up for a cracking finale. Creeping unease and nasty indications of what’s to come crop up when Tomas – a nasty little bag-headed ghost – shows up intermittently and a very upsetting incident occurs in town – of which I’ll say no more. But we could’ve done with more of that-type-of-thing. It left unshiftable skids on my Y fronts.

And so to the glaring plot-holes. I’m going resolutely spoiler-free with this review so I’ll not be specific but – when the climax starts unravelling – if you’re an active observer rather than the sort of cinema-goer who swallows everything they see like so much sugared, overpriced popcorn, you’ll be turning to others and saying ‘Now hang on a minute…’ as three or four clear errors aren’t addressed in favour of a schmaltzy (if slightly morbid) ending.

Interestingly, Kermode was asked by a listener to Simon Mayo’s radio show about one of these inconsistencies (the wallpaper one) and his response was along the lines of ‘I’ll email the enquirer to tell them, but I shan’t say as it’ll ruin the film for others’. Well, Kermode: I don’t believe you can explain it as it doesn’t make any sense. Feel free to mail WWM and tell me why I’m wrong.

Still – worth seeing. And apologies if my tentative dance around plot details has spilled into spoiler territory. I’m glad I don’t do this for a living, it’s like working on a knife edge between being a cultural observer and a spoilsport shitbag.

Nickelback – Rock Star

March 19, 2008

Seeing as it’s apparently Music Week on Watch With Mothers I thought I would contribute with this little correspondence I’ve been having. I left the following comment on YouTube regarding this hateful song from the kings of unironic mullet rock, Nickelback;

‘Nickelback must have sold their soul to the devil because there is no other explanation as to how a band this mediocre, this banal and this damned awful could ever have achieved success. I know that taste is a personal choice, but really – there should be limits.’

Within 5 minutes of writing that I got the following email from MusiclandX

How can you not like nickelbacks song they are amazing.  He has a great voice and the song is so orginal down to earth and true. You say there are limits to peoples opinion well i totally disagree with that. The last thing i could listen to would be classical but i can still understand why people like it
Maybe you should try harder…

Clearly a 14 year old girl. So this was my response, and I think it is a pretty fair review of the song as well:

Wow. If I was to nominate the one sentence that I never thought someone who say to me, it’s “how can you not like Nickelback?” It’s a rhetorical question, right?You have freedom of choice, and if you want to like this band then that’s your call – however, do you not think that emailing someone and suggesting that they try harder to like them is taking a bit too far? Trust me, when you’re older you will look back at this fleeting correspondence and a little glimmer of regret will raise it’s head, followed by full-on shame.Like I say, if you choose to think that this dictionary definition of banality is good music then I’m not going to argue with you – each to their own and all that – but please don’t go around saying that they are original, which is an insult to every artist who’s ever tried something different. Nickelback are a perfect example of abject unoriginality – that kind of horrific middle of the road AOR which has dominated the American music charts for so long and is truly the death knell of popular music.The song isn’t good – it’s horribly bad, painfully cliched and desperately hackneyed. The song structure is plodding and predictable, the lyrics empty and calculated and, please, don’t talk about the man’s voice because to do so you’d need to talk about every other rock singer who’s preceeded him first.

And as for the video – celebrity cameos, bouncing tits, abject sexism and xenophobic stereotypes do not a video make. Every aspect of this release is a carefully planned business strategy by a bunch of white men in suits working out how best to part you from your cash. There’s no creativity, there’s no communication with the audience – there’s just a very calculated strategy to make a shitload of money from teenagers.

Like them if you want – difference of opinion makes the world go round – but by doing so you’re just contributing to the further homogenisation of a genre of music which is meant to reflect everything that Nickleback patently aren’t. I grew up on rock music – proper anti establishment, fuck-you rock music – and to see it reduced to this ode to commercial rock, material possessions and wealth worship makes me weep inside. I struggle to understand how this band can write this crap when deep down they must know that they are selling everything that they once held dear down the river for a quick buck.

And as for classical – well, I’m kind of with you as (R+B aside) it’s probably my least listened to genre of music too. However, classical music contains more emotion, more experimentation and more originality than Nickleback could ever even hope to muster and will remain in culture a lot longer than Chad and his withered mullet ever will.

Have a nice day.