Friday, 19 February 2016

Chop's Gigs - December, January & early February

Been a while since I posted one of these gig catch ups. I've still got a few to write up from 2015 so am trying my best to knock them out a bit quicker this year. I'm just about keeping up even if it does mean a few additional late nights.

Thee Oh Sees at The Forum on Monday 30th November 2015 - A sold out Forum was fairly rammed but as people rushed to the bar before the main band came on some space opened up and I found myself unexpectedly near the front. I love an energetic band, nearly all my favourite gigs have involved me leaping about like an idiot and leaving the venue soaked in sweat, but I'm getting on a bit and have already come a cropper once this year by getting carried away down the front. Within the first 30 seconds of the first song the front few rows had erupted and I was a lot nearer the back.

Meilyr Jones at Electrowertz on Wednesday 13th January 2016 - Meilyr Jones clicks his fingers and his band launch into a magnificent rendition of How To Recognise A Work Of Art. It's a pop powered kick to the gut. A song so perfect I can't hear it without wanting to dance (as evidenced shopping in Tesco just the other day). One of three singles that caught my attention last year and my 2nd favourite song of the year (Meilyr plays the 1st later in the set).

Savages at the 100 Club on Tuesday 26th January 2016 - A 5:30 alarm call and nothing but coffee to drink beforehand indicated this was not your run of the mill gig. A combined album/concert package via Sister Ray records in Berwick Street which doubled as the launch party for Savages new LP Adore Life. Sister Ray were very clear this would be an early morning show but it didn't really hit home until I was setting my alarm the night before. I don't get up this early for work. This probably says a lot about my life priorities though based on this evidence I've got them right.

Eleanor Friedberger at MOTH Club on Wednesday 3rd February 2016 - Eleanor has a talent for writing great pop songs. She makes great use of words to tell a story but never lets them get in the way of the tune. Considering how much effort it takes me to write these fairly shoddy gig reports I am in awe of someone who can use words so effectively and get them to fit within the limitations of a song. Eleanor seems at ease on stage though being at eye level with a room full of strangers must be a little intimidating. Not that it shows when she's singing.

Sauna Youth at The Forge on Saturday 13th February 2016 - Sauna Youth were a real blast of punk energy and it was a thrill to finally see them. Their 15 song set was over far too quickly though that's no complaint, they managed to play all my favourite tunes, just an indication I had a great time. In fact I spent most of the gig pogoing politely in what was an enthusiastic and friendly crowd.

Also, one gig I didn't make.

Lost Gigs: Motörhead at Hammersmith Odeon - As a teenage Metal Head I didn't really get into Motörhead, I had a best of (the one with the leather sleeve), but that was it. That meant at my peak of Metal and Rock gig attendance I never got to see them play. Oddly it was in the late 90s, when I was otherwise getting into Indie & Punk, that they suddenly caught my ear.


Friday, 12 February 2016

Top 5 Film Sequels - Chop's Picks

After last weeks' Collaborative Top 5 result here are my picks for the best film sequels of all time.

5. Mad Max II (1981) [d: George Miller] - I remember getting this from the video shop in Thames Ditton village. I think I might have even bought their copy a few years later when they were closing down. It's been a long time since I saw it but my memory suggests it might have been better than the original. It certainly benefited from a bigger budget and director George Miller took full advantage of that. If you're after a post apocalyptic landscape you'll not find many places more suitable than the Australian outback and the desert backdrops play as big a part in the success of this film as Mel Gibson and a bunch of leather clad mohawked bikers.

4. Kill Bill volume 2 (2004) [d: Quentin Tarantino] - Genuine sequel of the second half of a film released in two parts? I've gone with the former as I'm a huge Tarantino fan, though I've always wanted to see a proper full length version of Kill Bill.

3. French Connection II (1975) [d: John Frankenheimer] - The fictional sequel to the original 1971 film that was an adaption of a true story. Gene Hackman is superb as narcotics officer Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle. Sent to Marseilles to continue the chase for the drug gang leader he finds himself a fish out of water, though things go really awry when he is held captive by the gang and injected with Heroin.

2. The Godfather: Part II (1974) [d: Francis Ford Coppola] - My memory often lets me down regarding films and I realised discussing the overall vote last week that I can't entirely remember which bits happen in Part I and which in Part II. That aside I remember the whole epic story being a remarkable piece of cinema. Al Pacino is outstanding as Michael Corleone but it's the ensemble cast and intertwining stories that make the whole saga so believable.

1. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) [d: Irvin Kershner] - I've written about Star Wars before I'm sure. It was the biggest film of my childhood. I had Star Wars posters, Star Wars comics, Star Wars figures, Star Wars bubblegum cards and, my crowing glory, a Star Wars duvet & pillow set. I made my own light sabre out of cardboard, though it proved horribly ineffective in a fight with a plastic sword and had to be retired from active service. Anyway, by 1980 I had developed something of an obsession with the original film so you can imagine my excitement about a second film. Empire did not disappoint. A bit like Mad Max 2 it built on the original story but added a bigger budget that meant it looked more polished.


Friday, 5 February 2016

Collaborative Top 5 Film Sequels - RESULTS

A great response to this vote so huge thanks to everyone who gave me their five favourite sequels. The top 3 were no surprise and claimed a significant lead from the rest fairly early on. The Dark Knight just edged out Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers with Toy Story 2 next in line. Perhaps both those films suffered from having similarly popular third instalments. The full list is at the bottom of the page so you can find out how your personal favourites did.

5. The Dark Knight (2008) [d: Christopher Nolan] - The second of Christopher Nolan's grittier Batman movies. A film that takes its cue from the best comic originals, particularly Alan Moore's excellent graphic novel The Killing Joke.

4. Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991) [d: James Cameron] - The film I was most surprised to see make the top five though I do remember being blown away by it when it first came out. Seven years after the first film Arnie is back as a goodie, a reprogrammed Terminator sent to protect John Connor from the liquid metal T-1000.

3. The Godfather: Part II (1974) [d: Francis Ford Coppola] - Francis Ford Coppola is not one for brevity, this sequel is a little over 3 hours and 15 minutes longer than Part I. Al Pacino takes centre stage in Coppola's ongoing tale of New York Mafia. It's worth your time and remains one of Pacino's very best performances. The first sequel to win the Oscar for Best Film.

2. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) [d: Irvin Kershner] - I reckon most of us are around the same age so Star Wars caught us all at an impressionable age. Though I love the original Star Wars movie, Empire benefits from higher production budgets, gets straight into the action and set's things up perfectly for part three. A strong claim to be the very best Star Wars movie.

1. Aliens (1986) [d: James Cameron] - I've not watched this for ages. I loved Ridley Scott's original and felt this lost some of the dramatic tension by making everything bigger and louder. Sigourney Weaver is excellent as Ellen Ripley though and earned a nomination for Best Actress at the time when science-fiction films rarely featured.

Here is the full list, a very impressive 77 sequels that all found a bit of love from someone.

P Film - Score
1 Aliens - 87
2 Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back - 82
3 Godfather II - 74
4 Terminator 2 - 51
5 Batman: The Dark Knight - 38
6 Lord of the Rings: Two Towers - 34
7 Toy Story 2 - 27
8 Die Harder - 15
9 Back To The Future part 2 - 14
9 For A Few Dollars More - 14
11 Evil Dead II - 13
11 Star Trek 2: Wrath of Khan - 13
13 Bourne Supremacy - 12
13 Toy Story 3 - 12
13 French Connection II - 12
16 Kill Bill volume 2 - 11
17 Hunger Games: Catching Fire - 10
17 The Colour of Money - 10
19 Evil Dead: Army of Darkness - 9
20 Indiana Jones & The Temple of Doom - 8
20 Lethal Weapon 2 - 8
20 Spider-Man 2 - 8
23 Star Trek: Into Darkness - 7
23 The Raid 2 - 7
25 After The Thin Man - 6
25 Alien 3 - 6
25 Aparajito - 6
25 Beverly Hills Cop 2 - 6
25 Conquest of the Planet of the Apes - 6
25 Escape from Planet of the Apes - 6
25 Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade - 6
25 Police Academy 2 - 6
25 Mad Max II - 6
34 Hannibal - 5
34 Jaws 2 - 5
34 Manon des Sources - 5
34 Rocky 2 - 5
34 Superman II - 5
34 The Two Jakes - 5
40 28 Weeks Later - 4
40 Bad Boys 2 - 4
40 Before Sunset - 4
40 Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey - 4
40 Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs - 4
40 Despicable Me 2 - 4
40 Die Hard with a Vengence - 4
40 Exorcist II: The Heretic - 4
40 Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets - 4
40 Meet The Fockers - 4
40 Night at the Museum 2 - 4
40 Omen 2 - 4
40 Rec 2 - 4
40 Star Trek: First Contact - 4
40 The Best Marigold Hotel 2 - 4
40 Twilight: New Moon - 4
56 Batman Returns - 3
56 Dawn of the Dead - 3
56 Evangelion 2.22 - 3
56 Exorcist III - 3
56 Futureworld - 3
56 Home Alone 2 - 3
56 Lord of the Rings: Return of the King - 3
56 Matrix Reloaded - 3
56 Predator 2 - 3
56 Psycho II - 3
56 Rambo 2 - 3
67 Austin Powers 2 - 2
67 Bride of Frankenstein - 2
67 Captain America: Winter Soldier - 2
67 Good Will Hunting 2: Hunting Season - 2
67 Mad Max: Fury Road - 2
67 More American Graffiti - 2
67 Penguins of Madagascar - 2
67 Resident Evil 2 - 2
67 Star Wars: Return of the Jedi - 2
67 The Hangover 2 - 2
67 Tron: Legacy - 2