Grant Gee - Meeting People is Easy
It’s been a while before I could get my mits around this; and no commercial broadcaster here would play something whose time-dated relevance has already expired, but this is still a highly interesting and slightly disturbing look at the chaotic miasma and flashing hypermedia of the modern pop success phenomenon. I realised that musically (I mean guitar-song-ability wise) Radiohead aren’t the most sophisticated or accomplished band (indeed, that would kinda go against the grain of pop music and guitar bands generally) but they were fundamentally adept at expressing the certain alienation and cultural estrangement/powerlessness of the late 90s, expressing it subjectively. That by combination of Thom’s voice, the laconic lyrics and slightly dissociated, whining singing style (quite apparent here) over a chordal approach already distinctly Radiohead (musically, OK Computer is already pre-empted by The Bends) which taps right into that ennui/hopelessness of a certain mood and disenfranchisement with the world, pop music and modern ironic culture generally, all that pre-millennial shit (which reminds me: where did it all go? Surely Brittney didn’t fill the vacuous gap?). All that unavoidable irony which binds everything into a pit of repetitive sludge and mediated spin-perspective. I liked the deliberate fragmentation and cross-mediation and scenic shots and the visual commas and stops and the motorways and tramlines. Never has a concert film concentrated so much on the back stage, behind the scenes mood of a band about to make it behemoth-big. Never has the true human, dazzled and dazed side of celebrity and media onslaught been rendered with such honest confusion. I liked the performance of the b-sides, from sound check to mediation. I like the despairing monotony of the journalist questioning (even Richie Kingsmill comes across like a tired hack). And it was fun to see the fans, and the concert which I think I attended many many years ago in Sydney. And also, well, not really fun, but disturbing to witness: the growing disenchantment with the whole media push / interview process: at first engaging with the interviewers in a basic way, eye contact and dialogue; and by the end completely stun mulleted and absent, reticent and platitudinous, completely unengaged body-wise, almost babbling in a monologue what seems like emotional venting and discussion of the world and music in a way people won’t understand anyway: above all the emotional fatigue and over-demandedness and all the bollocks of media stardom. At times the sound is truly hopeless, and guff that sounds like it could become the big statement of the movie ends up truncated or lo-fi’d down to meaninglessness. The band don’t have answers, that much is clear, and the movie doesn’t provide any (like Kearney says: ‘Hey, we’re complex’). The band is totally stunned by the weirdness of new reality and often seem incoherent in their attempts to hold on to the scraps of truth they are at least certain of. As they record the 200th radio promo in a row. There was something almost perversely whorish about the way the media demands its answers, in its treatment of celebrity. There’s a sense that the band uses music to crawl away into and sanctuarise the soul (I’d like to know what Thom had on his cans (boom boom)). And the slow pace of studio recording was nicely accentuated by the disembodied voice over a mixing board and studio window. And the film clip outtakes, all the cutting room footage. A study in reaction and modern alienation. No answers, just experience. And a great emotional-contextual lead-in for the Amnesiac and Kid A.
Sean Walsh, Bloom
Oh what a sad adaptation. Great detail in clothes, and er, an interesting carryover of Ulysses-themes, but holy shite and onions, what a torrent of swill. Everyone’s going to be disappointed with this: the inner monologues are drab and crumpled, the dramatic effort low and unfulfilled (and I mean really, really lo-grade), the settings don’t in any way suggest a Hibernian metropolis full of people and talk… and the greatest opportunity yet to put a Joyce-look-alike in as Mc’Intosh totally wasted. Molly comes across OK by virtue of the monologue and all its smut — she actually made me smile once or twice. The film is hung up on fluids and liquids of all sorts, and gruff sex in shifts and plomping bogs and at least three issues of urine, one of gas, several of semen (unseen). Dublin doesn’t even look cheap or dirty. The wrong tower was used. Buck was just too plump. Absolute disregard for narrative contiguity and causality — new scene, character walks in. New scene, same. Lots of liberties (occasional imaginings especially) but just not the right balance with what it does take. Rudy, Stephen’s mammie; the farcically pathetic Circe scene, and not a scrap of Ithaca. Stephen (Hugh O'Conor, suspiciously clean) was deplorably acted; I can’t recall ever being so turned off by a performance, so tepid, uninspired, amateur-board-treading. The library scene was couched with despair. And if you’ve ever wondered how starchy ‘Ineluctable modality of the visible’ sounds on screen, watch it. Awesomely bad. I can understand that interior monologue is difficult to film and montage effectively with facial thinking scenes, but this was tiring. Bloom (Stephen Rea ) was better in looks but too soft, quiet, unscientific and lacking spunk or presence. Some occasional poetry but lots of poor nuance and over-softening and a-rhythmical couching, lumpen. Just scraps sewn together with a wink to those who might know the book and hence make a better quilt from these innocuous patches. Incoherent, devoid of inner life, uncontextual but mildly successful in some ways. Not enough puns or errors or trams or music (give the button his speaking role!). Not enough to cover the rental charge. Forget you ever wanted to. Keep with the text.