Track of the Day
Rae’s set at Leefest was utter beauty and our review later this week will hopefully put that into more eloquent words, but for now enjoy “Cold”, one of Rae’s more upbeat tracks featuring vocals from FRYARS.
|—||Whilst decoding her tweets in an interview with Glamour Magazine, everyone’s favourite young non-Jennifer Lawrence actress Anna Kendrick let slip that she’s a covert Redditor, and a regular visitor to the nudity-happy r/GoneWild subreddit. So now you know if you’ve ever submitted phots on there, it’s possible Anna Kendrick has seen your boobs/butt/genitals/untidy room. Knowing the internet as we do, that’s more of an encouragement than a deterrent…|
With Monty Python currently wrapping up their career with a month of live shows at London’s O2 Arena, it might just be time to put the group’s sole American member Terry Gilliam out to pasture as a film director too. His latest film and his first since 2009’s ill-fated The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus, The Zero Theorem is a sad grumpy shambles, a parody of the ideas and themes which built Gilliam’s reputation as a true auteur.
Set in the brightest digital dystopia you could think of, The Zero Theorem centres on agoraphobic office drone number-cruncher Qohen Leth (Christoph Waltz) tasked by his shadowy corporate overlords with coming up with the mathematical equation of “zero equals 100%”, whilst waiting on a mysterious phone call to explain the meaning of life. He’s surrounded by a cavalcade of obfuscating technology and consciously zany characters, from Melanie Thierry’s manic pixie cam-girl to David Thewlis’ jittery toupee-wearing supervisor and Tilda Swinton’s app-based shrink. But for an excellent-on-paper cast and potentially fertile ideas at play, The Zero Theorem ends up as a weak pastiche of a genre Gilliam helped to codify; a film created by old men worried about people’s use of technology and how they don’t understand it - Gilliam has even explained in an interview that the film acts as “a warning against the perils of a digitised existence” - the kind of worldview that Monty Python likely would’ve satirised were they in their youthful prime today.
There’s just so much weak symbolism and so many rote metaphors floating around in the film; “The Church of Batman The Redeemer”, haha yeah coz people “worship” pop culture and celebrity and stuff. A crucified Jesus statue, but with Jesus’ head replaced with a security camera. A all-powerful corporation called Mancom, which is repeated until it sounds suspiciously like “mankind” by the end of the film, and Qohen’s insistence on using “we” instead of “I” and correcting a colleague how persistently gets his name wrong. This is a film which is transparently about the meaninglessness of life and the lack of any higher power and how religion and belief is silly and atheism is clearly the only way to go and how big business is bad and… really the only way to convey the major thematic ideas of The Zero Theorem is with mouth farts. It’s just that lumpen and undercooked.
I was genuinely shocked to find its writer Pat Rushin is a creative writing professor because his script is a) duller that an Ikea instruction manual and b) crammed with ideas that should barely make it past a sixth-former’s rough story notes. It was, however, less of a shock to discover this was Rushin’s first ever screenplay, written in ten days with ”no idea what [he] was doing” and using “several screenwriting books and screenplays out from the UCF library, including Terry Gilliam’s Brazil”. There you go, kids; if you pen a sub-par script directly inspired by a director’s masterpiece, he’ll eventually direct the adaptation of what you’ve written. It boggles the mind how the likes of Waltz, Swinton and Thewlis - actors who’ve all been in classic films with top-tier screenplays - read this and didn’t immediately reject it. To their credit, they all do the best they can with what they’re given and are still immensely watchable.
To be fair, it’s hard to lay much blame at Gilliam’s door. His world-building is second to none, and whilst the future dystopia he creates isn’t entirely original, it does feel like a fully fleshed-out place from the cumulative fifteen minutes or so we see of what’s outside Qohen’s dilapidated church dwellings. A meld of the smokey industrial gloom of 1984 and the bright saccharine hedonism of The Hunger Games’ Capitol, with a dash of omnipresent advertising, news, and tech, this future doesn’t feel so outlandish as to be a clear departure from the world we live in now. It’s actually worryingly prescient. But the fact that a filmmaker of Gilliam’s talents couldn’t at least polish a turd of a script into something interesting, if not, thrilling, is a real disappointment.
Song Of The Day
You like Andrew WK and Royal Blood right? Well enjoy “Burn This Flag” this two-minute, nine-second belter from Bad Breeding. This track’s out next month, but for now; enjoy.
In the opening minutes of the new season of Channel 4’s Utopia, Rose Leslie’s Milner balances on one foot over a drop into the guest in a lavish mansion party. For those familiar with the show, it will hardly come as a surprise - the superb first season of Utopia continually did this; knife-edge tension during moments of extreme calm and beauty. The show’s return for a previously uncertain second season began in wholly unfamiliar territory. Through a 4:3 aspect ratio and ’70s TV filter, we see the early origins of the Utopia story, a young Jessica Hyde, and a young Arby, as more of the show’s clandestine villains are exposed and their motivations explained.
Philip Carvel, the writer of the fabled Utopiamanuscript from the first season, is played superbly with a Kubrickian tint by Tom Burke, not only in appearance but in character traits, which only lends itself to the retro interiors and sets. There’s a distinctly familiar feeling to the opening episode, as we watch the bittersweet and uneasy, but relatively undisturbed lives of Milner and Carvel before the events of the first series, scored impeccably by Cristobal Tapia De Veer who uses childlike theremins and choirs in equally effective measure. Rose Leslie as a young Milner is brilliant, a zealot for her cause whose descent (or ascent) into the character we know is brilliantly spelled out. It’s once again, pretty tough going, but honestly, with Utopia, it’s hard to have it any other way.
The second episode brings us crashing back to present day, catching us up to Jessica Hyde (Fiona O’Shaughnessy who is as enigmatic and venomous as ever. In a mirror to the pilot, Ian ( Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) is once again stuck in his office job, though his growth since the pilot is immediately apparent, as is Arby’s, who now plays happy families with his girlfriend and her daughter, and insists on being called by his birth name of Pietre. Old characters are dripped into the plot, which doesn’t quite shift into top gear immediately. Parallels can be drawn with the pilot over and over again, as hints of danger and unrest boil below the surface. It’s perhaps for the best, as new viewers of the show are able to watch without feeling overwhelmed with the pace and it benefits from having a slow, anxious buildup to the darker events of the episode. It’s still light-hearted, too, with Grant (Oliver Wooliford) and Ian clashing early in the episode as they’re reunited.
The show is still stunningly shot, with a plethora of superb sets and moments of cinematic style that make this show stand out above the rest of British television. There’s no disparity of quality between Utopia and American hit shows, with the exception of the upper strata of television, and like those hit shows, sometimes Utopia is victim of tedious dialogue and writing with patronising plot exposition that was present in the first season rearing its ugly head from time to time.
Promising start for the second season of a show which may have ended abruptly enough to never have a second season. Thankfully it’s back and hopefully can cement itself, much like the graphic novel in the show, as a cult classic.
“Surf goth” sounds like a genre that a 15 year old made up after seeing a picture of Kurt Cobain at the beach on Tumblr and, from the example set by the dark princes of sunshine, Wavves, it probably isn’t too far off from reality. Surf goth is a field that seems to be dominated by Californian dudes who don’t have much to complain about besides how bored they are with themselves and everyone/everything else; “it’s too hot out, all my friends hate me, and the people at this beach are dumb”. However, the Massachusetts band Fat Creeps are finally waking the West Coast noise from its weed induced coma with a dose of dry East Coast humor on their first full-length album Must Be Nice.
With jangly guitar riffs and buoyant drumming, Fat Creeps are a call back to beach punk bands like the Trashwomen, but with a much needed production upgrade and probably a proneness to depression. Bassist Mariam Saleh and guitarist Gracie Jackson harmonize about boyfriends, the sun, and parties, which on the surface may seem like a continuation of what every other ‘60s throwback band is doing, but there is a tinge of gloomy irony underlying it all. They monotonously sing “Isn’t she wild, having so much fun dancing in the sun?”. The droning harmonies of Saleh and Jackson give off a hymnal vibe, if your version of church is a dingy basement in Boston and your holy water comes in a 40oz.
2012’s self-titled EP was a step up production-wise from previous demos but Must Be Nice has finally propelled the band into hi-fi glory, proving once and for all that it’s possible to be a grimy punk and have clear sound quality. With all of the demos and EPs they’ve put out in their four years as a band, Fat Creeps have never once phoned it in and, still, Must Be Nice goes above and beyond anything they’ve previously released. It’s an album that is best listened to in full and in one sitting, which isn’t hard to do as it’s only a little over 20 minutes long.
The album varies from hazy grunge melodies like “Daydreaming” to punchy instrumentals like “Back 2 Skool”, while still holding on to Fat Creeps’ signature witty surf vibes throughout. One of the most outstanding songs is “Party”. Saleh mocks bro-y party hookups, talking like a stilted caveman over the jittery beat (“Leaving the party/Taking her from party”). She and Jackson sarcastically shout in the chorus “I’m gonna piss off her folks!/I’m gonna stick it up her nose!”. It’s a hard and fast song exemplary of their DIY roots and their sense of humor that is somehow both dark and goofy. The album closes with “Nancy Drew”, which is a cleaned up version of one of their first demos. It might as well be Fat Creeps’ theme song, considering how long they have been performing it and the fact that it has one of the most memorable choruses in the history of mankind (simply, “doot doot doot doooo/hey Nancy Drew”). The song opens with a quick bass line, leading into a guitar riff that sounds like it belongs in a ‘60s movie about a detective who only solves crimes that were committed during high tide. With a closer as ripe for getting stuck in your head as that, you’ll be hearing this album for the rest of your life whether you like it or not.
Song of the Day
I’m doing it again; I’m sounding the *CERTIFIED HIT KLAXON* and this time its for Bipolar Sunshine’s “Deckchairs On The Moon”. This track’s out on the 20th of July and is just about as sun-soaked as a bottle of Sol on the beach.
Announcing Hitsville’s Game Of Throw-Ins, not just an excellent pun, but our very own Fantasy Football (that’s “soccer” to you across the Atlantic) league. With the Barclays Premier League kicking off on August 16th, and with our very occasional forays into the world of sports, we thought we best get in on the action for the 2014/15 season. Click here to sign up!