Shine A Light

Films, Photos, Music, Fashion, Aesthetic, Narrative, Style, Image, Dialogue....

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

AN XMAS NOTE TO Y'ALL via TOM WAITS' BLUE VALENTINE (and a vague link to Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams)

It's nearly Christmas! Pour yourself a drink...

Probably one os the best Christmas songs...even though there is no mention of Christmas in it itself....

Tom Waits' Blue Valentine is a great great album full of amazing songs. It now shares the name with the highly anticipated movie Blue Valentine. It's been doing the rounds at film festivals this year and has built up quite a buzz about it. The films follows a young couple looking back at their past love as their marriages falls apart.

Looks like a fusion of two other Ryan Gosling films, the look and sparse gritty feel of Half Nelson and the balls out love theme of The Notebook (two films I hold in high regard...for different reasons!). Combine this with Michelle Williams (who hasn't been in a bad film for a long time) and this could be pretty interesting movie...or plain naff!... but here's hoping for the best!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

The best 13 films of the year


Here it is, in no particular order....

SHUTTER ISLAND (Martin Scorsese)

A remarkable cinematic experience the kind of film Hollywood has forgotten how to make. A genre movie with powerful twist and all aspects of the production are at a top level. Scorsese and DiCaprio doing what they do best, but unlike how we've seem before.


Didn't expect to enjoy this as much as I did. Probably the best looking and most stylish film...ever!

INCEPTION (Christopher Nolan)

Just awesome!

ALAMAR (Pedro Gonzalez Rubio)

A remarkable, unique and original blend of drama and documentary. A clever meditation on nature and family.

FOUR LIONS (Chris Morris)

By far the funniest film this year.


Visually incredible, a towering achievement of film making. It's not often you see a something as original and compelling as this.


If you read my last post you'll see why this so good.


David Fincher's incredible understated direction and Aaron Sorkin's raver sharp script combine to tell one of the most significant stories of this age.

I'M STILL HERE (Casey Affleck)

Big respect to Joaquin Phoenix and Casey Affleck for making an original film with a point, even if both were kind of unclear.

I'M HERE (Spike Jonze)

Spike Jonze's great short film about robots falling in love is standout piece of conceptualized film making. Shame it is yet to get a proper release.

MOTHER (Joon-Ho Bong)

This film is up there with some of the best films ever made. Original, beautiful, dark, comic, tragic with a profound knowledge of the art of cinema. Kim Hae Ja gives the best performance in any film this year.


A great documentary about the massive rise and then the massive fall of one of America's greatest cities. A stark reminder of the fragility of the way we live.


A great documentary about a great album. Bruce Springsteen is awesome!

I think it has been a good year!

Friday, 10 December 2010


In the decade between 1966 and 1976, 150 000 jobs were lost along London’s dockyards. With them so was a thousand years of history. A way of life, a work force and a community that has now more or less vanished from the public eye and conscious. The Docklands areas of east London were home to the largest port and trading places in the world, and the men and woman who lived and worked on the ships and the docks not only provided the infrastructure that created the wealth and power of Britain but also were integral in creating a sense of place and community that shaped the national identity. In The Rime of The Modern Mariner film makers Mark Donne, Joe Morris and Anthony Rossomando have created a documentary that draws light to this lost world of Dockers and Sailors, showing the colourful past and the barely skeletal remains of an industry that literally made Britain the (Great) modern nation it has become.

Narrated by The Libertines and Dirty Pretty Things front man Carl Barat, The Rime of The Modern Mariner opens with fast and lyrical retailing of characters that roamed the East End dockyards. This then leads to perhaps the film’s most vital aspect. The men of the Stepney Dockers Social Club are nearly all that’s left of a link to the past that was so quickly demolished and built upon. These men tell their stories with amazing coherence and pride, this is amplified by the unspoken stories that are there to see in the old men’s faces. Yet this is mixed with a sense of anger, that the world they new and the communities that lived in and forged were taken from them. Their way of life and their skills were made redundant by forces that were out of their control.

The modern age and the fully encompassing assault of globalisation, has changed the east end of London in such a way as to render it almost unrecognizable to how it formally was. The film takes the viewer on trip on the Dockland’s Light Railway, through Canary Wharf and the other glass corporate tower blocks and sky scrappers that have replaced the once vibrant and integral area of London’s docklands. A stark reminder of how quickly the world has changed throughout the last century.

The second half of the film is about the modern day dock workers and the maritime trade. About 90% of all imports to Britain are still from shipped sources. But the role of the dock workers, the sailors and the ships have changed dramatically and (paradoxically) even though there is more trade than before there are fewer jobs in this dwindling industry, as technology leaves manual labour redundant and what labour there is sent overseas.

The filmmakers, to their credit, handle the history, stories and emotions of the film with great restraint and respect for the subject. Mostly letting the subjects speak for themselves, unedited and honest. Joe Morris and Mark Donne’s images of the lost dock world work in wonderful conjuncture with the close up interviews of the old men who’s creased, worn faces echo the weather beaten forgotten landmarks that still remain, hidden in plain view, around London’s east end. Anthony Rossomando’s subtle and haunting soundtrack, fused with sounds he recorded from ships and dockyards, captures the mood perfectly and fall right in place with the imagery. Made on almost no money, edited and scored in a bedroom and sourced through blagging and perseverance, the film is also a remarkable achievement of guerrilla filmmaking in its own right.

There is an overwhelming sadness throughout this The Rime of The Modern Mariner. It is a demonstration of the soullessness of globalisation and corporate take over. The last laments of the old and dying Dockers are a powerful reminder what the world was like not that long ago and realisation of how quickly things change. But of course things have to change, and as D.H Lawrence said, ‘when things change, something is lost’. Change and loss are inevitable, and whilst this is a sad aspect to life, it is integral to it.

And perhaps it is because of this that The Rime of The Modern Mariner is such an engaging and important film, because it is a vital record of the past, a past that may not need to be sought after, but that should always be remembered.

'SOMEWHERE' - The Strokes demo

Soffia Coppola's Somewhere opens today, starring Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning as an estranged father and daughter, against the backdrop of wealth and celebrity. This looks as if it's some kind of alt. version of Lost In Translation, and it certainly looks as stylish and classy.

I haven't seen it yet, but I caught the trailer the other day and was totally suckered in by this song, by Julian Casablancas...check it out on the trailer...(wait till about 40 secs in...)

This chilled out electric piano ditty would later become the more edgy and aggressive You Only Live Once

The Strokes front man also had a solo song of his (Out Of The Blue) feature on the trailer for the recent 'modern family comedy' The Kids Are Alright, another healthy dose of Hollywood mainstream leftist/liberal cinema (again I haven't seen it, but I heard it was very watchable)...(...wait till 1:50 in...)

Here's the full song....

I guess The Strokes are still considered by Hollywood to be a useful tool in making your movie seem kinda 'cool' with hip, left-of-center-middling-middle-aged-types!

The tunes are still awesome though....looking forward to new Strokes album next year and hopefully tour...there still one of the loudest, rocking(est), lively acts I'v seen!!!

Photo by Sam Hiscox

Monday, 6 December 2010


This isn't brand new but I had forgotten how funny and just how good this is!....A BOOMBOX IS NOT A TOY!

[The Lonely Island]
Imagine in your mind a posh country club
The stuffy old money where the poor get snubbed
The spread is bland sauerkraut and boiled goose
There's no way these people will ever cut loose

But then I walk in the room, hold my boombox high
And what happened next, will blow your mind

[Julian Casablancas]
Everything got outta control
The music was so entrancing
Everyone got out on the floor
It was a bunch of old white people dancing

[The Lonely Island]
Now picture if you will a bunch of business men
Stuffed in the boardroom like pigs in a pen
The ties around the necks are like a hangman's noose
In the middle of the table there's a boiled goose

The old people smell makes you want to puke in the sink
These dudes will never dance yeah that's what you think
I stride in the room all young and hip
Hold up my boombox and say listen to this

[Julian Casablancas]
Then everyone started to move
People rejoiced instead of financing
Your preconcieved notions were shattered
By the super old white people dancing

[The Lonely Island]
The big apple, where people never dance
Spirits go down while profits expand
The cops or the dealers, who's got the juice
The street vendors peddling their boiled goose

So many types of people will never get along
Till I bust out my boombox and play this song

[Julian Casablancas]
The music washed away all the hate
And society started advancing
Every demographic was represented
It was a rainbow coalition of dancing
Everyone was wearing fingerless gloves
I saw a Spanish guy doing the Bartman

[The Lonely Island]
Transport now to an old folks home
Where the elderly are tossed on their brittle bones
The orderlies are stealing there's no excuse
Everyday for lunch they eat boiled goose

So I grabbed my boombox and hit the turbo bass
And what happened next was a total disgrace

[Julian Casablancas]
Everybody started having sex
The music was way too powerful
A bunch of old people fucking like rabbits
It was disgusting to say the least
A boombox can change the world
You gotta know your limits with a boombox
This was a cautionary tale
A boombox is not a toy

Sunday, 5 December 2010

The Strokes Vs. Tron Legacy

I kind of doubt that the impending Tron: Legacy will be as cool as this was....

The Strokes - 12:51

But I hope Jeff Bridges and Daft Punk bring something other than 3D to the table....

Tron: Legacy

Thursday, 25 November 2010


A black comedy from Finland about Santa Clause is a seemingly bizarre concept. And the result is really bizarre movie. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale is this, and it is awesome! Set the cold, cold Korvantunturi Mountains in northern Finland scientists are setting off explosions on a mountain. Soon enough the local inhabitants starts noticing weird stuff going down, livestock is massacred, children go missing….ears get bitten off!. This reminds one small boy of the real legend of Santa Claus, not the ‘Coca-Cola’ version. When the boy’s father accidentally captures the real Santa in a baited trap, the real version of Christmas reveals its real darkness.

Rare Exports is by far one of the weirdest mainstream films of recent times. A wonderfully original idea, that fuses a unique sense of comedy with action and family drama in way that is largely unparalleled. There are nods to 80s adventure films like ‘The Goonies’ and ‘Poltergiest’, there is an air of young Spielberg at work making kids action films with a dark twist, but Rare Exports might take a little from these types of films and makes its own out of them. It can’t be easy to make a film that is laugh out loud funny and genuinely creepy and keep that balance without one eventually rendering the other void, but this film achieved it consistently. On leaving the cinema a woman from Finland (many native Fins attended and were very enthusiastically vocal throughout) asked me if I ‘got’ the Finnish humor. I think I did, but what I think I ‘got’ most was discovering that this movie was not pandering to any Hollywood type of Christmas, or more to the point what a comedy, action, horror movie should be. Rare Exports will hopefully usher in more unique mainstream movies from other cultures that will as equally and as boldly and as entertainingly showcase themselves.

Also check out this Short Film that would lead to the feature..

Hyvää joulua

Laura Marling - The Needle & The Damage Done (Produced by Jack White)

Two of the best artists keeping traditional(esque) song writing interesting and relevant have joined forced to cover a classic Neil Young track!

Laura Marling's pale yet powerful voice combined with her simple guitar picking tehnique fits perfectly with Jack White's organic production style...

Tuesday, 23 November 2010


The SimonSound

‘From Inner Space To Outta Space’ @ The Duke of York’s Picture House

The Duke of York’s Picture House cinema is hundred years old and the September they celebrated what movie going was like back in 1910. But on the night of December 10th it’s heading straight for the future…but in a retro 60s, sci-fi, psychedelic kind of way (often the only way to go).

The Simonsound will be bringing live rescoring to old 60s sci-fi TV shows, being projected on the big screen (real 16mm stuff), the night will also include a psychedelic projected light show and a live mix by DJ Format.

The Simonsound’s first album Reverse Engineering has been championed by Radio 1’s Giles Peterson, and the show at the Duke’s promise to be the full, visceral experience. Their live set mixes analogue synthesisers, space echo, tape loops, Debbie Clare on vocals and Laura J Martin on vocals, flute and mandolin. A strong visual element is provided by a montage of 50’s and 60’s science, science fiction, psychedelic and space exploration footage. The film screenings will Timelash - a trippy episode of 60’s sci-fi TV series UFO; Space Place – a 60’s psychedelic trip into space with electronic sound; and Kosmodron R. 1999, a wry comic Eastern European animation on the vicissitudes of space flight.

Ian Helliwell will be providing a multi-projector light show to accompany the live music and there will also be special DJ set from DJ Format who will be leaving his old school hip-hop, funk and soul aside and bringing out some of the weirdest and and most unusually pysch rock rarities that you wish you’d been hearing all your life.

This is shaping up to be an awesome night displaying the power and immensity of music and image, fusing old and new, retro and prog(o?) with a spaced out trippy feel that everyone craves on a Friday night! Don’t miss out!

Get tickets at the Duke’s website


This is the best late birthday present I ever got...straight from Owl Farm, Woody Creek. Home of the good doctor!

Thanks Flora! x

Gonzo journalism is a style of reporting based on William Faulkner's idea that the best fiction is far more true than any kind of journalism -- and the best journalists have always known this. True gonzo reporting needs the talents of a master journalist, the eye of an artist/photographer and the heavy balls of an actor. Because the writer must be a participant in the scene, while he's writing it -- or at least taping it, or even sketching it. Or all three. Probably the closest analogy to the ideal would be a film director/producer who writes his own scripts, does his own camera work and somehow manages to film himself in action, as the protagonist or at least a main character.

Hunter S. Thompson

Monday, 15 November 2010


I'm reading a book called Hella Nation by Evan Wright (Generation Kill). It's about sub-cultures in America. People with 'completely opposing attitudes towards today's dominant culture.' Weird social and political groups of people, that are either self organized and constructed, or exist as a result of the fallout from the society around them.

In one segment of the book, Wright explores a neo-Nazi society calling themselves the 'Aryan Nations' and their religion, 'Christian Identity'.

This segment (about one of my favourite films) made me laugh...and wince.

...Pastor Butler lays the blame for the degeneration of social values on the Jewish influence in Hollywood, citing the movie Independence Day as an example. "A nigger and a Jew save the whole white race!" Pastor Butler says, outraged at the preposterousness of it.

Saturday, 13 November 2010


FOUR WINDS is an amazing song that I constantly keep I guess thats more like consistently enjoying (?) but never mind...written by Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes and first appeared on the Cassadaga album from 2006 .The song has timeless country sound largely fueled by the distinct violin hook and Oberst poetic lyrics filled with vivid imagery.

It turns out The Killers did a cover of it as b-side to one of their (generic-europopesque-bassy-pop tunes) last year!.....(I do like The Killers...but you know...there's not that much to say about them any more)

Anyway here's The Killers version

...and the original (unfortunately the single version hasn't got the long violin intro...fuckin' MTV!)

Personally I'll take the original and the violin over bassy synths any day....but good songs can take many incarnations...this is one.

...A squatter's made a mural of a Mexican girl
With fifteen cans of spray paint in a chemical swirl
She's standing in the ashes at the end of the world
Four winds blowing through her hair...

Thursday, 11 November 2010

SIX FLAGS - a real 'Zombieland'

Found this on the VBS's kinda mad...part Zombieland, part Spirited Away, but mostly kinda eerie and tragic and cool...

Here's what the guys and VBS have to say about it:

Somewhere between an apocalyptic zombie hangout and the place where Louisiana’s teens go to swap STDs exists the New Orleans Six Flags theme park. The amusement center has been closed for business ever since it was retrofitted as a water park by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Saltwater deposits in the foundations of the park have compromised the safety of so many rides that the theme park was recently marked for permanent closure. Photographer Teddy Smith got permission from the City of New Orleans to visit the Six Flags and has put together a somewhat stunning film documenting the damage. The result is an eerie collection of images portraying one of pop culture’s trashiest landmarks as a dilapidated husk of abandonment. The only ride to survive Mother Nature’s tantrum was Batman: The Ride. Because Batman is forever.

See the rest at VBS.TV:

Tuesday, 9 November 2010


THE AGITATOR are back with another awesome track GIVE ME ALL YOU THAT YOU GOT!

See Derek rabble rousing his way his way through central go with your bad-self bro!

The Agitator - GIve Me All That You Got

A pulsing, raging and up lifting track from Derek and Robert, who continue to make remarkable music that hits the pulse of contemporary life and still works as great music and songwriting in its own right!

...and like everyone else I know... The Agitator does not like David Cameron's (fucking) face!

The Agitator are on tour very soon....go to the website for details and for more tracks!

JURASSIC PARK @ THE DUKES - and a video of Jeff Goldblum chatting about acting

Oh yeah oh yeah!...We (at the Duke of York's) have finally got our Jurassic Park screening sorted!...

One of the most essential movies for anyone of certain age, and a film that still stands up today as a bench mark in action/adventure movies, and still (in my opinion) an unparalleled achievement in special effects. And a thorough and unique understanding and example of film making and storytelling that is a hallmark of the genius of director Steven Spielberg.

The film also boasts some of the best lines in film history... "...clever girl!"

Brighton's Duke of York's Picture House will be screening a spacial one off screening of Jurassic Park early in the new year...Saturday January 15th @ 11:00PM

Tickets (available soon) from -

In the's a recent video from co-star of Jurassic Park, the best 'scientist' actor of recent film history, the one and only...Jeff ("always on the lookout for the future ex-Mrs Malcolm") Goldblum...


(Thanks for this Katy! x)

Get ready...Jurassic Park is back online....HOLD ON TO YOUR BUTTS!

Thursday, 4 November 2010

ENTER THE VOID - sex money power...and everything else...(and The Vice Guide To Film: Gaspar Noe

Alfred Hitchcock, Luis Bunuel, Fritz Lang, Ingmar Bergman, Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorsese...Gaspar Noe!

I watched Enter The Void the other day and have been dwelling on it since. There was so much going on in this film on technical, narrative and emotional levels that surpass most concepts of modern film making.

Gaspar Noe has taken ideas and themes from films by the names listed above and has literally ran off with them into his own mind, and created a film of incredible unique beauty and intrigue with a story that may be polarizing for audiences, yet holds masses of material and concepts to dwell on or dismiss, but will no doubt agitate.

The scenes of Oscar's spirit flying over a stylized and real Tokyo, the horrific car crash, the convergence with the air plane and the most up close sex scene (possibly ever) are stand out set pieces that should rank highly in terms of technical achievement for creating a dramatic effect in any film.

A remarkable film...try and see it on as bigger screen as possible with the best sound you can muster...

I missed the opening credits...I wish i hadn't! This is so good!

The good folk at VBS have made a film following Gaspar Noe and the part of the making and immediate reception of Enter The Void. Have a look:

Check out all three parts. The show only really details one side of Noe's style and approach to film making, but it's still a mad little journey into a twisted Japanese underworld you probably wouldn't know about.


I'm not gonna start a long rant about how messed up American politics and American media are(/is !?) But they really are! So once again it takes comedy and satire to see through the plain obscene weirdness of it all and show things in some kind of understandable reality.

Of course this is quiet deep...but the guy is regularly hilarious, insightful and entertaining on The Daily Show.

"Sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel isn't the promised land. Sometimes, it's just New Jersey"

If you have never seen it before check it out on either Comedy Central or 4oD

Monday, 1 November 2010


Dragonfly Love - The Film from The Dragonfly Love Project on Vimeo.

I mean seriously just on a damn phone!....respect to that!

NZAMBI - Halloween Special with the Haitian Zombies

Halloween was yesterday...hope y'all had fun with the blood and the booze and make up....but here's where the zombie really came from...

In this VBS doc Hamilton Morris sets of for Haiti to explore the concept of Haitian zombies and voodoo magic in Nzambi. Staring of with the case of Clairvius Narcisse. Pronounced dead by two US trained doctors and appropriate paper work filled and death certificates signed. 15 years later Narcisse turns up in his home village, turned into a 'zombie'!

The documentary then endeavors on mission to do a detailed exploration of ideas of 'zombificiation' and voodoo magic in Haiti. Although our host is kinda weird looking and annoyingly-awkwardly-pretentious, Hamilton Morris still knows (scientifically) what he is talking about. This series explores the subject scientifically and historically very thoroughly. Giving great background research on a country, a people and religion that are easily misconstrued and misunderstood by western ideals. Hamilton also explains the actual chemical science aspects with knowledge and in an understandable way.

The series also demonstrates how the modern folklore of zombies, perpetuated by pulp novels and then Hollywood originated from Haitian voodoo mythology....

Watch all Six Parts at VBS now.

Another intriguing aspect of the show, is that it promotes the idea that to explore ideas of 'other' cultures, to look into beliefs, ideals and lifestyles that are fundamentally foreign to your own, requires you to leave preconceived ideas, thoughts and comparisons to things you know on the shelf for a moment...

Monday, 25 October 2010

Thursday, 21 October 2010

RESTREPO - real war

"Their experiences are important to understand, regardless of one's political beliefs. Beliefs are a way to avoid reality. This is reality" (Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington)

Restrepo is a documentary by photographer Tim Hetherington and writer Sebastian Junger. The film follows a platoon of US troops deployed to Korengal Valley in Afghanistan. They were there for over a year in one of the deadliest war zones in the world. Dug in deep and fighting close contact with the Taliban.

Restrepo is without a doubt an incredibly visceral and intense experience and is unusual for a feature length documentary due it's frankness and simplicity of style. The portrayal of the troops and their experiences are honest and delivered without any preconceived narrative or political ideology. The simplicity of the films tag line 'one platoon, one valley, one year' holds true.

This is partly what makes Restrepo stand out as war doesn't try to explain any back story, project any repercussions, or even show another side to what's being shown, The film makers have followed through with their mission statement and delivered the 'real thing'.

Perhaps this is why it such a difficult film to write about. There is almost little to comment or criticize about it, because the film goes against what a lot of contemporary documentaries try to do...Restrepo is not trying to swing the viewer in any political or ideological way. It's straight up documentary about people fighting in war us at home are all to quick to forget about and ignore.

On the Restrepo website it states: 'This is war, full stop. The Conclusions are up to you.'

Well...I'm struggling to write some kind of 'review' of this film, but having watched are my conclusions...

As a film, it is unique and engaging and forces the viewer to experience the concept of modern war from the unique position of the soldiers, the people living with the reality of the war. The film does this and stands out as a piece contemporary film making in a time when there so much spin and propaganda in this subject matter. The events the men go through are as in engaging as anything a script writer could come up with. We genuinely see the brutal action and fighting they go through, the frustration of their situation, the boredom of being stuck on a hillside for months on end and the inevitable crude comedy and genuine outpouring of emotion that will come from fifteen men alone in a foreign war zone. Half way through the film I found myself forgetting where they were and what context of the film was, I was too invested with the 'characters' and what they were directly going through at that moment. In this respect the film truly achieved it's goal...I had disregarded my beliefs for a short while and was in the reality.

However, I can't help but feel that this project would have worked better as series of shorter installments. One year is long time, to condense it to 90 mins is I feel asking too much for the story and of the audience to effectively process the information. Perhaps a mini-series of hour long episodes would have served the story better as I couldn't help but feel that there was a lot more going on than what was shown on screen. (I'm sure Sebastian Junger's book 'War' goes into more detail however.)

Despite the film makers intensions to depict the reality of the events, the viewers beliefs and politics are tugged at here. By the end of the film I couldn't help but be left with a bitter taste in my mouth as I wondered 'What the hell were actually doing there and what did they achieve?'

Unfortunately, these haunting questions may have left more an in-print on me than the reality of these soldiers experience. This perhaps is a triumph of the film. By taking the viewer on a reality trip through an experience and showing more directly and first hand what is going on in this world. It is easy to hold an opinion on the rights or wrongs of war, even if you no little about the reasons for or against it. But this film (whether it wants to do this or not) strongly reaffirmed my view that most of the foreign policy regarding the war in Afghanistan is as pointlessly bizarre as anything that happened in Vietnam.

Restrepo will hopefully continue a conversation that needs to be had regarding the wars we (as countries) send ourselves on. Perhaps by not getting bogged down by any political and emotional ideology, Restrepo has demonstrated more effectively and sincerely that these wars and the driving force behind them need to be re-thought and addressed in a dramatically and in a REALISTIC manner.