All entries for Thursday 21 January 2010

January 21, 2010

The Road – wonderful misery

Title:
The Road
Rating:
4 out of 5 stars
the road

I told the boy when you dream about bad things happening, it means you’re still fighting and you’re still alive. It’s when you start to dream about good things that you should start to worry.

To say that John Hillcoat’s The Road is emotionally hard-hitting is something of an understatement. As someone who hasn’t read the Cormac McCarthy novel on which the film is based, I wasn’t too sure what to expect. The words “post-apocalyptic” have been bandied about, but contrary to immediate perceptions, this isn’t a film on a soapbox, bashing home a message about the potential near-future consequences of the way we’re living. Rather, it came across as a rather difficult examination of human nature, and what becomes of us when absolutely everything that constructs our lives is ripped away. The simplistic but all too real separation of “good guys” and “bad guys”, with the grey that lies in-between, and the terrible decisions people make when balancing survival with suffering.

The performances by Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee as father and son were great, drawing you in to their relationship and their individual struggles. My favourite thing about the film, however, was the cinematography. The bleakness of the landscapes seemed to bleed off the screen, the familiarity of the various settings creating unease as they were presented in a very unfamiliar context.

As long as you can handle the powerful themes of misery and futile struggles, I definitely recommend The Road. But do make sure there’s something light-hearted available to cheer you up when you get home.

V xx


Disappointingly underwhelming

Writing about web page http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/reviews/zgwx

Title:
The Streets of Bollywood 3
Rating:
1 out of 5 stars

The word remix often strikes fear into the hearts of Bollywood music fans, terrified that an unknown DJ will have destroyed their favourite film tracks. With names such as Rishi Rich and Hunterz on the credits of The Streets of Bollywood 3, however, you could be forgiven for thinking that on this occasion things were in safe hands.

Unfortunately, it is partly this presumption that makes the album so disappointingly underwhelming. It begins promisingly, with It Can Only Be Love, Rishi Rich’s take on a Bollywood love song, ably assisted by Mumzy on added vocals, but things quickly deteriorate. Kami K’s lyrical contributions are entirely devoid of any imagination, Hunterz appears to have phoned in his performances without any effort or verve, and the eight tracks which are not produced by Rishi Rich seem to be little more than thudding RnB beats rather perfunctorily employed over Bollywood melodies.

The album sleeve rather annoyingly pays no tribute to the original composers of the tracks sampled, or the films from which they are taken – a definite faux pas if they are attempting to appeal to the Bollywood market, and also a mistake if they are attempting to open up Bollywood to the urban market.

The title of this album implies that the music producers have done something new and interesting with Bollywood favourites, to make them more accessible to an urban audience perhaps. Yet one soon longs to hear the original songs in their unadulterated forms. The only positive is the opening track, thanks to Rishi Rich’s unsurpassed ability for music production alongside Mumzy’s excellent voice. But in all honesty, any listener will find plenty of that on one of Rishi or Mumzy’s own albums.

Bollywood fans should stay well away from this compilation as they will most probably despair at the treatment some old classics and modern favourites have been given. Those wanting a more urban sound should look up some of Rishi Rich’s earlier remix work, which far outshines this poor effort.

One can only hope “The Streets of Bollywood 4” is not lurking around the corner.


Pass on this unmemorable score

Writing about web page http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/reviews/hzb6

Title:
Paa - Ilaiyaraaja
Rating:
1 out of 5 stars

The film Paa was attracting attention well before the release of its soundtrack, with Bollywood fans curious to see how Amitabh Bachchan, arguably India’s biggest film star, could possibly be playing the on-screen child of his real-life son, Abhishek. It is probably no bad thing that intrigue has been drawing audiences to the cinema, as this music is unlikely to be an incentive.

The album features moments which are pleasant enough – the rather sweet vocals of Shilpa Rao on Mudhi Mudhi Ittefaq Se, for example – but disinterest begins to set in before long, and nothing quite shakes that away. Other highlights, Udhi Udhi Ittefaq Se and Gali Mudhi Ittefaq Se, follow a single, pleasant melody but are let down badly by poor arrangements which lend an air of cruise ship dinner music. Equally disappointing work is evident on the tracks Gumm Summ Gumm and Hichki Hichki, which do nothing to overcome their average qualities, and the less said about Mere Paa the better. Perhaps Amitabhji’s almost incomprehensible vocals on the track make more sense in the context of the film, but as a piece of music it is simply inane.

It seems surprising that the soundtrack to Paa is so very unimaginative, considering the pedigree of the music director, Ilaiyaraaja. With a classically trained background and over 900 scores under his belt, he is a stalwart of the Tamil film industry and a recipient of an Indian National Film Award for his compositions. His music has even crossed global divides, with samples used by M.I.A. and The Black Eyed Peas for their respective albums Kala and Elephunk.

Bollywood film soundtracks are often intended as teasers to the film, released beforehand to engage the interest of filmgoers. It is unlikely this underwhelming effort will achieve that desired effect for Paa, and it is almost certain that this collection will not remain in the minds of music lovers for very long.


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