Top 5 Pendulum Songs

28 09 2016

PENDULUM

Back in 2008, while watching an episode of Gamer.TV, I saw a trailer for a video game. The trailer made me very excited, because it was a trailer for the game Motorstorm: Pacific Rift for the PS3. Now, not having a PS3 at the time made it rather difficult to play the game anytime soon I admit, however I did eventually buy one and got Pacific Rift soon after. Anyway, during the trailer, there was this piece of music, a piece of music I rather liked, and worked well with the Video Game Trailer, but I had no idea who was playing or what the song was called. It was very heavy, very fast and had these lyrics which sounded very Reggae. I had no idea what it was, but I was hooked, and wanted to know more. I don’t know how I found out in the end, but I was glad I did, as this discovery took me on a musical journey that would bring me to a point, a moment when my life up till that point did not really have a favourite band; but then all of a sudden; I had one. The song was called Tarantula and the band was called PENDULUM.

Originally founded in Australia in 2002 by Ztar Z6/MIDI Controller player Rob Swire, Bassist Gareth McGrillen and DJ Paul Harding; PENDULUM, a Drum and Bass group notable for mixing hard rock and electronic music into their work, would later relocate to the UK, and set the music scene on fire quickly becoming one of the most popular bands of the moment. Soon, more band members would join in the form of MC Ben Mount, Guitarist Peredur ap Gwynedd, Drummer Paul Kodish (and later KJ Sawka). Pendulum themselves would release 3 studio albums: Hold Your Colour, In Silco and Immersion, and while originally starting with Drum and Bass roots with very little in the way of vocals, more relying on instrumental pieces, the Band would go on to include vocals, and expand their portfolio into areas including Industrial and Electronic Rock as well as other genres.

PENDULUM Band

For me, I loved this band so much. I was gripped by their electronic instrument playing, mixing it with heavy/hard rock. Originally I was more in it for the rather psychedelic instrumental and electric pieces they originally started with, but as time went on became to love and enjoy their more vocal ranged pieces of music. When the band sort of disbanded back in 2010-2012, I was rather sad as I did not want this band, a band I loved to suddenly disappear, and as time went on became to get very annoyed with both Swire and McGrillen for creating Knife Party and not be Pendulum anymore. Time passed on, their music to me became nearly second-hand, and other bands took my interest, and slowly Pendulum disappeared from my heart; until recently, when supposedly the band reunited. I was excited by this, the hope that Pendulum was coming back, more albums, more music; I just could not wait for more news. While it is a bit sketchy right now as to what is going on with them, I have recently begun to get back into their music, because although they may no longer be my favourite band, they were my first and were for a good number of years. I bought all their albums, and still love a lot of their music.

Knife Party

A few months ago I began listening to them frequently again, and have come to realize how much I missed their music, and decided, that after a long time of planning this, that I would finally let you in on what my Top 5 Pendulum Songs are. Now coming up with this list was rather tricky; I mean there are a lot of really good songs in their portfolio. When I originally conceived this list I considered just doing a Top 5 from Hold Your Colour, an album I can still say proudly to this day, is my favourite album and not just of the band. I really like Hold Your Colour as it has a lot more enjoyable tracks, and is a lot more consistent I feel to that of their other albums (not to say that the others are bad). Over the years leading up to this post being written, I was sure that most of this list was going to come from Hold Your Colour and just that, but having looked back on their music, I can see this is no longer really the case, as my favourites sort of go over all 3 albums in the end. Bringing it down to 5 songs in the end was rather difficult, because they have made several really good pieces of music, several of which really strike into my head when I think of them. If this was a Top 10 post there would be a lot more variety, but I thought it would be best to just keep it down to 5 as much as I can. So, just for them to have a moment here, here are the songs that didn’t make it (but boy were close): Prelude, Slam, Fasten Your Seatbelt, Through The Loop, Sounds of Life, Girl in the Fire, Hold Your Colour (all from Hold Your Colour), Showdown, Different, Mutiny, Granite, Set Me on Fire and Crush. So now, introductions over, here are my Top 5 Pendulum Songs.

Hold Your Colour

5. Tarantula – It was the song that brought me here in the first place, and it has remained one of my favourites since. Tarantula is a strange one when you first hear it for the first time. If you hear it while it’s fast, only for you then to hear it from the beginning, you wonder if you are listening to the same piece of music. It has the same tune yes, but it’s much slower to begin with, and it’s very striking. You hear these vocals, but you’re not sure if you are hearing them right, and feel that you don’t necessarily understand them. But then it quickly builds, and then that fast track you heard once before comes to light. The slow speed side of this track sounds more brass based than Drum and Bass, but then you realize that the slow side is merely a gift, an intro, because if you want to join in, you need to know how it goes, because when it speeds up, there is no more help. The track is heavy, vicious and ferocious, much like the creature that the song is named after. It gets your heart pounding, and makes you want to dance, a very fast dance yes, and one you will need to take a break after because of, but just does not stop until it wants to. Not you, IT! Remember that, it comes with a piece of authority, one that demands attention from everyone in the room at the same time; it gives the music a near level of sentience, being, but more importantly POWER! And one that demands to command you, you have no choice; only the possibility that when it’s all over, you may have a chance to escape!

4. Watercolour – When this one first came out, I remember seeing the music video for the first time, and sort of liking it, but got a bit tired of it due to the amount of time it was on TV for. It was not until recently I was really able to appreciate it properly. One thing that I sort of cottoned onto as time went past, is how good the vocalization is in several of these songs. Not when it is a featured artist, or when it has been ripped from a film or something, but when it is from the band themselves. There are some really nice vocal pieces, many of which get featured in this list, ones you can pick up easily, and enjoy singing yourself. This song is fast, much like many of Pendulum’s songs, but also features some nice slow, near peaceful moments prolifically too. Here we get moments of their trademark styles, mixing vocals in while both being slow and fast, many a time producing a very emotional moment, such as the lyric ‘Just stay where you are’. It is generally a nice song, not a piece of music as such, but an actual song, a song with powerful lyrics, and a gentle, but still fast track to back it up, while still allowing a moment to pause, take a breath, then get back into it.

3. Witchcraft – What has to be one of their most striking yet experimental tracks; this song mixes sweet and calm melody with hard rock electric power. As it starts you hear this calm melody which slowly builds, but within a minute the pitch and mood changes as the amazing skill of Rob Swire on his main instrument of choice comes darting out of the background and demands attention, which at the same time is backed up by the rest of the band, before all charging at once in a hard rock vibe. From this moment alone it sounds more like a piece of heavy rock, but then the lyrics kick in again, and a more light-hearted pop track takes over, and even when it goes lower in temper during the chorus, it stays relatively light, before then unleashing it’s real motives once more. Much like Watercolour, it does take a quick moment to catch its breath, in a split second of near perfect silence, before then unleashing itself once more. What is rather a weird combination of musical styles in one song, backed up with Lyrics to match its themed ideas while also providing its own little moments of respite, Witchcraft is easily one of the more lyrically stand out songs from Pendulum, which still likes to provide a moment or two to let the tune do the talking.

2. The Island (Pt 1 and Pt 2) – This may come as a confusing one to people unbeknownst to the career of Pendulum; basically this song comes in two parts. When I first bought the album, I was a little confused by that, and it was not until I listened to both for the first time that I really understood. On their own, Part 1 is nice, got some really interesting, perhaps inspiring lyrics and comes with a nice beat, while Part 2 played on its own sounds rather disjointed, out-of-place, short and feels like the end of something; not an entire piece. However, when they are played together in the correct order, something really amazing is born. Much like several lyrical pieces from Pendulum, this one comes with some really interesting and deep lyrics. These lyrics are only heard in Part 1, but that is the point with Part 1. As the tune goes, it’s more a piece about discovery and awe. The pieces together tell something of a story. It takes you on a journey, you can listen to the lyrics, or you can tell your own; but the basic idea is that you have arrived on an island, you are shipwrecked, lost, anything, but you have arrived to a mysterious place, and you walk around and discover how amazing everything is, like you have landed perhaps in a personal spot or taste of heaven. You go and explore, and you see sights and spots of beauty all around you. All this time the song beats in the background, recording its own story, all the while creating a nice bumpy/jumpy soundtrack that is generally rather pleasant and passionate. Part 2 of the song tells a very different tale and creates a very different location. It slowly descends, then it starts to play a familiar tune; you imagine yourself in full glow, on this Island, this beautiful place, and as the tune returns, you believe it’s going to be more of the same, and then: A Beast is Unleashed. Everything changes, the soundtrack is entirely different, it is still jumpy, but very heavy. It’s disjointed, no longer connected, no longer a beautiful melody, now a torrent of terror. Part 1 talked about the Dawn, now here is the Dusk, and the soundtrack creates an idea of everything going wrong, more a natural siren than an actual warning. Imagine yourself back on that island, the day has gone, and the now the night is upon you, and gone is the beauty: Now stretching before you is a nightmare, not gently arousing from slumber, but instantly waking up, and bearing down on you, unrelenting, unstoppable terror. Alone, these pieces are ok, interesting, still very enjoyable: but when played together they weave a story of Magnificence and Horror, one you will be Thrilled yet Petrified to return to.

1. Propane Nightmares – One of the things I like about PENDULUM is that while it is very pop like, quite a lot of the music they create is exceptionally heavy. That is one of the things that caught me most about them when I first listened to them, that while they were a current generation pop like band, as a fan of much heavier genres of music, I could just as easily get involved and enjoy them. Yes not all of their songs are particularly heavy, but the ones that are a special treat for me, especially when they are created by fascinating sounds and backed up with really spellbinding lyrics. When this song was originally released, I had no real place or preference for it, thought it was a little confusing with t’s opening brass section, but then I heard a live version of it, and I loved the whole experience. The music starts of near gentle like with strange usage of its brass piece, but then as it builds, as the drums kick in, and the music flies from the instruments to your ears, you begin to hear something really special. The music isn’t pleasant, it isn’t friendly: What it is, is very Angry, and very Grungy. The music uses the full force of the band, every key is crucial; each beat of the drum, each pluck of the string, each tap of the key, all of it works together, to create a rather unique sound. This sound continues in a fist hammering beat like fashion which then just continues, speaking with an authority that shouts and demands every eye and ear in the room to look directly at it. Then as the tune takes a side-line, but only for a moment, the lyrics get involved. More than any song from Pendulum, I find this is the one that I recite lyrics to, especially the early line: “In a trail of fire I know we will be free again. In the end we will be one. In a trail of fire I’ll burn before you bury me. Set your sights for the sun.” The only points that this song slows down are when the band as a whole (or as much to a whole as you can get) joins in, in singing the chorus – before then of course jumping right back into the tune we all know and love – and when the tune, like many on this list, takes a brief moment of respite. The break itself is pretty brief, and is really only to allow a cool down before jumping right back into its final charge; however, the air like sound is rather magical as it winds down to a bit, before then (in some live versions, a nice little light guitar is played, which is both gentle and peaceful), tearing at full force back into its tune. At this point, the magical air break sounds, are included in the final hill climb briefly, and then it all comes to the final push as the song comes to it’s eventual, hair ripping end. Propane Nightmares is a really weird one; while other songs in the long profile of Pendulum do different things, there is a sense of them trying to create brand new, iconic, and unique sounds, but all the while most of them do follow a similar them and style, that of a soundtrack that would suggest exploration and discovery, showing and revealing beauties beyond belief, presenting one side to paradise. Propane Nightmares does not really follow that trend, instead, it shows a much darker and louder side, not encapsulating those things, instead creating visions of potential dystopia’s, or possibly revealing another side to the real world that we currently see. In any case, whatever it seeks to achieve, it must have worked, because I absolutely love it.

GENEPOOL

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Eurovision Reaction 2016

16 05 2016

Jamala 2016

This past weekend, loads of people in sequined costumes arrived in Stockholm to participate in the annual European Music Bash that was being held there that year. Yes; of course it was The Eurovision Song Contest, being held in the lovely country of Sweden who of course won it last year with Heroes by Måns Zelmerlöw.

Sweden is no new comer to hosting duties at the Eurovision song contest, having hosted it 5 times previously; including hosting it 3 years ago after Loreen won it in Baku with Euphoria in 2012. My excitement for this annual show always builds up the closer it comes, however over the last couple of years I have struggled to enjoy the show, and remember anything about the show’s held as in my opinion I thought that 2014 and 2015 weren’t all that good. With the contest returning to Sweden after not so long was a sign of hope for me, even more so when I discovered that the host of the 2013 show; Petra Mede, was returning for hosting duties again (I wonder if she would be willing to host it every year, even if it was not being hosted in Sweden?). I really did enjoy that year, it was a well done year. It wasn’t the case of having good or bad songs; it was more that even with those songs being performed, the overall show production was to such a high that even at the bad times, it can still be enjoyed. What worked so well for it that year was a number of reasons but simply:

1: The arena lighting had this brilliant effect where the lights above it would light up towards the stage, and would speed up and finish on a sort of light explosion signifying the start of the song, roughly.

2: More importantly, the show’s host. Every year hosting duties gets landed on a couple (or in some cases 3) people who would spend most of the night trying to act silly or suggest there is something going on between them. In 2013, it was just one host, a host who was an experienced performer and talented comedian in her home country. By being by herself, she was able to own the show, and present it so well without having to hang off anyone. Her presentation was also very funny and was able to use her talents to best effect.

Måns Zelmerlöw and Petra Mede

This year, the presentation was good, definitely better than both 2014 and 2015. The return of Petra Mede was also a good thing, but, instead of her working by herself, this time was put in a situation with last year’s winner. This idea was rather interesting, but overall worked. It wasn’t as good as 2013, but overall was well done. The comedy was still there, the lighting effect was sort of brought back, but overall it was enjoyable. Over the last few years though, there has been some format changes to the show which has made it very confusing in spots. OK, the opening flag ceremony is a nice idea, and works very well in introducing the acts and countries instead of discovering them (unless you watched the semi-finals); however, it was hard to see the flags for exactly who they were and I was thankful that somebody pointed out who the countries were. The big thing though that has changed in recent years is the lack of performance of the previous year’s winning song. This used to be held right at the start of the show, but since 2014, has sort of been relegated to half way through, and then only as a brief mention. It is a shame, and it doesn’t really work either, it sort of takes the fun out of wanting to hear it and instead have it mentioned millions of time during the show until you hear roughly 30 seconds of it. As for this year’s half time show, we got a range of comedy moments such as The Winning Eurovision song moment; which was supposed to be a mash-up of ideas to create the Ultimate Eurovision Song (with guest appearances including of course, Lordi), a couple of funny moments, a nice montage of Swedish music (70 acts in total), and more bizarre; Justin Timberlake performing. I had no idea why he was doing this, I don’t see what he has to do with Eurovision, but overall it was relatively fun, and thankfully did not include that weird one he does where he gets the boys and girls singing these sentences. Although that on the whole does bring up the question of if in the future there is going to be more BIG acts like him in the middle (as long as the UK has Iron Maiden do it, I am absolutely fine with the idea, but that is dependent on the UK winning of course).

Justin Timberlake

It was the year of the Ballad at Eurovision this year. What you would usually find at Eurovision, is the sort of copycat pieces mimicking what sort of helped win the previous year, this year though there was very little of that, and instead we got a load of ballads. The only one that comes to mind for me was Russia’s entry which had this sloped wall which allowed the singer to climb up and down it as pictures appeared on the background. Although saying that, a lot of songs this year did involve the use of lighting effects on the back walls and the stage floor, which also seemed to have moments where it was raised in spots, like Greece did in 2005. From the start we got a whole load of Ballad based performances, all being kicked off really by the first appearance in a Grand Final by the Czech Republic. Ok, it wasn’t the first song. The first song from Belgium sort of annoyed me, as it had this weird entry dance that just stayed in my head. The beat and general song was ok, but I was glad something else came to mind, although when I think of it now, it’s very easy to break out into another piece of music, one that keeps appearing in Adverts. Czech Republic’s song similarly was good in the second half too, and I did think early on, much like Belgium that I may have ended up voting for them.

The number of solo pieces just continued as the show went on ranging from the interesting to the downright weak. You had pieces from countries like Sweden, and The Netherlands, which were generally very uninteresting, to a country like Italy who confused you with one singer singing (in at least) two languages. Australia was allowed to return and their ballad was a bit more upbeat, but the general number of them made it hard to remember them all. Luckily there were some different kinds of acts in there to help break it up and add a level of interest. This was true for the UK with a song that was very…very…very…just very. It was ok I suppose. One of the singers appeared to be attempting to play a guitar, although it was obvious that he wasn’t. Overall there were really only two bands performing. One from Georgia late on, which sounded very similar to the works of Oasis I thought, but really wasn’t my cup of tea, while Cyprus entered something that was my cup of tea. It was this nice rocky track. It wasn’t majorly heavy, it was rather light in tone, but still hard enough for rock fans like me to enjoy.

When it came to choosing a country for me to vote for, in the end, my mind was made up from the moment I first hears it. No, not Cyprus; Russia. Russia’s piece was very dark, heavy and also rather mystic. It was a song which had this wonderful and memorable chorus which had this light disco like beat. The background images helped to provide something of a psychedelic trip as the song was performed and this was helped by the lighter chorus beat. It was not rocky, still more pop like, but generally upbeat and very enjoyable. No act this year I found was more enjoyable than or as enjoyable as Russia’s entry. In hindsight, I think it reminds me a lot of Eric Saade‘s entry in 2011, it has that upbeat fast tune but still feels dark and heavy at the same time, I like that.

When voting came; there was a supposed ‘new’ system in place. Throughout the night it was mentioned numerous times without being fully explained. For a few years now, the voting system has been half and half; half music judges from each country, and half the public vote. This year both votes were split down the middle. One thing that has become apparent in recent years is that even when a country has won, its announced before the votes are finished, which is rather annoying. The winner is announced and the vote continues. This year though, they introduced something that changed that, and actually worked. So, the judging panels would announce their scores like the votes were done normally, but this time, the spread allowed even higher numbers of votes, and so I do believe the winner this year might be the highest scoring song in the contest’s history. So anyway, each country is contacted, a host represents the judging and then half the votes are all counted. Then, came the interesting bit, by this time, Australia were winning. So what happens is that instead of countries being contacted again, the number of points per country is added in one fell swoop. That’s all the points awarded to said country by all the other countries. This allowed the tension to be built up, as the countries with the most awarded points were added later. It was tense, it really was, and as the countdown continued, it became interesting, as Poland who only got 7 from the judging panels would then get over 200 points in one second from the public voting and go from dead last, to 6th in a split second. It was really interesting and hectic, but meant that the last stage of judging wasn’t entirely one-sided, but rather built up and allowed change to take place. It’s hard to really say how it worked I know, but trust me, it worked, and I hope they do this again in the future.

In the end of course, it was Ukraine who took top spot with Jamala‘s 1944, which supposedly was about the Crimean Tatars. This is now Ukraine‘s second win, having previously won in 2004 with Ruslana (one of my all time favourite Eurovision entries). Their entry this year I am actually finding rather hard to describe. Another ballad in many, I sort of remember it, and sort of think its ok, I just don’t really get it right now, maybe listen to it a few times might help. The staging was good; the images in the background were really cool, and the winner did sort of begin to break down crying during the final performance, which is a big change from when Lena won for Germany, and was ecstatic. It has been a good year this year, it really has, some changes, some differences. A combination of weak songs, and great songs, but a consistency of ballad’s lost some value as it went on, which may be why I am struggling with the Ukrainian Winner, but overall a good year for the contest, with a sight of hope for a grand and continued future for one of my favourite events of the year.

GENEPOOL





Six Hundred Horsepower…And Leaf Springs…Are You Mad? – Love The Beast

9 03 2016

Love The Beast (Eric Bana - 2009)

I love cars. Cars are one of my big interests in my life along with other interests such as Writing, Films, Godzilla, Board Games, Cooking, Music, TV, Video Games, Technology, Trains, Dinosaurs, and Buildings. OK, so I do have a lot of other interests too that include but are not limited to the things I have just mentioned. But, I genuinely like cars. Yes, it’s been tough since the loss of Top Gear, but as a car fan I have still managed to keep up my love for the things. I may not be able to drive (yet), but I always have a keen eye out for cars when I see them out on the street (and wish I had my camera with me). I even have my fantasy car collection that includes cars produced by companies such as Lamborghini, Pagani and Jaguar (cars which I hope to drive one day providing I can get somewhere with my writing career). So with a love of Cars and Movie’s, you may think that I must love it when the two come together? Well Cars and Video Games yes, Cars and Movies though is something I have not tried until I saw Love The Beast.

LTB2

Released in 2009 and Directed by Eric Bana; Love The Beast is a documentary-film (or docu-film if you prefer) about the love affair Hollywood star Eric Bana has for his first car; a Ford XB Falcon Hardtop, which he’s named ‘The Beast’. My own personal knowledge of this film ends before I saw it. I first heard about it on an episode of Top Gear where Eric Bana was the Star in the Reasonably Priced Car. After that I did not really look into it. But then, after I started working in Barnardo’s; I found a copy of it on the shelves. After a few months passed, I finally got it out of curiosity and thought I would give it a go; which I did.

Eric Bana

Love the Beast begins with Eric Bana talking about his youth, and especially about watching Australian Motor Racing. He remembers seeing something taking place at the Bathurst motor race involving a couple of Ford Falcon’s. From that moment on he was in love with that kind of car. So much so that when he was about 15, he persuaded his Dad to buy one for him. Over the next several years, Bana and his friends work long periods to bring the car back to its original glory. Eventually, Bana and his friends enter the Falcon into the Targa Tasmania: a motor race that funnily enough happened to take place in Tasmania. Hoping to enter every year from his first appearance in 1996, fate gets the better of Bana and he becomes an international Hollywood star.

LTB1

11 Years after his first Targa, Bana decides to enter his Falcon into the 2007 race, after rebuilding his Falcon yet again. He enters with some childhood friends, one of them being his navigator. At first they struggle with the newly built vehicle, but soon they manage to pick up the pace. Things eventually lead to tragedy however, as on the 4th race of the 5 day event, they crash into a tree. Though a little shaken up, Bana has to leave the race and get back to his day job, by attending a New York movie premier and appearing on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno. Upon returning to Australia, he gets to have a proper look at his badly damaged vehicle. From then on it becomes a question as where to go with it next, eventually ending with him covering it up in a sheet in his garage. The film then ends with the suggestion that he will one day return to it and fix it again.

Love the Beast is a film I find hard to really review, this could be though do it being a Documentary film rather than a fictional piece of work, a genre I have only done one other film review before. I suppose, a great place to start would be to talk about what it is. Love The Beast is a film about cars, a documentary about cars specifically. It is a film about a man’s desire to enter a car he loves into a motor race. Now if this was an ordinary man no-one had ever heard of before, it would be a different story. In this instance however it is actor Eric Bana whose movie output includes the film’s Troy and Hulk. In this case it is quite different, as it becomes a film not where he is playing a character, but more one where he is talking about his social and personal life. From the outset, the film talks about his growing up and what part of his young life the car meant to him. The film then goes in the various directions a documentary would go to cover all of its bases. It goes into talking about the Targa Tasmania, the Falcon and its appearance in the original Mad Max; it then goes into talking about Bana’s father’s love affair with his own Ford Thunderbolt. Then in the background of the film, there is a host of interviews of Car Enthusiasts and celebrities including Jeremy Clarkson, Jay Leno and Dr. Phil McGraw. It then talks about the Targa in more detail and includes the style of cars used in the race series and the difference between new super cars, and old muscle classics. It is a film that is definitely about cars and man’s love affair with them. Not in the form of them as tools driven by people who consider them nothing more as tins on wheels, but as symbols that mean something to people growing up and how they become a metaphorical camp fire for people now grown up and how they still need these symbols in order to be themselves.

Mad Max (Village Roadshow Pictures - 1979)

That is what the film is trying to present, well aims to achieve, because on the whole it has a lot of issues. Love The Beast has narration off-screen frequently throughout, but from the start this comes with a level of near boredom. Bana himself I felt is not all that good a narrator, or at least not yet. As he spoke from the beginning away from the camera, it was like he was reading from a pre-prepared script written by someone else. It was not like he was telling a story, nor like he was informing the audience about his past experience. When he is in front of the camera, being in the scene and talking normally/casually with everyone else, his soul and passion for what he loves comes out to the full, but as a voice over it is not really all that believable and can be pretty boring. Bana presents himself as a more straight-up kind of guy; but the way he narrates this neither suggests nor promotes his love and interest for his car.

Ford XB Falcon Hardtop 2

When I first started to watch this film I was constantly near blacking out, like there was not much going on. I like cars, love them in fact. Before lasts years consequences ended it for good; Top Gear was my Favourite show. My Favourite car for many years now has been the Pagani Zonda F. I like cars, but this, a film about cars, is something I am finding hard to like in the least bit. It’s a real case of the Marmite belief. Marmite, some kind of ingredient/spread that you can do edible stuff with has always had the moniker of either you love it or hate it. Well, Love The Beast is something like that, and I myself am not too sure on where I personally stand with it. As a film, it’s more of an informative piece. Something you would watch on an afternoon if there was nothing good on tele, not on a Friday or Saturday evening.

But then, when you reach the 40/50 minutes in marker everything changes. It goes from a half attempted documentary on entering a racing series to an understanding of what this car means to Bana. It’s a different yet interesting point of view of a well-known person in the public light. Instead of gossiping on every element of his personal life with subjects like food, weight, clothes, relationships and all the other garbage gossip; Love The Beast becomes a deep and moving insight into a true passion of his, his car. Up till now it has been a basic documentary with nothing much really to focus on. No theme for the documentary to follow or look into specifically, but then as it finally begins to gain pace, we discover that for Bana, the car is less a tin on wheels tool/contraption for the masses; but an icon of his youth and an important part of his history. It provides him with personal drive (pun not intended). This passion ultimately leads however to tragedy, as while everything was going well at first; in a heartbeat it ends in a collision which brings the star to a halt as fast as the crash itself. At first I thought this sounded like it was planned, but to this though comes the films real story and eventual meaning.

LTB3

The film, the events, the interviews; it’s not about Bana learning about the car or its place in automotive history, nor is it about a man entering a race in the hope of achieving sporting glory. You realise that all along from the beginning, that what it’s all really been about is this titan of Hollywood coming to terms with the crash and the damage sustained to his beloved Ford XB Falcon Hardtop. Something that is more of a childhood friend severely injured/disfigured rather than it simply being a gash to a tin with wheels on it. From the moment he sees it in proper in a garage, it changes him, and he goes and talks to the celebrities to talk to them and ask them for some form of guidance or hoping that they may shed light on what has happened and why it has happened. For Bana, it’s less a documentary or film, it’s actually therapy. This is the moment where the film goes from its original aim to a personal struggle. This is true reality and one that is felt deeply. Love The Beast’s true meaning therefore is one of how much symbols and icon’s mean to us personally in our lives from a young age and how these things can hurt when they take a hit…..no matter how old we are.

Ford XB Falcon Hardtop

Ok, I can see I may have gone off track (pun not intended again) with this film as a whole, but in effect, that’s what this film is about, one man’s passion for his car and what it means to him. Now that is not to say the film did not have its issues, but from these issues comes a film (in a similar style to the BMW M5 review on Top Gear) that provides something different. I like documentary films. I really do, and while this one did struggle to begin with from this mediocre/weak start; it became a really passionate story. Add to this the inclusion of top car personalities like Clarkson in particular, and you get this really interesting creation. Yes, there are better things to watch on a Friday and Saturday night slumped in front of the TV, but if you love cars as much as me, and carry a passion for the true monsters of automotive design and engineering; then you will want to see this film.

GENEPOOL





Eurovision Reaction 2015

26 05 2015

Mans Zelmerlow ESC 2015

Another year of singing descended on Europe once again as this past weekend saw the annual return of the Eurovision Song Contest. This time it was hosted in Vienna, Austria after they won last year with Conchita Wurst and his song; “Rise Like a Phoenix”. Much like in past years though the winning song wasn’t really played at the beginning of the contest. It was heard briefly, but Conchita did not really sing until before the announcement of voting, but sang two songs, neither of which was last year’s winning song. This isn’t necessarily all that new however. Back in 2005, the 2004 winner; Ruslana from the Ukraine sang at the beginning, but it was not the same song as the one she had Won with, all though it sounded very similar, if maybe a bit slower. I do think thought the contest is losing something if the winning song of the previous year is not celebrated at the beginning, or played at all.

This year’s presentation of the contest was terrific. The theme of “Building Bridges” was possibly a little over used, however for the most part it was used quite well. The presenting team of an all-female trio, plus Conchita, worked alright, I did however think that one of the trio had more time than the other two, and out of those two, one had more speaking parts than the other. It was a great improvement over the near jokers who hosted the event last year, but still had some chinks, and also some awkward moments of talking and speaking which were just un-needed. The presentation over last year though was a massive improvement. As for just the show (not mentioning the songs yet), last year was a bit disappointing. The set and other bits and bobs were pretty good, but the presentation left something of a sour note on the whole event, lowering my expectations a bit for this year. When the event started this year though, it reminded me of the kind of spectacle that Eurovision can produce if done to a good enough standard. The opening, was amazing; a nice combination of singing and pieces of music and video. The set pieces before each song, showing an Austrian Activity were really enjoyable (even if the accompanying song wasn’t so much). I did not get to see much of the big interval act, as I went downstairs to get some cake, but from what I saw, it looked pretty impressive. As for the voting, the ‘building bridges’ moniker was used quite nicely in a short animation before each country appeared to reveal their votes. The arena and set were brilliant, and provided plenty of features which were used to great effect. For next year, the caption should be: “Building Better Phone Lines”, especially after 3 countries suffered connection issues when announcing votes.

ESC 2015 Logo

This year’s selection of songs was a nice variety. I was a bit disappointed that the Finnish entry did not get through to the final, as I saw it a few weeks ago and thought it was pretty good. The UK selection for this year I genuinely thought was much better than most years. Its style and presentation looked like a piece of music from what I thought was 1930’s America, but could not help think that it sounded similar to a dance I once saw in Strictly Come Dancing during the 2013 competition. This year of course there was a lot of attention on a country that is not even in Europe (even though there are more regular countries that aren’t either); Australia. Australia’s song was quite nice and I did briefly wonder about voting for it. I think though that having 27 acts overall was possibly a bit too much and I felt like I was flagging a bit as the last few acts came.

There was a lot of interesting acts this year. Belgium produced this weird thing that was well choreographed, but not exactly up beat. Azerbaijan brought back Elnur Hüseynov who entered back in 2008. Other countries of note included Serbia, Greece (with something that looked like a combination of Norway’s entry in 2013, and their own entry back in 2006) and Russia. For me though, it was between two acts. Israel and Georgia. Israel’s entry I thought was very boy band like (a bit like Spain’s entry in 2007), and a bit silly; however it was also very enjoyable. The only other song that I thought I liked more possible was Georgia’s entry which was very different, more like Gothic Rock. I quite liked it, even if the costume was very outlandish, making me think of Julianne Moore’s character in Seventh Son, and that wizard character in Warcraft 3.

When it came to choosing for which one though, I chose Israel, but accidently voted for both of them. What happened is that when I voted for Israel, I typed in two extra numbers that weren’t needed, so I voted for Georgia, I tried again to vote for Israel, but did it again. I then voted again successfully for Israel. I decided though not to vote for them again two more times in hope of correcting it.

As voting came, it was a surprise as it was quite a close vote between 3 countries, Italy, Sweden and Russia. It was a close race with Russia winning for a while until Sweden grabbed the top spot and held it. Several other countries did quite well though, including Latvia, Belgium, and even Australia finishing in 5th place, well enough I think to suggest a possible return for them. The UK suffered a bit only achieving 5 points, but did considerably better than France (4 points) and both Germany and host country Austria who both received no points. The big winner for the evening though was of course Sweden finishing on 365 points (just 22 points away from Norway’s record victory in 2009) with the song Heroes sung by Måns Zelmerlöw. The song I thought was actually pretty good and the dance and animations were quite fun and a good song to finish the night on. Sweden’s victory in 2015 makes them the second country, after Denmark to win twice since 2000, but also, with 6 wins to date, Sweden is no the second most successful country in the contest history, just 2 more wins and it takes the top spot from Ireland. Altogether it has been a terrific year for the contest, and a great way to celebrate its 60th Year.

GENEPOOL





Steel Heroes or Monsters (Part 1) – Pacific Rim

29 07 2013

Pacific Rim (Legendary Pictures - 2013)

It has been consistently evident in Monster Movies that the human race is powerless in attacking Giant Monsters. If you take a look at any Godzilla film (except for the obvious one) that Tanks, Planes and even weapons in general come off second best against the monsters. It is more likely that Tanks will be crushed or in some cases melted against the might of the monsters. In many cases outside the Godzilla series, more ingenious methods have had to be employed in order to achieve victory. Some examples of this include Atomic Isotopes (The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms), Freeze technology (Atragon) and even traffic poles (The Host). One of the more suitable options though would be to build weapons as big and as powerful as the monsters. However, though this idea has not really been implemented as often as you’d think (Except for 5 Godzilla films and 1 King Kong film). However that may change as Pacific Rim does that, and it seems to work very effectively.

PR2

I have known about Pacific Rim as a film for well over a year now, but my discovery of it was mostly by accident as I was looking up the actor Idris Elba. After reading up on the idea, I was hooked but it was not until this past December when the first trailer was released just before the End of the World. The trailer looked Amazing, the scale, the beauty, the machines and the monsters. Every now and again I would watch the trailer again and again until the next trailer was released. As the film approached its big release, more and more stuff was announced, then it came to a point when I saw the film on opening night, in 3D, and the first thing I want to say after you have read that is that this is the first, proper good new wave 3D film. But I also want to say this; Pacific Rim is the best film so far this decade.

PR3 (Not the first time that the Sydney Opera House has been attacked by a Giant Monster).

The film does not waste any time getting into the main plot and opens with an introduction from the films lead character Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) describing what has happened in recent years. The monsters called Kaiju came from a large portal called breach at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. The first Kaiju appeared in San Francisco and it took 3 days to kill it. But a few months later another one shows up. In response weapons are built to combat the colossal creatures, Giant Robots called Jaegers, giant robotic fighting machines, and eventually the human race starts winning. Raleigh Becket is a co-pilot of one of these machines as the neural processes required to use the machines cannot be done solo. He is dispatched to fight a Kaiju in Alaska in his machine Gipsy Danger. However things don’t work out, he loses his co-pilot (also his brother) and beaches his Jaeger in Alaska. Five years later faith in the Jaegers is starting to dwindle due the experience of the Kaiju with the machines gets better and so a Wall is being built to protect humanity instead. Becket works on a section of the wall when Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) who runs the Jaeger Program asks him to return to active duty.

PR4

The Jaeger program and all remaining Jaegers are moved to Hong Kong which has no current Wall section. In Sydney a Kaiju attacks and breaks through the wall in one hour. The creature is subdued by one of the best Jaegers despite it being moved to Hong Kong. Becket is introduced to Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) who is in charge of putting Gipsy Danger back together after what happened. Pentecost has a plan to destroy the rift that the Kaiju use with an “Acquired” nuclear weapon. The only problem for Gipsy Danger is that it needs a co-pilot. Mako really wants to do it but Pentecost does not allow her. While Becket tries to find someone to be his pilot, one of two scientists named Newton (Charlie Day) links up his brain like the drift for the Jaegers with a Kaiju brain to try and work them out. While this angers his colleague; Gottlieb (Burn Gorman) it is somewhat successful. After a lengthy process, Pentecost allows Mako to co-pilot Gipsy Danger and the start-up test sequence for Gipsy Danger appears to go well until one of Mako’s memories goes haywire and almost destroys the base. Gipsy Danger is grounded for the time being.

PR5

Newton goes into Hong Kong looking for the head of the Kaiju Black-market, Hannibal Chau (Ron Perlman) to try and get another Kaiju Brain. All of a sudden, two Kaiju appear to attack Hong Kong. The Chinese and Russian Jaegers are put into action with the better Australian Jaeger put on defence of the city as it is vital to the plan to destroy the rift. Very quickly both the Chinese and Russian Jaegers are knocked out and the Australian machine goes into action only to be disabled. Gipsy Danger is deployed while  Newton goes into a shelter only for the Kaiju to find him thanks to the connection he made with a Kaiju Brain. Gipsy Danger is successful in defeating both Kaiju and Becket and Mako are cheered as heroes. In Hong Kong, Newton and Gottlieb manage to get inside the Kaiju brain and learn more about it and how the plan to destroy the breach needs to happen in order for it to work. Before they can properly relay the information, the plan goes into action with only Gipsy Danger and the Australian Machine. When they arrive at the breach they are attacked by two Kaiju and an even larger Kaiju. The Australian machine sacrifices itself to allow Gipsy Danger to get inside the breach unopposed. Newton and Gottlieb relay the information for the plan to work properly. This is achieved and Gipsy Danger falls through the rift allowing Beckett to set off the nuclear reactor powering the machine to destroy the rift. He along with Mako manage to escape from the machine before the explosion goes off.

PR6

The film is of an epic scale that you just don’t see with many films these days. The size of the content and setting plus the story is huge to say the least and it is all brought together by Legendary Director Guillermo del Toro. He has built an incredible world of Monsters and Robots while also keeping it altogether and not exploding into one big mess. The film contains traits of great monster movies from the past while also doing something completely original also. The film’s special effects also work alongside his artistic style of film making. The amount of detail that has been made for just this one film shows his passion for both cinema and the Monster Movie Genre. Not only would it be interesting to see a sequel to this film, but also see him direct another Monster Movie.

PR7 - Guillermo del Toro

The film’ cast are an interesting point. In the past, when it comes to mainly American Monster Movies, notable actors of the time would be asked to appear but the acting would be moderate at best with most of the fame and attention going to the monster and little to the personal lives of the films characters. Pacific Rim does not do a reversal of this but more includes them on a more even standing with the monsters. Like the old American films, notable cast members are included in the film such as Idris Elba (The Wire, Prometheus and Luther), Charlie Hunnam (Cold Mountain and Sons of Anarchy), Ron Perlman (Sons of Anarchy, Blade II and Hellboy) and Rinko Kikuchi (Babel and the upcoming 47 Ronin).

Ron Perlman, CHarlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi and Idris Elba

Beckett is someone who is trying to live with the consequences of bad choices made as his time as a pilot, while Mako is trying to distance herself from a horrible memory, one that almost causes chaos. The drift mechanism is a great way to introduce and show characters their personal lives as one thing could expose a horrible past. Pentecost is an amazing leader who is trying desperately to protect Mako, the reason why is later revealed but is trying to do this in a not so strict way becoming her adoptive father, but deep down he too is trying to hide something, he also presents one of the film’s best lines. The other main pilot characters are a nice mix also but it is interesting to see how the Australian pilots almost act like tough, rough Americans but this adds to the tension one poses between him and Becket. While many of the other pilots are pretty much silent throughout the film, they do show their personalities from several different ways including how they walk as well as fight. Newton (who to me looks like J.J. Abrams) and Gottlieb are a couple of stereotypical science nerds who bring a lot of humour to the film but are also an integral part also and not complete jokes. Hannibal Chau is one of my Favourite characters overall. While he holds the stance of a crime lord, Perlman plays the character in a similar style to Hellboy (Directed by Pacific Rim Director Guillermo del Toro) without becoming Hellboy. His scenes offer a sense of humour about them but also allow time to be serious.

Hannibal Chau and Newton

Returning to Mako briefly, her character begins almost like a scientific receptionist but turns into a warrior after she begins to pilot the Jaeger, much like someone growing up, you grow up with her as the film progresses and she becomes one of the best characters in the film. Her flashback scene contains a lot of emotion in her and it is a scary scene and you feel for her during it. While she is younger at the time, the young actress (Mana Ashida) is amazing and shows real human emotion, not just fake screaming or anything of that sort, but actual terror and fear.

Mako

The sets are brilliantly designed with a large amount of scale and size depending on where things are. One of the most detailed set features is the cockpits for the Jaegers which have a lot of similarity in them which show how the machines became standardized in construction techniques over time, but each separate identity of Jaeger has its own independent features. Also when the Jaegers experienced issues inside the control room, you would see the flames and water gushing all over the place and in some cases you would feel the shaking about thanks to clever use of the camera work.

PR8

GENEPOOL (Click Here for Part 2).








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