Thursday, July 27, 2017

Sing Street

Several years ago, I saw the film 'Once', directed by John Carney: I found it enjoyable and very realistic. To quote the very short description on IMDB, "A modern-day musical about a busker and an immigrant and their eventful week in Dublin, as they write, rehearse and record songs that tell their love story". Apart from anything else, the film stars Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, otherwise known as The Swell Season. A song from the film, "Falling slowly" won the Oscar for best song! I don't think it's that good, but never mind. I wrote about the film here.

A few years ago, I turned on the television and saw a film which had already started; the first line which I heard was something about Randy Newman. Of course, I had to watch the rest of the film then record it properly when it was shown again. This was 'Begin again', directed by John Carney: I found this also very enjoyable but slightly less realistic. "A chance encounter between a disgraced music-business executive and a young singer-songwriter, new to Manhattan, turns into a promising collaboration between the two talents". This film presumably had a much larger budget as it features 'name' actors such as Mark Ruffalo (the music producer), Keira Knightley (the songwriter - she doesn't consider herself a performer at first), Catherine Keeler, James Corden and Hailee Steinfeld. I don't seem to have written about this film before.

A few days ago, I was perusing the listings for what is to be shown on television (after missing the beginning of an interesting film, 'God help the girl') and discovered that a new film by John Carney would be shown. In Hebrew, it's called something like 'The 80s club', but its real name is 'Sing Street'. Once again quoting IMDB, "A boy growing up in Dublin during the 1980s escapes his strained family life by starting a band to impress the mysterious girl he likes". Once again, enjoyable, but the least realistic of all three films. Six teenagers - supposedly aged 14-15 - get together to form a band with the eponymous name, which is actually a pun on the name of the school they attend - Synge Street. Some of them look their (onscreen) age whereas some ... don't. The 'mysterious' girl is supposed to be 16 (the actress was born in 1994 - and is actually American! - so she would have been about 20 when filming); sometimes she looks that age and sometimes looks much older. The little guy with carrot coloured hair on the far right of the picture below was born in 2000, so he was playing his own age.

Apart from the various anachronisms pointed out at IMDB (which don't really distract from the film), what really irks me is the quality of the songs that this group produce, in terms of both songwriting and performance. 'They' are really good and hold their own against 'real' songs which appear on the soundtrack (Duran Duran, The Cure, Hall and Oates, Joe Jackson) - totally unrealistic. No feedback, no missed cues, no out of time playing (although their very first recording has an appropriate and bad ending), everything mixed perfectly. The film takes place in about 1984/5, and the recordings are supposedly made with a simple cassette recorder! In 1974, I had a stereo tape deck with external microphones which could record better, but there were still plenty of extraneous noises.

The lead character (Conor) is somewhat chameleon-like, changing appearance to match whomever he is listening to at the time (there's one sequence where he starts looking like Robert Smith of The Cure). In the above picture, he's the one looking like Dracula, naturally at the front. The Lennon to this character's McCartney is called Eamon: he looks like John Lennon probably looked thirty years earlier although musically he's McCartney (plays many instruments). Actually, he looks more like Robert Fripp would have looked like when RF was 15 (blue suit, standing to the left of the girl).

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Guitar corner

We've seen this corner of the music room before, but that was before the 12 string guitar was hung on the wall. Left to right  are the Ovation Applause, Washburn HB-25 and Fender 12-string. Actually there is a fourth guitar in this picture: below the Ovation is a picture of me playing my first good guitar (bought in Cardiff, 1973). Judging by the length and colour of my hair, this picture was taken in the early 1990s, but I can't be sure.

The piece of wood attached to the wall underneath the 12 string is a fold-up shelf on which can be placed my laptop computer: ideal for recording.

I have noticed that several photos which I have taken with my mobile phone indoors have strange colouring; this picture originally wasn't too bad (the white wall came out bluish), but one picture which I took in Rodos seemed entirely black. I use a comparatively simple program called IrfanView as a picture editor: this has a function called 'auto adjust colors' which radically improves these pictures. I don't know on what basis the colours are adjusted, but the final results are very good and are much closer to what the eye sees in the original scene.