Tuesday, 26 July 2016

ghostbusters soundtrack

i'm not going to explain what this movie is again, you can read my review or click here to read about why it's such a big deal. yes, i have dedicated three blog posts to this movie because it's that fucking important.

anyway, now you're all to to speed here's my review of the soundtrack.

theodore shapiro is a composer with an impressive list of credits. starting out with now legendary indie movies, like girlfight and wet hot american summer, he has moved on to score some of the biggest films of the last ten years, like tropic thunder, spy and zoolander 2. while he primarily composes for comedies he does have some more eclectic titles in his back-catalogue like trumbo (excellent film, btw) and jennifer's body. in many ways he's the perfect composer for a movie like ghostbusters with its mix of comedy, action and horror. it's a movie that needs a composer who can easily move between genres.

except shapiro doesn't really move between genres, and that's what makes this score so great. i love how serious the score is; how it really plays up the big epic moments and for the most part feels more like the score for a marvel movie than an action-comedy. listening to the score in isolation you would have no idea that this is the soundtrack to a comedy at all, and probably only a vague idea that there might be a horror element. what i love about this is that it's a choice. tonally, the film itself leans more towards the comedy side than the action or the horror, and yet shapiro excludes almost any hint that this is a comedy from the score. because to do so would undermine the story, and in turn would undermine the importance of this film. (read my two previous posts on this if you need to understand why it's important)

shapiro also does a nice job at incorporating the classic ghostbusters theme. in the film the original theme is played over the opening titles then faded out so quickly it's like they were almost embarrassed to embrace it. of course it returns later with a dubious, modernised cover version but it always feels a little box-ticking and forced. the way shapiro uses it is much more appropriate and he actually manages to make it sound kind of triumphant in tracks like 'battle of times square'. there are also some really standout tracks on the soundtrack, like 'behemoth' which has shades of verdi's requiem, and the suitably grand 'the fourth cataclysm'.

overall this is a bold, almost aggressively epic score that makes a very clear statement - this film needs to be taken seriously, which is perfect because that's exactly what the film is about.

the ghostbusters original motion picture score is available now digitally and on cd

Friday, 22 July 2016


someone caught a pokemon in the office today and everyone got very excited about it.  except they didn't catch a pokemon, did they, because there wasn't actually one there.  except there is a photo of it right there on the fucking photocopier and it's almost like a vortex opened up above my crappy office and two planes of existence met.

so this isn't a review of pokemon go because i can't unsee the body snatchers meme that's going around and also every time someone says pokemon i just hear my boyfriend from when i was thirteen saying 'poke ya mum'.  so i'll review ghostbusters instead.

when melissa mccarthy, playing abby, quotes an internet critic as saying, "ain't no bitches gonna hunt no ghosts," the reality of the internet criticism that the 2016 ghostbusters actors face briefly touches the reality that the 2016 ghostbusters characters are up against in the film.  this creates the paradox of the characters being the 'real' ghostbusters, and the actors merely pretending.  it's paul feig's way of reminding us that reality isn't about truth, it's the layers we are willing to accept overlaid on truth that create reality.  it's his way of reminding us that this film is fucking important.

(if you don't get why this is fucking important, i explained it all in a previous post)

ghostbusters is that great modern tradition, a reboot, of a much-loved 80s classic kids movie about four men who pretty much accidentally become a ghost-hunting force that ends up saving new york from a giant evil marshmallow.  this new film opens on a scene in a kind of disney-fied historical house with a guide telling a spooky story to the visitors when a candlestick falls from a dresser.  after the visitors have gone, we can see this for what it really is - a trick.  but what follows leads him to erin gilbert, an eminent physicist who is trying to hide her paranormal-dabbling past from her bosses at the university. in desperation she hunts out her old friend abby, who continues to pursue proof that ghosts exist with the help of her engineer side-kick jillian holtzmann.  with their careers riding on it they team up with amateur historian patty, who kits them out with some boiler suits and a hearse, and before long they've got an office/lab, a rather familiar logo, and a pretty but hopeless receptionist. and they are going to need it all and some luck besides, to save new york from the threat of an ancient evil being summoned by an embittered bell boy.

except of course, what it's really about is what is real, what do we accept as real, and what do we do when our understanding of reality is challenged?  there are countless references to the original film which seems to neither exist as reality nor as a movie in the world of ghostbusters 2016, yet it is a reality we as an audience bring to the cinema with us.  the reality kevin the receptionist occupies appears to be different from our own.  when two characters are possessed by an evil ghost, what is real takes on another dimension.  feig again is telling us to examine and critique our own reality; that in this escapism, what we can't escape is the framework of references ingrained in us all.  fuck, it's a story about invisible entities embittered that their voices aren't heard; about an audience being tricked into thinking they are seeing the real thing, the establishment desperately trying to maintain the status quo, until the climax happens and the ghostbusters do their thing, but the hauntings can't be unseen, they are there in the public consciousness.  let me spell it out for you - it's a bit like casting four women as the heroes in a summer blockbuster.

plot-wise, i'll be honest, it is a little thin, but i'll refer you back to the giant evil marshmallow. there were also a few moments, notably a pretty long moment at the metal concert, which felt a bit awkward.  feig is definitely at his most confident working with just one or two actors and while his four ghostbusters are a dream-team of comedic talent they also have real acting chops and it would have been nice to see the material stretch them a little further.  for the first twenty minutes or so, all the jokes were pretty self-consciously 'woman jokes', but let's give them a break, no one has ever made a film about four women doing something other than getting married so it was always going to take them a while to warm up.  once they got ghostbusting, i actually laughed out loud (i never laugh out loud) on more than one occasion, and i wasn't the only one.  i especially liked the 'sad, lonely women who read 'eat, pray, love' and ran with it.'

and ten-year-old me fucking loved holtzmann (kate mckinnon).  she's like the manic pixie dream girl who got pissed off with fixing up the adorable hopeless men and became a supercharged pixie goddess mechanic.  i saw a link to some internet ramblings on 'the truth about her sexuality' and i don't fucking care.  actually i really liked that the movie didn't give any of the ghostbusters private lives at all. and that they were dressed, all the way through.  i mean, four women wearing boiler suits, just because that's what the script demands.  it's amazing, and sad that it passes for groundbreaking, but it does. there were lots of moments like this, positive 'this is incredible' moments that also stood out because they should have been so ordinary.  the film passed the reverse bechdel test so easily (two male characters, with names, talking to each other, about something other than a woman) that it made me really fucking angry all over again that this is all but impossible for so many blockbusters when applied to women.

ghostbusters is by no means a perfect film, and people wanting to find flaws will definitely find them.  but people wanting to watch a fun kids film about ghosts invading new york stopped by a team of unlikely supreheroes will not be disappointed.  and by watching it, you might just change the world a little bit too.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

sitc awards...

so last week summer in the city, the annual uk youtuber mega-gathering, announced they would be holding an awards ceremony as part of this years event. if you want the full story, teneighty reported it here.

i didn't think all that much of it until a couple of people on twitter mentioned that they'd voted for me in the 'breakthrough' category. and then i had an idea.

what i'm about to ask for is incredibly cheeky, borderline arrogant and in all honestly, will probably fail. but what the fuck, i'm going to do it anyway.

i've been uploading videos to my youtube channel for about ten months now. i actually started not long after attending summer in the city last year. the description of the breakthrough award is 'awarding an online creator for whom 2016 was the start of something big!' well, my channel may not be huge in youtube terms but it's been huge for me. i've made a bunch of new friends, i've gained way more confidence that i had before and i'm making stuff. i love the making stuff part, maybe a little too much which is why it takes me so long.

i'll be the first to admit i have something of a love/hate relationship with the youtube community. i feel like the clash between commerce vs. art is happening on youtube more than anywhere else right now. i also feel like the youtube i fell in love with; the youtube that made me want to make videos in the first place, doesn't really exist anymore. at the same time, as i reach the end of my first year on there i feel more connected to that community than ever before. but let's be honest, i swear too much and i've been quite aggressively rude about youtube culture in my videos so i'm hardly going to be nominated for an award anytime soon.

unless you guys help.

the fact is, i don't have all that many subscribers, i am a #smallyoutuber despite my best efforts to make my channel bigger. but i do have some solid support on twitter. i think with enough of a push i could make it onto that nominations list. maybe this isn't the right way to go about things, maybe i shouldn't be lobbying for votes, but fuck it, if there's even a small chance i could be on that list i'm going to have to fight for it. i've checked out who others have voted for in this category and most of them would probably only have to tweet about it once to win by a landslide. there are guys with 100k subs going for it, and that's why i'm going to have to be a little more persistent. or annoying, depending on how you look at it.

that's why i hope you'll get behind me, because if i can do this there's hope for anyone starting out on youtube. let's make that breakthrough award a true breakthrough. let's give them something different.

if you're still with me, here are the haps.

the nominations are open until july 27th, so we have exactly one week to pull this off.

nominations are open to fans, which basically means anyone. you don't appear to have to be attending summer in the city to put in your nominations. you do need to sign up for an account on their website but it's pretty straightforward.

to sign up for an account you just need your name, e-mail address and password. it doesn't say whether they add you to their mailing list when you register, but even if they do they don't send out emails all that often and it will be easy to unsubscribe if you're not interested.

you then need to vote for each category in turn. if you don't have any thoughts on a particular category there's a button to skip to the next one.

the breakthrough category is the last one, that's where you put 'paz vs stuff''

if you could also mention on twitter that you voted for me with #sitcawards2016 that would also be incredible. hopefully we'll pick up a few extra votes that way.

so like i said, i appreciate this is an incredibly big ask, i'm sure you all had better things to do with your time than read this but this is incredibly important to me and i am eternally grateful for your support.

and finally apologies in advance if my tweeting incessantly about this becomes rather annoying after a while, but it's only for a week, then normal service shall be resumed.

thank you!

Friday, 15 July 2016

queen of earth

queen of earth follows troubled artist catherine (elisabeth moss) who moves to her best friend virginia's (katherine waterston) lake house to recover from losing her father and breaking up with her boyfriend. however, being in a place with so many memories seems to accelerate catherine's disintegration rather than giving her space to heal. but ignore this synopsis, because the only way to enjoy this film is to go with it and see what it does to you.

it's difficult to write about queen of earth without making comparisons to films like repulsion or lets scare jessica to death as it has a similar atmosphere and comparable intent. this is a film that aims to get inside the head of someone who is losing their mind. it is a horror film in so much as it depicts something horrible in a way that is terrifying, but at the same time shows much more restraint than those other films. catherine's madness comes on so gradually that it's not clear what's really happening or what the film is even about until it's too late both for her and the audience. when catherine realises the full extent of her condition we share the shock and the horror of that moment and that's what makes this film work.

queen of earth is not an easy film to watch at times. it has a kind of broken structure, where scenes from different parts of the timeline are shuffled so that we often don't know how much time has passed or whether we're seeing something from the present or the past. the film hangs on title cards indicating days of the week to give us some sense of consistency, but even these become meaningless by the end. and yet this is all part of director alex ross perry's plan to bring the audience into catherine's head. the occasional time jumps or unnannounced flashbacks make the viewer feel as disorientated as catherine herself must feel.

what really makes this work are the two central performances. elisabeth moss is fantastic as catherine, giving her a humanity that keeps us hoping for the best even when we know the worst is happening behind her eyes. she portrays her breakdown with that same restraint that the story requires and this makes it feel all the more real. there is also a brilliant performance by katherine waterston as cateherine's best friend, virginia. waterston plays katherins as cold and distant for most of the film, but when she realises and accepts what's happening to her friend her reaction is truly heartbreaking. patrick fugit also does a great job as an antagonistic neighbour.

as much as this is a film about paranoia and madness, and as much as there are easy comparisons here to horror movies and psychological thrillers, ultimately this is a story about friendship; it's about the things we take for granted in a friendship, and the things we don't realise we need until it's too late. it's about two women dealing with life, and the madness, when it comes, is the type of madness we can all relate to. with queen of earth, alex ross perry has made a film that starts to get under your skin from the opening titles and will stay with you for days afterwards.

queen of earth is available now on dual format (blu-ray and dvd) from eureka entertainment.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016


suture is a hitchcockian thriller with a brilliantly surreal edge that spins a complex plot around identical twin brothers vincent (michael harris) and clay (dennis haysbert). after reuniting at their father's funeral vincent invites clay to stay with him only to have him killed moments later via a remote car bomb. vincent's plan was to switch identities with clay so that the police, who suspect him of murdering his father, will drop their investigation. the problem is, clay survives the explosion, but due to a severe case of amnesia he now thinks he is vincent.
while the plot may sound convoluted it's really only there so the filmmakers have something to hang their ideas on and directors scott mcgehee and david siegel have plenty of ideas. this is a film about identity and about what our identity and sense of self is made up of. it opens with a question worthy of a phd thesis - is our identity set; are we always the same person underneath? or can we change our identity?

clay is killed in the explosion and the man who wakes up in hospital is lead to believe he is vincent. he has vincent's friends, lives in his house and does all the things vincent used to do. except somewhere in there is clay. as we find out more and more about vincent it becomes clear he isn't a particularly pleasant character, whereas clay's kind heart and calm disposition endear him to everyone he meets, and yet they never suspect him of being anyone other than vincent. this dichotomy between the vincent that was and the vincent that is brings up all kinds of interesting ideas. how much is our identity defined by our standing in society? how much is it defined by how much money we have or where we live or our ethnicity? mcgehee and siegel clearly want us to be asking these questions because they highlight that last one in particular by casting a black actor, dennis haysbert, as clay. vincent and clay make it clear in their early dialogue that they are physically identical and everyone in the film world sees them as such, but other than being the same height they couldn't look more different. it's a move that could have come across as gimmicky or overly pretentious, but instead it highlights everything that's interesting about that central conflict over the importance of identity.

at the same time, suture works as an effective thriller. the whole time clay is piecing his life back together as vincent whilst trying to make sense of his memories of clay, the police are closing in. david graf, perhaps most recognisable as tackleberry from the police academy movies, puts in a very understated performance as the detective on vincent's trail that has a real authenticity to it. the tension in the story comes from wanting clay to figure out what happened to him before graf's character does and it's played with perfect pacing. however, the real standout performance of the film comes from dennis haysbert who brings a humanity and believability to clay that really carries us through a sometimes complex and surreal story.

suture looks amazing too and the blu-ray really makes the most of the the stunning black-and-white photography. if that weren't enough there's a fantastic making-of documentary on the disc in which mcgehee and siegel discuss how they had to make the film for almost nothing because they refused to change the central conceit of identical twins being played by a black actor and white actor. overall, suture is a fascinating, innovative film with so many layers and ideas to the story it will keep you thinking about it for a long time after the credits roll.

suture is available now from arrow video on dual format blu-ray and dvd

the neon demon - soundtrack

the neon demon is the latest film from nicholas winding refn, possibly the coolest director working right now (until ana lily amirpour finishes her next movie). famous for his bold visuals, striking colour palettes and surreal reimaginings of classic movie genres, the neon demon is his first horror movie. with the los angeles fashion industry as a backdrop, the film takes on the hollywood dream and repaints it as a neon-drenched nightmare.

for the sountrack, refn once again turned to regular collaborator cliff martinez. while martinez has had a long career working on now legendary movies like sex, lies and videotape, narc and traffic, his score for drive is one of the most bold, standout movie scores of the few decades. martinez worked with refn again on only god forgives and produced another memorable and effective score, particularly the track, 'wanna fight' that plays under the climactic fight scene. there is something about the audacity of martinez's scores that goes really well with refn's striking visuals so it's no surprise that the two would work together again on the neon demon.

for the neon demon score martinez creates an electronic soundscape that is both thrilling and full of dread at the same time. there are echoes of john carpenter here, if carpenter had ever been remixed by nine inch nails era trent reznor, and at times it also reminded me of the tangerine dream scores for movies like manhunter and sorceror.  i also couldn't help thinking of the disasterpiece score for it follows, although in that case i'm not entirely sure the score suited the films visuals as well as this score does. despite it's influences, the neon demon score is classic martinez and manages to feel both slightly retro and ultra contemporary at the same time.

the title track that opens the album really sums up everything that's great about the score, building from a creepy opening to an electronic dirge and all the while conveying a sense of something unsettling beneath the surface. i also liked the more atmospheric tracks like 'ruby at the morgue' and 'i would never say you're fat', and the super-creepy all-out horror tracks like 'something's in my room'. some of the tracks also have an ethereal, other-worldly quality to them, like 'runway' or 'jesse sneaks into her room'.

with the neon demon soundtrack martinez once again proves that he is one of the most relevant and interesting composers working in cinema right now and it's no surprise that he's also crossed over into videogames. if you enjoyed martinez's work on drive and only god forgives you will definitely like this, and yet it's also different enough to ensure it feels fresh. i hope refn and martinez contine to collaborate and look forward to seeing/hearing what they do next.

the neon demon - original motion picture sountrack is available now both digitally and on cd from milan records, and will be released on vinyl on july 8th