Tuesday, 31 July 2012

reviews: james yorkston, tamara schlesinger, huw m

James Yorkston - I Was a Cat From a Book (*****)

Even if you didn’t know its background, I Was a Cat… is an emotionally powerful listen. With context, it near overwhelms: in 2010, James Yorkston’s daughter fell seriously ill, sidelining his musical commitments while he focussed all energies on her recovery. Folk is one of those genres where autobiography is presumed to inform a songwriter’s music in an especially direct manner, and certainly it’s impossible to hear the urgent I Can Take All This or the solemnly candid The Fire & The Flames ('all that I want is for you to be well my love') without the connection producing goose-bumps. But dwelling only on personal circumstances results in an unnecessarily reductive assessment of this remarkable album – Yorkston’s best yet, we’d venture. Further highpoints include Just as Scared’s stunning duet with Jill O’Sullivan, and the agitated, breathless Border Song, which underscore the record’s incisive beauty and fiery passion respectively.  

Out 13th August

Tamara Schlesinger - The Procession (***)
In 6 Day Riot, Tamara Schlesinger’s compositions come wrapped in tiers of warm instrumentation, generating a welcoming, communal atmosphere. Solo debut The Procession is a comparatively stark and intimate offering, her music stripped back to its bones. Her voice is always at the fore, often providing both lead melody and a looped, layered a capella bedrock – an increasingly familiar dynamic, but one with mileage yet.

Initially, the stylistic shift produces a curiously aloof tone, but that’s not to paint it as dour: repeat listens bring its carefree undertow into focus, with the appeal of gibbering opener Yai Yai, and the delicate, dancing So Long particularly pronounced. There’s a hint of a tantalising middle ground waiting to be seized – a balance between her erstwhile full-band aesthetic and this crystalline left turn – but any urge to reconcile them at this juncture is neutralised by the album’s consistency and clarity of vision.

Out 6th August

Huw M - Gathering Dusk (***)

On debut Os Mewn Swn, Huw M sung entirely in Welsh, letting the music do the talking for those of us not fluent in the language (we can assume the majority of those reading aren’t). It might have been nice to maintain this approach on bilingual follow-up Gathering Dusk: as before, when he phlegmatically coos in Cymraeg, all melts together into gooey, sunny loveliness; when he switches to English, asinine couplets occassionally stick in the throat (Hide Behind You, hang thy head).

Elsewhere, folk-pop melodies skirt dangerously close to Mraz-ish empty whimsy, but successfully retain their compsure: Chwyldro Tawel, Ystafellowedd Gwag and For While I Wait For You To Sleep warrant particular praise, the former evocatively melancholic, the second proffering fluttering, gossamer guitar work, and the closing lullaby boosted by Bethan Reynolds’ gentle harmonies. A step sideways rather than forward perhaps, but a nicely judged one.

Out today 

Monday, 30 July 2012

july bottle rocket playlist

uh huh

1. warpaint - ashes to ashes
2. cults - walk at night
3. allo darlin - capricornia
4. the magnetic fields - your girlfriend's face
5. tune-yards - my country
6. lcd soundsystem - all i want
7. animal collective - honeycomb
8. rusted root - send me on my way
9. grimes - oblivion
10. blood diamonds feat. grimes - phone sex
11. the cure - just like heaven
12. the teardrop explodes - reward
13. devo - out of sync
14. jenny and johnny - scissor runner
15. patti smith - til victory
16. talking heads - psycho killer
17. manhattan love suicides - clusterfuck
18. the raveonettes - that great love sound
19. martha reeves - nowhere to run
20. rachel sweet - baby
21. the go-gos - we got the beat
22. the damned - new rose
23. television - see no evil
24. suede - metal mickey
25. silkworm - treat the new guy right
26. spencer davis group - keep on running
27. prince - i would die 4 u
28. twin shadow - five seconds
29. superchunk - cruel summer
30. sleigh bells - comeback kid
31. the small faces - all or nothing
32. hefner - hymn for the cigarettes
33. guns n roses - welcome to the jungle
34. run dmc - it's tricky
35. danananaykroyd - muscle memory
36. girls aloud - biology
37. belle and sebastian - me and the major
38. lloyd cole - rattlesnakes
39. super furry animals - herman loves pauline
40. fugazi - waiting room
41. blondie - heart of glass
42. eileen - ces bottes sont faites pour marcher
43. the b-52s - 52 girls
44. weezer - buddy holly
45. st etienne - he's on the phone
46. bis - eurodisco
47. pixies - i've been tired
48. le tigre - deceptecon
49. david bowie - queen bitch
50. t-rex - get it on
51. wizzard - see my baby jive
52. fleetwood mac - go your own way
53. new order - true faith
54. the smiths - girlfriend in a coma
55. the clash - english civil war
56. jesus and mary chain - happy when it rains
57. the osmonds - crazy horses
58. iggy and the stooges - gimme danger
59. pavement - summer babe
60. abba - sos

Sunday, 29 July 2012

reviews: the big eyes family players, the lost brothers, the cathode ray

The Big Eyes Family Players & Friends - Folk Songs II (****)

After 2009’s Folk Songs collaboration, James Yorkston lets the Big Eyes Family Players take charge of the sequel, appearing on just a couple of tracks this time around. But canny to the wisdom of ‘many hands make light work’, James Green and company have introduced a variety of Friends to the fold as replacements, and consequently, there’s an increased diversity.

Each contributor brings a slightly different quality to the table and the Players respond accordingly: particularly effective are Heather Ditch’s soulful rendition of The Clyde Water, underpinned by acoustic arpeggios and a subtle synth buzz, and the Alasdair Roberts-sung Maureen from Gippursland, which hews closer to folk convention in vocal delivery, if not necessarily instrumentation (an ebbing, rippling array of organs, strings, cymbals and more). On Folk Songs II, The Big Eyes Family Players respect tradition without being enslaved by it, making a third entry highly desirable.

Out 6th August

  The Lost Brothers – So Long John Fante

 The Lost Brothers - So Long, John Fante (***)

With their debut released way back in 2008, it seemed The Lost Brothers might have taken their moniker literally and gone AWOL. But they’ve been busy: So Long John Fante was recorded two years ago in Sheffield (with studio musicians and producer Colin Elliot borrowed from fellow romantic troubadour Richard Hawley), while its successor has since been committed to tape in Nashville, slated for release on Brendan Benson’s Readymade label later this year.

Marrying mellifluous harmonising to conventional (but not staid) song-writing, the Brothers (Oisín Leech and Mark McCausland; not brothers) channel Fleet Foxes on a Bacharach tip. Lyrically love-locked, they’re not immune to generic imagery, but the duo's narrative skills are otherwise well-evinced; unfussy arrangements, meanwhile, make Simon & Garfunkel a definite touchstone. Other influences include slow-dance doo-wop (Only by the Light of the Moon) and alt-country (Bells They Won’t Ring), all adding up to an understatedly appealing listen.

Out Now

The Cathode Ray - The Cathode Ray (***)

While the particles in a cathode ray travel at lightning speed, Edinburgh’s The Cathode Ray are somewhat slower paced. A single in 2006, a second in 2009, and now finally an album three years later again – but as the animated opening track handily reminds those tut-tutting and tapping their wrists, Patience is a Virtue.
Part of the leisurely arrival is no doubt a consequence of founder member Paul Haig (formerly of Josef K) leaving to focus on solo material, his exit amicable but presumably impactful. His fingerprints remain, credited as co-author on eight of the eleven tracks, including album highlights like Monkees-pop nugget Train and the arch art-punk energy of Get A Way. In comparison, songwriting partner Jeremy Thoms’ sole-penned offerings are more variable, ranging from ace (Dispersal) to the record’s worst (the Santana-like Creature of Habit), casting doubt on the band’s more definitively Haig-less future. But for now, they're scintillating.
 Out Now

Friday, 27 July 2012

school of seven bells, churches @ stereo, 22nd july

One song, one official gig – it’s been an economical route to the top of the hype pile for Churches. Lies proves to be just the tip of an already impressively-proportioned electro-pop iceberg, as waves of ready-formed earworms affirm the trio’s mettle – some audacious, shiny alt-hits-in-waiting, others more low-key and textural. A chock-full Stereo laps up the lot, and if we’re not mistaken, empties out a little when they finish.

School of Seven Bells’ own impressive ascent took a slight knock ahead of third album Ghostory, with Claudia Deheza’s departure thinning the heavenly vocal pool that had been a big part of their appeal. But the subsequent album’s resilient, spectral beauty proved that, on record at any rate, Benjamin Curtis and remaining Deheza twin Alejandra are undiminished by the severance.

Live, their recovery is initially less clear-cut, but vital signs are strong: while tonight’s subtle performance never quite envelopes the room like it seems it should, it’s nothing a bit of extra volume wouldn’t fix - and certainly, the crowd seem unfazed, judging from the noisy encore-clamouring. A couple of extra musicians fill out stage and sound as the duo whip up woozy melodies that have eyes closing in veneration, with Windstorm still a lofty peak; it may no longer showcase the sisters’ interlinking harmonies as it once did, but it remains a joyous highpoint.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

dvd review: airborne

Airborne opens with the UK gripped by severe storms: shop fronts blown out, transport networks gubbed – typical summer weather basically. It’s the only convincing element in a plot that groggily veers from post-9/11 terrorism to ancient Chinese vase-demons, with minimal sense of threat, tension, or excitement. A bunkum storyline needn’t be a problem in a film like this, of course, but a couple of effective stingers aside, the results are dull, as a curious cast of soap stars, B-movie regulars and, er, Mark Hamill struggle gamely with thinly-sketched characters and unconvincing dialogue. The ex-Skywalker stays grounded in a largely pointless role – an aviation chief on (would you believe it?) his last shift before retirement – but on the plus side he gets to deliver a bizarre introductory voiceover reminiscent of a paranormal anthology series like The Outer Limits. “It’s a universal truth that sometimes we see things that can’t be explained,” he wearily intones; we wholeheartedly agree.  

Out 30th July

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

bis, we are the physics @ mono, 19th july

When not recording solo or infrequently gigging with Bis, Manda Rin likes to paint. Tonight’s show launches her Cover Versions and Other Hits exhibition, which takes 15 of her favourite albums and reworks their sleeves in her distinctive Manga-esque style. Sleater Kinney, X-Ray Spex… we spend the time between bands trying to decide which will fit best in our living room, opting for a Le Tigre print but coveting several others.

We Are the Physics initiate the evening’s musical attractions in typically manic fashion: a flurry of synced poses, cheeky patter and noisy Devo-influenced art-pop. It transpires they’ve recently filmed a scene for Stuart Murdoch’s God Help the Girl flick, and so invite their handsome French co-star Pierre to perform the song in question, before noisily letting loose with their own material again for the final stretch.

It’s fun, but not half as much fun as watching Bis revive their finest hyper-pop moments: from sugar-rush breakthrough Kandy Pop to the shiny surfaces of Eurodisco, they’re significantly better than our niggling cynicism led us to expect. Singing of School Discos and Sweet Shops with sky-high energy seemed like it should be a kid’s game, yet here they are, sounding as fresh as ever (though “the gaps in between are longer than they used to be”, notes John Disco with a smile). What’s more, a new song suggests they’ve plenty to offer yet. Stick around this time guys, you’ve been missed.

Monday, 23 July 2012

DVD review: Delicacy


 Delicacy offers two love stories for the price of one: a marriage cut short by a traffic accident, and the tentative relationship between widow Nathalie (Tautou) and loveable lump Markus (Damiens) that follows. Inevitably, the course of the latter does not run smooth, as friends and co-workers cast judgemental eyes on the apparent mismatch between her porcelain beauty and his balding pate and preference for beige. But by the twinkling lights of a postcard Paris, affections grow…

Life goes on; love is blind: Delicacy’s sleeves are plastered in sentiment. But it’s not the platitudes that hobble enjoyment, but rather a tonal imbalance. Bereavement drama into fluffy rom-com just won’t go, with Nathalie’s life with husband Francois too rushed to have impact, and her second-chance romance burdened with an underlying gloom. Delicacy wants to have its gâteau and eat it: to be both affecting portrait of grief and heart-warmingly carefree, but ultimately the competing ambitions cancel each other out.

Out 6th August

Thursday, 19 July 2012

bottle rocket july is coming...

Crikey, it’s that time of the month already: bottle rocket on Saturday! That’s the day we turn (whisper it) four years old. Ewwwwwww, that’s old.

But just because it’s our birthday, don’t expect cake or nuffin. It’ll be very much the usual platter of indiepopnewwavesoulrocknroll, plus at least one song we’ll regret in the morning.

Add your requests to the facebook wall if you dinnae trust us.

11:30PM - 3:00AM

Monday, 16 July 2012

tune-yards @ oran mor, 11th july

Muscles of Joy’s art-folk melange isn’t one for dipping into half-heartedly: for best results, immersion is recommended. This puts them at a disadvantage tonight, with their theatrical grooves only gradually accruing the attention they deserve; once hooked, however, their appeal is gravitationally strong.

Likewise the headliner: the inimitable, the captivating, the slightly dotty but ever-charismatic mErRiLl gArBuS, aka Tune-Yards (or however its capitalised…). Her last Glasgow show was pretty much perfect; tonight marginally less so by comparison, but a nano-step below flawless is fine by us. Fans of second album w h o k I l l are spoiled rotten, with all but one of its tracks trotted out for Oran Mor’s delectation tonight: Gangsta is particularly electrifying, in part thanks to the two-man sax section, who flesh out key numbers throughout the set, but mostly down to their ringleader’s dextrously wild vocals. 

Further props are levied at Killa’s playful sorta-rap and the righteous My Country, while Real Live Flesh is a timely reminder of debut Bird-Brains’ more dialled-down attractions. There’s no new material to report – a shame, since a taste of the in-progress third album would have introduced a welcome note of the unexpected, but hollering along to Bizness fully suffices in the meantime.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

reviews: wussy, white manna, diana darby

Wussy - Buckeye (****)

Though Buckeye is Wussy’s debut international release, there’s plenty else to explore should it connect with your tastes. Since forming over a decade ago, the Cincinnatians have released a string of acclaimed albums in the US, from 2005 debut Funeral Dress to last year’s Strawberry, and Buckeye packages choice cuts from across their discography for fresh ears.

Though we can’t equal Robert Christgau’s enthusiasm (the ex-Village Voice critic recently proclaimed them “the best band in America”), these seventeen tracks nonetheless feel like a significant discovery: an inexplicably-secret history for a band deserving widespread laudation. Core duo Chuck Cleaver and Lisa Walker share vocals, complimenting one another perfectly on songs with shades of IRS-era REM and Rilo Kiley (amongst others), and though they sometimes recycle a little too directly (Funeral Dress is basically Teenage Kicks with a new vocal line), this primer makes for a mighty fine introduction.

Out now

White Manna - White Manna (****)

When a band calling themselves White Manna christen a track Acid Head, they risk flirting with parody. The Californian quartet’s mantric psych-rock sound, coupled with the nomenclature, paints a potent picture, but in reality they’re far from pastiche. Their clarity of vision is visceral and true: these guys know what they like, and chase it single-mindedly across five lengthy jams.

Only Don’t Gun Us Down breaks from the dense, guitar-abusing formula, its drifting introduction supplying a much-needed breather. Tellingly, it’s also the album’s weakest track: the band’s keenest strengths lie at the more propulsive, noisy end of their self-restricted sonic spectrum; ease off the gas, and their spark dissipates into so-much bong smoke. But so long as it’s kept on the boil, their focussed psychotropism is expertly effective, with the driving Mirror Sky the pinnacle. They’re anything but jacks of all trades, but they’re evidently already masters of one.

Out now

Diana Darby - I V (Intravenous) (**)

A series of personal misfortunes tarried the arrival of Diana Darby’s fourth album, her first since 2005’s The Magdalene Laundries. Yet despite a troubled genesis, I V’s brittle folk lacks emotional impact. There are positives: Darby’s whispered vocals are refreshingly modest, and her preferred recording approach – single-takes, sparse arrangements – fosters a confessional air that helps salvage some of the stumbling poeticisms in the lyrics.

But others are beyond rescue: guileless and exposed lines like “If love were a song / would you play me a tune?”, for instance, cry out for a little less transparency. You can imagine it working better in live performance, where the aura of intimacy is stronger, and likely to draw out whatever insight might be locked within a track like Ugly Little Toad (a symbolic creature “sitting by the road”, in a pondering that goes nowhere). On record, unfortunately, I V’s simplicity grips attentions only weakly.
Out now

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

DVD review: Rampart

A sinking familiarity greets Rampart’s setup. From its plot (corruption in the LAPD) to its players (internal affairs, district attorneys and no-good hoodlums), the film patrols oft-walked streets. The Rampart Scandal alone (in which the endemic misconduct of the department’s anti-gang unit was exposed) has informed a plethora of bad cop/worse cop tales, from Street Kings to The Shield. Yet Rampart never feels stale, thanks largely to Woody Harrelson’s weighty portrayal of its fascistically violent central character, Officer David Brown.

With whiplash dialogue co-written by genre don James Ellroy, Harrelson has plenty to chew on. The character’s potent eloquence is a thrill, as Brown tries talking his way out of a deepening destructive spiral. It’s Harrelson’s second outstanding performance in a row for director Oren Moverman (after last year’s Oscar-nominated The Messengers), and demonstrates just how compelling he can be when given an all-too-rare starring role. Repulsive yet sympathetic, his committed turn ensures Rampart’s nihilistic tone stays palatable.

Out Now

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

july skinny


Cor, that Twin Shadow album's pretty awesome, eh? He's on the cover of this month's Skinny as you can see, with a big ol' feature and five-star album-of-the-month review of Confess inside. Here's a list of my offerings from its pages:

- 'T in the Park 2012: The Magnificent Seven' - preview of Teengirl Fantasy (read here!)
- Twin Shadow - 'Confess' album review (read here!)
- Wussy - 'Buckeye' album review
- Shonen Knife - 'Pop Tune' album review (read here!)
- Milk Maid - 'Mostly No' album review (read here!)
- White Manna - 'White Manna' album review
- 7 Days in Havana film review (read here!)
- Rampart DVD review

Monday, 9 July 2012

reviews: paul heaton's the 8th, milk maid, shonen knife

Paul Heaton Presents The 8th (****)
From the live debut of Bjork’s Biophilia to an Amadou and Mariam gig performed in a pitch-black venue, the 2011 Manchester International Festival hosted its fair share of unique musical events. Amongst its eclectic programme were a brace of narrative pieces by figures better known for their pop work: Damon Albarn’s Doctor Dee and Paul Heaton’s The 8th. Albarn’s opera got all the column inches, but it’s Heaton’s opus that makes for the more enjoyable album.

A DVD of the event is included, but appreciation doesn’t require visuals: the songs have replay value in themselves; the guest vocalists (including King Creosote and ex-Beautiful South singer Jacqui Abbot) are characterful; and the embedded theatrical monologue – written by playwright Che Walker – proves genuinely moving even on repeat listens, thanks to The Wire’s Reg E Cathey’s impassioned reading. While stabs at profundity fall flat, any slight stumbles are righted by the project’s cohesion and humour.

Out Now

Milk Maid - Mostly No 

Milk Maid - Mostly No (***)

If it needed confirmation, Milk Maid’s second album firmly validates Martin Cohen’s decision to tap out from a waning Nine Black Alps to front a three-piece of his own. Mostly No follows debut Yucca closely, both in proximity (separated by a year), and in sound: distorted guitar pop with a sunshine glint, sailing on feedback and fuzz.

As with Yucca, the release date offers a persuasive serving suggestion, with the album’s grazed contents offering an apt summer soundtrack (and at little over half an hour, it lasts about as long as the average UK dry spell to boot…). Generally, the louder and faster Cohen and band play, the better they sound, with recent single Do Right brandishing an irresistible Wavves-ish hook and Drag to Find delivering a concise high. Slower, more spacey efforts have less personality, though No Goodbye is an exception, closing the album on a satisfyingly bittersweet note. 

Out today

Shonen Knife - Pop Tune 

Shonen Knife - Pop Tune (****)

Pop Tune is Shonen Knife’s 18th album. Ponder that a moment: the Osaka Ramones have now comfortably overtaken the actual Ramones’ recorded output, with only minimal variations to their kawaii-punk style along the way. And here they are again, for the third time in the space of a year, peddling characteristically irreverent songs about all-you-can-eat restaurants (sample lyric: “Don’t forget to take some vegetables/ vegetables/ vegetables”) and paperclips (“man fastens a document/ puts it in an envelope/ takes it to the post office to send it”).

Surely they’ve outstayed their welcome by now; pushed fans to the point of exhaustion with their incessantly cheery melodies and cutesy lyrical conceits? No chance: Pop Tune is their most irresistible offering in years, softening the heavier edge of predecessor Free Time and purifying their songwriting in the process. Fingers crossed closer Move On isn’t taken literally; they’re already covering precisely the right ground.
 Out Now

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Friday, 6 July 2012

skinny album of the month: twin shadow - confess

Twin Shadow - Confess

After debut Forget had us falling headlong in love with Twin Shadow’s intimate synth-pop, it’s hard not to approach Confess with second-date jitters. It takes opener Golden Light mere seconds to steady the nerves and renew the crush, as soft wash synths blend with George Lewis Jr.’s tender croon to striking effect.

Lead single Five Seconds stokes emotions higher: a heart-bursting, air-punching, blood-rush anthem driven by addictive Billy Idol-esque guitar chugs, it encapsulates the album’s romantic, new-wave aesthetic and electrifies the senses. Elsewhere, ennui informs bittersweet ballads like Run My Heart (“you can’t run my heart/don’t pretend you can”) and the gorgeous I Don’t Care (“dance me round the room and lie to me”), while The One matches candid amour with a melody straight outta John Hughes.

Other peaks include Beg for the Night – as suave and seductive as Gosling in a scorpion-adorned sports jacket – and Patient, which adds vintage Prince and a bitchin' guitar solo to the palate. But the word ‘peaks’ is misleading: it implies corresponding troughs, of which there are none, the slight patchiness of his debut decisively remedied. Some will no doubt argue its retro-locked horizons are frustratingly narrow; the rest of us will clasp it close.

Out 9th July

Thursday, 5 July 2012


T in the Park starts tomorrow, and the weather forecast seems firmly stuck on 'baw-deep in mud'.  add in a rather uninspiring line-up (dappy? skrillex? egads...) and expectations tumble lower, but there's treats to be found. This month's skinny offers up seven 'must-sees': The Stone Roses, New Order, We Were Promised Jetpacks, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, We Are Augustines, Alt J, and Teengirl Fantasy - the latter of which i wrote a handful of words on...

Should T’s trademark hullabaloo threaten to overwhelm, seek respite in Teengirl Fantasy’s gentle yet exhilarating embrace. Taking 2010 debut album 7am as the yardstick, the duo’s hazy dream-pop is primed to offer a warm, fuzzy envelope for the weary festival-goer to curl up and lose themselves in, as drowsy beats and entrancing, nostalgia-infused melodies borrow from vintage RnB, trance and chart botherers of yesteryear. Their set’s transportive potential is strong, but if that doesn’t appeal, there are plenty other teengirl fantasies onsite to select from: we hear The Wanted are just soooooooo gorge…

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

EIFF 2012: Brake

This isn’t the first Brake review to reference Buried, and it almost certainly won’t be the last. Like Rodrigo Cortés’s tense 2010 thriller, Brake locks a Hollywood hunk in a tight space and ratchets up the sticky, claustrophobic tension via near escapes and menacing phone calls from captors.

At first, Gabe Torres’s feature debut is comparably effective – the boot of a car doesn’t trigger quite the same primal fears as a ten-foot deep coffin, but Stephen Dorff conveys just the right amount of desperation, and the gradual discovery of the plot his character’s mixed up in (it’s an amusing irony that a large-scale terrorist conspiracy plays out in ultra-constricted confines) is drip-fed at a nice pace. Then the film’s insurmountable flaws come crashing into view, with not one but two last-act twists of such staggering stupidity they evaporate the tension and smash in its tail lights for good measure, bringing a mildly impressive joyride to an unfortunate and undignified end.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

EIFF 2012: The Search for Emak Bakia

Taking Man Ray’s inscrutable cine-poem Emak-Bakia (1927) as inspiration, The Search for Emak Bakia sees director Oskar Alegria walk the Basque coast with chance as his compass, following in the American surrealist’s footsteps and taking numerous enriching detours. It’s a suitably abstract approach: Alegria layers Man Ray’s avant-garde experiments over recreations and re-visitations, hunting out the house that inspired the film’s title and visiting clown graves and dreaming swine along the way. The film’s visual palimpsests are interspersed with text that’s by turns informational and contemplative, while a nice sense of absurdity keeps pretension at bay.

Those with an active interest in Man Ray’s oeuvre will understandably gain most from The Search for Emak Bakia, but its constant inventiveness also affords the film an unexpected accessibility, stocking it full of engrossing moments worth lingering over. “Now I’ve gotten all muddled” confessed one interviewee, “I hope you can untangle it later”. It’s not a straightforward task, but it’s an immensely satisfying and inspiring one.

Monday, 2 July 2012

EIFF 2012: Eddie: The Sleepwalking Cannibal

While we don’t know for sure how Eddie: The Sleepwalking Cannibal was pitched to investors, we’d like to think it was something along the lines of: "Rain Man, except Tom Cruise is a Danish artist and Dustin Hoffman eats people in his pants." Thure Lindhardt plays Lars, who's struggling to find the inspiration to paint; Dylan Smith plays Eddie, a sweet simpleton with some unfortunate nocturnal habits. In a twist on Frankenstein, the real monster isn’t necessarily the one ripping off heads, as Lars identifies evisceration and murder as his muse, and manipulates his trusting, somnambulistic lodger accordingly.

A softly screwball supporting cast – including Paul Braunstein’s deerstalker-wearing sheriff and Stephen McHattie’s Mafioso-style art dealer – compound the film’s endearing eccentricities, and if the pervasive immorality is a partial barrier to enjoyment, the wit and gore mostly carry the slack. While the macabre appeal fades a touch en route to its charmingly daft denouement, Eddie’s icky-comic tale nonetheless offers plenty to chew on.