Outside the Frame

News, reviews and all the moves on all that entertains from Outside the Frame

Archive for August 2008

Film review: Trainspotting

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A pitch-black comedy of psychedelic proportions.

 

Trainspotting is a crazy, bumpy and exhilarating roller-coaster ride through the lives of a group of heroin junkies in the late eighties. It manages to be funny and shocking; a psychedelically colourful trip that is also all grit and grime. We follow Renton (Ewan McGregor) and his band of merry men as they traipse the pitfalls and disturbing highs of smack on the streets of Edinburgh.

There is Renton, Spud and Sick Boy, all heroin enthusiasts, and their friends Tommy, an anti-drug sports nut, and Begbie a psychopath who enjoys alcohol, knives and fighting people in bars. We witness the attempts of the three junkies to get off heroin, and their subsequent decision to get back on it. We follow them as they deal with girlfriends, parents, their drug-induced stupors and the things they will go through to keep their habit afloat – witness stealing televisions from old age homes and beware “the worst toilet in Scotland”!

The film, directed by Danny Boyle, never portrays the heroin addiction of these characters as simply dark and evil, it seems more complicated than that. They genuinely take pleasure from the drug. And Boyle immerses the film with much humour and comical set-pieces. The characters themselves are in fact caricatures that at once draw us to their humanity and shock us with their exaggerated flaws and mishaps. But in no way is the film pro-drug. While laughing at their shenanigans, we simultaneously are disgusted by the lives they lead.

The actors are all great, simple as that. And Boyle’s directing is highly imaginative for only his second feature film. Fusing together a menagerie of characters, music, colour and pop-culture references, Boyle manages to tap into the mood of the time to cleverly create a truly memorable slice of British popular culture. Trainspotting is a pitch-black comedy of psychedelic proportions that will make you laugh, cry and cringe. Probably all at the same time. 

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Written by Dale Weber

Thursday, 28 August, 2008 at 3:04 pm

Kings of Leon new album out soon

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Kings of Leon’s new (fourth) album, Only by the Night, will be out in stores between 19th and 23rd September (depending on your country). The first official single from the album, Sex on Fire, was released earlier this month. The video clip for it can be found on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHhhcKxflMY

They also unofficially released two other racks from the album, Crawl and Manhattan. Listen to them here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkL0CRIyE2E

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uv1mspN7_IA 

Sounds like some more great stuff from the Kings of Leon boys. 

http://www.kingsofleon.com/

Written by Dale Weber

Thursday, 28 August, 2008 at 11:26 am

THE WORD

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And now for another installment of a favourite segment of yours and mine: THE WORD.

This week we have the opening sentence from the opening book of a great series by a great writer. That’s right I said it. The Gunslinger by Stephen King is the first of seven novels that make up The Dark Tower series. Stephen King’s magnum opus has a cult following and has spawned a prequel comic book series and a possible future film adaptation. King is often accused of being too much of a “popular” writer (Gasp!). But screw that elitist bullshit. He is a damn good story-teller, and the opening of The Gunslinger is poetic in it’s simplicity:

 

“The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.”

 

From the novel The Gunslinger by Stephen King.

Written by Dale Weber

Wednesday, 27 August, 2008 at 6:42 pm

Film Review: Sunshine

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A burning psychological journey into the depths of space. Not too sunny but certainly bright. 

 

It is the source of all life on our planet. It was a major object of religion and mythology for ancient societies. But in modern times the sun has been neglected in popular culture. Meteors, distant stars, wormholes, that pesky moon of ours and galaxies far, far away have been the subject of many a film and novel. Yet not much from the entertainment world has been made lately concerning that big ball of fire in our sky. So the film Sunshine was quite a warm welcome. 

Directed by Danny Boyle, best known for Trainspotting and The Beach, this Sci-Fi exploration teams him again with writer Alex Garland, who worked with Boyle on 28 Days Later and who penned the novel The Beach. This is not an action Sci-Fi film but rather more of a slow-burning thriller that delves into some deep psychological territory. More Ridley Scott’s Alien than James Cameron’s Aliens if you will.

Set fifty years in the future, the film explores the idea that our sun is dying and the subsequent human response to this catastrophic event. Faced with the annihilation of all humankind, a team of scientists has been sent towards the sun with the mission of igniting a massive bomb within the star to restore all life. Only this is the second mission of its kind, with the first seemingly having failed seven years earlier for unknown reasons. We enter the film’s narrative just as the ship, Icarus II, loses contact with earth as they become hidden by the sun. They are now on their own.

Things start to go awry for the seven scientists on board Icarus II. Their complete isolation begins to reveal cracks in their psyche and the magnitude of their mission weighs heavily upon their shoulders. In light of a new discovery, they must make a choice that could have disastrous consequences on their mission and ultimately the survival of all humanity. Adding to this, their close vicinity to the sun is having an effect on all of them, as the source of all life starts to have a dominating presence in their minds, and on their sanity.

And it is in this regard that Danny Boyle’s directing shines through. His pacing of the film allows the audience to empathise with the crew of the Icarus II, as we are drawn into the psychological turmoil that their mission would create. The production of the set only adds to the overall uneasiness of the film as the design of the ship instills a sense of claustrophobia that causes a yearning for escape to the familiarity of our home planet. And Boyle denies the audience this yearning, with no scenes occurring back on earth, as we are forced to feel as the crew must feel. Instead the only escape we get from the ship is the occasional view of the sun. And the visual effects here are stunning, as each glimpse of this imposing stellar body on screen almost burns the eyes and heats the body.

A wonderful cast enhances the film by capturing the nuances of a crew of not just scientists, but human beings, who are trying to save the world. They manage to portray the mental and physical exhaustion of such a mission of truly utilitarian intentions, one where the crew’s lives are simply, and willingly, expendable, all for the greater good. Cillian Murphy as Capa, Chris Evans as Mace and Cliff Curtis as Searle are the standouts in this respect due to their subtle portrayal of the flaws and merits of their characters. Chris Evans surprises here, with him famous for much more popcorn roles in movies like Not Another Teen Movie and The Fantastic Four.

Criticisms of Sunshine have come from its portrayal of the science involved in the film. Although the film is realistic in much of the science, as with the structure of the Icarus II, the realities of a dying sun are simply compressed to fit the narrative, and a few simple questions, such as the gravity simulation on the ship, are scientifically unsound. However, the science of the film is simply the vehicle for the narrative. The heart of the film is the psychological, moral and even religious issues that are explored, and Boyle has succeeded rather well in creating a setting based in as much reality as possible in order to focus on these issues.

Alex Garland’s script, with Danny Boyle’s direction and a perfectly pitched characterization by the cast, come together to create a thoughtful as well as entertaining film. The questions of morality, the exploration of the psychological faults and wonders of the human psyche, and the investigation of God and the source of life makes Sunshine an intriguing watch. There will be some who could be let down by a slightly shaky ending, but as with many great films and stories, it is often the journey that is more important than the destination.

Written by Dale Weber

Wednesday, 27 August, 2008 at 3:36 pm

AC/DC announce new album release date

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It has been a long time coming, but the AC/DC album Black Ice, first announced in 2004, has finally been given a release date: 20th October. The first single on the album, Rock n’ Roll Train, can be heard here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZw3W1ZgLik

The electric rock gods from down-under have not released an album in 8 years, their last being Stiff Upper Lip in 2000. 

This is great news for those who love the no-bullshit pure rock out that is AC/DC. They will also be following up the album with a world tour starting in late October. For those about to Rock: We Salute you!

Check out their website for more info: http://www.acdc.com

Written by Dale Weber

Wednesday, 20 August, 2008 at 10:39 pm

Posted in Music

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THE WORD

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It’s that time again. Time for THE WORD.

This week we have an excerpt from the fantastic gonzo novel by Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream. Much of it can also be heard in the great film adaptation of the same name by Terry Gilliam. 

Dr. of journalism, Raoul Duke, is ruminating over past experiences during the social upheaval of the sixties on the American west coast:

 

“Strange memories on this nervous night in Las Vegas. Five years later? Six? It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era – the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run . . . but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant. . . .

History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of “history” it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time – and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.

My central memory of that time seems to hang on one or five of maybe forty nights – or very early morning – when I left the Filmore half-crazy and, instead of going home, aimed the big 650 Lightning across the Bay Bridge at a hundred miles an hour wearing L. L. Bean shorts and a Butte sheepherder’s jacket . . . booming through the Treasure Island tunnel at the lights of Oakland and Berkeley and Richmond, not quite sure which turn-off to take when I got to the other end (always stalling at the toll-gate, too twisted to find neutral while I fumbled for change) . . . but being absolutely certain that no matter which way I went I would come to a place where people were just as high and wild as I was: No doubt about that at all. . . .

There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda. . . . You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that what we were doing was right that we were winning. . . .

And that, I think, was the handle – that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting – on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. . . .

So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark – that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”

 

From the novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream by Hunter S. Thompson.

Written by Dale Weber

Wednesday, 20 August, 2008 at 5:11 pm

All Blacks punish scrappy Springboks

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New Zealand has all but ended South Africa’s hopes for winning this years Tri-Nations series, while putting themselves in a very good position to take the crown. The 19-0 win puts the All Blacks at 14 points on the ladder, 5 clear of Australia, but with the Wallabies in a good spot to gain at least 2 points from the next two encounters with the Springboks in South Africa, a series decider between the All Blacks and Wallabies in the final match of the tournament in Brisbane next month is looking very likely.

The match itself on Saturday night was a very physical contest and the final score was perhaps a little unlucky for the South Africans who were held scoreless for the first time ate home in Tri-Nations history. New Zealand were the worthy winners of the match but they had to overcome a Springbok team who threw everything they could at the New Zealand try-line but continually came up short. The first half saw South Africa as the more attacking of the two teams but they could just not get through an impenetrable All Black defense and were plagued by simple errors.

The men from the republic would play very well into the New Zealand 22 but when it came time to score, knock-ons, forward passes and turnovers at the breakdown, often forced by the opposition’s determined defense, kept them scoreless. The All Blacks on the other hand had no issues with turning their attack into points and although they spent less time at the South African end of the field in the first half, came up with the first try of the game after seven minutes. It remained tight for the rest of the half, being 5-0 at the break, and it looked to shape up as a very tight tussle between the two rugby giants.

The All Blacks came out of the sheds looking to build on the platform they set up in the first half. They continued to disrupt the Springboks and the home team’s frustration was evident in the amount of mistakes they made, simple errors and bad choices of play. New Zealand then stepped up their attack with two converted tries in the middle of the half that pushed the lead out to 19-0, and by then the game was over with South Africa unable to overcome their lack of composure. 

Much of the game came down to the action at the breakdown and that man, All Black captain, Richie McCaw. His ability to turnover the ball at the right time continually denied the Springboks the momentum to build towards a try. The new ELV’s show how important maintaining possession is as you get closer to the trylines and with Richie McCaw leading the way the All Blacks are very aware of this and know how to swing things their way. South Africa will be wondering how they could score 63 points (against Argentina) one week and then be kept scoreless the next. It was a tough match but in the indeed New Zealand were the only team who knew how to finish off their attack with the ball over the try-line.

 

Final Score:

All Blacks 19 (Conrad Smith, Dan Carter, Keven Mealamu – tries; Dan Carter – 2 conversions)

Springboks 0 (Nothing – *sigh*)

Written by Dale Weber

Monday, 18 August, 2008 at 11:04 pm

Posted in Rugby

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