Homepage of Michael Dyllan - short fiction writer, playwright, screenwriter and freelance journalist.
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Let me start by saying that this will be an unwaveringly negative review. Let me continue by saying that if this film’s working title wasn’t “Terrible Bullshit: The Movie” then the producers really missed a trick. I want to say that the original source material for this movie was an actual dog turd but I can’t in good conscience bring myself to claim that there was ever anything remotely original about this sack of shit movie which sees a faint sliver of a story idea used to tie together a series of 80s pop songs.
Going into the film, I admittedly didn’t have high hopes. The advert for the film described it as, “Pitch Perfect meets Mamma Mia” and I don’t particularly like either of those movies on their own merits so fuck me for seeing this in the first place I guess, but the tickets were free and my girlfriend liked the idea of it so don’t fuck me too hard yet. What I’d really like to do is give a detailed, blow by blow account of every single awful moment in this film in order to truly do its miserable existence justice but I only saw it the once and if somebody offered to take me to see it again so I could take more notes, I would happily shoot my foot off to avoid it like I was dodging a fucking draft.
Other marketing for this film described it as a romantic comedy, which isn’t strictly true as there are actually only two distinct jokes in the film, although they are repeated ad nauseum. The first joke involves various men in the cast being pushed into a pool, probably because the scouting of a house with a pool was clearly the most labour-intensive task undertaken in the entire production process and the crew wanted to get the full value back. The second joke is that the characters regularly say, “sorry” to extras whose activities are disrupted by the singers during the musical numbers. This joke is at least welcome by virtue of being a stand-in for the actual apologies owed by the people who actually worked to convince people to ruin 97 minutes of their day by watching this movie.
The film begins with the lead character (played by Hannah Arterton, sister of Gemma) abandoning a summer fling to head off to university, presumably on some sort of mature student program although this point is never explicitly tackled in the film itself. If, for some bizarre leap of age-appropriate casting and plotting logic, the actress is supposed to be playing eighteen at this point, then fuck this movie even harder because that would mean that this is a movie aimed at adults based on the idea that the main character’s true, irreplaceable love is her first teenage fling and that’s even fucking stupider than the movie I thought I was watching. The fact that this even is a film made for adults (and has some big bad swears thrown in as if to insist on it) is offensive enough as clearly the only audience for whom this could possibly be suitable is a group of dribbling babies who need nothing more than flashing images and obnoxious singing to be satisfied. Whether she’s supposed to be eighteen or not at this starting point doesn’t matter anyway, because the next scene involving talking after one excruciating musical number has her handily face slightly off camera and declare, “I was here three years ago!” which I think symbolises a passage of time or some fucking bullshit.
The script then goes on to offer approximately five seconds of exposition at a time in between a selection of nostalgic hits, with the various underdeveloped plots introduced in these vignettes including the old summer fling now being the lead character’s sister’s fiancee (gasp;) an Italian housekeeper being alternately grumpy and horny; the only actual singer in the cast being secretly pregnant (apparently so she has something to do which can keep her from singing more than three lines in the entire movie for whatever the fuck nonsense reason;) and some romantic advice getting doled out by the character’s overweight friends, of which she has two, which may strike you as an odd choice for a moment until you realise that in a movie like this, everybody has to have a love interest and god forbid a normal should have to be paired up with a disgusting fatty before the end credits roll.
Now, this choice to have scenes serve the sole purpose of moving the plot from one song to another is a common one in jukebox musicals, almost all of which have their origins on the stage, but whereas a jukebox musical on stage has at least the infectious energy inherent in live musical performance to convince the audience that they’ve had a fun and worthwhile evening (and the film adaptations the goodwill and happy memories born of that,) this film just has jobbing actors frantically shrieking garbage into the ocean. The only reason this review doesn’t consist solely of the words, “Fuck This Movie” is that I wanted to prove to whoever it was that signed their name to an 80s compilation CD and handed it in as the final shooting script that it was actually possible to take this movie’s plot and write more than 100 words on it.
It would be easy to assume from this review that I just don’t like musicals, but I do, although jukebox musicals tend to be a miss for me and I’m never tricked into seeing them as theatre tickets are expensive enough to deter people from seeing things they are not desperate to see and theatres don’t give out tickets to miserable nobodies the same way a cinema might. The main reason for this lack of freebies is that stage musicals tend to be incredibly expensive to produce and need to charge high prices in order to recoup these production costs, an issue the committee responsible for this film obviously and deftly sidesteps by opting against hiring any choreographers, writers, directors, voice coaches, trained dancers or cameramen, instead choosing to point a static camera at a gaggle of hopefuls found in the queue for a Britain’s Got Talent audition as they lip sync and flail about in makeshift dance routines devised by a person who has just heard of dancing as a concept five minutes before the record button was pressed.
In the end, and I stress that this sentence will spoil nothing for no-one, the two estranged lovers get back together in a climax that sees them contemplating the direction of their lives on the edge of a rooftop, along with everybody who paid to see the movie. The cast then rejoice on the beach to the strains of their own take on Wham’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go,” their faces contorted for the final time into forced grins as they all pretend to be friends while the panicked look in their eyes betrays the fact that they actually hate each other, along with themselves, pop music, cinema and the cruel, unforgiving universe that conspired to allow the existence of this truly awful slice of terrible bullshit.
I generally hold off on reviewing movies as I’m a writer and I like movies, so there exists the distinct possibility that I might one day write a movie of my own and I wouldn’t want to open myself up to cries of hypocrisy or burn any bridges with professionals with whom I might one day have to work. After seeing this movie, if anybody involved in creating it found themselves wanting to work with me one day in the future, I would happily be on or under an actual bridge as it burned, freeing me from sharing the same realm of being as Walking on Sunshine.
Fuck This Movie.
Their one and only prior release, the Pre-Release EP, went on sale in 1999 to a mixture of acclaim-bordering-on-worship from those in the know and a complete lack of acknowledgement from just about everybody else. But despite their lack of purchasable content, the five-piece pioneers have since the mid-nineties amassed a cult following as one of the most confusing, innovative and beloved groups on the circuit.
Read full review here.
Born with the more easily pronounceable name of Jack Colleran in Newbridge, Republic of Ireland, MMOTHS is already an incredible talent at the almost disgustingly young age of 19, with his ambition and dedication standing at extreme odds with the expectations usually placed on such youthful dreamers. Combine his juvenescence with the fact that he was discovered via a plethora of Internet uploads and to a casual observer, he might be presumed to be the natural successor to Canada’s chief export, Justin Bieber, or the Brighton lad with the suspiciously similar backstory, Conor Maynard. Fortunately, even a cursory browse of his extraordinary output should be enough to alleviate such fears.
Read full review here.
Between them, they may have won a fistful of Grammys, worked with (and been) some of the most influential names in contemporary alternative music and performed for the President of the United States – but don’t call them a supergroup.
Formed after a series of drunken concert run-ins, naturally, Diamond Rugs is the new collaborative project between some of the hardest-working men in rock today[…]
I wonder if she’s ever seen
"Days of Wine and Roses"
or will the next ten years of her life
come as a complete
[A reading from 2009 on the subject of music, culture and identity]
Singer Pete Wylie first coined the term “rockism” in 1981, and it is a word that has come to be used to describe a bias within music criticism, which treats the rock genre as normative. Although Wylie later claimed that he did not intend it to take on its current meaning, music journalists at the time had long been concerned about this issue and latched on to the new word as the perfect umbrella term for all their misgivings. Paul Morley in The Guardian claims that this development was so exciting as it was a word that could be used to “explain why Wire were better than Yes” and to “swiftly and yet fairly dismiss Phil Collins”. He does, however, go on to claim that it is an “abstract speculative idea” and that “if the idea of rockism confused you […] you were a rockist, and you were wrong.” This seems to imply that the term is unable to be used in a technical sense, but it also rightly states that it is a term to help describe a subculture that was rapidly developing with the rise of more experimental genres. Kelefah Sanneh of The New York Times describes rockists as “someone who reduces rock ‘n’ roll to a caricature, then uses that caricature as a weapon”. I will be aiming to answer the question of why this public perception of rock music and its producers has become so important, and why society currently refuses to acknowledge the artistic merits of those who step outside these constructed boundaries. I will be exploring the cultural phenomenon of ‘rockism’ and the reasons it has risen in today’s society. I aim to look at the stereotype of the rock star and band, and why it has become acceptable for them to be seen as “authentic” musicians when artists in genres such as hip-hop who reject these normative values are criticised.
Rock music originally grew from the blues and gospel music typically performed by the black working class of America in the late Forties and early Fifties. Originally these types of music were relegated to “race music” stations, going virtually unheard by mainstream white audiences. However, once these songs began being broadcast to mixed audiences, the styles were quickly appropriated by white musicians and became increasingly popular. Given rock’s origins, it seems strange that hip-hop, a relatively fledgling genre with similar roots in black working class culture, is looked down on by today’s typically Caucasian rock fan.
How much do stereotypical views of race factor in to this decision? Has white society on large become so conditioned to rock music being ‘their music’ that they are unwilling to accept new developments? Sanneh writes, “Could it really be a coincidence that rockist complaints often pit straight white men against the rest of the world? […] [T]he current rockist consensus seems to reflect not just an idea of how music should be made but also an idea about who should be making it.”
It appears that rock music has been the norm, the prevalent genre, for so long that we are unwilling to let go of the group identity we have built around it, even as rock music becomes more set in its ways and increasingly irrelevant.
As rock has developed the rules of how to be a “real” Rock Star, less room has been left for experimentation and so rock music’s capacity to grow into something fresh and once again relatable has been stunted. Sanneh goes on to write, “Countless critics assail pop stars for not being rock ‘n’ roll enough, without stopping to wonder why that should be everybody’s goal.”
Perhaps having this group identity is important. Rock stars may not be thought of as typical role models, but the experiences discussed in their songs can help shape their listeners’ ideas and perceptions in a positive way, performing an important ‘bardic function’ as described by John Hartley. Tim Riley in his book Fever: How Rock and Roll Transformed Gender in America states: “Yes, there are characters who you wouldn’t want to model your life after but the songs really tell a very coherent story. I much more trust the artist. […] Mick Jagger has not had a heroic personal life but Jagger’s songs about women are more complex and tender than his treatment of women in real life” and goes on to claim, “the best rock ‘n’ roll music celebrated sexual openness, honoured tolerance, individualism and social responsibility in a way that helped baby boomers become better partners and better parents.”
The issue, however, is that other musical genres are not given the same opportunities, for whatever reason. It is generally assumed by non-fans that hip-hop music is only concerned by the material world and engaging in the demeaning of women. Many hip-hop artists struggle against this image and use their music to send a message, but even within the hip-hop community, the battle to accept this form as a mainstream genre rages on, as they are either termed “Underground Rap” or “Conscious Rap” in order to differentiate it from the music criticised by the genre’s detractors, rather than include it in an effort to broaden the image.
Sanneh also stated “rock bands record classic albums, while pop stars create ‘guilty pleasure’ singles”. This is certainly true, although there is no reason why it should be. It is only because society has considered this to be fact for so long that we consider it now, and the idea is perpetuated and so the cycle seems to continue eternal, in a classic example of groupthink. It can be suggested that people are rock fans by default, and although some stay in that mindset because it truly speaks to their personal taste even as they develop further, some are too stubborn and habituated to broaden their horizons.