Nostalgia for New York: Rewatching Ghostbusters 2

The festive season at the end of 2011 seems to be pounding home an unstoppable onslaught of good old fashioned film nostalgia. From the late-year release of Tintin, a fun spectacle bringing back memories of the intrepid, investigative comic book star from my own youth, to JJ Abrams’ Spielberg-ish romp Super 8 (which I have previously reviewed on Moon Under Water here). Not that Spielberg controls the nostalgia market (I am watching The Goonies out of the corner of my eye as I write this…) but the emphasis is not lacking.

Nostalgia is an uncontrollable thing at the best of times. I recently sat down to re-watch Ghostbusters 2 – a sequel that was critically slammed and a movie that I had not watched since I was pre-teen. Ghostbusters 2 is certainly nothing to smile about too broadly, a hack sequel that is as cynical as anything that Hollywood churns out these days with little in the way of character, script or plotline to shout about. Essentially it is just a remake of the first film with a new bad-guy, the creepy Vigo the Carpathian trapped inside a painting and looking to get free.

However, when I was younger Ghostbusters 2 was the untouchable epic – the river of slime Continue reading “Nostalgia for New York: Rewatching Ghostbusters 2”

Super 8 (2011 film)

JJ Abrahs plays Steven Spielberg in this nostalgic flick, produced by Spielberg and directed by Abrams. Did you get that?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCRQQCKS7go]

It’s a strange thing to get taken back to an earlier point in life with some overpowering twinge of nostalgia taking you over, but for it to be a wholly enjoyable experience. This is precisely what happened when I watched Super 8.

First, it ought to be noted, you are not moving into some field of untrodden soil when you turn on this film. Do not expect an original and insightful plotline Continue reading “Super 8 (2011 film)”

tUnE-YaRdS – w h o k i l l

2011 has thrown up an abundance of great music. To get the ball rolling on Moon Under Water, as officially the first post of the site, I figured tUnE-yArDs were adequate recipients of this prestigious accolade.

tUnE-yArDs - WHOKILLMerrill Garbus, the multi-talented eclecticentric who plays and provides vocal on all of tUnE-yArDs’ work, has thrown up an arguably iconic album in the form of 2011’s w h o k i l l.

The album layers funk and lo-fi with the undeniably unique overall quality of Garbus’ loops and vocals. Opening on the infectious My Country, the album immediately promises an anthemic and thematic musical beast of styles and sounds, with South American beats and a resonant lyrical offering for a disenfranchised generation echoing 2011’s discontented youth as much as it observes the global turmoil in which it was written.

Laughing brass and a big layered sound comes to dominate, giving rise to an album that doesn’t let up for a second. Gangsta, arguably my favourite individual song of 2011, is a big-hitting loser’s dream – a dark and punchy piece about success and the price of not achieving it. This piece is also backed up by a cracking video (below), directed by the New England superstar herself as she continues to add to the vast collection of skills that she has on offer.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbkMPHW67xM]

Sliding between these funky beats and brassy overtures to more dreamlike haunts reminiscent of TV On The Radio in songs like Powa and the creep-up-your-spine slow drift song Wooly Wolly Gang, the album never fails to surprise, and grows with each listen. There is a constantly lingering South American influenced percussion sound too that does not let up, but never fully invades the music, capturing a feeling of a global sound in some very local themes.

The highlighted single from the album is Bizness (listen below), a punchy, choppy tune that was always going to be the “hit” of the album. Hiding behind a powerful chorus are chirpy backing vocals and a dollop of the brass that is the main new introduction on this album in terms of instruments that Garbus collects and plays with. The chorus, “What’s the bizness yeah – don’t take my life away” leaves little room for explanation, and although not the real stand-alone track of Whokill, it is still a cracking tune that you will not be able to avoid foot-tapping and hip-swinging to.

http://4ad.com/tuneyardswidget/biznesswidget.swf

The thematic concept that dominates the tracks is that of a rebel generation – a lifelong power struggle that rises and falls, and this is carried off expertly by both lyrics and music in Garbus’ unfaltering style. This album is a decidedly large evolution from tUnE-yArDs’ 2009 release, the much more lo-fi (but still expertly crafted) BiRd-BrAiNs.

So, overall, Whokill is a stunning success from an artist that looks like she can do no wrong at the minute. With a European tour upcoming at time of writing, tUnE-yArDs is a treat for the present and the future, and fans like myself will be eagerly anticipate the next release.

My only complaint is in the damn name – these erratic upper and lower case shifts are not built for typing in a blog…

Moon Under Water

An array of opinions and ideas from people who just like things!

George Orwell – Moon Under Water

My favourite public-house, the Moon Under Water, is only two minutes from a bus stop, but it is on a side-street, and drunks and rowdies never seem to find their way there, even on Saturday nights.

Its clientele, though fairly large, consists mostly of “regulars” who occupy the same chair every evening and go there for conversation as much as for the beer.

If you are asked why you favour a particular public-house, it would seem natural to put the beer first, but the thing that most appeals to me about the Moon Under Water is what people call its “atmosphere.”

To begin with, its whole architecture and fittings are uncompromisingly Victorian. It has no glass-topped tables or other modern miseries, and, on the other hand, no sham roof-beams, ingle-nooks or plastic panels masquerading as oak. The grained woodwork, the ornamental mirrors behind the bar, the cast-iron fireplaces, the florid ceiling stained dark yellow by tobacco-smoke, the stuffed bull’s head over the mantelpiece —everything has the solid, comfortable ugliness of the nineteenth century.

In winter there is generally a good fire burning in at least two of the bars, and the Victorian lay-out of the place gives one plenty of elbow-room. There are a public bar, a saloon bar, a ladies’ bar, a bottle-and-jug for those who are too bashful to buy their supper beer publicly, and, upstairs, a dining-room.

Games are only played in the public, so that in the other bars you can walk about without constantly ducking to avoid flying darts.

In the Moon Under Water it is always quiet enough to talk. The house possesses neither a radio nor a piano, and even on Christmas Eve and such occasions the singing that happens is of a decorous kind.

The barmaids know most of their customers by name, and take a personal interest in everyone. They are all middle-aged women —two of them have their hair dyed in quite surprising shades—and they call everyone “dear,” irrespective of age or sex. (“Dear,” not “Ducky”: pubs where the barmaid calls you “ducky” always have a disagreeable raffish atmosphere.)

Unlike most pubs, the Moon Under Water sells tobacco as well as cigarettes, and it also sells aspirins and stamps, and is obliging about letting you use the telephone.

You cannot get dinner at the Moon Under Water, but there is always the snack counter where you can get liver-sausage sandwiches, mussels (a speciality of the house), cheese, pickles and those large biscuits with caraway seeds in them which only seem to exist in public-houses.

Upstairs, six days a week, you can get a good, solid lunch —for example, a cut off the joint, two vegetables and boiled jam roll—for about three shillings.

The special pleasure of this lunch is that you can have draught stout with it. I doubt whether as many as 10 per cent of London pubs serve draught stout, but the Moon Under Water is one of them. It is a soft, creamy sort of stout, and it goes better in a pewter pot.

They are particular about their drinking vessels at the Moon Under Water, and never, for example, make the mistake of serving a pint of beer in a handleless glass. Apart from glass and pewter mugs, they have some of those pleasant strawberry-pink china ones which are now seldom seen in London. China mugs went out about 30 years ago, because most people like their drink to be transparent, but in my opinion beer tastes better out of china.

The great surprise of the Moon Under Water is its garden. You go through a narrow passage leading out of the saloon, and find yourself in a fairly large garden with plane trees, under which there are little green tables with iron chairs round them. Up at one end of the garden there are swings and a chute for the children.

On summer evenings there are family parties, and you sit under the plane trees having beer or draught cider to the tune of delighted squeals from children going down the chute. The prams with the younger children are parked near the gate.

Many as are the virtues of the Moon Under Water, I think that the garden is its best feature, because it allows whole families to go there instead of Mum having to stay at home and mind the baby while Dad goes out alone.

And though, strictly speaking, they are only allowed in the garden, the children tend to seep into the pub and even to fetch drinks for their parents. This, I believe, is against the law, but it is a law that deserves to be broken, for it is the puritanical nonsense of excluding children —and therefore, to some extent, women—from pubs that has turned these places into mere boozing-shops instead of the family gathering-places that they ought to be.

The Moon Under Water is my ideal of what a pub should be —at any rate, in the London area. (The qualities one expects of a country pub are slightly different.)

But now is the time to reveal something which the discerning and disillusioned reader will probably have guessed already. There is no such place as the Moon Under Water.

That is to say, there may well be a pub of that name, but I don’t know of it, nor do I know any pub with just that combination of qualities.

I know pubs where the beer is good but you can’t get meals, others where you can get meals but which are noisy and crowded, and others which are quiet but where the beer is generally sour. As for gardens, offhand I can only think of three London pubs that possess them.

But, to be fair, I do know of a few pubs that almost come up to the Moon Under Water. I have mentioned above ten qualities that the perfect pub should have and I know one pub that has eight of them. Even there, however, there is no draught stout, and no china mugs.

And if anyone knows of a pub that has draught stout, open fires, cheap meals, a garden, motherly barmaids and no radio, I should be glad to hear of it, even though its name were something as prosaic as the Red Lion or the Railway Arms.

This was a letter written by George Orwell to the Evening Standard on 25 February, 1946. My compliments to georgeorwellnovels.com for the piece.