10 films in 10 days that affected you in your youth

I was nominated to do the ’10 films in 10 days’ thing on Instagram – here they are, in no particular order but with a bit of context. For my ‘youth’ I’ve confined these selections to the period between 1970 and 1990.

1.SW
It can’t really be overstated how much Star Wars had an effect on my generation, it was suddenly there and nothing was the same again after. Who couldn’t be affected by that opening scene at the age of seven? Not much more to say here that hasn’t already been said.

2.Stylewarsmayorkoch
Style Wars is THE bonafide hip hop documentary from the 80s, with special attention being paid to the graffiti scene. Where there were other docs that came later and the Hollywood-isation of the movement via films like Wild Style, Beat Street and Breakdance, you knew that this was the real deal and it made heroes of writers like Seen, Skeme, Dondi and Kaze 2 whilst Cap was the bad guy. Info was scarce back in the day and to have a film version of the classic Subway Art book was like discovering gold.

3. BR
Another blindingly obvious one although I didn’t get it as a 13 year old watching a crappy VHS copy for the first time in the early 80s. It was slow, Harrison Ford was our premiere action hero and this was mostly talk in the shadows. I read the book, that didn’t help much either but the Syd Mead Spinner design and that killer dialogue…
It crept into popular culture, kept alive by video that fed the cult of Blade Runner, sampled by everyone from Sigue Sigue Sputnik to PWEI. The Director’s Cut in 1991 gave me a chance to reappraise it at a more appropriate age and that’s when I realised its brilliance. The frustration of the non-Vangelis version of the soundtrack endured for years and prompted seeking out bootlegs and fan made downloads once the web arrived. Without the original ‘happy’ ending the film is perfection in every way. I only got to see it on the big screen a few years ago when they released the Final Cut theatrically but played at the Secret Cinema version earlier this year and saw it several more times into the bargain.

4. Brazil
Terry Gilliam‘s masterpiece, Brazil, has so many memorable moments, performances, lines and threads that it was and still is like nothing else. I first saw it in the late 80s after it was broadcast on TV and got my dad to tape it for me as I was going out. Later I asked how it was, ‘it was a load of old rubbish about a bloke who got arrested just because someone got his name wrong’, was the reply. Of course that’s how it starts and the nightmares of bureaucracy escalates from there, reminds me of a similar situation we’re in at the moment. I loved it and it’s probably one of my top three favourite films of all time. Gilliam’s struggles and eventual vindication on the release of the film also add to the legend – watch ‘The Battle For Brazil documentary if you can for the full story.

5.Head-12
Head is one of those films that could only have been made at a certain time, within a small window when Hollywood was rushing to capitalise on the acid generation, everyone was doing too many drugs and the stars – The Monkees – wanted to kick at their established image. This is their ‘Smile’ / ‘Sgt. Pepper’ / ‘His Satanic Majesties Request’, including all sorts of cameos along the way, and it’s both baffling and brilliant. I’m sure it made perfect sense to them at the time but in the hard light of day when you’re stone cold sober you can see why people didn’t get it. They went  too far and the whole thing crashed and burned when fans and critics couldn’t understand what the hell was going on and just wanted pop tunes. Again, taped off late night TV some when in the 80s, it inspired me to do a re-score  live on three turntables in the early 00s.

8.Public voice

I’ve written about this before and caught it one night on – I think – Channel 4, in one of those slots five or ten minutes before the hour when they would run animation shorts to fill up the schedule. I had no idea what it was and stood transfixed as it slowly unfolded. All I caught was that the title had the word ‘public’ in it and it took years to find once the internet arrived. Eventually I found out that it was titled ‘Den Offentlige Rost’ (The Public Voice) by Dutch film maker Lejf Marcussen. Watch it here (oh for a decent resolution) and marvel that this was done in 1988, pre-computers.

6.clockwork_orange
A Clockwork Orange was one of those video nasty holy grails in the 80s, up there with The Evil Dead, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Zombie Flesh Eaters. I can’t remember when I finally managed to see it via a terrible quality VHS but it didn’t disappoint, although I was probably watching it for all the wrong reasons. Long before that the design and iconography of it fascinated me from the Droog costumes to the Allen Jones-esque ‘furniture’ in the Korova Milk Bar, the Makkink brothers’ paintings and sculptures and Philip Castle’s iconic poster. Years later, when the film finally got a theatrical re-release, I went to see it ‘properly’ and it’s still shocking in places. It blows my mind when I see it for sale in Sainsburys for under a tenner as it was so notorious back in the day.

7.FlashG
Flash! AAAAAAAAHH! My dad took me to see this as he loved Buster Crabbe as Flash Gordon in his youth and saw the opportunity of a bit of father/son bonding. He hated it in comparison but I loved it, so colourful and kitsch compared to the weathered realness of Star Wars. Queen‘s soundtrack was the first album I ever bought (on cassette no less) and I read the paperback novel and collected the free cards in packs of Weetabix at the time. I drew scenes and logos from it in sketch pads and wanted a Flash T shirt like Freddie Mercury’s so badly. Alas it didn’t have the kind of merchandise roll out that Star Wars did (not in the UK anyway) and my appetite for it went unsated. Years later in college I remember watching it with the sound turned off and a mixtape for the soundtrack in a friend’s room on some kind of comedown. It all seems to segue perfectly with the tape until someone put Mike Oldfield‘s ‘Hergest Ridge’ on and the magic was shattered. Over the years it’s become a cult classic, largely for its naffness and Brian Blessed‘s over the top performance but the soundtrack still rocks and it was pleasing to see comparisons being made between the costume design of this and the recent Thor: Ragnarok film.


“Well, she won’t BE getting back will she, Den?” The jewel in the crown of the Comic Strip films, Bad News Tour (and its follow up, More Bad News) was a perfectly paced look at a disillusioned band struggling to make it with not a second wasted. I probably know every line along with all the Young Ones and Blackadder‘s of the day. Not being that well versed in classic rock in my teens it took me a while to cotton on to the huge steals they’d taken from bands like The Who and I prefer this British take on the rockumentary over Spinal Tap any day. The actual records they released are also worth seeking out as they expand on the series and bear repeated listens which is rare for comedy albums.

time_bandits_1981
A double whammy for Terry Gilliam in this list, the predecessor to Brazil, Time Bandits, really is a wonderful film for both children and adults. I would have been eleven when it was released and, having kids of my own now, I see the years between ten and teendom are difficult ones in terms of finding film and literature that seems appropriate. To me, Time Bandits occupies this position perfectly; intelligent, funny, scary, weird, sad and heart-warming, Gilliam’s tales of good versus evil through rampaging through different periods of history have a bit of everything with enough going on to stop the attention wavering. He even manages to put his spin on the ‘it was all a dream – or was it?’ ending without it seeming corny.

Honourable omissions: Aliens, Predator, Akira, Airplane, Hellraiser, Robocop, Stakker: Eurotechno, Spinal Tap, Mad Max 2, Repo Man, Weird Science, Max Headroom (the original TV film) and I Drew Roger Rabbit, a documentary about animator Richard Williams that showed clips from the uncompleted The Thief & The Cobbler.

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The Last Jedi trailer and poster

I’m sure it’s been noted all over the net as fanboy analysis videos pick apart ever inch of this trailer but it seems to mirror parts of the first Force Awakens trailer with the sudden ‘jolt’ appearance of an out of breath main character at the start, Vader‘s melted helmet replaced by Kylo Ren‘s and the flying craft skimming the surface shot. There may be more but those were the ones that stuck out to me. Not a lot to get excited about here at the moment for me, those new ships look a bit like B-Wings, is that Carrie Fisher from behind? Glad to see Phasma back, I hope they’ll actually use her this time. Nice nod to the original Star Wars poster in this teaser too.

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Star Wars Identities comes to London

SWI_Falcon
The Star Wars Identities exhibition opened last month in London at the O2 in Greenwich. Over 200 props, models, costumes, paintings and designs are collected around a 10 step trail based on building your own personal characters within the Star Wars universe. There have been a few additions and subtractions since I first saw it in Montreal four years ago but it’s essentially the same. Just check some of the pictures below and you’ll get the idea, absolutely essential for any Star Wars fan and very child-friendly. So nice to go into an exhibition that doesn’t discourage photography too. It’s on until September 2017 and you can buy tickets HERE.

SWI_Falconguns SWI_Falconradar SWI_FalconcockpitSWI_Slave SWI_SDestroyerSWI_CCity SWI_Dagobah SWI_SandcrawlerSWI_Han SWI_Vader SWI_Helmets2 SWI_Jawa SWI_JJ SWI_Droids SWI_BobaTroopers SWI_R2BB8 SWI_Boba SWI_Stormtroopers SWI_Mouse

Star Wars Lego Advent Calendar

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It’s that time of year again, check these lovely images for some of the contents of the new SW Lego calendar – miniature building at it’s best.

“The 2016 edition of the LEGO Star Wars advent calendar features a theme focused around the ice planet, Hoth. Most of the builds and figures center around the integral battle at the Echo Base which kicks off The Empire Strikes Back. Snowtroopers and Hoth Rebel Troopers, along with select weapons and vehicles, are among the more prominent figures included, with another wintery-themed pieces such as a sleigh and exclusive white Chewbacca minifigure. The set is rounded it with pieces from Attack of the Clones and a couple from Return of the Jedi, including the Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker from Return of the Jedi, only the second time this character has been featured in a LEGO Star Wars advent calendar.”
More info and photos of the calendar contents here: (German language)

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TIE-Interceptor-Lego-Star-Wars-Adventskalender-2016 Stormtrooper-Lego-Star-Wars-Adventskalender-2016Tantive-IV

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The Force Awakens holographic vinyl release

TFALP_open
Several boxes were ticked last Monday night when I was invited to Abbey Road Studios in North London to feature on a panel to talk about Star Wars and its influence on music over the last near 40 years. It was part of the launch of a new vinyl edition of the soundtrack to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, complete with holographic Tie Fighters and Millennium Falcons etched into the surface of the two discs by Tristan Duke.

Abbey Rd StormtrooperJournalist Andrew Harrison (Your Empire Needs You T-shirt) chaired a small panel of myself, Tristan Duke (peeking over my shoulder) – the man responsible for the holograms, and Alex Milas (centre back, editor of Metal Hammer magazine and life-long SW fan). After plenty of nerdy fan banter two First Order Storm Troopers strode in to deliver the LP to Tristan who then played it as it was projected onto the screen above. Food was served, vinyl was cooed over, photos were taken with Storm Troopers and much was discussed of a fanboy nature.

AbbeyRd Turntables Tristan + stormtroopers AbbeyRd Logo

TFALP_Holo

A few days later I took on trying to capture the holograms from my vinyl copy at home. This was easily achieved with just direct sunlight or you can use a torch or lamp in dark conditions. This is what the hologram looks like in normal light (above) and this is what it looks like when having direct light pointed at it (below)

TFALP_FalconHolox2TFALP_FalconHoloTFALP_TieHolo
TFALP_embossThe LP sleeve is printed on thick mirror board card which makes the star field sparkle when light hits it and the cover logo is embossed. It’s a beautiful package that Disney/Universal have really gone the extra length to get looking and feeling special. There’s also a 16 page 12″-sized booklet with a forward by JJ Abrams and stills from the film.
It’s released worldwide on Friday, June 17th.

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TFALP_bookTFALP_JJ

On the panel I remarked on how the new release is so like the original OST in layout – minimal and tasteful. That made be want to dig out my 1977 copy, check the poster and gatefold. I’d forgotten how big the poster was!SWvsTFALP_ SWLP +poster SWposter

How many Millennium Falcons? Early John Berkey concept painting when the Falcon was a rebel fighter – there’s a fascinating glimpse at more Star Wars Berkey prelim paintings on his siteSWgatefoldSWLPback

DJ Food OST show take over

This afternoon I sat in on Jonny Trunk’s OST show on Resonance 104.4 FM with a show brought to you by the letter ‘S’ – that means Sesame Street / Star Wars / Lalo Schifrin and special guest Jonny Cuba from Soundsci. Library cues, exclusives, soundtracks, skits, samples and more including mic fluffs and badly scratched records.