Friday, 23 December 2011

The Invisible Province's Favourite Films of 2011

A number of people have asked The Invisible Province to come clean about his favourite films of 2011. So, here are The Invisible Province’s top 6 (I couldn't decide) memorable movies – in no particular order.

1. A Separation directed by Asghar Farhadi

2. Tyrannosaur directed by Paddy Considine

3. We Need To Talk About Kevin directed by Lynne Ramsay

4. Senna directed by Asif Kapadia

5. Weekend directed by Andrew Haigh. The only film that The Invisible Province did not write about. So what is there to say? A small budget movie that is beautifully written, performed and realised. It has a remarkable honesty and candour and is not for the prudish. Its focus is on contemporary gay relationships but the central question about what makes for authentic or inauthentic love applies to all human relationships.

6. Blue Valentine directed by Derek Cianfrance

and the reissue of the year: Apocalypse Now by Francis Ford Coppola

and the disappointment of the year: Terence Malick's The Tree of Life...but still worth seeing even though it is a cinematic folly on an operatic scale.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

The Invisible Province's Top 5 Albums of the Year

Here are some of the albums that The Invisible Province has been listening and grooving to in the past year. A top five, but in no particular order:

1. Raphael Saadiq's Stone Rollin'

Stone Rollin channels the sass of Motown, the funk of Paisley Park and the surf rock of California. But Saadiq achieves this without resorting to retro-soul mush - this is not just another poor imitation of the 1960's but a remaking of all that is glorious and urgent about the soul music of that vintage era. You know you've been here before but Saadiq makes you hear these riffs and melodies with a contemporary ear. Stone Rollin' is an ambitious reinvention of the past that makes you want to celebrate the present.

2. PJ Harvey's Let England Shake

I had the privilege of hearing PJ Harvey perform Let England Shake live at the Royal Albert Hall in November. It felt like I was present at a state of the nation address. It was a remarkable night. An album about war might have referenced Sassoon, Owen & co but Let England Shake is actually in the tradition of Byron, Shelley and Keats at their lyrical and angry best. If you want to hear English songwriting at its best then listen to this exceptional record.

3. James Blake's James Blake

This is an album of inventive sea-saw beats, electronic tics and dissonant auto-tuned vocals. It has a unique sensibility and is unlike anything you are likely to hear in the pop universe. Think Karl Stockhausen jamming with Massive Attack and you're close, but not very close, to the sound.James Blake is wildly beautiful and leaves you in a state of spellbound confusion. This is a truly modern piece of music making - no musical genuflections to the past, but a contemporaneity that is both complex, difficult and riveting. An album very much of the moment.

4. Radiohead's The King of Limbs

Radiohead have never been interested in commercial success and yet, they are one of the world's biggest and most critically acclaimed bands. How to explain this? The King of Limbs goes some way to providing an answer. Radiohead are famous for their unsettling soundscapes - disjointed rhythms, musical interference and Thom Yorke's siren voice. Abstract lyrics allow the listener to fill in the ambiguous gaps. All this is well known. Yet, what is not always recognised is that Radiohead can craft a beautiful melody (see Codex), tease out a bright guitar figure and turn a great pop song....they can also come up with a damn good video.

5. Bon Iver's Bon Iver

Bon Iver's Justin Vernon made a guest appearance on Kanye West's baroque hip hop opus, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and something of the expansive production values there inform his latest work. This is Bon Iver pimped. For fans of the compelling, For Emma, Forever Ago (2008), the news that Bon Iver have left behind that wintry, bruised feel for a more satuarated sound might be a cause for anxiety. Yet, Vernon's mournful, soulful falsetto remains. The intricately rendered love songs remain. The heartbreaking beauty remains.

and, might as well throw in, The Invisible Province's single of the year...a big, lush slice of romantic pop.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

...oh, and almost forgot SHAME

Shame, directed by Steve McQueen eta January 2012

Sunday, 11 December 2011

What films will The Invisible Province be watching in 2012

It looks like 2012 could be a good year for film. Some serious directors (Guillermo del Toro, Terence Malick, Ridley Scott, Baz Luhrman, etc) are releasing films in the coming twelve months. So, here are some of the cinematic treats that The Invisible Province is looking forward to in the coming year:

1. Prometheus
Director: Ridley Scott, ETA: June 1 2012

There is a lot of speculation on the internet ether about what this film is about. One theory is that Prometheus is a prequel to the Alien series(Ridley Scott directed the classic Alien film that spawned the franchise). Another blog theory, is that it is an autonomous Sci-fi adventure in which the aliens may or may not make an appearance. All we know is that (according to the actor, Michael Fassbender) it is "a journey to the darkest corners of the universe". Westfield, Stratford, then? In Westfield no one can hear you scream. Thirty years after Blade-Runner, the prospect of Ridley Scott returning to the sci-fi genre is reason to be intrigued and just a little bit over-excited.

2.The Dark Knight Rises
Director: Christopher Nolan, ETA: July 20 2012

Only the recent Batman films have come close to translating the action of the comic strip into something that feels like true cinema. Under Nolan's direction this has been achieved by emphasising the heart of darkness of his Gotham City superhero. This is the comic strip re-written by Albert Camus (actually it's his brother, Jonathan Nolan). What do we know about the latest movie? Anne Hathaway is Catwoman (which is a worry but it could have been worse, it could have been Halle Berry), Marion Cotillard is the new love interest and Tom Hardy has been down the gym again and plays a musclebound psychopath called Bane. Nolan has declared that this is the last Batman film he will be involved with which suggests that it could also be the grimmest and most explosive yet.

3. The Great Gatsby
ETA: autumn 2012, Director: Baz Luhrmann

Australia was a turkey, so it will be interesting to see if Baz Luhrmann gets back into the groove with his $125 million version of F Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel, The Great Gatsby. The worry is that it will become another camp meringue, albeit where characters wear white suits and flapper dresses. Can Luhrmann tame his flamboyant directorial style or will the soul of the novel be lost in Luhrmann's jazz age kinetic editing? We wait and see. I suspect this will be a film that will divide critics and audiences. Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan star and...did I mention, it's shot in 3D! I want this film to succeed (and if it does it might be brilliant) but there is a little sick feeling forming in the pit of my stomach.

Director: Michael Haneke, ETA: autumn 2012

A new film by Michael Haneke is always an event. Plot details are sketchy but Love seems to be about an elderly French couple, played by Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva (both of them in their eighties), whose relationship is severely strained when one of them suffers a stroke. Haneke has said that he is interested in exploring the process of ageing and the indignities of old age. Where Abercrombie youth is exalted, Haneke (ever the subversive) swims against the cinematic tide.

5. The Master
Director: PT Anderson, ETA: early 2013

Paul Thomas Anderson's films(There will be Blood, Magnolia, Boogie Nights) have always referenced religious fervour in an oblique manner, but The Master appears to be an explicit investigation of the varieties of religious experience. From what I can tell, the film centres around a
World War II veteran in the 1950s who decides to invent his own religion. The film has had terrible trouble finding financial backing which suggests that it is serious film making and not multiplex pulp. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Joaquin Phoenix and Laura Dern are in the cast. I can't wait. Can't find any trailers or leaked clips so here is a reminder of PT Anderson's greatness:

And the best of the rest....

The Hobbit, directed by Peter's about small guys with hairy feet, you know.
Cosmopolis, directed by David will be interesting to see if a great director can bring the literary giant, Don deLillo, to the screen.
Seven Days, directed by Michael Winterbottom...the greatest living British auteur?
The Burial, directed by Terence Malick ...because even when he's bad (The Tree of Life), he is good and when he is good, he is mind blowing.
Django Unchained, directed by Quentin Tarantino...because we all want to say "that was as great as Pulp Fiction"...we know he's got it in him.