Last Tuesday, we were off to the lovely Theatre Royal Stratford East to see the new version of Oh! What a Lovely War. I do hate musicals with a passion and would have to be dragged to one kicking and screaming, but I knew that this one would be different.
Highly satirical and poignant, it highlights the absurdity of the "war game(s)" and that of the military - not forgetting how naive the civilian population can sometimes be. The play has been visually freshened up and you have to admire the cast's energy and hard work. Note to Michael Gove: maybe you should have shut up before you criticised the play as you now appear at the beginning of it paired up with a donkey... Just sayin'...
For a more comprehensive review of the show, go to my partner's Matt ArtPix's BLOG - he has been studying WW1 for years and is better placed than me to give his opinion about the show.
Laibach have always been exceptional live and tonight's sold out gig didn't disappoint: the background visuals were striking; the live drums added impact to each and every track; Milan's presence was as impressive and authoritative as ever, his deep-seated, sonorous voice counter-balanced by the mysterious and charismatic Mina Spiler's clear, pitch-perfect vocals. Mina's place within the band has really grown; she now fully shares vocal duties with Milan (she is also given writing credits in Spectre) and exudes the confidence and attitude necessary for such a performance (she fronts her own band, Melodrom).
The first 45 minutes saw the band play the whole of Spectre, revealing the genius of the new songs to their attentive audience. Then after a 15 mn interval, we got something completely different: a few tracks from their Iron Sky soundtrack with the movie's stunning visuals playing on the screens behind; we were also treated to everyone's favourite, "Tanz Mit Laibach", and of course to a few deconstructed covers, including Dylan's "Ballad of a Thin Man" and Serge Gainsbourg's "Love On The Beat". As someone who absolutely loathe both individuals and their work, I was first taken aback by the choice of songs, but then I remembered that this is what Laibach do: they take the most absurd popular songs and give them the Laibach treatment: they redefine them entirely by reshaping and remodelling them through the industrial filter, injecting them with the harshness and the edge they never had and pumping a little bit of life into them. Fabulous.
Here are a few pictures!
Michel Faber is my favourite author, and I really wondered how on earth his unforgettable novel could be turned into a movie.
I am still thinking about it; as my partner said when the lights went back up after the film: "I didn't want it to end".
And I felt the same: it is truly mesmerising and gripping. It's bleak and unforgiving. There is very little dialogue; the music is brooding, distorted, haunting, basically: perfect... (soundtrack by Mica Levi). Scarlett Johansson, whom I have always thought of as being interesting as well as stunning, is deeply touching; a naturally fatale femme... (I have always been interested in the Femme Fatale concept; they are always the most interesting ones, remember Louise Brooks's Lulu?).
Director Jonathan Glazer has removed a lot of the original story and changed quite a few things around; he has - dare I say it in the context of the novel? - removed the meat and kept only the skeleton of the story - but said skeleton is what keeps the body upright, isn't it? - Same here. Spared down to the minimum - namely, the alien and her reaction to the world around her, with a setting transported from the rural A9 road in the book to the decaying urban landscape of Glasgow.
I was fascinated by the sequences in which the alien observes the strange behaviour of the humans around her - how many times have I found myself in the streets, in a venue, or simply in the same room as other people and thought that I didn't belong to the same world or species? My strong misanthropic streak made me feel completely at ease watching Under The Skin. It looked like the landscape in my head...
I couldn't say whether Under The Skin is technically a good movie; I go for gut instinct, and I loved it.
Tonight, I'm off to see the bonkers The Grand Budapest Hotel. This should be a fun evening!
Pictures by Carya Gish and Matt ArtPix.