The Neon Demon and Why I Just Don’t Know…[Spoilers]

The Neon Demon and Why I Just Don’t Know…[Spoilers]

I saw the trailer for The Neon Demon about a month ago when I went to see Matteo Garrone’s Tale of Tales and I was genuinely excited at the prospect of another movie by Nicolas Winding Refn. My husband, perhaps, would also be of the thought that the trailer for The Neon Demon was the best thing about our experience of Tale of Tales but more on that later. However, now that I’ve seen it I really don’t know what to make of it. I’ve taken time to mull this over but what I’m ultimately left with is a split review as, for me, the movie itself seems divided between a social commentary of the modelling industry’s perceptual image of ‘style over substance’ and what I can only describe as a bonkers final twenty minutes which I think had something to do with consumerism and immortality? I can’t be sure which is kind of my point.

I won’t tell you what the movie is about, you can read that on the link above, but the pros for the movie were:

  •  Elle Fanning’s spectacular performance as the somewhat self absorbed Jesse.
  • The strobe lighting scene which had my on the edge of my seat waiting for the bound models to move towards our heroine.
  • Sheer cinematography. The weight of every shot to be visually impactful over contextually so is striking. Very Kubric-esque.
  • The fact that I’m still thinking about it.

However this final point is also a minus because in reality I’m still thinking about it due to the fact that I’m trying to puzzle it out, like a tangled necklace that’s so beyond saving you end up resenting it. What were you trying to tell me? What did I not get?

I remember looking at my watch with about 30 minutes of running time remaining and thinking ‘yeah I get it, is it nearly over?’ but it couldn’t be and lets just say that I was not prepared. My reactions throughout the film finale were as follows and really if you haven’t seen it you should stop reading now:

  • Oh I knew that this was a trap.
  • Why is the makeup artist in on this? Doesn’t she love her or something?
  • Why are you taunting them? Do you realise that they’re going to kill you?
  • Ah…well that escalated quickly.
  • Why are they still walking towards her? Oh my god what are they going to do?
  • Ok so are they vampires?
  • I’m confused.
  • Lesbian vampires?
  • Oh a bloody bathtub; very Hostel 2.
  • There’s quite a lot of blood. They must have watered it down.
  • There can’t be that much blood in a person can there?
  • Why is she sat on top of her grave?
  • Well I bet you regret it now don’t you makeup lady?
  • Is she going to come back as a vampire? Has this whole thing been some kind of vampire induction process? That’s very disappointing.
  • Why is she masturbating in the moonlight.
  • Is this part of the vampire ritual thing?
  • Oh she’s pissing…
  • Christ it’s complicated to make a vampire.
  • Ok so…not a vampire?
  • Ah blond 1 looks a bit remorseful.
  • YOU ATE HER!! YOU FUCKING ATE HER?!
  • This was not at all clear to me, you crazy, crazy models.
  • Ah I see so by consuming her she has become beautiful.
  • That’s not exactly a good moral code though…
  • Or sustainable.
  • Is this some kind of modern metaphor for vampirism?
  • Ah she’s going to throw up blood all over your swimming pool mate.
  • RUN BLONDIE RUN!!!
  • IS THAT AN EYE!! A FUCKING EYE?!
  • Oh yuk, self mutilation.
  • Oh even more gross.
  • DON’T EAT IT!!
  • She bloody ate it.
  • What am I actually watching?
  • Is that it?
  • Is there more? Should I go?
  • Gav’s going to ask my what I thought and I have nothing to give him.

And that’s the way my thoughts stayed for a good thirty minutes. I kept trying to think of something insightful to say, not only for Gav but for myself. I had nothing and, more worrying, neither did he. The only thing we could really agree upon was that it was bonkers. What on earth had we watched?

The answer? I don’t know people…I just don’t know.

Cherries In The Snow – An Introduction by Jonathan Duran 

Cherries In The Snow – An Introduction by Jonathan Duran 

As I was asked to write an introduction for this review, I immediately thought about reviews I’ve received in the past. Quite a few I have received for this book and previous works I’ve released, have been based around the idea of propriety. That is to say, when people review my work unfavorably, they tend to decry my authorial choices as crude or sensationalistic.

Yet, I abhor sensationalism because it is inane and beneath artistic sensibilities. One should never release something that they are not absolutely, through-and-through, proud of and one should never feel proud of any work created insincerely, solely to spite, to harm, or to mock the beautiful and fragile human condition that binds us all together.

I’m no cynic. My stories are dark – that’s true – but they are full of life and drama in the most sincere ways I can imagine. I’m not trying to offend, but I accept the fact that I do. In fact, I embrace it.

You see, I adore writers who risk saying things that will get them into trouble. I’m not speaking of writers who pander or write for the pure sense of shock and exploitation. I’m speaking of writers who are not afraid to plumb the depths of their ideas and present them with conviction. Those that stay true to the heart and soul of their story and don’t dare water it down for fear of offending readers or even scandalizing themselves. I think you should scandalize yourself, you must – the shock of electricity you receive, the rush of breaking a story in your head or on the page will change you – and that process should never be impeded by the notion of servicing an ambiguous and overbearingly sensitive politic.

I want the writers I spend my time reading to be brave and not care about anything other than telling the story they need to tell.

Because, for a writer, bravery is actually vulnerability if it is honest, and honesty is what separates artists from parasites. The way you learn to be unashamed and share your pain, your anxieties, your fetishes, and your great loves is the way you learn to communicate honestly through whichever medium you choose. That is how you grow and create things that will transform your own soul, and if you are very, very lucky, someone else’s heart and mind as well.

I miss the days of dangerous literature, written by authors who considered it their duty to comment on society and humanity as a whole, not just to create characters that go through recognizable motions until the story ends. I want my literature to breathe fire and spit acid. To evolve into the monkey that wields a bone as the first weapon. I want an ideological backbone made of diamonds that breaks the skin with every movement of character and plot. I want it all to feel dangerous again – necessary – transformative – free – inevitable…

So, if you need to shock people awake every now and then with a lurid description, do so with abandon! Do not censor yourself. Just stay true to the spirit of the work and do not do so unless the story requires it.

Now – my book is not the answer to all of this, but just for the sake of hyperbolic argument, I decided to take you down this pretentious road framed in the context of a review for said book. This was chance, but it was also inevitable. Put yourself out there and do it without filter, just have a good editor.

Cherries in the Snow – Review

Cherries in the Snow – Review

It’s been a really long time since I’ve read a collection of short stories and honestly I’d forgotten how much I like them. There’s just something entirely voyeuristic about hopping in and out of people’s lives that’s captured here and Cherries in the Snow didn’t disappoint in this regard.

The collection itself is incredibly well written and as each tale is so varied from the next I found that it satisfied my usual need to hop between genres. With pseudo/satirical pop culture references to look out for and a wonderful twist Cherries in the Snow is a great read and one that will let you lose yourself in thought when you’ve finished. My particular favourite was Death Rite which follows a family through the sudden loss of their son and the need to solve his murder. It was gripping, the main characters were both individual and a knitted together in a hive-like mind of intent and I honestly couldn’t put it down.

Jonathan Duran is an excellent writer and his passion for his craft shows well in these stories. Link below:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cherries-Snow-Jonathan-Duran-ebook/dp/B00VC70HZS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1448963926&sr=8-1&keywords=cherries+in+the+snow+jonathan+duran

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cherries-Snow-Jonathan-Duran-ebook/dp/B00VC70HZS/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1448962770&sr=1-2&keywords=cherries+in+the+snow

This review is part of my Good Deeds project. If you would like my to review your book please get in touch. For full details please see:

https://theaeolianharp.com/2015/11/11/a-good-deed-reviews/

 

The Girl With All The Gifts – M.R. Carey – Book Review

The Girl With All The Gifts – M.R. Carey – Book Review

***This post contains some mild and early spoilers***

If you like to get lost in books then this is one for you. A new take in an oversaturated market, Carey’s The Girl With All The Gifts is a Science Fiction story about a young girl called Melanie finding out who she is in a zombie infested dystopia.

If you ever struggled to fully grasp the message in Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend then the themes here are similar enough for you to gain clarity with it after reading The Girl With All The Gifts. Please do not associate this book with the film I Am Legend. That film resembles neither this book nor the book it was based upon.

The novel had just the right amount of scientific grounding for me to speculate the plausibility, and I very much enjoyed saying ‘ophiocordyceps’ with growing confidence as the book progressed. In truth my internet history is littered with disturbing pictures of insects torn apart by fungi. I even managed to drop it into a sentence the following day and looked like a complete psycho as I explained what it meant.

It enraptured me to such an extent that it became bedtime material for my toddler. I’m pretty sure that he had very little concept of the content though part of me is secretly hoping that it will settle in there somewhere; a seed of science fiction waiting for the right moment. I was drawn in by the central characters. Melanie is the perfect balance of innocence and inquisitiveness and I truly enjoyed discovering Carey’s world through her paradoxical vulnerability. I was also touched by the duality of Miss. Justineau who fought her mothering instincts for as long as she possibly could, which in the end wasn’t very long at all. A mother, a scholar, and most importantly a moral human being she reached out to me as a friend and held on to me as a role model. A truly wonderful character; a Wendy to a world of Lost Boys.

I love to read books where, once finished, you can sit and think over what you’ve read for a while and this did not disappoint. Without wanting to ruin the storyline for any prospective readers, the ending was both thought provoking and harrowing in its possibilities. I’ve already verbally recommended this book to friends with similar reading tastes but to anyone out there looking for a new favourite to wear out, give this a try. You can thank me later.

This review has also been logged on Amazon and Goodreads.

Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats – New Music Reviews

Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats – New Music Reviews

Spotify’s ‘Morning Coffee’ playlist is, as the name suggests, the perfect start to my day. Sometimes I get slow meandering songs that warm me in my freezing cold office whilst the portable radiator clicks and taps itself awake, and on other days the light beats of folk draw me out of my shell. However, on a particularly bitter morning late last week, I was enraptured by a soulful folk that pulled be deeper and deeper into it’s melody before shouting ‘son of a bitch!’ in my ear. Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats; hello you beautiful beasts.

So I’ll admit that when I first listened to S.O.B. I totally misread the name and this resulted in me recommending the album to a friend by telling him to listen to Daniel Radcliffe and the Night Sweats. Harry Potter hilarity ensued. To both parties I am so very sorry. Yet, comedy aside, this is a great album.  There’s something so familiar about the rich folk on this album. The influences are always elusive yet on the tip of my tongue and honestly that just makes me want to listen to it over and over again. I Need Never Get Old has this certain Motown feel that transports me back to family weddings and dancing with friends. Subtle hints of Caught in a Trap, Tracks of My Tears, and something else that’s there one minute and gone the next. If your figure it out then please let me know! And still the album is so varied, the slower sounds of Mellow Out whispers summer sunshine to me and other tracks transport me right into the middle of a Tarantino fight scene; two lovers, guns drawn, starting on the path towards oblivion. Thanks for curing the writer’s block ;).

As you’ve probably figured out by now I am a bit of an album pusher. Certain pieces just work better as a complete album, as an artwork that can be enjoyed with a beer on a Friday evening and this one has me longing for the weekend. However I had barely had the chance to send the link to a couple of friends before POW! There they were on Jools Holland. I loved the look, the enthusiasm of the band, and earthy feel to the composition and I turned into a teenage fandom ‘Oh my God! I know them!’

I waved by the way…

This album also has an amazing commentary version on Spotify with short snippets of insight into each track. Its interesting to hear the camaraderie between the band mates and the thought and feelings behind each song. I always find it helpful to have a bit of direction from the artists in this way. If this isn’t for you its a completely separate album so it won’t ruin your listening pleasure.

So please do listen, let me know what you think and if you want to push any new music my way you can do so in the comments section, on Twitter, or through Spotify.

Thanks for reading and happy listening. x

Ryan Adams – 1989

Ryan Adams – 1989

My music taste, though varied, is something that my husband completely understands. So when he recommends an album to me I know that I’ll like it and this one was no exception.

Ryan Adams has been on my husband’s radar for quite some time although I confess not on mine. So when he told me to check this album out I thought that Brian Adams had covered an entire Taylor Swift album. This resulted in a rather impressive impression of Brian Adams singing Shake it Off. Go on picture it.

As luck would have it this album was recommended to me on a day when I was off work writing so I could play it really loud and encase myself in musical/writing bliss and what euphoria it was. It’s no secret that I am Taylor Swift fan, I don’t listen to a lot of pop but I admire Taylor as a lyricist and I think that this cover album vindicates me in this regard. I discovered 1989 at the same time as my twelve year old niece and we like to trade theories on who certain songs are written about (FYI Style is totally about Harry Styles) and I confess I do love this album. I didn’t even mind paying for it even though I am a Spotify junkie, #paytay. So I was excitedly optimistic about someone covering the entire album and I wasn’t disappointed.

Ryan’s voice has a very distinct Springstein feel to it throughout the album and the way he sings some of songs such as I Wish You Would and Wildest Dreams adds a masculine touch to the songs that paints them in a whole new light for me. I’ve been told that Ryan wanted to record something completely different after his divorce and those emotions do paint the songs in a new and interesting light. On the other hand his cover of Welcome to New York, the album’s opening track, blasts out with new and unimaginable rocky tones forcing Taylor Swift fans to realise that this will be different. Different it is, but so good.

This is the perfect cross over album for me but I’ve recommended it to scores of people already for completely different reasons. To my audiofile friends because this is an excellently produced album, to my fellow Swifties, and to my dad because he likes Spingstein and how much would it freak my niece out it he knew all the words to Bad Blood?

Now I’m recommending it to you and I hope you give it a go. You won’t regret it.

God Damn You Orphan Black

I am sick today. Don’t pity me; I’ll be fine. Or rather pity me but not for the fact that my immune system has failed but for the fact that I have not the energy to accomplish anything more than half a season of Orphan Black.

I first heard about this programme in Sci-Fi Now about eight months ago and because it was not immediately available to me I’ll confess that I forgot all about it. However, today the phlegmy version of myself spotted it on Amazon Prime (after a lost half hour of watching a film about a dead supermodel??) and I am lost. I have been sucked in.

For those of you who have yet to discover Orphan Black the basic plot revolves around a character called Sarah Manning, played by Tatiana Maslany, who upon seeing her doppelganger commit suicide assumes her identity. Not Sci-Fi enough for you? I understand. Upon entering the world of Beth, the deceased mirror-image of herself, Sarah soon discovers that she and Beth are not alone in their similarities and soon there are more Tatiana Maslany’s than you can shake a stick at. You can keep track though I promise; they all have very different hair. They also have conveniently helpful job roles that help the plot along, for instance Sarah is the street wise lead, Beth is was? a detective, Cosima a PhD student, Alison the wealthy house wife and Helena who is 100% bat shit crazy. No, seriously there was a very tense moment with a little boy that nearly had me running to Sunnydale to go find Buffy.

Five episodes in I am actually quite impressed by Tatiana Maslany’s acting, after all it must be quite a challenge for any actor/actress to play this many versions of themselves. So much so that I am willing to forgive the occasional grating of Sarah’s wavering British accent. It has a ring of Joss Whedon’s Doll House and definitely a hint of Blake Crouch’s The Pines (now also a TV series, The Wayward Pines). Admittedly the idea of a detective immersing themselves into fringe science isn’t a new one, see Fringe, but what makes this stand out for me is the ability for everyone to find something relatable in one or more of the clones. It’s hard not to empathise with a character who can’t avoid portraying at least some part of your own persona.

I also like how quickly the plot moves along without cramming too much into an episode. This makes for quite a conservative series length of ten episodes which is indeed a rarity in what I regularly pick up from the Prime catalogue. That being said I imagine that by the weekend, when I have exhausted what’s available I’ll be cursing this very fact. It’s distracted me from everything else but really this is far as my snotty face is lifting off the pillow today.

So give it a go. It’s available in Ultra HD too, who can say no to that anyway?