Midweek Music Moment: Love & Hate

Today’s Midweek Music Moment, is the title track from Michael Kiwanuka’s new album, ‘Love & Hate’.

It’s a pull-over song – meaning that as soon as I heard it, I had to pull over to the side of the road to hear the rest of the song.

 

 

A British musician with a rich and soulful voice that is often compared to Marvin Gaye and Bill Withers, Kiwanuka has already received widespread praise in England – including opening for Adele and ‘Love & Hate’ is currently nominated for the prestigious British ‘Mercury Prize’.

 

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His debut album ‘Home again’ went gold and here’s the title track which skyrocketed him to recognition.

 

 

Movie Review: The Four Feathers

‘The Four Feathers’ is a 2002 action film set during a 1880s British army expedition into Sudan.

Based on a 1902 adventure novel of the same name, this is the 7th cinematic version – and truthfully didn’t bring a particularly new viewpoint on British colonialism, despite being directed by Indian Director, Shekhar Kapur (‘Elizabeth’, ‘The Bandit Queen’).

 

Kapur received harsh criticism for being anti-British by the British tabloids, to which Kapur responded ‘I’m not anti-British, I’m anti-colonialism’.

 

The movie features Heath Ledger as British officer, Harry Faversham, who desserts his regiment on the eave of their shipping out to battle in the Sudan (earning him the ‘four feathers’ for cowardice). Also starring alongside Ledger is Wes Bentley, Kate Hudson, and Djimon Hounsou.

Given that none of the three main British characters are actually played by British actors – it is a little noticeable at times.

Their accents are passable, but in particular, the slouchy, Aussie body language of Ledger created a disconnect from his character. I will also note that there was something going on with his hair – and at times his overly-modern hairstyle felt like i was watching a Twilight episode.

 

In a frustrating piece of plot, Hounsou (Abou) plays the ‘best buddy’ – but not the hero. Although Ledger (Faversham) enters the dessert frighteningly ill-equipped, he somehow ends up commanding Abou, who’ s a skilled desert warrior and who out-runs and out-performs Haversham at every turn.

 

With stunning vistas, epic battle scenes and ‘those red uniforms’, the film is beautifully shot by Robert Richardson (who has won Oscars for ‘JFK’, ‘Hugo’ and ‘The Aviator’).

 

It’s not a film I’ll likely watch twice, but it’s a decent film that you’ll enjoy if you can simply go along for the ride and overlook some of the glaring plot frustrations.

Available on Netflix and here’s the official trailer for you:

 

Grumpy old cat lady

As a vibrant and (somewhat) naive woman in my twenties, I remember looking around at the 40-something-age-group ladies that I knew and they really seemed to have it all.

With confidence, career success, flourishing families and even the right shade of lipstick – they were the ultimate picture of success.

 

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They were ‘established’ and it looked like a great life.

 

But what I also began to notice underneath their beautiful veneers was a cynicism and bitterness towards life.

Love certainly wasn’t all you needed anymore – and believing that – was like believing in Santa Claus – only for kids and fools.

I wasn’t sure how they got so angry and disappointed, but I was determined that I was not going to become a grumpy, cynical old 40-something.

 

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No matter what happened in my life, I vowed to remember my open-hearted twenties and to keep on loving and looking at the brighter side of life.

Now that I am in my 40-somethings, I understand how the heart can get hardened with hurt and loss and disappointment.

 

Perhaps the best description I’ve heard lately of a hardened heart, is an ‘ inner diamond’. Tough, beautiful, multi-faceted.

 

I see that cynicism and bitterness is everywhere because it is an easy, lazy path that’s constantly proven out up by all the negative, crisis-focused news. Because let’s face it – bad news sells.

That doesn’t mean I am switched-off to the injustice in the world, but that I still believe in the power of love to heal ourselves, our bodies, the people around us and the world.

 

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Midweek Music Moment: Bobcaygeon, saying goodbye to the Tragically Hip

It would be remiss of me this week not to choose a song from Canada’s ‘The Tragically Hip’.

Having announced recently that their lead singer, Gord Downie, has been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, the band completed their likely-final national tour this weekend in their hometown of Kingston, Ontario.

 

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In many ways these guys remind me of Australia’s ‘Midnight Oil’ – patriotic storytellers, artistic and talented, and down-to-earth nice guys – with often a political message (sometimes subtle, sometimes not so much).

 

Broadcast live globally by the Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC), their final concert reached 11 million people and marks the end of an iconic and well-loved band that has formed the background commentary for the lives and events of many Canadians.

As I’ve said before, ‘The Hip’ have never been one of my favourite bands (Check out my earlier Tragically Hip blog here: Hip blog), but nonetheless it has been a deeply moving last few weeks with them as the media has followed their tour, played their prolific discography, celebrated their talent and shared their personal stories.

Perhaps my all-time favourite ‘Hip’ song, this week’s Midweek Music Moment is ‘Bobcaygeon’. A melodic ballad about small town Canada where two gay cops fall in love: it also won the Juno for Best Single of the Year in 2000.

 

 

There’s not a lot of great ‘official’ footage from their final concert, but here’s their second encore (they did three) from their final show. After they had finished performing, Downie left the stage after calling to the audience with a simple, heartfelt ‘Thank you for that’.

 

Movie Review: Kate & Leopold

‘Kate & Leopold’ is a 2001 classic ‘chic-flick’ rom-com.

Starring Hugh Jackman at his affable, charismatic best (Leopold) and Meg Ryan (Kate) as her all-business, but soft-underneath-self – the ridiculous storyline follows the time-traveling Duke of Albany as he ‘accidentally’ ends up in modern day New York.

 

Directed by James Mangold, I would have to say he specializes in big budget two-handers, including ‘Walk the Line’, ‘3:10 to Yuma’ and ‘Knight and Day’.

 

Given that Leopold is from 19th Century England and Kate from modern New York, the movie is filled with classic fish-out-of water scenarios which consistently compare the slobbiness of modern America to the manners of royalty-born England.

 

Given it’s box office success, audiences have proven that it’s enjoyable watching cynical Kate get swept off her feet by dashing old-fashioned romance – despite the total predictability of the film.

 

The supporting cast includes Liev Schreiber, Breckin May and Natasha Lyon – but their characters are somewhat two-dimensional with a limited script. I would have liked a little less cuteness from Leopold and more range from them.

 

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Schreiber plays the mad inventor – and ex-boyfriend of Kate – who also happens to live upstairs in the same apartment building.

 

Originally I stumbled on this film as Meg Ryan’s character has the same name as me: Kate McKay (different pronunciation). So whenever I googled my name, I would find Meg Ryan’s character all over the search engine pages.

Eventually I decided to check out the film (I’m pleased to say with consistent twitter and blogging I knocked her off her perch some years ago).

‘Kate & Leopold’ has a certain inevitability about it, but I still recommend this film to anyone looking for a light-weight, no-brainer chick flick.

Available on Netflix and here’s the official trailer for you:

 

I’ll be happy when….

I live in a world that’s constantly bombarding me with advertising, social imaging and all kinds of visual proof of how incomplete my life is without that nice new shiny ‘thing’.

 

Social imaging is the phenomenon of presenting our lives as perfect and flawless on social media: ignoring the difficult and painful realities. You could say it’s the online version of ‘Keeping up with the Jones”.

 

From longer eyelashes, to losing a few pounds, to bigger, better, brighter, more; it’s easy to get caught up in the mindset of ‘I’ll be happy when…’.

You know how it goes:

• I’ll be happy when he/she/it does what I want.

• I’ll be happy when my debt is paid off.

• I’ll be happy when my body does what I want it to.

• I’ll be happy when I’m richer, thinner, prettier, stronger, smarter, married, more powerful  … where does it end?

Although goals are certainly great (and essential to our self-esteem), the problem with ‘I’ll be happy when’ is that we never really get there.

 

Happiness on Hold

How often do you put your happiness on hold?

 

The goal posts just keep changing and I could live my whole life postponing Happiness.

Lately I’ve come to realise that those ‘I’ll be happy when’ obstacles in my life that seem to be holding me back – are not really obstacles at all.

As Alfred D.Souza famously said, these ‘obstacles’ are in fact my life!

 

Alfred D.Souza is an Aussie philosopher who is also credited with the line ‘Dance as though no-one is watching, love as though you’ve never been hurt before, sing as though no-one can hear you, live as though heaven is on earth’.

 

The money, the career, the partner, the house, my body, the debt, my aging, my food: these are actually my life.

They’re not challenges to be overcome, but rather, aspects of my life to be embraced.

 

So what am I waiting for? There’s no ‘Happiness when’ – it’s just Happiness now, and it’s available to me rain, hail or shine.

Midweek Music Moment: Trouble

Today’s Midweek Music Moment is the retro-rock song ‘Trouble’ by Cage the Elephant.

This is a piece that caught my ear on the radio instantly for it’s wonderfully psychedelic sound and lush guitars.

 

 

‘Cage the Elephant’ is an American-now-British band that’s new to my world but is firmly established in the indie scene.

They were nominated for a Grammy (best alternative music album) last year for their 2013 album ‘Melophobia’.

 

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Their sound ranges from punked-up to languid and dreamy, and their latest album (2015) ‘Tell me I’m Pretty’ was produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys.

This song, ‘Mess Around’ was the first single off their new album. I apologize in advance for the live video dubbed over with the studio recording – but it will give you a sense of what these guys are up to.

 

Movie Review: The Peanuts Movie

‘The Peanuts Movie’ is a heart-warming animated 2015 film featuring Charlie Brown and his dog, Snoopy.

Based on the Charles Schulz 1950s – 2000s comic strip, ‘Peanuts’, this is the first Charlie Brown film in 35 years.

It’s the fifth in the series and marks the 50th anniversary of ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ (which many of us grew up on).

 

 

Featuring the distinctive piano-jazz music by the Vince Guaraldi trio, ‘Peanuts the Movie’ has the right look and feel as the comic strip – with a ‘hint of 3D’.

And given it’s price tag of a cool $99 Million, it turns out that it cost a lot of money to get that hand-drawn feel!

 

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With a script written by Schulz’ son (Craig) and grandson (Bryan), the film features plenty of the popular aspects from the original comic strip including the Kite-Eating Tree, the Red Baron, Lucy’s psychiatry booth and various primary school pressures blown up to overwhelming proportions.

 

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Although the plot is certainly sweet – as Charlie Brown falls in love for the first time – the film feels a little too ‘wafty’ and lacks any real depth.

However, I’m still going to recommend this film for Peanuts fans, or for those times when you’re looking for something visually beautiful but somewhat light.

Here’s the official trailer for you to check out:

 

You can’t push the river

However, knowing that I can’t change the natural, organic flow of events certainly doesn’t prevent me from forgetting that every now and again.

I’ll catch myself wading up a ‘life stream’, bracing myself against a gushing, raging torrent – only to remember mid-force – that I am completely powerless over outcomes.

 

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No matter how resourceful, disciplined, smart, hard-working or well-intentioned I am, I can’t push the river.

Which doesn’t mean I have to go all the way to the other extreme; ‘dude out’ and be a doormat.

 

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I do have a  job, and that’s to get clear on my desired result, put in my best effort, accept the situation and let it unfold as it’s meant to.

What is meant to happen, is simply going to happen.

Perhaps there is a particular area of your life where you have been exerting a lot of energy, but without positive results.

How could you walk through that challenge with more fun or in an easier way?

 

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Midweek Music Moment: Needles and Pins

‘The Searchers’ were an English group that emerged during the 1960s Merseybeat scene along with The Beatles, The Fourmost, The Merseybeats, The Swinging Blue Jeans, and Gerry & The Pacemakers.

They also happen to be one of my mum’s favourite groups and I came to love their distinctive sound over the years.

This week’s Midweek Music Moment is their cover of Sonny Bono’s song: ‘Needles and Pins’

 

 

Originally performed in 1963 by Jackie DeShannon, the song has been recorded by numerous artists, including Cher, Willie DeVille, Gary Lewis & the Playboys, Smokie, Petula Clark (French version), the Turtles and the Ramones.

Although the Ramones version is better known, my second favourite cover is this 1985 version by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers with Stevie Nicks. I prefer the lusher sound and their voices blend beautifully together to bring out the melody.