So, well, Eurovision UK 2015. Yeah.

Music Tonight while I was watching a double bill of Ozon's Jeune & Jolie and the Melanie Lynsky starring divorcee indie Hello I Must Be Going both of which were telling similar stories in different ways, the BBC announced this year's UK entry for the Eurovision. Having tried viewers votes for the actual songs and artists, and then just the songs having chosen the artists, and then neither, we're now at point where they have some kind of open cattle call and some lyrics are given to some singers at the end. In other words, here you, cheer this on then. Here it is above. Some notes:

(1) It's really weak. I'm quite the fan of 20s & 30s revivalism especially when The Puppini Sisters and Christina Aguilera have tried it, but this doesn't take us much further than The Doop and Doop and that was 1994. Plus it's for the Eurovision in an anniversary year and we're witnessing a total loss of confidence. After fielding a half decent record last year which came 17th they've clearly decided to on the "fuck it let's just do novelty" strategy on the assumption we'll probably come mid-table again anyway but at least there'll be a solid reason for it other than Europe hates us.

(2)  The bullshit gender politics in the lyrics.  Especially from the second verse onwards.  See below.  It's all about the man telling the woman how to deport herself while he's not in her company and her submissively agreeing.  Which might have been acceptable writing a hundred years ago, but not now.  Not now at all.
"Some younger guys, with roving eyes, may tantalise you with their lies, you must be wise and realise, leave well alone 'til you get home, dear."
"Won't see other fellas, won't make you jealous, no need to fear when you're not here, I'm still in love with you."

"Don't walk on the red light, don't stay out at midnight, don't get in a fist fight, that pretty face can't be replaced."
"Won't be out at night hon, it wouldn't be right hon, no need to fear when you're not here, I'm still in love with you."

"Don't make a fuss you have to trust, this is how it always must be, when I stop to think of us, I can assure you, I adore you."
"God you're so gorgeous, no need to be cautious, take good care when I'm not there, I'm still in love with you."

"You have a fun time, soak up that sunshine, but don't drink too much wine, just one or two will have to do."
"I know what you're thinking, so won't be drinking, no need to fear, when I'm not here, I'm still in love with you."
I'm willing to admit the odd word may have been poorly transcribed - I'm not sure in particular about that final line - but on the whole I don't understand any of this anyway.  Unless she's simply telling him that and just doing what she sweet wants anyway?  I hope so.  Not that you can tell from the performance.  If I'm off base on this do tell me.  It's not Doctor Who's The Caretaker, but it feels pretty close.  Minus points to for the official BBC press release not including the lyrics which are supposed to be half the point.

(3)  The music is a confused mish-mash.  Perhaps having sensed that previous performers from other countries have run aground when actually just keeping within genre they've decided to lather this thing in ill fitting electronica and country riffs which simply confuse the whole business.

(4)  Here are the biographies of the writers:

David Mindel has had a successful career in song-writing, working with the likes of Olivia-Newton John, Barry Manilow, The Shadows, John Travolta, Mud and Musical Youth to name but a few.

Following a successful song writing career, David embarked on a new chapter - writing and recording some four thousand TV and radio commercials, including penning the themes for BBC One’s National Lottery and Euromillions TV shows.

Adrian Bax White is a classically trained multi-instrumentalist whose eclectic music career has spanned pop to fusion jazz with everything in between. Adrian has worked with a multitude of singers from multi Grammy award-winners such as John McLaughlin and Narada Michael Walden to underground indies such as Blue Orchids and acid jazz godfather Lonnie Liston Smith.

Mindel's IMDb expands on some of the other tracks he's worked on:  Bob's Weekend, Coogan's Run, Challenge Anneka, The District Nurse, Real Life, The Hot Shoe Show, I Get Your Act Together, Rory Bremner, Who Else?, Harty, Food and Drink and Jim'll Fix It.  Some of which I used to love.

(5)  In a world where Taylor Swift's 1989 exists, where even I'll admit, glancing at the UK top 40 demonstrates there's some really interesting, ballsy pop music in production, the BBC and whoever have seen fit to choose this which says nothing about the British music industry or the state of the art.  Once again we're treating Eurovision and a "fun party" and "nothing to serious" and "a joke" when it could be a celebration of who we are and what our music industry is.  Which I know we already do across the world with the "real" music, but wouldn't it have been amazing if Scott Mills had introduced something tonight and our reaction would have been the collective awe of hearing "Shake It Off" or "Let It Go" or "Happy" or "Fireworks" or whatever Beyonce's doing this week, something with a push and a donk on it instead of hearing this and trying to rationalise which judging by the social media even people who're generally supportive are doing?

(6)  I just don't like it, ok?  Sigh.

Shakespeare at the BBC: As You Like It on Radio 3

Radio In case you hadn't noticed due to the lack of posts, I've been a bit ill this week with the cold/manflu thing which has been going around. After not knowing what do to do with myself it's actually left me with cold sores, or as is the case now scabs, around the mouth and lips which makes it incredibly difficult to talk, or smile, or eat or do anything which a mouth and lips are meant to without some pain. Though it is getting easier and I have some antibiotics from The Doctor. Sorry, a Doctor.

All of which explains why I entirely failed to notice that the Drama on Radio 3 last week was a new production of As You Like It:
"A new production of Shakespeare's most joyous comedy with an all star cast and music composed by actor and singer Johnny Flynn of acclaimed folk rock band Johnny Flynn and The Sussex Wit.

Lust, love, cross dressing and mistaken identity are the order of the day as Rosalind flees her uncle's court and finds refuge in the Forest of Arden. There she finds poems pinned to trees proclaiming the young Orlando's love for her. Mayhem and merriment ensue as Rosalind wittily embarks upon educating Orlando in the ways of women.

With an introduction by Pippa Nixon who played Rosalind to great acclaim at the RSC and now reprises her role as Shakespeare's greatest heroine."
It's available to listen to here for the next few weeks.

You can also download it here.

[Not the streaming page says its only an hour and a half, but it is actually 2h 15m or so the cuts will presumably be pretty standard. I won't know until I can listen and I won't be doing that until I can smile properly.]


About During the week, Tumblr emailed to remind me that I set up one of those eight years when it was still in beta testing.

Across time it's generally been a place to collect together content from various places and I've decided (now that If This Then That is intermingling the APIs) to try something similar again.

Here it is.

At present it's posts from this blog, links from Twitter and flickr images. This will hopefully be the first post if everything is working properly.  I know some of you prefer it over there (or here if you're reading this on Tumblr) so here we are.  Hope you like the choice of title bar.

Not that I actually understand Tumblr in the same way that I didn't understand LiveJournal back in the day.  Did you know LiveJournal's still going?

My Favourite Film of 2006.

Film For much of 2006, I was at Manchester University enjoying my MA in Screen Studies. The extent to which this was a useful thing in career terms, I'm still trying to decide for reasons which I won't write about here but since it was the moment when I was knee deep in celluloid (or dvds and VHS tape for "viewing lists" as was the mode before Netflix though to be fair probably still is since much of the film canon isn't on Netflix) (unless you agree that Netflix is the canon) it feels like I should be choosing a film for this year which somehow captures the experience of being at university doing that course.

Russian Dolls is the second film in Cedric Klapisch's Xavier series, sequel to L'Auberge Espagnole, sequeled itself with last year's Chinese Puzzle, with its globe trotting protagonist played by Romain Durais becoming romantically involved with his former flatmate Wendy (Kelly Reilly) and investigates Europe's relationship with Russia via the relationship between Wendy's brother played by that Kevin Bishop and a ballerina (played by actual ballerina Evgenia Obraztsova).  As I said in my original review, the title is a metaphor for how Xavier must experience a number of relationships before he reaches the one which will be most important, a process which arguably continued into the third film.

The film is emblematic as the kind of film which I might not have watched before my noughties film education.  While its true that I discovered international cinema as an undergraduate, it's not until the mid-noughties that I really began to discover continental film history with L'Auberge Espagnole  and Bertolucci's The Dreamers as the spark and it's only through film studies that I could really understand what Klapisch's film was trying to do beyond the sex comedy it could too easily be interpreted as being.  One of the most important things my French cinema teacher said was that we should often look at the elements of film as total constructs and representations rather simple entertainment.

When I sat with a college friend in the tiny screen three at the Cornerhouse in Manchester to see Russian Dolls, all of liberal arts learning, so much forgotten now, was buzzing around my mind, but despite that I still sobbed unashamedly for Wendy on the platform and yet because if it, I think, I forgave Xavier for some of his choices because I could see they were representative of a kind of attitude, part of the director's approach to creating a flawed protagonist (who again arguably doesn't redeem himself until Chinese Puzzle).  That's the dual mindspace the best films can conjure, when the heart and head are both nourished.

I always wonder what happened to my companion for that screening.  We'd met during those French cinema seminars, about gender and sexuality (she was on a different course which shared that module) and we'd chatted afterwards in the cafe afterwards each week over lunch.  We were never really friends, friends, just acquaintances and I don't even remember how it was we came to go to see Russian Dolls together.  But it was also towards the end of the teaching year and I think it was also the last time we saw each other.  If by some remote chance she's reading this it would be nice to get back in touch to update each other.  Though the chances are remote, I'd like to know what she thought of Chinese Puzzle.