Oh Jean.

Music Last night saw the broadcast of the second semi-final of this year's Eurovision, still uneasily slotted into BBC Four's schedule now that BBC Three's spectral ghost stalks cyberspace. Find above my favourite song of the night, O'G3NE's Lights and Shadow, underscoring just how narrow my taste is. Everything on the usual list is covered:

Are they female?

Are there three or more of them?

Are they related in some way?

Are there close harmonies?

(Bonus score) Do they have a group name whose pronunciation has to be explained to you:
Yes.  It's the full Haim.

Apparently Wilson Philips was trending on Twitter last night almost as soon as OG3NE appeared and yes, pretty much, although glancing towards The Triplets (and there's no cut deeper than that).

The group have managed to reached the final and should be in with a chance after winning Junior Eurovision 2007.  But unfortunately this also happened and given the ironic UK vote, they don't stand a chance.

At least they did better than Finland, the best song during the first semi on Tuesday night, which didn't place:

Heart break emoji.


Film The Odeon in Chester was always a strange place to see a film, especially the main screen, which had a large projection surface, but the seats were all on a balcony spread across the back wall, the projector on the floor in the stalls, reversing the usual way in which such things are designed. When the Odeon shifted away from single screen venues in preference to multiplex edifices it closed and sat empty for years. Now its re-opening, refurbished as the Storyhouse, a kind of miniature version of Manchester's Home, with a theatre, art space, library and single screen cinema.

The Double Negative has a huge article about the place with construction photos and interviews with the creators:
"Situated close to North Gate retail and leisure development, the whole area is one in transition. The £37 million Storyhouse project – backed by Chester City Council and Arts Council England – is centred around a redevelopment of the 1936 Odeon cinema space, which visitors can now take a sneak peek of ahead of the grand opening. Incorporating core library services for the city, there is an adjoining new build housing a 800 seat theatre, 150 capacity studio stage and rooftop bar. This cultural hub approach – in a similar format to The Atkinson (Southport) or HOME (Manchester) – is intended to foster a greater inclusivity and sustainability for all aspects of the new building and its future activities."
This sounds like just the cultural boost Chester needs. Plus it's in a great area, almost opposite the cathedral and should be a real benefit to the surrounding businesses, the market, and especially the cheese shop.

Binaural Injection.

TV After accidentally listening to the standard sound mix on Saturday, I promised to provide an update once a gap had been found in my busy schedule for a rewatch.  Here we go:

Having spent the best part of a decade watching pretty much everything through headphones at home I've become accustomed to how a 5.1 sound mix appears through headphones in various ways, depending on how the sound design is interpreted by the various dvd or streaming services.  In the most impressive of cases, often those films in which sound has been given extra special attention, the likes of Star Wars or the MCU, the results can be extraordinary; the sound design team, already anticipating that headphones will be one of the ultimate venues for their work, seem to know how best to service the ear in close quarters.

Hearing films through the rather basic speakers integrated into flat screen televisions is always shockingly inferior, so if you are watching films by yourself, I'd say headphones are always the way to go.  One of my first stereo audio experiences while watching a film through headphones was during X-Men on the first dvd release, the scene in which Logan';s being coaxed through the corridors of the mansion for his fateful first meeting with Xavier.  The Professor's voice seems to be speaking from inside the walls, apparently inside the Wolverine's head and it's almost as though Patrick Stewart's voice is in the room with you, shifting around the sides of your head.

On those terms, Knock Knock Enhanced is fine, but its not that much more impressive than the average Hollywood sound mix when done properly.  It's certainly a good episode to choose, the creaking wood of the walls, slamming doors and knocking appearing all around the viewer's head.  The repetition from the vinyl remains in place as the shot shifts along the corridor and the Landlord becomes rather more creepy when he intones or shifts the air before appearing on screen.  The philosophy has clearly been to enhance what's on screen rather than work against it, not to be a distraction.

Where this comes unstuck is the implementation for dialogue and music.  The latter for the most part is a distraction.  There doesn't seem to have been an attempt to record the music binaurally so its mostly just the usual stereo sound mix.  But the words are unnatural in places as the sound designer has to compensate for the rapid edits and so voices begin sentences in one place then shift abruptly elsewhere in the ear because the characters have moved in shot which is less noticeable in the standard stereo because the sound is spread across both ears rather than consolidated in the left or right as is often the case here.  It's the audio equivalent of the uncanny valley.

Does binaural audio even work with pictures?  Perhaps it is different to typical film sound mixes but my ears are trained to accept to whatever's poured into them.  The best experiments I've heard so far have been in radio, where the shot restrictions are not in place and it's up to the listener to provide the pictures.  Characters are free to "walk" around our heads or we're able to "sit" in the middle of an auditorium and hear an orchestra, if not sit amongst them depending on the placement of microphones.  In the end, as the episode raced to its conclusion, I completely forgot that I was supposed to be watching an enhanced version anyway.  Which probably misses the point.

My Favourite Film of 1900.

Film Quite recently, I’ve begun to have mixed feelings about Cyrano and its many homages and remakes. For years, two of my favourite films were the Jean-Paul Rappeneau adaptation starring GĂ©rard Depardieu and Roxanne, the modern retelling with Steve Martin and Daryl Hannah in the title role. The latter was one of my formative movies, on heavy rotation on video and then DVD. As a bullied kid, I held CD Bales up as something of a hero, especially in the scene when he throws insults back in the face of the drunken idiot in the bar. Oh how I’d wished I’d had that confidence at school.

But lately I’ve become concerned about Roxanne’s role in the story. I can appreciate why the Cyrano’s lack of self-esteem means that they don’t believe that the object of their desire could love them back. That’s pretty much my entire life. It’s rather insulting, that Roxanne who is capable of treating them as a friend might not think of them more intensely. For my own part, I’ve even had women flat out tell me that they like me in that way and I’ve distanced myself from it, afraid that they might become disillusioned or disappointed if they knew me better.

Does she then deserve to be lied to in this way, to have the handsome fellow bare false witness and pretend to be something they’re not to take advantage of them? However romantic it may seem for Cyrano to be the source of the poetry and be using Christian as an avatar for expressing his feelings doesn’t it mean that she and her heart are being taken advantage of? Although it’s not the only occasion in literature and film or life a woman’s been seduced through subterfuge you might then question the extent to which we might consider her consent for subsequent sex.

On hearing that she’s been lied to, and the mechanism, the natural reaction should be to reject Cyrano and move on with her life. But in all the versions I’ve seen, Roxanne is somehow able to abstract the way his letters make her feel from the person who was fictionally the face in front of them and then shift those longing towards their original author. As is so often the case in romcoms, the resolution comes because the woman forgives the man for his idiotic mistakes.

Where I once saw a hero, I now somewhat see a villain. In choosing to lie to her, Cyrano puts his own feelings above hers, which is wrong and stupid. But it feels like only a man could then write a scenario in which he’s subsequently rewarded for his mistaken moral ambiguity. He’s learnt his lesson and so therefore coupling will ensue. This feels wrong to me, despite the incidental pleasures.  Perhaps it's right that the first silent version only includes a battle.