Category: movies

Films for youth work

On the plane to Australia I had the chance to catch a few films, including the recent film “Sing street“. The film centres on a group of young people being young people in Ireland, during the nineteen eighties.

As I watched this I thought this is a great film. Then I wondered if this would be a great film to use in a youth work setting. I think so, and at the end of the film I started a small list of films that say something about being young that I would show a group of 12-15 year olds.

the list currently is.
Gregory’s Girl 1981
E.T. 1982
The Breakfast club 1985
Clueless 1995
Romeo & Juliet 1996
10 things I hate about you 1999
Ping Pong 2002
Napoleon Dynamite 2004
Pitch Perfect 2012
Sing Street 2016

What should I add or take away?

Beach House & Stranger Kings, much dream pop goodness.

I am a sucker for some dream pop, and two new music releases of a dream pop type persuasion are soon to be in my possession, (well one on order and one being shipped from the USA). The first is the new album by Beach House called “Depression Cherry”. I have this ordered without hearing anything from it yet, so it better be good… I am confident it will be, I loved the album “Bloom” from 2012. It is a remarkably good album, so good it is one of the 38 albums I choose to carry with me on an MP3 device at all times. The question is whether to buy tickets for Beach House’s October 26th Glasgow concert or not. I suspect I will, but I am not sure how rock and roll it will be. (Below is a film Beach House made with performances of 4 songs from Bloom.) The second album I have bought is by a Californian dream pop practitioners called Stranger Kings. You can listen to the album on band camp below. They have gorgeous 80’s peter hook influenced base work, dreamy guitars, and a beautiful voice on top, whats not to like right?
mucho musical goodness.

The top 10 – Best album of 2014

Well in reflecting on 2014, I must consider on the main thing I have chosen to consume over 2014, which has been music. 2014 has had lot of good music (as demonstrated by the long list which I spoke of here The Long List – Best Album of 2014), here I am going to pick the best 10 albums that I heard last year.

10. Sondre Lerche – Please
This album contains much pop goodness from Norwegian Sondre Lerche.
I first heard of Sondre in 2004 and since then he has consistently produced interesting and quality pop music. This is a really good, pop album.

CYHSY-JACKET-print 09.Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Only Run
There was a time where the music blogs ruled the hipsters. Brooklyn Vegan, Gorilla vs Bear, and others were the key tastemakers. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah were propelled into the hipster radar due to the support of these blogs. The formula of many guitars and a distinctive, (weird nasally), singing voice was pleasing and challenging. They have had a break for a while and after some line up changes this the first album with the slimmed down, synth and drum based version of the band. It took a few listens but I really like the new sound.

08. Jad Fair and Danielson – Solid Gold Heart
Well what can you say. Jad Fair of the Art Punk legends Half Japanese and Danielson creating a joint musical project. What an album its pretty much got everything you would expect from these two, including a fragile slightly out of tune beauty warmth and much joy.

07. Ibibio Sound Machine – Ibibio Sound Machine
I hadn’t heart of Ibibio Sound Machine or the album until the beginning of December. The band is seven strong and have created songs with African guitars, crazy good percussion, drums and base from house music, brass rhythms from soul music all topped by songs sung in the Nigerian regional dialect ibibio. With songs based on folk tales spoke in this language. it could all have went a bit M people, instead it is a joyful beautiful noise.

darknesstl06. At The Close Of Every Day – Darkness Travels Light
At The Close Of Every Day are a lovely wee band with a sadness in their hearts. Their 2004 album the Silja Symphony is a series of songs based on a ferry disaster, it’s not happy party music. It is deep, it is tender, it seeks to tell stories and find a beautiful story within the despair. Darkness travels light has a lightness of touch which brings a deft to the songs. it is a beautiful album.

05. Steve Taylor and the Perfect Foil – Goliath.
This is the only straight rock record in the top ten and it is a corker.
Steve Taylor has always been within christian Music yet able to provoke and question from within. His Squint Entertainment record label managed to get a number one with Sixpence None The Richer’s Kiss Me, and open up a route to bring bands through in a liminal or ambiguous state. Anyway it seemed he had forgotten about rocking out and given himself to his first role which is movie making. but what an album he has made on his return. It is dense, packed, and great music. Lyrically his words are as per his pervious high standards, universally great and the band rocks.
(n.b. I know I haven’t put in it in the top three but I would guess now that in 10 years time this album will be one that stays with me. Its great.)

04. Meaghan Smith – Have A Heart.
Meaghan Smith has produced an album of absolute beauty and pop loveliness. with the occasional it sucks to be you thrown in over the years I have enjoyed Canadian pop and this album continues the that pop tradition of delicious lush production and a beautiful voice on top with catch pop hooks all over it, (see Hey Ocean’s album “Is” last year). As shiny straight pop goes this is brilliant.

Fanfarlo20003 – Fanfarlo – Lets Go Extinct.
It wasn’t easy to get to number three, but Fanfarlo got there just ahead of Meaghan Smith and Steve Taylor. Why? Well,as they describe themselves “The passion, the obsession, the dissolution of intellectual rigour; heart and longing colliding with mind and matter; these are the recurrent themes of Fanfarlo.” And they’re indie pop type music has influences from Belle & Sebastian and Sufjan Stevens would seem to point them into an area I can get musically, and I do. (This is the second time Fanfarlo have ended up on one of my best of lists!) It’s Just beautiful music, with clever, funny and impenetrable lyrics sung by a guy with a slight swedish accent. Its very good stuff.

beckmp200 02 – Beck – Morning Phase.
What can you say about Beck? 6 years since his last record, Beck returns with an album which provides fantastic music, an album of darkness and light. The album is lush, its languid, its immersing. the a musical motif providing a cycle type nature to the songs. It’s a great album that rewards repeated listens.

12357-brothers-and-sisters-of-the-eternal-son 01. Damien Jurado – Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son The third return trip to the fictional “Maraqopa” for Damien Jurado and producer Richard Swift has produced an album of beauty, variety and story. An album which seems to be religious and dangerous within itself. I haven’t heard to first two albums which are set in this alternative reality but this album stands on its own as a gorgeous set of songs. First of it sound right. The slightly indie singer songwriter production basis for the songs works brilliantly.The songs have a fragility about them which reveals the story they are involved in. The press reviews use words like Baroque, folk and etherial brilliance to describe the album, they are right. Initially I struggled to get it. I thought it was good but nothing special. Where these songs change from good to brilliant is in the bonus tracks. (As a Download I didn’t notice we had changed from the main album to the bonus material!) On the bonus disc, nine songs from the album are stripped down to just a voice and guitar, augmented by a female voice choir who provide all other parts. It turns a great album into a phenomenal album. given the run time of the album is just over the 35 minutes the deluxe edition’s extra songs just elevates the first half, creating a song cycle feel to the work.

It is very awesome.

try a small sampler of the above albums!
Mixcloud Mixes Object

Computer games as inspirtion for books / movies?

the trip to the movies revealed a small thought about the usage of computer games to books and films.
Boxtrolls movie, is based on a story “Here be Monsters” by Alan Snow published in 2005. The first adventure of Snake was being published in the Metal Gear Solid series of games published in 1998. The Game was designed in sneaking and famously used a mechanic of hiding in cardboard box as you sneak around the game’s world. Attracting as little attention to yourself as possible. This mechanic of hiding in a cardboard box when you were in danger is perfectly recreated by the Boxtrolls movie.

Exclusive... Daniel Radcliffe Films "Horns"
the second thought is around the new film with Daniel Radcliffe called “Horns”. Its based on a book by Joe Hill from 2010. A girl dies and the next day her boyfriend wakes up and has grown horns. This is reminiscent of the story of ICO, where the leace character a boy called ICO is locked in a castle, as he has grown wings, and has to act to protect Yorda, his female accomplice in the dark lonely castle. Having not seen the film or read the book I don’t know how close or otherwise the finished product will be.

I find it interesting that mechanics which have been developed by computer games, such as Hiding in a cardboard box, or the striking visuals image of the Horned boy is explored by film, would then be reimagined within books, and then as movies. Rather than trying to take a computer game and make a film of the game with notably disappointing consequences.

Delightful Intermissions – the Boxtrolls movie


This morning included watching the Boxtrolls movie. I hadn’t seen any adverts nor had I seen the previous films by the studio, Coraline or Paranorman. So I had no idea what to expect. Well what I expected was a good film.  The other option was an early “kids AM” showing of Earth to Echo, after veiwing the trailer I thought earth to echo looked like a poor remake of ET. I was sure the Boxtrolls would be better. 

The film was great. The main story of Eggs conscentization was engaging, funny, and entertaining. The children I took were sacred appropriately and into the story. The most engaging element of the story was just how scary it was. Ben Kinsley’s character, Archibald Snatcher, is properly scary and his assistant Mr Gristle is unsettlingly menacing. 

Most interesting to me though was the subplot involving to of the Hunchmen, Mr Pickles and Mr Trout. Arguably this is the many ways the most interesting part of the film. The characters generally get the best lines and ask the biggest questions. As Eggs story is about realising who he is, Mr Trout and Mr Pickles mirror this by musing on the nature of their actions, questioning what is good in this context? and are their actions good?

In one particular scene, while catching a boxtroll, Nick Frost’s character Mr Trout, questions if the boxtrolls actually understand the duality of good and evil. The dissonance of this question asks the viewer if Mr Trout and Mr Pickles are better off knowing about this duality yet not being aware of their place within it, or is the absence of the duality for the boxtrolls a better way to exist?

The film concludes both stories, with things happen as they should; although the Monty Python Mr Creosote ending is ripped off possibly the wrong side of the copying/homage continuum. although the breaking of the forth wall during the end credits sequence is well worth waiting for. In conclusion it’s not in the class of the Aardman films, but it wasn’t far away. It was a pleasant intermission.

Delightful Intermissions – Music – July Talk


Just got the album by July Talk. Iam really liking it. Their bio describes them as,

Imagine Tom Waits and Amy Millan shouting whiskey-soaked lullabies while backed by the members of Crazy Horse and youʼd have a good start. Striking a frenzied balance between Americana and dance-floor-filling indie-rock, July Talkʻs Beauty and the Beast aesthetic burns a little going down, but is sure to warm your belly …

It is a greatalbuma nd they are playing live in glasgow, King Tuts Wah Wah Hut, on Tuesday next week, (30th September). It should be a good evening. If you fancy it, Shout.



#IndyRef song 9 – Heatwave by The Blue Nile

(This is a small blog series using songs to ask questions about the upcoming Scottish independence referendum. Not intended as anything beyond lighthearted.)

Song 9 – Heatwave by the Blue Nile

vegetable_patio_tomato_plants2 (1)

What’s the song about?
It about a heatwave. and how that equalises everything. its kinda unclear whether the heatwave is desirable, why is it rolling down on the young and foolish, or a undesirable, why is it picking on the young and foolish. to be honest its a song about global warming. Questioning why we are looking after self interest in this global catastrophe. Possibly is it all about Moses in the desert, and asking if all this upheaval is really worth it. (I am not sure yet what its about, but I am pretty sure its one of these things.)

What questions are similar around the referendum?
Does it matter if we are governed by Edinburgh or London when the larger issues are geo-political requiring major cross border agreement put right? Would a separate Scotland and rUK voice at the UN or EU actually carry more weight than one “bigger” voice
Would my tomatoes grow better if I was walking through a desert? (they’ve been rubbish this year).

What conclusions can we draw about the independence referendum vote?
that actually for all the noise and bluster, it matter very little. We pay taxes to someone – we will dislike them and their policies. we pay taxes to someone else – we will like them and their policies because we agree with them. all the while the world will get get warmer, then it will cool down. oil will run out, new oil will be found. Life as we know it will conversely continue, and never be the same again.

are we rich or poor,
does it mater anymore?

Can this be all we will desire?
Straw houses in the promised land
Why is it time for taking sides?
When all I say and do is take too many chances

My tomatoes may very well grow better in a green house and with a heatwave.


#IndyRef Songs 8 – Simple Song by The Shins

(This is a small blog series using songs to ask questions about the upcoming Scottish independence referendum. Not intended as anything beyond lighthearted.)

Song 8 – Simple Song by The Shins


What’s the song about?
Its a love song, about the confidence which love brings to people. The chorus seems to speak of someone choosing to do something different, and the problem of going it alone inherently making the going-it-aloner tough and hard to deal with the difficulties of doing something on their own.

What questions are similar around the referendum?
Does a vote for independence, automatically make us act tough, like a stone, as the lyric says. “Loves such a delicate thing which we do, which i never knew.”

What conclusions can we draw about the independence referendum vote?
well how much of the creative, beautifulness of the artistic Yes movement will be “toughened” by the realities of independence. does the vision of a shared love where you can fear your fears and have them banished exist?

sorry not very light hearted this one. more later.


Clearspace cinema programme for this week coming.

This work I am working with Greyfriars church Lanark on their holiday club, Zefi’s Zoo. We have 125 children over the week, I am mostly dealing with the primary 6&7’s.

In the afternoons we convert the church into a family cinema. Each afternoon we will be showing a free movie. The movie is for everyone in the community, and not just those who are at the club in the morning. Bring your whole family! Doors open at 2:15pm for a 2:30pm start each day.

The movies planned for this week are:

Monday 7th – Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs 2
Tuesday 8th – Furry Vengeance
Wednesday 9th – The Lion King
Thursday 10th – Smurfs 2
Friday 11th – Frozen

If you are free over the week and fancy watching a film on a big screen with 100 other people drop in.