Made in Dagenham

Made in Dagenham is a 2010 British film directed by Nigel Cole. The film stars Sally Hawkins, Bob Hoskins, Miranda Richardson, Geraldine James, Rosamund Pike, Andrea Riseborough, Jaime Winstone, Daniel Mays and Richard Schiff. It dramatises the Ford sewing machinists strike of 1968 that aimed for equal pay for women. The film’s theme song, with lyrics by Billy Bragg, is performed by Sandie Shaw, herself a native of the area and a former Ford Dagenham clerk.
A stage musical version of the film opened at London’s Adelphi theatre in 2014.

A straight forward telling of the story of the strike. Not much in the way of the unexpected, and it comes to a predictable conclusion.
(3/5)

 

SM5 Technical Ecstacy

CD Artwork
The front is from a Black Sabbath Album. The arch a digital photograph of the Christchurch Arts Centre Building. The two alternative designs below are altered ‘found’ images.

CD5

Guards

This is an altered photo from 2005, before the Christchurch earthquake. The statues were in Cathedral Square and back to back on the same plinth. I altered them to reference the statues on the river in the ‘Lord of the Rings” film.

 

GUARDS

 

CD3 Wink Wink

Here is artwork from a CD design from 2000.
It is based on the artwork of Joe Chiodo.

CD Front Cover
CD3_FR

CD Back Cover
CD3_BK

CD Internal Main Menu
CD3_FRONT

CD Internal Sub-menu
CD3_OS

Changing Mary Poppins

Saving Mr. Banks is a 2013 period drama film directed by John Lee Hancock from a screenplay written by Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith. Centered on the development of the 1964 film Mary Poppins, the film stars Emma Thompson as author P. L. Travers and Tom Hanks as filmmaker Walt Disney, with supporting performances by Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman, Bradley Whitford, and Colin Farrell.
Named after the father in Travers’ story, Saving Mr. Banks depicts the author’s fortnight-long meetings during 1961 in Los Angeles, during which Disney attempts to obtain the screen rights to her novels.

The film merges two narratives. One showing Travers’ childhood in Australia and her relationship with her alcoholic father. The other covers the negotiations  and development of the songs and story for Mary Poppins.

Emma Thompson is great and Tom Hanks captures the essence of Walt Disney. After seeing the stage production by the Court Theatre last year, the film changes the focus of the story, showing that Mr Banks is the central character of the story, not Mary Poppins.

 

Grey Building

This is a building from the University of Canterbury.
The original image was vectorized with Corel draw then converted back to bitmap and an artificial sky added.

P1010008

Rate This

I like to categorize, index and rate things.
From books, movies and music to shows and experiences.
(It’s the collector gene)

For books I use a 5 star system:

1 –  Not Finished
2  – Finished, Not Very Good
3 – Average
4 – Best for the Author
5 – Best of the Genre

Music in jRiver (Media Center Software) has a similar system:

1  – Track is in wrong Genre
2  – I Don’t like this
3 – Good song for this Artist
4 – Best for the Artist
5 – Best in the Genre

But how to implement this on my WordPress site ?
There is not an obvious way to do this.
But Elitist Book Reviews (also using WordPress) has come to the rescue.
Their system uses the tags:
Books We Like
Booke We Hate
Books We Love

So I’m going back through the posts and adding the take
I  Like
I Hate it
I Love it

But I’m only going to apply it to things a reader of this site could purchase. So no tagging of the local (show and theatre) and time limited things.

 

Quantum Night

Quantum Night
by Robert J Sawyer (2016)

Experimental psychologist Jim Marchuk has developed a flawless technique for identifying the previously undetected psychopaths lurking everywhere in society. But while being cross-examined about his breakthrough in court, Jim is shocked to discover that he has lost his memories of six months of his life from twenty years previously—a dark time during which he himself committed heinous acts.

There are a lot of things wrong with this book. The first thing the author does is throw out the notion of free will and put everyone in categories.

It’s just the opposite  of Zootopia !

It you want to hear all the problems with the book, listen the Luke Burrage’s TWO HOUR rant about the book in issue  #302 of his Science Fiction Book Review Podcast.

Zootopia

Zootopia is a 3D computer-animated crime comedy adventure film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. It is the 55th animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series. The film is directed by Byron Howard and Rich Moore, co-directed by Jared Bush, and features the voices of Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, J.K. Simmons, Tommy Chong, Octavia Spencer, Jenny Slate, and Shakira.

The film details the unlikely partnership between a rabbit police officer and a red fox con artist as they uncover a conspiracy that involves the disappearance of predator civilians within a mammalian utopia.

Five minutes in and I’m grinning and laughing at the jokes and visual humour. About halfway through there is a great action sequence. Then the movie takes a turn for the dark and dramatic.
The characters have to dig themselves out of their problems and solve the mystery. The tone rises to the end and the upbeat conclusion.
Great movie that is an allegory for racism, intolerance and prejudice.

(Rating 5/5)

Best line:
He’s not reliable, he’s …. unreliable

Lana Lane

Lana Lane is a North American rock singer. She sings lead in her eponymous band, and has sung backing vocals for the band Rocket Scientists and guest sung on Ayreon and Erik Norlander albums.

She is married to music producer Erik Norlander, who co-produces her albums with her at their own studio, Think Tank Media in Woodland Hills, California.

Her first album Love is an Illusion was released in 1995 and obtained a fair amount of success in Japan, as did Curious Goods – her second album, from 1996.

Lady Macbeth is a collection of songs based on William Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth, from Lady MacBeth’s point of view.

Lana Lane appeared as a guest vocalist on two Ayreon CDs, Universal Migrator Part 1: The Dream Sequencer and Universal Migrator Part 2: Flight of the Migrator, singing lead and harmony vocals. She also provided the computer voice for both albums.

In 2003 Lana sang the part of Queen Guinevere on the concept album Once and Future King Part I by Gary Hughes.

Secrets of Astrology (2000)

 

This was the first album from this group of musicians I purchased. The samples sounded interesting and I was intrigued by the cover. This was certainly a musical style I could relate to. I could hear a resemblance to the work a decade before of E.L.O.

Those strings and full harmonies and melodies. The album starts off quietly, a simple theme repeated with instruments slowly added (like Tubular Bells). Then, after several minutes a machine gun-like drum set kicks in. From then on until the end it’s flat out heavy, symphonic rock. There is no arguing with Lana’s title as “Queen of Symphonic Rock”. She is often compared to the Wilson girls from Heart. But as Heart is not a band I know a lot about, I can’t compare her to anyone.

While there are technically better singers, Lana has a powerful voice that rises to her husband, Erik Norlander’s songs. As for the cover, it is by Michael Parkes, one of my favourite painters. His work features in other albums by Lana and Erik. Erik even uses an image by Sci-Fi illustrator Jim Burns I am familiar with on his ‘Seas of Orion’ CD.

Love is an Illusion (1995)

After the first Lana Lane CD, I was hooked. I set out to get her remaining albums.

Her first album starts with someone tuning a radio. This changes to a choral effect then the title song’s main theme. The second track starts the song, Erik Norlander plays all the keyboards and propels the fast tempos along, ably assisted by Don Schiff (Chapman Stick) and Tommy Amato (drums).

Things slow down for the mid-tempo song “Coloured Life”. A good song with nice interplay between the keyboards and guitars. “Cold Outside” starts with a heavy metal guitar and assured rhythm section. In the chorus Lana gets to stretch out, he voice sours over the arrangements there is a catchy melody easily remembered after the album finishes.

“Through the Fire” is another song with all the necessary elements; chugging guitars, rock steady drumming, again that soaring voice and plenty of progressive elements to keep it interesting. Keyboards dominate in the foot tapping “Through the rain”, containing a good dose of swing rhythms.

“Faerie Tale State of Mind” dates from 1993, a nice ballad with grand sweeping orchestral effects. “Dream Burning Down” is more of a by-the-numbers heavy rock tune. “Can’t find My Way Home” looses its way a bit in the verses, but redeems itself with a strong chorus.

The album was re-mastered in 1998 by Erik, which wasn’t really necessary. The original is far better than must albums in the genre and he should be happy with the result.

This first album isn’t a heavy and overwhelming as latter albums. I suspect (like most first albums) that he had a good number of well rehearsed songs ready for recording.

This remains a favorite of mine in her discography and despite the above comments, I usually play the 1998 version with it’s fuller sound.

Curious Goods (1996)

With her second album, Erik and Lane had to prove they could do it again.

Although not the greatest Lana Lane album, it does have some of her best songs. A sample of ‘Eschers’s Staircase” sparked initial interest in her work. This is a great progressive rock song, with a strong chorus and nice instrumental breaks. It has a great driving bass line throughout most of the song.

The other good song is “Symphony of Angels” that merges fast guitar riffs with slower keyboard passages. At over six minutes, there is lots of scope for variations in the arrangements and tempo.

Erik Norlander is becoming a better composer and arranger although the material here is not as strong as in the next two albums.

Garden of the Moon (1998)

According to Erik Norlander, this album ten times the number of the two previous album. It’s not surprising, this is a harder, more rocking band that provides Lana with a consistent wall of sound throughout the album. The second track, “Destination Roswell” is a six minute radio friendly song with hit potential.

Things do slow down for the excellent “Under the Olive Tree”. Again a great symphonic song with some nice guitar solos.

The title tune is an Erik Norlander instrumental that could have come from a Rocket Scientists album.

This is perhaps the most commercial hard rock album of them all, but for me the best was yet to come.