film · music

The beauty of Chaplin’s Limelight

When it comes to the rivalry between those famous silent clowns, I have always been a bigger fan of Buster Keaton. It was Buster who made me fall in love with silent film and old Hollywood. However, it’s impossible for me to deny Charlie Chaplin’s genius. He was a master at what he did. He was a master film maker of the highest order – actor, writer, director… he was everything. His greatest achievement was his ability to mesh comedy and pathos together. You laughed…and you cried. I always get very emotional at the end of City Lights when the blind girl, finally able to see, realizes that it was Charlie, the little tramp, who paid for her surgery. Urgh…..the tears do flow.

Chaplin’s filmography is filled with wonderful  films – we all know The Gold Rush, Modern Times, City Lights, The Great Dictator etc etc but I  very rarely hear people talk about Limelight.
In Limelight, Charlie plays Calvero,  a once famous stage clown who now finds himself impoverished and forgotten. One night he saves a young dancer from committing suicide and proceeds to help her recover her health and her future. It is through this relationship that Calvero regains his own confidence.

Chaplin himself, composed the main theme for the movie and it is absolutely perfect. It is melancholy and hopeful at the same time – just like the film. Chaplin was able to create a perfect piece of music that completely encapsulates the tone of the movie. Every time i listen to  it I am transported back to the first time I saw the film. I feel those emotions deep in my gut and its almost enough to bring a tear to my eye. While this film was not Chaplin’s finale film, it really does feel like his farewell piece. A semi-autobiographical tale that looks back at his past and then hands the baton over to the  young new talent that is sure to come.
I highly recommend listening to this if you are a fan of music and/or film – and then I highly recommend watching Limelight itself. (P.S Also worth noting that my boo Buster  has a small role in the film as another washed-up comedian of the past which is moving in of itself. Two giant stars of the silent era – rivals-  together on screen.)

Two wonderful different versions of the same piece of music


pop culture

Weird celebrity deaths.

2016 has been a year of loss. David Bowie, Prince, Glenn Frey….  I mean the list feels endless this year. As someone obsessed with pop culture and music, it has been tough. We may not have known these people but they do become important to us. They are the soundtracks of our lives, our heroes, our inspirations, our childhood. So when they leave it’s hard not feel a sense of loss.
In an attempt to deal with my own sadness, I began to look into other cases of public grief in response to celebrity deaths.

The death of Valentino in  1926 caused mass hysteria, with some women even killing themselves in their grief. There was worldwide shock when John Lennon was murdered. This wasn’t just any singer, this was a Beatle…The Beatle for a lot of people. You can’t watch the footage of the thousands of people standing outside The Dakota singing ‘Give Peace a Chance’ and not see how intense the public grief was. And of course, we practically broke the Internet when Michael Jackson died in 2009. So, I realized  grief at the death of a celebrity is really nothing new, it’s been around for as long as celebrities have. It was strangely comforting to know that I wasn’t alone.

I also began to realize something else. Many celebrities have died in circumstances that are weird, unusual or just plain mysterious. Here are a few interesting ones:

Jeff Buckley

Jeff Buckley was a rising star, certain to take over the world. I listen to his album Grace and actually get angry, angry because he was so damn good and he never really got a chance to show his full potential.The somewhat mysterious nature of his death has become something of a rock’n’roll myth. One night, Jeff decided to go swimming in Wolf River Harbor  with his boots and clothes still on, singing a Led Zeppelin tune. He then vanished and his body was found a few days later. Though his death was ruled as an accidental drowning, many people still find the whole thing strange.

Leslie Howard

Leslie Howard was an incredible actor, in my opinion one of the best of the early 20th century and sadly, one that is often forgotten. Sure, anyone whose seen Gone with the wind may know him as Ashley but beyond that, it seems not many people even know who he is…or how how he died.

During the second world war, Howard offered his services to the British Government, where he was involved in propaganda broadcasts. He was killed in 1943 when the Luftwaffe shot down the civilian plane he was flying in.


Natalie Wood

Natalie Wood was an incredibly gifted child-actress who grew up to be one of Hollywood’s most beautiful leading ladies.  Natalie drowned in 1981, while out on a yacht with her husband Robert Wagner and friend Christopher Walken. Natalie’s body was found one mile away from the boat and the autopsy report revealed that she had bruises on her body and arms as well as an abrasion on her left cheek.  The true nature of her death is still being investigated to this day.


Brandon Lee

Brandon Lee was the son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee. He was just at the beginning of his own career in film when he died. I truly believe that Brandon could have been a big star. He was handsome, athletic, talented in martial arts and had a wonderful stage presence.  Unfortunately he died way too young, just like his talented father. He died of a gunshot wound at the age of 28, after an accidental shooting on set of cult-classic The Crow. If you haven’t seen it…. go do that now. You won’t regret it. One of the best performances I’ve ever seen. If Brandon had to be remembered for only one of his performances, I’m glad it was one as iconic as this one. I must admit, I am definitely a little iffy about them remaking this one.

Natalie Wood’s Rebel without a cause co-star Sal Mineo was stabbed to death
David Carradine died from auto-erotic asphyxiation
Jayne Mansfield was partially decapitated in a car accident
Marvin Gaye was shot and killed by his own father
Steve Irwin was stabbed in the heart with a sting-ray barb
Sonny Bono died in a skiing accident
Brian  Jones was found floating in a swimming pool
Florence Lawrence killed herself by eating ant paste
Bob Crane was found bludgeoned with electrical cord wrapped around his neck
Marie Prevost drank herself  to death and her body was found half eaten by her Dachshund and Sharon Tate was murdered by the Manson family…. I mean the list goes on and on and on …..



Why I love Vinyl.

There is nothing quite like the sound of vinyl. Yes, I call it vinyl… I’m one of those people.  My dad basically said it like this – “If you actually lived through the era of vinyl records, you simply call them records, only people your age call them vinyl.”  (90’s kid here. By the time I was old enough to buy music, records were well and truly out. Though thankfully there has been a resurgence in recent years. vinyl now outsells CD)

While he doesn’t see it as a bad thing that I have gotten into vinyl (it’s actually been kind of a bonding experience for us – going to record fairs and going through both of our collections together) I have begun to notice that there is some kind of weird stigma attached to someone in my age group liking vinyl.
That somehow, I’m not worthy, not a true fan,  an annoying ‘hipster’ who is trying just a bit too hard to seem cool. I’ve even had people roll their eyes at me when I get excited about a hard to come by record making its way into my collection.
All of this has made me think  – why do I like vinyl records?  I certainly don’t think they sound better than digital. I’ve gone from listening to CD’s and digital downloads to listening to the same album on record – it doesn’t sound better. It just sounds different.

So, what is the draw?

1.  I have always been fascinated by how it all works. I remember looking through Dad’s collection and looking at the record player and really not understanding HOW this thing could produce sound. How did that little needle dropping down onto those grooves produce the sound that comes out of the speakers?  Though I understand how it all works now, I am no less fascinated.

2. I feel that there is something more satisfying about having an actual physical copy of something (this goes for CD too) We tend to develop emotional connections with music and that connection is even stronger when you are literally holding it in your hands!  It’s very easy to press play on your playlist (Which I still do, I don’t ONLY listen to vinyl) but there is something very special about actively going through your collection, picking a specific album, getting the record from its sleeve, placing it on the turntable – all these steps make the music all the more rewarding in some way… at least to me.

3.It also makes you stop and really listen. Instead of flying through a playlist of a hundred different artists and songs (sometimes mere background noise), you are completely focused on this one particular artist, this one particular album.

4. The sound. As I said before, I don’t believe that vinyl necessarily sounds better than digital, but there is definitely something unique about the way it sounds. I know I’m going to sound like a total cliche but there really is a certain ‘warmth’ to vinyl. It never sounds exactly the same, I feel like it’s always changing, and you hear different things within each time you listen.

5. The fun social aspect to record collections. I can’t tell you how many hours I have spent just going through collections with friends, talking about the music, the cover artwork. I love second hand shops and record fairs and as someone who doesn’t get out much it’s a great opportunity to socialize with people (of all age groups)) who share the same hobby and interests.

5. Aesthetics. Let’s be real here, records look cool. I’m not going to lie and say that the aesthetic aspect of vinyl isn’t a factor in why I like them. I enjoy the way they look, the art, the big crate I keep my collection in – I love it all.

6. I’m a collector by nature.(though my mama would call it hoarding rather than collecting)  I have a habit of collecting things that interest me. For example, I also collect classic films, some of which are very hard to get here in Australia. I collect books, I collect figurines and toys. Music is one of my biggest obsessions so it’s only natural that I would find a way to collect that too – what better way than collecting records?

I guess most of the reasons why I love vinyl are the same reasons every other collector loves vinyl. They’re awesome – what other reason does a person need?




When life gets you down…listen to Depeche Mode.

When life kicks you in the teeth one too many times, turn to music. That is my advice.
It’s certainly not going to fix everything (wouldn’t it be great if it did though?) but it definitely  helps.

I am going through some shit at the moment…. (losing my job and all) and I’ve spent most of yesterday and today in a deep funk. I am actually typing this from  under a pile of tissues, chocolate wrappers and empty ice-cream containers.
So, like I always do in times of need, I turned to music. Music is  so important to most of us for a good reason.  It reminds us of the past, it brings up old memories and the feelings that went along with it.
I’ll always remember driving in Dad’s car as a child and hearing the gravelly tone of Joe Cocker coming out of the speakers. Now every time I hear that voice I think of those childhood memories, those Sunday afternoon road trips, and of course, I think of my Dad. Even when my father is long gone, I know that every time I hear Joe Cocker I will think of him.

Music can motivate you,  it can inspire you and hell, it can make you cry. I don’t think I have ever gotten through ‘Storms’ by Fleetwood Mac without getting a little teary. (Damn you Stevie!)
As someone who suffers from anxiety,  it sometimes feels as though my mind is running a million miles an hour and I can’t turn it off. Music can be a great distraction from the chaos.

Today’s distraction is Depeche Mode.  I am beyond obsessed with this band. I could talk about them for hours and not get bored. I could talk about their incredible progression. (Seriously, take a look at the video for ‘Just can’t get enough’ and then watch anything from Violator or Songs of Faith and Devotion) I could talk about the sound of their music. The fact that while they could be cold and electronic, they still managed to put a great deal of depth and emotion into their songs, not to mention their ability to elicit an equally strong emotional reaction in their fans.(Just watch the Pennebaker documentary 101 for evidence of that)  I could talk about Martin Gore’s glorious fashion and his songwriting, I could talk about the quiet genius of Alan Wilder…. and don’t even get me started on Dave Gahan. Instead I will just say this:
I really freaking love Depeche Mode. Even when I am feeling like utter crap, I still love Depeche Mode and thank God for that.

The song of the day is Strangelove.
Will you give it to me
Will you take the pain
I will give to you
Again and again
And will you return it
(I mean how great are those lyrics?)