25th July, 2004

News from the cultural frontline

Your roving cultural correspondant has been out and about in the field this week charting developments in film and sound. Well, I’ve been to see Spiderman 2, listened to some new albums and watched a few DVDs.

In forthcoming weeks I’ll be reporting on all sorts of Nottingham festival activity, gig-going and general debauchery that’d make Robin Hood blush. Alas, for now you’ll have to make do with a couple of short reviews…

Spiderman 2

I absolutely loved Spiderman 2. Always a fan of the original cartoon and the TV series, and a bit of a Marvel nut in general (I’m writing this wearing an Iron Man t-shirt), I enjoyed the first film from Sam Raimi. It had flaws, but I still liked it. This time around, it’s a more complete movie - great performances, top-draw effects, and in Doctor Octopus, we have a sinister but thoughtful bad-guy.


Even better, Frank Spencer plays Tobey Maguire playing Peter Parker. Maguire’s Peter Parker is delightfully inept at everything - clumsy to the point of farce. I sat there wondering who else could do Parker/Spidey as well as Maguire, and I could think of no-one. Spiderman was always my favourite superhero due to his obvious human traits. Where others would radically transform into strange beasts, or be all powerful fighting machines, Spidey always seemed worried, often confused, talkative (his introspective dialogues pepper the film) and generally just like you or I, albeit a bit more agile.Much like Superman 2, this sequel is better, and sees our hero struggling to decide between a normal life shagging Kirsten Dunst, or the life of a wall-crawling bug who can never let anyone close to him. It’s an inner battle that sets this film apart from others in it’s genre. The Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head scene, where Parker decides to live life as a geek, is inspired. A big slice of 70s cheese, but I remembered it the next day and it inspired me to smile at a girl in the street. She smiled back.

Quiff-heavy 50s throwback Mark Kermode made Spiderman 2 his Film of the week in the Guardian, summing the whole thing up as a brilliant pastiche of Director Sam Raimi’s work to date, including this choice nugget when discussing Peter Parker’s inner battle between human and arachnid:

‘Am I not supposed to have what I want?’ wonders Peter, as the uncontrollable gooey ejaculations of the original Spider-Man give way to yarn-spinning impotence, his jouissance now spent as he topples web-less from yet another giant erection.

Ha-ha! This quote only served to bolster the childish but funny views of one of my colleagues, who’s own unique wrist action miming suggests an alternative source for the webs. Tut-tut, Tebbutt. Anyway, I could waffle on about Spiderman for hours, but I won’t. Suffice to say, it’s an excellent movie that only serves to enhance our child-like love of crime-busting superheros. Go web, go!


Much like Mr.Hickman, I certainly have not got an advance copy of Interpol‘s new album by illegal means. Thus, I cannot tell you that it’s my record of the year. I cannot explain to you that it’s a massive slice of sub-gothic New York rock-punk that is a more mature, heavier sounding record than their first album, Turn On The Bright Lights. I’d love to explain that Evil and Not Even Jail are stunning tracks with punchy guitar and bracing lyrics.


Sadly, I’ll have to wait until September to tell you these things. In the meantime, I heartly recommend grabbing their existing stuff immediately and letting it get under your skin. Non-album track The Specialist is one of the darkest, most beautifully troubling records I have ever heard.

Earth The Californian Love Dream

Looking locally, Nottingham tunesmiths Earth The Californian Love Dream release their second single Porn Star tomorrow. I’ve been a big fan since I obtained a copy of their as-yet unreleased album a year ago. The boys play a weirdly fantastic mix of Black Sabbathy, West Coast summer-lovin’ big noise, and represented the UK at SXSW in Texas earlier this year. Naturally, the BBC’s John Peel loves them, and they completed a Peel Session in January. Surely though, the highlight of the last twelve months had to be opening the You Are Here Festival. They cost me a lot in beer, but it was worth every drop. The band also soundtracked our film, bless ‘em. If you need a copy of the new single, you can get it here for a pittance.

Earth interview

That’s enough excitement for now

That’s all from the cultural observatory for now. I’m off to watch Touching The Void on DVD now, and I’ll be delivering a full report from the very exciting Gobsausage freak show later in the week. Blimey.

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