How am I different

In this article I want to share with you one of my favourite musicians Aimee Mann and to discuss what her work means to me and how important it is for understanding mental health.

When I was about 20 years old I watched this film called “Magnolia” and it touched my soul. The feel of the film is very sad but contains some of the best drama I have ever seen on film. The film has some big stars like Tom Cruise, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Juliane Moore. One of the elements of the film that attracted me was the music. On investigating this I found out that the director of this film Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights) was in love with Aimee’s music and so he asked her to score the entire film using her music. The music was like nothing I had ever heard so that inevitably led me to look through her catalogue of music.

I started with an album called “Batchelor No.2” which I believe to be one of the best albums I own. In this album Aimee doesn’t just give you music, she gives you a window to her own personal fears and anxieties. Many music critics have described the music as raw because it has a lot of depressing lyrics though the melodies are not always in a minor tone.

If you are the sort of person who has an inner dialogue that criticises you and tells you you’re not good enough like I do then you can hear this argument in her music. Aimee isn’t always writing about herself she plays the parts of different characters and can be offering advice too.

Lost in Space is one of my favourite go to albums when I’m feeling a bit low. The album is about people who have a drug dependency. Aimee would compare taking taking heroin to being lost in space. The album has a number of fascinating rhymes which really stretch the imagination. Aimee once rhymed “Margaret Thatcher” with “Compound Fracture”. For me the most moving track on this album is titled “Its not” which I have included an excerpt of below:

“So here I’m sitting in my car at the same old stop light. I keep waiting for a change, but I dont know what.

So red turns in to green turning into yellow, and I’m just frozen here on the same old spot.

And all I have to do is to press the pedal, but I’m not, no I’m not”

I find these lyrics beautiful and very clever in the way they play with metaphor to describe a feeling we all have in life. Hidden expectations we are all expected to live up to. People around us who all seem to know the right way to live their lives and know all of the choices they need to make it happen.

I think if you don’t like to think about your music then this isn’t for you, and if you’ve never dabbled in self deprecation then this perhaps isn’t for you but I’d try it anyway. This music might be downbeat but it sends an important message that we’re not alone in how we feel.

I recently found out bizarrely that Aimee in the past lent her vocals to Canadian rock trio Rush for their famous single “Time Stands Still”. Aimee also plays the girl who had her toe chopped off in the Coen Brothers film “The Big Lebowski”

Mental Illness is Aimee’s new album and lends itself to the territory of how people with mental illness cope in their day to day lives. I haven’t yet fully explored the content but I’m excited for what new fruit will come from it.

Aimee is still touring, I had the pleasure of seeing her in London and picked up a signed copy of Charmer. Aimee is such a bright and funny woman that you might not think she is capable of writing such sad music but perhaps this is one of those ironies in life, the funniest can often be the saddest inside. Please give Aimee’s music a try and let me know what you think.

Advertisements

Top 10 Horror Films

“I don’t like Horror they’re too scary” quit being a wimp and give one of these films a try! Horror is good for us, as it stretches our imagination and gives us a free adrenaline rush. Nowadays horror is just about jump scares and ghostly nonsense. In the cinema at the moment the films are mostly paranormal or zombie related. Don’t get me wrong I have nothing against these types of horror, but there are lots of classics worth trying first which are more psychologically creepy. In my opinion a horror that leaves you thinking long after the film ends is worth watching instead of just a bunch of quick meaningless scares. I think Horror films also have to be fun to watch. Some I have included are quite retro and you don’t have to take them too seriously. I think if a horror looks old and dated, if the subject matter is still strong then it doesn’t matter.

Please comment if you have any greats that I haven’t mentioned or please tell me some of your favourites I’d love to hear them.

The Shining – If you haven’t seen the Shining then you need to watch it. The combination of Stanley Kubrick’s artistic genius, alongside the creepy acting from Jack Nicholson is a real treat. You can cut the tension with a knife and the eerieness is off the charts. If you think you won’t bother as you’ve read the book, think again. I’ve read the book and this re-imagining is so much better. This film does build the tension with music and there isn’t always a pay off so it can leave your nerves shot. ‘Paranormal activity’ (The original only) I think also creates an excellent build up of tension in this same way but The Shining has a much better story.

The Descent – this is quite a fun film to watch with other people. The dank dark potholing they venture down to is a great horror atmosphere. There is also the dynamic of the tension between the group and all the backstabbing to try and escape. The evil that lurks in the cave is definitely scary and not too hard to believe, when you consider some of the strange creatures they find on nature documentaries. There is a fair amount of gore in this film so the squeemish be aware!

Rosemary’s Baby – don’t be put off because this is an old film. The story is closer to a thriller but it deserves the title of horror because the subject is quite strong. My girlfriend is 22 and she found this film entrancing. This film has great moments of obscurity and surrealism which leaves you feeling uneasy. Definitely one to try out. This is perhaps a great starter for those less into violent horror.

The Exorcist – when this film hit the cinema my dad didn’t know what it was about, he was dating my mother at the time and thought if he invited her she would get scared and cuddle up to him. My dad ended up being the scared one and cuddled up to her instead. Now this film still holds a dark premise. The thought of the little girl being the object of the devils spirit is scary enough. You can see from this film why it upset religious people so much. The art in this film is excellent and the story is still punchy and fun.

28 Days Later – Danny Boyle gets on my nerves at times. I wasn’t that into Trainspotting and I didn’t get the fascination with Slumdog Millionaire, but this film I enjoyed. Set in a desserted London, this is a great modern take on a zombie movie. The people aren’t so much zombies but as living viruses fuelled by a rage virus. The story isn’t just about that though, it follows the survival of these oddly matched people. The drama is excellent and it takes you on a journey of hope. This one definitely leaves you thinking.

Occulus – this is a modern horror about a woman in search of this antique mirror that supposedly holds mystical paranormal powers. This film is a bit of a head fuck and sketched me out at times but is none the less gripping. This one definitely kept me awake that night as it plays on your mind. Definitely give this one a go.

Ring – the book is also worth reading and I have no gripes with the American version either. I would recommend watching the Japanese one as it has a dark side to it that is great. The story of a videotape that when watched will put a curse of you that kills you if you don’t make someone else watch it is great! The film is less about the horror but more about dealing with this awful situation and indirectly having to learn about how this came to pass. This film is a Great modern classic.

Bram Stokers Dracula – this isn’t to everyone’s taste, but I found the art of this film entrancing. Keane Reeves was a bit scary because of his British accent. Gary Oldman steals the show though with a fantastic eerie interpretation of Dracula. In terms of gore there are a few spoonfuls of sugar that I enjoyed. The visuals of this film are intense and won awards thanks to Francis Ford Coppola. Anthony Hopkins also does a great part of playing Van Helsing. Also, don’t have a go at this film for being oldie worldie it was supposed to be set in the past! It is 2 hours but for me they flew by.

The Silence of the Lambs – this is more of a thriller but again very good. Anthony Hopkins is outstanding and plays a superb Hannibal lecter. A film called ‘manhunter’ tried to capture the idea of Hannibal lecter but failed miserably. Silence of the Lambs has style and the story is enticing. Jodie Foster plays a strange vulnerability in her character but it does compliment the film. You watch as these two characters on different sides of the glass build up a strange rappore.

 

The Thing – cheesy? Check! Retro? Check! I love this movie. This was in the days where animatronics were used instead of endless CGI crap. The story of an alien monster buried in the snow in frozen animation waiting to be discovered Is fascinating. This monster can polymorph into any living creature. The dynamic of the crew not trusting one another is great and you can feel the dread that they do in just not knowing. This was originally a classic that John Carpenter reimagined.  I have intentionally picked this horror over Halloween because I think that Halloween was a bit of a novelty of that time and I struggle to find anything in Halloween other than just artistic merit. This film however is fun and worth a watch.

I have intentionally limited the amount of horror with intense gore or extremely messed up storyline for possibly another post. These films are really for everyone to try and if you don’t like Horror treat them like an amusement ride.

Tell me what you like about horror in the comments and please share some recommendations for me to try!

Top 10 Feel Good films

I love movies so much. Some might say I was a film buff. When I was 20 my best friend bought me the book of “1001 Movies to watch before you die” and I have gone through them, trying lots of different genres of film. In this cold wet time of the year (I’m in the UK by the way) it might be nice to curl up and watch a good movie to cheer ourselves up. Here are my top 10 feel good films in no particular order. Give them a try and let me know, or drop me recommendations for your feel good films.

1. As Good as it Gets – a great film, brilliant story and the chemistry between the actors is excellent. There are some very gentle moments in this and we can all relate to Nicholson’s odd ball character. Family friendly and easy watching.

2. Scent of a Woman – this film is very touching and over the course of the film we learn to love Pacino’s character even though he is a bitter asshole. It teaches us the value of doing nice things for others.

3. Hector and the search for Happiness  – this is a slightly more modern film. Although this film is a bit cheesy in places, it’s heart is in the right place. This film is very uplifting.

4. Dead Poets Society- okay this one isn’t as cool as the other ones. This film is a little bit cheesy in places. I normally end up watching this one when I’m not well. I definitely relate to the scene with the dick head father. I went to a private school when I was young and this cuts through that stuffiness kind of like Scent of a Woman does.

5. Groundhog Day- Bill Murray is so damn funny in this film. I can’t imagine anyone else playing this part. There are funny, sad and uplifting parts. We all have our own experience of this feeling of life repeating itself, such a great story.

6. Good Will Hunting- This film has some bad ass moments. One of my favourite Robin Williams movies. Great story that has some major feels. The story is unique but borrows a lot of Philosophy.

7. Ferris Bueller’s Day off- This is my favourite John Hughes movie. If you’ve watched this one too much then try Breakfast Club, that is equally fun. This is a light fun film and the 80s style is still enjoyable now I think.

8. Meet the Parents – this was when Robert De Niro was still cool, and the comedy of this film is real enough not to be too slapstick. Make me giggle and I relate to that awkwardness of trying to be affable.

9. Ghost – this film is bittersweet. I wouldn’t advise watching this if you feel delicate because in certain moods it can make me teary. Still some fun to be had! I think the relationship portrayed by the actors is believable. Whoppi Goldberg is a pleasant comic relief. 

10.  The Truman Show – this was a frequent rental from blockbuster in my youth. It was normally when I was off sick from school. This film proves that Carrey is a versatile actor. The faint hint of craziness comes through. As a child (and secretly as an adult) I like to pretend I am the centre of attention and this film is great fun!
Is your favourite missing? Please recommend and I will try it I promise!

 

He’s Getting Oldman

Above is a picture of Gary Oldman playing “Zorg” in one of my favourite sci-fi films “The Fifth Element”. Remember how cool he was? He was so outlandish and funny. When I was growing up in the 90’s Gary Oldman featured in loads of cool films. When you look at films he has featured in over the years you see that he has a great sense of humour and picks some really funny characters.

Above is a picture from his original screen debut where he played sid vicious from the Sex Pistols in the film ‘Sid and Nancy’ this set him on his way. A lot of his later characters had an odd ball streak running through them.

‘True Romance’ was a bizarre role where he played what some might refer to as a ‘Wigga’ a white person who pretends to be black. Some might say that he is almost unrecognisable in this role as he is so off the wall. Oldman brings such a great dimension to the role that you forget it’s even him. A similarly crazed role is where he plays ‘Norman Stansfield’ in Leon: The Professional’ which in my opinion is one of Luc Besson’s best film. Check out this scene where oldman embodies stansfield. I love it when he is talking about classical music, and when taking about Beethoven he says “after the overtures, he gets a little fucking boring” so much crazed aggression. Norman Stansfield is the epitomy of a character you just love to hate. Gary Oldman captures this character beautifully.

In the film ‘Hannibal’ which is a follow up to Silence of the Lambs, Oldman shows his creepier side. He has always brought a strangeness to his characters but this one is quite sinister. I love how versatile he is as an actor. I was quite amazed when I found out he was British! An honourable mention is his part in Dracula which was equally creepy and we’ll acted. He also was great in Harry Potter, though I’ve never been much of a Potter fan.

As of late Oldman has been taking a more calmer form of character. He played Jim Gordon in Christopher Nolan’s interpretation of Batman. Oldman was very good on this but it did feel like a back seat. I can’t speak for ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’ because I haven’t seen it but I hear it is excellent. Could it be that capturing an actors talent can be found more in the strength of the writing than in themselves. Actors normally aren’t as outlandish as the characters they portray. Here is hoping that Gary Oldman will reprise his zanier funny roles sometime soon. Does anyone have any good films with Oldman I have forgotten? Can you recommend any, I’d love I hear them.