The DCH Blog
The Grand Budapest Hotel - a pre-screening review - Sunday 13th July 2014
Wes Anderson makes unique, stylised films that are as much about form as content. He really is an auteur. He also divides the room. Fans gobble up everything he does with a hunger that can be undiscriminating and partial, while gainsayers find him affected and irritating. The Grand Budapest Hotel just might be the film to bring both camps together.
Whether it’s the East European locations or Ralph Fiennes’s superbly judged lead performance or that Anderson has packed this one with heavyweight talent, somehow the whimsy really works this time. The freshness of his cast - Tom Wilkinson, Tilda Swinton, Jeff Goldblum, F Murray Abraham – really invigorates what had tended towards indulgent in the past.
The real star, however, is the Hotel itself. Sumptuously dressed, ludicrously overblown and beautifully shot, the Hotel reminds us of a time we think we know of, but probably never was. The images Anderson puts on screen alone would entertain, and that’s perhaps just as well. The film swiftly turns from a comedy of manners to an unravelling caper movie - those looking for coherent plot need look elsewhere. But for those wanted to confection as delightful as the Courtisane au Chocolat in the film, this could be the one that gets Anderson’s critics to think again.
By David Vass
Kakatsitsi Royal Drummers of Ghana - this Friday - Monday 7th July 2014
There are over a hundred stages at Glastonbury, many of them little more than upturned beer crates, so when an act promotes itself with a previous appearance at the granddaddy of all festivals, it’s easy to be a tad sceptical. It was, therefore, quite a surprise to realise that Kakatsitsi were not only on at West Holts last year, one of the big three open air stages, but that out of the thousands of performances to choose from, it was one of acts I saw.
Part of the perennially eclectic offering at Pilton, they were sandwiched on my itinerary between the Penguin Café Orchestra and Marcus Brigstocke – another artist using Glastonbury as a warm up for Diss. Their performance was a brilliant collaboration with the Orb, but in case there is any misunderstanding they were far more than the Orb’s rhythmic backing band. On the contrary, Fluffy White Clouds quickly receded into no more that the melodic underpinning for the hypnotic drumming and singing of Kakatsitsi, leaving a sun soaked audience hungry for more.
The chance to see them perform in their own right is both intriguing and exciting, and having only recently returned from a considerably wetter, muddier Glastonbury, is sure to evoke some very happy memories for me. For the uninitiated, I can only say that this is an act you really should make the effort to see.
By David Vass
The Roving Crows - a review - Tuesday 24th June 2014
The Roving Crows delivered their own very particular brand of rock/folk fusion on Saturday at the Corn Hall, rousing the crowd into dancing away on an unusually sweltering evening.
Front man Paul O’Neill, with occasional nods towards Dylan, for the most part snarls his way through a set somewhere between Roger Walters and Mark Knophler. O’Neill’s dry wit is best summed up by the mordant humour of Long Time Dead and President Garfield’s Night Out - though tellingly, it was in the song about his recently deceived brother, that he showed where his heart was.
His laconic guitar playing is complemented perfectly by the elfin voice and the accomplished fiddle of fellow founder member, the statuesque Caitlin Barrett. It’s their able backing however that gives the Crows their distinctive sound. Greg Wilson-Copp parps on his horn with a feel more usually associated with ska, while the rhythm section of Tim Tollhurst and Loz Shaw have something of the dark arts of jazz about them.
Their feet may be firmly planted in the folk tradition, but with shades of Penguin Café Orchestra, the Levellers and even New Model Army, it makes for an exotic musical cocktail.
By David Vass