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Alice Salmon

Cult Japanese horror comedy comes to HOME, courtesy of Film4

REVIEW: One Cut of the Dead @ HOME

WORDS BY ALICE SALMON

When you think of horror-comedy, you’ll probably go straight for the Scary Movie franchise – and with good reason. It takes something special for laughs and scares to sit comfortably in the same script without lapsing into parody or farce – did somebody say Sharknado? One Cut of the Dead is a breakout zombie horror classic that marries the two in award-winning fashion. It screened at HOME last night as part of Film4’s FilmFear season.

One Cut of the Dead is the brainchild of Japanese writer-director-producer Shin’ichiô Ueda – and it simply can’t be reviewed without first acknowledging the 37-minute single-take opener that has audiences going mad. At first, it’s disorientating: who is it that keeps wiping blood spatter off the camera lens? It only becomes clear later on that this isn’t an overlooked continuity error – it’s actually the central axis of a stellar meta-comedy.

“POM!”

But back to the plot. The film opens in a disused water filtration plant, somewhere in rural Japan. A megalomaniac director berates two young stars for their apparent ineptitude during filming of – you guessed it – TV zombie flick, One Cut of the Dead. They take a break after a scene’s 42nd take as the mood gets fractious. Needless to say, the cast are then split up very quickly, after some brief exposition – which is when the zombies come to play.horror, one cut of the dead, home, manchester

As the living and undead play a game of cat-and-mouse around the abandoned plant, the director pops back at the worst possible moments, delighting in how realistic everyone’s fear seems – and how great his film is shaping up. Watch out for make-up lady Nao’s invaluable self-defence lessons and being surprisingly handy with an axe.

Side note: it’s really difficult to not give away all the spoilers on this one, so it’s best you witness how the plot unfolds for yourself…

Every film genre features the joke-within-a-joke trope. Yet here it feels organic, the plot more relatable and the humour more…human.

The trailer points towards One Cut of the Dead being just another gore-fest at the hands of an unknown director. But that’s just a secondary device around which the main plot is based – which in itself replicates the reality of Ueda’s entire project. Any initially clunkiness adds to the comedic credibility of the latter stages of the film as Ueda’s intent slots into place.

This film comes highly recommended for those who aren’t so good with gore. Ueda portrays the trials of filming on a tight budget with aplomb, making easy bedfellows of contrasting concepts: a cast making the best of things, a father-daughter reconciliation and the universal appeal of slapstick.

No wonder it has a coveted 100% rating (97% viewer rating) on Rotten Tomatoes. Heartily endorsed by Film4 Channel Editor and FilmFear curator David Cox, One Cut of the Dead lovingly pokes fun at the genre it inhabits. This irreverently self-referential offering is one to watch, laugh and recommend to everyone you know: you won’t regret it.

You can still buy tickets for FilmFear here, taking advantage of HOME’s multi-save ticketing system.

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PREVIEW: FilmFear @ HOME, 26-31 October

Words by Alice Salmon

Halloween is just around the corner and all (evil) eyes are on HOME, as celebrated indie horror film festival FilmFear returns for another year of screams, spooks and scares. (Please note: pun-haters and the squeamish alike should look away now). This season (of the witch), MCR Live will be covering the festival for the first time – and with its fiendish calendar of events co-curated by Film4, there’s something for the horror fan in every (haunted) house.

You’ll find previews of cult genres (cheerleader slasher, anyone?) alongside Q&As from (in)famous directors and a (blood)-spattering of cult classics. These really are six (six, six) days of unmissable cinema. Music fans too, listen up – with scores from John Carpenter littering this year’s festival, everyone’s spine will be tingled. Here are some of our top picks ahead of the festival’s respawn tomorrow:

One Cut of the Dead (15)

Released last year to critical acclaim, Japanese zombie horror One Cut of the Dead has already gained notoriety for its agonising 40 minute single-take opener. Be prepared for blood, guts and a surprising amount of black comedy.

Mandy (18)

Blending action, horror and romance in one lethal cocktail, Mandy stars Nicolas Cage and Andrea Riseborough in their fight against a seemingly-innocuous hippie cult who are in turn in league with a satanic biker gang. It ticks every box for those who like their horror bold, bloody…and with crossbows.

The Fog (15)

The penultimate day of the festival sees one of three cult classics brought back from the afterlife. Our pick of the three is The Fog, starring horror heroes Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh and Adrienne Barbeau – it’s an ‘80s feast for the (six) senses.

 

Want to check out these, and more, but you reckon it’ll get pretty expensive? Think again. 

HOME offers a multi-buy ticketing system, so the more films you book tickets for, the more money you save. For fans of indie cinema, horror classics, and those who already know what you did last summer, this promises to be devilishly good.

Click here for the full programme of events and ticket bookings

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COMMENT: M.I.A. and the Sound of Identity

Words by Alice Salmon

It’s widely agreed that art is the sum of its influences. Pick any great beatmaker, composer or lyricist, and you can hear their identity. For starters, there’s an endless array of artists that cite J Dilla as their biggest influence – his iconic sound is heard today hip hop, jazz and classical genres alike. Hear how Peggy Gou opts to sing in her native Korean throughout It Makes You Forget (Itgehane). And of course, witness Amy Winehouse’s famously mercurial back catalogue – her enduring love of hip hop and trad jazz reframed by a later exploration of Motown.

Arguably top of this list is the Sri-Lankan (via South London) rapper, M.I.A, whose newly released documentary Matangi/ Maya/ M.I.A. unfolds as an impassioned, intricate tapestry of the two cultures that shaped her and her art. Cut from over 700 hours of archive footage shot by M.I.A. and her family as well as long-time friend Stephen Loveridge, Matangi/ Maya/ M.I.A. unflinchingly contextualises one of the most politically-charged artists of our time.

Set in the family home in London and the Arulpragasams’ dwellings in Jaffna, Sri Lanka (via Coachella, the Grammys and the 2012 Super Bowl), the film’s relentless cross-continent leaps seem a deliberate reflection of Maya’s steadfast grip on her cultural identity amidst unpredictable surroundings.

“Wanna hear my story? I’m gonna show you my story”

M.I.A talks candidly throughout the film, recounting her (at times chaotic) formative years. She recalls coming home from school one day to see the neighbours lined up, removing her family’s possessions from their Hounslow home. She told them that they could take what they wanted as long as she could keep her radio. Spoiler alert: they took the radio. As a result, she was forced to hear the unfamiliar sounds of hip hop blaring from the adjoining flat as she lay in bed that night. And from this, she says, her sound was born.

She doggedly pushes her reality into the Western consciousness throughout the film, with staggering reactions from the mainstream media. It’s in the face of such opposition that her music takes on a renewed relevance and meaning: we had no idea we were cookin’ for commandos / everybody came in four-wheeler truckloads (Macho, unreleased, 2004).

 

The documentary is a perfect illustration of how every morsel of art you ever consume is born from something else: music exists on one level to be enjoyed for what it is, but when you delve a little deeper and explore lyrics, artwork, beats and samples, there’s a wealth of riches to be devoured.

This film is a must-see for anyone with even a passing interest in M.I.A’s music. If it doesn’t make you want to revisit a track that has become an internet meme or re-evaluate M.I.A as a feminist icon – or just acknowledge her as a straight-up badass (search “M.I.A, NFL”) – then it will give you a poignant insight into what it really means to march to your own beat.

 

 

Matangi/ Maya/ M.I.A. is now showing at HOME. Book your tickets here.

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tommy tickle

REVIEW: Tommy Tickle – ‘Shapes and Spaces’ EP

The summer is well and truly underway. All we’re missing is a soundtrack, and rising Manchester DJ and producer Tommy Tickle is gunning for a place on your playlist. His first solo release, Shapes and Spaces – courtesy of local label (and MCR Live Residents) Ad Hoc Records – is a 5-track slice of sunshine, packed with a digger’s delight of genre-spanning influences.

Already making waves in London and Manchester with his Neo-soul/electronica crossover outfit ‘A Broken Camarilla’, Tickle is now branching out, expanding his funky reach with this no-nonsense deep house offering. The difference in style between his collaborative and solo work is sharply defined, with this EP showcasing not only a different creative direction but objectively slicker production values and an almost clinical sense of poise and precision.

Restless, fidgety, beats get the EP underway as In The House begins to wind the tension; a nostalgic piano motif dances around chopped vocals throughout an arguably tentative six and a half minutes. It’s these similarly sparse textures across second track God Chord that leave you wondering where Tickle could take things – and at times whether he’s going to take it anywhere at all, with three full tracks still to go.

On this note, this is where middle track Goldrush comes into its own. A barrage of artful horns and cannily “Summer 2018” African vocal samples act as a call to action for all listening: sit up, pay attention, and get on down. If you’d mentally “gone to the bar” during tracks one and two, by now you can’t help but be thrust right back into the thick of it. Tickle lives up to his moniker and provides a tantalisingly drawn-out break and final drop straight back into the festivities – a beat only the shyest of wallflowers wouldn’t dance to.

Just as we get into the swing of things, Tickle takes us by surprise as things take a more ambient turn in penultimate track Eternal City. It’s here that Tickle reveals his hand, sampling Moodymann’s profanity-laden espousal of the MPC whilst a dreamy soundscape unfolds – occasionally punctuating the track with deliciously laboured UKG-style beats, displaying some of the aforementioned precision.

This respite is savvy tracklisting, as the best really has been saved for last. The Ceiling is – on the surface – another fairly formulaic deep house number, and perhaps you’d be forgiven for thinking it a slight anticlimax. However, in reality, this is Tickle at his minimalist and most efficient best – albeit taking a darker and deeper turn, rounding off the collection of tracks.

Ad Hoc have heralded Tommy Tickle’s release as a “carefully curated odyssey through deep house, soul, disco and garage”… and they’re not wrong. Here is an EP of mercurial qualities from a producer with promise. Under Tickle’s direction, ‘Shapes and Spaces’ moves through all these styles and beyond, hinting at various exciting future directions for the young artist. Although we don’t know where he’ll take his sound next, one thing’s for sure: it’ll be a great party.

Watch back to our Instore EP Launch with Ad Hoc Records and Tommy Tickle, here.

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Alfa Mist

GIG REVIEW: Alfa Mist @ Band on the Wall

Alfa Mist Photo – @tombescoby

It’s the hottest day of 2018 so far, and everyone’s been out across the Northern Quarter to mark Record Store Day. Here, in the swelteringly close quarters of Band On The Wall, Alfa Mist and his band coolly take the stage to play (amongst other things) his 2017 project, Antiphon.

Although best known for playing with this ensemble, Alfa’s been quietly making music for years alongside producers Lester Duval (2nd Exit), Tom Misch, Jordan Rakei and tonight’s support, rapper Barney Artist. A self-taught pianist, Alfa Mist cites Glasper as his biggest influence, which you can hear in the neo-soul, jazz and hip-hop blend across Antiphon. Debuted in Manchester back in November 2017, the project sees him blending spoken word and rap with Dilla breaks, soulful vocals and trad jazz stylings.

Antiphon’s myriad influences are clear throughout tonight’s set – from the opener, a cover of Blue in Green by Miles Davis, to the subsequent headlong plunge into Errors (taken from Antiphon) each player introduces themselves via a virtuosic solo. Chatty throughout, Alfa addresses the crowd from the piano, charismatic and keen to talk. There’s a mixed crowd in tonight, ranging from bearded hipsters to what might well be their parents – another reminder of Alfa’s genre-spanning appeal.

A post shared by Ewan Murry (@murrehcurreh) on

The set is peppered with covers, the second being a reworked Dilla joint (cue rowdy cheers of encouragement from the back). Say It, from posthumous release Jay Love Japan gets the Alfa Mist treatment – trumpeter Johnny Woodham and guitarist Jamie Leeming providing fully-realised, emotive solos over neck-tuggingly swung beats from drummer Jamie Houghton. Add to this a smooth, lyrical version of Sampha’s Plastic 100ºC, with Woodham replacing the vocal line in heart-wrenchingly beautiful fashion. The crowd is understandably held rapt right from the solo piano intro, testament to Alfa’s creativity and indisputable talent with each cover retaining its original identity, yet slotting perfectly into his self-produced oeuvre.

Although the crowd at Band on The Wall raucously cheer each track, tonight’s rowdiest roars of approval go to bassist Kaya Thomas-Dyke whose chilling, melismatic vocals on standout number Breathe give even the sweatiest observer goosebumps. Thomas-Dyke, along with the rest of Alfa ‘s band, breathes infectious live energy into what is – on first listen – an introspective, melancholic record. Mid-set, Alfa informs the room of Antiphon’s conception: a recorded discussion with his brothers about ‘the cycle of emotional baggage’.

He elucidates Antiphon’s thematic material throughout the set. The complexity of romantic, platonic and familial relationships are considered in this kaleidoscopic journey across beats, breaks, chord charts, solos and licks – particular highlights include Kyoki, Potential and rapper’s soliloquy 7th October. Tonight, hearing live trumpet run through a wah effect and a rap/jazz encore featuring support act Barney Artist, all present are left in no doubt as to the imminent supremacy of new UK jazz on the global scene. This is modern jazz for all people: the way it should be.

Antiphon is out now.

Like this? Rewatch our session at Band on The Wall with multi-instrumentalist, and Boiler Room legend, BINKBEATS here.

 

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Porches

GIG REVIEW: Porches @ The Deaf Institute

Porches photo from @lukehollows

“This is one for the sweethearts out there tonight. You’re all sweethearts.” coos Aaron Maine, aka Porches, at regular intervals throughout his show at Manchester’s The Deaf Institute. Dressed to impress in a cobalt shirt, black jeans and spit-polished black shoes, Maine looks slightly awkward and almost too big for the stage. Yet as the band shyly assemble behind the safety of their instruments, the crowd bursts into applause and the tension is broken.

From there, it’s straight to business – ploughing through the more commercial corners of 2018 LP The House; tracks Now The Water and the recently-remixed Find Me make early, but punchy and insanely danceable, appearances. Porches have deftly set the tone for the evening: catharsis…and a boogie.

Maine endearingly acts out his lyrics, keen to get us all on-side, and the crowd need little convincing – Ono sees people shushing each other to give the frontman room to sermonise. Later, the atmosphere is reverential as Goodbye unfolds; its Jekyll & Hyde piano-versus-synth build towards a shuffle drop elicits huge mid-set roars from the floor. The band are clearly enjoying themselves, Maine’s soaring vocals uplifting and uniting this mixed crowd.

two thumbs up if you can play the cowbell

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The second half of the set is definitely more comfortable for Maine. He takes a proprietary air, introducing band members between the verses of Car as a proud parent would, encouraging the group to acknowledge their audience. Gems from both Pool (2016) and The House get an airing – all shining equally as bright, solidifying the growth of Porches’ newly synth-focused sound. The band sound tight and are seemingly as committed to having a good night as the crowd.

The encore appears to be a bold move: Maine and keys player Seiya Jewell are the only ones to reappear, this time for a stirring rendition of Country. The crowd sings along, rapt in this moment of communion. Skilfully harmonising with the audience, Maine brings the rest of the band back onstage – at which point the mesmeric trance is broken as a heckler bawls his request for a Porches deep cut. The band share a wry laugh and bassist Maya Laner quietly informs him that “Actually, half the band don’t know that song”, serving to reinforce the constant introspection and reinvention at play across this latest record.

With stellar support from local artist Hazy and his Bon Iver-esque brand of electronic indie (definitely one to watch), Porches have created a live aesthetic that perfectly aligns with their distinctive electronic balladry – tension and release, seen through the prism of wanting to go out for a good time.

‘The House’ is out now on Domino Records

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