music

REVIEW: Patti Cake$ (2017)

Patricia Dombrowski, a.k.a. Patti Cake$, aka Killa P (Danielle Macdonald) dreams of being a rapper and escaping her life in New Jersey. With the help of her best friend Jheri (Siddharth Dhananjay) and some determination she fights to achieve her dream.

Patti Cake$ is your usual underdog story but its got so much heart to it that you can forgive it for pretty much any genre tropes it follows. That being said, it does have some unconventional story telling methods as Patti’s daydreams of meeting who she sees as rapping royalty O-Z (Sahr Ngaujah) are interwoven with her everyday life.

It’s the characters and performances in Patti Cake$ that really makes it. Patti’s relationship with her mother (Bridget Everett) is difficult and she has to work two jobs to support her and her Nana (Cathy Moriarty). Nana is the one who believes in Patti whereas her mother feels rapping isn’t a talent nor something her daughter should be doing. When Patti, Jheri, Nana and Basterd the Antichrist (Mamoudou Athie) are together making music you can feel the chemistry between them sizzle, like what you’re hearing could be something incredible.

Patti Cake$ is a realistic drama with a lead character you can’t help but root for. There are some funny moments in Patti Cake$, most of them come from Nana who brightens every scene she’s in with her blunt commentary, but it’s really a honest portrayal of a family struggling to survive when there’s bills to pay and little work to find.

Danielle Macdonald gives a, hopefully, star making performance in Patti Cake$. Her grit and determination pulls you into this story and you can’t help but to root for her. Patti Cake$ won’t be for everyone but it’s a small film with a lot of heart and some killer music. 4/5.

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REVIEW: Rudderless (2014)

When his son Josh (Miles Heizer) dies, Sam (Billy Crudup) stumbles across a box of his demo tapes and lyrics and starts to perform them. Soon he finds himself in a band, trying to use his son’s music to find some piece.

Rudderless is directed and co-written by William H. Macy (who also stars in the film as the owner of the bar Sam performs at) and for his directorial debut he puts together a great film. It’s filled with soft lighting, brilliant performances, wit and emotion.

The script has its twists and it deals with a heavy subject matter but all the cast handles it brilliantly. While it is sometimes a film that tugs on your emotions, it also has humour and vibrant characters that all feel like real people with their own problems.

So much of the emotion in the film comes from the music. It’s where Sam finds a connection with his son and where he finds a lovely yet unexpected friendship with fellow musician Quentin (Anton Yelchin). The songs are all fantastic and it’s the first time I’ve bought a films soundtrack in ages. Each song is touching and they are all well performed, Crudup and Yelchin both have great voices and chemistry both hen performing a song together and in just about every scene they share.

Rudderless is one of those films where I don’t really know how to describe it – it’s full of wonderful characters, a touching story and it is something special. It’s a hidden gem and I feel it’s a film that’s best to go in knowing as little as possible. Rudderless really is a delightful film. 4/5.

Z is for Hans Zimmer

I love film scores, they’re the best thing to listen to while writing in my opinion. There’s so many brilliant composers out there but Hans Zimmer is my favourite. I saw him live a few years ago at Hammersmith in London and it was the best experience, and probably my favourite gig I’ve ever been to. I wrote (more like gushed) about his concert on my blog here.

He’s composed so many iconic scores, from the superhero films like the Dark Knight Trilogy, Man of Steel, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, to epic films like Inception, The Last Samurai and Gladiator. He spans all genres, has worked with so many great directors and still manages to bring something new and different to each of the films he works on.

I find it hard to pick a favourite soundtrack of his. I think The Dark Knight was the first film score I bought so that has a special place in my heart, The Lion King gives me goose bumps and I adore both Sherlock Holmes and Inception.

I love how kind of mainstream Hans Zimmer is becoming. He’s got a world tour this year and he performed at Coachella a few weeks ago – can you imagine a film composer performing his scores with a full orchestra at a music festival like Coachella a few years ago? It’s kind of mad but brilliant. It makes people listen to the scores, and seeing all those people on stage really shows how much time, effort and people power it takes to make a film score.

Below is a compilation of some of Hans Zimmer’s best, or most famous, film scores – I’ve been listening to it as I write this post!

Y is for Anton Yelchin

Anton Yelchin was one of the actors I’d go on an actor-binge for, just buy and watch films only because he was in them never really mind the genre or reviews. I watched Charlie Bartlett (2007) that way and Middle of Nowhere (2008) which I watched last year and it really is a delightful film.

I think the first film I saw him in was Star Trek (2009) and he made a wonderful Chekov and he was instantly my favourite character. The same year Terminator Salvation was released and while it’s not the most liked film in the franchise, I enjoy it and think Yelchin made the best young-Kyle Reese. It was great because you could see the baseline for the man he’d grow up to be aka Michael Biehn in Terminator (1984).

I don’t know where I got it from but downloaded music from Anton Yelchin’s band – The Hammerheads. It’s loud and manic, very different to what I’d usually listen to but I do like it. I do love Yelchin’s vocals, and another great thing about Green Room (2015) besides it being a brilliant film, is you get to see some of Yelchin’s musical talent on screen.

Anton Yelchin was a really talented actor and it hurt when I heard of his death via social media. It was one of those that I didn’t believe and was in denial about until the news as being picked up on other sites. It was such a freak accident and I couldn’t believe it. His was the first “celebrity death” that really hit me and made me cry. I think it was not only because he was super talented and one of my favourite actors, but because it was such a shock giving the circumstances of his death and how young he was.

I’ve still got unwatched films of his, for an actor so young he’s made a hell of a lot of films, so it’s nice to go back and see him on screen.

R is for Rag’n’Bone Man

This guy is my new favourite artist when it comes to music. His voice is amazing and he’s breaking records, achieving number ones and winning awards left, right and centre. His music is soulful and heartfelt and kind of beautiful in my opinion.

The single Human went to number 2 in the UK Singles Chart and peaked at number 1 in eleven countries while his debut album, also titled Human, was the fastest-selling debut album by a male act during the 2010s! He even beat the likes of Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith! Now that is some achievement. This year at the BRIT Awards he won both British Breakthrough Act and the Critics’ Choice Award, tying with David Bowie for the most wins of the night.

Human was the first song of his I heard and I instantly sat up and took notice. It’s such a different sort of song to what I’d heard before and I love the bass beat. Skin is the latest single to be released and it’s just as wonderful. His debut album is brilliant and I’m currently recommending to everyone. I think if you like acts like Bastille and like soulful voices then you should definitely give Rag’n’Bone Man a listen.

I love his entire album so much it was so hard to choose which song to include in this post. Bitter End and Arrow are two of my favourites from his album but I had to choose Human – it the first song of his I heard and it still gives me shivers.

Q is for Queen

No, not her majesty of Great Britain but Queen the band. Even though Freddie Mercury dies just a couple of months after I was born, I’ve grown up listening to his music. This is thanks to my mum, she’s a huge Queen fan so she’d have the cassette tapes (then the CD’s) playing in the car when I was little. We would sing along and it cemented my love for the band.

I think it’s brilliant that so many Queen songs have become an everyday part of our lives. We Are the Champions is sung at spot events, and so many of their songs have been featured in films. Bohemian Rhapsody in Wayne’s World, Somebody to Love in Ella Enchanted, We Will Rock You in A Knight’s Tale and so many more. It always puts a smile on my face when I hear a Queen song in a film or TV show.

It’s pretty impossible to choose a favourite Queen song, there’s so many of them that I even forget a few of them. I love the headbangers, the proper sing-along songs and the ballads, I love them all. So, I had to go with a medley of songs and what better than Queen’s performance at Live Aid in 1985. I love watching their performance, Freddie Mercury has the audience in the palm of his hand and I love when they all clap along in perfect time to Radio Ga Ga – both in the audience at Wembley and all the way in Philadelphia. The Audience Improve part gives me shivers every time I see it.

O is for On a Mission by Gabriella Climi

So this song is one of my favourite feel-good, motivational songs. I’m not sure how I discovered it but it was during my University days. It became part of the soundtrack to my final year of Uni, especially when I was writing my dissertation.

I’d play it as I was getting all my stuff ready to leave my flat to head to the library for the day. It would get me all pumped and motivated, feeling like I was going to achieve something that day.

On a Mission will always bring back strangely fond memories of studying in the library for hours with my friends. While no doubt I was stressed and worried about my dissertations and the various essays I was writing, I still had a lot of fun writing in the library with my best friend sat next to me, bouncing ideas off each other. The song was (and still is) a part of my Kick-Ass Inspirational Playlist and even today if I need a boost I’ll listen to that playlist and it helps me throw my shoulders back, stand tall and get on with whatever I was putting off in my life.