Monday 27 October 2014

Life on the Road with Mr Dynamite

Tonight, HBO will premiere its new James Brown documentary 'Mr Dynamite', directed by Oscar-winner Alex Gibney. The movie charts the rise of the Godfather of Soul as he revolutionised the music industry and became a prominent philanthropist and civil rights campaigner.

James Brown at the Harlem Apollo.
Photo: Emilio Grossi. Permission: HBO.

About 10 days ago I was contacted by HBO and asked if I would like to interview Clyde Stubblefield and Jabo Starks, the drummers who played on many of Mr Brown's most important songs. Of course, I leapt at the chance. The pair told me many hilarious stories about life on the road with the famously tempestuous star.

In a new Huffington Post article I have published, alongside extracts of my existing unpublished interviews with saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis and trombonist Levi Rasbury, some of what they had to say.

London Film Festival: Fury Press Conference

I thought I'd round off my London Film Festival blogs with some exclusive pictures from the press conference for new Brad Pitt-starring WWII film Fury.

London Film Festival: Ed Snowden documentary is more gripping than any thriller.

The London Film Festival was book-ended by thrillers. It opened with The Imitation Game, about Alan Turing's race against time to crack the Enigma code. It closed with Fury, following a WWII tank crew through a series of bloody skirmishes in Germany. But more gripping than either was CITIZENFOUR, which told the story of US whistleblower Ed Snowden as he revealed the US Government's industrial scale spying on its own innocent citizens...

Monday 13 October 2014

London Film Festival - Bjork fails to impress... or even show up.

I attended the premiere of Bjork's new documentary a few days ago. Bjork didn't bother. She was supposed to, but she suddenly pulled out, citing a rather flimsy excuse about working on an album. She would have known she was doing that when she committed to the premiere. All a bit odd. All a bit Bjork.

Directors Peter Strickland and Nick Fenton, and producer Jacqui Edenbrow, apologised at the premiere for Bjork's absence. 

I'm not a particular Bjork fan, but was interested to give the film a go and see whether she could win me around. Sadly, she didn't.

London Film Festival 2014 - The Pamela Smart Trial

The London Film Festival typically includes at least one documentary shedding light on some sort of terrible injustice. Previous years' highlights have included The Central Park Five, West of Memphis and The Kill Team. One of my favourites was actually the much-maligned Conviction - not a documentary, but a real life story, which I reviewed here.

This year the trial of Pamela Smart is put under the microscope. In Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart, director Jeremiah Zagar posits that the trial - the first in America to ever be fully televised - was corrupted by months of media speculation before it began. It is worth noting that in the UK, Contempt of Court laws would have rendered almost all of that coverage illegal for the precise reason that it could compromise the trial process.

London Film Festival 2014 - Part One - The Imitation Game

Another year, another London Film Festival. This year's 12-day event kicked off with opening gala The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as maths genius Alan Turing, who cracked the Enigma code and helped the allies win the Second World War.

Here are some of my pictures from the press conference, of stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley and director Morten Tyldum.