Tuesday, April 29, 2008

160: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Had this sitting on my shelf for ages and just hadn't gotten round to watching it.
Having read William Goldmans Adventures in the screen trade, I knew a couple of things going in , I knew it had comic elements and I knew that Paul Newman and Robert Redford have a great chemistry in it. Oh and I knew how it ended, Impossible to avoid really its of those iconic scenes that is referenced and parodied a lot.

I think maybe if I hadn't known all of those things beforehand I would have enjoyed it better.I'm jumping ahead somewhat. First things first, the opening credits reveal the music was composed by Burt Bacharach, a slight jump from the Sergio Leone soundtracks I'm used to in westerns. It gives it an anachronistic feel which is interesting but I'm not a big fan of that kind of music, so call that a point against..

The first few scenes are typical western style (poker, gunplay,a train robbery ) setting up the characters (Butch is the brains and Sundance is the hotshot gunslinger ) and establish that they are already notorious.
There are a couple of great moments, most of them from the brilliant dialogue. But there are some points where interest starts to wane. That awful 'raindrops keep falling on my head' scene. And too many drawn out shots where nothing actually happens.

However from the second train robbery , the film really finds its feed. The pair are pursued by a seemingly unstoppable and completely anonymous posse. The pursuit is very well shot and The banter between butch and sundance losses its joking nonchalance as they realise they are in trouble -"Who are these guys?"

The plot changes direction again they flee to Bolivia to avoid their pursuers for good, Taking Eta ,Sundances girl,with them. There's an odd and to my mind unnecessarily long photomontage bridging the two halves of the movie showing their
journey south. There are more great comic moments when they realise they don't speak the language, not knowing how to say 'This is a robbery' in their new home. Theres a great scene where Eta and Sundance are gleefully shown into the safe in a bank by the manager which is played with no dialogue, just backing music, that is worthy of mention.
The Actress playing Eta is overshadowed by Newman and Redford but she plays the part adequately.

In the end the pair draw too much attention to themselves and find themselves
hunted down. And we all know how it ends.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The lowly cover version.

I was shuffling my winamp playlist tonight and came across Doctor? by Orbital. It got me thinking, I remember when I saw that on the track listing for 'The Altogether', I skipped impatiently over the other tracks to hear it. I guess I've always been a sucker for the idea of a cover version. Obviously quality varies significantly but the idea that some one could take a piece of music and make it their own is neat.
So as a tribute to the lowly cover version here's a list of some the most unexpected I've come across (also some of the best)

Tori Amos covers Nirvana- Smells Like Teen spirit.

Everyone paying attention? this is how you cover a song. Amazing.

Massive Attack cover The Doors -Light my fire

Fun cover by massive attack, I remember hearing them in an interview saying they got a lot of flak for covering this. Some people take things way too seriously.

Tricky covers Nirvana -Something in the way

Tricky is somewhat of a serial cover artist (as is Tori now that I think about it) , covering the Cure on a subsequent album and providing a version of Under the mango tree on this album. I actually heard this version of Something in the way before the original (is it wrong that I prefer it?).

The Prodigy cover L7 - Fuel my Fire
This is another cover I heard before the original. It may not be the best track in the world but I like it cause you don't expect the prodigy to do cover versions.

Primal Scream cover Nancy Sinatra

Yep you read that right, Primal Scream meet Nancy Sinatra. And its a really good cover too. Again I heard these in the 'wrong' order, bit of a theme that, didn't realise it till I started writing these down!

Nine Inch Nails cover Soft Cell -Memorabilia

heard this in reverse chronological order too. Another great cover and made it his own too, perhaps this is the least unusual cover of my list both being electronic artists of a sort.

Johnny Cash covers Nine Inch Nails - Hurt
Nicely bookending this list a cover version that must rank right along side Tori's Teen Spirit cover. The video is quiet eerie too, like he knew he was about to die. pretty poignant stuff.

That's it for now, There are more covers for your perusal The Covers Project which is slowly but surely building up the definitive archive of covers that have music videos.