Film Being slightly too old to care at the time, I never did own a troll, the only kind I really encountering as a child being the monstrosity that menaced the three billy goats gruff in a Ladybird book. So the fact of a film based on The Trolls entirely passed me by until this morning when a friend sent me a link to a cover of Lionel Richie's Hello sung by Zooey Deschanel (Spotify).

Like The Lego Movie soundtrack, it's a franchise album which punches well above its weight in talent and material thanks to having Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake as Executive Producers.  Mostly covers of really cool songs, there is some original material including an "I Want" song from Kendrick (Spotify), which has a chorus which sounds like Price Tag and a Millennial Whoop.

Collider has an interview with Justin and Anna about the production process:
"TIMBERLAKE: So, my job for that was just hopefully to put our own spin on it, make it sound unique, and make it sound like it belonged in the scene, much like musical theater, almost. And then, I also wrote four original songs, specifically written for the movie. I’ve never done anything like that, either. Some of the music does sound very ‘70s. Overall, you’ll feel that a lot of the music definitely has a little bit of ‘70s funk to it, so that was definitely an inspiration for “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” as well. You get to see some of the animation and what they’re working on, so you get to see how big a moment is. When you finally get to see where the Bergens live, you hear The Gorillaz. You just want to sonically complement that."
Sadly this film itself looks like a fairly perfunctory quest narrative but you can't have everything.  [Thanks Talia!]

Life Props:
Hillary Clinton Tim Kaine 16 t-shirt.

Politics A friend in the US has been kind enough to send me a Clinton/Kaine 16 campaign t-shirt.  As well as actually wanting to register my support from across the atlantic, it was also prompted by seeing a "Dole/Kemp" t-shirt in a documentary and deciding it might be nice to have a historic or historical item for the future depending on which way the election goes.

You might have noticed me tweet a photograph the first time I wore it.

This was the day I visited the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester and although I wasn't unaware enough that it might attract some attention not to include a spare t-shirt in my backpack.  In museum, and entire family passing by me in the railyard at the back kept their eyes fixed on my chest as I walked towards them. There were also comments. One of the invigilators said that she liked the t-shirt and another older woman who'd stood next to me during a presentation explained that she "admired my fashion statement."  Both were American judging by their accents.

In the days I've worn it since, the attention is always there.  The odd glance as I pass by, people reading my chest.  I've been pointed at from a car a few times.  I assume it's because of the t-shirt.  I hope it isn't something else.  Part of me wonders if I should wait until after the election before wearing it again when it becomes a blue t-shirt with words on.  But I genuinely want Clinton to win and wearing the t-shirt is a tiny way of showing that even if it probably has zero chance of changing the minds of any random US tourists who might notice it on their rounds about the city.

Soup Safari #72: Tomato and Pepper at The Bakery.

Lunch. £3.50. The Bakery, Atkinson Art Gallery and Library, Lord St, Southport PR8 1DB. Phone: 01704 533333. Website.

My Favourite Film of 1928.

Film Unlike some directors, and actors, Martin Scorsese is unafraid to give interviews. The IMDb lists three hundred and fifteen appearances by the man as "self" and that probably barely scratches the surface of how many time his opinion's been sought on a range of film related subjects which doesn't include the occasions when he's publicising his latest picture.  Search for him on YouTube and you could spend the next month just watching him talk about this and that and you'd probably come out the other end having had as decent a film education as those of us who went to college to do the same.

All of which is pre-amble to explain that although I have a snatch of an interview with him in my head, I can't remember where he said it.  My guess is it was either during an episode of Mark Cousins's Scene By Scene series or a South Bank Show from roughly the same time, either publicising the release of Kundun or Casino.  Or both.  In other words, I'm paraphrasing a memory which has been lodged in my braincells for a couple of decade but which had a profound effect on my attitude to film going forward.  Yet I can't remember the details of how it happened.  Was he sitting opposing Bragg or Cousins?  Nope, don't know.

He was talking about directing Sharon Stone in Casino and how she was having difficulty getting to grips with her role as hustler and former prostitute who marries Robert De Nero's Casino manager and how his strategy was to ask her to watch La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc and specifically the famous close up of lead actress RenĂ©e Jeanne Falconetti in the moment when Joan recants her testimony, which is one of the great masterpiece of silent acting.  Stone's performance is equally extraordinary in different ways and is one of the reason I prefer Casino to Goodfellas (although it's worth adding that I much prefer Martin's non-gangster pictures in general anyway).

But Scorsese's delivery service was more interesting.  Apparently at around that time he was amassing an archive of films for just this occasion, the main plank of which was on VHS, his methodology being to task his assistants with recording as many films as he could from television.  There wasn't much detail about this, that I could remember, but it was so that, if he did want to screen some segment or a whole film for a cast or crew member to prove his point he could just pull it from the shelf.  Note this was just before the advent of DVD and as is still the case now when there's still plenty of material which isn't purchasable.

Many things struck when I heard this.  Firstly how big an archive he must have.  Having collected lots of television on VHS even at that stage and knowing how much room all of those tapes filled in my room, just how did he have the space to put them all?  What about the cataloguing process?  If he's on set and decides that he wants to show Joe Pesci a scene from a William Wyler directed poverty row drama like Dead End, he's going to want that sharpish is everything simply stored in alphabetical order or was there a card catalogue.  How did he know what had been recorded?  Did the interns send him a weekly report?  Did he send them his picks from the newspaper.

But above all it was "that's so cool" and so began my collecting obsession and for the next twenty years as I set about amassing films.  Lots and lots of films.  Certainly more than I'll ever get around to watching.  If you're a long term reader and I mean really long, you'll have read about this when explaining how they're catalogued in 2009 (and yes, I'm still using chronological by year in which they're set) and when there was a near catastrophic disaster, which I explained in the review for the opening of Liverpool Biennial 2010.

Notice this was before I had home broadband and although Lovefilm existed and I was latterly receiving discs from them, like I said, not everything is available for rental plus purchasing can be very expensive.  But charity shops are charity shops and sales are sales and PVRs exist so it's actually relatively easy to amass a collection especially if you're diligent about it and prepared to the put the hours in.  Which I was and have.  It's possible to become very obsessive about collecting.

How often did watch?  Well ... like I said there's only so many hours available in every human life.  Although for a while I'd check the BFI's monthly listing for suggestions as to watch to watch next, utilising the Lovefilm subscription and the collection to simulate their seasons in my own home, obscurity and availability eventually led to this petering out.  Plus I'd have runs of really quite depressing films.

Plus then we did get broadband.  Which begat Lovefilm Instant, what's now Amazon Prime.  And Netflix.  And NowTV.  And mostly lately MUBI.  Catalogues of streamable films mostly in HD, mostly with better sound and picture quality to dvd.  Although there's some seepage, not everything is available all the tome, poor in some areas, there is still more than enough to keep anyone busy.

So lately I've stopped collecting as much.  Been more specific in what I'm looking for.  What's the point in buying all the blockbusters if they're available at the push of a button, especially if they're only going to be watched once?

Has Scorsese done the same?  Does he simply subscribe to the dozens of streaming services available in the US now, which also includes TCM and HBO?

Mores to the point what's happened to all of his VHS tapes?

Liverpool Biennial 2016:
The Walker Art Gallery.

"There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea's asleep, and the rivers dream. People made of smoke, and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice, and somewhere else the tea's getting cold. Come on, Ace, we've got work to do!"
-- The Doctor, "Survival"
Art Here we are then the final destination for my TARDIS in the official Biennial at the Walker, the final venue for so many of these projects.   As ever the main contribution is the John Moores Painting Prize and as ever I spent a lot of time shaking my head, rolling my eyes, sighing and wondering what the judges were thinking.  After the generous selection of portraits and landscapes and illustrative paintings, in 2016, we're back to swathes of abstraction interspersed with dashes of melancholia and nihilism.  Having come to terms with the fact that I'll never be entirely happy with the selections in these biannual exhibitions and least of all with the chosen winner, let's excavate what I didn't find unattractive.

One of the key connections between many of the works is control and attention to detail.  Gemma Cassey's Halves II (Continuum), the painting I chose for the people's vote, has minutely rendered wavy lines in acrylic so close together that it's almost impossible to see how they might be kept separate.  Not just horizontal; by cross hatching them with vertical lines, she'll able to create two tones intersected in the middle.  It's fascinating.  On a much larger scale but with similar restraint is Alex Rennie's Totem, in which splodges of black paint against a salmon coloured background somehow create a three dimensional space filled with columns with perspective, the seemingly haphazard stroke choices being nothing of the kind.

There are some landscapes.  John Stark's Beasts of England II shows pigs being reared in a wet, muddy field offering an apocalyptic farming vision.  The always good Nicholas Middleton is back with Figures in an Arch, a much smaller, simpler work than usual depicting a group of shabbily dressed people and a chest of drawers on the edge of a darkened tunnel looking into the unknown.  Mandy Payne returns too with another of her paintings of a derelict tower block, No Ball Games Here, an austere image of a concrete balcony over looking more concrete balcony albeit painted in pastel colours.  The overall impression you gain from this collection is far from optimistic.  Gathered together it's entirely apocalyptic.  Thank goodness the Doctor will always be there to save us.

Next Destination: