There are many times that Danny has exclaimed "What do you mean you've never seen [insert classic/blockbuster film/TV show title here]?!!!". This probably stems from my carefully contructed facade of a stereotypical culture vulture, eg, the documentary-hoover-upping, piles-of-non-fiction-book-collecting, exhibition-going intellectual-in-waiting that suggests I'm someone who could be fairly well-infomed on the celluloid front too. However, among the many things that I may have done, I have a great big chunk of pop culture missing.
So while I've rewatched fluffy favourites like Spinal Tap, Dumb And Dumber, Pee Wee's Big Adventure (why isn't that on DVD?), Austin Powers and even Shaun The Sheep, I've never seen - deep breath - The Godfather, Casablanca, Citizen Kane, To Kill A Mockingbird, Das Boot, Raging Bull, The Great Escape, On The Waterfront, Back To The Future, Jaws, Cool Hand Luke, Ran, The Seven Samurai - or the Magnificent Seven - Ben Hur, La Dolce Vita... and loads more. I only recently saw Top Gun and The Lost Boys, on Danny's insistence. They were good.
I've got no excuses: I seem to have either watched abject cheese or subtitled obscurity and very little in-between. And I was quite busy in the years 1988-1999. I'd left home and was mostly drinking in the pub or going to clubs and watching bands.
So last night we watched another Danny recommendation, Alan Parker's 1991 production, The Commitments. On old-school VHS, no less!
What I liked about it was it wasn't super-slick, with some likably shy and cheeky performances from some of the young and inexperienced Irish cast, great music and a lot of the feel-good factor, which Commitments/Frames guitarist Glen Hansard took forward beautifully with his 2006 film, Once*. I remember The Commitments was very popular and spawned a few hit albums too. It's definitely a companion piece to one of my favourite films The Blues Brothers. But it did throw a few questions up, like: Does Alan Parker only do music films? Fame, Bugsy Malone, Evita, The Wall, Birdy (good news, I've seen three of those!)... and What happened to Andrew Strong, the young frontman with the big soul voice? (Strong was just sixteen when he was cast). Well, we found Andrew on MySpace - and his dad Rob and sister Niamh who seem to have a Dublin-based soul-singing dynasty - and we've dropped him a line. If he gets back to us, we'll let you know how he's been since he toured with the Rolling Stones in 1992.
And continuing on the Irish tip, on Friday night I saw U2 play on the roof of BBC Broadcasting House.
I knew they were going to be at the BBC cos Radio 2 had been plugging it all week, but as my 493 bus squeezed its way past crash barriers, tour trucks, news vans and police verging on panic on Upper Regent Street at 6.30 that evening, I realised something was up. I got off the bus at Oxford Circus where a huge crowd were already massed to see if I could get a look.
Luckily, my friend Nas got a good spot by Pizza Express and we heard two songs, Vertigo (appropriate!) and Beautiful Day. Bono looked like he'd slipped over the side at one Hitcockian point, but was still singing. Nas shouted "Throw us some of your money", which made people around us chuckle. I'd said I'd wanted to see U2 this year - I do like them in spite of those wilderness years of '88-'99 affecting my knowledge of their recorded output at that time - and now I kind of have.
Stuff like this doesn't happen everyday, but it is a perk of living in London, England.
Now, Danny's mate, Dublin boy Paul Bibby, had stories about both of the above mentioned - Roddy Doyle/The Commitments and U2 - but we'll save that for another day as I can't quite remember what they are... aside from him being in a band with U2's PR-to-be Regine Moylette, and the original Commitments, The Soulmates...
* I've seen this film too!
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