Music Review – MIKE + THE MECHANICS – LET ME FLY (2017)

Mike + The Mechanics
Let Me Fly (2017) ∗∗∗∗

Mike Rutherford – Guitar, Bass, Drum Programming
Andrew Roachford – Vocals, Keyboards
Tim Howar – Vocals
Gary Wallis – Drums
Luke Juby – Keyboards
Anthony Drennan – Guitar

Clark Datchler – Piano (5, 6 & 9)
Zak Kemp – Drum Programming (5 & 6)
Patrick Mascall – Drum Programming (8 & 11)
Let Me Fly Choir (1)

Tracks 1-6 Produced by Mike Rutherford, Brian Rawling and Paul Meehan
Tracks 7, 9, 10 and 12 Produced by Harry Rutherford and Mike Rutherford
Tracks 8 and 11 Produced by Mark Taylor and Mike Rutherford
Recorded at The Farm Studios, Metrophonic Studios & Mike’s Home Studio

TRACKS:
1  Let Me Fly (Rutherford/Datchler/Roachford) ∗∗∗∗∗
Classic Mechanics. Uplifting anthemic chorus heightened by gospel choir and Roachford’s soulful vocal.
2 Are You Ready? (Rutherford/Datchler/Howar) ∗∗∗∗
Up-tempo rock number with a catchy chorus and moody middle-eight.
3 Wonder (Rutherford/Datchler/Roachford) ∗∗∗∗
Piano based mid-tempo song reminiscent of Don Henley/Bruce Hornsby. Its gliding groove gets under the skin.
4 The Best is Yet to Come (Rutherford/Datchler) ∗∗∗
Poppiest song on the album. Selected as the second single.
5 Save the World (Rutherford/Datchler/Roachford) ∗∗∗∗
Heartfelt ballad delivered with real passion by Roachford.
6 Don’t Know What Came Over Me (Rutherford/Datchler/Roachford) ∗∗∗∗
First single has a chorus that stays with you.
7 High Life (Rutherford/Drewett) ∗∗∗
Nice little understated diversion with a delicate vocal from Howar.
8 The Letter (Rutherford/Taylor/Mascall/Datchler/Roachford) ∗∗∗∗∗
Great repeated riff from Rutherford and a more complex structure with room for a brief guitar solo. Along with the title track the strongest cut. Reminiscent of Silent Running.
9 Not Out of Love (Rutherford/Roachford/Howar) ∗∗
The least successful song on the album is a mid-tempo chugger lacking a strong hook.
10 Love Left Over (Rutherford/Datchler/Howar) ∗∗∗∗
Gorgeous ballad showing Howar can deliver a soulful vocal as well as out and out rock. A real grower.
11 I’ll Be There for You (Rutherford/Taylor/Mascall/Roachford) ∗∗∗
Another of the poppier songs on the album. It has a more modern programmed sound.
12 Save My Soul (Rutherford/Roachford/Thorneycroft-Smith) ∗∗∗
Low-key finish to the album with lush keyboards underpinning a soulful delivery from Roachford. Moody guitar adds to the late evening feel.

Mike + The Mechanics’ eighth album in a career spanning 32 years is the band’s best since Beggar on a Beach of Gold back in 1995.  Singers Andrew Roachford and Tim Howar return, having appeared on the band’s previous album The Road (2011), which had been an inconsistent affair with the new band trying to find its feet. Here, after intervening years of touring, the band is more relaxed and the quality of the songs is stronger. There are echoes of earlier Mechanics albums in some of the tracks – a deliberate move by Rutherford to recapture the sound of those early days. The album shows the band still has much to offer and Rutherford is a writer of well-crafted, classy songs.

Film Review – SULLY (2016)

Image result for sully blu-raySully (2016; USA; Colour; 96m) ∗∗∗½  d. Clint Eastwood; w. Todd Komarnicki; ph. Tom Stern; m. Christian Jacob, Tierney Sutton Band.  Cast: Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney, Anna Gunn, Autumn Reeser, Sam Huntington, Jerry Ferrara, Jeff Kober, Chris Bauer, Holt McCallany, Carla Shinall, Lynn Marocola, Max Adler, Valerie Mahaffey, Ashley Austin Morris, Michael Rapaport. Based on the true story of Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who safely crash-landed a plane on the Hudson River in 2009. Efficiently made account of the investigation that followed. Hanks adds depth and dignity to his portrayal of the everyman hero, whilst Eastwood’s no-fuss direction ensures there is no Hollywood-isation of the story. Adapted from the book by Chelsey Sullenberg and Jeffrey Zaslow [12]

TV Review – BROADCHURCH: SERIES 3 (2017)

Broadchurch: Series 3 (2017; UK; Colour; 8x45m) ∗∗∗½  pr. Dan Winch; d. Paul Andrew Williams (1-3, 7-8), Daniel Nettheim (4-5), Lewis Arnold (6); w. Chris Chibnall; ph. Carlos Catalan; m. Ólafur Arnalds.  Cast: David Tennant, Jodie Whittaker, Olivia Colman, Sarah Parish, Arthur Darvill, Charlotte Beaumont, Georgina Campbell, Andrew Buchan, Julie Hesmondhalgh, Chris Mason, Charlie Higson, Mark Bazeley, Lenny Henry, Julie Cox, Sebastian Armesto, Carolyn Pickles, Hannah Rae, Adam Wilson, Roy Hudd.  Trish Winterman (Hesmondhalgh) reports being raped after a party held by Jim and Cath Atwood (Bazeley and Parish) several days earlier. She was hit on the head with something and could not see who attacked her. DS Ellie Miller (Colman) and DI Alec Hardy (Tennant) are called; they determine that it was a premeditated attack rather than a crime of opportunity, leading to fears that there may be a serial rapist on the loose planning to strike again. Better than Series 2 but lagging behind Series 1 this is a disturbing story dragged over a couple of episodes too many. The investigation meanders from suspect to suspect to maintain the mystery elements before managing to eventually build the suspense toward the final reveal. In between we get long shots of characters staring into the distance over glorious coastal scenery and a couple of side plots resolving story arcs from the earlier series. It’s all well done in a calculated way. [15]

TV Review – PRIME SUSPECT 2 (1992)

Prime Suspect 2 (TV) (1992; UK; Colour; 203m) ∗∗∗∗  pr.  Paul Marcus; d. John Strickland; w. Allan Cubitt; ph. Ken Morgan, David Odd; m. Stephen Warbeck.  Cast: Helen Mirren, Colin Salmon, John Benfield, Jack Ellis, Craig Fairbrass, George Harris, Richard Hawley, Philip Wright, Ian Fitzgibbon, Andrew Tiernan, Lloyd McGuire, Stephen Boxer, Fraser James, Jenny Jules, Matt Bardock. When a body is found in the backyard of a home in an Afro-Caribbean neighborhood of London, DCI Jane Tennison (Mirren) has to tread carefully in her investigation because of the racial tension surrounding unsolved crimes in the region.  This first sequel is another intense tale, although marginally less successful than the original – mainly down to occasional heavy-handed treatment of the racial politics and a more straight-forward mystery plot. There is also a dose of internal politics to add spice to the pot. Mirren is again excellent and the support cast of cops, victims and suspects is strong and authentic. Another fine axample of TV crime drama at its best. [18]

TV Review – PRIME SUSPECT (1991)

Image result for prime suspect 1 dvdPrime Suspect (1991; UK;  Colour; 207m) ∗∗∗∗∗  pr. Don Leaver; d. Christopher Menaul; w. Lynda La Plante; ph. Ken Morgan; m. Stephen Warbeck.  Cast: Helen Mirren, Tom Bell, John Benfield, John Bowe, Zoë Wanamaker, Gary Whelan, Craig Fairbrass, Jack Ellis, John Forgeham, Mossie Smith, Ian Fitzgibbon, Andrew Tiernan, Philip Wright, Richard Hawley, Mark Spalding.  Jane Tennison (Mirren) is a Detective Chief Inspector assigned to Southampton Row police station in Central London. She is repeatedly passed over for major cases but, following the death of a Senior Investigating Officer she is given the opportunity to take over his investigation which involves the brutal murder of a young girl. The girl’s body has been badly mutilated, and her hands have been tied behind her back. Forensic evidence puts a suspect in the frame. Thoroughly absorbing modern TV classic of the crime genre. This unsettling battle of wits between key suspect (Bowe), who denies all charges, and Mirren’s determined cop makes for riveting watching. The story is brilliantly directed and the script is exceptional, making this an undisputed classic. [15]

TV Review – DOCTOR WHO: THE PILOT (2017)


Image result for doctor who the pilotDoctor Who: The Pilot 
(TV) (2017; UK; Colour; 50m) ∗∗∗½  pr. Nikki Wilson; d. Lawrence Gough; w. Steven Moffat; ph. Ashley Rowe; m. Murray Gold; ed. William Oswald.  Cast: Peter Capaldi, Matt Lucas, Pearl Mackie, Jennifer Hennessy, Stephanie Hyam, Nicholas Briggs (voice).  A chance encounter with a girl with a star in her eye leads to a terrifying chase across time and space. Bill’s mind is opened to a Universe that is bigger and more exciting than she could possibly have imagined – but who is the Doctor, and what is his secret mission with Nardole on Earth? This is a confident season opener that re-establishes the concept of the series through the eyes of new companion Bill Potts (Mackie).  Mackie has lots of charm and her chemistry with Capaldi promises much for the series ahead.  The plot shares common themes with WATERS OF MARS, which may or may not be a significant point. [PG]

Film Review – THE PROWLER (1951)

Prowler, The (1951; USA; B&W; 92m) ∗∗∗∗  d. Joseph Losey; w. Hugo Butler, Dalton Trumbo, Robert Thoeren, Hans Wilhelm; ph. Arthur C. Miller; m. Lyn Murray.  Cast: Van Heflin, Evelyn Keyes, John Maxwell, Katherine Warren, Emerson Treacy, Madge Blake, Wheaton Chambers, Robert Osterloh, Sherry Hall, Louise Lorimer. When Susan Gilvray (Keyes) reports a prowler outside her house police officer Webb Garwood (Heflin) investigates and sparks fly. If only her husband wasn’t in the way. Taut thriller is driven by Heflin’s commanding central performance. As his machinations start to unravel the pace quickens to an evocative finale in a desert ghost town. Keyes is a little mannered in her performance, but the production values are strong and the cinematography perfectly captures the noir atmosphere. [PG]

TV Review – CAR SHARE: SERIES 2 (2017)

Image result for car share series 2Car Share: Series 2 (2017; UK; Colour; 4x30m) ∗∗∗∗   pr. Gill Isles; d. Peter Kay; w. Paul Coleman, Peter Kay, Sian Gibson;.  Cast: Peter Kay, Sian Gibson, Guy Garvey, Conleth Hill, Loraine Calvert.  Ep 1: (∗∗∗∗∗) After moving in with her sister, Kayleigh is now travelling on her own to work, but will she manage to resist temptation or will she call her old car-share buddy John? Ep 2: (∗∗∗) John and Kayleigh are full of high spirits as they head off on their annual works do. Ep 3: (∗∗∗∗∗) Kayleigh has had enough of work and fancies a day off but John isn’t having any of it. Or is he? Ep 4: (∗∗∗∗) John enlists the help of his Nan to reluctantly wait in for a parcel delivery. The series returns after a one-year gap with four more episodes. Ep 1 re-captures the comedy chemistry between Kay and Gibson so evident in Series 1 and includes an hilarious altercation with a cyclist. The next two episodes look to expand on the concept, to varying degrees of success, by bringing in other characters. Ep 2 has Hill as an annoying drunk dressed as a Smurf cadging a lift home from the works fancy-dress do. This breaks up the dynamic set in the series to date and the laugh count fallls as a result. Ep 3 is superb fun with much comedy drawn from the pair bunking off work and going to a safari park. The finale promises to resolve the growing affection between the characters. This series proves to be another example of how Kay can derive laughter and character out of observation of every day life. By far the best comedy out there on the major networks, and while that’s not saying much it does demonstrate that Kay’s old school approach proves far more satisfying then that of many of his more fashionable peers. [15]

Film Review – ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY (2016)

Image result for rogue one blu-rayRogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016; USA; Colour; 134m) ∗∗∗½  d. Gareth Edwards; w. Chris Weitz, Tony Gilroy, John Knoll, Gary Whitta; ph. Greig Fraser; m. Michael Giacchino.  Cast: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Mads Mikkelsen, Forest Whitaker, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, Jonathan Aris, Jimmy Smits, Alistair Petrie, Genevieve O’Reilly, Valene Kane, Warwick Davis. A Rebellion soldier and criminal, is about to experience her biggest challenge yet when Mon Mothma sets her out on a mission to steal the plans for the Death Star. Visually stunning and action-packed lead in to the original STAR WARS trilogy that cleverly lays the foundations. This instalment has a darkness emphasised by the impressive production design and often bleak locales. The new characters, however, lack any real depth as they are simply cyphers for the set-up. The performances also lack spark and chemistry – the actors delivering sometimes stilted and forced dialogue – but there remains a spirit to this adventure that suggests there is longevity in the franchise. Also shot in 3-D. [12]

Film Review – ME BEFORE YOU (2016)

Me Before You (2016; USA; Colour; 110m) ∗∗∗  d. Thea Sharrock; w. Jojo Moyes, Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber; ph. Remi Adefarasin; m. Craig Armstrong.  Cast: Emilia Clarke, Sam Claflin, Matthew Lewis, Charles Dance, Vanessa Kirby, Jenna Coleman, Janet McTeer, Brendan Coyle, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Hannah Flynn, Amber Elizabeth, Stephen Peacocke, Alexander Cooper, Richard Gouldin, Tony Paul West, Joanna Lumley. A relationship develops between a young quadriplegic man and the young woman employed to provide him with companionship. Populist approach to a sensitive subject may jar at times, but there’s no doubting the charming performances of Clarke and Claflin. The BRIDGET JONES crowd will find much to enjoy here, but those looking for a more serious approach will be left with a hollow feeling. Based on the novel by Jojo Moyes. [12]