FORGOTTEN GEM: Dance Bastards “Suckerr”

Hull duo Dance Bastards should by rights be a name that everyone immediately knows, yet for some strange reason the NME heralded pairing of Kate Wood and Amy Harrison have disappeared into musical oblivion. While their distinct breed of dance based punk with a pop sensibility may have been overlooked in favour of  chart-toppers from fellow Northerners Arctic Monkeys and the irrepressible ‘Crazy’ by Gnarls Barkley, here at The Kaje we feel it is about time the pair reformed and gave it one more shot. But just in case they don’t, we thought we would celebrate our favourite of their releases one more time…

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FORGOTTEN GEM: Rosie Gaines “Closer Than Close”

There is little that needs to be said about this 90s classic – multi-instrumentalist Rosie Gaines was an unlikely candidate for mainstream chart success but upon its release back in the day “Closer Than Close” was literally everywhere. The worthy victim of many a remix – we thought it was time people took a listen to the song in its original beauty once again…

FORGOTTEN GEM: Anthony Burgess “Honey For The Bears”

I returned to South Africa a couple of months ago and found this tattered book lying on my mothers’ book shelf. Realising it was from the author of “A Clockwork Orange” I decided to delve into its pages. I need to state from the beginning that I have not actually read “A Clockwork Orange”, I have just seen the play and the film.

What I am about to write in the body of this review is probably entirely a contradiction in terms of the point of a forgotten gem. This book should not be read. It should probably not even be remembered and one step further than that it will probably make you not want to read another Anthony Burgess novel again. In short, withholding all of the apparent tragic-comedy from the summary, Paul Hussey and his wife, Belinda, sail to Russia, during the communist era, to try to illegally sell drilon dresses. These dresses have been acquired from friends, the husband having passed away and the widow needing the dresses sold to help her live out her widowhood. Once disembarked of the ship things go from bad to the ridiculous with Belinda in hospital and Paul, from the get go being followed by the Russian police and having a rather destructive penchant for alcohol.

This book is meant to be funny, and for the first couple of chapters you are lulled into a sense of security. There are a couple of slightly weird and wonderful moments that make this book seem like something that for the two hundred pages that it is, will give you the odd snigger and tell you a good story. But then your hopes are dashed against the largest cliffs ever conceived. I am talking even larger than those massive hanging rocks that take down lots of large blue people in Avatar. The hero is whiny, drunken, useless and frankly lacking in any characteristic that is remotely endearing to the reader. His wife is even worse. She complains about being ill, then she complains about Russia, and then she complains about being ill again. In-between all the complaining she gets drunk so that she can justify even more complaining.

I am not quite sure how I managed to get through this novel. The enduring hope that this is the author who created “A Clockwork Orange”, so he surely cannot have written something this bad, may have had something to do with it. Also its attempts at trying to comment on politics and sexuality within the context of communism versus capitalism may have also contributed to the idea that once started, “Honey For The Bears” must be finished. It also has a great title. It allows for the double meaning of capitalism versus communism featuring as either the honey or the bears depending on how you wish to view the novel, assume you wish to view it all after having read what I’ve written.

So in terms of why it has been forgotten. Well it should have been. Therefore should you bother reading it. No. But it does have one redeeming feature. As a woman, great unique female monologues are incredibly hard to find. Part Two, Chapter Eight is a letter written by Belinda to Paul and as a monologue of fluctuating female emotion it is brilliant. It is a portrayal of a woman completely insane and at the same time completely in her right mind. It has a story and a trajectory and even a couple of little surprises. So, ladies, if you are ever having a look for something slightly different, take a look.

FORGOTTEN GEM: The Piano

The nineties were a thriving time for independent cinema. Phenomenal new directors appeared, and discovered an amazing amount of talent. Within that great era, Jane Campion appeared. She was first noticed with the movie “An Angel on my Table” but her true masterpiece was “The Piano”.

“The acting, photography, direction, everything about this movie is flawless.”

Produced and first shown for the Cannes Film Festival, the movie is about a mute woman, who along with her young daughter, are sent to 1850s New Zealand for an arranged marriage, but she is instead lusted after a local worker on the plantation.

For me, this is what cinema is all about. The acting, photography, direction, everything about this movie is flawless. I remember sitting in the cinema, at the tender age of fifteen, where all my friends were watching “Jurassic Park” but I chose to watch a much-hyped movie about a mute woman, so was not considered cool. But I did not care. And I am so happy that I didn’t. The amount of emotions I went through and the images that were offered to the viewers were such a gift that almost seventeen years later, I still cannot forget them.

I remember Anna Paquin, before her “X-Men” and “True Blood” fame, in her first ever role, mind-blowingly taking everyone’s breath away with her performance. A performance that did not go unnoticed and won the supporting actress award at the Oscars.

I remember Holly Hunter, an actress who was not one of my favourites, sweeping me off my feet with her character, a muted woman; saying so much with her eyes and her body language.

I cannot forget the music, a beautiful, perfect score by Michael Nyman, and the most gorgeous photography by Stuart Dryburgh, creating memorable pictures and sounds. The music; a wonderful piece of classical music dominates most of the sounds within the movie and lets the characters of the movie talk through it and communicate their emotions making the viewer forget the harsh terrain of 18th Century New Zealand that surrounds the characters throughout the movie. A harsh terrain of rough seas, and vast jungle like forests being infiltrated by a piano, a piece of equipment, but in this movie a living a breathing soul, that does not belong to this place, but Ada, Holly Hunter’s character, refuses to do anything unless that piano is taken where she wants it. Ada, and her daughter Flora (as mentioned, the amazing Anna Paquin) are immediately strangers in this land; foreigners; outsiders. Flora, even though young, knows how to speak her own mind and also Ada’s mind – sometimes taking advantage of Ada’s muteness.  In one of the most shocking scenes of the movie, Flora shows her true age and by a spoilt but perfectly understandable reaction to Ada’s secret affair, she is responsible for the most brutal punishment given to Ada.

I try to write about “Forgotten Gems” that not a lot of people know, but are worth discovering. Or movies that people once loved, but soon forgot. I believe that anyone that has seen “The Piano”  has not forgotten it but anyone that hasn’t, I hope that they discover it some day.

“Sometimes it is unbearable as it floods the
viewer with emotions.”

Jane Campion, the first woman to ever win the Palme D’Or at Cannes, and the second woman back then to be nominated for an Oscar created a haunting cinematic piece, where images and sounds do not just support the movie, but support the characters; actually becoming characters to say a part of the story and provide interaction and opportunities for all actors to excel in their performances.

“The Piano” is not an easy movie to watch. Sometimes it is unbearable as it floods the viewer with emotions, but it is definitely a cinematic treat. Watch it with tissues, and let yourself immerse into the movie. I promise you will not forget the experience.

Words: George Mathioudakis

FORGOTTEN GEM: Ernest Hemingway “A Moveable Feast”

I usually open my ‘Forgotten Gems’ with why I have chosen to write my review on this book but in the case of this Hemingway I can’t. I was sent it by the publishers, but do not get too alarmed. That is not why I rate it so highly. I can’t lie though, I was very excited when I received it because I have never read a Hemingway but he has always been on the “I will one day read” list.

“The first to be published after Hemingway’s death.”

In this book Hemingway documents, in a fictionalised manner, his experiences when living in Paris during the early 1920s, ending with the dissolution of his first marriage. In a series of anecdotes he describes his relationships with such notable figures as Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound and others. He also explores the atmosphere and the different attitudes and desires during that period. Interspersed within these ideas are recollections of surviving as a poor young writer with a wife, and then the addition of his first son. Drinking is also a primary feature of most of the conversations.

This book was the first to be published after Hemingway’s death. It was edited by his fourth, and last wife Mary Hemingway and released in 1964. It was very successful and very well received which begs the question why re-edit it? Most of the answer to this question is explained within Sean Hemingway’s introduction. Mary Hemingway was biased in her editing of the manuscript that is so complementary and apologetic to her husbands’ first wife but it was approved by his estate. Whether this bias was good or bad is hard to say. “A Moveable Feast”, although based on reality is undoubtedly a work of fiction. One cannot deny the grandson the right to rework his grandfather’s novel with his original writings in front of him.

The foreword, written by his sole surviving son, Patrick Hemingway, explains in brief why this particular edition has been restored, and the introduction, written by his grandson, Sean Hemingway, expands on the various edits and changes that have taken place in this edition. The foreword, for the very short little introduction that it is, is worth reading but do not read the introduction if you have not read the previous edit of the book! It is just confusing. It implies that one has read the previous edit and therefore in details describes the edits that Sean Hemingway has chosen from the manuscripts that Ernest Hemingway left behind when he died. After reading the book I went back and read the introduction and found it much more interesting than on the first read through.

A lot of Hemingway’s novel is focused on the mistakes and folly’s that humans make, particularly in those chapters that take place on his various winter skiing trips with his wife. He is also rather harsh yet apologetic in his analysis of the individual people that shaped his life through those years in Paris. Most interestingly is how he skims over his relationship with his first wife, Hadley. Every word written about her is positive and with every action that occurs between them he depicts himself in the wrong.

“Focused on the mistakes and folly’s that humans make.”

When I started reading I wasn’t really sure. I am not generally a fan of biographies. What saves Hemingway’s book is his ability as an author and his manipulation of the truth. His language is fluid, engaging, and understated. It is in fact beautiful. He takes you back to 1920s Paris without wasting words on painting the initial picture. This does make the first couple of chapters quite jarring as there is no context to place them within but once the reader is attuned to having a location and time established within the overall broad spectrum of the novel then it becomes addictive.

How forgotten is this book and indeed is Hemingway? Most people know who Ernest Hemingway is but on asking around most could not name a published work. It appears that out of literary circles he is famous by name but not by work. This is an entirely different way to be forgotten, especially as his ending was so tragic and his work is so beautiful. It does not deserve to be forgotten in a time when the ability to create an addictive story is taking precedent over any ability to write. This particular book, as a restored edition, puts Hemingway back on the shelf, and hopefully, off the classics section for a couple of weeks.

Words: Rachel Jacobs

FORGOTTEN GEM: Delta Goodrem “Innocent Eyes”

2003 was in many respects one the prime years of the noughties for music. Not only did it see the mainstream launch of The Black Eyes Peas with their first effort containing a contribution from former child star Stacey “Fergie” Ferguson, but it also marked the year that finally saw the eagerly anticipated and much awaited debut album from Destiny’s Child starlet Beyoncé. Meanwhile, Britney was definitely “In The Zone” as she released her fourth album.

But hidden amidst the American chart domination stood an honest and discreet Australian talent. Having come to public attention in 2002 as the coy and aspiring singer Nina Tucker in “Neighbours”, by 2003 Delta Goodrem had escaped her fictional alter ego and became a singer in her own right.

“Broke the mould musically, in a period of production, Goodrem’s
simplistic songcraft stood out.”

Her debut album “Innocent Eyes” was released in late March 2003 and although it only peaked at number 3 in the UK, I feel this album is one that deserved a lot more recognition. There are several factors that may have caused the lack of interest in Goodrem as a credible singer/songwriter. However, the most obvious is the fact that she was just the latest in a long line of soap stars to turn pop star. If this were to be the sole reason that deterred many people from giving her album a chance, then I believe it is these people who truly missed out on a selection of sublime music.

The album opens with “Born To Try” which was the song used by her alter ego to launch a parallel career in the soap (which saw Nina leaving Ramsay Street to pursue her fledgling success) and as this song entered the real world, the lyrics rang true for a generation seeking success. “Born To Try” also broke the mould musically, in a period of production, Goodrem’s simplistic songcraft stood out.

“Born To Try” was not alone in its pop perfection. As “Innocent Eyes” moves effortlessly from one song to the next, Goodrem is consistent in her catchy and sometimes haunting melodies which contrast with her soft and elegant voice, best demonstrated on the album’s title track “Innocent Eyes”. Goodrem’s composition shows how a pop ballad should be written. But it is her distinct vocal adding an extra depth which makes this the real stand out track on the album.

“Catchy and sometimes haunting melodies which contrast with
her soft and elegant voice”

As well as proving her vocal ability, “Innocent Eyes” is a showcase of her more than impressive writing abilities. Though the album as a whole in a stunning selection, some real gems are there to be uncovered; “In My Own Time” and “Will You Fall For Me” really show an honest and vulnerable side of Goodrem, a quality that is rarely seen in an artist’s debut album.

Goodrem did not work alone and “Innocent Eyes” boasts some impressive collaborations, With Gary Barlow and Kara DioGuardi both on board, it is no surprise that this mid tempo album is full of not only catchy hooks and beats, but has the lyrics to compliment them too.

“An honest and vulnerable side of Goodrem, a quality that is
rarely seen in an artist’s debut album.”

“Innocent Eyes” definitely takes us on a journey from its subtle and understated opening ballads, which sweep and gradually increase to mid tempo pop songs.. And that’s exactly what this album is, a real pop album. When listening to the album, I never question its integrity. It is presented in such a firm and honest way that what you see is what you get. It is rare to find a solid pop album that creates this security. Pop music always feels the need to be new, modern and at the risk of sounding like Simon Cowell, current. As a result, the pop scene is constantly changing, leaving the listener little time to capture a moment before moving on to the next. “Innocent Eyes” is a treat that is not afraid of staying still. I do not mean that its boring and stagnant but it really has taken the time to breathe and grow. I really feel it explores the aural setting it belongs to. Out of this bravery comes a sincere work from Goodrem.

Not only do we enjoy the integrity of the lyrics and cleverly composed songs, but for me the real star of the album is Goodrem’s vocal quality. At the time she was one of the few pop singers brave enough to sing live on television, which just proved that she wasn’t just a studio artist but a live artist too. Never shying away, Goodrem’s vocal range is constantly explored throughout the album, starting with a low and almost spoken start to the album and ending in high melodical bliss with “Will You Fall For Me”, making “Innocent Eyes” an album that really should not be forgotten.

Words: Christopher Hall

FORGOTTEN GEM: “Haunted Honeymoon”

Gene Wilder was a comic genius back in the 80’s, a sort of Steve Carell – Will Ferrell equivalent nowadays. A not so known movie of his was “Haunted Honeymoon”, released in 1986; a horror-comedy spoof with a great cast accompanying him and the haunted house premise to play around with and create a mesmerizing story. He succeeded when the movie came out in the late 80’s. Nowadays, if you watch it, it is a bit silly and the gags do not seem as funny as one would expect.

“Funny enough to have a giggle, and scary enough to prove
to my friends that I am old enough to watch horror movies without being scared.”

I remember I watched this movie probably two or three years after it came out. Back in the VHS era, the local video-club was a haven of anything the local retailer would bring and offer the masses. Horror and comedy were always two of my favorite genders, and seeing the cover (Wilder and his wife Gilda Radner, with a drag queen version of Dom De Luise) it looked funny enough to have a giggle, and scary enough to prove to my friends that I am old enough to watch horror movies without being scared. After the movie finished, I realised I had discovered that a movie can be loved and it became the first movie to ever be in my Top Ten of all time (It made me realise I needed to find nine more to make it proper – so my quest started).

Though a commercial flop at the time of its release, only grossing $8,000,000 in America entering the box office at number 8, then slipping to 14 the following week, “Haunted Honeymoon” is film perfection for all its flaws. Having since become a cult classic, on revisiting a childhood favourite, its charm was once again immediately evident.

The story: Gene Wilder is getting married to his sweetheart. They both are successful radio actors (the movie was set in the ‘50s) on a very successful horror radio show – the ones with a lot of human made sound effects and cheesy dialogue.  Wilder’s character is scared of anything spooky, and before he gets married, he needs to overcome this so what should he do? Go to the spookiest haunted mansion where all his family are gathered for his wedding. And of course, scary things start happening, and Gene Wilder needs to overcome his fear in order to save his sweetheart and uncover what is going on.

And funnily enough, it works. The characters that Gene Wilder has created are unique enough but common at the same time for the viewer to feel immediately drawn to them in their characters own specific way. By the end, you want the bad guys to lose and the good guys to win. Tackling comedic, sometimes slapstick, elements with classic horror ones (werewolf, ghosts, ghouls etc.), and also creating the family characters as classic stereotypes it creates a great atmosphere where you easily get scared as you are easily laughing.

The stereotypical characters include: the mysterious magician, the classic film noir femme fatale, the loser cousin – which is usually the one that will get killed first, the butler who is loyal to their master, the hysterical maid and the list of usual suspects continues.

“A Forgotten Gem for all the wrong and right reasons.”

The direction is simple enough, and the photography is quite atmospheric. This is not an amazing movie of course, but it works in all the levels and does not feel it was put together on the spot. All actors play their parts well, with Dom DeLuise stealing the show as Gene Wilder’s auntie. Yes, he is in drag, when it was still politically correct to use male actors to camp it up. Despite his on screen charisma, DeLuise’s efforts were rewarded with the Razzie for Worst Supporting Actor.

For all it’s comedy gold, another reason that “Haunted Honeymoon” warrants celebration has a more tragic tone. Though unknown at the time, “Haunted Honeymoon” was to be Gilda Radner’s final screen appearance, with her premature death in 1989 at the age of just 42.

Overall, this is a Forgotten Gem for all the wrong and right reasons. Very old-fashioned nowadays, it does not fail to still entertain and to remind this generation why Gene Wilder was a comic genius. It is obvious how the current comedians have learned so much from him. A true inspiration.

Words: George Mathioudakis

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