What’s new, Courtney Love? Everything! New album, new face, new lips, new drama – you name it. I kinda feel that despite being a walking nightmare poor Courtney gets a hard time – I mean to say she is the female Keith Richards and we all think Keith Richards is cool, right? Well, no actually, but you get the point.
And in any case, she is talented and although I wouldn’t like to be her child she has an unique gravelly-to-soft voice and Hole’s ‘Live Through This’ and ‘Celebrity Skin’ were both great albums. The new one ‘Nobody’s Daughter’ is good in parts – first single ‘Skinny Little Bitch’ is a bit try-too-hard but the title track and ‘Someone Else’s Bed’ are good in her new mellow way – that’s right mellow, at times this is like Fleetwood Mac.
HURTS are the new electronic male duo out to steal the Pet Shop Boys crown. ‘Better than Love’ is another 80s inspired track – pop is ruled by the girls at the moment so sad to say these boys may not catch fire. Wonderfully narcissistic ballet-themed video though. Listen out for the best part – the ‘Turn away, turn away’ bridge.
Last book of note I managed to finish was the Booker prize winning ‘Wolf Hall’ by Hilary Mantel. I first encountered Mantel years ago with her short novel ‘Fludd’, which was distinctive and original enough to intrigue me ever since. ‘Wolf Hall’ was probably bound to find favour with me, in any case, as I love historical fiction. What really stands out for me are three meticulous character studies. Cromwell naturally, is one, and is monumentally complex, but also sympathetic. More surprisingly for me was how intriguing and brilliant Mantel’s portraits of Cardinal Wolsey and Anne Boleyn are – both of them are far more interesting, for instance, than Henry, who is a pettish and would have been pathetic if he hadn’t been quite so deadly. Anne is a wonderful, cool-blooded machiavel, while the Cardinal Wolsey is drawn large like a C16th Count Fosco. He is a brilliantly charming, clever and flamboyant character, more like an Emperor than a Cardinal. I think this is just one sign of Mantel’s quality – with a lesser novelist these two characters might easily have seemed incidental, but nothing in this stuffed-to-the-brim novel is underdeveloped. In fact, if I had any criticism of the book it is that it is overdeveloped, especially towards the end. It is super-rich with impressive detail but I felt at times that Mantel had allowed her narrative to be overrun by her research.
I got Jane Campion’s biopic about John Keats, Bright Star on DVD. I went with a friend to see it in the cinema and it was, according to her, a rom-trag. I like rom-trags though, and I am a sucker for Keats and Abbie Cornish’s home-made hats. I thought it was one of Campion’s better films – she is rather hit and miss for me, but this one had some great touches. I liked, for instance, the way the poetry was interpolated very naturally, so that there is a scene where Keats is asked to read a poem at the dinner table by Fanny’s mother and he fluffs it and then gets told it was very nice anyway. And Abbie Cornish, who is a great up-and-coming actress (sort of like an earthier Nicole Kidman) really holds the film together and makes Fanny seem worth loving not because she was special in the abstract way some characters are elevated to in films (and love poems) but because she was very interestingly human – she comes across as very alive and flawed. It’s not entirely the film I would love to see about Keats (I’d like more about his illness, death, and earlier years – yes, I’m cheery like that) – but because it is a deliberately sideways look at him and Fanny, it escapes being too portentous.
Oh and to sing us out – it’s HURTS