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Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Northern Soul

As a music junkie I have always approached biopics of stars, or those that focus on a particular scene, with trepidation.
Mainly because the errors that are usually writ large feel like a personal affront.
I mean how dare there be a poster for Hunky Dory on the wall when the scene takes place in 1970 and it wasn't recorded until ’71.
All it can take is one guy sporting a three foot tall mohican and a Black Flag tattoo on his bicep at a gig taking place in 1976 and I am off on a rant.
No matter how good the script and the acting it is these schoolboy errors that draw the eye and somewhat ruin the experience for me.

However over the last few years that sort of thing has started to fade away as these movies appear to be being made by real aficionados who would baulk at these inaccuracies rather than cash in by jumping on a populist bandwagon.

There are a few turkeys such as the CBGBs movie, but in the main right now ain't too bad when it comes to music in the cinema.

Shane Meadows with his ‘This is England’ probably has to be given the credit for this angle on accuracy though.
When I watched his skinhead homage to the kitchen sink drama I could virtually smell the era.
The clothes, the housing schemes, the shops that they visited, the flats that they hung out in, the attitudes displayed and the music was for me a perfect representation, and if there are faults then I didn't pick up on them as I was washed away on a sea of nostalgia.

Similarly ‘Northern Soul’ does the same.
‘Evocative of an era’ seems to be the most oft repeated praise it has received and who am I to disagree.
Driven by dexy’s (not the band) the story rattles along at a pace as it explores the highs and lows of the scene through the eyes of the lead character John Clark (played by Elliot James Langridge), a young man who discovers there is more to life than the factory drudge and the working men’s clubs.
Along with him we get to experience the thrill of this unique home-grown scene that can probably never be emulated, and it’s a warts and all reflection of it.
Forget the Hollywood sheen as there’s none to be found.
This is ‘it’s grim up north’ life and the music and those who gravitate towards it are looking for an alternative to the life they are expected to graciously, and quietly, accept.
They work hard, they play hard, and happy endings are not guaranteed for everyone.
In short it’s a slice of life with a great soundtrack and Elaine Constantine who directed this has hit the nail on the head with those who did participate and attend places like Wigan Casino stating rather emphatically that this is a perfect facsimile of their youth.

Fans of the work of directors such as Ken Loach and Shane Meadows will fall in love with this and I'm looking forwards to what Elaine Constantine devotes her attention on next.

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