Tag Archives: Matthew McConaughey

Rocks In The Attic #466: Various Artists – ‘True Detective (O.S.T.)’ (2015)

RITA#466That first season of True Detective in January 2014 might just be one of the greatest TV shows in recent years; good enough to rival the likes of The Wire and The Sopranos, both of which I’ve recently only gotten around to watching. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the second season of True Detective, which hit screens last year in 2015.

The outstanding first season, starring Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson and Michelle Monaghan, had everything. The story was engrossing, the music was great, the script and characterisation was better than most Hollywood films and the acting was superlative. In fact, the acing was so good, it almost seemed that Academy voters had this in mind when they awarded the Best Actor Oscar to McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club.

Every episode would kick off with the opening credits, soundtracked by The Handsome Family’s Far From Any Road. The opening bars of this sound so much like Del Shannon’s Runaway, that I would take this as my cue to sing As I walk away, I wonder, A-what went wrong with our love. I would do this at the beginning of every episode, for eight long weeks. I must be great to live with; Jive Bunny has a lot to answer for.

It wasn’t just the acting was a stand-out though. Episode four includes a scene where McConaughey’s undercover character robs a rival biker gang. The robbery takes a turn for the worse, and we see the events unfold in a six minute tracking shot without any cuts that is absolutely stunning. This made Orson Welles’ and Scorsese’s tracking shots in A Touch Of Evil and Goodfellas look like the work of a sixth form film class.

The second season didn’t work quite as well. The show is designed to be an anthology series, so the second season featured new characters, bearing no relation whatsoever to the first season. Thankfully, this also means that a third season will have nothing to do with the disappointing second season.

On paper, season two sounded great. My fellow True Detective fans at work joined me in rejoicing at the casting of Colin Farrell and Vince Vaughn as the season’s two male leads. Unfortunately, it was not to be. The season was a slog to get through every week; and while Farrell’s anti-hero character was gorgeously likable for being so unlikable, Vince Vaughn just proved to the world that he was not meant for dramatic roles.

Rachel McAdams though? Her portrayal of an embittered cop, forced to partner up (in a tenuous bit of serendipitous storytelling) with Colin Farrell and Taylor Kitsch, was the standout performance of the season. The only other redeeming quality of season two was Leonard Cohen’s song Nevermind, which played over the opening credits. Featuring a different set of lyrics each week, taken from different verses in the song, Cohen’s dirty grumble combined with a wicked bassline was sometimes the best thing about the show.

Season two did have two great scenes though, to rival anything from the first season – a gun battle on the streets of L.A. in episode four, and Rachel McAdams’ drug-induced infiltration of a sex party in episode six – but other than this, we seemed to get a lot of scenes with Vince Vaughn talking about property development. Yawn. Those pornographic images of roads and highways featured on the opening credits and between scenes were way more interesting than Vaughn’s dialogue.

Hit: Far From Any Road – The Handsome Family

Hidden Gem: The Only Thing Worth Fighting For – Lera Lynn

Rocks In The Attic #300: Various Artists – ‘Dazed And Confused (O.S.T.)’ (1993)

RITA#300Rocks In The Attic turns 300!

Not only a great film, Richard Linklater’s Dazed And Confused also has a killer soundtrack – probably the one soundtrack that has had the greatest influence on the rest of my record collection. I’ve waited a long to get this on vinyl, and finally on Record Store Day this year it was released to celebrate the film’s 20th anniversary. I had to get it shipped over from the USA by my local record store, but it was worth the wait. It’s a double vinyl, and – to borrow a line from the film, “…it’s green too!”

I first heard about Dazed And Confused on my daily walk to school when I was 15. My good friend Ant used to do the same walk – through the fields behind my parents’ house that are no longer fields (they’re a housing estate), past the Elk mill that’s no longer a mill (it was demolished to make way for a retail centre) – and onto Clayton playing fields towards North Chadderton school.

On these walks, Ant would tell me about stuff he’d picked up from his brother. I owe my love of Bill Hicks to Ant and his brother – and I also owe my love of Dazed And Confused to them. Ant probably lent me their VHS copy of the film, but it wouldn’t be long until I acquired my own copy, and played it many, many time over the next few years into my late teens. I’d take this film to University with me, and turn lots of my friends onto it over the years.

On paper, Dazed And Confused doesn’t sound very interesting. It’s the story of high-school kids in Texas on their last day of school, but nothing really happens. There’s very little plot – just a lot of good music and more of a feeling about the time and place rather than any tangible storyline. But that’s probably true of a lot of youth films – Quadrophenia, The Breakfast Club, American Graffiti, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, etc.

Other than the killer soundtrack, the film also boasts an impressive cast of actors before they hit the big time – Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey, Milla Jovovich, Renée Zellweger, Parker Posey and Adam Goldberg all pop up in small but memorable roles.

But let’s talk about the music. I must have bought the soundtrack on CD as soon as I saw it, and it became the soundtrack to my summer of 1995. It’s fourteen tracks of rock music – some of which was already familiar to me – Sabbath’s Paranoid, ZZ Top’s Tush, Alice Cooper’s School’s Out – but it introduced me to a whole lot more.

For me, the soundtrack acted as a sampler – it turned me onto Ted Nugent’s first solo album, Skynyrd’s debut album and deepened my love of early ZZ Top. The second iteration of the soundtrack – Even More Dazed And Confused – even showed me that it’s okay to like Frampton Comes Alive!.

In fact, I love that second CD as much as the first. I remember being at a party at Palatine Road in Manchester and using Moo’s knowledge of Bob Dylan to collectively figure out why two of the film’s songs wasn’t included on either CD – Aerosmith’s Sweet Emotion and Dylan’s Hurricane are both on the Columbia record label, so there must have been some conflict of interest with The Medicine Label who brought out the soundtrack albums.

It’s almost criminal that the Aerosmith track isn’t included on the soundtrack – it’s the song that opens the film! I hear this was a last minute substitution though, after Robert Plant wouldn’t allow Linklater to use the Zeppelin song of the film’s name over those opening credits. Perhaps they just didn’t have time to think about whether they’d be able to clear Sweet Emotion for the soundtrack album.

There are a lot of hidden gems on this album. For one, the slow-burn of Ted Nugent’s Stranglehold reminds me of cruising around in a pale yellow Nissan Stanza with Stotty and Bez on Friday and Saturday nights. Good times!

Hit: Slow Ride – Foghat

Hidden Gem: Low Rider – War