(Why) I love Lucy

Yes, Lucy and I got on swimmingly. If you still haven’t seen it and are in the mood for fun, frolics and feminine grandeur from your local cinema screen this weekend, I present the below argument.


SUSPICIONS always circulated that Scarlett Johansson was some class of goddess, but it has taken hit-and-miss director Luc Besson to confirm this as fact. Johansson is now prime real estate in Tinseltown, and had a lesser mortal been cast in the role of a girl transcending her human limitations via a synthesised drug, it would be hard to see the worshipping public fall on board as it has to the tune of $170million in global box office revenues.

Lucy is unashamedly a star vehicle for Johansson, but besides her comely jawline adorning the posters, it also succeeds by being cheerfully freewheeling in its barmy sci-fi ambitions. Matrix-like action scenes rubbish the laws of gravity. Time and space are jogged through like Terrence Malick on espressos. Johansson, donning Louboutins and a little black number as her powers grow, is all straight-faced poise while she has her way with the universe.

Limitless (2011) played a similar trick by letting Bradley Cooper utilise all his brain capacity by way of a pill. Lucy, however, rides roughshod over such restraint. In Besson’s screenplay, packs of blue crystals alter our heroine’s very DNA to the point of omnipotence, turning the planet into her personal tablet to be swiped and paused and surfed at will. Silly mortals Morgan Freeman (the gentle professor), Amr Waked (the helpful Parisian detective) and a crew of nasty Korean gangsters can only look on in astonishment as they are left behind.

Mad, mind-bending and marvellous fun, as long as you don’t dare try to resist.

First published in the Sunday Independent


Royally impressed…

They’ve topped the charts, announced an Academy date and are resulting in a few more guitars going in the bin. From a couple of weeks back, this is my State.ie review. I called it first!


WHEN it emerged that it only took two people to be as loud as war – see Jack and Meg White, Death From Above 1979 and The Black Keys – the suspicion was that riff-happy duos would start popping up all over the landscape, but this has not been the case. It appears that while three-pieces require a cut above in terms of ability, duos must be of a different category of multitasking altogether to get the same rock results as more crowded outfits.

So with the above acts either disbanded, reformed or stuck in a holding pattern, the arrival of Royal Blood is timely. The Brighton combo of bassist/singer Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher here blast out a riff manifesto on their debut of the like not seen since long before Queens of the Stone Age began needing Elton John to make records.

Kerr dashes about the fret and pedal boards to make something as mundane as a guitar a superfluous idea. From the opening bars of ‘Out Of The Black’, the riffs, each elastic, bludgeoning and smart, hammer forth. Scuzzed-up, megaphone vocals hitch a ride on pulsating, buzzsaw basslines on slick single ‘Figure It Out’ before breaking into an outro rampage. ‘You Can Be So Cruel’ is a more glam cousin of Queens’ ‘Do It Again’, while ‘Blood Hands’ slows things to a hard, bluesy lurch. Only half of ‘Little Monster’’s title is accurate.

The playing is imperious. Overdubs aside, Kerr’s bass, like Jesse F Keeler before him, does the work of three men, and in Thatcher, a new granite-hard percussion talent is revealed. But a key ingredient is that vocal; like a battle-hardened Dan Auerbach or an Anglian Tim Vanhammel, Kerr – an admitted Jeff Buckley disciple – brings vital contrast to the sonic testosterone with wild, huffing yelps, melody and perk. There’s a fair whiff of adolescence about it all, but if Royal Blood stick around and their sound calcifies with age, you can imagine a whole generation pairing up and ditching six strings for four.