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Glen Matlock Remembers How to Rock, but Nearly Forgets the Songs That Put Him Where He Is

Glen Matlock doesn’t seem to have much time for the past, except the past as he sees it. Cover versions of the New York Dolls, or one or other size of The Faces, are fine. But the songs that he co-wrote? The songs that are responsible for what fame he has — for 200 people being out on a cold, virus-infested night, to see him?

Those songs — that single song, in fact 1 — is relegated to the encore.

Glen Matlock and his band at the Red Lion Ballroom in Leytonstone
Glen Matlock and his band at the Red Lion Ballroom in Leytonstone

There’s nothing wrong with keeping your best-known songs for the encore, of course. But when the ticket site said “Curfew: 10:30,” and it’s 10:27 and there hasn’t been a single Pistols song, you can start to get a bit twitchy.

On the plus side, he did introduce “Pretty Vacant” by saying, “This is ‘SOS’,” referring to his borrowing of the intro riff from the Abba song.

It was a good night, though. His originals and the covers were all fine. It’s just that, if you heard a no-name pub band playing those songs — well, you wouldn’t bother going out specially for it.

The night was billed as “Glen Matlock + Earl Slick.” I’m embarrassed to admit I had to look up who Slick was. Turns out he only replaced Mick Ronson in Bowie’s band, and worked with John & Yoko! And now he’s playing lead guitar in Glen Matlock’s band. Oh well.

  1. There’s no point in asking what that is. You’ll get no reply. 

Fighting with My Family, 2019 - ★★★½

I didn’t expect to be watching a film about wrestling, much less one made in association with the WWE. I mean, if had been about the old British wrestling matches they used to show on Sundays on ITV — Big Daddy, Giant Haystacks, Kendo Nagasaki — then maybe.

But this turned out to be a lot of fun. Written and directed by Stephen Merchant, it’s based on the true story of a wrestling-mad family in Norwich, and how they try to get into the giant American wrestling entertainment business.

Not bad at all.

See in Letterboxd

The Grand Budapest Hotel, 2014 - ★★★

I note that I gave this three-and-a-half stars when I added it to Letterboxd, some time last year. Watched it again last night, for, I think, the third time. My inclination is to reduce its number of stars. I don’t dislike it, by any means, but I don’t love it the way the rest of my family do. 

Last night I was more puzzled by it than I recall being before. Why the three layers of story? I’m not sure that adds anything. I like the look, and I originally loved the weirdness, but… in the end it just feels kind of shallow.

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The Cabin in the Woods, 2011 - ★★★★★ (contains spoilers)

This review may contain spoilers.

I’m surprised to find this is from 2011. I saw it when it came out, but it doesn’t feel like eight or nine years ago. Three or four, I’d have said. 

The fact that I’m surprised to find that Chris Hemsworth is in it probably reflects the length of time that has passed, though.

Anyway, it stands up really well, though the question I asked the last time: why do they have a big red “Release all the monsters” button? That still stands.

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Springsteen On Broadway, 2018 - ★★★★

I finished this last night, but actually watched it over the course of several weeks. Not the way I’d normally watch a film, but since it’s mainly about the music, the interruptions don’t really matter.

Except… it’s actually equally about the music and the storytelling. Both are valid and worthwhile. There was no single overarching narrative, though. The stories are a set of recollections of Springsteen’s life. There are connections, of course, but each one stands alone well enough to watch it in this disjointed way.

Anyway, my main complaint is that it was too short and could do with having more songs. He’s written a vast number, after all. Well worth watching if you’re a fan. If not, then you probably won’t want to.

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Jojo Rabbit, 2019 - ★★★½

I liked this a lot more than I expected to. When I saw the trailer (I think back in December, when we saw Knives Out) I was a bit freaked out by it. What’s this, you’ve got a film about a kid in the Hitler Youth, with Hitler as a character, and they seem to be playing it for comedy? This looks well dodgy.

My kids knew it was by Taika Waititi , though, and that seemed to make it likely to be OK? I dunno, but eventually I decided to give it a chance.

And it turns out to be really good. A sweet film in many ways, though with plenty of menace and darkness, as you’d expect from where and when it’s set — which is an unnamed German town or city in the dying days of the Second World War. Waititi himself plays Hitler, who is not in fact the real one, but an imaginary friend that lets Jojo, the ten-year-old title character, talk to someone about the things he can’t talk to anyone else about.

So I enjoyed it, but I can’t help asking: why did he choose to make this film? Why that story, why now? It’s based on a novel, Caging Skies by Christine Leunens. But Wikipedia’s description of it as “the internationally bestselling Hitler Youth novel” leaves me none the wiser.

Not, of course, that there has to be a specific reason for a creator to make something. And it’s far from the first comedy about Hitler or the Nazis. But there’s just something about the idea of it — not the actuality — that leaves me a little uncomfortable, in a way that The Great Dictator or The Producers didn’t.

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