Sunday, November 19, 2006


Night Life

Glastonbury is seriously for fans only. One of Britain's best known music festival, if you don't dig the type of music played, or if you don't enjoy unleashing the party animal inside of you, then steer clear of this movie. Otherwise, you're in for one hell of a ride, presented in a very different way. The screening I was in obviously didn't have many fans. I think I'm the only one head bobbing and leg tapping throughout the movie, and I couldn't do more because of the restrictive overrated Picturehouse seats.

The usual documentary will embark you on a journey from beginning to end, through the eyes of a regular festival goer. Alternatively, it might take on the theme from a festival organizer's point of view, giving you the low downs on the happenings to bring the festival to life. The other strategy will be to showcase the incredible performers lined up for the festival year in year out, and speak of their experiences in igniting the crowd to a dance fervour.

But under the hands of director Julien Temple, Glastonbury becomes a mixed bag, a rojak of sorts combining the different narrative presentations possible, and it takes a while to get used to. You see plenty of festival goers, but the focus is on none. There are interviews galore, but in a rather haphazard manner. It's sex, drugs and rock and roll, and the movie neither glamourizes, nor condones vice. You have stoned people talking to the camera, and you have tired revellers sleeping and dancing naked. You don't get bombarded with facts and figures about the festival, but talks with the organizers become rather topical instead, especially the later part about the erection of a security fence.

However, it's more than just the people, it's also about the music. While the visuals are beautifully combined with the aural, you don't get to hear much of the pieces performed as a whole. What you get instead is like a sampling of tracks, teasing you with classics like David Bowie (Heroes) to contemporaries like Brett Anderson (Common People), from alternative punk group Prodigy (Firestarter), to electronica kings Chemical Brothers (Hey Boy Hey Girl). Hey, if it features Massive Attack (Karmacoma), I'm already sold!

It's a little less than conventional in its presentation by combining a series of clips from various festival years, in non chronological order. You can make out certain eras like the free loving 60s and the early years with the grainy quality of the picture, and distinguish the present day slicker shows in its trademarked pyramid stage. Just like the festival, you'll never know what you're gonna get at each turn, be it heavy downpour or mud baths, and that's how the narrative structure of Glastonbury takes.

With ZoukOut around the corner, watching Glastonbury has triggered the party animal inside me, and I'm seriously considering going for this year's beach party at Siloso Beach Sentosa. Any fellow party goers game to join me?

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