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PostPosted: Wed May 01, 2019 11:26 am 

Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2018 12:41 pm
Posts: 26
I hope somewhere down the line that the documentary comes out on DVD and Blu Ray.

PostPosted: Wed May 15, 2019 10:47 pm 

Joined: Sat Apr 09, 2016 2:23 pm
Posts: 138
S P O I L E R S A H E A D !

I just watched the film. Overall I enjoyed it but as some reviews have pointed out, it has some issues. Here come some messy opinions (forgive me if it's incoherent, but I'm tired and I've had 3 beers).

* * *

Seamus Murphy is obviously a brilliant photographer, but not a filmmaker. Therefore the movie is beautifully shot and very visually pleasing but it suffers from wanting to be a bunch of very different things. Part dreamy, poetic travelogue, part behind-the-scenes music documentary, part commentary on the state of the world. It never manages to dig deeper into a topic, it's very snapshot-y. I don't understand why they decided to include a 2015 migrant crisis on the Macedonian border, or a 2016 Trump rally (which kind of makes sense for a later scene but we'll get to that), or a guy preaching on and on about Jesus in Anacostia. Or even the footage from the protests in Syria, other than the fact that PJ likes the face of one of the protesters while she's viewing Seamus's photographs. I'm also not totally sold on Polly's voiceover throughout the travelogue-like field pieces. Sometimes it works, sometimes it comes across as a bit clunky when she's describing literally what's being shown on the screen.

PJ does acknowledge her privilege of being a rich white woman visiting poor countries/communities but the film doesn't dwell on that too long either. There are many interesting scenes, like a black guy confronting a white suprematist, but they often lead to nowhere. For instance, in Washington - a black rights activist is mentioned, her photograph is shown, she's quoted and just when you think the movie's going to delve a little bit deeper into the situation of black youth in Anacostia, it's off to another topic. Or when Polly mentions how she's the only woman allowed at an Albanian ceremony but then - you guessed it - the scene ends and there's no follow-up, no comment on the power dynamic. Sometimes there's also a frustrating lack of broader context, e.g. there's a scene in Kosovo, in a Serbian orthodox monastery that cuts right to the aforementioned scene (also in Kosovo) of an Albanian muslim ceremony without any explanation - whereas the conflict between Serbians and Albanians at the very least should serve here as the background for the story of Zagorka described in "Chain of Keys". (And yes, Zagorka's face is shown but we don't have the chance to hear her speak.) Likewise, you see Paul Schwartzman driving them around D.C. but it's never directly acknowledged that his words became TCOH - I mean, we as fans know it, but a casual viewer won't.

On a more positive note - it's a pretty great peek behind the scenes. Throughout the studio shots Polly is very funny and silly. While in the field pieces she's often barely noticeable, respectful, blending into crowds, just observing, in the studio the Fun Peej we know from old EPKs is back. She cracks up often, jokes with the band (e.g. when she realises that the lyric you can't sounds like you cunt), makes silly comments, faces, voices. I loved this candid moment when she pays a genuine compliment to Flood about how his ideas are always the ones they settle for, and then undercuts it with " you've finally learned something from me after all these years" and a cackle. There's a lot of back-and-forth going between her and her bandmates, you really see how they're a group of friends.

There are also many beautiful, heartwarming scenes outside the studio - PJ trying out instruments at Afghan Tin Pan Alley, drinking tea with Afghani children, hanging out with young black people blasting trap and hiphop from their cars (the lesbian drug delaer / rapper Paunie is a star!), random people in all locations spontaneously 'posing' for Seamus's shots, the gospel choir performing "The Community of Hope" (you already know the scene from the video), etc. Seamus really does have an eye for bringing out humanity from everyone, in every shot.

Anyway, songs featured (probably incorrect order in the middle):

The Orange Monkey - an almost a capella version with a different melody and lyrics played in the first scenes (not shown in the studio)
Chain of Keys - similar the album version
A Dog Called Money - a stripped-down, acoustic guitar version with John Parish on lead vocals, with Polly playing her drum; later she's recording half-whispered backing vocals for the version we actually got
Homo Sappy Blues - great shot PJ playing drums (badly) and singing! Messy take, but fun; I wish they released this track
River Anacostia - a failed jokey attempt at playing the song with the hurdy-gurdy, then PJ records quiet backing vocals
The Ministry of Social Affairs - they actually play the whole song, intercut with images from Afghanistan; similar to the album version; Terry Edwards's sax solo take shown here is the one that made it to the album - after he finishes Polly runs to hug and kiss him, saying 'thank you'
I'll Be Waiting - also the whole song, intercut with shots of the audience watching Recording in Progress and Seamus's 'moving portraits' of people; similar to the version we have
The Wheel - they show mostly the boys working on the guitar lines; PJ discusses the song with Flood; an instrumental plays also during credits
The Ministry of Defence - pretty much the album version; PJ's trying to decide on the right 'voice' for the song, wants it to be more funky; the rhythmic breathing seems to be inspired by an Afghan ceremony that Polly attended but of course the song is cut off before a casual viewer can make that connection
The Community of Hope - a stripped-down version with John Parish on acoustic guitar and PJ on vocals; I think they were actually teaching the song to the rest of the band? Then it cuts to the gospel choir performance and then to the studio version
The Age of Dollar (?) - an unreleased track, quite upbeat, catchy, about a mass shooter perhaps? Cool woodwind arrangement, especially in the coda
Guilty - they play the whole song, intercut with images of people in the streets of Kabul; IIRC it comes after the Trump rally scene, which actually made the whole WHICH ONE IS GUILTY? lyric especially chilling; pretty much the version we have, with additional handclaps in the studio
Dollar, Dollar - a radically different version, no organ, no backing vocals, instead light drumming and acoustic guitars, some whistling, sounds more bright and hopeful but I'm glad they reworked it for the album

There's also a scene where PJ is (quite dramatically) strumming chords on autoharp - no vocals, just instrumental - but I couldn't recognize the track, it might be another one that didn't make the final cut, and some other snippets, for example of Mick Harvey singing chorus of an unreleased track, a mournful woodwind arrangement that might've been an original intro to Dollar, Dollar etc.

Overall it's an interesting and enjoyable movie. Very warm and humane, and - like humans - a bit flawed. Worth seeing - it'll probably slightly frustrate you but every PJ Harvey fan should be happy just for the amount of behind-the-scenes footage which is so rare with here these days.

PostPosted: Thu May 16, 2019 6:12 am 

Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2018 10:42 pm
Posts: 21 ... 70.article

The film had its world premiere at the Berlinale and will make its UK premiere at Sheffield Doc/Fest in early June. MUBI will then give the documentary a theatrical release in the UK day and date with its release online.


Autlook has also sold A Dog Called Money to Non Stop (Nordics), Madman (Australia and New Zealand), Beat (CIS), Zeta Films (Brazil), Against Gravity (Poland), Avalon (Spain), Just Wanted (Italy), Stadtkino (Austria), B Side (Taiwan) and Leopardo Films (Portugal).

US Premiere at the Seattle Film Festival May 31-June 1:

PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2019 6:47 pm 

Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2018 10:42 pm
Posts: 21
Audio of Seamus Murphy Q&A from Moscow Beat Film Festival, alternates between English and Russian translation.

PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2019 4:43 am 

Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2018 10:42 pm
Posts: 21 ... cumentary/

Polly is very much someone who has creative control over her own work, so to allow you to shape a narrative around her requires a great deal of trust. Was there any anxiety for you when showing her the finished thing?
Absolutely. She hadn’t seen anything that I had been working on – no footage. I wanted to be with her when she saw it and she was just like ‘oh just send me a link’ and I was like ‘shit!’ But I got this lovely response saying she was in tears and she loved it. If she had turned around and said that she hates it, then I really wasn’t sure what I was going to do. It was a very strange 24 hours waiting for that verdict.

Are you going to collaborate on any future projects?
I think we are. We don’t have any plans but we did talk about doing something in the future. When you get a big idea, I think the details look after themselves. She’s writing a lot of poetry at the moment and I have another book coming out, we’re both busy but I’d love to do more with her.

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