For Those Who Came In Late: Brazil

Some media you just get to much later than you probably wanted to, for a variety of reasons. This is my attempt to play catch up.

I’m 34 years old, and until 31 July 2014 I had never seen Terry Gilliam’s Brazil.

brazil

In the middle of watching this film I could tell that this was a fucking travesty; why had I waited so long? I love Terry Gilliam’s other work, though I’m still to watch The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus and The Zero Theorem. Those are gonna be dealt with a lot faster now. But unfortunately I knew nothing about this film. Or perhaps fortunately, as I’d never been spoiled on any of it. But this is really not a film you can just tell someone about; you have to sit them down and get them to watch it.

Also, I have to say the poster was kind of…not exactly off putting but didn’t exactly grab me either; it was an artistic non-event. Though with contextual hindsight it seems beautiful and wildly appropriate now. The final issue was a lack of access; I was never able to get my hands on a copy of the film for some reason.

How I finally got around to watching it was due to comparisons friends made to Brazil as we were watching Snowpiercer last week. That’s also a fantastic film that is difficult to get your hands on. Now that it’s finally getting a wider release here I may write something on it, but in the interim you can check out a good friend’s thoughts on the film here.

Given the depth and breadth of my film knowledge, my friends were shocked that I’d never seen Brazil. So on our next usual Thursday night gathering they decided they would sit me down to watch the film. I’m very glad they did.

There’s a risk when approaching something so lauded so late, that you won’t be able to appreciate it on its own merits. To quote TV Tropes, “It wasn’t old or overdone when they did it. But the things it created were so brilliant and popular, they became woven into the fabric of that…genre. They ended up being taken for granted, copied and endlessly repeated.” Fortunately, Brazil is so brilliant and so innovative that despite being able to think of at least one thing that had riffed on this film almost per scene, it still outshone them all and nearly 30 years later it still seems groundbreaking.

I was unaware of the production problems this film had, with the “Love Conquers All” cinematic cut being originally released by the studio as opposed to Gilliam’s preferred vision for the film. I can’t say I’m surprised though; Gilliam is one of the unluckiest filmmakers working, to the point where some commentator have publicly wondered whether the man took a dump on an Indian Burial Ground at some point. The dude is cursed. Fortunately, I watched the director’s cut as my first viewing, though there’s very few films you shouldn’t do that for anyway.

But to the heart of the matter, Brazil is a satire of dystopian futures with a masterful script co-written by Gilliam, Charles McKeown, Tom Fuckin’ Stoppard (seriously, is there anything that man cannot write for?) with uncredited contributions by Charles Alverson. This is a very 1984 universe; “Grey cities linked by grey highways across a grey desert. Slag, ash and clinker – the fruits of technology.

brazil_information Superhighway

Our story is kicked off by a administrative error fingering the wrong man as a terrorist, with the State’s Death Squad bagging him, and the plot progresses as one unambitious and dissatisfied bureaucrat tries to rectify the problem (from an administrative standpoint), accidentally bumping into an All Mighty Janitor rebelling against the system and the Literal Girl of His Dreams from his segues of flying with his ethereal love.

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But the story is so much more than that; it is dark and depressing yet hilarious and extremely on point as a satire and deconstruction. To quote my friend as we watched, the fantasy sequences are so heartbreakingly beautiful. It is amazing how Jonathan Pryce just becomes a Siegfried. And it is amazing; in the dream sequences they manage to make Jonathan Pryce look heroic simply in the act of flying on metal wings. But that makes sense; the man can play an amazing villain, so the inverse has to be within his reach.

There’s a terrorism subplot that does nothing to romaticise the notion of terrorism. There’s no nobility of purpose here against a grim oppressor; collateral damage and civilian casualties are shown in grim, gory and sickening reality.

The production design is used to great effect, be it the propaganda in the background, or foreground. Or how this world is shown to be stagnating due to being overly bureaucratic and overly complicated. Or the thin veneer of sophistication over the upper classes as they go about their crass excesses.

And the entirety of the cast is brilliant, being a veritable Who’s Who of the British Comedic Acting Fraternity from the 1980s that shakes every ounce of subtlety from the story. There’s nothing more disturbing than Simon Jones, AKA Arthur Frelling Dent telling a woman to sign a form in triplicate whilst a Death Squad bags her husband. Yet Michael Palin; arguably one of the nicest men in the world; manages to top even that by using that persona to full effect to make his role even more disturbing when you realise what his character’s job actually is. And this is probably Jonathan Pryce’s greatest role, playing the tragic figure of the only sane man in an insane world.

The final thing I’ll mention is the music. This is another wonderful Michael Kamen score; one of my favourite film composers. It weaves the elements of the nostalgic past with the grimness of the retro future that are visually displayed.

There is some weirdness to the film I still don’t understand, having only watched it once and not having had time to fully consider all I’ve seen. On the flipside, it’s a Terry Gilliam film; non-sequitars are to be expected.

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As for the ending, I can see why some people may have been shocked by it. But it’s thematically perfect, and in many ways hopeful. Unfortunately I don’t feel I can discuss the underlying philosophy of the ending without ruining it potentially. it’s something that has to be thought about quietly by the individual.

Ultimately, this is one of the best films I’ve ever seen. As a stand alone piece of art, it is a masterpiece. As a media touchstone, it’s influence cannot be denied. I can’t wait to watch it again.

Be seeing you…

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Trailer: “The Legend of Korra: Book Three – Change”

You’ve done enough angsting, Korra. Now it’s time to do some fucking bending:

I liked season two, but Korra’s constant bickering with poor, stupid Mako got old fast!

He should’ve stayed with Asami; his contant flip-flopping will drive her to the villainy her character model implies…

Be seeing you…

 

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(Lonely) God is in the Rain

So I haven’t been keeping up with this. In my defence, I’ve been sick and I find that it is the pits trying to write whilst unwell, especially considering I find it difficult at the best of times anyway.

Now, I meant to share the final video in this piece when it first came out, but various things distracted me. But it’s worth talking about in lieu of any actual new footage (silhouettes don’t count), and should give you some insight into how my brain works. If you’re interested in that sort of thing…

This all started somewhat paradoxically a few weeks back, when I went to see the new Godzilla (strange film; enjoyed it) and saw this trailer for the first time:

This film wasn’t even on my radar, so it was a pleasant surprise. However, the music was so hauntingly familiar. Eventually I tracked it down, it’s “Evey Reborn” by Dario Marianelli from the under appreciated “V for Vendetta” soundtrack that plays over this scene:

As an aside; this scene is fascinating due to the juxtaposition that’s on display. Sure, it’s about Evey being reborn and “washed clean” by the rain after her long and torturous incarceration, tying in with the sentiment, “God is in the Rain.” Now that veers dangerously into “There Are No Atheists in Foxholes” territory, which is really not a discussion I’m trying to have so let’s plough through that…the juxtaposition comes down to this; what is Evey being reborn as? Despite the Shawshank-eqsue beauty of the scene and the uplifting music, a monster is being born. The movie doesn’t really get into it, but V clearly knows what he has done, and may even be considering the moral implications of it…as much as can be construed from the body language of Hugo Weaving as he acts silently in a padded doublet and mask. It’s a fascinating and subversive idea in a major studio film that is surprisingly brimming with them, but that really is a discussion for another time, so  I digress.

Now, I love fan trailers; after all a fan made trailer was what finally convinced me to track down and watch ‘Blake’s 7′.

Man, I should discuss that series at some point as well. Moving on.

So after watching the Interstellar trailer and hearing that music, I wanted to sit down and watch V for Vendetta again, as it had been awhile. It took a couple of weeks, but I finally got around to it. When I did, during Evey’s rebirth scene I remembered this from a week or so earlier:

As a fan piece, it’s kind of amazing in its simplicity, beauty, power and technical prowess. It’s also surprising in how it could potentially overshadow how Peter Capaldi plans on playing the Doctor; I’d be surprised if he shows this sort of whimsical nature, but now I kind of want him to. Occasionally.

We still have no idea how Capaldi will play the Doctor; I’m banking on something closer to Jon Pertwee’s portrayal, authoritarian, but just as quick to criticise authority, too. I also remember a pair of blazing, determined eyes and the promise that they held. However it goes, I like this idea of a newly regenerated Time Lord simply standing in the rain under an alien sky, and hope that the new Doctor, if only occasionally, reminds us that he’s a wonderful and charming old man, still open to the wonders of the Universe.

Be seeing you…

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DC Showcase

Earlier this week we got this trailer:

Confession time; I’ve never read an issue of Hellblazer, Swamp Thing or even the Nu52 Constantine. Prior to meeting a friend of mine, my knowledge of John Constantine came solely from his interactions with Dream of the Endless and Zatanna, which certainly doesn’t give one the full picture.

Unfortunately, I think this is an awful trailer to try and sell new audiences onto John Constantine. I don’t think it’s the fault of showrunners or the advertisers, I think the world of Hellblazer; from its concepts to its mythology; is a hard one to try and summarise in a three minute trailer. Fortunately in my case at least it doesn’t matter, I’m excited for this series, particularly after the first promo shot came out for this series.

Constantine

Look at this magical mutherfucker (and yes, I know this is the doctored version)

In all seriousness, the trailer just could’ve been Constantine smoking and glaring at the camera for three minutes and I’d still be excited for this series. I love the idea of the character, and I think it’s one that can translate well to live action…

…well, better that the last attempt, hopefully:

The major complaint you can level against the 2005 film starring Keanu Reeves is that it isn’tHellblazer movie. Outside of that it’s a bit of fun, though Constantine stubbing out his last cigarette in his arterial blood from his slashed wrists is probably the most Constantinesque thing in the whole damn film. But let’s put this one out of our minds. If anything, the new series trailer has inspired me to track down issues of Swamp Thing and Hellblazer and start reading them from scratch. Hopefully I’ll be able to report back on what I think of it all, as John Constantine is one of few comic book characters to have such a long, unbroken run where the character ages in real time. Pity he never got the proper send off he deserved.

Moving along, and today we got this teaser:

My major concern about this show’s announcement was that I had no idea who Grant Gustin was and if he could carry a series, particularly as the legendary Barry Allen. I still have those concerns, but they are majorly alleviated by the huge amount of goodwill this trailer buys for me.

Why? Cos Ollie and Barry are Target Racing!

This was a thing the characters used to do with each other during the Silver Age and beyond. It’s a bit of goofing around, but it shows that the showrunners for each show have thought about how these two characters should interact whenever they’re on screen together. Which I honestly don’t think will be much, but the fact that these two are sharing a universe is interesting in itself.

Considering how grim/dark the original Flash TV Series was; being a product of ’90s Comics mentality and the fallout from the successful Tim Burton Batman films, it’s good to see that maybe this television incarnation of Barry Allen will be a bit lighter. I like that the Flash is exuberant in this, and even the reasonably grim Arrow cracks a smile. His darkness is a product of PTSD; realistically portrayed for the most part; but there are some moments of genuine humour from him as well. These guys can be fun characters, and it’s time that was acknowledged again.

'90s Flash

This guy: awesome, yes. But rarely fun…unless Mark Hamill’s Trickster was involved.

So at the start of the next TV season we’re going to have four shows based on DC properties; these two, Arrow and the new series Gothamwhich I completely forgot a trailer had been released for!

I’m still apprehensive about Gotham; I believe  a series centred on Jim Gordon or his Major Crimes task force, à la Gotham Central would make a great basis for a TV series set in the Batman universe without Batman making regular appearances. But I’m not sold on the idea of younger versions of the traditional Batman Rogues Gallery running around a decade before Bruce Wayne put on the cowl. That being said, with Ben McKenzie and Donal Logue as the leads, I’m more than prepared to give this a chance.

Be seeing you…

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Eurovision Lead Up 2014 – When The Fat Lady Swings…

Somewhat vulgar figure of speech aside, here are the final six entrants guaranteed to make the Eurovision Final; the Big Five Plus One – the host nation. No idea where they will be placed in the running order on the night, so let’s just get on with it…

32. Denmark

Wow, Basim really is Danish Bruno Mars, but maybe with a bit more doo-wop thrown in.

“Cliche Love Song” is a cute and fun effort from the host nation, but it’s triteness at the back end of the running time may hurt it.

33. Spain

Ruth Lorenzo is a singer-songwriter that emerged from the UK’s X Factor, then developed an impressive resume in her native Spain and abroad. “Dancing in the Rain” shows off her vocal and lyrical talents well, and I’m impressed enough to think that this will do very well on the night.

34. Italy

I generally don’t expect much of Italy at Eurovision, but Emma Marrone here is knocking it out of the park!

She’s got a lot of vocal power, she’s got incredible amounts of presence, and she can rock a wind machine. Let’s hope a song in Italian doesn’t hurt her chances.

35. France

Ah, France. They can often be relied on to bring something that’ll make you tilt your head in confusion. I have no idea what Twin Twin are trying to do with “Moustache”, but I’m sure it’ll offer some amusement on the night…

36. United Kingdom

The UK wildly oscillates between not giving a damn and trying too damn hard. But I think with this artist Molly, they’ve nailed it this year.

Some bookies have tipped this one to win as well, and I can see “Children of the Universe” winning on the night. But making even tangential references to Queen and Highlander will always win me over…

37. Germany

An all female alt-folk German band? I can get behind that.

Elaiza clearly have some talent, and “Is It Right” sounds raw without it detracting from the song overall. Another one I expect to do well overall.

And I’m spent! And before time too, amazingly. Remind me not to leave this to the last minute next year…

I’ll be following along with the Australian Broadcasts of the two semis and the Grand Final this coming weekend. You can follow my far too frequent posts on the subject on Twitter, but be kind and no spoilers please; Eurovision is one of the few things in this world I actually like to be surprised about!

And with that, thanks for reading.

Be seeing you…

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Eurovision Lead Up 2014 – Magical Mystery Acid Trip

So having managed to get the look at the first Semi-Final before time, I might as well keep going with part two of my almost annual lead up look. And yes, I realise the title is somewhat redundant:

17. Malta

Folk songs always have a presence at Eurovision, but given the varied cultures on display, “folk” can have very different interpretations than what audiences such as myself are used to. But this is one I can easily understand though, and Firelight’s “Coming Home” is a solid effort. It also seems to have the benefit of being a World War One Centenary tribute song. How much that will help or hinder Malta politically I have no idea, but I for one appreciate the sentiment.

18. Israel

I’m not sure what to make of this. Rock and dance elements intertwined usually do nothing for me, but Mei Finegold’s voice has a surprising amount of power, and she clearly has a lot of presence. However, “Same Heart” feels awkward in its lyrical structure, which I can just put down to linguistic issues of combining English and Hebrew in the same song. Still, her force of presence may put her over the line.

19. Norway

Another moody ballad. Not that that’s a bad thing, though. Carl Espen does compelling work here with ‘”Silent Storm”, so I hope it’ll place.

20. Georgia

Georgia is one of those countries where in recent years I feel the politics overshadow the quality of the performance their entrant brings each year. But with focus for the time being elsewhere in the former Soviet states, maybe they’ll get a good showing.

That being said, The Shin & Mariko’s “Three Minutes to Earth” is a distracting fusion of jazz, rock and folk elements with seeming broken time or rhythm. I can’t say I don’t like it, but it feels unconventional for this contest, which is saying something.

21. Poland

Oh-kaaay…

Well there’s got to be one every year; an entrant I genuinely dislike. Crass and wrong-footed for what they’re trying to achieve.

That being said, if the music video is any indication, I guarantee the stage performance will get a lot of attention from the heterosexual male audience members and judges on the night…

22. Austria

After that last entry Austria’s performance throws me into a sense of sharp relief, and here we have perhaps the first genuinely controversial entrant for this year’s Eurovision.

But it’s not as controversial as I first thought; Conchita Wurst is a drag act born out of the discrimination and prejudice Tom Neuwirth experienced as a teenager. As a juxtaposition it works brilliantly. But I worry I’m laughing for the wrong reasons…

The controversy comes from petitions in Belarus and Russia to their respective state broadcasters  to edit Wurst’s performance out of the Eurovision broadcast. According to the information I dug up, the petitions claimed that the performance would turn Eurovision, “into a hotbed of sodomy.”

Oh dear. Umm…HAVE YOU PEOPLE NOT BEEN PAYING ATTENTION FOR THE PAST 50 ODD YEARS?!?

*ahem*

Okay, that may be the worst generalisation about camp since the mix-up involving the Spanish Ambassador and the Earl of Doncaster, but hopefully you see my point. Let’s ignore that stupidity and focus on the song.

“Rise Like A Phoenix” is fabulous; almost a Bond Theme song in its composition and performance. I hope this makes it to the Top 5 of the Final.

23. Lithuania

Well that was a mess. Vilija Matačiūnaitė clearly can sing, but “Attention” is not a good showcase for her talents.

24. Finland

Ah, a bit of alt rock eases the pain.

Softengine are an all teenage band out of Seinäjoki. They’re also known as “The Finnish Bon Jovi”, but the song “Something Better” doesn’t really show that off.

Clearly talented despite their relative youth, and a genuinely good song, I hope these lads do well.

25. Ireland

Oh Ireland. You always wonder what they’re going to do any given year.

All I can say is, “Thank Goodness it’s not Jedward!” To which the follow up is, “We still don’t know what a Jedward is!”

Kasey Smith and Can-Linn’s “Heartbeat” seems very by the numbers; pop rock with some Celtic sounds in the chorus and bridge. I don’t expect much of this, but Ireland does seem to get a lot of traction whomever they send.

Well, except for the puppet…

26. Belarus

Oh great, Belarus sent their version of Robin Thicke to Eurovision…

Well that was off-putting. I was hoping it was a parody or would have some sting in the tail, but nope; pretty much what you see is what you get.

And it’ll probably do well on the night, too. Moving on…

27. Macedonia

Well I kinda have to respect anyone who had a hit song about Marshal Tito, and that’s apparently what we have here with Tijana Dapčević.

“To the Sky” is a fun sounding number. Middle of the hunt, probably.

28. Switzerland

“Hunter of Stars” is a much cooler title than this song probably deserves. Sebalter’s pop folk sensibilities serve him well here; this is a fun, quirky, though somewhat subdued song. Though I have no idea how well this one will do.

29. Greece

“Rise Up” almost feels like Greece are playing it safe this year, with none of the counter-culture or blatantly traditional elements that have been present in previous years. Not a criticism on Riskykidd or Freaky Fortune; they are doing what they do well here, but this is a little disappointing.

30.  Slovenia

A professor of flute playing in Trieste, Tinkara Kovač has finally gotten to Eurovision after three previous attempts. And finally, this contest gives a ballad with some power behind it!

I like “Round and Round”, but I think this is ultimately going to come down to stage presence to tip it over the line into the final.

31. Romania

Paula Seling & Ovi very nearly destroyed the venue with their smoldering chemistry in the 2010 contest, so it’s a treat to see them back performing together again.

“Miracle” is not as good as “Playing With Fire” was four years ago, but I expect these two to do amazing stuff on stage that will guarantee them a place in the final, probably even the Top 10…

And Semi Final Two down with time to spare. I’ll be getting into the Big Five Plus One before the Final in a few days time.

Be seeing you…

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Eurovision 2014 Lead Up – 16 Countries in 50 Minutes or Less

Right, so where were we this time last year?

Ah yes, forest spirits with unsubstantiated claims to the British Crown…

It’s that time again, my freaky darlings, for the kitsch grandeur that is The Eurovision Song Contest. Yes, that epic battle of epic epicness where monsters, heroes, villains, madmen, time travellers, corporate interests and state sponsored “talent” duke it out for Eternal Glory in front of an audience of millions. Or something like that.

I’ve promised every year for the last seven years or so that I’d do a proper lead up to the contest looking at each country’s entries for this year, and for the last two years I’ve actually pulled it off! But due to an unintended creative crisis sabbatical, I’ve really left this to the last minute to wrapped up before the European broadcast of the first semi-final on May 6.

So without further gilding the lily, and no more ado, we’ll start with the acts in Semi-Final 1 for this post, ad follow with looks at Semi-Final 2 and then the confirmed finalists.

1. Armenia

We start big this year with the punters’ favourite to win the contest; “Not Alone” performed by Aram Mp3.

For someone with as big a comedy background as Aram, this is a surprisingly sombre song. It’s certainly got some power to it, but it becomes an unappealing clash of various styles near the end. I like Aram’s voice though, and I’d be a fool to dismiss the bookies out of hand, so expect this one to make it to the finals at least.

2. Latvia

And what pleasures does Doctor Doom bring us this year?

Damn Doc, really?!?

From the band Aarzemnieki, This song could be fun, but singer Jöran Steinhauer’s voice is all wrong for this, neither nailing the faux-pretentiousness nor the cute folksy the lyrics suggest.

“No clue” is right…

3. Estonia

The first dance song Eurovision’s more know for, this isn’t bad, but it’s uninspiring. What’s more interesting is singer Tanja’s background; Russia may throw her some votes and the inherent influence therein just for her heritage. And who knows, her stage presence may knock it out of the park.

4. Sweden

Another favourite being tipped by the bookies, Sanna Nielsen and her song “Undo” have a good pedigree, but the performance in this video is just lacklustre. Ms. Nielsen’s voice sounds flat to me at crucial points, which undercuts any potential power it might have.

But then she nails that last line…Maybe she’ll be a surprise and belt it out on the night, but on this overall performance alone I’d be surprised if she made the finals.

5. Iceland

Oh wow…did Iceland send a bearded Wiggles cover band to Eurovision??

It’s a little on the nose lyrically, but as a kids’ band, these guys are pretty good, and they have an undeniable energy. I hope they make the final.

Incidentally, I have my own Wiggles cover band. It’s called, “Let Sleeping Jeffs Lie”. Moving on.

6. Albania

Who does Hersi’s voice remind me of? It’s like someone threw Shakira, Heart and Loreena McKennitt into a blender.

Ignoring the visuals, Hersi has an amazing voice, but  “One Night’s Anger” is almost derailed by the power chords. And I don’t say that often. If done right on the night, this could bring the house down and guarantee a finals slot.

7. Russia

So, Russia sent blonde twins to this year’s Eurovision. Well played, Putin.

Given Russia’s treatment of girl bands in the last decade or so, I could make plenty of jokes about the Tolmachevy Sisters. Some of the ridiculous rumours surrounding The Proclaimers come irresistibly to mind. But I’ll refrain, if only for the girls’ ages. It didn’t matter who Russia sent to this year’s Eurovision; there was always going to be some political fallout due to current goings on in Europe. As such, sending their version of the Olsen Twins might be the safest bet.

All that aside, the song is actually good, and the girls have good voices. It’ll be interesting to see how much the political situation hurts or helps them, but any other year these two would be a lock for the final.

8. Azerbaijan

Given Azerbaijan hasn’t missed a final since 2004 and has been in the Top 10 every year they’ve entered, it would be foolish not to pay attention to “Start A Fire”. Dilara Kazimova has a beautiful voice, and performs a haunting ballad, backed up by the use of the exotic (to my Western ears) balaban.

This will make the cut.

9. Ukraine

Okay, who was the joker that put Ukraine and Russia on during the same night??

For a second there, I thought Ukraine had rather sensibly sent Carmen Sandiego to be their entrant. Sadly, Mariya Yaremchuk is not an international criminal mastermind (at least not according to her bio) but she has undeniable stage presence. Unfortunately, that just exposes that the song “Tick-Tock” really isn’t that great.

But a potential skifter in the deck is Ms. Yaremchek’s political affiliations; she’s pro-Russian. Surprising for the Ukrainian entrant this year of all years. Whilst politics isn’t meant to be the point of all this…it’s totally the point of all this. I suspect she’d make the final on presence alone, but this is going to be very interesting.

10. Belgium

A guy named Axel signing a song called “Mother”. This had better be as Metal as Fuck.

…well that was a let down. And what’s with Voldemort in the background??

Axel Hirsoux clearly has a set of lungs on him, and maybe this is my cynicism talking, but this ultimately comes across as creepy. Like if Norman Bates composed an opera. That being said, this was written by Ashley Hicklin, who also wrote Belgium’s 2010 Eurovision entry “Me and My Guitar”, a song I really liked…Maybe I’ll feel differently about this one on the night.

11.  Moldova

Probably the first true Villain Song of this year’s contest; it’s like someone threw Stevie Nicks into City of Lost Children. And that’s kind of magnificent.

A dark and stilted techno ballad, I can see this doing well if the more grinding elements of it don’t overpower on stage.

12. San Marino

Ah, Ms Monetta. We meet again…

Valentina Monetta has represented San Marino at Eurovision since 2012. The 2012 song was woeful, and she faired much better last year, getting San Marino’s best result at the contest. Apparently, it had been pre-arranged in June last year for Monetta to represent San Marino this year. It makes a kind of sense…

I don’t think the song “Maybe” is as good as last year’s entry, “Crisalide”; the tempo change half way through hurts it. But I admire Monetta’s talent and persistence, and this is her last Eurovision entry apparently, so let’s hope she finally makes the final.

13. Portugal

Clearly Portugal is going for the coveted Leg Vote with Suzy singing “Quero ser tua” (Translation: “I Want To Be Yours”).

The kind of ’80s throwback you expect at Eurovision, which is always a bit of fun. But I suspect this song may be forgotten due to those around it. But I fully expect the wind machine to be cranked up for this one

14. Netherlands

The Common Linnets bring a bit of country to this year’s Eurovision with “Calm After The Storm”. I can’t but helped be reminded of Lady Antebellum. Not a bad connection to make.

I like this; it’s a bit more somber than one expects of the contest, but its got a depth of emotion behind it. Hopefully it’ll do well.

15. Montenegro

A beautiful, somewhat lilting ballad from Montenegro’s Sergej Ćetković that’s meaning is completely lost on me as I’m watching these whilst sober, and therefore unable to tap into the latent Yugoslavian locked somewhere in my brain. “My World” (translated from the Montenegrin “Moj svijet”) is a sweet sounding song that hopefully does well (if only for further expert commentary on it).

16. Hungary

An American-Hungarian with connections to Lou Reed of all people, András Kállay-Saunders seems to be on a winner with “Running”, but the tempo change during the chorus is jarring. Hopefully they’ll avoid strobe lighting effects on stage as well on the night. That being said, Kállay-Saunders is clearly talented, so hopefully he’ll get some traction.

And that’s the first Semi-Final down, and just before time too. Hopefully tomorrow or at the very least before the European broadcast I’ll look at the second Semi-Final entries before the guaranteed finalists.

Be seeing you…

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