Tag: Manchester by the Sea

Ramblings: On Field Day, Films, Foals and Black Foxxes


No sooner am I done getting excited about getting tickets to see Run The Jewels than Field Day release the awesome news that RTJ will be closing the main stage on the 3rd June.

Field Day is an interesting festival; every year the lineup feels a little obscure and unfamiliar but they have a tremendous habit of sensing where music is going, rather than celebrating where it is right now. Last year’s festival was unbelievably wet and muddy, but sets by the Black Madonna, Bicep, Yeasayer, Four Tet, John Grant and Jackmaster were too good for any weather problems to leave me feeling anything other than elated.

This year they’ve consolidated the festival into one day, and the line up largely has that familiar ‘music to be discovered’ feel. I’m a big fan of Haelos and Run The Jewels, and I’m looking forward to Clams Casino, Moderat and Algerian rockers Imarhan. But the great thing about Field Day is the trust you can have in the bookers; whatever stage you end up watching you’ll be seeing something interesting and fresh.


January seems to be the season for festival lineup announcements. I saw Leeds & Reading Festival(s) post on Twitter today that they’re due to announce some acts this week, SW4 have announced Deadmau5 – in addition to the recent revelation that Pendulum will be reforming – as headliners and Citadel today announced Foals in a UK festival exclusive. I’m not sure I’ll be able to avoid the lure of Foals…

Onto domestic matters and I’m delighted that Antonia and George have made their debuts on the site. Antonia’s excellent review of Manchester by the Sea can be found here and George has the world of LPs covered; It’s Album Time will be a regular feature and kicks off with Bonobo’s Migration here.

Astral Penguins will – initially – primarily be a music blog, but I’d love it to become a place where those who love culture and want to read thoughtful opinions and passion about different fields can visit. George and Antonia bring with them lifetimes of passion and knowledge and it is my pleasure to give them an outlet.

Finally I got a Songkick notification today telling me that Black Foxxes are supporting You Me At Six at their forthcoming Alexandra Palace gig. I’m a big fan of BF and had the pleasure of seeing them last year. Their debut album was one of the most assured and interesting first releases of 2016 and I’m delighted that they’re getting the opportunity to play to a wider audience. Good luck to them.

I’ll be back this evening with a Track of the Day and tomorrow we’re debuting a new feature on cover songs. Until later…




At the Movies: Manchester by the Sea

At the Movies: Manchester by the Sea

I totally accept that going to see a film in January that wasn’t La La Land was slightly insane…but I feel that after having seen it twice already, and knowing the soundtrack back to front (Ryan Gosling’s suit is wool- obviously) it was probably time to move on, and venture on to one of the (probable) ‘serious’ Oscar contenders….

Manchester by the Sea is writer/director Kenneth Lonergan‘s third film and stars Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams. The trailer promises us a bleak tale filled with woe and hope in which a man, upon learning of his brother’s death, must return to his hometown, (Manchester by the Sea) to look after his brother’s teenage son, and in doing so, ‘find himself’…probably not Just Another Day of Sun…

But the sincerity of the trailer doesn’t do this film justice…

Affleck plays Lee, an irascible, monosyllabic janitor who has absolutely no interest in forming any sort of relationship- with anyone. He regularly insults his customers and picks fights with random men in grotty bars. He is clearly disillusioned with life and appears intent on paying penance for his mysterious past. His return to Manchester by the Sea is met with whispers and shock: he is not just Lee Chandler but the Lee Chandler. Whatever he has done, or whatever has happened to him is apparently too horrific for discussion and we are left totally in the dark. Throughout the course of the film we learn about his past, his relationship with his wife (Michelle Williams) and his children. But nothing prepares us for the shocking revelation ¾ through the film where, suddenly, we understand.

But the film is so much more than a mere vehicle for this denouement. Many of the scenes appears as vignettes- totally compelling and complete in and of themselves. Odd moments of humour are played against maelstroms of tragedy (eg. Joe Chandler’s hospital diagnosis). And so, despite the plot not being the most original, the film feels completely fresh. In complete contrast to Clint Eastwood’s  Sully (the most recent film I’ve hated) Lonergan doesn’t simply pay lip service to his characters, he genuinely captures their nuances and eccentricities. And the dissonance of Casey Affleck’s Lee Chandler from an extraverted family man in the flashbacks to total gnomic loner left me with a sense of intrigue…

But the thing that jarred with me was the music, which felt somewhat incongruous. And although it worked at the start of the film and hinted to the fact that perhaps, all was not well, and there was something yet to be discovered, in some of the more overtly emotional moments, it felt a little overblown (notably in the funeral scene and in the final scene). But perhaps it was to the film’s credit that, bar a few moments, it didn’t try to force an emotional repose from its audience.

There’s a scene in a police station towards the end of the film in which Lee struggles with the idea that no one is to blame for the tragedy. And I think that moment was very revealing. Things are left unresolved and relationships cannot be salvaged. But the film offers no solution, nor any real redemption. No one is really to blame. And this makes it all the more devastating.

Honestly, the most sensible thing to do after coming out of a screening of Manchester by the Sea, is to walk straight into a screening of La La Land.