The Straight Story, with music by Animat at the Komedia

Off to the Komedia to see David Lynch’s Straight Story. I have to declare an interest: Lynch is a big hero of mine.

This film is an absolutely wonderful and touching portrayal of Alvin Straight, a frail old WW2 veteran. Unable to drive due to bad eyes and legs, Alvin sets off on an epic journey on a tiny tractor across America to visit his sick brother to make amends for having fallen out ten years ago. A wonderful film, beautifully shot and acted.

The visual enjoyment of it was hampered at the Komedia by a lousy picture, with double imaging all the way through. You’d think someone would have sorted this out seeing as it was a screening.

Much, much worse than the awful visuals was the stone-eared, heavy-handed, noodling, clownish tripe served up by Animat as a soundtrack. I’m sure these guys are great musicians but a soundtrack is all about a dialogue with the visuals, not some monologue in a darkened bedroom. The result was a mixture of the blindingly obvious, putting jokey noises onto subtly humorous scenes and destroying them, or way off the dartboard sampling, such as Marvin Gaye’s sublime What’s Going On, or simply drowning out the dialogue. What were they thinking?

It’s a tribute to this beautiful film that I was still moved to tears at the end of it, despite the God awful picture quality, and the inept soundtrack.

The Brighton Moment at the Komedia

People who live in Brighton think Brighton is big and clever. Judging by the number of scribes who live here and write about it, this big and cleverness will live on long after the current crop is being squabbled over by the seagulls.

Having evolved in three years from a cosy fringe event at Joogleberry Playhouse, to its current ability to effortlessly fill the 300 seats of the Kommedia, The producers of The Brighton Moment Susanna Jones and Alison MacLoud have done great things with an event that this year is now officially part of the Brighton Festival. (I noticed Andrew Comben, incoming Festival supremo, present and correct.)

And, frankly, damn right it should be too. Where else can you hear a burst of something like 18 excellent authors reading their own material all focused on one theme? And what other English city could produce it? The variety of material and the change in voices meant the literary longueurs were rare, and the delights were many.

Hosted by Annabel Giles, who managed to be both ramshackle and slick, the event attracted a flock of Brighton’s finest scribes. Tanya Murray, who I’d seen read once before, is fairly new and largely unpublished. She “used to be a man but gave it up”, and for my money Murray is an authentic Brighton voice, and a talent to watch.

Next year’s Brighton Moment may extend beyond one night. If it does, you should seize that moment, and see it.