February 25, 2016

Vinyl: Mick Jagger and Martin Scorsese's Mini-series


The past few weeks have given us some insights into the music industry.
Firstly there was a biopic mini-series on Australia's rock music guru - Ian 'Molly' Meldrum, and now we have 'Vinyl'.

Martin Scorsese has never pulled any punches with his movies: always hard-hitting and well-executed, and having Mick Jagger along side,,,well it's hard to mess it up!
Both shows are worth a look, and having Mick Jagger compile the 'Vinyl' soundtrack makes it even more interesting.

I think it is fair to say that Mick, or should I say Sir Mick, is part of the most successful rock band ever inasmuch as the Rolling Stones are still performing , currently in South America, and are largely intact with the obvious exceptions of Brian Jones, Bill Wyman and Mick Taylor who joins them from time to time.
Whilst 'Molly' is definitely a bio-pic it is hard to say whether 'Vinyl' really is but it appears to be.

Not being 'in the know' who is Richie Finestra supposed to be in real life? 

And yet we see actual people portraying Robert Plant, Bo Diddley, David Bowie, Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Gram Parsons,Jerry Lee Lewis, Andy Warhol  and many others.

Here is a review by Michael Idato from the SMH:


If you look back in time, through the crystal ball of nostalgia, the 1970s were a decade of flare-wearing misadventure, where your hem stretched from your heels to your hair, drugs were served in large tin buckets, technology consisted mostly of Bakelite phones and transistor radios and we were all bopping at Studio 54.

In truth, they weren't nearly so glamorous, and most of us weren't bopping for the whole 10 years, though Vinyl (Mondays, Showcase, 3.30pm and 7.30pm) seems determined to make you think they (and we) were. This is the music industry, writ large, with Martin Scorsese at the helm and Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger on the sideline.

That's a formidable imprimatur to hang on any show, let alone a show set in a decade two of the key creatives lived through as adults. The third, showrunner Terry Winter, was mercifully just a teenager, though he had older siblings who exposed him to a wide palette of music. Brace yourself: it's gonna be a noisy series.

Vinyl stars Bobby Cannavale as Richie Finestra, a record company executive battling to save his label, American Century, as external forces swirl, foreshadowing its ruin. Olivia Wilde plays Devon Finestra, his wife. Ray Romano is Zak Yankovich, the label's head of promotions and the man who Finestra leans on and confides in.  Also Juno Temple from Maleficent as Jamie Vine.

Cannavale is a Scorsese/Winter favourite, having cut through their earlier collaboration, Boardwalk Empire, like a tornado. Cannavale played psychopathic mobster Gyp Rosetti with the kind of mad brilliance that makes you immediately want to cast him in your next project, which plainly they did.

He is brilliant here, if trapped a little by a slightly superficial characterisation that, in the first few hours at least, feels impenetrable. It takes time for the sharp corners to smooth but it's worth the investment. Cannavale in full flight is a sight to behold.

The biggest challenge with the first hours is that they're simply slow. Which is odd, because there is a lot of colour and movement, but behind that the narrative is glacial. That's a tough thing to hit tucking in to the first hour of a new drama, particularly one that demands, by virtue of its pedigree, your undivided attention.

Those first few hours are properly Scorsese's too – he directed – and they feel weighty, full of pauses, like a nuanced feature film. Television's nature is to be lighter, leaner, faster, so it jags, though there will be many who disagree. And if it's down to a TV critic's opinion or Martin Scorsese's, I offer unconditional surrender.

What doesn't help is the tendency to mistake dick-swinging dialogue and wild gesticulation for action, when audiences now are far more attuned to the smaller moments and more subtle gestures. There's a lot of over-talking and over-walking in Vinyl. It's distracting and sometimes frustrating.

Romano is the great revelation here: a sitcom actor best known for playing a goofy TV husband and father who brings an unexpectedly complex dimension to Zak Yankovich. 

It's a bit like finding the dad from The Brady Bunch, Robert Reed, playing the lead in House of Cards. It jars for a second, but then it's kind of awesome.

Musically the show is perfect, stylistically it's brilliant, though perhaps because if its pedigree it has been indulged a little. 

Those wrinkles are forgivable. It's also wholly subjective, but that's forgivable, too, so it's not the story of the 1970s but how Richie Finestra saw them. "Clouded," he notes, "by lost brain cells, self-aggrandisement and, maybe, a little bit of bullshit".


No Series 2!!


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