Film Review & Interview: An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

Well EVERYTHING of course…

Depending on what generation you hail from, you’ll have a different key moment that you and your peers will all emotively swarm around, remembering where you were at a particular juncture upon hearing some startling pop culture news. Be it who shot J.R.? More so now not knowing out of lack of memory due to getting older, rather than the global secrecy at the time. Or when Bros broke up (how could they? What about the effect on Grolsch bottle sales to preteens?), Britney’s shaved head, or indeed the first (& hopefully the last) time you heard Galway Girl.

As you will rightly have screamed, the one that’s obviously missing from the above list is where were you when you saw The Greasy Strangler (2016) for the first time (reviewed by me here)

A radiant greasy creative torch of a movie, nurtured in the multidimensional comedic mind of director/writer Jim Hosking, The Greasy Strangler KY jellied into the world with zero foreplay and was a hell of a ride, or ride from hell for the puritans amongst us. For everyone else, it was one of the best nights EVER! And the after glow still keeps us warm, smiling and damp to this day. In fact, a cursory mention of it’s title within social circles will instantly indicate who will be a friend for life, and who are the moribund that Haley Joel Osment whispered about in The Sixth Sense.

An evening with Beverly Luff Linn

Strangler completely and successfully rendered a world that had tenuous links to everyday society, yet it very much was all around us if you looked. It was like the opposite of being colour blind, where you had hyper enhanced ability to see all the things folk generally drift past. Be it quirky awkward moments in social interaction, and desperate calamitous, fumbling attempts to disguise them, unusual or indifferent dress sense in a world that is hyper homogenised, or just the recognition and appreciation of the unique in a world of clone.

But if you took a moment, grabbed a tissue, mopping up some of the spent goo, hiding under all the slime, disco and murder was a story about love, and it’s hypnotic effect on us all, our clear inability to wrangle it, and the desperate levels we will go to attempting to achieve it.

This is clearly a topic that bears rich and wonderfully strange fruit for Hosking as his next filmic delight is about to enter our minds in the thrusting guise of ‘An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn’ (2018).

Whilst Strangler slightly hid the love under the lube, Luff Linn has it front and of course, ever so slightly way off centre. It may seem as a strange thing to say, but the plot isn’t really the objective as the film is tantamount to an experience, where it’s best to wilfully and trustfully castoff with Captain Hosking to Love Island, or in this case Love Hotel.

Lulu Danger (the supremely talented Aubrey Plaza) is trapped within a loveless marriage that is treated like a entrepreneurial Road to Success seminar by her business ‘man’, masculinely overcompensated moustached husband Shane (Emile Hirsch). The trials, tribulations, failings, flailings, aspirations and fundamental emotional flaws are turned up to 17 as various events drift towards the gravitational pull of the mysterious entity that is the elusive showman/guru known as Beverley Luff Linn (Craig Robinson), who as spiritual faith and salvation would have it, is playing in a local hotel ‘For one night only’.

Nothing is said as to who this planetary deity is, but Beverley’s power and hold over countless folk is quite evident, especially in Lulu who is clearly seeking something of true value in her life, and hopefully this Black Buddha in Tartan holds the answer.

Out of extraordinary circumstances her wing man for this great journey is Colin Keith Threadener (Jemaine Clement), the tenderhearted fool trying to portray himself as a hard man, to his mind, helping a damsel in a really fine taste in dress. The only (hopefully life changing) goal is to see this single event, if it actually ever happens, as people, histories, closet skeletons, unfettered emotions all repeatedly dance, bounce, ail, groan, burp and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) around each other in an attempt to understand each others emotions, and ultimately their own.

As with any great misadventure, it’s the journey that counts, as we embark on it with everyone else to get to this event of the title. And what a journey it is. It’s safe to say, in the best way possible, that nothing will really prepare your for it. If you’ve seen Strangler you will be familiar with the mechanisms within Hosking’s unique magical box of tropes, repetition, awkwardness, hyper acting, stilted traits, the beautifully strange and the ridiculous all coming together in a very peculiar looking soup, that tastes divine, and truly warms the cockles as you laugh your heart out, and bestow it upon a loved one.

For some, these devices may be irksome, but the reality of it is they are us all, at least those fleeting moments that everyone tries to ignore, but turned up to 17 (again) in Hoskingvision. Despite the weirdness, there’s profound observation at play too, it’s just not presented in a clone format, to an extent, you have to work for the reward. And it’s hysterically funny while it does all this too, where the more you relax into it and trust the Captain, the more rewarding the adventure.

To an extent Luff Linn is ‘potentially’ more accessible than Strangler, but to its credit, it will probably be just as divisive. It’s rich and hearty, full of strangeness, beautiful and fascinating characters (all played brilliantly with the conviction of jovial maniacs), stunning costumes and decor, wonderfully shot and yet another fantastic score by Andrew Hung who also did the incredible score for Strangler.

Where Strangler was a retro gaming console disco mayhem of a delight, Luff Linn comes across as a seemingly far more serious affair of the heart, and being that the movie is about one of life’s biggest yearnings, completely appropriate, and yet still beautifully and devotedly off kilter. There’s a gorgeous contrast of the ineptitude upon the screen and the epic horns, sounds, and lovelorn, plaintive throws of Hung’s score that wouldn’t have gone amiss in The Shining, Inception or Casablanca, if they were comedies.

In a cinema ocean of mundanity and empty husk production lined movies that you instantly forget, ‘An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn’ simply won’t allow you to have that experience. You’ll be thinking about it for a long time after (and during), either about all it’s glory, or what the hell did I just watched? Either way, that’s a great response in a world that desperately aims for zero reaction, just hand over your money and your love.

Flush caught up with the Hoskingvision musical muse that is Andrew Hung to chat about his latest score for Jim Hosking

This is the second score for Jim that you’ve done after the unique inspirational joy that was The Greasy Strangler, both in the movie and the music you created for it. How did the initial collaboration happen, and then again taking up the digital baton for An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn.

I first met up with Andy Starke and Jim in a dingy grimy dive bar and that’s where I was recruited for The Greasy Strangler. It was a sordid affair that I can’t go into. Then I made the soundtrack and I was welcomed into the Hosking school of misfits.

What was the creative process, and were there any developments or changes in that process for Luff Linn compared to Strangler?

Yeah, it was very different this time round. I suspect it’s going to be different every time to be honest with you; that’s the nature of exploration and working with different times and people. I think it’s like a starling flock, a pulsating shape. The Greasy Strangler was made very quickly, I think I made the whole thing in 3 weeks. This time I started in May and was there right up to the end of the year. So it was kind of extreme opposite ends of the spectrum.

Were there references for guidance? There is an epic-ness to the score, with hints of The Shining, Inception even possibly Casablanca.

The word “cosmic” and “power” kept cropping up in conversations between Jim and I so that was certainly in the back of my mind! Also misfits was important….

Most contemporary movies have a very short window for the composer to create the score, what was the turn around on this? Were you writing to the images, or was it made in isolation?

Jim asked me in the pub before going to the Empire Awards which was in March where we won best comedy. Just had to get that in there. So I started really early. I was very eager to be honest because I bloody loved working on The Greasy Strangler that I couldn’t wait to do it all over again. I mostly work in isolation which is a dream come true for an introvert.

Aside from any potential director guidance, what were your influences in bringing the notes together?

Initially I looked at quite a few sources. I felt like it was a coming-of-age film with misfits so I turned to The Breakfast Club, Heathers and Pump Up The Volume. Not necessarily for music but to inspect the emotional tonality. Everybody Knows by Leonard Cohen was on Pump Up The Volume and that seemed to jump up at me so I looked into I’m Your Man. Then I toyed with using only piano for the whole soundtrack. Then I accidentally (ACCIDENTALLY OKAY?) bought this shitty synth on Ebay to use on the film. But to be honest, because of the amount of time I had on this, I went in a few directions which was really useful to build up the palette.

There’s a very broad spectrum of tone and sounds, from the brooding ominous ‘Magical Evening’, to the sparse and gorgeous ‘Flat Headed Birds’, and on to the garage rock of ‘Never Too Late’. There’s even the slightly Strangleresque playful ‘Lamb& Lily’ too. Does this variety come naturally to you, and what are the difficulties of having to achieve these individual goals?

Yeah I can pull in any direction which is both a curse and incredibly liberating. Back to the starling analogy; I oscillate between spaces. I can go very far out and I want to go far out; I need to go far out, I need to find those boundaries! Because there aren’t any.

Are there any pieces that didn’t make the cut that your were really happy with?

Hahahaha…. did I find myself emotionally attached to anything that didn’t make it? No I don’t think so… but then I tend to do a lot of exploration so I end up with a lot of vignettes thus getting emotionally attached to one thing is rare. I didn’t even mean to do that for the album I’m working on at the moment, but I’ve made 200 vignettes for that already which isn’t the most I’ve made for a single project.

You’re working on Jim’s next movie ‘Tropical Cop Tales’, can you tell us anything about that, and where it will be going sonically with your score.

Tropical Cop Tales was written by Jim and Toby Harvard, both of whom wrote The Greasy Strangler, so it’s more in keeping with that. It’s on Adult Swim so the bonkers has been turned up to the max. It’s an adult live cartoon… it’s really funny, it’s been cracking me up loads. He’s a genius that boy.

9/10 An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn is in cinemas from Oct 23rd and available to own from Oct 29th

The official soundtrack by Andrew Hung is out now and you can download it or pre-order vinyl here

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