Music legend David Bowie was honoured with a top prize at the Music Producers Guild (MPG) Awards in London on Thursday night (13Feb14). The Let's Dance hitmaker landed the Innovation Award in recognition of his 2013 comeback album The Next Day.
He was not present to pick up the trophy in person, so his producer Tony Visconti accepted it for him, telling the crowd, "On behalf of my friend David Bowie it feels absolutely great... No one believed that David Bowie was going to make another album and so the timing was perfect, because everyone kind of gave up on him. There were rumours of bad health and rumours of retirement, and I'm laughing my head off every time I hear them."
During the show, British producer/songwriter Trevor Horn was handed the Outstanding Contribution to UK Music award by his collaborator Seal and Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich.
Seal, who won three Grammy Awards with Horn for their hit 1995 track Kiss From A Rose, said of his mentor, "I don't think it would have been possible for me to have had the career that I've had and enjoyed the success that I continue to enjoy without Trevor Horn... being in my life. He is a huge influence. He pretty much taught me what I know in terms of my trade in the music industry."
The pair later took to the stage together to perform Kiss From A Rose.
Production duo Flood and Alan Moulder landed the U.K. Producer Of The Year prize, which automatically earned them a BRIT Award, and Disclosure brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence scooped the Breakthrough Producer accolade for their band's debut album Settle.
Everything Everything's hit track Kemosabe was named UK Single Of The Year, Nile Rodgers took the Inspiration Award, and International Producer Of The Year went to Rick Rubin.
The genesis of Universal's 47 Ronin is almost as tragic as the actual history that the movie is culling from. As the story goes, Universal saw the sprigs of talent sprouting from fresh faced director Carl Rinsch, whose previous experience was limited to just a couple of commercials and a nifty short film. The studio decided to ease the new director into feature filmmaking by cutting him what amounts to virtually a blank check, and giving him charge over a multi-national samurai fantasy epic. Almost impossibly, the film isn't a complete disaster. It's just a minor one.
47 Ronin follows the classic story of the titular team of warriors, a group of disgraced samurai who band together to seek revenge against a merciless warlord that betrayed and killed their master. But this isn't your grandfather's version of the story. 47 Ronin is an international affair, and it's covered with a veneer of Japanese mysticism and a thick coating of Hollywood lacquer, but east meets west rather uncomfortably, and it's mostly due to Keanu Reeves. Reeves' character is clearly crowbarred into the story that has no room for him, and it's plainly obvious where the seams of the story were stretched in order to patch him into the narrative. Reeves plays Kai, a half Japanese, half English orphan who is adopted by the samurai clan. His character serves no real purpose beyond being white, slicing things until they die, and playing the male lead of the most superfluous love story of the year. Rinsch simply can't make the inclusion of the character feel organic in any way, and "Kai" ends up feeling like a calculated studio move. It's a shame that the film spends so much time on Reeves when the real star is clearly Hiroyuki Sanada, who plays off the stoic samurai most believably among the rest of the cast.
It's also shame that with all the mysticism pumped into the story, there's no magic in the actual center of the film, the ronin themselves. The only personality trait a samurai is allowed to possess seems to be unerring stoicism, and between all 47 ronin, there are probably only three distinct samurai with any discernible character traits beyond an intense need to brood, and you'll probably only remember those three by the time the credits roll, only to promptly forget about them only a few hours later. Thankfully, Rinko Kikuchi's slinky and treacherous witch adds some much needed camp and personality to the mostly forgettable human characters.
And that's the issue with 47 Ronin. It's largely forgettable. When your film takes on a historical legend like the tale of the 47 ronin, a story that has been told and told again ad nauseum over the years, you really need to justify your own version. There are reels and reels of film dedicated to this story, and 47 Ronin doesn't manage to add anything significant to the canon. It promises to weld myth and history together, but does so clumsily, and while some of the action scenes are exciting, especially a particularly inspired set piece that involves the ronin noiselessly breaking into a heavily guarded fortress, the film is a bore when it's not clanking swords together.
The best player in the World for movie trailers, Hollywood interviews and movie clips.
47 Ronin is a film with many stories. As much as it is a tale about the revenge of four dozen masterless samurai, it's also the tale of an inexperienced filmmaker swallowed up by the enormity of blockbuster filmmaking. Most of all though, It's proof that you shouldn't cram Keanu Reeves into a movie that doesn't really need Keanu Reeves. What you're left with is a dull and bloated samurai epic that has its moments, but feels largely unnecessary.