I know, I know, I know… I’m devoting way too much time and thought to these flicks… but there’s something about seeing potentially great ideas hampered by muddled execution that really frustrates me, and “The Banned of St. Trinian’s” is a prime example of the filmmakers snatching mediocrity from the jaws of victory. I really like the idea of assembling a made-to-measure musical group to record songs for the soundtrack album, using actresses who can also appear on screen representing the various school tribes… and it’s obvious that the “band” members themselves are all very talented, charming and capable performers, whether they’re behind a microphone or in front of a camera… the “problem” (for me) is that all of their songs sound like rather generic girly pop, without any real concessions towards the individual tastes of the tribes themselves. Apparently the tracks were produced by the same people who produce Girls Aloud and it shows… the tunes are catchy enough in an ephemeral, inoffensive sort of way, but I’ve heard them a couple of times now and they still haven’t stuck. I understand that Girls Aloud are a very popular (and financially lucrative) act, but why do these films have to kiss their arses quite so enthusiastically and thoroughly? I can only assume that it’s part of a nefarious conspiracy perpetrated by a bunch of Suits chattering away about “synergy” in a secret underground bunker somewhere. [insert sinister music sting here]
Anyhoo, The Banned’s token Emo, ‘Beth’, is played by Jessica Bell, who used to front a proper all-girl indie/punk band called “The Tommys” back in the day. Only one official track of theirs seems to be available to buy online (“The Day The World Turned Chav”), but from what I’ve read I gather they were pretty rockin’. To quote one gig review: “Blonde-mopped singer Jess, a human wrecking ball, fixes the front row with an evil eye and proceeds to lay waste to the venue and its equipment… [their songs] slice with a flash-glam-trash-punk-rock’n’roll intensity, and Jess belies her years by belting them out in a voice for which Gram Parsons could have invented the description Grievous Angel.” Crikey! Unfortunately, according to an interview she gave to the Blackpool Gazette to promote this film’s release, Bell got a bit homesick on tour: “I never got tired of it but it was time for a change,” she said. “It was a hard decision to make but I’ve no regrets. I like spending more time with my friends and family – so six weeks’ filming was just about right.” A year on, it doesn’t look as if The Banned will become a permanent gig for her either, but I doubt that’s going to hold her back: “I don’t do the Lottery so I’m never going to be rich that way… My only real ambition is to be happy doing what I do and I hope that’s going to be making music and acting. Oh yes, I write songs as well. Music’s in my blood.” Right on! Asked to rate her comparative sex appeal, Bell claimed “all the others have got great legs whereas I just didn’t feel sexy”… which is just silly, because any fool can see she’s hella cute… and it’s pretty obvious from the extra features on the DVD that she can really wail too, so I hope we get to see and hear a lot more from her in future!