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The Spectator: “Full of heart, affection and thoughtfulness…”

December 1st, 2011  |  Published in Reviews

“I’ll start with Sound It Out, which happens to be my favourite, and is at the very, very opposite end of the spectrum, having been made by a crew of one with a budget of around $0 million and, I suspect, no catering beyond the occasional Greggs meal deal. (Actually, I love a Greggs meal deal, but I think you get what I’m saying.)

This is a documentary about the last surviving record store on Teesside, made by the young documentarist Jeanie Finlay, who filmed for a year in the shop without funding and financed this theatrical release via crowd-sourcing — a bit here, a bit there, from individual supporters — and it is lovely; full of heart, affection and thoughtfulness. The shop is owned and run by Tom, who loves his vinyl, can identify a track by a half-remembered hum, and is devoted to his customers, as they are devoted to him. There doesn’t seem much on offer for the residents of Stockton-on-Tees, a deprived area of high unemployment with a forlorn, deserted high street, and this shop is a place of belonging and mutual respect.

Some of these customers are followed home. Mostly, they are those music-collecting fanatics who tend to live in bare, half-painted rooms populated by a single chair, a record player, and stacks and stacks of albums (alphabetised). There is Shane, who fills shelves overnight in B&Q and lives for Status Quo (he has seen them live 350 times). There are Gareth and Sam, two teenage metal-heads who confess it is only head-banging that keeps them going. (One had attempted suicide twice before discovering ‘thrash’.)

In other hands, this might simply have provided a sad procession of sad losers, but Ms Finlay is so warmly empathetic and gently curious — you’d be amazed what people will tell you when they are simply asked to talk though the badges on their jacket — you do not feel anything like pity. Instead, you feel glad that these men have found something which gives their lives meaning and order and somehow colours it in. True, it’s not especially cinematic and could be television, but only, I suppose, if television still did television like this, and wasn’t obsessed with baking and celebrity dancing. (If I’m beginning to sound like a cranky old person, it is only because I am now a cranky old person; it happened last Tuesday when I wasn‘t looking.)”

Original Review

By Deborah Ross

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Glimmer Films in association with Sideshow present a film by Jeanie Finlay; SOUND IT OUT.

Over the last five years an independent record shop has closed in the UK every three days.

SOUND IT OUT is a documentary portrait of the very last surviving vinyl record shop in Teesside, North East England.

A cultural haven in one of the most deprived areas in the UK, SOUND IT OUT documents a place that is thriving against the odds and the local community that keeps it alive. Directed by Jeanie Finlay who grew up three miles from the shop.

A distinctive, funny and intimate film about men, the North and the irreplaceable role music plays in our lives.

High Fidelity with a Northern Accent.