Wednesday, 28 February 2007


25th Feb
Nostalgic trip down memory lane. I remember being mildly disapproving of Bill Murray's lasciviousness as a youngster watching the film many eons ago. Much preferred him in 'Groundhog Day' and Dan Ackroyd made much more on an impact in 'Trading Places'. This is still a fun movie though if only for the scenes of the Marshmallow man striding through the streets of New York.

p.s. think I also suffered from some sleepless nights when I was little just because my young fertile imagination couldn't cope with all the Zul stuff. I'm still crap at scary movies till this day and I don't understand some people's ghoulish fascination with the genre.

Monday, 26 February 2007

Mrs Henderson Presents by Stephen Frears

Sun 25th Feb

Watched this for lovely DJD playing a dotty, crabby widow. I liked the production values and thought it captured the WW2 era pretty well. Perhaps it might have packed a greater punch if I'd watched this at the cinema - it'd be more of a 'show'. Will Young was really rubbish - he came across as a lisping, mincing luvvie that you just wanted to punch. Bob Hoskins was great though - nice, cuddly and not one bit as creepy as WY.

Friday, 23 February 2007

Holiday by George Cukor

Sunday 18th Feb

Read somewhere on the net about Hepburn's knitting scenes in this film and thought I should check it out. I liked Cary Grant's character who was still lost at 30 and wanted to find himself, to see the world and be a child again. Not sure what the handstands and rolls were about though - perhaps it was a throwback to his early days in vaudeville. Think Hepburn steals the show hands down despite the debonair charms of CG - tough, witty, funny yet vulnerable and sweet, she's such a legend!

Thursday, 22 February 2007

Tales from the City - Amistead Maupin

What a fantastic and funny book - it had me chuckling and even laughing out loud a couple of times. No mean feat considering I was pressed between a fellow commuter's smelly armpit and another's beer belly on the hell that is the Central Line during rush hour. This book was recommended to me years ago but it was just one of those that I've never got round to reading until now. I'm so glad I did, it's a real gem and already one of my favourite books this year (with Perfume a close 2nd).

Also managed to catch my first Book Crossing release this week which was extremely exciting. As soon as the alert popped up in my inbox, I rushed out for lunch to the spot which was a posh New Bond Street shop staffed by bemused sales assistants with trendy, sculptured, gravity-defying hair.

Thursday, 15 February 2007

Great Expectations @ the National Film Theatre

Loved it- every frame is a masterpiece. For a brilliant critique of Dicken's influence on film read this. There's something about watching films in its original scale at the cinema - watching stuff on the small screen just seems to diminish its quality. Without the distracting effects of colour to express emotions, balck and white seems more concerned with narrative, telling the story. (Think about black and white newspaper stills carefully shot and chosen in order to make the most impact in the limitations of space) and the use of lighting becomes even more integral to the creation of atmosphere and mood. In this movie, the contrast between light and dark, the dichotomy of good and evil within Pip and Estelle and the end cry of 'letting the light' in is repeated as a motiff throughtout. In the halls of Satis House, the light from Estella's candle is completely oppressed by the darkness of the halls.

And has there ever been a more malignant creation to compete with that of the decaying Miss Haversham? The jilted and scorned victim of a fickle lover who ends up catching on fire just as she comes to realise the dire consequences of her smouldering hatred. And proud, insulting Estella who is the embodiment of the 'Treat them mean, keep them keen' mantra. This is storytelling at its most powerful and really deserves preserving.

Monday, 12 February 2007

Uncle Vanja @ Wilton's Music Hall

Saturday 10th Feb

Have wanted to check out this venue for a while now and this Mamet adaptation spurred me to action. What a fabulous space! Light blue crumbly walls and Indian murals at the back of the Balcony - it was shabby yet sophisticated like some grand dame. It was therefore such an apt venue for a play about decay. Michael Billington has said that he measures his life out in Uncle Vanya's and funnily enough, the last production that I watched was the one with SSB @ the Donmar. Okay so Colin Stinton wasn't as charismatic but the bitterness of his existence was very moving, his tears flowing freely in the final scene with Sonya. I was pretty curious to watch him as he's worked with Mamet a lot and he managed to pull off a British accent really well. Rachael Stirling was a complete chip off the old block - I've watched her mother in Medea many years ago and it was startling to see it mirrored- the voice, the gestures and the poise!

Turns out that Charlie Cridlan who I went to uni with and was extremnely talented even then designed the show so we had a reason to hang around for the after-show drinks where I tried really hard not to gawp at Sue Johnson (from The Royle Family)! It was very sad though to see Max Stafford-Clark once the Artistic Director of The Royal Court wheelchair bound and frail. Pretty sobering to see evidence of how time ravages the physical self, all the more poignant after the Margaret Salmon exhibition.

Margaret Salmon @ the Whitechapel Gallery

Saturday 10th Feb

Treated myself to a chocolate breakfast and then saw this exhibition whilst flipping through my timeout. Inspired by last night's cultural outing to the ballet, I thought I should check out my local gallery - built in 1901 as Britain’s first purpose-built contemporary art gallery. It was such a lovely exhibition plus it was free (something that is virtually unheard of in New York or Paris). The first room had a triptych of images on loop of 3 seperate mothers with a lullaby playing over the images. It was hypnotic yet apparent that the women were so isolated and removed from any other human reference or relationship. MS shoots in black and white and plays with light and images of windows opening, closing and silhouettes.

The wall of the second room was a huge gigantic screeen of an old lady singing 'Amazing Grace' on loop. Her wrinkled face magnified looked like crumpled tissue paper, delicately lined. Each time the song played, you heard the stress in the idea of seeing and being seen. Was she senile? Why was she looking lost in thought at the breakfast table? Why was it set for two? It was pretty ghostly and haunting yet the song seemed determined to find some strength in suffering - the song alluding to the pain of slavery.

Rhapsody/La Sylphide - Royal Ballet @ ROH, London

Friday 09th Feb

Went to the Opera House to watch Rhapsody/La Sylphide. It was magnificent - I was drinking in the footwork and was just floored by the elegance of the dancers - oh, to be blessed with an iota of the talent and ability contained in their little toe!

The first bill - Rachmaninov's Rhapsody was a modern day, Turner-resque romance with Miyako Yoshida a Principle Guest artists dancing with Carlos Acosta. (by the way - what's the term for a male ballerina? I reckon they're called Balleroonies). INHO Miyako easily outdanced her male counterpart, she was just atonishing - entering on pointe for what seemed like all eternity. She tiptoed delicately across the fragile stage as if it would crack under the strain of her immense grace. Charting out with her feet the passion of their love - it was just soooooooo romantic, I felt as if my heart would burst smilingly (to borrow a quote from King Lear)

La Sylphide - a parable about trying to have it all but losing everything in return is supposed to be a classic in the danish repertoire. The tartan outfits were just a little bit too comic although the pressence of Tamara Rojo as the Sylphide redeemed it. She's definitely one of my favourite dancers at the Royal Ballet just because she got this inimitable quality about her.

Monday, 5 February 2007

Unless - Carol Shields

Picked up this book at an OBCZ and was mildly intrigued by the blurb. I liked her sparse style and it references another Canadian writer Margeret Atwood whom I think is just superb. Reta's oldest daughter Norah gives up college one day and takes to begging on a street corner, becoming a vagrant. This novel charts her mother's reaction and her own thoughts about the position of women in literature and in life. The impetus to find out what led to Norah's mysterious behavoir kept me reading till the end - would have otherwise given up because it charts the inner worries a mother has for her daughter and is sometimes too fretful in tone. Have passed it on to the UK Bookcrossing Yahoo Group's sweepstake winner December mum and hopefully she'll enjoy it. It's made me want to re-read another Atwood this year.

Thursday, 1 February 2007

Thank you for not Smoking

Reserved 'Litle MissSunshine' but it had not been returned so this was second choice off the back of Jess's recommendation. Great movie - loved the particular sayings about 'arguing correctly' and not having to prove that you're right, just that the other person is wrong.

Must confess that I was struggling to stay awake at the end but it was purely my own lack of sleep and not in any way due to the content or quality of the film.