Wednesday, 27 January 2010

How weekends should be....

....Rather belatedly, a post about the weekend I have just had. Kelly and I had breakfast at the Pavilion Cafe in Victoria Park. (After a run around it no less).

Pavilion Cafe in summer

I must say, without exception, I had the best scrambled eggs I have ever eaten. Go, now.

This isn't scrambled egg, but these eggs benedict with smoked salmon look good, right?!

We then went over to Portobello Market - somewhere I haven't been for maybe seven years, but was reminded that, perhaps, it's alright to leave the 'E' post code every now and again!

Following drinks in the evening, Sunday brought a more familiar scene. I met up with Ivvet at our favourite East End coffee shop, Nude.

As ever, I had coffee and a massive chocolate brownie, that is good beyond explanation.

Then, to round off the evening, Kelly and I went to the BFI on the southbank, to see Tokyo Story, (see post below for review).
How weekends should be.

Tokyo Story....

....I saw another film recently. A stark contrast to that reviewed in the post below. Yasujiro Ozu directed this simple, subtle, but affecting film in 1953. It follows an elderly couple who travel to Tokyo to visit their children and grandchildren - but are received with indifference and selfishness.

The direction is very deliberate. Not a single rolling camera shot throughout the whole film. Each scene is filmed from a locked off camera, placed almost on the floor, looking up at all before it.

It makes for a very even paced film, one that slowly builds in emotion but is almost resigned to ending in sadness. Which it does. I'd recommend seeing this film, but I'd do it on a cosy night in. A Sunday. When you're in a good mood. And you'll probably need to like photography, erm, and films that don't really say that much. (But beware, it's been mooted as a Masterpiece of its time).

Up In The Air....

....Kelly and I went to see this last night after admitting our interest, nay, excitment, at the prospect.

Reading the press surrounding this Jason Reitman directed film, it is a romantic comedy for modern times. If by modern times they mean references to economic instabilty, an advocation for the single life and, ultimately, a harsh lesson learnt in love - then they are right.

The film actually serves as a lesson in life in some respects. Weighing heavily on the attributes of a family life, a life in love, a life shared with others - all conveyed through lead man George Clooney. As Ryan Bingham he travels the world, employed by spineless bosses, to relieve workers of their job. Also a small time public speaker, Bingham promotes a life that reflects his - one without emotional baggage - the only life he knows.

But on meeting equally well travelled Alex Goran, (Vera Farmiga), and attending his sister's wedding, Bingham begins to realise that perhaps there is a place for emotional ties after all. (Whereas his only previous goal in life was to reach 10 million air miles!)

Beautifully crafted and realised by Reitman, (of Juno fame), and lead impeccably by Clooney, the film is a triumph. In turns witty, melancholic and ultimately truthful. All washed along with a well thought and touching soundtrack, including Elliott Smith amongst others. A real winner, deserving of the Oscar hype, but in the quiet, unassuming kind of way! Go and see it.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Up the Villa....

....Wemberlee! Wemberlee! Aston Villa reached the Carling Cup Final tonight, after a classic win over Blackburn.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Bad Dad....

....Not shy of a complaint, or a letter to the council, Dad this time lived up to his grumpy old man status by writing to the local paper.

Click to enlarge & read

In fairness to Dad, he was completely right in this instance and I was even there to witness the erupting volcano on that fine, crisp Saturday. I've got a lot to live up to!

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll....

....Tonight I watched the Ian Dury film biopic, directed by Mat Whitecross, with Andy Serkis playing the front man.

Ian Dury & The Blockheads in their pomp.

The film opens in a mix of styles - cut & paste graphic imagery, black & white, colour - all seemingly representative of the hedonistic lifestyle it was about to portray. But strangely, aside from brief moments, this quality is lost as the film goes about tracking Dury's rise, then decline on the UK pop scene. It also closely follows the relationship he has with his son, Baxter.

Serkis makes this film special. He is uncanny in his portrayal of Dury - reminding us of his brilliance as an entertainer, but also of his shortcomings as a father and lover. It is, as a result, an entertaining, enjoyable film and often visually rewarding, but somehow not quite as brilliant as I was hoping. Still good enough to go and see - more so if you are a fan of the music already.

(Another) dinner at Ian & Susie's....

....Kelly and I joined the newly weds for food, drink and another Puma fashion show.*

Tucking in

Roy's home made brownies for dessert

A not so fetching turtle neck

*A show in which, due to friends in higher places, I get to try on and take home unwanted Puma clothing.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Stewart Lee....

....Tonight, Liam, Richie and I went to see Stewart Lee live at Leicester Square Theatre. I had long since forgotten him, from when he appeared on This Morning With Richard Not Judy, way back when. Only until he reappeared on BBC2 with his 'Comedy Vehicle' I remembered his genius.

His straight delivery, dark humour and surreal take on observations lead him to vitriolic and hilarious condemnation of Richard Hammond, those who emigrate, (abroad or to the countryside), for a 'better quality of life', the Michael McIntyre / Frankie Boyle / Paddy McGuinness comedy trio and many more.

Yet amongst all this, he comes across as a guy you'd have a beer with, a family man, but ultimately and most importantly, an incredibly funny one. His rambling story of how his family used the phrase, "I'll give it to you straight. Like pear cider, made from 100% pears," only for it to be ruined by a certain Magners ad, is a case in point of surreal fiction, sourced from contemporary culture that has the audience in the palm of his hands.

Moon on a stick! (back in the day)

To end the show, Lee descends in to and amongst the audience, mic left on stage to rant and rave, to keep us on our toes. Then on re-entry to the spotlight, he decides to pick up a guitar and sing, (very well), Steve Earl's 'Galway Girl'. Of course it is his favourite song....until good old Mr. Magner went and ruined it in one of his ads. Genius.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

At Geffrye for lunch....

....Today Kelly and I met Richie, Anne & Clem at the Geffrye Museum for lunch. If you haven't visited before, then you should, but on this occasion, it was purely a dining visit.

As ever, Clem was on fine form - eating, banging, walking and laughing with the only other news being that Richie's beard is getting yet bigger and redder!

Clem, sporting a knit of impeccable taste bought by Nick for christmas.

Liam's birthday lunch....

....Was had at Albion. Mentioned in previous posts, this cafe and shop was somewhere I had yet to eat (in). On Liam's recommendation, Doug, Ross, Kelly, Nick, Liam and I went.

And it didn't disappoint. I chose devilled kidneys on toast, with beef dripping chips and mushy peas. On the side was some incredible, waist enhancing pork crackling. Liam went for steak & kidney pudding, which was also superb.

Whilst reservations aren't taken, we didn't queue for too long for a Saturday lunch time, (albeit a freezing snowy one!). Service was attentive, if a little brisk, but the setting and quality of food made it worth while. I'd go again.

And of course we bought a dessert to take away, as if we hadn't already had enough!

Snow roof....

....For all the snow that's hit the UK and for the small amount reserved for central London, this is the only photo I have to show for it. Just how the leaves embedded their way in there, I'll never know!

Let the right one in....

....Now, I'm not one for Vampire films, but so much was made of this feature on its release last year, that I felt I just had to see it.

The Swedish horror film, directed by Tomas Alfredson, offers a fresh take on the traditional Dracula format. Set in a bleak, snowy suburb of Sweden, twelve year old, fair haired Oskar is being bullied at school. One evening Eli appears, same age, barefoot, modestly dressed and befriends the boy. As the film progresses and we witness a series of grisly murders, both Oskar and the viewer learn that Eli is a vampire, surviving only on the blood of her victims.

Rather than being put off, the relationship strengthens and in turn helps Oskar find renewed vitality and purpose in his life. The narratives of dark killings and youthful innocence remarkably work side by side, whilst the cinematography is beautiful in its capture of the snowy landscapes and almost ethereal in style.

In case you are wondering, the film's title refers to a piece of undead lore with which I was previously unacquainted. Apparently, vampires must be invited into the lives of those they love and a tentative friendship and then a tender love grows. Just like that of Oskar and Eli. This is an incredible film - be it a vampire film or not. Well worth a snowy night in.

The Hurt Locker....

....One of the many films of 2009 that I didn't get around to seeing in the cinema. This film, directed by Kathryn Bigelow, is set in and during the war in Iraq. Focusing particularly on a U.S bomb squad unit, the feature is over flowing with tension & passion, whilst stunning attention to detail is evident in its direction.

We are taken on an intense ride with SSgt. William James, (Jeremy Renner), a bomb disposal expert, who's adrenalin never stomps pumping and whom we begin to realise has an addiction to danger, often jeopardising his colleagues. But beneath the bravado, we see flashes of a more human & emotional person - notably in his unlikely kinship with 'Beckham', and his big brother-like relationship with Spc. Owen Elridge.

But for me the real triumph lay in the attention to detail. The cinematography is superb throughout, keeping it incredibly real and pulling me in to the action. The highlight, and by far the best scene was when SSgt. James & Sgt. Sanborn lay in the desert during a shoot-out with distant Iraqis. It is a slow scene, patient in its build-up. A close-up shot of a fly landing on an eyelid. Tension building. Their the soldiers lay, silent & still for hours until night fell. Their job, eventually, was done.

I was slightly disappointed with the ending, I felt it came over a little know what I mean - slow motion, soundtrack, the hero wins out. But ultimately it is a fantastically observed, directed and acted film and well worth seeing.

Shake, Rattle & Roll....

....I have just purchased a print from old college friend Tim Hill. He's good.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Ice Land....

....So, it's pretty cold in the UK then. As this satellite image proves, courtesy of NASA.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Pickled work....

....Doug got some pickle for Christmas. Not great news, but I couldn't help but notice the name. As most of you are aware, I work for Abbott Mead Vickers. Well, here we have Abbott's Pickle with Mead! Maybe there's an affiliation. Either way, it tasted great!

Sweet toof...

....Albion Caff, (their spelling, not mine), just up the road sits beneath Terence Conran's latest hotel and above his latest restaurant - both called the Boundary. Anyway, Albion is a great cafe, but also a great shop - as these ridiculous desserts show. Liam, Doug, Chris & I were fairly wired after eating these at 11pm, but they were worth every sleepless wink!

A London sun rise....

.....not bad for out my bedroom window! (click to enlarge)

Monday, 4 January 2010

Guess Who....

....Everybody played this game when we were young, right?
"Does he have glasses?...", "Is it a woman?..." We all loved it, and it took a good few moves before someone ran out the winner.
Well, just watch this video:

Clearly the innocence of youth never lead me to that question!

The Notebook....

....Kelly and I watched this last night. One of her favourite films since watching it on her 21st birthday. I was not au fait with it, but my soft side was immediately softened further by this romantic love story.

Beautifully shot and directed by Nick Cassavetes, a poor and passionate young man falls in love with a rich young woman and gives her a sense of freedom. They soon are separated by their social differences, but the story develops further and proves enriching and rewarding. I have never watched Ryan Gosling or Rachel McAdams before, never mind as the lead roles, but they were both incredible.

"If you're a bird, I'm a bird"

Sure, I need to toughen up, but this one really shouldn't be missed. Rent it now.

New Year '09/'10....

....Ok. So I have just had the best New Year ever, with the best people ever, in the best city ever. (After NYC, Berlin & London!) History tells me I've been pretty lucky with NYE celebrations, always having a great time. But this one superceded them all. Friends Harrie, Ems, Aimee & Ed all live and work in Paris, so the traditional dinner party in London relocated to France! The photos and videos say it all. A huge, huge thank you to those whom know they deserve it and a big bonne annee hug to everyone that made it so special.

NYE '09 (daytime) :

NYE '09 (evening):

New Years Day:

Jan 2nd:

Harrie's place, Paris....

....In Paris during New Year, Harrie's flat was where the majority of the time was spent. As ever, she was la hostesse extraordinaire and her impeccable taste in all things home made me very jealous indeed!

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Skype shopping channel....

....I didn't get the opportunity to see my Nana or Uncle over Christmas, so mum & dad picked up their presents for me yesterday. Then, with the genius of Skype, they opened and even modelled the goods.

Dad wearing the new scarf from Nana

Ma & Pa laughing at my incredible sense of humour(!)

Thank you to both Nana & Paul - the pressies look great and generous as ever.

Christmas Poker....

....Before leaving Newcastle after Christmas, there was time to squeeze in a game of poker with Andrew, Tom, Nick & Mark. (Oh, and a brief guest appearance from Andrew's fiance Alice.)