Tuesday, 23 February 2010
And he didn't even tell me! His, Society of the Spectacle is a fantastic blog of art, culture and comment - so you should check it out. (Right back atchya james!) x
The setting was as much a treat as the film. If you're in Newcastle, you should go.
Monday, 22 February 2010
A fantastic celebration in St. Charles Catholic Church, Gosforth, followed by the reception in the wonderful Jesmond Dene House.
A clip of the groom's speech.
The first dance, courtesy of Chesney Hawkes', I am the one & only'.
Colin Firth plays the BAFTA winning lead role as George, a gay man who is coming to terms with the death of his long term partner. He is trying to go about a normal day in his life as an English professor in Los Angeles, but as the film slowly evolves it is clear that he is set upon killing himself - a series of flashbacks to happier times reminding him of what he has lost.
Julianne Moore, as Charley, plays George's long time friend and former lover. She seems set upon entertaining George, but it all seems in vain. (Perhaps largely due to her slightly off the mark Patsy-from-Ab-Fab-esque performance). But it is with the introduction of Nicholas Hoult, as Kenny, that inspires more from the subdued George. Perhaps because he sees his younger self in Kenny, or more likely still, a younger version of his late lover, Jim.
The final third of the film plays out with Kenny seemingly only able to delay the inevitable suicide, until ultimately George realises it may not be the right decision after all.
I really enjoyed the film, although the self indulgence is apparent. With every scene so calculated in style, it plays out almost like a 100 minute commercial for a men's fragrance. I also found George's obsessive and almost stylish insistence of what was to be his own death a little hard to stomach, (particularly after the late Alexander McQueen). Lastly, the fleeting appearance of the character Carlos, seemed to me totally borne out of Tom Ford's wish to cast another attractive young man in his film.
But ultimately, the superlatives outweigh these minor impositions. The cinematography throughout is incredible. Each shot a well thought photo. The flash-back scenes were treated to an Eggleston-like techni-colour, in contrast to the main feature that seems visibly and deliberately drained of it - slightly sepia-like. The casts' wardrobe, (again, typically Ford), we're beautiful - Firth looking like a more handsome Michael Caine a la 'Get Carter', in his fitted black suit and heavily framed black rimmed spectacles.
The acting throughout is first class. Whilst I've already mentioned Moore's camp and slightly OTT turn, but it plays against Firth's restrained performance perfectly - for which he has already won a BAFTA. Personally I think Nicholas Hoult turns in a fantastic portrayal of the young, sexually inquisitive student. His American accent was, to me, flawless and his almost perma-tan and piercing eyes deliberately contrasted Firth's monochromatic appearance.
So, for a first motion picture, it is a phenomenal effort from Ford, but you suspect there is a danger that if his next film even strays close to such stylistic qualities as this, it may in turn stray in to parody. Firth is top rate and the supporting cast all complimenting too. A slow, brooding, beautiful film that you should see as soon as you can.
Monday, 15 February 2010
The architecturally elaborate memorials and mausoleums, many now in decay and swathed in overgrowth, are visually stunning.
The freezing, overcast conditions contributed to an eery atmosphere.
To warm our chilled bones, we sought comfort in a Sunday roast. Which we got in epic and tasty proportions courtesy of the Junction Tavern in Tufnell Park.
Roast beef followed by apple crumble.
We then travelled back across to East London - for a night of fun, laughter and music at Wilton's Music Hall all hosted by Tiny Wallops.
It was a brilliant show - Kelly and I both getting hauled on stage at different times, (me to imitate a performing seal!).
There was a mock blind date set-up for 2 singletons and general misbehaving from the four strong, and totally infectious cast. We laughed til our jaws hurt. A unique and totally brilliant show.
The full day's slide show
Served, (with token salad).
Eating. Ooh, with candles.
Friday, 12 February 2010
(A small selection of the many photos Chris took).
Video & pics - an edit by Chris himself
Thursday, 11 February 2010
Runner up for the Palm D'or in 2009, director Jacques Audiard, (The Beat That My Heart Skipped), has realised a superb modern take on the prison/gangster format.
The film opens in confident fashion and doesn't relent for the next two and a half hours. (And at that length it is telling and indeed a miracle, that I did not look at my watch once).
Newcomer Tahar Rahim plays Malik El Djebena, a young Arab guy about to start a six-year stretch in prison for what appears to be violence against police officers. A 19 year old who is visibly, if only initially, intimidated at the situation he is now faced with, he is lured in to allegiance with César, the Corsican mobster with the guards in his pocket.
Malik is immediately forced in to the killing of fellow prisoner, Reyeb, which is played out in a chilling and bloody scene in the victim's cell. From this moment on he is sworn to protection by the Corsican mobs, but it is evident that the ordeal has only served to invite an internal crisis, part psychological, part supernatural. The burden of murder creates a grotesque, parodic "prophet", one that ultimately leads to César's downfall.
Intent on self-betterment, Malik takes classes, learns Corsican-dialect Italian and begins a rise through the ranks. The new Sarkozy government, intent on moving Corsican prisoners away from mainland French jails, leave César exposed and without protection. With Malik's rise, comes Cesar's demise - a power shift made all the more potent as it is evident that Cesar has become wary of Malik yet harboured feelings toward him as though the son he never had.
The intertwined supernatural element is just one factor that elevates this film in to the extraordinary. The victim, Reyeb, appears in Malik's conscience on regular occassions, whilst his dream sequences are played out in superb stop motion style.
Where the film also succeeds is in the soundtrack - intelligent, unusual but entirely fitting, but also the grading. The colours are incredible - deep, dark hues contrasted by more vivid colouring in the prophetic sequences. It all culminates together to provide a relentless, engrossing thriller, every minute of which is deliberate, well thought and a success. Go. Now.
Tuesday, 9 February 2010
But I am proud and happy to now have them in one place. So click on listmyphoto to have a look, and return for regular updates. Enjoy.
Saturday, 6 February 2010
In his early career, Ofili’s paintings were most famous for being supported by balls of elephant dung, which often over shadowed his extraordinary use of colour, decoration and mark-making – a style that created some of the most scintillating paintings I had ever seen. Map pins, resin, glitter, collage – everything was included and layered to create the final work.
Afrodizzia (2nd version), 1996
So, to actually see them up close, only centimetres away, was an absolute joy. The detail and intricacy of marks and decoration blew me away. And then to stand back and observe each painting from afar, then as a whole room, was one of the greatest exhibition experiences I have had.
Holy Virgin Mary, 1996
In the years that followed, Ofili's style expanded in to his 'red, black & green' phase and his worship-like 'Upper Room' installation, inspired by a 1957 Warhol sketch. Drawings and watercolours, (the latter in particular), proved an invaluable stepping stone to his more recent work.
Afro Sunrise, 2002-2003
More reflective of his current home in Trinidad & Tobago, colours and subjects are more thoughtfully observed – initially less enticing, but ultimately more satisfactory.
In all, it is a dazzling show. A cool show even, and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. I like his early, more famous work more, but the direction in which Ofili's paintings are heading is an exciting change and still bustling with the colours that drew me in from the start.
Friday, 5 February 2010
Whilst it's pretty pricey in there, they stock some incredible stuff, which is unfortunately right up my street! (And I have since realised they also stock Nick's wallets).
We then went on to Ciao Bella, an Italian restaurant I'd never been to before, which was great.
Huge portion, good value, good food. Oh and a live pianist. Nice.
Wednesday, 3 February 2010
Is it life imitating art, or art imitating life?
Laid over the footage, we hear instructions from a voice we assume to be the director. They become more and more absurd until we ultimately realise that the director is fictional. The film you see above is cruelly cut three mins short, but it's the only footage I can find.
Tuesday, 2 February 2010
Look at the way he styles it out - expressionless but dapper as ever.
Here Dad is the following day. Plaster removed, bow-tie in tact. As it should be. What scar?
Monday, 1 February 2010
Emma & Jay, the soon to be's
We all sat down to dinner at a fantastic pub, The Boot, before heading back to Emma & Jay's flat in Solihull.
Emma & I
The dancing was quick to get underway until the small hours, (and I even managed to get up a few hours later for the tennis).
Kelly & I
The following day, several bacon sarnies down, a couple of Nurofen popped and wrapped up warm, we headed out to Akamba.
It's an incredible, if not bizarre African garden centre, that in Summer has parties and BBQs a plenty. It was a little more subdued on our visit, but fascinating nonetheless.
A brilliant party, a brilliant weekend - thanks to Emma & Jay for hosting. Oh and nice to meet you all.
Here's the full set of pics: