Tuesday, 23 February 2010

High Society....

...Fellow friend and blogger James gave me the prestigious honour of appearing on his blog.



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

Tyneside Cinema....

....is a classic. When I was back in Newcastle I went, as I always do, to the Tyneside. I love it. I saw A Single Man there, (scroll down for a review, below), and it was the first opportunity I'd had to watch a film in the 'Classic' screen, (rather than the two newer ones).



The setting was as much a treat as the film. If you're in Newcastle, you should go.

List my photo : update 1....



Click here or on the link at the right of the page for new photos added to my big list.

Like father like son....

....An old picture of dad that I found when at home. The boozy nature, the fuller hair, the darker beard, the odd clothes. Why, it's me!

Monday, 22 February 2010

Andrew & Alice get married....

.....CONGRATULATIONS!

A fantastic celebration in St. Charles Catholic Church, Gosforth, followed by the reception in the wonderful Jesmond Dene House.











Full slideshow


A clip of the groom's speech.



The first dance, courtesy of Chesney Hawkes', I am the one & only'.

A Single Man....

....Tom Ford's directorial debut is as stylish, slick, beautiful and obsessively detailed as you might imagine. It's as though the fashion designer treated the picture, and every scene in it, as he would when creating the perfectly tailored shirt & suit.



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

How to tie a bow-tie....

....I have no idea whether I ever posted this back at the start of my blogging, but found it again in the archives and I couldn't resist. Thanks Dad. x

Sunday 14th February....

....(or St. Valentines day if you like). Yes, Kelly & I spent the day together, but whilst doing plenty, tried to refrain from anything typically romantic. So that meant a visit to Highgate Cemetry - we only had the opportunity to take a tour of the West cemetry, not the East, but it was fascinating.



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!).



Kelly, accosted.

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

Richie to dinner....

....On Saturday, Richie joined us for food and drink. Doug & Ross cooked an incredible mushroom lasagne - genuinely one of the finest dinners I've had in a while. Great work.


Nearly done.


Served, (with token salad).


Eating. Ooh, with candles.

Beardy-man....

....Now you see it.



Now you don't.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Chris goes in to the wild....

....Not an arid wilderness. No, very much the opposite. Chris went to stay at the Border Inn, on the Finnish-Russian border. There he was pulled by huskies and hosted by Philip & Mira. In his top three holidays of all time, apparently. So, it was good then?!


(A small selection of the many photos Chris took).

Kussamo from chris McConnachie on Vimeo.


Video & pics - an edit by Chris himself

Once Upon A Time....

....I appeared in a random magazine. A Japanese one. I don't remember the name. But I stumbled across the picture in my archives and it made me laugh. I was walking home the morning after a Halloween party. I was, as you may have guessed, dressed as Donnie Darko, from the film of the same name. I was accosted on Brick Lane, where this kind of attire is the norm. Nice.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Un Prophete....

....Around this time of year, (Oscar season), there are a lot of new releases in the cinema and there tends to be a lot of hype surrounding each. As you may have guessed, I err on the side of arty/foreign/worthy, (with the occassional splash of Hollywood/rom com), and A Prophet leans very much toward the former.



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

list my photo....

....I finally spent the time pulling together some old pics that I like. (In reality I am only scraping the surface of the many thousands I have taken).



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

Chris Ofili....

....Richie, Kelly & I went to see this show last night and I've got to say, I was immensely excited at the prospect. Ofili first came to my attention when he won the Turner Prize in 1998. Twelve years later he returns to Tate Britain with a retrospective that won’t disappoint.


Chris Ofili

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.

It's easy to see why some of the subject matter courted controversy too – Rudy Giuliani, then New York mayor, tried to prosecute the Brooklyn Museum for exhibiting ‘Holy Virgin Mary’, a painting depicting a black Mary surrounded by cut-outs from porn magazines.


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

The new paintings have been pared down, stripped back - to the bare-boned imagery that you suspect always lay hidden underneath all the glitz and glam.



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

Darkroom....

....I was at this shop last night with friends, for the opening of a show that Lynn has a piece of work in.



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

A Minute Silence....

....A forthcoming collaboration between friends Lynn Cockburn and Danny Sangra



I want one of those cardies NOW! More info on this project to come. Woop.

The Girl Chewing Gum....

....A lovely litle short film by John Smith. Shot in an East London street in 1976, Smith uses a gag that doesn't quite hold up for the full 10 minutes, but at times is sublime.


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

Birth marked....

....Dad's little purple birth mark decided to go all brown on him. The rule of better safe than sorry came in to play.



Look at the way he styles it out - expressionless but dapper as ever.

UPDATE:



Here Dad is the following day. Plaster removed, bow-tie in tact. As it should be. What scar?

Drawing the line....

....Kelly's friend, Alex, did a wee illustration of me aboard my bike.



Good eh? See more here.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Burrrrr-mingham....

....Kelly and I joined an army of her friends in helping Emma & Jay celebrate their engagement.


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.


Calves liver


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:

Knee deep....

....I have got back in to playing football following an injury and work hit first half of the season. And with football, comes bloody knees. Nice.