Monday, 29 March 2010

Matt's stag....

....What goes on the stag, stays on!
In advance of his and Tess' New York wedding in May, Matt's stag party unravelled itself in London at the weekend. It incorporated restaurants, races, roller disco, a nightclub - oh and a different outfit for each!

Pre dinner Greek waiters at your service (Fri)

Matt the jockey following Kempton Races

A man-kini @ Roller Disco, Vauxhall

Hello Sailor @ Guilty Pleasure, Koko.

The full slide show

Oh, and of course something arty from me:

A beautiful rainbow over Kempton Race Course

Sunday, 28 March 2010

500 Days of Summer....

....An indie flick. I think. In which the kid from Third Rock From The Sun and a girl, who threatened to steal my heart in a way only Amelie Poulain knew how, spa in 'not a love story'. Apparently.

But of course it is a love story - one with a very good soundtrack too. And one in which, (perhaps typically), I am on the side of the guy from Third Rock. He is called Joseph Gordon-Levitt in real life and Tom in this film. The reason I am taking a side so early on is that Tom falls in love with new employee Summer, (Zooey Deschanel), largely based on her recognition of a Smith's track.

Tom's happiness in full dance scene glory

From that moment, it was meant to be. But not to Summer, who despite offering all the signs of contentment and happiness, refused to be drawn in to commitment. And particularly not one where they were referred to as boyfriend and girlfriend. Which saddened me, because, like Tom, I thought their relationship was good. Great even. One that would last. Yes, I thought Tom had met the one too.

Weirdly the relationship seemed to remind me of a hybrid of those that I have experienced myself. Or at least that is what I kidded myself to think. It certainly is a relationship that idealises everyones fantastical first. Besotted, fun, funny, nervous, mistakes, first experiences, music. So on and so on. I liked it.

So I hated it when Summer decided, inexplicably that it was over. Naturally Tom was distraught. Probably still is. That's why I'm on his side. Not that of the nasty, but beautifully, kookily adorable Summer. Pah. But then of course, in a typically 'none love story' kind of way, it all works out in the end. For both of them. She finds Mr. Right, (all too quickly in my opinion) and he finds, (or so we are led to believe), Mrs Right. And how beautifully ironic that she is called Autumn.

It's a Sunday night kind of film. A listen to the soundtrack on Spotify kind of affair. It's has indie at it's heart but probably isn't at all. It uses deft little illustration techniques and a jumping time scale to add a bit more intrigue. Yeah, it's an enjoyable, funny, heart tugging affair. But god, if I was Tom, I'd still be pissed off.

Mark Warren Jacques (again)....

....I posted a blog about this artist back in December.


I subsequently decided to commission him to paint a personal piece for me. To be honest, I didn't really know how to do this, so I emailed him direct asking to buy a work, but instead he recommended it made more (financial) sense, to commission him.

The resultant painting. (but keep on reading!)

So, I set about an email detailing what work of his I liked, (all of it), and what I liked in art, design, fashion, TV - anything that when written down could be said to represent me as a person. Mark responded, passionately embracing all I had described, as it was pretty much all that inspired him anyway. I knew I was on to a winner. I gave a deposit and left him to it, until a couple of weeks back he got in touch again. Did I want to see the finished work before it was shipped over? Nope, just send it on. I trust you.


And then the following week, a huge box was sitting by my work desk one and I unwrapped it instantly. I wasn't disappointed. Mark had made me a piece that uses paint, collage, pencil and importantly remains in many ways consistent with all of his work that had convinced me to commission him in the first place. The painting is MWJ's first to use a diamond, and as he gleefully wrote in an email to me, has proved the catalyst for a full set of diamond paintings for his next solo exhibition.

So, we are both happy. I have my first original piece of art from an artist who I think is great and I hope goes on to further success.

(and he even signed it and wrote a message in a uniquely MWJ way!)

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Food, parcels, papers & puns....

....Kelly cooked for Gemma, Nicklas and I on Friday. A salmon and cous cous parcel. First class.

The following morning I tried my had at eggs benedict. FInally mastering the art of poaching an egg in water, but cruelly omitting the necessary hollondaise sauce. Eggcellent all the same.

And today it was even warm enough to take advantage of the balcony for the first time this year.

Perfect for Sunday reading.

A Serious Man....

....Having watched this and let it settle in my psyche for the best part of a day, I am still no clearer as to what it is that I have actually just seen.

Ostensibly, I liked the film. The slow, brooding pace, the attention to detail, the incredible clarity and cinematography, the relatively unknown cast - creating a greater need to engage with them, the wickedly funny moments set against the cruelly dark.....all added up to enjoyment.

But from the offset, there is also an uncomfortable presence that left me thinking - just what is this all about and what could have led the Cohen brothers to have made it? This is largely owing to the first ten minutes, where the film opens with a mysterious sequence in a 19th-century Polish shtetl. From there the action cuts to the middle of a brewing mid-life crisis for Larry Gopnik, (played by Michael Stuhlbarg). A physics professor whose wife is unhappy and soon to leave him, whose brother is dysfunctional and lives under his roof and whose children bicker, as one prepares for his imminent barmitzvah.

As the reality of his life unfolds, it in fact seems so unreal to Gopnick himself, that he digs deeper in to his faith and believes only the highest and eldest Rabbi can help solve his problems. But ultimately, we begin to learn that this help remains elusive and are left to ponder, (as indeed is Gopnick), as to his enduring fate - the film closing on him receiving a call regarding some x-ray results that he's avoided for so long.

I would like to watch this film again. Perhaps even a third time to help me get to grips with it's complex underbelly. It's left me both satisfied and desperately seeking answers. It is strange and wonderful, but mysterious and elusive. You need to see this for yourselves, if only to witness the Cohen brothers at their beguiling and baffling best.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Nick Cave - Soundsuits....

....Not that Nick Cave. This Nick Cave. A sculpture who's latest show at UCLA exhibits his 'soundsuits' - elaborate, decorative, extraordinarily detailed suits, deliberately named in reference to the noise made when they are worn.

Cave's creations can be made out anything - whimsically nostalgic with toys, or nodding to African tribal spirit with colourful sequinned garments. They are high art and high fashion combined, but manage to keep that rare thing so often lost in those niche areas - a huge slice of fun.

(The making of)

Music videos surreal deal....

....I've noticed a recurring theme. A recurring artistic direction if you like. Stemming from a recurring influence of the surreal. It began with Yeasayer's 'Ambling Alp' video, that I posted in December last year. I loved the song, but was equally intriguied by the direction of the video.

I called the song a 'mystical, magical mess', which I uphold, but so is the video itself. Totally surreal, but utterly fascinating. In particular the mirrored, distorted imagery that is pasted over the faces of characters. I hadn't seen anything similar until today, when I stumbled across two videos that each use a similar technique. I have heard of neither before, but I like the sound of both. Firstly 21 year old Australian, Jonathan Boulet:

And also a band called TV Glory:

Whether or not they have seen one another's work, I don't know, but it reminded me more and more of the great surrealists of the day, Dali and Magritte. Like they've taken the principles, (and indeed visuals), from these paintings and re-moulded them for the (digital) video age.

Rene Magritte, 'Decalcomania'.

Salvador Dali, 'The persistence of memory'.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

An Education....

....Another Oscar nominated film from late last year that I watched last night. Aside from the plaudits for Carey Mulligan's lead performance, I had not read anything about the film at all.

Directed by Lone Scherfig, (who from research had only directed Danish titles before this), the film follows Jenny, (Carey Mulligan), as an intelligent soon-to-be 17 year old who is destined for Oxford. Stifling parental pressure to succeed and a keeness to explore life outside of such structure, Jenny is willingly swept of her feet by a rich, parent-pleasing older man, David, (Peter Sarsgaard) - who ultimately has darker secrets to be discovered.

It is a lovely film - the title clearly referring to the education in life that Jenny is exposed to throughout the film. Carey Mulligan is incredible as the lead - so easy and natural in front of camera and belying her relative inexperience prior to this role. In fact, the acting throughout was wonderful - Sarsgaard convincing as the slightly inappropriate older man, and Alfred Molina, superb as the pushy but ultimately emotive father.

The screenplay has been written by Nick Hornby, so there is a typically easy connection between the viewer and the characters, and similarly there are some beautifully humorous moments: About to sleep with David for the first time, Jenny states, 'I don't want to lose my virginity to a piece of fruit'.

Set in the ealry 1960s, the wardrobes and sets are fantastic - and a scene at the former Walthamstow Stadium, (RIP), is particularly reminiscent. The direction has a woncerfully patient, perhaps naive pace about it and the grading of the film deliberately reflects the era in which it's set.

An unfussy, yet brilliant film - and more importantly an English one too. Worthy of the Oscar hype and in Carey Mulligan's case, a deserving stepping stone to stardom.


....Kenna's salon featured in Time Out this week. A little interview with it too, but one thing remained - the secrecy of it's location. Want a cut? Then email

click to enlarge

Gorillaz Vs Eddy Grant....

....I recently posted a link to Gorillaz latest single from their new Plastic Beach album, 'Stylo'. It's because I like both the video and the song. In fact, it is that the two seem so suited that makes me like it more. The dirty bass line that runs throughout like the rasping exhaust of the cars we see.

But it seems that perhaps that bass line is not Gorillaz own to use. Yesterday's papers suggested that Eddy Grant was trying to sue the band for lifting that very bass section from his 1977 song, 'Time Warp'. See what you think. (But I think Grant has a pretty strong case).

It doesn't make me like the Gorillaz song any less, but it's perhaps further evidence, (on the back of comments I made in my 'Bug 18' post, below), that nothing is original any more - success relies upon creating something good & different out of an old idea.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Weekend with friends and food (II)....

....The following day, Sunday, and the sun was still shining. Kelly & I went to meet Anne, Richie and Clementine at Hackney Farm for brekkie.

seated & served

Clem made a great job of spreading her lunch over her face, clothes and the floor. And her latest trick? Lifting her top and prodding when asked where her belly is. Aww.

Clem + pasta + face

Kelly became Clem's new best friend, even accepting a hand holding walk around the farm to see the animals.

Kelly & Clem, with Anne & Richie in the wings

We left Richie, Anne & Clem to explore the nearby swings, whilst we went over to Broadway Market to meet Veronica and Robert before their return to Berlin later that day.

coffee & cake all round

We treated ourselves at L'eau a la bouche, the now expanded and still brilliant deli & cafe.

Sandra, Natalie, Veronica, Robert, Laura, Kelly

Another fantastic day, for which the rest of it was spent reading papers and making a vat of shepherds pie for the week. (no photos this time!) A fantastic weekend.

Weekend with friends and food (I)....

....A fantastic weekend this one. I write, weighed down by food, drink and conversation - but I wouldn't have it any other way. It began on Saturday morning, Kelly and I having breakfast at the Pavilion Cafe in Victoria Park. It has quickly become one of our favourite destinations - particularly when the Spring sun shines like it did.

coffee & croissant basked in sunlight


From the glass roofed Pavilion a view across the pond is afforded, to spy on the (relative) wildlife, the dog walkers, (oh how I want a dog) and the minor celebrities - Nick Grimshaw and a pyjama-clad Pixie Geldof on this occasion.

Kelly and a swan get up close and personal

A walk after breakfast, (which a few weeks ago was promised to become a run!), was exercise enough for us.

grey goose

Later in the day I had invited Richie, Lynn and Bond over to watch the England v Scotland rugby, followed by dinner, chez Roy. (And a little bit of Liam & Tesco!)

starter: Liam's minty mushy pea & asparagus tart

main: sausage & chorizo risotto with pea & pepper

dessert: raspberry cheese cake (A left over Tesco's number from Kelly's fridge!)

A tight squeeze whilst we're tucking in

As the night wore on and the wine flowed, plans to leave the sofa for a busy nearby pub diminished. Instead silly face masks, silly stories and a late night cheese board triumphed.



(Richie) & Lynn

Great night, great company, great food. Winner.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Bug 18....

...I got the opportunity to go and see the Adam Buxton hosted, Bug, for only the second time tonight. Like the first, it was a rambling, funny, cringe worthy and altogether learned evening, trawling music videos, ads and internet phenomena for all the wrong and right reasons.

There was also a live interview with Sean Pecknold, that whilst interesting, was somewhat stifled by the music director's inability to maintain a decent conversation. He seemed so introverted that it was only Buxton who could draw any fact and humour from it.

There are many videos from tonight's show that I liked. This for example. And this. And this. But I am going to end this post on one that I seem to have gained a particular dislike for:

OK GO, 'This too shall pass'

Now this video has got my back up a bit. Watch it all and you might be amazed, joyous, wonder struck, tickled pink. Find out that it was, (more or less), shot in one take, then you might be more so. This music video has proved an internet phenomenon, passing from email to email, screen to screen. But what gets me is not it's artistic merit - for there is a lot of hard work in this. Not it's undoubted positivity, because many will watch with a smile. But it is the hugely unoriginal idea behind this video. It is a well trodden one too and it seems to me they haven't been so gracious as to acknowledge it. Preceding this, was in 2003, the Honda 'Cog' ad from creatives at Wieden + Kennedy.

This ad won a host of awards. Perhaps rightly so, (for its execution), but I was annoyed even then, as I had seen this idea before. It was stolen. A fraud. My art school education had paid off in one small way - I had been shown a video of artist duo Fischli & Weiss, from 1987 called 'The way things go'. In one take, household parts, flora & fauna were set up to create one larger, sprawling continuous machine. It was a less polished 'Cog' - but only because it didn't exist in adland.

Anyone who watched the Honda ad, and new about the above video would be lying if they didn't admit the incredible similarities. But then, Fischli & Weiss weren't entirely original themselves. Whilst they were the first to create such a chain reaction for real and in a live setting, they based their work of art on the American cartoonist Rube Golderg. His cartoons depicted the accomplishment of something simple through a complex means. In fact his name became a dictionary based adjective for exactly that.

Maybe, all this proves something that I already knew, but daren't admit in my fury. Nothing is original. But the best works of art, the best ads, films, music and so on, succeed by using an existing, celebrated idea and putting a new twist on it. OK GO's video only scrapes in to this category in my view, the uplifting nature securing it a place. But, I guess that's enough. Now just watch the awards roll in.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Toy Story 3....

....Very excited.


....I had the pleasure of watching this last night. Another of last years Oscar triumphs that I have only just got around to watching.

I have been a Pixar fan ever since the Toy Story films blew me away and became leaders in animation genre. The last I saw from Pixar was WallE, which broke new ground not only in the standard of animation, but that is was largely a silent movie.

In a similar fashion, large parts of the opening third of 'Up' is carried out with little conversation. But the beauty is that the incredible visual language does it all for us. The story follows a 78 year old, widowed Carl Fredricksen who sets about his life long dream, (and promise to his late wife Ellie), to move their beloved house to Paradise Falls in South America.

In order to do so, Fredricksen ties hundreds of balloons to his house and floats of in search of his dream. But he is not alone. Russell, a cub scout in search of his elusive wilderness badge, is inadvertently stranded on house at lift off and subsequently is taken for the ride.

The film plays out in full fantastical and hilarious fashion, meeting the token bad guy and triumphing in the end. But not without some teary eyed moments. I laughed and yes, I cried, and I loved every minute. Another brilliant addition to the Pixar, (and now Disney), catalogue.