The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas
The tale of a young boy, the son of a Nazi officer, who befriends another young boy in a nearby concentration camp, The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas seems not to work because of its improbability (and maybe because of my dislike for child actors). Allowing artistic licence, the film is diverting enough and the ending is as surprising as it is depressing.
Feis Festival, Finsbury Park, 18/06/11 It’s probably worth noting that I only went to this Irish music festival because a) I had free tickets and b) it was practically on my doorstep. But, the weather held out, the atmosphere was jovial (for that read: mostly pissed, often puking), I got to eat a pie and hang out in a field. I’d actually seen Dylan once before, at Phoenix Festival...
Yo La Tengo - Re-Inventing The Wheel
Royal Festival Hall, London, 12/06/11 As Yo La Tengo cranked out the noisy version of Big Day Coming, the first song I ever heard by the band, I reminisced to myself how I was now into my 18th year of fandom. That they continue, the same, but different, all these years later, never relying on nostalgia, always experimenting, continually gaining newer, younger fans, is nothing short of...
John Hegley - Beyond Our Kennel
Whittington Community Centre, London, 09/06/11 Increasingly looking like a tall Woody Allen, John Hegley is an immensely talented man. His funny little rhymes, silly songs and droll banter are effortlessly delivered; the audience, often invited to accompany him, held in his palm from the get-go. Backed by a friend with brilliant home-made percussion, Hegley mostly plays it for laughs but...
Conquering Animal Sound - Kammerspiel
Faust - So Far
Karen Dalton - In My Own Time
Apparently some people found this film exciting because it’s the first film to reunite Winslet and DiCaprio on screen since Titanic. Which tells you all you need to know really. This plays out like a workaday domestic drama of little consequence. It goes on a bit and frankly, the bloody ending is a bit grim. Apart from that though…boring!
The Lost Treasures Of The Black Heart
The Black Heart, London, 07/06/11 Josie Long’s monthly night in a room above a pub in Camden features a bunch of upcoming comedians venerating heroes in some way; a concept which most of the acts adhere to somewhat loosely. Long is unprepared, quite awkwardly personal at time but almost always brilliantly funny. She also includes audience-participation games between acts (I won an out of...
I wanted to like it more than I did. It started and ended in excellent form. All fast-paced action, banging beats from the Chemical Brothers and cool, bloody violence. Sadly, Hanna totally loses its way during its middle section. The introduction of an annoying British family, there to provide a humour break and to show Hanna the family life she’d been missing out on, left the film...
Tell No One
Smart French thriller about a murder that did, or didn’t take place, and the disastrous unravelling of two families. Occasionally too clever for its own good and with a storyline that, on occasion, strays some distance from conceivable reality, Tell No One is gripping enough but ultimately flawed.
When this film first came out, I was excited to see it. But having missed out on it at the cinema, my enthusiasm waned. The more I thought about it, the more I imagined a Matrix-style thriller that would leave me cold. I was wrong though. Inception is fun, head-scratchingly complicated to keep up with, its bowl-along action is always compelling and some of the special effects blew my tiny...
The Great Gatsby
by F. Scott Fitzgerald One of my new year’s resolutions was to read at least six books. A modest target, but I think I only managed one during the whole of 2010. I matched my previous year’s efforts with F.Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, which also fits in with my wanting to read more ‘classics’. Maybe it’s that I’m not well read enough or that I...
Keep The Aspridistra Flying
by George Orwell 2nd book down, four to go! I’ve been choosing badly, it seems. Keep The Aspidistra Flying is unremittingly bleak from beginning to end. The main character is wholly unlikable, imprisoned by his own ideals and destined to repeat the mistakes of his parents for evermore. Even the chink of light at the end of the book feels shadowed by personal defeat. A tough read.
Duchess Theatre, London, 27/05/11 This reworked Mike Leigh play proved to be a little disappointing. Its first act has drama, loneliness, joyless, brutal sex, a fight and a visit from a girlfriend pre-night out, all taking place in one young woman’s (Jean) bedroom in the late 70s. The second act is the aftermath of the night out, with Jean, her friend and husband and an old mutual...
The Barbican, London, 03/06/11 Over the last few years, without me really noticing, Low seem to have become one of my favourite bands. They’re a band who found their sound early on and have been honing it, ever so slightly, since. The last time I saw them, Alan Sparhawk was in a mood best described as ‘completely mental’, which culminated in him throwing his guitar AT the...
Rough Trade East, London, 19/05/11 Sri Lanka meant that I’d forgotten to buy tickets to see Vile at Corsica Studios. The now sold out show left me with no option but to head down to Rough Trade during my lunch hour to catch Vile. Before leaving the office, I was asked to describe his music to my workmates. I struggled and came up with “er…rock music…kinda”. And...
Sri Lanka, pt18
Sri Lanka, pt17
Sri Lanka, pt16
Sri Lanka, pt15
Sri Lanka, pt14
Sri Lanka, pt13
Sri Lanka, pt12
Sri Lanka, pt10
Amarasinghe Guest House, Haputale, 23/04/11. 9:30pm As the sun went down last night, we began to see the pathway up Adam’s Peak form the lights that lead the way to the top. At 3am, these lights are barely visible, instead shrouded in mist. Excited, we set out hoping for the best and presuming that the skies will clear by morning, allowing views of what’s supposed to be an amazing...
Sri Lanka, pt11
24/04/11 Lat night’s awesome sleep is followed by a one-hour epic of a tuk-tuk journey up, up and up to Lipton’s Seat. Occupying one of the highest spots in the region, this is where THomas Lipton would survey the tea plantations that he owned. We arrive just before the mist starts to gather and stay there, marvelling at the scenery for a good couple of hours. As the heat intensifies,...
Sri Lanka, pt9
Slightly Chilled, Dalhousie, 22/04/11 OK, that’s it. I’ve had enough. Buses. I found myself sat on one today practically chewing my knees, a girl’s wet sari on me, holding a schoolkid’s pencil case and papers cursig their stupid buses, bad roads and the fact that the locals seem quite happy with it all. I wanted to get up, shake them and tell them to demand more, to not...
Sri Lanka, pt8
Rafter’s Retreat, 21/04/11, 11pm Oh god, a horrible night’s sleep! The noise of the rapids is akin to having the TV with white noise on full blast. Add to that chirps, creeks, hisses, croaks and all manner of other strange sounds and it makes for a fairly sleepless night for me. After breakfast we jump on the back of a jeep and head for the river. We’re partnered with a German...
Sri Lanka, pt7
Rafter’s Retreat, Kitulgala, 20/04/11, 10:45pm The rain goes on for about three hours in the end. So, we just relax, listen to the storm and sleep. We eat at the hotel with an English couple and share a few beers with them. More curry in the morning and we’re on our way. We get a seat on our 1st bus journey to ?. I’ve never felt travel sickness before but the constant...
Sri Lanka, pt4
17/04/11, Devi Tourist Home, 10pm Back at Nilmini, we eat tasty Sri Lanka curry, I level the scores at Scrabble, time for a quick read and then bed. Our accommodation is basic. No hot water, no air conditioning and a bed as hard as board. Not the best night’s sleep. We’re up early for a breakfast of tea, pineapple, papaya (surely the blandest of all the fruits - like melon with all...
Sri Lanka, pt6
19/04/11, Sharon Inn, Kandy, 3pm Breakfast at the Sharon Inn consists of potato curry and a string hopper, a kind of flat disc of soft noodles made from riceflour. All very nice but I’m still not convinced by curry for breakfast. After food, we take a brisk walk to town to see the Sacred Relic of the Tooth, Sri Lanka’s most important religious symbol, supposedly a tooth recovered...
Sri Lanka, pt5
18/04/11, Sharon Inn, Kandy, 7pm Awake at 5.30am and by 6am we’re careering down busy roads in the van belonging to our guest owners from last night, who we’re sharing a lift with to Kandy. To be honest, the room wasn’t great. There were frogs and cockroaches living in the toilet and it was quite pricey. We managed to snap the bathroom key in the bathroom door, both of us...
Sri Lanka, pt1
14/04/11, 6:09pm, Serendib Guest House, Negombo We arrive at 4am after a 12 hour journey to find that no room is available to us until 7.30am. No matter though, we get some sort of sleep on a sofa and once our room is sorted, we sleep some more, save for interruptions from the interminable squawking of crows and the frankly rather cliched cock-a-doodle-doo’s of some nearby cockerel. We...
Sri Lanka, pt2
15/04/11 First off, we hire a tuk-tuk to show us around Negombo. We visit Buddhist, Hindu and Tamil temples, a church and old Dutch fort (now a prison), a fish market (which stinks!), the lagoon and a herbal garden. There’s a big Christian influence here; you see a lot of boxes by the side of the road with Jesus statues in. Watching the locals carry out their religious rituals (throwing...
Sri Lanka, pt3
16/04/11, Nilmini Guesthouse, Sigiriya, 7pm After returning to Serendib we pop off to the beach, hire some loungers and swim in a hotel pool and the sea. I discover that the shops here sell lemon puff biscuits, which can only be found in larger supermarkets in Britain. Yum. Relaxing by the beach is a treat. I finish my book and doze. Later, we eat at a place called Oyster’s, where we wait...
Arsenal 0 Blackburn 0
The Emirates, London, 02/04/11 As far as months go, they don’t get much worse than that. In the last 35 days, Arsenal have cocked up wildly in the Carling Cup Final, gone out to a vastly superior Barcelona side in the Champions League, failed to turn up against Manchester United in the FA Cup and have drawn their last 3 league games, more or less handing the league title to United....
The Horne Section
Lyric Theatre, London, 28/03/11 Music and comedy. Combined. Not a concept that would ever be likely to thrill me. However, the promise of Alex Horne, Harry Hill and Tim Key on one bill was more than enough temptation. A two-part show with a five-piece band and six acts including a plate spinner and a beatboxer, hosted by the impossible-not-to-love Horne, provided a kind of modern day variety...
Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London, 31/03/11 It’s easy to feel a tad disengaged when you’re sat so far from the action, as we were at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire to see Deerhunter. Lower Dens struggled to make an impact with their poppy shoegaze, but Deerhunter had no problems with a fully fledged set of noisy indie-rock. The band are at their best when wigging out, which...
Haymarket Cineworld, London, 29/03/11 Following last week’s showing of Don’t Look Now, Time Out chose to show Terry Gilliam’s Brazil preceded by an interview with the film’s star, Jonathon Pryce, who provided amusing and fascinating insight into director Terry Gilliam and co-star Robert De Niro’s methods. Visually, Brazil provides so many delights, it’s a...
Don't Look Now
Haymarket Cineworld, London, 22/03/11 Time Out began a season of great British films preceded by interviews with various people from the industry with a showing of Don’t Look Now. I’d seen the film before, although not for a while, and the chance to see it on the big screen was one not to be missed. David Morrissey introduced it, placing it well in context and giving a few decent...