Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Crap television of the week...


The things people do for publicity... Such as the London Gay Men's Chorus. Well I guess any publicity is good publicity...

Monday, January 22, 2007

Scenes from Leicester Square Sunday 17:33

TV celebrity with very pink turtleneck interviewing punters who were big fans of Beyoncé at Dreamgirls premiere in Leicester Square. Beyoncé showed up later so it was a bit of filler... I hadn't seen such a small crowd at a premiere since Superman Returns. There were more temporary barriers than people...

Friday, January 19, 2007

TV: That show...

The new insult is when I was drinking a vodka lime and soda over the weekend and told that was the sort of drink Jade Goody would drink. Jade is the latest bette noire after purportedly taking part in a series of racist incidents that appeared on Celebrity Big Brother. It came to its expected conclusion Friday night when she was voted off the show but over the past week it has been treated as if it were some major national event. Well the show needed the publicity as into its second week it was struggling to attract an audience.

Jade Goody has in the past few years carved out a niche in the "lovable slapper" market making TV shows on Channel 5 - known for showing CSI and wacky police videos - and generally showing up in the celeb photo columns. That is, she is world famous in Britain.

The fallout of the last week is that sponsors have "suspended their involvement" in the current series (at least until the whole incident blows over) and Jade has even had her perfume removed from a few shops as well. Apparently it was a best seller beating Britney's and J-Lo's fragrances. The house of Britney and J-Lo must be delighted at this news... There are plans to film various groups of outraged people to comment on the series as well... Apparently the gays will be covered by the chorus... Oh how exciting...

Scenes from Charing Cross Station Thursday 20:22


DSC04340, originally uploaded by Pauly_.
No trains due to the weather. People transfixed at blank screens. All the good reason not to live in Orpington I guess...

Weather: Severe Gales

The "death winds" closed the Millennium Bridge as police feared people could be blown into the water... It would probably not be a nice way to go... The Tate Modern lost a few panels from the top of its chimney... All the action of the City of London police telling people where to go was captured by a Flickr user...

By the end of the day the death count across Europe was:
Britain - 9
Germany - 7
The Netherlands - 4
Czech Republic - 3
France - 2

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Overheard in the gym

Man (to another): Lorrell, where's my dress?

Film: Last King of Scotland


Some people like rom-coms, some people like dramas, some people like political thrillers. I like 'em all, but I did have to lie to get F (who dragged me to that Holiday film) to attend this. Since he knew nothing about the film or Idi Amin I told him The Last King of Scotland was a comedy. A comedy it ain't but a great blend of fiction and fact with an incredible performance by Forrest Whitaker as Amin. Ok Whitaker has been around for years, but this is going to be a performance to be remembered...

The fictional part of the story involves a young doctor ending up going to Uganda and ending up as Amin's personal physician. Against this is the real story of Amin's erratic rule and reign of terror. You don't see much violence in the film until towards the end. It is enough to want to make you throw up in a popcorn bucket, but a worthy experience all the same. The film looks great too, particularly in the sequences shot in grainy 16mm.

After the film I asked F if he liked the comedy. He didn't respond. Actually come to think of it he didn't move... I think it was shock... Maybe the film isn't everyone's cup of tea...

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Scenes from the tube Tuesday 23:12


Scenes from the tube Tuesday 23:12, originally uploaded by Pauly_.
General shenanigans...

Music: Dreamgirls



I finally got hold of the double CD album of Dreamgirls with Beyonce, Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy, Anika Noni Rose and Jennifer Hudson. They all sing on this album and for a Broadway score about a motown-like group channeled through a movie soundtrack idiom (with R&B producers) I think it was fantastic. Also with what is likely to be the best possible cast assembled for the job. The show is all about compromising to get that "smoother sound" and I enjoyed the irony of it all with the super-smooth sound of this album...

Oh and when it arrived it was hard not to revert to complete stereotype (see previous post on Jake Gyllenhaal). But hey, this is still great music. The single album is at the top of the billboard charts this week. This album could potentially go the way of The Bodyguard. Ok it doesn't feature Kenny G, but who knows what will do it for the punters these days? The dance mixes for "One Night Only" and "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going" are reason enough for getting the double album IMHO...

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Conversation openers for January...


Speaking of Dreamgirls. Jake Gyllenhaall appeared on Saturday Night Live and provided a tribute for his "brokeback" fans...

Unique selling proposition...

Vauxhall: Home of spooks and gay men. Discuss...

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Music: Mahler's Ninth

I caught Mahler's Ninth Symphony at the Barbican tonight. Conducted by Daniel Harding with the Staatskapelle Dresden it is a great piece about life and death. Towards the end the tension was so tight you could feel Mahler's presence. Or it could have been the man in the pinstripe suit to my right breathing heavily. I wasn't quite sure what that was about but it added to the tension of the evening anyway. Who said going to a concert solo wasn't an adventure? Anyway a fantastic performance by both the conductor and orchestra.

One other thing I noticed was that many of the women in the Staatskapelle Dresden brought their handbags onto the stage and slung them over their seats. It was an interesting grab bag of handbags to see. Security back stage must seem to be a bit dodgy...

Scenes from London Bridge Tube


DSC04298, originally uploaded by Pauly_.
Sudoku is still popular with tube goers... Thanks to the two free afternoon newspapers including it in their pages the punters cannot get enough of it...

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Movie: The Holiday

I didn't particularly want to see this romcom or chickflick... But F dragged me to it on the guise that it was funny and that it was at the Canary Wharf cinemas where he could sign up to this new movie deal where you pay £14 a month for 12 months and you could see as many movies you like. You do have to provide a bank statement and in this day and age of electronic banking who the hell has one of them? I also find this chain of cinemas to have the worst cinemas in London. They are usually dirty and smell like a toilet. While the Canary Wharf cinemas were clean, the toilets were flooding so I figured that was keeping consistent with their standard.

As for the film, it wasn't as bad as I was expecting. I did like the idea that Kate Winslet's character walks from her job along Albert Embankment to possibly Clapham Junction railway station. It is such a long walk that the exercise no doubt kept her trim and looking gorgeous. She then has a gorgeous little countryside cottage in Surrey somewhere...

Actually everyone looks gorgeous in this film and is bathed in such lovely light that you can overlook some of the hoary dialogue and obvious plot points. It was nice to see Eli Wallach in a supporting role as well. There was a nice chemistry between all the leads as well so I guess it does what it set out to do... I think the central message of the film is that all single people should invest in isolated little cottages in the middle of nowhere rather than living in London as you may find a desperate rich American willing to do a home swap with you... Although if you are looking for romance beware as you could end up with Jack Black... Eww...

Thursday, January 04, 2007

People: Tonya Pinkins

The National Theatre was having a discussion with Tonya Pinkins on Wednesday. She used the time to talk about how she landed the role in Caroline, Or Change (which is about to finish its London run) and talk about her career and her book.

She used her book to workshop how to take a compliment. She asked the audience to turn around and pay a compliment to the person behind them. The person receiving the compliment had to say "Yes it's true. Thank you". Much laughter ensued as people complimented people's shirts, smiles, hair... It is just not the done thing in London normally...

Film: Shortbus



Monday I caught the film Shortbus which is an ensemble piece about the sex lives of a group of New Yorkers and directed by John Cameron Mitchell.

There is the sex therapist who can't orgasm, the lonely dominatrix, the gay couple who want a third for different reasons, and a carnival of other characters that pop in and out of this sex club called Shortbus.

There are some very interesting scenes in this film which were enough to keep one awake after a long night of new years festivities. The sex scenes (and there were plenty of them) weren't particularly sexy but I suspect that was the point... It all ends with a big production number complete with brass band around a New York blackout.

The power of the black out to focus people on other things has been somewhat diminished over the last year thanks to some very irritating adds from a mobile phone company that seem to use the New York blackout of 2003 as the basis for telling you to switch off your mobile phone... It seems to be played in every cinema nowadays but anyway... All told a worthwhile film. And the only raincoats in the cinema were for the wet weather outside as well...

Scenes from Waterloo Bridge Monday 01:36

New year partying was popular in London this year, although it was mainly confined to the river approaches...

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Movie: Miss Potter

Saturday night I caught a preview of the new Renée Zelweger flick Miss Potter. It is about the life of Beatrix Potter which for the first half of the film was as jolly and upbeat as one of her books. The second half things get a little grim but then they sort things out and the film ends as briskly as one of her books.

After the film I was discussing how disappointingly short the film is. At ninety minutes it seemed like it could have gone into more about the creative process behind her stories or the influence of the Lakes District on her. Particularly since in the case of the latter its preservation is part of her legacy. They could ave even read one of her stories in full to pad it out, although that might have felt like a sketch from Little Britain...

Still the acting was great and it was a very watchable film. Even if Renée and Ewan weren't photographed nicely, the story was too short and there were a lot of things they could have expanded upon. Although it was a preview it didn't have much of an audience tonight either (the severe gale warning might have kept some people at home)...

Theatre: Love Song

Making the most of the holiday break I caught Love Song Friday night at the New Ambassadors Theatre. Love Song is a new comedy about a man who falls in love and goes a little crazy (or was he already crazy?), his sister and her husband. It is a simple premise but with Cillian Murphy, Michael McKean and Neve Campbell in the leading roles it is quite funny. Leaving the theatre you wonder whether you actually saw anything or whether it was all in your mind.

Alas it wasn't totally hilarious and I think part of the problem was that Kristen Johnston was still not performing in the role of the sister / wife. Johnston took ill early December and reportedly has returned before Christmas but she wasn't on last night. Romy Tennant as understudy filled the role. While she was serviceable in the part, looked right (if a little young) and said the right lines, it was clear watching the play that you really needed a strong female lead to make the play soar. But alas that's live theatre for you.

Still a great little play and there are some good deals going at the moment for it by calling the box office. And I'd light a cigarette for that...

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Film: Flags of our Fathers



Wednesday night I caught Flags of our Fathers which is Clint Eastwood's film about the story behind the taking of the famous photograph of American soldiers placing a flag on Iwo Jima, and how it became a crucial photo in helping the war effort back home. The battle of Iwo Jima is less important here than the story three of the soldiers in the photo who survived the battle and went back to the US to help the war bond effort.

It has the basis for an interesting movie on the power of perception and a single image. Unfortunately like the film Saving Private Ryan it had some pretty awful narrative, including throwing in the son of one of the men two thirds through the movie as someone trying to "piece together the story" for a book. Cue interviews with old and limbless men with grave faces and Paul wondering who the hell these people were. Still at over two hours it moves pretty quickly and is still an interesting enough film. Given the small audience I suspect it won't be around for very long however...

What was most interesting about this film is its very bloody link it has with Eastwood's next film (which is getting released in the UK in February) Letters from Iwo Jima which tells the Japanese side of the story. Flags of Our Fathers in its portrayal less of the war and of its symbolism to the American people feels a bit like an empty film with some very irritating narrative. Letters from Iwo Jima is being hailed as a masterpiece and one of the best war movies ever... Guess we will have to wait and see about that...

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Television

Christmas television is a major event in this country. This is because of the following. ..

Tonight there was the death of Pauline Fowler in Eastenders. Bless her. I think Wendy Richards best work was on "Are You Being Served", and her death wasn't the most glamorous of exits, face down in the snow. Eastenders is a fascinating show where everyone bitches about everyone else but an argument never gets heated enough for anyone to say dickhead, letalone motherfucker... And this show is supposed to be set in London??

The Dr Who episode Runaway Bride lived up to the hype and featured Catherine Tate in the lead role. The sets may still creak and the leading villain had a serious case of overacting but still it was fun...

The Vicar of Dibley is also concluding after twelve years, and it is going off with a wedding...

Little Britain Abroad suggests that the show has "jumped the shark". There is a storyline for the characters rather than repetition of the same punchlines, but foreign stereotypes seem to be replacing the British ones. Interestingly from the recent tour in the UK it was noted that the audience mostly consisted of Vicky Pollards and Lou & Andy's. Irony does work in mysterious ways I guess...

Scenes from Albert Embankment Monday 16:18


DSC04222, originally uploaded by Pauly_.
A post lunch walk was popular with the punters today... Afterall, the Dr Who special wasn't coming on until 19:00 so there was plenty of time...

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Message



A special Christmas message from the London Gay Mens Chorus (taken from the Barbican on Wednesday night). Other extracts are available on YouTube or can be purchased as a DVD... Oh and you can see everyone from the choir in it... If you look hard enough...