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Showing posts from December, 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 di…

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 f…

Film: Flags of our Fathers

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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 …

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 punchline…

Scenes from Albert Embankment Monday 16:18

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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...

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...

Music: Make the Yuletide Gay

Normally I am in the audience at the Barbican watching some concert or piece of theatre, but tonight I was actually performing in the chorus for LGMC's Make the Yuletide Gay. This is the third time they have presented at the Barbican and it was a sellout.

What can you say about a show that allows the audience to do a drag impersonation of Shirley Bassey, sing a few Christmas carols and listen to some (choral versions of) ABBA? I don't know but judging by the reaction of the punters it sounded like it was their kind of show.

Some work colleagues attended and they all thought that when compere Sandy Toksvig asked the members of the chorus to identify who was in a relationship (and not a shag from last night) that had special resonance for me. I have no idea what they were inferring. I was outraged. I spent most of the day in Selfridges singing Christmas carols in the lead up to tonight's concert anyway... Anyway it was great fun. We do it all again (albeit on a scaled down fa…

Scenes from Clapham Common South Monday 23:19

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DSC04156, originally uploaded by Pauly_. A foggy night...

Scenes from Oxford Street Saturday 21:24

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DSC04091, originally uploaded by Pauly_.
The Christmas lights, the people, and the Scientologists on the pavement peddling their little cult...

It's Christmas time in London...

Music: Sir Thomas Allen

Saturday night I caught Sir Thomas Allen in a recital of music by Fauré, Duparc and Ravel at the Wigmore Hall.

The first half was Fauré's La bonne chanson and L'Horizon chimérique and I thought they were great. I still had a bit of a hangover from all the merriment of Friday night so when it came to interval and everyone was bitching about how the old man was struggling through the music people started knocking back the drinks in the bar when they found out I was enjoying it.

Well there are a couple of points to make here. The first is that Allen is only 62. The second is that as I had never heard some of this music performed before I was more interested in the music than the quality of the performance. But the audience was very appreciative of Allen...

All told I preferred the Fauré works to the others. But I didn't hang around afterwards to get any of his CDs... I needed coffee...

Scenes from a Christmas party dinner Friday 21:31

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DSC04047, originally uploaded by Pauly_. 'Tis the season for silly hats... These ones were pretty camp ones at that as well... Still the dinner that came with them was very nice...

Idle Thursday evening locker room gym chatter

Man with no shirt on: Um hey uh do you have any wax?
Distracted Paul: Uh wax?
Man with no shirt on: Yeah you know... for hair...
Paul: I don't have wax... I have clay... Wanna try?
Man with no shirt on: Oh I guess I could give that a shot...
Paul (producing tin): Here, help yourself...
Man with no shirt on: Oh so I just put a bit on my finger...
Paul: And rub it...
Man with no shirt on: Oh... Okay..

Scenes from Bloomsbury Tuesday 20:02

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DSC00062, originally uploaded by Pauly_. Christmas lights in need of an ASBO...

Idle Chatter at Tescos

Checkout lady (scanning Paul's shopping): They found another body...
Paul: Did they? You mean a fourth?
Checkout lady: No a third*... She had been sssstrrrangled.
Paul: Oh
Checkout lady: You got club card?

* The conversation took place before the news that two more bodies had been found in Suffolk today...

DVD: Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut

I have spent the last couple of days watching Superman II: The Richard Donner cut. For reasons that are too involved to explain (but rely a lot on the power of internet nerds) an almost complete (there is one screen test to substitute the film) second version of a sequel to a movie made thirty years ago has been released on DVD. This clip includes previously lost footage of Marlon Brando, Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder and has some significantly different scenes. The YouTube clip above explains some of the differences. In all almost half this film did not appear in the original theatrical version that was credited to another director...

Alas having seen what is now a rare extended cut on Australian television (which supplemented the original version with footage shot by Donner) neither this version nor the deleted scenes includes the great campy lines such as Ursa played by Sarah Douglas, screaming "MEN! TO KILL!" Perhaps one day all the lost footage can be found... Unt…

Theatre: Christmas in New York

Sunday night I caught a concert showcasing new music from composers in New York and London called Christmas in New York.

It's great to see new music in the West End since most shows nowadays are juke box collections of classic hits or revivals. The only trouble is that new music doesn't always mean that it is great music. Even though it wasn't necessarily the case, by interval it felt like every song seemed either dour or trite or a bit of both. It would have been fine in an elevator but in a large theatre that was a bit of a problem. And surely only composer Frank Wildhorn could use a lyric call St Paul's Cathedral "ancient"? The British composers who had their new songs showcased tonight were good, but I still couldn't get over the rest. If it wasn't earnest, it was a song that would be good to slash up by.

I guess music theatre was once at the cutting edge, but I wasn't thinking along these lines. I guess nowadays if you want cutting edge you d…

Scenes from Oxford Street Sunday 18:12

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Scenes from Oxford Street Sunday 18:12, originally uploaded by Pauly_.

No trip this Christmas is complete without a visit to the Christmas Ghetto, a "squat art concept store" by underground artists on Oxford Street.

It is the site of an old Clarks shoe store and this window displays an evil looking Santa with a belt buckle that says "Satan" endorsing anything and everything.

And there I have been thinking that Oxford Street between the circus and Tottenham Court Road is full of shit shops and one of the worst shopping experiences in the world... Suddenly it's got good... Then again one shop does not make an experience...

Idle Friday chatter...

Paul: How many French Martini's have you had?
M: I don't know...
Paul: How many mojitos have I had?
M: I don't know but you were knocking 'em back
Paul: I needed the vitamin C I have a cold...

Overheard at the gym Thursday...

Man #1: His mother is Moroccan and his Father is Brazilian...
Man #2: Ah so that's why he's got such great skin...
Man #1: Yeah its all natural...

Scenes from an office water cooler Thursday 17:35

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Scenes from an office water cooler Thursday 17:35, originally uploaded by Pauly_.
The water-cooler conversation today was strangely enough... About water coolers. Over the past few weeks somebody had been putting the plastic cups in the dispenser the wrong way and it was starting to really bug people.

Apart from looking aesthetically dreadful, the cups would get stuck in the dispenser...

Today it was crunch time for the rouge-cup-dispenser-placer. After a colleague had spent earlier this week fishing out the cups which had been put in "end in" only to find by the afternoon they were around the wrong way a notice was placed to alert this rogue cup person that there was a right way and a wrong way to stick in plastic cups...

I assisted in the drafting of the notice by suggesting the phrase "the lip goes in the hole first". I thought that was not as suspect as the drawing... But anyway...

Scenes from an office window Thursday 11:01

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Scenes from an office window Thursday 11:01, originally uploaded by Pauly_. Heavy rain, high winds and hail was all that was happening. There were reports of people flying (or rather knocked off their feet) in the high winds as it knocked them off their feet. All of this is a bit better than Kensal Green in north-west London which had a small tornado. By 11:05 it was all over.

Theatre: Caroline or Change (again)

Tuesday night was the opportunity to take An to see Caroline Or Change, which just won the Evening Standard Award for best new musical. Well comparing it to the other new productions that were in the running (Evita, Spamalot, Sunday in the Park with George) it is like comparing apples to oranges.

An missed the first 15 minutes after leaving his credit card behind at a shop so I had to fill him in at intermission on the story. He was surprised that so much happened in the first fifteen minutes, and actually thinking about it, composer Jeanine Tesori and writer Tony Kushner are very economical with the story. It moves at a brisk pace with both halves of the show running at an hour.

Again the show was fantastic. It wasn't a full house by any means which isn't surprising. Caroline lasted less than a year in New York. It doesn't have brand recognition being a new show, and maybe a show with a simple premise about Jews living in Louisiana with a black maid doesn't grab the p…

Scenes from the Southbank Saturday 20:58

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Scenes from the Southbank Saturday 20:58, originally uploaded by Pauly_. A bit of colour for Christmas on the construction site of Royal Festival Hall...