Sunday, February 12, 2012

Website of the week

A collecion of photos that Dads may wish hadn't survived - or may be not.

Enjoy Dads are the original hipsters.

hattip - @welshkaren

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Young Adult

Mavis Gary is a thirtysomething divorcee (played by Charlize Theron) who is the ghost writer of a series of young adult novels set in high school - a bit like the Sweet Valley High series. Having received an email from an old high school boyfriend announcing the birth of his daughter, she heads back to her small home town determined to win him back. She has never grown up, is borderline mentally ill, and is an over the line alcoholic. The film traces her return and the car wrecks - both literal and metaphorical - that ensue.

From the writing and directing team behind the excellent Juno - Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman - Young Adult is a dark comedy about returning home, trying to recapture moments from your youth, and someone who has never grown up. Sharp and sad in equal measure there is probably not one character you'd like to spend time with as all seem to be both self obsessed and not self aware at the same time - but that adds to the dark comedy of the piece.

Charlize Theron is excellent and the supporting cast are great as the plot moves along from one self delusional cringe inducing moment to the next. It's not for everyone and I suspect it's a very Marmite film - you'll either love it or hate it. For me any film that has the line "I'm a middle aged fat geek - I know what a zombie is" can't be bad, and the ending is true to the direction of the film; it doesn't wimp out.

Could be a real left field choice as a Valentine's Day date movie - though you'd probably need to be pretty sure of where your relationship was with your partner before going...

There is one major flaw though. Mavis drives home listening to an old mix tape - since when did Mini Coopers come with a cassette player??

Friday, February 03, 2012

Flash, bang, wallop, what a picture...

Been a bit of strange week, and a quiet(ish) weekend looks to be ahead, so as Friday evening approached I decided to head of for a wander around the excellent National Portrait Gallery which, like a lot of galleries and museums in London, is open late on Fridays.

I managed to catch the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize exhibition before it ends next weekend. I've come across this in the past - it's an annual competition - and, once again, I found there were numerous stunning images to draw you in.

The portraits vary from films stars, to quirky people, to a sort of reportage style - all are photographic portraits. It's not a massive exhibition but there is plenty to look at and ponder over. You may not agree with the prize winners - I'm not sure I did - yet there isn't a dud portrait to be found. I'm always fascinated by portraits, I think partly because I hate having my photo taken so am intrigued that people will sit for such photos, and ended up spending a lot more in the shop than intended!

The exhibition ends on 12th February - but if you do find yourself passing it definitely provides a diverting and rewarding few minutes of your time.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

What the Dickens?

A friend was visiting so we spent a very pleasant day pottering around London including a visit to the excellent Dickens and London exhibition at the Museum of London.

The exhibition has a variety of items - beautiful pictures, furniture and models, and some fascinating original manuscripts. There is also a 20 minute film - The Houseless Shadow by William Raban - which was inspired by Dickens' night walks. It's rather lovely and nowhere near as bad as the words 'video installation' might suggest!

Well worth a potter around for an hour or so, and although it's a ticketed event, at £7 it's pretty good value, especially compared to some of the other exhibitions currently showing in London. Word of warning, it's busy - though that may be because we went on a Saturday afternoon - but there is also the rest of the excellent Museum of London to explore. It's one of the few museums I've been in London and an absolute gem. Enjoy.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


I'm finding movie choices somewhat limited at the moment. A couple of blockbusters, a horse film, children's films and the Iron Lady are taking up nearly all of the screens and some well reviewed films - such as Margin Call - are on quite limited releases, both in terms of screens and duration. But if you want something a little different you could do worse than seek out Haywire.

It's a fairly standard thriller. A sort of CIA style mission to extract someone from Barcelona is not quite what it seems and the protagonist - Mallory played by mixed martial arts star Gina Carano - tries to stay one step ahead of those chasing her. The story is told in flashback and is very stylishly shot by Steven Soderbergh. It's a bit like Bourne, but slower and not as 'crash, bang' with the stunts and fight scenes feeling much more realistic - which I guess was one aim of Soderbergh.

The cast is strong, with Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Ewen McGregor and Michael Fassbender all in roles that are bit more than cameos, but aren't the leading parts. They all seem to be having a blast.

It won't be the best film of 2012 - but if you want to avoid the other current offerings and see something decent, then it's worth your cinematic tenner.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Nearly Feb?

Don't know about you but January seems to be shooting past. I found the first couple of weeks a little bit 'meh'. I'd had a good Christmas and, probably like many in January, I found the first week or two a bit difficult to get back in to the routine of things - week beginning 9th seemed to go on forever and not in a good way. Much grumpiness (even for me!) and perhaps it's a another sign of middle age - I now partially aspire to 'get back in to the routine of things'!

Thankfully the last week or so hasn't been too routine. I've been able to catch up with a few people - gentle baby steps towards one of my goals of getting a balance back and making more and better time for friends.

Interesting for me, deep down I know how I'd like 2012 to pan out - something I've never thought about or admitted before, in this or previous years. Whether all or any of it happens, who knows? But so far some early, encouraging signs that 2012 may just turn out OK - interesting what a few days can make.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol

It starts with breaking out of a Russian prison and ends with friends having a drink, and getting new iPhones, on the western US seaboard. In between you have the Kremlin exploding, some high tension action up a Middle East skyscraper, a car chase in a sandstorm, and a fight in a hi-tech Indian parking garage. Frankly you know what you're going to get with Mission Impossible:Ghost Protocol and it passes the Ronseal test - it does exactly what it says on the tin.

If you're looking for subtlety and insightful commentary on the geopolitical situation then you wouldn't have shelled out your money to see this. However, if you want a film with well crafted action set pieces, good stunts, and a decent cast who can inject the occasional bit of humour in to the situation then you've come to the right film.

In my opinion the sandstorm car chase got a bit silly, but the skyscraper action is excellent. Tom Cruise delivers what's needed in the role, and Simon Pegg, who along with Edgar Wright was behind the excellent series Spaced which is still worth watching, provides good comedy value.

Not earth shattering - but a decent, enjoyable, popcorn flick.