Tuesday, 29 December 2015

2015 and all that


That was the year that was, or as I call it: the 'year of living dangerously' by which I mean a year of enjoyment, travel, and a smidgen of over indulgence.

Let's see...what happened? Marriage, trips to France, Greece and  Spain and a few British jaunts in between, but this blog is supposed to be about popular culture so lets get down to that.

A fantastic Edinburgh festival. this was my second visit and now having a good knowledge of how to navigate both the streets and the venues it allowed for a jam packed visit with highlights being Stewart Lee and The Ruby Darlings. another highlight of the festival is the Mosque Kitchen, this rustic canteen style eatery is a wonderful place to refuel between shows. The food is delicious and it's as cheap as Chips.

Liverpool to see Arthur Miller's The Hook starring a hugely underrated Jamie Sives (an actor who, aside from being a mate of mine is also brimming with talent), followed by drinks in the Dockers bar a symbiotic alliance of place and theme. 

Somerset to visit a newly relocated family and relax awhile which is very easy in that company and a visit to Dismaland: which was undoubtedly a triumph. This piece of living art had to be experienced to be believed and boy am I glad I did.

Closer to home, Leftfield at the Forum Kentish Town: something of a homecoming for the act. A splendid night with what can only be described as a warm and friendly audience followed by Leftfield at The Roundhouse: a stupendous sonic experience which certainly benefited from the immaculate sound system. My old friend Neil created a concert going experience that is right up there with the very best.

Also close to home The Ham Yard Hotel: if there is a better Hotel in the heart of the West End I'll eat my hat. A marvellous wedding night and following day was spent there in April and a return visit was soon forthcoming to see a mixed showcase of Pre-Edinburgh comedy. The act that stole the show being Marcus Brigstock: funny and insightful.

Closer still, Escape From New York at the Unity Chapel with live music from John Carpenter's collaborator on soundtracks. The audience were dressed for the occasion and I have to say that this wonderful venue was a great place to see this cult masterpiece.

I think I may have been to the cinema close to 40 times this year and I have to say that it hasn't been the greatest year for cinema, Mind you I only walked out of one movie: Inherent Vice (even though I'm a fan of Mr Anderson) I also found Foxcatcher underwhelming. Amy, Whiplash and The Lobster were stand outs for me this year while Selma, Love & Mercy and Sicario where hugely enjoyable...hold on though: i walked out of two films! The Man From UNCLE being the other one. To clarify, the first walkout was due to not being n the zone the second was due to the general woodeness of acting and clunkiness of plot. Mainstream fun was had courtesy of Spectre, Avengers: Age Of Ultron and Mad Max: Fury Road.

TV was good. Orange Is The New Black, Peaky Blinders, Luther, The Fall and Veep provided some real high points and BBC's The Game was the real quality Spy drama this year not London Spy (which certainly had its moments). The Good Wife was a great 'B' drama as was River and it was farewell to Mad Men, Nurse Jackie and Peep Show.

Of course my real highlight was getting married to the long suffering Mrs Wellyousaythat and this year of living dangerously will give way to a more laid back year. a year of living sensibly; which is not to say that it won't include experiences like those of 2015, in fact January 1st sees us visiting The Ham Yard followed by a night of wonder with Derren Brown. Living sensibly? yes of course but what's life without a hint of danger?



Friday, 30 October 2015

MY HALLOWEEN HIT LIST: I MARRIED A WITCH



Rene Clair's I Married A Witch is a sublime, spooky, winsome and atmospheric comedic love story, pitting Mr Hyde himself Fredric March against Veronica Lake in the game of love. A far more sophisticated take than Bewitched for example. It takes in politics both sexual and actual and does so with a deft touch.

It has plenty of spooky atmosphere to go along with the fun. It's witty, original and thoroughly entertaining. The mischievous Veronica Lake is totally enthralling as the Witch who returns as an avenger centuries after being killed by Puritans and her take on this strange new world makes her both innocent and seductive.





Saturday, 24 October 2015

MY HIT LIST: NEW YORK, NEW YORK

New York, New York

Scorsese's under-appreciated masterpiece isn't The King Of Comedy, which has rightly received the credit that's due to it, but the musical New York New York. Shades of Douglas Sirk and George Cukor abound as Liza Minnelli gives a grandstanding performance worthy of her mother. The anthemic title song feels like an old standard and her rendition of But The World Goes 'Round is astonishing.



The story is naturally comparable to A Star Is Born as it is a tale of success, avarice, jealousy and passion and Minnelli's co-star shows a side of himself that is surprising and enthralling.


Robert DeNiro is funny, very funny, charming, dangerous and heartfelt in his performance and the chemistry between the two, initially DeNiro's huckster and Minelli's naive new comer, is there for all to see and as their character's relationship becomes darker the sadness is broadcast by both.

That it stands up against the very best Hollywood musicals is immense tribute to the director and his two leads.
New York, New York is well worth a revisit.