Over the past couple of years my now 4 year old has chosen the soundtrack to the school run. At 2 and a half he favoured Gorillaz, then he moved on to The Black Ghosts and for the past year or so we’ve had The Beastie Boys.
This week marks the last few days of nursery school life before he starts Primary in January. He’s fine, I’m all emotional and silly, so this post is for him. It’s been a pretty great few years musically. I love you Cash, you rock.
Gorillaz : Stylo
Gorillaz : On Melancholy Hill
The Black Ghosts : Any Way You Choose To Give It
The Black Ghosts : Some Way Through This
The Beastie Boys : Song For The Man
The Beastie Boys : Body Movin
We have spent the last 6 weeks or so in the midst of a wonderful, inspiring, pioneering and unbelievably fun group of people who it has been a pleasure to know. The work they do is nothing short of amazing and we are very proud to have been able to do our little bit to raise awareness and crown some Mo Bros.
And while Jay Jay was growing a Mo and running a very busy hat making studio, I made a little film which tells the story in 1 minute of when Lucky Seven met Movember.
Can’t wait for next year. I just need about 12 months or so to recover.
Tweed and bicycles are surely a match made in fashionable exercise heaven. This weekend sees the first Ralph Lauren Tweed Run to take to the London streets and celebrates the opening of the RL RUGBY UK flagship store – a veritable tweed emporium.
The Ralph Lauren Tweed Run will take place in London, this Saturday 26th November and there are still places available so register HERE
It’s not often you get a really big Hollywood actor show up in Hong Kong to perform Shakespeare on stage and, ordinarily, this wouldn’t have me automatically scrambling to the ticket hotline. But when the actor is Kevin Spacey as Richard III and the Director is Sam Mendes, you think ‘American Beauty’, and hope for similar magic. Sort of.
Actually what really sold me on this was because it is the very last production from The Bridge Project: a “three year transatlantic partnership” between The Old Vic (of which Spacey is Artistic Director), BAM ( Brooklyn Academy of Music) and Neal Street Productions (Mendes’ production company). I don’t pretend to be a thespian, and in fact had never seen Richard III, let alone read it. But with a very vague notion of the plot (mostly lifted from study notes on the internet) and a bunch of glowing reviews gleaned from the British press in my mind, it was clear this was not to be missed and so I was thrilled to get a couple of the few remaining available seats, right up front in the circle. Result.
I won’t pretend I didn’t struggle at times with the dialogue. It’s not the first time I’ve seen Shakespeare on the stage and, like most schoolchildren, I’ve even read a few plays too. However, coming to a tragedy like Richard III as a virgin, so to speak, I probably am not the first to assert that unless a) you are currently studying or have studied Shakespeare, in earnest, and of your own volition, at a level higher than GCSE or b) you are Kenneth Branagh; then in the context of a real, live theatrical performance you will understand only about 3/4 of what is spoken; less if the character happens to be facing the other way. Throw in a bunch of symbolic and allegorical references, which would have made perfect sense to Shakespeare’s contemporaries – but would go over most modern heads quicker than a F 16 Phantom at a flyover – and you may understand why, at times, I confess to having felt a little out of my depth. Which is why, occasionally, I allowed myself to get completely distracted by the visual aspects of the play. But I’ll get to that in a moment. You probably want to know what Kev was like.
To briefly sum up the plot: Clever, charming, verbose yet bitter, Machiavellian and power-hungry deformed youngest royal sibling with maternal issues and murderous tendencies, determines to take the throne at all costs. I think. Feel free to draw your contemporary political comparisons because, right now, it seems that despotic dictators seem to be very on trend, and of course, there were parallels aplenty. It was particularly fitting therefore that Mendes should choose a modern setting, with references to Mussolini and Hitler and obviously Gaddafi, juxtoposed with more contemporary politicos (Alastair Campbell perhaps?) expert in the art of spin.
Now clearly I’m no authority on Richard III, but if, like me, you’ve seen a few Kevin Spacey films, then you can probably appreciate why Mendes was keen to get him in calipers, strap on the prosthetic hump and watch him go. Spacey has totally cornered the market in fascinatingly complex and ruthlessly charming bad guys with a devilish sense of humour, unhindered by conventional morality ; and his exceptional resume surely seems merely a lengthy preparation for this part? In short, on paper at least, Spacey is a man born to play Richard III.
It’s probably obvious that I wouldn’t have built you up like this to say he was rubbish, and in fact you wouldn’t be wrong in assuming he was utterly brilliant, completely mesmerising, and every bit as charismatic, seductive and wickedly manipulative as I’d hoped. Oh and very funny. From the moment he took to the stage in the first scene to address the audience directly; alone, clearly inebriated, while slumped in a chair wearing a paper party hat – a Pathe style newsreel of his elder brother’s coronation projected behind him – it was clear he had entered into the part utterly, with mind body and spirit; the sheer physicality of which was a huge surprise. Aside from the verbal dexterity required to sucker in, terrify or simply bamboozle anyone in his path, here is a bloke with more than his fair share of physical deformities, and yet Spacey leapt and lurched around like a force of nature with the kind of explosive, dominating, masculine energy that made Richard’s inexorable rise utterly believable. He owned that stage and, damn it, he was sexy (please don’t get me started on the mirrored shades and army uniform). If I was Lady Anne and he’d pinned me to the wall, I’m pretty sure I’d have capitulated, despite the tiny detail of him murdering her husband. And therein lies the terrifying rub; how easily we can all be seduced, and at what cost? With the benefit of hindsight, history and distance we all, rightly, condemn warmongers and dictators, but, shift your perspective nearer to that vortex of power and it’s not completely unfeasible to imagine how easy it must be to, quite literally, lose your head.
But back to the more tangible stuff. I loved the set. Think stark, grey bleached oak floorboards and walls inset only with a series of doors, each carrying a chalked x to signify yet another condemned figure. A wonky table here, a bed there, each scene contained nothing but the barest props and probably should have made me think how clever Mendes and Set Designer Tom Piper were to strip things down quite so radically, but more often had me thinking how great this would look if translated to a Plain English kitchen.
Then, of course, the costumes. I’d read that the costumes were ‘modern’ and indeed, overall, they were, but the references actually spanned both ends of the previous century and the subtleties were brilliant. Queen Elizabeth 1st and Lady Anne both rocked a kind of ultra pared down gothicism reminiscent of early McQueen or Antonio Berardi but with Elizabeth firmly channeling the 1940’s whilst the younger Ann’s costumes had a racier, Flapper edge. The Duke of Clarence, Richard’s older brother, was all pre-war 30’s Aristo in cravats and smoking jackets, until brutally murdered, as was Richard’s distant and unloving Mother (with some rather lovely floaty cowl-necked numbers) who was clearly partly at the root of his issues (you can be sure a woman is to blame for something). There were obvious Jack-booted references to Richard’s increasingly militaristic ambitions, but with some Gaddafi and Amin-esque nuances (those mirrored shades and some seriously heavy epaulettes). But the most powerful visual metaphor employed had to be the suits; slick, sharp and unambiguous in their representation of modernity, they were an effective reminder that spin and manoeuvering are still at the heart of politics and power, and thus beware the wolf in a Savile Row suit.
Stand out performances? Well the entire cast were great, but the women were all fantastic. Haydn Gwynne perfect as the strong, clever, but ultimately helpless Queen Elizabeth and Gemma Jones (who played Bridget Jones‘ Mum in the movie) was a particular favourite as the old Queen Margaret, widow of dead King Henry IV, and Mother of murdered King Edward. She actually had few lines, bar to dole out embittered curses to Richard, but mostly would hover about each time a murder occurred like a disheveled harridan: an unwanted, scornful presence that had prophesied each of them. Some actors just exude gravitas and, like Spacey, she simply had a magic quality that owned the stage.
One unexpected, but quite compelling distraction was to gawp occasionally at the two percussionists. I don’t know how usual it is to accompany Shakespeare with live percussion but I thought it worked brilliantly, and I think this is where Spacey and Mendes’ filmic sensibilities probably came in to play; creating an additional atmospheric layer of tension more usually associated with movies and TV.
There was just one probably slightly irrational niggle. It should have come as no surprise that an Anglo-American cast would have a mixed bag of English and American accents. My problem was not of either but more when they occasionally converged in a sort of mid-Atlantic, strained hybrid. It drove me potty to hear otherwise fairly clipped attempts at ‘posh Shakespearean’ English, only to murder it with the likes of ‘Bucking-Ham‘ with the emphasis on the Ham like a deli offering. I realise this is acutely pedantic, but it’s the kind of thing that really bugs me, if not others. My husband muttered something about it being necessary for proper annunciation but to me it was about as excruciating as Hugh Grant trying to estuarise his native English Toff accent in About A Boy. For me, some of the more interesting characters were those that spoke with clear regional accents – from both sides of the pond – and they annunciated perfectly. That, and the bladder-slackening length (almost 3 1/2 hours) were minor gripes when it was clear we’d just witnessed what will undoubtedly go down as one of the great performances of this despicable, but ultimately fascinating, character.
I’ve been a fan of Damaris and Mimi Holliday underwear for a long long time. It’s beautifully made, cheekily sexy and just very lovely indeed. This short film, Packing Heat starring Liberty Ross was screened by Damaris at LFW and can now be seen in it’s full brilliant glory courtesy of Vogue TV.
I know I know I know, it’s everywhere and we’ve all seen it a million times but I DON’T CARE. These things are made to be shared and I for one, can’t stop watching…..
Almost a year ago to the day, my little family embarked on quite an adventure. My husband, Jay Jay, left for LA to go and build life size dinosaurs for his sculpture show When Superstars Ruled The World which opened in Beverly Hills on the 13th August and me and the boys (the youngest being 5 weeks old) remained behind before joining him 6 weeks later. It was a very long 6 weeks indeed but also a very fun 6 weeks. My 2 year old thought Daddy lived inside the computer, thanks to the world of Skype and my 5 week old was just happy to be sleeping on his side of the bed.
Not only did Jay Jay give us one of the most exciting Summers we’ll ever remember, but he also managed to put on a truly spectacular show and make me immensely proud.
For those who weren’t lucky enough to be hanging out in Beverly Hills in August 2010, Jay Jay has released a brand new film including footage of the run up to the show and the opening night party.
It’s ace and has been watched on a loop by my children since 6am this morning…..and I’m still not (quite) tired of it. Watch with the volume up, the music’s pretty good too.
To see more about the show visit Jay Jay’s website here and it’s worth keeping an eye on it over the coming weeks as all kinds of plans are afoot….
I said in my review of the inspired ‘Bored To Death’ that there are very few TV series that pass me by. There are a few box-sets however that for one reason or another sit in their polythene wrappers gathering dust even when I’m in the Sunday hangover position complaining of having absolutely nothing to watch. These DVD’s, like the fat kid on the high board, just stand there taking up space, the longer I procrastinate about watching them the less likely I am to jump in.
Californication has sat on my DVD shelf taking up space longer than the clichéd can of kidney beans in the kitchen. I don’t really know why I never gave it a go. Maybe I needed time to let X-files crawl its way to the deep recesses of my memory before I could see Duchovni as anyone else other than Spooky Mulder. Maybe it was Natasha McElhone’s accent in Ronin I was trying to forget but for whatever reason Californication sat, unwatched and gathering dust…until last week.
There are dozens of films and shows about struggling writers. We write about what we know and every writer knows struggle. From the aforementioned ‘Bored To Death’ to my new favourite radio comedy ‘Ed Reardon’s Week’ and onto the countless others, there is a vast pile of hugely likable celluloid characters of the written word. There is, however, one who stands head and shoulders above the rest, a God amongst these literary legends and his name is Hank.
Hank’s life is complicated. The love of his life and baby-mama Karen is about to marry Bill (or dial-tone as Hank calls him, so named for his droning monotony). Becca their twelve year old rock-a-goth daughter is living with Mum and dial-tone leaving Hank on his own.
Hank is disillusioned and Hank can’t write. His last book, a deeply dark, soul-exposing cynically comical tome called ‘God Hates Us All’ was run through the Hollywood mill only to come out the other side as ‘A Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ starring Tom-Kat.
His agent and best friend Runkle, whilst waiting for Hank to tap the keys again, is trying to hold on to his job, spice things up with his firecracker wife, the ‘sexy smurf’ and stave off the advances of his beautifully pierced PA.
And Hank, well Hank just can’t stop drinking, partying and sleeping with every beautiful woman California has to offer. With his dry whit, charm and dishevelled good looks every woman he meets ends up throwing themselves at him. He moves from one to another, quite often in the same night, and still they all love him.
However sometimes it’s possible to sleep with the wrong woman and so starts the spiral that keeps the show moving forward and the viewer hooked.
It’s the ultimate, “oh just one more episode and then I’ll do some work”.
I’m four seasons down in a week and I still want more…
Californication is for want of a better phase. Fucking Brilliant.
And killer soundtrack!
Not many TV series escape my attention so when I find something of this caliber I’ve not seen, and with two whole seasons to watch, well it’s sad to say but I get quite excited.
After the success of his first novel, part time society columnist, Jonathan Ames (Jason Schwartzman) is struggling with his second. He drinks too much wine and smokes too much weed, and as such his girlfriend has left him along with his inspiration (this is not a situation I can relate to. I haven’t written a novel).
So Jonathan does the only thing he can do in this situation. He puts an ad on Craig’s List and starts moonlighting as a private detective…with reasonable rates.
With Raymond Chandler in his pocket, noir in his veins and leather patches on his elbows Jonathan hits the bars, bordellos and burger joints of Brooklyn looking for missing sisters, lost dogs and cheating lovers.
With a little assistance from his best pal, and cartoonist, Ray (Zach Galifianakis – in one of his best roles). And some serious hindrance from his; part-time boss, full time lothario and occasional confidant George (Ted Danson – who steals the show) Jonathan Ames is the best ‘unlicensed’ PI out there.
Bored To Death is occasionally on Sky Atlantic or season one is available to by on DVD from Monday. Season two has already aired stateside with season three on the horizon so for those of you who know how, and don’t mind doing so, there are other ways of procuring this sensational show. The way I see it, I pay for Sky and it’s going to be broadcast eventually….is that so wrong?
Oh and did I mention it has one of the best opening titles ever….
Or so I thought until I discovered the brilliant LUTHER had returned to BBC1.
Idris ‘Stringer Bell’ Elba is back as the deeply troubled but unfathomably cool Detective John Luther.
Starting his day with a black coffee and game of Russian-roulette, Luther leads his small band of equally colorful cops through the black underbelly of the nations capital. Hunting serial killers, saving strays and scheming with sociopaths. Luther and co do what ever it takes to catch the bad guys whilst trying to stay on the right side of the law, just.
On the trail of the seemingly omnipotent slasher Spring-heeled Jack, Luther is once again making the wrong decisions for the right reasons. Last seasons enemies are pretending to be friends and his previous enemies are the ones he trusts. But will they all make it to the end of the season?
Judging by last nights episode, probably not.
Some parents are saying that Dr Who is getting too scary for kids. Well make sure they’re tucked up long before 9pm on Tuesday nights because mummy’s going to need the space behind the sofa…
Get on iPlayer and get watching.
Now the big question; why only four episodes!?