Thursday, 29 July 2010
Once a month Stacey and I have a tourist's day out in London. This month was the Tower of London. On our way there we found one of the play me I'm yours pianos at Old Billingsgate and Stacey couldn't resist flapping away!
I’d been looking forward to the release of the current Robin Hood film. I have disliked all other Ridley Scott / Russell Crowe collaborations and I had already concluded that the film was going to be terrible. But it’s Robin Hood and there are so many depictions of this “heroic outlaw” that no matter the outcome, for me it’s a must see.
Now I admit to going into the cinema blindly, not knowing what the purpose of this film was. All the way through, I was waiting for King John to say the one line that the trailer reiterated: “I declare him to be an OUTLAAAAAW”. Not for any other reason than I believed from this point the film would start to get interesting. I waited an hour… nothing. Two hours? Nope. It only comes at the end. Why? Well, there's been rumours of a sequel, this being part one: how Robin became an outlaw, which is not as interesting as would seem. If I’d had known this to be the case, I would not have attempted to bind myself to the series.
From the start, it’s arrows-a-flying! Unlike the graceful sound that they usually adopt in films, the arrows were forceful and quick sounding, and made me a little frightened. In this version, Russell Crowe plays a selfish Robin Hood, one who seems to be a reluctant leader. The whole story lies on coincidence and luck. He accidentally interrupts a hijacking, sees to an injured Knight and feels obligated to deliver the final request of the dying man. From this stems the plot. He enters the house of Maid Marian (who is not actually a maid at all) and tells her father-in-law, a very elderly blind man, the last words of his son. This man, on hearing Robin’s name and birthplace suddenly becomes shocked and although he doesn’t initially tell Robin, he knows who Robin is and decides to take him in. I am not entirely convinced with the plot and I just can't warm to Russell Crowe’s character, I feel no attachment to Robin, he comes across as continuously selfish and it's difficult to ignore the changing accents, at one point he sounds like David Dickinson.
I did however like the representation of the Sheriff. Of course it’ll never beat Alan Rickman, but he did deliver the best line in the whole film (see below). I also felt more attachment to John and more sympathy towards his situation. Even Mark Strong’s turncoat character is a more impressive and definite character.
Best Line: “Robin of Longstride, also known as Robin of the hood”. Ok, I know it’s not actually that hilarious a line, but being from South London, hearing this in general from anyone over 14 is pretty hilarious, let alone in the middle of a medieval tale.
Wednesday, 28 July 2010
IN THE WEEK THAT MY COLLEAGUES ARGUED FOR TURNING BOOKS INTO APPS I WANT TO CHAMPION THE TRADITIONAL
My copy of The Great Penguin Bookchase has now been pulled out on Streatham Common and in various London pubs. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve failed to find my way back to the centre of the board first, but would still recommend this game to anyone who has ever read Frankenstein and Burglar Bill. You don’t have to be a literary know it all to enjoy it, the sometimes badly edited questions are on topics as varied as classic literature, science and nursery rhymes.
The design detail behind the player’s counters were what really won me over - the miniature bookshelves, which you have to fill with tiny books to win the game are inspired. Essentially a bookish alternative to Trivial Pursuit, The Great Penguin Bookchase is the perfect accompaniment to a summer picnic or drinking session, unlike those anti-social apps.
The Junior Officers’ Reading Club by Patrick Hennessey has received a massive media campaign, I think seeing the poster for it at Colliers Wood tube every morning finally made me give in and read the much hyped title. For anyone who has ever read Michael Herr’s Dispatches this book will be a disappointment. Clearly also an admirer of Herr, Hennessey at times, tries to emulate his style but fails to be as searing or well constructed. The book is mediocre at best, sometimes well written, and sometimes revelatory, but lacking in the sharp shocks of Jarhead, Chickenhawk, or Generation Kill. The Junior Officers’ Reading Club is a bit too stylised, filled with pop culture references that detract from the importance of the subject matter, your time would be much better spent reading any of the other titles mentioned.
Mumford and Sons played the iTunes festival on the 9th of July, performing a rousing set, the crowd were dancing despite London’s 30 degree heat.
Apparently this gig was streamed on iPlayer, but is singing along to your computer really the same as being surrounded by people singing the songs back to the band?
Although Mumford’s collaboration with Dharohar Project is extremely well intentioned the tracks from the EP are disjointed. What with Laura Marling, Mumford and Dharohar Project – there’s just too much going on. Still, Mumford and Sons never fail to put a smile on your face.
Monday, 26 July 2010
My film watching this week has been severely hindered by the my new 30 Rock boxset.
Two thumbs up: 2 Days in Paris
Two thumbs down: Night at the Museum 2
Sunday, 25 July 2010
Wednesday, 21 July 2010
I have never been to Hop Farm before which is a shame considering past acts have included Neil Young. But then again it also had Paul Weller… This year, the festival has many rootsy acts, all of which I would pay to see, including, of course, Bob Dylan. At £65 for a Saturday ticket it’s a bargain considering this is the price you have to pay to see him some hideous venue such as the O2 arena.
And what a good day it was for a festival. The sun was out and there was nowhere to hide from it. Upon arriving at Paddock Wood Station we were driven to the festival in a large purple double decker (like one you would find in the Imperial War Museum with seats that were designed to fit five people but we are now so obese you’d be lucky to fit three in). After buying a purple (!) Gatsby style hat to protect me from the direct sunlight, the first act on (if you exclude The Magic Numbers which I will for the sake of my own sanity) was Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit. On the main stage they could either swim or drown. And swim they did, surprisingly making the crowd come alive early on this unbearably hot day and holding them captivated for the duration of the set.
Next we catch Laura Marling, also on the main stage. It’s a testament to how small this festival actually is when you have acts like this playing out in the open air. And with someone like Laura Marling there’s the fear that it may not translate on the mainstage. Luckily for her, she held the crowd, although she did lose me. Away from the intimate setting of the tents the music was lost on me; her voice, although beautiful and enthralling, didn’t hold the same impact.
We stumble across some highly entertaining soccer six matches played between bands who don’t really care about losing football against teams who seem to care enough to have brought their own football boots. There’s even a team called Big Brother, I assume consisting of people still wanting fame of any kind.
Later in the day, Ray Davies put on a surprisingly good show; although he didn’t perform Waterloo Sunset, we have a great dance and sing-a-long to Lola, You Really Got Me and Sunny Afternoon. In normal circumstances, I wouldn’t deny Davies to follow through with his threat to “play all night if I want to” but when it’s at the risk of missing Bob Dylan, I have to say, the thought was scary for a little while.
The main attraction of course was Bob Dylan. I had heard people can have one of two feelings after going to a Dylan concert. The first that it is entirely different to their expectations, he is older and doesn’t perform the material they expected in the fashion they expected and hate it. The second is that it’s Bob Dylan and despite the obvious difference in his performing style, to see the man perform on stage is enough. I came away from this experience with the latter opinion. There was not really any interaction with the crowd but they sang their hearts out to songs such as Rainy Day Women 12 & 35, Just Like a Woman, Like a Rolling Stone and Forever Young whilst Dylan sang them in a new manner. The band are excellent, and Dylan can still play the harmonica! Earlier in the day whilst queuing, we had overheard a young boy ask his father “who’s that?” while pointing at a black and white picture of Bob Dylan. His father simply replied “Daddy’s Hero”. I’m sure after tonight’s performance, this won’t have changed.
A couple of weeks ago we took our maiden voyage to Wimbledon to watch the tennis. It was a last minute decision, at 4:30 we were at home watching Nadal and Murray on the BBC and by 5:00 we were watching them atop the hill. On this second Friday of the tournament, blissfully there were no queues (so there, you queue nay-sayers that said we wouldn’t get in!) It’s huge inside and oddly exciting. We unwittingly bought a discounted court one ticket that wasn’t used and spent most of our time either on the hill or at Court 12 were we were fortunate enough to turn up just in time to see Bahrami and Le Conte (entirely unplanned, we only passed by to see Pat Cash, who we missed anyway.)
With all their spins, role playing and little tricks they are true crowd pleasers. Bahrami carrying six tennis balls in one hand was all it took to win over every kid in the court, who filed into their seats not knowing who these old guys were but by the end were audibly begging parents to stay behind a little longer for autographs.
Such a fun evening was had and like Murray, who predictably lost his semi final match, we started to plot our next Wimbledon escapade before we’d even left the grounds.
Tuesday, 20 July 2010
I spent most of last Saturday sewing together these pieces of leather jewellery for Messy Sea. Once I grow my fingerprints back I'll start making some more.
The rings are gradually making their way online too.