Monday, December 31, 2012

Narnia Finds

It's always nice to unearth something from the depths of your wardrobe. Something you'd forgotten about because it was tucked so far back behind the rail that it's almost hanging on the branches of the pine-tree entrance to Narnia. So I like to call these Narnia finds. The sort that maybe Mr Tumnus has been rocking for 18 months or so without you having noticed. My latest Narnia Find is this garish shirt which I bought when I was at college, when I was in the habit wearing oversized shirts without looking like Homer Simpson in that episode of The Simpsons when he gets a muumuu. 

But now it's nice tucked into my ever-faithful neoprene skirt from Topshop (knew I should have bought two while they were still in stock..) and it's a good 'Tuesday outfit', when it's only the second day of the week but picking out an outfit in the morning is feeling like a task and a half. 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

(Christmas) Holiday

Getting a pair of insanely comfortable Toast pyjamas and sheepskin slippers for Christmas has sealed the deal for me. While I'm still back at home in Bristol my days have been characterised by their indulgence; but it would be rude not to luxuriate in the fleecy cotton comfort of new bed wear. Even, you know, in daylight hours. If there is any time of the year in which this slumminess is marginally acceptable, I'd say it is any date falling between the 24th December and the 2nd of January. So while this is still 'marginally acceptable' behaviour I've been doing lots of catching up with films and tv series with the dedication of a martyr.

On Christmas Day I watched Holiday with my parents (not that 'Holiday', Cameron Diaz's girlish snow tumbles and Jude Law's fluttering eyelashes were thankfully absent) and rather fell in love with it. I'm always a sucker for a Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn pairing but for me the brilliance of Holiday was down to the supporting characters. Lew Ayres as the brilliant but doomed alcoholic Ned and Edward Everett Horton and Jean Dixon as the Potters, who just about overshadow Grant and Hepburn with their wry comic coolness as a couple. This is my favourite scene from the film, when the lot of them escape a stuffy engagement reception by heading upstairs to Hepburn's old nursery to play Punch and Judy and practice acrobats. And naturally, to take turns kicking Grant on the arse, all of course, with champagne on tap and a heavy dose of silly humour. (Like all good parties, the interesting people have disappeared to congregate in some other room) This film really made me laugh. Maybe it was something to do with having my own Christmas Day glass of bubbly in hand but I think I was just surprised by how modern Holiday seems in its silly satirical humour. Serves me right for doubting that a film from 1938 couldn't be fresh and still make me guffaw today.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Films I Saw This Year and Liked

Who doesn't love an obligatory end-of-year round-up list? These are 6 films I watched this year that stayed with me for various reasons. From a young and sexy Christian Slater to a bloated and seductive Marlon Brando, from Glaswegian Sci-Fi to caravanning serial killers, these are some of the films I saw this year and really, really liked.

Where to begin with Holy Motors. I was baffled and in awe of Monsieur Oscar and his ever-changing characters the whole way through. What was his job exactly? Or was the whole of Paris made up of actors in some Truman Show fashion? Exactly what was going on in Holy Motors was never clear but it was refreshing to watch a film by a director who didn't treat the viewer as someone who required spoon-feeding. Each segment was more miraculous than the last. At times I was overwhelmed by the beauty of a scene, very often repulsed and sometimes on the edge of my seat waiting for something, really, really awful to happen. There isn't an easy way of describing Holy Motors, but it is exactly the sort of film that thrives from being watched without any previous expectations. 

I watched Shame in the Pleasant Street Cinema in Northampton, MA while I was studying in America. I went with a new friend, gobbled down some tagine in the Moroccan place next door beforehand and then sat back and relaxed for 100 minutes of unbridled shame and sex. Lots of skin-on-skin contact and wet sound effects. Perfect for an early friendship date. But we both left completely moved by Shame and the continuous shot of Michael Fassbender running through the streets of New York at nighttime to Harry Escott's beautiful 11 minute score stayed in my mind for days and months to come.

A sci-fi set in the future. In Glasgow? I was intrigued to see Death Watch which was rereleased this year 22 years after it originally hit cinemas. In a spooky precursor to reality television culture, Harvey Keitel plays an employee of a television company who has cameras inserted into his eyes in order to film and broadcast the death of terminally ill Romy Schneider to the world. The television show lends its name to the title of the film, 'Death Watch.' The result is a bizarre and brilliant dystopian film which is simultaneously very futuristic and very 1980s. Watch the trailer here.

I watched Last Tango in Paris for the first time about a month ago and I fell in love with it pretty hard. I've rewatched it about 3 times since and downloaded the soundtrack so that I can listen to it's sexy, jazzy saxophone melodies whenever I like. Who am I? I'm like my 4-year old self who used to watch the Little Mermaid every single day. Or my 10-year old self who used to watch Clueless on repeat without tiring of it. But being really, really into one film when you're 21 years old isn't really cool anymore. I'm going to try justify it with legitimate and clever-sounding reasons. Like 'the script is really good.' Seriously, it is. See here. 'Jeanne: What strong arms you have! Paul: The better to squeeze a fart out of you.' I don't know about you but a film which involves Marlon Brando talking about farts in a romantic setting is the kind of film I'm into.

There are people of a certain age who know all about the charms of the adolescent Christian Slater. I was not one of those people until I watched Pump Up The Volume. Which thankfully obscured my  present-day visions of Slater-with his wincing eyes and a villainous hair-line- with the cooler Christian Slater as Mark "Hard Harry" Hunter.  The freaky, sexy high school student who anonymously airs a pirate radio show from his bedroom and woos Samantha Mathis with his anti-establishment persona. His brilliant playlist of Leonard Cohen, Jesus and The Mary Chain and Richard Hell probably did a lot to help in the wooing department too. This film is a classic example of the 90s era films that have been revived in public popularity again. Mark's desk overflowing with cassette tapes tugs on the heartstrings of those who know that swapping High Fidelity-style mixtapes on memory sticks or on mixcloud just doesn't cut it. And Mark's Ferris Bueller-esque 'fuck the system' messages against the stoopid bureaucratic school-system and entrenched social hierarchies is perfect if you're in the mood for a film that'll make you fist pump and shout 'Yeahh!' 

How can a film be brutally, gruellingly violent and yet simultaneously hilarious? It's something about British comedy at its finest and darkest and most discomforting that does it. I saw far too many heads smashed on stone obelisks and bodies crumpled at the bottom of ravines (sound effects and all) and yet I was disgustingly charmed. If a little wary of the problems my long line of pet-hates might one day present- do I have it in me to let the sight of a litter-dropper be the catalyst of a murder spree? Morals aside, I guffawed a lot through this one. From Tina's baggy-arsed blue jeaned shuffle to her scheming Mother at home in Birmingham who throws herself down stairs, call-alarm in hand dialling Tina in a bid to make her leave her caravan holiday. She ain't coming back though. She's in love with a serial killer and 'thinking outside of the box' herself. This is the sort of film that makes me really proud of British cinema. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Not Another Gift Guide

After last months gruelling run of deadlines I went last weekend to Warehouse Project to celebrate the end of term by seeing James Murphy and The Chemical Brothers. Actually, I missed The Chemical Brothers because the other room was far too good to leave with James Murphy and then Horse Meat Disco playing a brilliant set of funk and italo disco. Turns out the name of this blog has come full circle in relevance-I started writing this as a 16 year old lover of Indie but these days blowing off steam by dancing to Disco is where it's at for me. 

So the Horse Meat Disco III compilation album sits pride of place in this gift guide, a theoretical present for my friends and fellow lovers of Disco (Tolly, Tom and Ned-I'm looking at you) and probably also a pretty good way of making washing of dishes on Christmas Day a 'groovy experience'   (haw) See also big dangly earrings for swishing. And a whole bunch of other stuff which is a shameless fantasy list on my part and a set of Caran D'ache pens because I use mine all the time (indispensable for making last minute and garishly coloured birthday cards) and if I was made of money I would buy them for Gigi, the most talented 20 year old colour-inner I know. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Songs To Start Your Week

'Spanish Harlem' by Ben E. King and D Train's cover of 'Walk On By'. You know it makes sense.
Over the weekend I worked behind the bar at The Whitworth Gallery for the After Hours New York Loft Party event which was one big ode to Warhol-era loft parties (a nod to accompany the Hockney exhibition which focuses on his trip to New York in 1961) with live dance performances, bands and a screening of Dog Star Man with a live score. It was a brilliant night but it was the Billboard Hits of 1961, which were playing as we set up, particularly the plinky-plonky hip shakes of Spanish Harlem that stayed in my head as I went to sleep that night. 

D Train's 'Walk On By' was one of the songs that streamed through WEFUNK Radio which my friends played on Friday night, once our early Christmas dinners were sufficiently digested and the banquet tables cleared to the corners of the living room for some boogieing. Nice.

Monday, December 10, 2012

I'm a sucker for a seasonal gift guide

Grace Coddington's memoir 'Grace'/ Victorinox pen knife, Goodhood/ Checked scarf, Topshop/ 'Lulu' underwear, Monki/ 'F' Alphabet sweater, Opening CeremonyDuralex tumblers/ Geranium soap, Liberty.

There are some gifts that will always be specifically Christmas-y. Like socks or smelly soap or a shiny new hardback with the spine ready to be snapped. Sometimes the seasonal charm of these gifts is viewed as boring ("Ah, socks. Thank you Grandma..") but in my eyes that's a mistake because I rather like christmas presents that stick to a formula. Knitwear, novels, knickers, something functional (to counterbalance the inevitable christmas clutter -see penknife) and something the receiver might not buy themselves (whisky, flowering tea, a bag of good coffee beans, a wooden box of turkish delight) were all made to be swaddled inside wrapping paper underneath a tree. Maybe it's the fact that for the past five years me and my parents have had a loose 'book and a bottle' policy when it comes to presents and so the idea of a variation on a tested theme appeals. When tradition is such a big part of the running of Christmas- the same angel being dug out of the decorations box or the Christmas carols CD with that eternal scratch on Track 4- it doesn't seem too much of a stretch that presents stick to a formula too. That doesn't mean a conservative formula per say, but one that you've found to work and prevents an abundance of mind blanks when faced with another year of buying gifts. I think I've just about got the hang of my go-to formula and it makes shopping a lot easier.

For stockings or people who will appreciate small novelty items I like Fortune Teller fish, Tiger Balm, Magic Flowering Gardens. And for the family members who I'm always slightly stuck with, the ingredients of Christmas period lazing are good- a thick blanket, an old Annual and a bag of German pfeffernusse biscuits. Presents that are a nice mix of functional and treat-y and presents that you'd like to give and receive in equal parts.