Monday, June 25, 2012

Normblog's Hitchcock poll

Norm is polling again: this time it's the Normblog Hitchcock poll.

I have to confess that Norm's initial listing is pretty appealing:
My top four Hitchcock movies in rank order: (1) Psycho (2) Vertigo (3) North By Northwest (4) The Birds.

Bubbling unders: Marnie; Shadow of a Doubt; Strangers on a Train.

For me though, I'm not quite convinced that I would rate Psycho in the top listing (it's powerful but it's not a favourite) and nor am I quite in line with the fandom for Marnie (which garnered a lot of positive feedback on the FB comments).

My list would probably be as follows:

1) North by Northwest - still adorable, totally enjoyable and with Cary Grant and Eve Marie-Saint.  Brilliant
2) Vertigo - disturbing, but delightfully intriguing - and with Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak (even if she did get her knickers in a twist about music)
3) The Birds - far, FAR freakier than Psycho, totally disturbed me.  The colours when you see the farmer's eyes... *shudder*
4) Shadow of a Doubt - for Joseph Cotten
5) The 39 Steps - because it's just such a great romp

Lowdham Food Fiesta 24 June 2012

This year, for a number of reasons, I won't be at the final day events of Lowdham Book Festival. Firstly, they've not got the major books fair they usually have on the final Saturday. *sad face* There are still talks and events going on next Saturday, but not the book fair. Secondly, it clashes with the 'lost Weekend' of DVD watching, so even if the event WAS scheduled as usual I'd probably not be going.

To compensate, we decided to go along to the Food Fiesta day they were having on the penultimate Sunday (24 June 2012) just across the road from Lowdham at Caythorpe Cricket Club. It helped that the lovely Kris and Dan (from Kris in Notts blog) were going along, and this would give us a chance to meet their son Sam who wasn't even beyond the womb when we last met up with Kris!

We arrived around lunchtime and were soon nosing around the goodies available - Neil got some Mr Trotter’s Great British Pork Crackling to kick things off (HIGH, high high in salt, but it's not as if he eats it regularly - once every two or three years?!)

I also picked up a couple of very fruity sticky teacakes from Hambleton Bakery - worth every penny spent on them for how delicious they were later that day at home with a cuppa tea. From the Gonalston Farm Shop stall, we got some super-fresh strawberries (had some last night, more on that in a mo), and Neil was tempted into some Bramley Apple compote which was sooooo charmingly sold to us by a local farmer that we couldn't resist. They also provided goats cheese (for me) and Shropshire Blue (for Neil) and we could have bought so much more as well... And because we endlessly find jars of harisa paste are too big to be eaten before going off, we picked up a tub from Taste - Gourmet Spice Company of harisa spices. We can add to tomato paste and make what we need as we need it!

We had a lovely time hanging out with Kris et al, and their friends (and their twin boys) whom we'd met at Kris and Dan's flat warming party back before they all had their children. It was a great atmosphere despite the floor of the marquee being squelchy wet in places from the torrential downpours of rain we've had in the UK. There is something fun about watching everyone chuckling over yogurt-smeared faced young toddlers!

In terms of reading matter, I picked up a copy of Nottinghamshire Flavours (local foodie mag) and Neil bought a book on baking so we may even get to more baking products over the summer. Well, we couldn't leave without something to read!

We did however resist the lure of the 'Jamie at Homeware' stand, having decided that Grayson Perry had been incisive enough about this tupperware party habit de nos jours.

To finish the day, Neil joined Dan and Kris at the Stilton and Port tasting event. It went on a bit longer than planned so I know Kris got a bit zoned out on the label reading analysis of Port types, but Neil enjoyed the cheese and learnt a fair bit more about Port and the different types you can get. I think he was glad to go to it!

Whilst we were sat in conversation, my view was blocked so I needed to be reminded about the cheesecake stall from Yummy Cheesecakes. Had to remedy that! Taking a taste, I immediately got a box of 6 small cheesecakes - milk chocolate, dark chocolate, two lemon and two blueberry. Neil and I had one each last night - he zingy lemon with a side helping of fresh strawberries, and me the dark chocolate one with strawberries on the side.

YUMMY indeed.

A very nice day and lovely to meet some nice people (Pippa of Five Leaves Press) and catch up with Kris and Dan and young Sam. And it was nice weather too!  I'll try and add some pics later but my camera battery is dedded at the mo so need to charge it so I can upload pics!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A new cafe in Nottingham - Thea Caffea

Thanks to a tip-off from the lovely Joe at Joe's Store in Nottingham, we found a fab new cafe in Nottingham.  Thea Caffea is great. Very swish and a lovely atmosphere!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Buffy overdosing

Man - there really is nothing like coming back to something cool when you've just lived on (very detailed) memories for a long time.

Apart from the odd episode, I haven't watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer since the grand watching with George that culminated in us watching 'Chosen' (final ep, number 144) back in summer 2004.

That is a LONG time ago.  So, on the back of reading Keith Topping's "The Complete Slayer" episode guide tome for like the fifth time - at least - I felt I wanted to go back and really watch properly.  I'm not taking notes or anything, but I'm launching through a SERIOUS re-watch period.

So far, since 9 June I've munched my way through to Season 2 and episode 6 "Halloween".  We've had some great episodes even this far, and there are a lot of VERY good lines.

And against the run of fandom play, I'm still in love with 'When She Was Bad', the opener to season 2. Yes, Buffy is a complete BITCA, but I *heart* with a fearsome passion the following scene, and especially this line:

Xander - "Well, we could grind our enemies into talcum powder with a sledgehammer, but, gosh, we did that LAST night"
(and cue the most cheesy teethy smile from Willow ever)


And to confirm that doing a big rewatch was JUST the right thing to get me through the summer, I found out that Nikki Stafford, a long-established writer on the Buffyverse, was nominated for a Mr Pointy award by the Whedon Studies Association (publishers of Slayage).

Okay, so they did their big rewatch last year (ahem: I missed it okay, I was busy) but hey, I'm never one for a schedule right?

Anyway - you can expect an intermittent bunch of posts about Buffy for the next few months.  Hey - I need to get back into blogging and this may be the way...

Saturday, June 09, 2012

I want to be the Slayer - and here's the kit for it!

This Vampire Slaying kit is up for auction.

Anyone wishing to buy it for me should not be deterred from their endeavours.

Yes: I have been re-reading a lot of 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' books lately.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

David Tennant reading sonnet 18

Four films: Prometheus, Hansel and Gretel, The Angel's Share and Moonrise Kingdom

It's been a filmy weekend - to say we're not especially monarchist in this house may be a wild understatement, so we committed ourselves instead to the glories of film: three on the big(ish) screen, and another on Neil's laptop on DVD (there was a reason for that!)

Anyway: here's the rundown.

Prometheus (2012)

It's big, it's effects-heavy, and it's the opposite of claustrophobic, though there are plenty of dark caverns within which to tear apart the human psyche and body. But it is still a glorious ride of a film.  Noomi Rapace's cheekbones persuaded Neil to attend this with me, though it's a tough call whether it's her or Michael Fassbender's turn as 'David' that is the best performance in the movie.

(And has there ever been a more loaded name in sci-fi than 'David'?)

The cinematography, especially in Iceland - when it isn't slugging things out with the CGI - is gorgeous, and some of the sets are magnificently hyper-Geigeresque.  Pietro Scalia edits the whole to make much of the swooping breadth and lighting.  Does this amount to a lot?  The narrative occasionally leaps across its own internal logic, but there is enough momentum to keep an audience on-board.  Anyway, I really enjoyed it and there is a nice mix of wonder, body horror, origin of the species (in more than a human sense) and someone on the team had clearly watched the first X-files movie.

It's probably louder than it needs to be, but I was glad to see this on a big screen (not 3-D) to get some of the effects and grandeur.  Plus Rapace is delicious to look at even when running through corridors increasingly weighed down by something of which she needs to rid herself: she looks awesome even when blood-streaked and tormented.  And she never gives up her quest, despite death and everything else thrown at her.

Hansel and Gretel (2007)

This Korean film attracted Neil's attention in Fopp with a very eye-catching cover.  Despite some technical problems getting our DVD player to play the film in colour (we ended having to watch it on his laptop), it was VERY worth getting a copy.  The cinematography is luminescent in its colour palette - vibrant reds, Gothic blacks, Narnian white-witch whites - and worth watching just for the quality of the vision.

That there is such a transfixing creepiness to the narrative - a kinda reversal on the traditional Hansel and Gretel tale - just makes the film brilliant.  Scary kids, and scarier adults.  Nothing is quite what it seems and you'll stay very clear of encouraging children to wish for things ever again.

Recently the Hansel and Gretel tale seems to be everywhere: Grimm, Once Upon a Time, memories of Buffy and MOO, and this as well.  It's everywhere and scary every time!

The Angel's Share (2012)

Ken Loach gets (relatively) sentimental.  Redemption may be possible.  A film of whisky, profuse swearing, accents that I had no problem understanding and sporadic bloody violence.  It's a charming film channelling a humanity and tenderness not always noted by Loach-haters but which fans are always aware underpins his best work.  Here, that softer, lighter touch comes to the fore, but there is also much bittersweet humour (another trademark of Loach, again not always appreciated by those who cannot get past the social realism).

The central performances present endearingly flawed characters: in the end you cannot help but cheer their nefarious acts and hope for some level of success, even as you know most of them are unlikely to get beyond the next bottle of Bucky to a happy life.  I'm not generally in favour of using non-actors in key roles - they're too easily eaten by the system and find it hard to adjust back to where they came from - but it is definitely worth in praising the bottle-glassed Gary Maitland as Albert who takes naif to another conceptual level.  And you WILL wince when he holds aloft a bottle of Irn-Bru...

All this, and Roger Allam as a whisky connoisseur / purchaser on behalf of a too-loaded-to-have-taste unseen Russian (mind, he gets a better deal than the even-more-loaded American).  Pretty delightful.

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

I'd happily re-watch Hansel and Gretel if I fancy a good scare (George: this may be inflicted during a visit!), but I suspect of all the films seen this weekend - was there something else going on?  whatever - the one I'll watch several times will probably be the hyper-'60s unreality of Wes Anderson in Moonrise Kingdom.  Anderson has arguably not developed much beyond the originality of Rushmore, but happily I'd take doses of his ultra-whimsy and truth about love and life over many directors' works.

Moonrise Kingdom is chock-full of delights: the central characters generate and convey a love and intensity of commitment to each other only 12 year-olds can make feasible.  The gauche isolation and outsider-ness that Suzy and Sam share warms the soul.

The visuals are soaked in the translucent colours of 1960s fashion photographs; the characters are the typical Anderson eccentrics, but here they capture the charm that has all too often been lost in Anderson's work since that glorious high of Rushmore.  There are plenty of great turns by the adults too - the obligatory Bill Murray is outshone here by great turns from Bruce Willis and Ed Norton particularly, alongside an ever wonderful Frances McDormand and Tilda Swinton - but the film belongs to the children.

I felt sad for Snoopy, but the kitten more than made up for that, and all this plus the usual well-chosen score - this time there's Francois Hardy and Hank Williams, but best of all it showcases the brilliance of Benjamin Britten's "Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra".  A soundtrack worth staying for the entire credits to delight in right to the end.  Moonrise Kingdom is enough to warm the iciest of hearts, to be 'true' whilst never dallying with something so cheap as reality.  A delight.