Wednesday, 23 December 2009

The Lovely Bones

Gah, urrgh, bleh - was pretty much my reaction to this bit of utterly pointless CGI goop, otherwise known as The Lovely Bones, (out Feb). it was so bad i didn't even cry - despite it being about a young girl who is murdered by a local creep (a toothy, comb-over, cardigan wearing, NHS bespectacled Stanley Tucci - cliche? Nooooo) and watches over her family from limbo (that being a weird gazebo in a cornfield with her strange little Pocahontas friend). Her voiceovers as she sees her family break down and her killer seemingly get away with it are constipatingly cringeworthy. Mark Wahlberg as her scale-model obsessive father is woefully miscast (surprise?!) and Rachel Weisz is criminally underused. Peter Jackson goes totally CGI crazy, which is indescribably distracting and completely pointless. One measly redeeming feature for me was Susan Sarandon as Suzy Salmon's (the murdered girl, played by Saoirse Ronan) hard drinking, chain smoking, 1960s coiffed and kohled grandmother: totally rocking (not quite sure what it contributed to the plot though). This is a film devoid of nuance or subtlety (which i gather were the key things about the emotionally wrought book by Alice Sebold). Gah, urgh, bleh.

Beware the Moon

I am currently rather taken with this wallpaper by Beware the Moon. the black holograph version i especially love. O and actually the lime green on mushroom too. i wonder how much of it i could get away with in my flat. probably not much since it is £105 a roll.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Breakfast at Tiffany's

Not convinced. and not just because it wasn't like the book/film etc but because purely as a piece of theatre taken in isolation from its previous incarnations, the theatrical adaptation of Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's was interminably dull - certainly the first half at least. The clothes aren't even enough to entertain (as one might have thought having seen the fashion show Anna Friel puts on every night when she leaves the theatre). The central issue of Holly's promiscuous/phony/prostitute status was not enough to hold my interest for the full hour of the first act, I think maybe because beautiful as i think Anna Friel is, i found her portrayal of Holly rather charmless and, that being the key to one's interest in her, not being utterly entranced by her leaves you stranded in the middle of don't-give-a-monkey'sville in terms of plot, which is otherwise somewhat negligible until the interval. the second half was much pacier, admittedly, with the denouement of her past, the arrest etc, however it wasn't enough to redeem the production overall. shame. stick with reading the book or watching the film, I'd say.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Sherlock Holmes

I have to admit, I had low expectations of Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes (given some of the reviews, who could blame me), but actually, while it was certainly utterly ridiculous, it was ridiculous in a fun sort of way. I'm not entirely sure whether it was a Holmesian pastiche, a parody or quite simply a new genre of comedy-caper-meets-hammy-crime-with-bone-crunching-violence, but I'll leave the decision to people more adept at coining a pithy phrase. Anyway, down to business... Holmes (Robert Downey Jr doing mad professor with A.D.D act) and Watson (Jude Law looking dapper and doing discerning with sly wit) become embroiled in/take up the case of Lord Blackwood, a dark arts practitioner who, after being hanged for killing a quintet of girls in ritualistic sacrifices, mysteriously continues to wreak havoc on London, Parliament and THE WORLD... Ahhh ha ha ha! Can our dastardly duo unravel the mystery that links a devilish sect, government officials, a sexy lass from Holmes' past (Rachel McAdams) and a mystery grand master puppeteer? Hell yes, but 'how' is the question?! 'How' involves rushing from cemetery to dockyard to Piccadilly to park, no stone of Victorian London left unturned: the vistas are more panto than realistic, which matches the dialogue - quips and retorts rather than conversation. It's fabulously OTT, and while a slither of subtlety wouldn't have gone amiss, the denouement is convincingly played out (convincing as in it makes sense, not as in wobbling about atop an under-construction Tower Bridge is convincing). It's hilarious. I've no idea if this was the intention, but it's a Christmas blockbuster that definitely ticks some boxes - but maybe I've come to this decision in part because when i came out, it was snowing. sooo Christmassy.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Invictus / Up In The Air

Two films i've seen this week turn out to have scooped up a fair few Golden Globe Nominations, which were announced today. And rightly so, i'd say. Up In The Air (out Jan) stars George Clooney (so i just about managed to get the gist of the film as it took place somewhere in the background of his undiminishing hotness) as one of life's pathological commitmentphobes. Ryan Bingham manages to stay firmly disconnected from anything meaningful by constantly flying around America for work, which incidentally is as a kind of travelling salesman of career death: he's employed by spineless corporate pricks to fire their staff for them. For him, home is up in the air and his religion the quest of frequent flyer miles, elite status and little or no baggage. But one such trip with an earnest 23-year old upstart, err, shakes things up a bit. no, he doesn't get it on with her - that comes in the shape of Gillian Anderson look-alike Vera Farmiga (up for a nomination), a liaison which also throws him off course. What's great about this film is its unexpectedness and wit. The gender roles blur, which i like. no one comes off rosily, which i like too. It's sharp, funny, sexy, and has moments of genuine emotion thrown in.
Directed by Clint Eastwood Invictus (out Feb) stars Matt Damon (understated and excellent and err buff - he plays a Rugby captain) and Morgan Freeman (who shouldn't get the best actor gong tho - I'm rooting for Colin Firth in Tom Ford's A Single Man, possibly one of the most stylishly slick films i've ever seen) playing Nelson Mandela. In the wake of apartheid Mandela tries to unite his country by getting them fired up in support of Springbok, the SA national Rugby team (formerly very much associated with white South Africans), in the year when they were hosting the world up (1995) but didn't stand a hope in hell of winning. Surprisingly enthralling (given the fact that Rugby players could shove a ball up their arse as part of the game and i'd be none the wiser about whether they were playing by the rules or not) and once again, involving more than a little tear jerkery. this is the second sporting film i've seen in as many weeks that i've really enjoyed. what the fuck is up with me? I'm crying like a maniac and i'm into films about competitive sport. there's definitely something in the water. can someone TAKE IT OUT?

Monday, 14 December 2009

Farewell Whoopee

The Whoopee Club was one of the front runners, if not the front runner of London's neo-burlesque movement. Six years ago, when i was working at The Erotic Review, we worked a lot with its founders Lara and Tamara just as they were starting it up - collaborating on Burlesque features, promoting nights and generally thoroughly enjoying a celebration of sultry, elegantly sleazy glamour. It was underground, left field and more than a little excitingly unsettling. there hadn't really been anything like it for eons. I'll never forget the first evening of theirs that i went to - the naughty but nice titillation was wholly captivating. i never looked back and from then on any opportunity to dress up in 1940s and 50s regalia for a night of tease was snatched with both hands. Now, of course, Burlesque is everywhere, and not all of it good - i've seen enough two-bit wannabes peeling their kit off in a show of sexiness that turns me on about as much as a mosquito buzzing in the middle of the night to have become more than a little wary. a pair of nipple tassles, some suspenders and stockings, a thong and killer heels, i've come to realise, does not an erotic performance make. a serious amount of chutzpah, sass, wit and inventiveness does, which is somewhat rarer than the nearest branch of Agent Provocateur. When Whoopee started it really felt naughty. deliciously naughty. Like it was actually rather fabulously ok to be utterly entranced by girls stripping - old school style, where you were always left wishing for more. what you don't want is to feel slightly embarrassed for any performers - wishing instead that they'd save their dignity and just stop. It's a state that's all to easily achieved, sadly. Anyway, Friday saw The Whoopee Club's last ever show - a night of war time austerity at The Bethnal Green Working Men's club. I was keen to go, for old time's sake. There were some brilliant performances - i especially loved the pole dancer grinding to Peaches' The Boys Wanna Be Her (especially good as i do so love Peaches - esp Lovertits), the spandex bodystockinged girl hula hooping and Audacity Chutzpah's hilarious feminist striptease.  Less keen on the maniac tranny flinging himself around the stage and staplegunning things to his chest, but that's personal preference i guess. Paloma Faith wore gold sequins and sang, and everyone was red lipsticked and seamed tights-ed. Bliss - a glorious memory of the good old days. 

Friday, 11 December 2009

I Heart Atalanta's Shoes

Atalanta has New Gen sponsorship again! the British fashion council love her AND SO DO I. I ordered these shoes in orange from a preview a few weeks ago. I especially LOVE the python skin detail on the back of the ankle lip.

Happy New Year

Such an amazing Happy New Year card! Amy rocks.

Photography : Amy Gwatkin & Anna Leader
Art Direction & Glasses: Fred Butler
Nails: Simona @ WAH nails
Make-up: Megumi Matsuno
Model: Tracy Onyecachukwu @ Elite London

Thursday, 10 December 2009

The Blind Side / Everybody's Fine / the Disappearance of Alice Creed

O god. it's official. i might just be the most pathetic, wet, nauseatingly sentimental person ever. i keep copiously weeping in film screenings, a fact which is made that much more humiliating because it's always mostly men in screenings. old ones not given over to being swept along by a wave of mushy sentimentality. snivelling doesn't go down well. o and i've got a cough. popular, moi? hell YES. anyhoo.. first up was Everybody's Fine (out in feb, adapted from the Italian film Stanno Tutti Bene). Robert de Niro is Frank, a blue collar sort who has worked hard to afford his children the opportunities to be creative and succeed in life. as an artist, musician, actress and ad exec, they are now testimony to his dream being realised. After his wife dies though, he hears less and less from his children, who are dispersed across the US. After they each cancel at the last minute for a reunion weekend (the most heartbreaking scene, as Frank returns from a supermarket splurge for the celebrations only to pick up messages on his answerphone from his flaky kids saying they can't come), Frank decides to travel across the US to visit each one. but with every visit, each one is too busy for him. GOD it's heartbreaking. but is there enough emotion to warrant a tsunami of tears i ask you? no.

then there was The Blind Side (out March). Sandra Bullock playing a don't-mess-with-me Mississippi mom who takes in a young, poor black boy who has recently started at the all-white-bible-bashing school where her kids go, and invests time into him, making him a part of her family etc. it's the true story of All American Football star Michael Oher, so you know where it's going, but still - to think i actually rather loved this film... it's about American Football!! well, obviously it's actually not - it's about family and blah blah blah. but anyway, i loved it for what it was and sobbed like a baby. even more embarrassing: it was a lunchtime screening, there were only 3 of us in the screening room, i was the only girl, so there was no mistaking where the sniffing was coming from. and thanks to the music, i basically started crying from the opening credits. a proud moment, i can tell you.
I didn't cry in The Disappearance of Alice Creed (out March). and if i did it was because i was tearing my eyes out of my head in order to stop watching. A kidnapping goes wrong. there are lots of twists, none of which i gave the tiniest shit about. I for one couldn't escape fast enough.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Sophie Calle (again)

I couldn't help myself. i had to go back to the Whitechapel Gallery to see the Sophie Calle exhibition again. this time i had a proper look upstairs; i absolutely loved the piece where she tries to overtake her future by consulting a clairvoyant. she follows a trail to the sea side town of Berck, and eventually to a war memorial of adventurous twin brothers. the war memorial was blank, but she did receive a text from a man she hadn't heard from for ages - Emmanuel, who, with his twin brother, had once sailed across the Atlantic (ie adventurous) and whose surname was Berque (pronounced the same). for some reason it made me rather weepy. hormones? the fact i am a sad loser? who knows. also v moving (humiliatingly once again) was the piece where Calle finds an address book and calls up various people listed within to try and build up a picture of the man who owns the book. a bit like a Marx brother (or Woody Allen) who wanders about like a child lost in a train station, who can't cook and writes academic pieces about film was what stays in the mind. Pierre, i think.

Then i ambled along to the Evil Christmas Fayre (organised by Arts Co and Pure Evil) at Sosho, a alternative Christmas fair with stands for street artists etc where i bought a glass vintage jelly mould and a picture of a girl rather salaciously eating an oyster. neither of these were presents. or rather they were, but for myself. o dear.

Friday, 4 December 2009


There's a lot of pretentious waffling going on at the Royal Academy's new exhibition, eARTh - which looks at contemporary artists' responses to climate change; but there are enough stand-out pieces to hold your interest and stop you from drowning in the convoluted blurb - Namely...
Mona Hatoum's Hot Spot (above) which fizzes and hisses with rather frightening spite.

Cornelia Parker's Heart of Darkness, 2004, where she's strung up the charred remains of a forest fire in Florida - blackened bark, pine cones and twigs slowly twist and move in the breeze like an eerie, deathly, shadowy simulacrum of a living forest.
Darren Almond's Tide, 2008, which sees a wall full of perfectly synchronised digital clocks flip over in unison, minute by minute, like the tide. made me jump every time!

and lastly, Sophie Calle's North Pole, 2009, which shows the fruits of her labours after she went on a trip with Cape Farewell to Greenland to bury her mother's pearl necklace and diamond ring, along with a photo. as with so much of Sophie Calle's work, I found it incredibly moving - yet infused with wit (she talks about future ages discovering these items and dreaming up improbable theories as to how they got to be there).

Thursday, 3 December 2009

The Priory

The Priory at The Royal Court: a play that's like a really shit, cliched, depressing version of Peter's Friends. one of each of these thirty somethings: gay, single, unhappily married, superficially successful, get together for new year's eve. they get drunk. it ends badly. o, and there's a ghost (supposedly). the playwright has a good ear for dialogue, but, given that the characters are terrifying stereotypes perhaps he should be handed novels to do adaptations of.

Anyway, here's a picture of Rupert Penry Jones, who's in it and who's hot.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Stuart Haygarth

I completely LOVE the Stuart Haygarth exhibition that opened this week. Called 'Found', it's a selection of lights that he's made using found objects he's rather obsessively collected over the years. The light springs away from the glass droplets of the globe chandelier (that hangs to the right of the main gallery) and bounces all over the room in a completely mesmerising way, but it was only when i got up close that i saw that the glass beads were in fact the eye bits from glasses (see above). SO COOL. and then there was an equally funky 1970s-esque trio of lights which use the arms from old pairs of glasses. weird but wonderful. Recycling chic that i approve of.

Stuart Haygarth. Dec 2-Jan 30 2010 Haunch of Venison, 6 Burlington Gardens, W1S 3ET

Bad Sex

My most favourite bookish party of the year was on Monday; Bad Sex, thrown by The Literary Review at the In and Out Club on St James Square. I started going when i used to work at The Erotic Review, and now go (well, gatecrash) every year. it's such fun. anyway, the prize is supposed to be for a bad sex scene (a sex scene written badly as oppose to a scene about terrible sex) that has been needlessly inserted into a good book, and this year's winner was the above - Jonathan Littell's The Kindly Ones. And indeed, the excerpt that was read out was indeed rather odd... (though not the worst of the selection if you ask me: see Amos Oz's Rhyming Life and Death).

"Her vulva was opposite my face. The small lips protruded slightly from the pale, domed flesh. This sex was watching at me, spying on me, like a Gorgon's head, like a motionless Cyclops whose single eye never blinks. Little by little this silent gaze penetrated me to the marrow. My breath sped up and I stretched out my hand to hide it: I no longer saw it, but it still saw me and stripped me bare (whereas I was already naked). If only I could still get hard, I thought, I could use my prick like a stake hardened in the fire, and blind this Polyphemus who made me Nobody. But my cock remained inert, I seemed turned to stone. I stretched out my arm and buried my middle finger into this boundless eye. The hips moved slightly, but that was all. Far from piercing it, I had on the contrary opened it wide, freeing the gaze of the eye still hiding behind it. Then I had an idea: I took out my finger and, dragging myself forward on my forearms, I pushed my forehead against this vulva, pressing my scar against the hole. Now I was the one looking inside, searching the depths of this body with my radiant third eye, as her own single eye irradiated me and we blinded each other mutually: without moving, I came in an immense splash of white light, as she cried out: 'What are you doing, what are you doing?' and I laughed out loud, sperm still gushing in huge spurts from my penis, jubilant, I bit deep into her vulva to swallow it whole, and my eyes finally opened, cleared, and saw everything."

Charles Dance presented the award. He is HOT. i have had a major crush on him for years and it went stratospheric.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Alexander McQueen

Alexander McQueen has launched an online shop. Excellent - this means i can fantasize about what delectable items i might buy without even having to pop next door (it's my neighbour at work and i have been known to go in in my lunch break to try on dresses i couldn't possibly dream of buying). Top of my list is this Rose Victorian Tailored dress - a snip at £2,275, or the Bird Print Funnel Neck dress for £2,970. Now all i need is a spare 3 grand to fritter away.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Butter lady

Good, Buttery Karma.
A few weeks ago I bought this butterdish for Hermione for her 30th; i completely fell in love with it, and just knew she would too. On and on i raved about this neat little lady who naughtily secrets guilty delights under her porcelain skirt. i couldn't believe it when Hannah, who was chief witness at my love-at-first-sight moment with this china doll, in turn bought her for me for my birthday. In yellow. LOVE HER.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Joy for Jump

Am totally loving Dan's new blog... Joy for Jump, not least of all because i am made to jump for the camera at everything I go to with him and Eddie (which is lots)... So, here are Eddie and I, clad in white as per costume instructions (me in a 'illegal' skirt) for Secret Cinema's East London screening of Alien, jumping if not for joy, then certainly for the fricking hell of it.

Kienholtz: The Hoerengracht

Super sleazy it is, wandering through this recreation of Amsterdam's Red Light District at The National Gallery... especially as i was completely on my own and so totally felt like a pervy voyeur (a role i relish naturellement, but none the less a bit weird in such a grand location). Prostitutes stare blankly out from drab cardboard-box-sized, window-fronted rooms, red light soaking them like a bloody crime scene, and looking like about as up for it as a pavement, their faces framed by glass cases - involuntarily making a literal exhibition of themselves. It's a funny piece, not least because of its most unlikely setting, but also because of its discourse on prostitution... which is a confusing one... it's neither a repellent nor exciting presentation of sex for sale, but rather a depressing and sad depiction of a 'profession' that's as old as the hills. an exhibition that's definitely worth seeing though.
Kienholtz: The Hoerengracht, on at The National Gallery until Feb 21.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Lucky Voice (again)

Here are me and Hermione, having been styled by the fabulous Bella, singing karaoke and generally having too much fun for a school night at Lucky Voice while Amy took photos for them, including this one, which i love. Posing, us? Damn Straight. And loving it.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Pains of Youth

All i really have to say about this play by Ferdinand Bruckner is that i had absolutely no idea what was going on. AT ALL. and to add insult to injury, when i (desperately trying to get some clarity) bought a programme during the interval it was so unhelpful that i almost thought i had been sold a programme for the wrong play. what i wanted was some kind of guidance for what the hell was happening, what i got was theoretical waffling. strangely though, and i have NO IDEA why, i rather enjoyed myself. theatrical sado-masochism? possibly.

It's about about six medical students in 1920s Vienna, all living under one roof and playing a never ending game of musical beds and "lets emotionally manipulate/abuse each other" while speaking in unrelentingly desperate, brittle tones about the pure agony of youth. there is no emotional respite whatsoever. change of pace? certainly NOT. then throw in a bit of Freud, Mata Hari, cacophonous music, fancy corsetry and hosiery and scene changes that are straight out of a CSI crime scene. its almost impossible to make sense of anything. I love Katie Mitchell, who directed it, and ...Some Trace of Her which she also put on at the National was one of my favourite productions of last year, but i was completely baffled by this play. o joy.

Pains of Youth? Pain in the neck more like.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey

i was supposed to be going to a talk (an 'in conversation' type affair) on friday at the Siobhan Davies Dance studio about choreography, between Lavinia Greenlaw and the amazing Cornelia Parker. Sadly no one told me from the studio that neither speaker could in fact come, so i trekked to Elephant and Castle after work only to be stuck in a dance studio for 1hr 50 mins with two women who were never properly introduced, and so who i never knew the names of until i got home and googled them. quite frankly 1hr50 mins is a tough gig even if you know and love the speakers. by the time i left on friday i was about to gauge out my eyes. Still, the good thing that came out of it was that one of the speakers was Heather Ackroyd (the other was physicist-cum-murder novelist Leslie Forbes), who together with her partner (in every sense) Dan Harvey, makes art from growing things; pieces which explore time, progress and change... The beautiful image (above - it's huge by the way) is made from grass covered canvas, the artists having played with photosynthesis to get the shading. i love it. The duo have a piece in the upcoming RA show eARTh (opening at the beginning of December) which fascinated me months ago when i went to the press conference for the exhibition... it's a polar bear bone that has been carbonised and transformed into a diamond. the exhibition is about art in a changing climate and invites artists (including Sophie Calle and Cornelia Parker) to explore topics like climate change within their their work. definitely looking forward to it more than i was...

Take Care of Yourself

I don't think i have LOVED and been so moved by an exhibition (not recently anyway) as by Take Care of Yourself, which Sophie Calle first showed at the Venice Biennale in 2007 and which is now on display at The Whitechapel. 
Unceremoniously dumped by a pompous and egomaniacal wanker in a letter which revels in reverse psychology and stealth blame shifting, Sophie Calle gave said letter to over 100 women who each interpreted it in their own way... undermining its literary pretentiousness by translating it into text speak; interpreting it as if it were a legal document; deciphering the psychobabble; turning it into a monologue or short story... the responses are heartfelt, withering, nonchalant, analytical, helpful, discerning and even disgusted (with both Calle and her ex-lover). As someone who has probably wasted most of my life reading between the lines of emails, texts, voicemails and, yes, even letters from completely unfathomable males i found this exhibition at once wonderfully funny, reassuring, upsetting, complex and thought provoking. As a revenge piece it was one thing, as a exploration of the female psyche another - of the male another still. 
it left me thoroughly emotionally spent, so i'm not sure that i got the most out of the rest of the exhibition (three more rooms are upstairs), but i cannot recommend this part of the exhibition more highly and am currently saving (it's like 60 quid or something heinous) for the exhibition's accompanying book. It's pink and shiny and has a great pair of boobs decorating the jacket... excellent. 

The Fahrenheit Twins

Two adults romping around a bleached, hirsute stage in similarly white and furry snow suits; playing not just the drama's eponymous Fahrenheit Twins, but also their parents, dogs, snow foxes and peripheral characters: FUCKING NIGHTMARE? no, actually, a rather brilliant (not to mention quite frighteningly energetic) adaptation by Told by an Idiot of Michel Faber's short story, The Fahrenheit Twins (which i seem incapable of spelling - can't get a handle on that extra 'h').  completely bonkers, needless to say, but lots of fun. 

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Time and The Conways

For J.B.Priestley's play i'm tempted simply to refer you to my below post about Chekhov, as in many ways Time and the Conways is so Chekhovian it's insane. INSANE. maybe that's because i saw The Cherry Orchard so recently and it's left a searing impression, or maybe it's because i desperately wanted to ignore the temporal philosophy JBP tries to overlay onto the story of an aristocratic family's terminal social and financial decline, which takes place during Britain's interwar years. or maybe it's becasue that real point of the play, the Time of the title, was basically not explored enough for me to engage with it. but more o that later.

anyway, the first act sees the 21st Birthday party of Kay Conway, which takes place in 1919 in a grand house in the English countryside, where she's celebrating with her three sisters, brother and mother. Charades are played, spirits are high, strains of socialism, hope, burgeoning love and creative energy fizz in the air, with a fair dose of social snobbery and fatal dramatic irony casually thrown into the mix. the second act sees the same family collected for a more sombre family meeting 19 years later, in 1938, once again on Kay's birthday - her 40th. But this time it's crisis time, the gregarious matriarch (Francesca Annis), so ebullient in the first act, now reduced to grovelling for money. As you come to realise how the family have evolved, what misfortune has befallen them due to their stupidity, mostly, the narrative speaks volumes about a dying breed of English family who cannot connect with the social flux of their times, and how that's affected the writer, the actress, the socialist, the beauty, the recluse and the cad of the family. To be honest, they all come across as being pretty odious, but there's such a compelling downshift in their spirits, reflecting how they are a product of their times and how those times have shaped their characters, that the odiousness is bearable (up to a point).

It's a very mannered production, directed by Rupert Goold. in fact, it's almost a bit like a morality play, with all the characters basically being a type, who fall to their doom because of their particular brand of hubris. at least that's how this production plays out. The Time theme seems a bit of a tag on. I guess, loosely, it explores the notion that in fact, far from separating us into different versions of ourselves, time happens to us all at once. in a single temporal continuum. Kay is the main conduit for explaining this, and it's played out very visually in this production. the first act ends with her wanting to record her present emotions for future use in a novel, but that action inadvertently transports her to the future. and then the second act closes with 10 or so versions of herself all staring at their reflections in the mirror - the same version of herself all lined up taking stock of the different scenes in her life (possibly). In the third act (which leaps back to the party of 1919), Kay then appears to have seizure like telescopic moments, where her awareness of the future is seemingly invading the present - thus rendering the whole temporal continuum immediate, by which i mean that the present and the future are effectively happening in the same time. basically showing that everything happens in the now, the past future and present are always now. one moment. this idea is then played out with Kay aged 40 dancing with a hologram type version of her 21 year old self, as if the two are one-and-the-same in the same time.

anyway, i really enjoyed it, but up to a point, that point being when the mannered performances BECAME TOO MUCH. which tended to be about 10 mins before the end of every act, when i tended to clutch my sisters beside me and hiss something like 'this CANNOT go on. it's SIMPLY TOO MUCH'. i blame Rupert Goold, even though i do love him (mostly). it is a great production in the main, but it felt a bit like trying to squeeze something into the a box that's just (and only just) the wrong size. but the wrong size nevertheless. basically it works, but there's a tiny bit that won't quite fit. and by playing it so mannered it eventually strays into being irritatingly hammy, which reaches a crescendo of annoyance which eventually becomes UNBEARABLE. It's very much in the vein of the Miss Marples he's directed for TV (or actually 'Marple' as they are now called, dropping the Miss, which completely infuriates me as the POINT is that she's an elderly spinster - she is part of an UNSEEN and IGNORED group in society and thus can pick up info to do with the mystery because people don't notice her). anyway, if you've watched those on TV you'll know what i mean. the costumes, the way of speaking, the playing it up takes over any real characterisation, or actual interest in the mystery itself - it's all about the gloss. with Time and the Conways, i think Rupert Goold has sacrificed JBP's main point - his temporal theme, for the sake of a more Chekhovian presentation of the fall from grace/grandeur of an aristocratic family, which grows out of the mannered performances.

Gosh it's taken me a long time to say this.

Chanel doll clutch bag

words ESCAPE ME. ok, so this outfit was worn by Miss Allen in January which would indicate that i'm not very quick on the uptake, but hey. i LOVE it. Chanel BTW.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Jeff Koons

Almost called this post 'Jess Koons', which would have been appropriate as i went to the private view (which opened the show last night) with Jess. and THANK GOD i did, rather than going under my own steam with my paltry press invite, as the 'plebs' queue to get in was about 50 people long, and by the time i came out the queue to get into the park (BEFORE having to queue to get into the exhibition) would have been round the block - if The Serpentine was indeed on a block. anyway, with Jess, who has recently become a Future Contemporary of The Serpentine, and who is getting married in the summer pavilion there in August, we avoided the hoi polloi waiting thing entirely and went in the back door, which made for a very 007 stealth entrance. LOVED that. and i rather loved Koons' ironic celebration of tack, too. whoop whoop to the insubstantial, pop culture, the banal, the shallow, the naff. except it isn't entirely that, obv, as his sculptures aren't the actual things he's 'celebrating' at all, which obviously makes it all very... well, very. this time, his 'inflatables' (not inflatable at all, rather made from aluminium to look like plastic inflatables) are poolside blow ups - dog rubber rings and lobster lilos (above) doing rather jaunty things like being suspended from the ceiling and holding chairs, or supporting a whole forest of chopped wood. That so much work has gone into re-creating a plastic toy that costs about £4.50 down Asda, making it from something of substance, and thus into art, art that attempts to comment on our value judgements, aesthetic sensibilities, and materialism seems particularly interesting, somehow, given the amount of 'real' plastic faces wandering around the exhibition amongst these pieces. literally hundreds of plastic surgery freaks whose smooth faces were completely betrayed by their wrinkly legs. People = the art, i thought - shiny, plastic people who were made to look young and carefree - wrinkleless, like time has stood still and experience hasn't taken its toll. sort of walking, superficial works of art. probably worth less than a Koons, though. Koons, BTW, brought his kids along to the show. They were dressed like Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange in monochrome suits and bowler hats. Odd. Very odd.
PS. spotted: Stella McCartney sporting a v cool gold jacket with her husband Alasdhair Willis (such a dish).
Jeff Koons is on until 13 September at The Serpentine Gallery, London.
Image: Jeff Koons Acrobat 2003–09
Polychromed aluminium, galvanised steel, wood and straw
228.9 x 148 x 64.8 cm
Bill Bell Collection
© 2009 Jeff Koons

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

The Bridge Project

So, now that I've seen both The Cherry Orchard and The Winter's Tale at The Old Vic, i reckon I can comfortably say that i think that The Bridge Project (fashionably named due to its allegiance to both sides of the Atlantic (cast, performances etc)) is fab. Directed by Sam Mendes, with a starry cast including Rebecca Hall, Simon Russell Beale and Ethan Hawke, and with The Cherry Orchard translated by Tom Stoppard, both plays are wonderfully vibrant and pulsate with genuine enthusiasm and vitality. Sinead Cusack, totally scene-stealing in Stoppard's Rock'n'Roll not so long ago, clearly relishes rolling the playwright's words around her tongue, and as the theatrical Ranevskaya 100% commands the stage, strutting about in swathes of silk -you can't take your eyes off her. I can never really seem to go a year without seeing at least one Chekhov play, and thank GOD, because i always love them, despite the fact that i think that, basically, the plots are always the same - an artisocratic Russian family stuck in space and time, bemoaning the emptiness of their lives and their general desire to be somewhere else (Moscow, mostly), while the action (usually involving their fate becasue of social and economic factors) happens off stage, thus circumnavigating any actually real drama during the course of the play, which somehow exacerbates the claustrophobic atmosphere and stagnant attitudes of the characters, who refuse to accept their impending doom - usually the dissolution of their estate, which has come about because of their refusal to adapt or change with the times. Phew. Here, of course, the whole issue revolves around the beautiful cherry orchard, which some self-improving upstart (SR-B) thinks they should chop down, divide up and rent out, thus keeping enough money to maintain the house. But of course they find this an abhorrent idea, ignore him, and thus sign their own (social/economic) death warrants. I went out with someone once who i think is basically a character from a Chekhov play, so i have a particular fondness for it. but anyway, i think this production is particularly good - and last time i saw The Cherry Orchard it was with Vanessa Redgrave and Corin Redgrave at the National Theatre, so the bar was set high. The Winter's Tale, on the otherhand, was fun, but didn't set my world on fire... because, quite frankly, having never seen/read it before, i thought it was, errr RIDICULOUS. the story is so annoying. firstly i think Leontes is quite justified in being in a grump with Hermione at the start. at least in this production, where Polixines and Hermione are literally all over each other like a RASH. secondly, what was she doing for 16 years hiding away? having a Josef Fritzl time of it (as Sophie G, who i went with, asked)? insane. and the statue coming to life. no. I think basically i'm feeling very anti WS's comedies... even Twelfth Night, which i saw last autumn at the Donmar in the West End with Derek Jacobi as Malvolio and grated somewhat. maybe i'm losing my sense-of-humour. Still, in The Winter's Tale, our Ethan is rather spectacular as the con artist Autolycus, leaping about in a devilish frenzy, which saved it for me. O and the dances with balloon/dildos were quite fun. But really, one can understand, if you ask me, why this isn't one of Shakespeare's plays that is put on that often.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Victorian Gymkhana

No this isn't some gloriously aged picture from a century ago, taken by a man crouching over a tiny box with his head under a black cloth. It was taken by Hermione on Sunday, at Kenwood House, Hampstead, where we were basking in the sun watching a Victorian gymkhana - the social event of the w/e. In case you are wondering, a Victorian Gymkhana involves events like women riding side saddle whilst holding parasols or cups of tea, and trying to remain composed as their steeds race and leap over jumps. Extraordinary, but rather fun, and Queen Vic, her lady-in-waiting and a companion Rajah certainly seemed to love it.
Photo © Hermione Eyre

Friday, 10 April 2009

War Horse

Believe me, I am not a Black Beauty fan. in fact, i am about as un animally as it's possible to be, mainly a repercussion of having killed my school hamster aged 4, and which i still have nightmares about. So i wasn't expecting to be terribly impressed with this play. it's about horses for fuck's sake. which are puppets. eh? But when the giddy, nervous, jittery foal first skitted on to the stage in The National Theatre's production of War Horse, honestly, tears came to my eyes it was so dreamlike, so realistic and so incredibly beautiful. i'm rarely moved to tears by beauty, so it was a bit of a shock (nay embarrassment), but honestly, this really is something else - totally worthy of sobbing over. Apparently the national theatre's director Nicholas Hytner had seen the puppets elsewhere and was mulling over how he could possibly use them in a production at the National, when his mother suggested Michael Morpurgo's novel War Horse. rather than using marionettes on strings, the puppeteers stand inside the horses - one person controlling the hind legs, one for the front and one person manipulating the head. the structure is an elegant sinewy frame with mesh, so you can fully see the people manipulating the body, but you literally don't see them at all  - in so much as they become invisible because you are so caught up in the magic of the movements - the slow breathing bobbing, the flicks of the ears, the toss of the head, the jumps and jitters of the feet. the horses have the power and presence of The Sultan's Elephant, which trundled through London with grandly statuesque leisure a few years ago, and also have a touch of the puppet Polar bears used in the National's production of His Dark Materials, also staged several years back. but BETTER. The story sounds sentimental and schmaltzy on paper, so i won't regurgitate it, but on stage, it's powerful and moving and at the climax i was LITERALLY SOBBING MY EYES OUT. sobbing. red, raw eyes all round afterwards, though, thank god, so i wasn't alone. book now. 

Plague Over England

A plague on me more like. what a pompous, pretentious load of shit. Written by the acerbic theatre critic Nicholas de Jonge it's about the gay witch hunt in England in the 1950s and centers on the story of the recently knighted Sir John Gielgud, who, in 1953, the year of the Queen's coronation, was arrested for importuning a man in a public lavatory. i expected at least a sordid, politically vitriolic expose of the bigoted freaks in power at the time, but what i got was a load of luvvies being vacuous and nauseatingly, dahlingly theatrical, not even Celia Imrie as Sibyl Thorndyke could redeem it. theatre at it's worst. avoid like the plague. 

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Iza Genzken and Gerhard Richter

they were married, you know. i know this because i went to the opening of the newly revamped Whitechapel Gallery and saw Isa Genzken's (quite frankly extraordinary) exhibition and then i went to see the Gerhard Richter exhibition at the NPG, where i saw that Richter had taken pictures of Genzken, his second ex-wife. strangely the nude shots of her (the back of her torso) were in a room with other nude images (or near nude images) of his other wives. most odd i thought. still, my god the Richter exhibition was beautiful. it's like looking at dream images - paintings of photographs from newspapers or private archives that have been blurred, so they are like looking though Vaselined glass. this image above is of his daughter, Betty, i think she's called. i had to buy the extortionately priced print i fell in love with it so much. BUT, i hated the little printed exhibition guide - i wanted to tear it up, throw it on the floor and jump up and down on it screaming, i hated it so much. it was a WASTE of TIME, and filled with absolutely nothing dressed up as something such as " By presenting an inscrutable surface, they intimate that reality cannot be seen or known but remains beneath a veneer or semblance" aaaarrrrgh. Genzken's exhibition at the WG meanwhile was interesting too (though completely different - no wonder they split up) - lots of perspex and concrete frames - some beautiful (like the kaleidoscopic buildings for Berlin) and some downright weird - the psychedelic astronauts having a love in (upstairs). still, innovative use of a slinky in some pieces i thought. In the rest of the gallery there are also rooms for the Whitechapel's modern art collection - Peter Doig, Damien Hirst, Ben Nicholson, Sarah Lucas, Anish Kapoor et al, which is fun to wander though. there are also myriad study spaces - all bright and airy and one even with a roof balcony. neat. there's also a new room dedicated to the Whitechapel Boys, the creative group including people like Jacob Epstein and Isaac Rosenberg, who used to meet in the old whitechapel library (which this new gallery has expanded into) and hatch plans about British modernist art. it's fantastic and so nice to have something genuinely moving linked to the space.


I am a real fan of promenade theatre. unless the walking about bit of the play is heinously cringeworthy and pointless, in which case i LOATHE it and think it's pretentious shit. Last year's super high was the improbably named You Me Bum Bum Train- a ghost train cum theatre of nightmares housed in a warehouse on Curtain Road, E1 where you wandered though various bad dream scenarios including crawling though a tunnel that spat you out in the middle of a boxing ring where you were expected to fight, a dentist's chair, a catwalk show (at this point i was in a wheelchair and sporting a luminous yellow gum shield), a bobsleigh race and a press conference with a politician speaking Swahili (where i was supposed to be the translator). completely bizarre and utterly wonderful. This year's high might very well prove to be Stovepipe, a play set in the subterranean, echoey, creepy space beneath the West 12 shopping centre in Shepherd's Bush. It's about an ex-military private contractor, Alan, who, along with two friends, is hired by a corporation involved with the construction exhibition Project Rebuild Iraq. Supposedly paid enough to warrant no health or security clauses in their contract, the three men launch themselves into Iraq's turbulent social landscape hoping to get in and get out unscathed. Obviously it doesn't quite work out like that, and Alan (subsequently hired as a private security guard) sets out on a cross middle eastern quest to find his AWOL friend following the tortuous death of the other. As the audience you're initially welcomed into the space as if a guest at the conference, so, vacuous chat, perma-smiles and bullshit presentations are the order of the day - the language of Project Rebuild Iraq that perfectly sets the scene for the underlying foundation of the play. from then on you are herded about from Jordanian hotel room to corporate office, rowdy bar, war zone and even a welsh church, always ricocheting between the conversations of Russian prostitutes, Iraqi exiles, jumped up journalists, tough-as-shit corporation organisers and soldiers (or rather ex soldiers on the edge of sanity). sometimes you'll be guided to the next location by cool, inanely confident PRB conference 'officials' sometimes it'll be pitch black with only the lights on soldiers' helmets as a guide across the danger zone you're being shouted at to negotiate. at times terrifying, at others funny, and often perplexing with time jumps that throw you off balance and constantly make you reinterpret what you've just seen in a new way. i thought it was brilliant. it used every inch of the unconventional space with genuine innovation, seamlessly guided you from scene to scene without ever losing anyone or making you confused, the pace was perfectly pitched and the subject matter for thought. basically it was perfect theatre. then i went and had an extraordinary Polish meal down the road and drank vodka shots and really wasn't myself at all the next day. oh well, you win some you lose some.


Words escape me. i am dumbstruck with love for this card. i've just discovered TokyoMilk - amazing cards, soaps, lip balms and perfumes that you can buy in the UK from Wild and Funk... need may not be an issue, but want certainly is.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

more Russian dolls

I went to a press day last week and they gave me 4 Matryoshka mugs to exacerbate my spiraling obsession (which they know about). arrg. it's like Babushka crack. anyway, i've just stumbled across these Russian Doll buttons from the very cool online shop All Things Original, which thankfully won't match any of my clothes, so i won't buy them. even though i want to SO BADLY. someone suggested i get a Russian doll tattoo. am considering it. here's a cushion from Bombay Duck and some salt and pepper shakers that i was given for my birthday last year. Jesus it is OUT OF CONTROL.