Thursday, 11 July 2013

Manchester International Festival and other Treats

So I'm back in Manchester to work at the International Festival and the running theme seems to be sensory overload.  From the fantastic pastels of Festival Square to the high energy of the show I am working on  Massive Attack vs Adam Curtis, the intimacy of Macbeth (I haven't watched it yet but there is a lovely Manchizzle review here)

In addition to the new festival friends I'm making and experiences I am having, I am obviously also taking time out to catch up with friends and my favourite creative places around the city.  In particular my hosts Laura and Nick are magnificent and Cornerhouse/Library Theatre Co./Home friends are welcoming as always.

As always I have been updating my film blog too, and my review of Stories We Tell which I saw last week should be up in the next couple of days.

So here's a few things I've been up to for the first 10 days.

Where I've Been & What I've Seen: Robert Martin Exhibition -Taurus Bar, Vimto sculpture - Umist Campus, Sackville Park, Olive, Festival Square & Pavillion (feat. Drunk at Vogue Drag Queens and assorted musicians), Gingers Comfort Emporium (Chortlon Crack Ice Cream - intriguing), Stories We Tell (excellent) & Anguish & Enthusiasm exhibition at Cornerhouse, MOSI including the Cosgrove Hall Exhibition (also featuring stop motion animators Mackinnon & Saunders), John Rylands Library, Manchester Library (a girl sometimes needs to email), The Old Woman, Massive Attack Vs Adam Curtis and a few things I'm sure I've forgotten.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Before...and After

In 1995 I fell in love with a film about 2 people wandering around and talking (or as my romantic 14 year old self would have put it - a blissful rambling mediation on love and life)  .

In 2004 I was certain that nothing could live up to my expectations regarding that film, and yet it surpassed them. 

In 2013 I thought there is no way that I could be happy if they were happy and happy if they were sad.  They were both and I am very happy having watched it.

It is a rare film that keeps you invested in 2 people, for so long and knowing that like most romances on film there may not be a happy ever after in the traditional sense.  I continue to be intrigued and more than a little obsessed by Jessie and Celine, and like the equally fascinating 7 Up documentary series long may they continue to explore love and flirting either on screen or off screen in my imagination.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

A Marathon of Blogging

I do not mean to neglect you my dear readers, and I am rectifying this shortly.  In the meantime, I have promised you a few reviews and they are over on my other blog, but my regular foray to the Manchester International Festival will provide fertile cultural fodder in the months ahead and I am planning a montage of some exciting projects that are waiting in the wings.

In the meantime I have reviewed Stoker, Iron Man 3 and The Place Beyond The Pines on my film blog, as well as summing up a few of the the year's releases which have whipped me into a frenzy of anticipation!

Enjoy the bank holiday!

Thursday, 11 April 2013

The End of An Age

In the last month some people who have profoundly influenced me died. They are mainly creative and one very political and high profile so excuse some minor ranting and then some more pleasant memories of some people whose loss saddens me but whose legacies will continue to shine on through their endeavours.

Margaret Thatcher: 13 October 1925 – 8 April 2013 (UK Prime Minister  4 May 1979 -28 Nov 1990)
She was important in my life in that I was born in 1979 so my first 11 years were tainted by her being at the helm of British politics.  I even remember where I was when she was ousted  - first year History lesson with Mrs Jones – and it was a monumental time of political awareness for me.
I hate a lot of what she stood for, I hate her attitude to feminism and I despise the vast majority of her politics.  She did however achieve the remarkable feat of being the only ever British female Prime Minister and to date the longest serving.  Her policies have left me with a bitter aftertaste so all in all my only tribute to her is to encourage you to watch this film about  one of her less fine moments, The Fawklands, and I may get around to watching The Iron Lady at some point soon.

Jane Henson :  16 June 1934 – 2 April 2013
Another lady who influenced my early years, however little I knew of it at the time, was co-creator of The Muppets Jane Henson.  Apparently they “were mostly doing it just to entertain ourselves” , but it there is no doubt they enchanted and delighted the entire world too.  So I pay tribute to her not just for helping bring Miss Piggy, Kermit, A Muppet Christmas Carol, Muppet babies and many other unforgettable characters to life, but with deep gratitude for my Henson favourite Farscape and for founding the Jim Henson Legacy, which continues to publicise his creative influence through exhibitions and presentations.  Watch this and I dare you not to smile.

(Juan José) Bigas Luna : 19 March 1946 – 6 April 2013
Not such a direct influence on my life, but as a huge fan of Spanish cinema and Javier Bardem as an actor it would be a huge shame not to mention this extremely talented director who helped promote the talents of many of Spains greatest actors.

Given that he was a man who espoused great cinematic vibrancy I will direct you to the Guardian photo gallery -

Richard Griffiths :  31 July 1947 – 28 March 2013
A couple of days after his death King Ralph was on TV and even in a film which is a guilty pleasure you get a sense of Richard Griffith’s great affability.  He had a true talent for playing genuinely warm hearted characters.  James Corden wrote this moving piece about him and he was not alone in the acting community to fall over themselves to laud and praise him.  My first filmic encounter with him was of course as the larger than life Monty in Withnail & I a role filled with comedy, gravitas and amazing enunciation!

Roger Ebert : June 18, 1942 - April 4, 2013
Dear reader we would not be here together had I not loved this man’s way with words. He championed great filmmakers and his personal philosophy was one of kindness.  He was articulate, embraced emergent technology and wouldn't shirk at taking on the living breathing organism of bigotry that is the Westboro Baptist  Church in his dying days.  He is a man I continue to respect, trust and revere.  If you’re not sure if you should watch a film you can never fail to get a better understanding than reading his considered reviews. My film life has been richer for him and will continue to be for years to come.  I leave you with the man himself, his own review of himself and his considerable legacy.
Here he is reviewing The Shawshank Redemption with his long time collaborator Gene Siskel. 

Spain in The Rain (well in Manchester!)

My co-blogger Laura posted about all the films she saw at ¡Viva! 2013 and I play a supporting role.
Click here for todo sobre ¡Viva! 2013.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Creativity Marches On

Heather Gardner at The Old Rep until 28 March

To me March is always synonymous with culture. I am straddling the Birmingham and Manchester arts scenes like a ...funny simile.  It's not all been film either, here's a selection of stuff I've seen or want to see; radio, cinema, theatre & events across the UK and the web in March and beyond.

Neverwhere.  Neil Gaiman is an immensely talented fantasy writer, who has collaborated with Terry Pratchett on Good Omens, penned the hugely successful Sandman graphic novel series and written the award -winning The Doctor's Wife episode of Doctor Who.  I could love him just for these, but he also wrote a TV series/novel based on a suggestion by Lenny Henry to create a drama about the homeless and disenfranchised.  Neil Gaiman tackled it with sparkle and charm and it is currently a Radio 4 series starring James McAvoy, Sophie Okinedo and Anthony Head to name but a few. Catch up here

I went to see Heather Gardner at the Old Rep - a delicious reworking of Ibsen's Hedda Gabler.  Worth watching for a brilliant study of manipulation and power struggles relocated to the cut throat world of Birmingham University academics.  Heather has beauty and the adoration of her somewhat dry academic husband, but figures from her past show up and afford her an opportunity to maintain the thing most important to her - power over others.

Del Lado del Verano played for the final time at the Viva Spanish and Latin American Film Festival.  It's definitely worth seeking out because after Festen, this is one of the most dysfunctional and in denial screen families I've seen in a while.  It's a fantastic car crash of a family, dealing with the aftermath of the death of a man everyone seems to view in completely different ways.  And you know I like to big up women directors, this film has the added bonus of super talented transgender actress Antonia San Juan at the helm (La Agrado in Almodovar's Todo Sobre Mi Madre), directing herself as a homophobic high maintenance mother to a gay son.

The festival continues until Sunday, I'll be catching Spanish werewolf flick Lobos de Arga/ Game of Werewolves and 30 años de oscuridad / 30 Years of Darkness an animated documentary about people driven by fear of Franco's regime to hide in the shadows.

Stoker.  I'll be writing a full review on my film blog shortly but needless to say a film which combines the  talents of Oldboy director Chan-Wook Park and with a screenplay from the writers of The Secretary as well as the star of Prison break, is an interesting prospect.  Instense and dark, the film has an equally strong and disturbing central protagonist, India Stoker and even in his first English language film, he doesn't hold back on the violence and chilling family dynamics. Here's the trailer

That is all without mentioning the celebration of Women Filmmakers which is Birds Eye View in London, Flatpack Birmingham's excellent alternative film festival & Theatre Fever in Birmingham as well as epic digital festival Future Everything in Manchester. 

Thanks to Clem, Chris, Laura and Nick for harbouring me through this fabulous times and joining me on my quest for film and fantasy : wonderfully evoked here by Simon Ward of the ICO talking about Carlos Reygardas' latest film Post Tenebras Lux which opens today and the joys of being a film addict.

Keep the culture flowing, and let me know in the comments about your cultural highlights which are keeping you out of the cold, cold British weather.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Nothing Pointless about Oslo

A few months ago I squeed about the pinnacle of my nerd career so far, being on and winning the quiz show Pointless, based on my knowledge of Oscar winning directors no less.

Charlotte and I decided we wanted to take a trip together with the winnings, and after long consideration (Cannes will be postponed and probably a solo venture - for those of  you who saw it) we went to Oslo.

Neither of us had been to Scandinavia before so we didn't know what to expect -and I was very pleasantly surprised.  I'm still editing video footage, and I took about 600 photos.  There was so much to see and do, it's a wonderful cultural city and I was really pleased with the amount of street art and street sculpture - a few examples below.

So I will definitely be heading back, noting that reputations are reputations for a reason and taking some alcohol with me and avoiding such a cold time of year!

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

March Event: High Society Film Premiere

Hello noble readers!

As I often say I am happy to share projects that people are doing & a friend of mine is distributing a film! It’s called Hi-So (Thai slang, short for 'high society'). There are a couple of screenings this weekend in London which some of you Indie film lovers might appreciate. I hope you can make it, especially as I can’t, feel free to post me your comments about it if you do go along.

There are two special screenings on 1 & 2 Mar, each followed by director Q&A and drinks reception with a free beer thanks to Chang Beer! Definitely one for lovers of good independent cinema and a more authentic view of Thailand!

The premiere is on Fri at Curzon Renoir at 6.15pm and the second screening + Q&A is Hackney Picturehouse on Sat at 2pm in the afternoon.

So that’s a UK Premiere of Thai Cinema, with free booze and a filmmaker to boot…Day for Night are really spoiling us!

Here are the links for booking & info:


Sunday, 24 February 2013

I predict...a riot!

So tonight's the night.  To get myself in the mood I may even dust off an evening frock! OK maybe I'll just wear the pyjamas without the holes.  I will be live tweeting @shegeekbham if you want such dazzling insights as - "yep he's drunk", "that dress is amaaaaaazeballs"  "WHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHAAAT!!!!!" & "Nice speech".

Well lets face it, the results are unlikely to vary from other awards by much, so Seth MacFarlane needs bring the controversy, which shouldn't be a problem.

In case you haven't caught my other blog (what, faithful readers? you don't follow my every move?) I have listed my predictions there.  Well here.

To aid your passage through the night, I've linked to a couple of drinking games (remember the year of the strange interpretive dance!) although I will be staying sober to keep my witty edge and because I'm working tomorrow. - the party drinking game - and a few others  - slightly over complicated  - awesome

Anyway - enjoy and celebrate films (responsibly!) wherever you are.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Single on St Valentines

I am always single on St Valentines Day.  Usually I catch a movie at home (usually NOT Before Sunset because Celine's breakdown is a little too raw when I'm reflective).  This year I watched Les Miserables surrounded by couples and enjoyed a good uplifting cry as the last couple of songs washed over me with their melancholic beauty.  So much for dignified defiant singledom.  This year I let it upset me that I was single, alone "on my own".

Anyway I came home and came across something I bookmarked a while back which reminded me that I am single and difficult to love and eccentric but I am me and happy to be me. This inspiring poem and beautiful vimeo video says it far more eloquently than me:

(here is the interview with the poet -