Friday, 27 December 2013

Love Actually

It's ten years since this odious film was released. I have nothing against Richard Curtis, I love Four Weddings and adore Notting Hill but this film makes me angry and what makes me most angry is that I watch it when it comes on the telly. I am watching it now. WHY? Why do I do it to myself? Let me explain why I loathe it by story lines.

Keira Knightley. I don't understand why she gets any work, she's a terrible actress and she has a funny jaw. Whatever. Good luck to her. This story is so trite. He's in love with his his best friend's wife and it's not romantic. He makes a creepy wedding video where it's all shots of her. He then turns up at her doorstep doing this Bob Dylan pastiche. Arrrrghh. It's awful. He's awful, she's awful and the story is awful. What about his poor mate? No mention of that. And the godawful wedding where they burst into All You Need Is Love. Again, awful.

Bill Nighy. I don't share the Bill love but again, that's my problem. This story of him doing Christmas Is All Around is again, so cringeable and unfunny. Why are we meant to find it funny that he sings this with a bevvy of buxom ladies?

2003 and he's writing on a typewriter. WTF? Cliches ahoy with the Italian/Spanish/French (I paid no attention to where he is meant to be) woman falling in love with him despite them not speaking a word of each other's language.

This one moment is funny, in fact it's the best moment of the film, but why is she not allowed to have a boyfriend because of her brother? Why does she answer the phone in the middle of finally making out with the hot guy? Why does she not explain to him? He seems like a sensitive chap, I am sure he'd understand. It's nonsense.

No film is ever better with the addition of Rowan Atkinson just to be clear. And this is no exception. This scene goes on and on and it's tedious and Not Funny.

Hugh Grant as Prime Minister? Ummmm. Maybe. Billy Bob Thornton as the US president? No. And this scene is so ridiculous that I can't believe anyone requires an explanation as to why.

This storyline is moronic. No goofy English guy would rock up in America and be a hit like this. American women are not stupid. That is January Jones next to him by the way. I am embarrassed for all of them.

The widowed dad. CLICHE ALERT. A 10 year old is in love and we're meant to take it seriously and find it heart-warming. I find it nauseating. And the precocious girl he likes sings that damn Mariah Carey Christmas song. It makes me want to cry. And not in a good way.

Much is made of Emma Thompson and rightly so since she can actually act and does so here effortlessly. Her scene crying over the Joni Mitchell CD is touching but she's married to such an arse that you wonder why she bothers.

I don't even know what to say about this. Again, not funny and Martin Freeman is another bland, boring actor that mystifyingly gets work.

It comes to something when the best story involves Martine McCutcheon. But she is sweet in this and the scene near the end where he goes carol singing with his security is quite amusing.

Finally, it has Ant and Dec in it. And Michael Parkinson.

Gawd. It's a contender for worst film ever made and I am never watching it again. Ever. It is designed to appeal to the lowest possible denominator and I'm afraid I do judge people who like this film as idiots.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Jennifer Aniston update: We're The Millers

Another flight, another Jen film to watch. She's a busy girl. To keep my Jennifer Aniston reviews up-to-date, I present We're The Millers.

Is it as bad as the picture above suggests? Not quite. Let's look at the evidence. Jennifer Aniston plays a stripper. This is beginning to smack of desperation. Jen, we know you have a kick ass body, there is no need to resort to playing strippers to show it off. Do a Playboy cover if you feel so inclined to show the world. There is inevitably a scene in which Jen has to strip (if you count leaving your knickers and bra on stripping) and it's excruciating. I am honestly not a stripping expert, I've never been to a strip club and apparently neither has Jen. The whole scene is an embarrassment.

The plot: a bunch of misfits pretend they are a family to smuggle drugs from Mexico back to the US. Happens all the time I'm sure. The guy is a drug dealer but small-time and with a heart of gold really. Of course. The young girl (played by Julia Roberts niece) is a runaway and the boy is a neglected kid who lives in the apartment block. The two kids are good, especially Emma Roberts who I was impressed with. I can't defend this film, it's pretty bad but there are moments that are quite amusing and when one is on a plane, that can be all you need to keep you entertained. I can't imagine ever going to see this at the cinema however I've sat through far worse and the closing credits are a joy where the cast sing the Friends theme to Jen. Genuinely funny and worth watching just for that.

Jen, stop taking your clothes off. You'll never win an Oscar doing that love.

Monday, 23 December 2013

2013 RIP

Another year passes. Here are the deaths that have touched my heart.

Michael Winner. No, I don't harbour a secret affection for Death Wish but Winner was a true British eccentric and he went to school with my dad.

Mel Smith. Much sadness at this news. He was way too young.

Lou Reed. Effortlessly cool.

James Gandolfini. I never got in to The Sopranos but I enjoyed Gandolfini in many films. He was a class act.

Peter O'Toole. They don't make stars like this anymore.

Richard Briers. For The Good Life.

Lewis Collins. The cool Professional.

Joan Fontaine. For her legendary rivalry with her sister, Olivia De Havilland and for excellent genes - she was in her late 90s and Olivia is still alive.

Nelson Mandela may not be in entertainment but how can I not mention him? What a man. RIP.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Now That's What I Call Music

Thirty years ago this album was released. Obviously I had it in vinyl. I still can't listen to You Can't Hurry Love without expecting Duran Duran's Is There Something I Should Know immediately after it. I was reminded of this album because I heard The Safety Dance on an episode of The Carrie Diaries. The track listing for the original Now album makes my heart sing. It's like a history lesson in 80s pop. Let's explore.

It opens with Phil Collins. I mean, why? And he is covering a Supremes song. It's like the worst of the 80s right off the bat. Then we move to one of the worst Duran Duran songs. Then another cover with UB40's Red Red Wine which I can't even discuss I hate it so much. Then, wait for it, Limahl. Anyone sane would give up but no, what's this? Heaven 17's Temptation. A classic of our time indeed. Things are looking up.

KC and the Sunshine Band with Give It Up follows which I love. I had forgotten how much I loved this and I am just listening to it now. It's going on my workout playlist. Double Dutch by Malcolm McClaren and the mighty Bonnie closes side one.

Side two and we have Karma Chameleon. I bloody hate this song. I feel I should like it being an 80s kid but god it's awful isn't it? The only people who like this are those who are too young to remember it the first time round. Culture Club did some good songs but this wasn't one of them. The magnificent Safety Dance follows and what is this video about? Bonkers.

Mike Oldfield bores us and then we come to Down Under. Possibly one of the greatest songs ever recorded. Not much else to say about side two except to ponder how Paul Young was ever successful.

Side three and New Edition hit us up with Candy Girl. Bobby Brown!

Limahl left Kajagoogoo and they decided to press on without him. To the regret of all of us. This is the worst of the 80s. Another cover with Tina Turner's Let's Stay Together. Al Green did it better. But we have Human League to save us. (Keep Feeling) Fascination with a great use of 80s brackets there. And Howard Jones with New Song - love, love, love it. More UB40, there is no explanation. Peabo and Roberta close side three with Tonight I Sellotape My Glove To You as my sister likes to call it.

Side four and Tracey Ullman with They Don't Know. A contender for one of my favourite 80s songs this, I adore it. The bells! Then Will Powers Kissing with Confidence, another fave. Skipping over Genesis to The Love Cats. This is totally perfect pop from a band that didn't really do pop. Then we have Simple Minds with a song nobody remembers, Waterfront? Anyone? The tedious Madness follow and we close with yes, just what we all wanted, another Culture Club song, Victims.

I am puzzled. I loved this album, I listened to it a great deal because I was 12 and hadn't built up a large collection of music and had not discovered my parents Beatles albums yet. I had remembered it being brilliant. It's clearly not. It has about 8 good songs on it and then bad songs by bands that weren't even that good to start with. I mean, Kajagoogoo? But the good songs really are properly good, we have Bonnie, The Cure, Tracey (although I admit it might just be me that loves this), Men at Work and the mighty Men Without Hats. Men did us proud in 1983.

I wish I'd kept my original vinyls but alas, they have long gone. Looking at the cover takes me back to fluro socks, Frinton-on-sea and poring over Smash Hits. Bliss.

Monday, 18 November 2013


On 22 November, it will be fifty years since JFK was assassinated. Being the spring chicken that I am, I wasn't born in 1963. In fact, my parents got married on 16 November 1963, it's a good thing they didn't go for a week later, that would have been a real bummer as Roger Sterling found out in Mad Men when his daughter gets married just after the assassination.

Mad Men dealt with the event expertly. From everyone at the office crowding in to watch the television to Betty watching the news at home, I felt like I was living it with them. It's such a great show. I can't understand why anyone chooses not to watch it.

It's very hard to imagine the shock Americans (and the rest of the world) must have felt to see their president die. I try to imagine (god forbid) how I would feel if Obama died and we live in much less innocent times. The only comparison is, I guess, 9/11. That feeling that the whole world has changed forever.

Anyway, being in the US is interesting as the anniversary draws nearer. There is wall to wall television coverage, the conspiracy theories are being aired yet again and I'm looking out for JFK, the film, to be shown. I went to the cinema to see it in 1991 (22 years ago!) and remember loving it but I was a bit of an American Studies geek. I am not sure I'd enjoy it quite so much now but I could happily watch it again. You can never forget JFK in New York, not least because of the airport which I know much more intimately than I would like.

He was no angel but respect to Mr Kennedy.

In other, less serious news, I have two pieces of information to share:

1) The Eagles are coming to London, O2 on 16 June. The tickets sold out in four minutes. Sorry if you weren't lucky.
2) I am rewatching Sex and the City (obv.) and did you know Bradley Cooper was in an episode? Me either! He must have been in his early 20s. 

I am here to keep you up to date on these important matters.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

The Eagles - LIVE!

This week I had the opportunity to see the Eagles live in Madison Square Garden. The tour is called History of the Eagles and accompanies the documentary I wrote about back in May. The tickets weren't cheap and we were nowhere near the front. We're talking nosebleed territory.

That's the stage from our seat! No matter we thought, there is a screen in front of us (you can see it in the photo). For the first 30-40 minutes, the screens didn't work. It was disappointing because it was honestly impossible to tell if it was Glenn or Don telling us an anecdote. As this is New York, the crowd did not take this quietly. There was a lot of hollering and shouting for them to fix the screens. I found this quite amusing in itself. When they finally jumped to life, the crowd over our side went wild. I did wonder if the Eagles wondered what was going on.

Anyway, never mind that. The gig itself was fantastic. I can't imagine a scenario in which I wouldn't have enjoyed this. I've wanted to see them live for years and to see them in New York was the icing on the cake. Also, as I am living bang smack in the middle of Manhattan we were able to walk to the venue and back. That in itself made the whole experience so enjoyable, no hanging around waiting for trains and taking an hour to get home with thousands of others.

If you are interested, here is the setlist. You may notice something. Yes, there is no New York Minute. I know it's a Don Henley song but they played three Joe Walsh songs. They were in New York. If I had one disappointment it would be that. The crowd would have gone wild. The reaction when they introduced Joe Walsh as being a Jersey boy nearly blew the roof off.

There was lots of amusing little stories and Frey especially poked fun at himself and the band. Henley was a little po-faced but I forgave him for his encore of Desperado. It was sublime. I filmed a little bit of it and you can watch it here along with some of New Kid In Town and Life's Been Good. He was in the finest of voice. I also throughly enjoyed Walsh who is clearly the light relief in the band and widely adored. The talent in the band still amazes me, often they would be doing three musical things at a time. As someone who can barely read a note of music, I am always impressed by such musical talent. Anyway, if the Eagles are rolling into your town, go see them. It's worth the money. They are as good live as you can possibly hope for.

Sunday, 27 October 2013


I've mentioned my crush on Slash before and my love for Guns n' Roses. Obviously I am reading Slash's autobiography. Its tagline is: "It seems excessive but that doesn't mean it didn't happen." Yeah, yeah you might think, all rock n' roll biographies claim to be wild and over the top. However, this one is absolutely hilarious. A four-day heroin and coke binge at a golf resort which culminates with Slash running round the course naked. David Bowie telling him his hallucinations mean he's in a dark place man. Axl Rose telling Slash's grandmother to fuck off when she wants to watch her afternoon telly. Threesomes. Snakes and an earthquake! It's a wonder they ever managed to get a band together and make any music at all.

I am nearly at the end of this momentous book and I can heartily recommend it. There's never a dull moment and Slash sounds like a very cool guy. He just picked the guitar up and that was that. No formal lessons. Reading about his life so far makes mine feel extremely dull and yet again my alternative life of being a rock chick in LA seems like it could have been a viable option. Not that I want to be a heroin addict, high functioning alcoholic and get involved with Axl Rose. Rose sounds like a total nightmare, it would be interesting to read his side of the story but what is interesting is that Slash never says anything really bad about him. He just calmly says what happened and you think WTF?

Anyway, it's made me rediscover Guns n' Roses (not that I needed to as such) and I really do believe they were the greatest over the top rock band. They burned brightly and faded fast but they gave us some proper rock that still makes me want to jump about and behave irresponsibly. Read this book, you won't regret it. Slash forever man.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Grange Hill

We're in the third year of this blog and I've not talked about Grange Hill. Shame on me.

Just looking at this photo transports me back to a time when everyone fancied Tucker Jenkins.

We all though Trisha Yates was dead cool.

Roland! Zammo! And the other one!

I watched Grange Hill avidly for years. I was still watching it when I was doing my A' levels. It was simply marvellous entertainment.

Mr Baxter!

Mrs McLusky. Firm but fair.

I was proper scared of Gripper.

It's bothering me that I can't remember the name of the kid next to Roland - Stewart? Anyone?

Proper school drama with London non-posh kids, Grange Hill was magnificent. The day I saw an actual place called Grange Hill on the tube map is one I'll never forget. I still think there should be a real Albert Square as well. Grange Hill explored bullying, school romance, death and of course, drugs! Just say no.

It also had epic opening credits.

All in all, it was perfection. I could happily watch an episode right now.

Friday, 18 October 2013

New York City playlist

Well hello there my friends. Apologies for the lack of posts recently. I entered a world in which I was trying to obtain a US visa and what with that and a trip to Spain, my life has been a little busy. I needed a visa because I am moving to New York City for six months. Much excitement as I am a little bit in love with New York. OK, I am a lot in love with New York, more specifically Manhattan. Show me someone who doesn't skip with excitement at the smell of a pretzel stand and I'll show you a fool.

In one short week I shall be flying west and as with all major life events, I plan to theme it with an appropriate playlist. I thought I'd share my initial thoughts on this with you.

First up, my all-time favourite Randy Crawford and Streetlife. This song pretty much hums in my head as I power walk around Manhattan. I think it's the introduction that makes it so appealing.

I am an 80s kid so there is always a place for Fame. I love the old cab and cassette player in this. Baby look at me...

Oh Madonna, I will always love you for Into The Groove. I am planning a tribute visit to Battery Park. Goddammit, I still want to be her in this video.

Rapture by Blondie. I don't actually think any playlist is complete without this. Added bonus - it has a very Manhattan vibe. Also, if I can't be Madonna, can I be Debbie please?

It Had To Be You. From one of the best New York films ever made. Sing it Harry.

Only Barbra is allowed to sing this. Apologies for the subtitles! 2.13 gets me every time.

Across 110th Street. I adore this song. Another great opening.

And possibly my favourite New York song from Billy Joel. I love the lyrics to this, so evocative.

Christopher Cross gave us this masterpiece. Well, Burt Bacharach did of course. Maybe now I will understand what it means to be caught between the moon and New York City?

I could do this all night so it's time to close this one out with the bible of songs for us working girls. Sing it Carly! I'll try and avoid having a Melanie Griffith hair do while I am there but no promises...

Tell me your New York songs.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

ET, phone home

I recently watched Super 8, JJ Abrams homage to ET and Spielberg generally. It's quite a good film, the first hour is very good and then it gets stupid. Is it anywhere nearly as good as ET? Of course not! Nothing is as good as ET, a film to soften the hardest of hearts. How can you not cry when watching this? I start welling up when ET first lifts the bikes up into the air and I don't really stop until the closing credits. And I am not someone who cries much when watching films. I've been called Stoney Heart by some of my closest friends. Like I say, ET will touch cynics.

What I love about ET is that it is told completely from a child's point of view, the camera angle is famously at a child's height. The children aren't made to seem ridiculous nor are they precocious. Well, Elliot is kind of annoying actually but the old brother Greg is great. The actor who plays Greg has done no acting work since 1992. I call that a crying shame. Gertie is of course played by Drew Barrymore and I don't think there is a cuter kid in film history.

She's adorable. And she's great in this. Everyone is great in this. The slightly harassed mother, the policeman who hints at romance towards her, Erika Eleniak, the boys who help them rescue ET. It's simply a wonderful film, directed by Spielberg at the top of his game and was a mega-hit. I can remember being taken to see this by my dad at Leicester Square and being so excited. And if I recall, he was a little damp about the eyes afterwards.

Thank goodness a sequel was never made. It stays perfect and a masterpiece.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Hollywood costumes

I've been musing about films with memorable costumes over the past few weeks. My dad came to stay and said he recently rewatched Rear Window and couldn't take his eyes off Grace Kelly. Totally understandable as she is gorgeous however what makes her even more gorgeous in Rear Window is her wardrobe. This outfit is timeless:

And this is so elegant:

And this just makes me so envious of her, her style and composure:

I can't think of another actress as elegant as Grace Kelly. She is a proper movie star, you can't take your eyes off her. My all-time favourite Grace Kelly film for clothes is High Society. I love this blue dress and matching shoes:

And this dress is possibly my favourite dress in any movie:

The colour, the sleeves, the way she looks in it. Utterly gorgeous.


I don't know about you but my pool-side attire is very similar.

Grace's costumes were as much a part of the script as what she said. The same is true of course of Gone With The Wind. I could do a very long post simply about GWTW costumes (and one day I might) but for now, let's feast our eyes on this:

The best thing about this is the hat. I adore that hat and the green velvet bow.  Green is the main colour for Scarlett and this boudoir outfit is perfection:

And of course, we must mention the curtains dress! Which, by the way, I saw at the V&A exhibition recently and it's tiny. I don't think even half of me would fit in it.

I am currently inspired by Annie Hall. I love how modern Diane Keaton looks.

A look that inspire a whole generation of women. 

I shall be posting more about costumes as I think of more films that make them such a feature. 

Sunday, 8 September 2013


Where has this film been all my life? Is there anything more perfect than Cher and Christine Aguilera together singing, dancing and a small-town girl makes good storyline? I think not.

Burlesque has been out for three whole years and yet it has taken me until now to watch it. I wanted to see it when it was released but never quite got round to it. My sister insisted I should watch it and we all know she is always right. Last night, thanks to Netflix, I settled down to view and within two minutes I was hooked. It's so cheesy, it's the very definition of a Bad Movie We Love and if you've not seen it then I'm afraid I must insist that you make it a priority.

The cast is epic. It has Stanley Tucci. I love Stanley Tucci, he's never bad and there's something very attractive about him. Peter Gallagher makes an appearance. Kristen Bell. For goodness sake, James Brolin! All this and Cher too. Really, we are spoilt. Plus it has this hot dude:

Last spotted by me in The OC, boy he is looking good.

The storyline is paper thin but it doesn't matter. All you need to know is that Christina belts out song after song, Cher does her make up for her and there's loads of dancing. It's a gay man's dream of a film which makes it something I automatically have affinity with. Christina is pretty good in it since she's no actress but her hair is utterly bizarre. At one point they make a point of saying she will wear a wig for the stage which makes her look 100% better yet she still has this weird Barbie-like hair the rest of the time. I'd go so far as to say it's almost a distraction.



My one complaint is there is not enough Cher singing. Nonetheless, it's a masterpiece of cheesy film making and I highly recommend it.
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