Tuesday, 19 April 2011

I need to be bold, need to jump in the cold water, need to grow older with a girl like you

There are some musicians or bands that just feel like old friends or family. I love discovering new songs and playing them over and over (my friends constantly tease me about this slightly obsessive quirk), creating new playlists and falling in love with new artists, but it's always a wonderfully comforting feeling to type in a familiar name into iTunes and relisten to all the old favourites. One of these artists for me is Joshua Radin - a love that developed after hearing his songs again and again on Scrubs. His songs are so well listened to that sometimes I'll just forget about him and then suddenly a lyric will pop into my head or (like today) a song will play in a café and I'll just remember everything that's wonderful about his beautiful voice and his expressive lyrics and just fall in love all over again.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

26. Nuovo Cinema Paradiso (1988)

What I love most about this film is that it's just so warm and alive, all about human passions and emotions - love, grief, regret, nostalgia, - and all about the great and little joys in life and the relationships we form, whether lifelong friendships, love affairs or even our relationship with art. It's pretty much the epitome of everything I love: film, sunshine, romance, childhood, it's all there. Simply gorgeous.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

A slipper by the fireplace, a cello lying in it's case

Isn't this photoshoot from Vogue Italia simply divine? Keira Knightley is absolutely gorgeous, the ruffles and lace juxtapose beautifully with the tough wellies and the whole thing has the feel of a gloriously dreamy and playful Nouvelle Vague film.


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Photos by Ellen von Unwerth, from Vogue Italia.

Monday, 11 April 2011

27. About a Boy (2002)

This film is so many things at once. A classic British comedy, a buddy movie, a life-lesson. Based on a book by Nick Hornby, the man who brought us the screenplay to An Education, it is a touching and humourous look at the unexpected friendship that develops between the rich and self-absorbed Will (Hugh Grant) and the lonely and precocious Marcus (Nicholas Hoult). The film is an absolute favourite of mine and my brother's (who I think maybe idolises Hugh Grant's character a bit too much ^_^) and I've seen it so many times but I'm always struck anew by how funny and perceptive an examination of growing up it is. Hugh Grant, abandoning his usual part of the bumbling foppish Englishman, plays Will's selfishness with charm and a touch of vulnerability, creating a lively and sympathetic character, and Nicholas Hoult is simultaneously adorable and impressive. A gem of a film.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Oh Bert...

I almost never discuss political things on this blog. It's not that I'm not opinionated - I am, very much so - but just because I consider this blog to be like a dinner table: no talking about politics or money. Also my blog , as seen on the sidebar, is intended to be dedicated to all things artistic and pretty, and politics is rarely artistic and never pretty. Still, even though it's a bit late, I couldn't resist sharing with you some of my favourite placards and signs from Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity. For one thing, I consider these placards as a sort of art - they're creative and they express something about the emotional and mental state of the creator. Plus they're just plain hilarious. And, as far as I'm concerned, toleration and moderation aren't politics - they're just everyday humanity.


And, just because I love him.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Brideshead Revisited

Blah blah, horribly busy term, copy and paste previous excuses.

So how is everyone? I'm back at home for a few weeks break, mainly preparing next term's work, apprehensively looking at post-degree options (turns out I'm a planner. Who knew?), rereading His Dark Materials and obsessively watching Castle and deciding that Castle is my new favourite person and that I a) want to be Detective Beckett when I grow up and b) want to learn to wear high heels just like her, before heading back up to Oxford for Trinity term, which I'm already anticipating will be my favourite one of the year. Sunshine, no exams, drinking Pimms all day, punting - it sounds like heaven.

And utterly idealised I know. Because the truth is, we don't just lounge about wearing silly gowns in historical buildings and reciting poetry, but after watching Brideshead Revisted on iPlayer over term, I've decided to substitute Julian Jarrold's vision of Oxford for reality because frankly, it looks like fun. My friend, halfway through innumerable essays, rowing training and a thesis proposal, raved wistfully about it almost continuously for a while, and it's not hard to see why. Set in pre-war England, Brideshead Revisited tells the story of a young man's relationship with the aristocratic Marchmain family, and the tragic effects they have on his life. Charles Ryder comes up to Oxford from a relatively non-wealthy background and is immediately befriended by Sebastian Flyte, a flamboyantly gay and hedonistic, yet deeply vulnerable and damaged young man. Sebastian takes him to his home, Brideshead, where Charles meets Sebastian's sister Julia (the lovely Hayley Atwell) and his formidable mother (Emma Thompson). Charles is quickly adopted into the family, but when he falls in love with Julia, his ties with the family are fatally damaged.

I've never read the original book and nor have I seen the much acclaimed television adaptation, so I watched the film with a relatively fresh mind. And I enjoyed it quite a lot. It's a very beautiful film, with gorgeous shots of Oxford, the English countryside, Venice and even at one point Morocco, all looking almost impossibly gorgeous. The costumes were lovely, although admittedly it is hard not to make the fashion of the 20s/30s look good. The performances were also very impressive. Matthew Goode, better known on this blog as Colin-Firth's-love-interest-in-A-Single-Man-god-I-love-that-film played Charles Ryder wonderfully, perfectly portraying the passionate yet kind outsider figure. Ben Whishaw who I hadn't seen before is magnificent as the emotionally unstable Sebastian, and his fate at the end is possibly the most tragic part. The soundtrack is also one of the most lovely things I've heard in a long time.

However, despite all this beauty, there is definitely something lacking. The phrase "all style no substance" tends to come to mind when watching it - it's delightfully and carefully made, but the material itself tends to fall a little flat and the themes that are dealt with - such as religion, class and identity - are never thoroughly explored, leaving the ending a little empty and not quite as profound as the director (or indeed Evelyn Waugh himself) probably had in mind. From what I gather, the book itself is incredibly complex and intelligent, whereas this film adaptation is unfortunately a pretty but slightly average period drama. Nevertheless it is pretty and certainly entertaining - definitely worth two hours of your time.