Posts Tagged ‘ FASHION ’

THE BRITS

The Brits

BRITS

February seems to be very much the month for award ceremonies and for this we should be thankful that it is the shortest month of the year otherwise how many more of these abominations would we have to suffer.

Predictable, sycophantic and self congratulatory these events are merely ego boosts for the entertainment industry whose inhabitants possess higher quantities of these than any other. Already we have had to endure the snoozefest that is the Baftas whilst the slightly more prestigious Oscars take place this coming weekend but surely as far as plumbing depths is concerned then last nights Brits ceremony –surely The Shit awards aka the Skits would be more apt- is the lowest of the low.

This was two and a half hours of embarrassment-I lasted just over one hour so I am guessing, correctly I assume, it never improved- presented by that waste of space James Corden. I am unsure why he has been chosen to handle this task  as he has nothing to do with music allegedly being a comedian although he seems to have little to do with comedy either; at least as far as being remotely even slightly funny is concerned. Supercilious, smug, humourless, false, obsequious and creepy he squeezed himself into an overly tight tuxedo- remember that weight he lost? Well, he seems to have found it again so it was obviously just temporarily mislaid- then read some badly scripted lines off an autocue with scant regard for delivery or timing.

Apparently he was worried that controversy may rear its head again after last year he cut Adele’s acceptance speech short. Surely that in itself is a deep misunderstanding as trying to get Adele to shut up is a national pastime far from controversial as it is is necessary as a noise pollution measure and also pretty impossible to boot. It would transpire it is probably his only redeeming feature and he needs as many of those as he can possibly hold onto. Anyway, controversy was much more attractive in the days when David Bowie appeared wearing what appeared to be his wife Iman’s stilettos or when ,especially, Jarvis Cocker flashed his bare arse at a messianic Michael Jackson who had surrounded himself with adoring children shortly after buying his way out of paedophile charges which had been levelled at him.

Opening with Muse-I hardly noticed to be honest- the live acts weren’t much cop either. Robbie Williams- part of the Corden Gang I believe-the professional Butlins Redcoat may have traded the red jacket for an electric blue one but he also seems to have traded his already pitiful act for that of Olly Murs which is even more baffling. Stumbling around the stage like a bumptious and unctuous father at his daughter’s wedding it reminded me of nothing more than when Noel Gallagher described him, nearly twenty years ago, as ‘that fat dancer from Take That’. In hindsight how prescient was that offhand remark? Later he was ‘interviewed’ drooling lasciviously over Taylor Swift and recovered long enough to state her song was ‘a great tune’. Like  he even knows what that is these days.

It seems that inappropriate drooling by the elders over the young folk is still totally acceptable amongst entertainment types. Thus Sharon Osbourne’s remarks about Harry Styles ‘magic stick’- ‘his willy’ she very quickly clarified for nobody who was in doubt as to what she meant- were treated as a joke much like Jimmy Savile’s perving over young ‘dolly birds’ were for decades. Perhaps the next time she goes in for her never ending round of plastic surgery she should enquire about a staple… for her mouth …which probably served her better when she was still overeating.

Justin Timberlake. Next!

The Critics Choice was the next award up and as previous winners have included Florence Welch. Adele, and Jessie J- is there a pattern for fog-horned irritants here or is it just me?- I didn’t hold out for any surprises. The winner turned out to be some Chesney Hawkes look-alike Tom Odell whose main advantage would seem to be that I hadn’t previously heard of him.

Mumford and Sons.  Anyone?

The worst was yet to come though and it hit its ultimate low point in the form in a hideously piss poor massacring by One Erection-so named as I am convinced that is about all they could muster up between them- of Blondie’s classic ‘One Way Or Another’ mashed up with the Undertones’ ‘Teenage Kicks’. Words escape me when Itry to describe just how bad this was and with both the originals freely available on iTunes there can be no reason for anyone to buy this abomination even if it is for charity. No responsible parent should allow or encourage their children to buy this horrendous criminal act-the usual excuse of ‘the kids like it’ does not wash here- over either of the originals.

Next up Coldplay were awarded Best British act. Really? I mean, Really?

At this juncture-just over one hour in- I decided I couldn’t watch anymore and then by some miracle Dave Grohl appeared out of the debris to present and receive an award for the Black Keys as Best International Act . This was a moment of lucidity as far as I was concerned- a bright spark had ignited in me briefly earlier when Lana Del Ray won Best International Female- and despite the lack of a video or musical clip by the band it was also the highlight of the night for me. It was also the point I decided to cut my losses and give up on the whole proceedings whilst they were on a high and before they killed this momentary lapse into good taste with more of the bland, trite and inconsequential.

So that was The Skits 2013 then. Obviously distancing itself from rock and roll as much as possible and instead moving further into Simon Cowell territory-incidentally the man himself took home some made up award he probably paid for- and it is clear that it is two hour promotion for Mastercard rather than anything else. The award wasn’t up to much itself even if it was designed by arguably- very arguably some would say- Britain’s currently most successful artist Damien Hirst. The whole proceedings were embarrassing and a return to ‘Seaside Special’ entertainment.

There has been a lot of good music over the last year and as I have observed before it has come from the older generation- Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith and Mark Lanegan, to name only three, turned out great works over the last twelve months-and it is time the younger generation put down their phones, switched off their laptops and moved out of the comfort of their parents homes and kicked some ass. Just saying!

BLACK MIRROR

Black Mirror

 BlackMirrorTitleCard

Admittedly I had only seen half of one episode in Charlie Brooker’s one off dramas during its first series and being decidedly non-plussed never bothered investigating any further. However last week on a rainy day I decided to check out the first episode of the second series- social media, twittering etc. had, ironically as it turns out, piqued my interest- and was pleasantly surprised by an episode which was eerily disturbing-not unlike a 21sttcentury update on the seventies classic series, fondly held in many hearts including my own, ‘Tales of the Unexpected’- which raised some thought provoking issues as well as asking us to look at ourselves and the way we live our lives today. The black mirror of its title is presumably the reflection we would see if we actually looked at ourselves properly rather than simply gazing at the contrived self conscious image we hope we reflect to others.

The opening episode ‘Be Right Back’ told the tale of a self satisfied couple. Ash and Martha, whose lives and careers are trundling along very nicely indeed although Ash’s addiction to social media infuriates Martha no end, to the point she even throws something at him to ensure he is ‘still solid’. This proves prescient as soon after he is killed in a car accident and overwhelmed with grief she discovers she can obtain a replicant replacement clone-shades of Bladerunner here- who not only looks the part but actually behaves however she wants him to.

The downside is all his responses and reactions are created by his social media profiles-one part how he actually is to nine parts of how he wants to appear- and he becomes the perfect boyfriend; even sexually as his viewing of porn makes the replicant Ash a far superior lover to the real thing who often preferred the self satisfaction followed by the old roll over and snooze routine, but eventually this inevitably becomes frustrating.

It was an intriguing story which not only showed how our emotions are now controlled by how we want to be perceived and learnt rather than felt. It was a sympathetic treatment which constantly lulled the viewer into a false sense of security whilst raising several questions as to where society is heading.

If ‘Be Right Back’ eased the viewer into Brooker’s observations then the second episode ‘The White Bear’ pulled no punches and moved at full throttle  never letting up throughout its duration.

Entering a seemingly totalitarian world where a  girl wakes up from a hazy nightmare where she is pursued seemingly with malevolent intent whilst a crowd films the whole proceedings on their phones. Terrorised and in fear for her life she escapes and is caught time and time again until eventually it transpires that she is actually a prisoner who has been involved in a child’s torture and slaying therefore the confusion, uncertainty,disorientation, pain and terror she is experiencing is perhaps indicative to the horrors she herself has previously inflicted and this is a new form of justice being meted out.

It was certainly an interesting observation on how we have all become voyeurs- Big Brother and The X-Factor auditions immediately sprang to mind- and our entertainment resembles a Coliseum where humiliation is our ritual. It also brought the recent paedophilia allegations concerning Jimmy Savile as well as others such as the Moors Murderers very sharply into focus and showed how we are sickly fascinated and attracted by the ghoulish whilst questioning how and why it has ended up this way. Perhaps it is time to put down our phones, switch off our laptops and relearn basic human emotions again.

Brooker has created an inventive series with ‘Black Mirror’ and although I was initially sceptical have since realised he is putting questions on our screens which don’t really have an answer or a solution as he is presenting things-albeit exaggerated for effect- just as they are or at the very least how they are going. I am not sure what the third episode of ‘Black Mirror’ has in store but guaranteed I am tuning in next Monday just to find out.

THE BAFTAS

The Baftas

2013 Baftas

The Baftas- award ceremonies in general actually-or The Stephen Fry show as he likes to think of it are usually one long snoozefest consisting of fatuous celebrities making insincere, tearful acceptance speeches which far outstrip any performances that have given on the screen and often bettering the one they are picking up the award for. Last nights ceremony however although I did fall asleep during its duration-less to do with the results than the fact I was spotted at 6.30am the previous morning leaving a city centre hotel after a night of partying- was something of a pleasant surprise as the winners were announced I paten found myself nodding in agreement instead of my usual harrumphing in disgust.  Leaving aside Les Miserables- please do- which still makes my blood curdle at the very thought but looking to Amour, Argo, Skyfall, Searching for Sugarman, The Imposter, Django Unchained  and Silver Linings Paybook it was almost as if the judges had had an untypical lapse into good taste.

It was especially rewarding to see Christoph Waltz be awarded best supporting actor for Django Unchained but biggest surprise was Emmanuelle Riva walk off with the best actress award for the bleak, uncompromising but truly outstanding Amour.  That this film also took best foreign film proves that it is a work of class and distinction and its sensitive treatment of a subject- Riva plays a retired music teacher who suffers a stroke and the subsequent effects this has on her and her husbands life is phenomenal as his loyalty and love is fully put to the test- that many would shy away from is brave and true to life. It is as far from a feelgood film as you could imagine but you do leave the cinema having been emotionally touched and empathetic.

Conversely Searching For Sugarman is a feelgood film-it even melted my ice cold heart- but as it has the advantage of being a true story and its central character is such an unassuming and genuine character this takes it to a level far beyond the contrived lachrymose, sentimental slop we are usually served up by scriptwriters, producers and directors playing on our emotions with cheap tactics and swelling musical scores. It was therefore pleasing to hear its name being announced as the best documentary film.

With The Imposter’s creators picking up the award for best outstanding debut it was obviously a year for true to life stories- another true tale which is quite unbelievable as a missing American child is apparently found but turns out to be a foreigner five years older but still accepted by a family who seem unable to spot the difference- and Hollywood scriptwriters must be picking their brains on frustration as they try to outdo these lurid and quite unbelievable dramas. Perhaps life has started to imitate art and we are now all subconsciously living our lives as movie scripts. I have often wondered who is writing my role for me as I seem to slip further and further into some bad B- movie!

Much is made of such award ceremonies but inevitably they are just self congratulatory events for an industry whose participants need more validation than most. The fake emotions on show merely confirm this. Similarly they are mooted as some fashion and style highpoint but this has never sat comfortably with me as the dress code is ostentatious glamour for the women and standard black tie fare for the men. I cannot see how this can influence anything apart from other award ceremony attendees or future events and as this takes up a minimal percentage of our population its influence must be very limited, unless you want to look like an extra on the set of TOWIE that is.

Generally seen as a dry run for the even more prestigious Oscars the signs for that ceremony bode well but I cannot see the Americans awarding a French actress their hallowed best actress award- they still haven’t totally forgiven the French for the lack of support in the war – and it will more likely go to one of their home-grown stars. Being a celebration, essentially, of their own movie industry this is perhaps inevitable even if it is not always the right choice.

Fortunately such ceremonies do not always inform my choices when visiting the cinema-The Hunt, Untouchables Bill Cunningham New York, Martha Marcy May Marlene  and Carnage  were all notable omissions- at least this year I don’t feel they got it too wrong and quite often they were spot on. Apart from Les Miserables. Obviously!

WHITE RABBIT

White Rabbit

WHITE RABBIT

Sugar and Spice isn’t it Nice/ Luring Disco Dollies to a Life of Vice (Soft Cell)

Sex Sells! Fact!

Realising that our carnal lusts and deviances are what makes the world go round- what’s love got to do with it? – Heather Craig and erstwhile partner Jim Anderson realised that Edinburgh lacked a high end erotic boutique which catered for those who find high street emporiums, such as Ann  Summers little more than an end of the pier, oooh missus !, ‘Carry On’ nightmare  about as sexy as spam fritters, and subsequently came up with the idea of White Rabbit.

Situated in an ideal locale-the bottom end of Broughton Street- the shop which opens this weekend is an enticing labyrinth of erotica twinned with exotica cloistered between purple walls and lit by fringed red lighting which gives off the vibe of the sinister Black Lodge from David Lynch’s television outing, Twin Peaks and the claustrophobic sensual heat of the director’s earlier work Blue Velvet.

mail.google.com               mail.google.com

From the moment you enter these premises it is clear you have entered into some fantastical otherworldly environment which bears little relation to the grey drabness of the outside world.  Cocooning- I stop short of using the term cosy- in its ambience  an old fashioned haberdashery counter, complete with drawers, adds further class to the whole set up.

Meanwhile shelves struggle to contain leather dog masks which jostle for space alongside erotic based literary tomes whilst see through underwear competes for attention with candles which turn to massage oil when they hit the body and quasi-religious masturbatory art works complement diamante tipped whips. A Dylan Lisle artwork dominates the wall with its commanding presence and other artworks, including pieces by Kirsty Whiten, will soon be joining it alongside an upcoming exhibition in the very near future. There is even an aphrodisiac perfume, Bijoux, which once sprayed permeates the atmosphere with its heady aroma creating an even more sensuous and semi- seedy ambience.

mail.google.com               mail.google.com

Setting itself apart from its competition Craig has sourced designers not only exclusive to White Rabbit but to Scotland in general. Thus Theresa Coburn- who has provided stage outfits for  big name clients such as Siouxie Sioux amongst others- will make her exclusive designs available through the outlet. Other popular names include duo Paul Seville and Steph Aman whose stock will also only be available from White Rabbit north of the border. Tamsin Lillywhite who is a current major influence and name to drop  on the scene, due to the success of her equestrian themed pieces. will also be promoting and selling  her classy designs solely from these premises.

Other events lined up for the very near future include evening workshops covering such intriguing subject matter as Japanese Rope Bondage and burlesque dancing lessons as well as musical one offs. Whether Craig and Anderson will be deploying their own talents for the latter-they make up two thirds of the impressive local trio Her Royal Highness- is unclear but they are open to suggestions and encourage ideas as to what people may want from such an outlet and a sourcing service will be available once they are up and running and ,of course, they have an online shop in the pipeline just awaiting its final touches and amendments.

Unlike most of their contemporaries White Rabbit also cater for the male end of the market and will stock clothing and items which they can purchase for their own devices rather than just their-ahem- ‘wives’ and ‘girlfriends’. A daunting Fritzl style cellar is next on the agenda for an overhaul and will provide further space for future events but at the moment the focus of these two young entrepreneurs is fully on the main selling area upstairs on street level.

To launch the shop there is a party tonight complete with a window performance by the provocative and evocatively named Wild Card Kitty which will hopefully heat up an otherwise dark and dreary February evening.  The shop itself is open to the general public on Saturday February 2nd at around midday and every day after this for an experience which houses an environment like no other in Edinburgh at the moment.

White Rabbit 44 Broughton Street Edinburgh EH1 3SA is open from Saturday 2nd February 7 days a week from 12pm-7pm

Check out http://www.white-rabbit-edinburgh.com for further information and daily updates.

Visit their Facebook page here. https://www.facebook.com/pages/White-Rabbit/439219206151305

JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just an Observation Thursday 31st January

aldo

 My definite highlight over the last week’s adventures would have to be Homesick Aldo’s amazing and mind-blowing performance at the Miss Spin charity night last Saturday. Billing himself as a cross between Johnny Thunders and John Cooper Clarke- I was already sold at this point- meets Sonny Boy Williamson he more than met these criteria and then some. For anyone who thought the White Stripes were a return to basics and as minimalist as rock and roll got then this boy takes it one step further by being a lone wolf who manages to enrapture, enthral and send an audience into paroxysms of unabated bliss and sheer wonder at his adept skills involving little more than a harmonica and a bluesy wail with the occasional and primal addition of a beating drum or shaking tambourine.

Within thirty seconds of taking the stage he had the whole audience’s attention and within another thirty seconds he had their souls and their devotion. A truly stand out performance and in a world where non-entities on Big Brother and any other talentless show are referred to as ‘Genius’ or ‘Awesome’ with regular inaccuracy here, at last, is someone who deserves such soubriquets cast in his direction.

Opium Kitchen were also on the same bill and their performance once it got underway- initial proceedings were beset by sound problems- also turned in a blistering set which revealed the darker side of their repertoire and captured the slaughter in the air vibe which surrounded their set. Highlight was their closing number ‘The Mayor of Pigalle’ which is a powerhouse of a track which descended/transcended into a dissonant frenzy of feedback and took the form of a musical tantrum. Wonderfully so, I may add.

It certainly awoke me from the slumber of the previous day’s excursion to the cinema where I sat through the twenty four hour marathon that is Lincoln. Actually it is little over more than two hours long but on leaving the cinema I felt as if I had lived through the civil war it depicts in its storyline. It is hard to work out how a film with such major talents behind it manages to be such a bore. It is , of course, beautifully acted and directed- the cinematography is astounding and many scenes could be frozen and placed in an art gallery- but somehow it never fails to ignite and the whole thing drags on and on ad nauseum. Spielberg seems to be labouring under the misapprehension that perfection makes perfect but somehow in his quest for this he also managed to suck the lifeblood out of the whole saga. He actually managed to make a hugely important time in history into little more than a trivial, but beautifully shot, drudge. A full review can be found here.

Far superior is Kathryn Bigelows attempt to capture the recent events regarding the hunt for and eventual assassination of Osama Bin Laden, Zero Dark Thirty. As it details events which are less than two years old there is something knee jerk in its storyline but this spontaneity and lack of studied historical perspective gives it a sense of immediacy and life sadly lacking in Spielberg’s film. Only time will tell how accurate a portrayal this is of these events as it is only one very biased side of the story and could be seen as America getting their version of events out there first but it is nevertheless a well executed-no pun intended- film which although just as long as Lincoln unlike that film does not allow your attention to wander. A full appraisal of this effective work can be found here.

Television highlight of the week for me at the moment has to be Channel 4’s Sunday night offering-in the highly venerated ‘Homeland’ slot- ‘The Hotel’. Featuring a hotel in Torquay which is run by a manager constantly trying out ‘new’ ideas in order to entice more and better class customers in with excruciating results it is an embarrassment and often leaves me believing it is scripted for comedy and shock value. Similarities to the classic British comedy ‘Fawlty Towers’ which also featured a hotel in Torquay run by a manager etc. etc. are inevitable but the main difference is that real life manager, Alan, somehow manages to make the insufferable, racist and snobbery of  his fictional counterpart, Basil Fawlty, seem like a consummate professional.

Last week saw this buffoon’s attempts at organising an Indian night wherein he wore a turban and blacked up his face whilst encouraging his staff to wear saris-one waiter inexplicably  dragged up possibly just to add insult to injury- and despite the protestations of many of his staff refused to believe his actions and ideas were in any way offensive. His reasoning behind his mindset was that ‘The Black and White Minstrel Show’ and Al Jolson-cue toe curling version of ‘Mammy’ which would take the kink out of any afro-  were popular therefore his ideas would be also. At one point I actually believed Ricky Gervais was responsible for this production but as Alan’s blind faith was actually more amusing than offensive I decided to dismiss this possibility. It is despite these misgivings compulsive viewing as it is fascinating to observe exactly what ridiculous notion he will conjure up next.

Alan’s actions were however nowhere  near as offensive as a scene I witnessed quite by accident on Monday night when I tuned in –pre-watershed and with no warnings I hasten to add- and caught Gail from ‘Coronation Street’ engage in full on tonsil tennis with Nigel Havers. Accompanied by a simpering baby voice which can usually only be heard if overdosing on helium and still minus her long lost chin I can only assume the switchboard was logged with complaints from those who were not bent double over their toilets struggling to hold onto their dinners. Enough! Please! This type of television really is not necessary.

This week also sees a new high end fetish and sexually orientated shop called White Rabbit open in Broughton Street. At present I know little about this venture but I am visiting the premises today ahead of their opening tomorrow in order to report back with more information. That is provided there is not so much on offer  there to entice me that I perhaps never leave!

Here to lead you into the weekend is a link leading to a glimpse of the amazing talent which is Homesick Aldo at last Saturday night’s gig.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=riR0ZCNt2N0#!

JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just an Observation Friday January 11th

 

Welcome to 2013! And what a mild start it has been to the year with almost spring like temperatures. I am never sure why so many complain about the January blues as I usually find it one of the most enjoyable months of the year with a round of parties and events which far surpass the build up to Christmas in December. It may be the fact I generally avoid becoming too involved in the festive build up which means I have some energy, not to mention money, left over which allows me to enjoy this month which so many others despise. Then again it could be I am just typically out of sync with the mainstream so, in which case, no change there!

In my final column of 2012 I bemoaned the lack of youth input in rock and roll whilst noting that most of the best albums of the year were made by those of pensionable age and over. Well as if to confirm this 2013 has kicked into gear with perhaps the biggest star of his generation usurping all their efforts as well as showing the youthful contenders how to make an entrance that manages to capture the eyes and ears of the world whilst making global headlines by merely releasing a single unannounced: Welcome back, centre stage, Mr. David Bowie!

Whilst it may not seem such a great achievement to simply release a single-on his birthday so double whammy there- what is amazing is that in our world of Twitter and Facebook where every rumour or simple movement is detailed intimately, one of the biggest stars on the planet can make such a bold move with nobody aware of what he is up to. In one smart move Bowie debunked the sham of celebrity bullshit which pollutes and stunts the creative arts and turns them into an industry.

It is not the first time he has done this however, as at the height of Ziggy Stardust’s reign he retired his doppelganger only to re-emerge several months later as a fully fledged soul singer. After this move had made him a huge star in America he flew that country-after a sojourn in L.A. saw him nearly lose what was left of his fractured psyche- to take up with the then little known Iggy Pop and debunk to Berlin.

It is to Berlin he returns on the new single ‘Where Are We Now?’ in reflective, melancholic and elegiac mood, melodically reminiscent of ‘Fantastic Voyage’ from 1979’s Lodger. It is a grower of a single which has divided opinion-everybody seems to have one which shows that a Bowie record is still a major talking point- but repeated listenings reap rich rewards as it is a lushly instrumented ballad which shows a man we are so used to hearing looking forward into an uncertain future gazing back at his past and drawing strength from it.

Some have commented that he should have come back with something more dynamic but, come on, the man is sixty six and to hear him attempt a quasi ‘Jean Genie’ or ‘Rebel Rebel’ would have been embarrassing. Just look to the Rolling Stones if you want to see a band that has not progressed musically in forty years. Instead by adopting the stance of a narrator who is perhaps the opposite of the one in ‘Drive In Saturday’, which detailed a near future world similar to the one we live in, is perhaps the most sensible and least expected option from a man who has kept us guessing over the last five decades.

Even the cover of the new album- ‘Heroes’ with the lettering blanked out and the title The Next Day in a white box obscuring the iconic portrait of Bowie-  has split opinion whilst at the same time has also already unleashed a rash of pastiches on the internet .  Bowie is definitely back then and make no mistake 2013 could be his most significant year in decades. A full appraisal of the single can be found here.

Another significant re-release from fellow oldie Marianne Faithfull –also sixty six and going strong- out this month is her classic Broken English. Unlike Bowie, Faithfull has never really enjoyed mainstream attention since she was the consort of Mick Jagger back in the Stones’ most creatively significant period in the late sixties through to the early seventies. What happened to her in the intervening years after their split and 1979 when this album was released makes up the bulk of subject matter on this landmark album.

Whilst never as influential as some of her contemporaries Faithfull is seen as some thing of a grande-dame and guiding light to younger musicians who queue up to work with her, recognising her credibility as truly iconic rock and roll figure. Nick Cave, P.J. Harvey. Beck, Blur and Jarvis Cocker are among those who have paid homage by showing their respect in worthy collaborations. A full appraisal of the record which launched a new career path for this sixties icon who many had written off or simply forgotten about can be found here.

A new film Gangster Squad starring Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn and Josh Brolin is out this weekend. It is not a great film however but I must confess to thoroughly enjoying it and it is certainly the best pick of what is an exceptionally dull collection of January showings at the cinema. A full review can be found here.

The Oscar nominations were also announced this week and they are as predictable as the films that are nominated. Lincoln, Life of Pi, Silver Linings Paybook and Les Miserables-the clue is in the title for that one- are all dull contenders with only the French inclusion the true to life Amour showing any imagination or integrity and therefore emerges as an outsider with little chance of winning.

It is reassuring however to see Searching For Sugarman nominated in the documentaries section as it is one of the mose re-affirming films I have seen in years and deserves all the recognition it receives. To read more about this film simply click here.

Out in Edinburgh tonight there is the official launch by Sir Chris Bonnington for one of my new favourite shopping emporiums Tippi in Bruntsfield. If you haven’t visited this shop yet then I suggest you do as it houses many items to brighten up ,what so far, has not been that much of a dark and miserable January. The weather is about to change however and the mild start to 2013 promises to give way to some wintry weather which will give us all something to moan about.

JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just an Observation FridayDecember 7th

Two and a half weeks until Christmas and I still have managed to remain untouched by  Festive Fever. Actually this is not unusual as round about the 17th of December every year I suddenly realise that despite all my best efforts in pretending it isn’t going to happen it hits me that this is just delusional wishful thinking. It is not so much the thought of Christmas per se which bothers me but the continual build up which seems to start a little earlier every year so that by the time the actual event comes around I am so bored of hearing about it as it seems to unnecessarily dominate so many conversations that the actual event is ultimately a letdown. By postponing my entry into the festivities for as long as possible I therefore have less build up, less chance of disappointment and thus manage to enjoy the day more.

This weekend in an attempt to rouse the Christmas spirit a little earlier I am going along to the Noir Christmas Fair at Summerhall which is an all weekend extravaganza hosting food, fashion, design and arts. Opening at 11am on both days it runs until 7pm and also features many festive themed events. Perhaps its charms may induce a stirring of my Festive feelings and I will embrace the season a little earlier than usual this year.

The last Mumbo Jumbo is also on at the Bongo Club this weekend before relocating to new premises. It will be worth checking out if you are out in town this weekend as the night has always been good fun whenever I have attended in the past.

Out at the cinema there are three high quality films worth seeing at the moment. Top of the list is The Hunt a Danish drama which focuses on a nursery teacher falsely accused of paedophilia and how these accusations impact on his life. In the wake of the Jimmy Savile allegations and the fall out alongside a media witch hunt that has precipitated it is extremely relevant and emotionally poignant. Definitely a contender for being one of the best films of the year it is an emotionally wrought work which has several cringe-worthy moments as well as making the audience question their own values when making swift unjust decision without being in receipt of the full facts. It is also set in the run up to Christmas but has none of the Christmas cheer or feelgood factor usually associated with films set in this period and is all the better for it. A full review can be found here.

You Will Be My Son (Tu Seras Mon Fils) a French film which details the familial battle between a controlling father and a son who he doesn’t feel lives up to his expectations is also worthy of attention. Set in the South of France it is a beautifully shot, well crafted and convincingly acted piece of cinema. A fuller appraisal can be found here.

For the more traditionalist among you there is a new adaptation of the Dickens classic Great Expectations which doesn’t try to replicate the David Lean 1946 classic and instead attempts to forage out an identity of its own. It also draws more heavily on the original version than the older film and features Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes and Robbie Coltrane to endow the whole project a sense of gravitas and familiarity. A full review can be found here.

Also worth catching tonight are Opium Kitchen at the Clermiston Inn. Hot on the heels of their Citrus Club debut three weeks ago this latest outing hopes to see them gathering even more momentum.

As I write this there is a dusting of snow on the ground outside and Kate Bush’s ‘Fifty Words for Snow’ is playing in the background whilst I am feeling something of a warm glow inside. This glow is probably less likely due to premature Christmas stirrings and more likely due to the shot of Disarrono Amaretto in my morning coffee and the reassuring click of the switch as I reset my electric blanket for an extra hour in bed. Christmas can wait a little longer!

JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just an Observation Friday November  16th

 

 Wandering around town yesterday I felt as if I had been secretly abducted and hurtled, via a time machine, forward into the twenty fourth of December or at the very earliest the twenty third. So entrenched in Christmas was the experience with the incessant musical loops –if I hear Wizzard and Slade once more I will likely kill an innocent bystander thus, no doubt thankfully, shortening someone’s present list- constant references to the festive season wrapped up in inane chat and the frustrated and haunted look on most peoples faces giving away their true feelings toward this season which has lost so much sight of what it once was.

To be honest I enjoy Christmas as much as anyone else-probably more so by the looks on peoples faces yesterday as they apparently already pondered their New Year credit card bills- but the whole thing is out of control. After checking that the date really was only the fifteenth of November the next thing which struck me was the corporate blandness of what was on sale as far as the high street is concerned. As an antidote to this over the next few weeks I am going to feature several shops away from the mainstream which offer imaginative gifts which will act as an alternative to the standard offerings on offer.

Top of my list already are Tippi- a brand new retro emporium just opened in Bruntsfield this very week- and Iconic which has been fulfilling the same criteria but in a wholly different fashion for several years in the Grassmarket. Both shops are run by highly individual characters with unique and different perspectives and the shopping experience encountered on entering is a refreshing cure to the insincere, sycophantic and ultimately false posturing found on the high street which usually has the opposite effect- as far as I am concerned-of making me want to stay on the premises much less buy anything. A full review of Tippi can be found here whilst more info on Iconic can be found here. As stated before I will be exploring other retail outlets over the next few weeks hopefully inspiring more individual choices when embarking on the inevitable Christmas shopping experience.

Mind you my hatred of mainstream shopping will not include turning down an invite to the Harvey Nichols Christmas party next week. However it has become less of a party over the last few years and far more of a shopping experience which is what it was meant to be all along. I still miss the days of picking up a beer on the first floor before excessive amounts of champagne on the second floor then making my wayward way up to the fourth floor where a selection of snacks-including the inevitable and dreaded mince pies- accompanied by free flowing cocktails before making an impulse and completely inappropriate purchase. Actually the latter is more wishful thinking on the part of the retailers after plying us with such vast amounts of alcohol but unfortunately –for them at least- I never buy clothes under the influence as this tends to lend itself to mistakes.

Before that however I have to get this weekend out of the way first and the highlight looks like being the Opium Kitchen gig at the Citrus Club tonight at 7pm. Made up of five talented individuals and stalwarts on the Edinburgh music scene it looks as if it may be one of Edinburgh’s home-grown musical highlights of the year. Promising 1991 prices at the bar is only further incentive as far as I am concerned and favourable reports about  the support acts-The Wrong Boyfriends and The 23’s- are also emerging so it looks like being a memorable night for all concerned. A full preview of what to expect can be found here.

Unfortunately this means I have to miss Envelope 4 at The Institute featuring the amazing violin virtuoso Richard Moore playing alongside two silent movies one of which looks like it may be a selection by Harold Lloyd, although this has yet to be confirmed. These evenings have been a great success so far and this one looks like it will be especially memorable as it will be Moore’s last performance here for a while before decamping back to London for the foreseeable future tomorrow. A full review of Envelope 3 can be found here whilst the opening instalment is appraised here.

That is it then, the weekend starts here and it may well be the last one before Christmas takes over our every waking hour-what we have had to endure so far is only the beginning- so it is probably best to reclaim what is rest of your life before you have to involuntarily succumb to the inevitable.

JUST AN OBSERVATION

 Sunday August 12th

 

Well that is the first ten days or so of the Fringe done and dusted then. So far the most amazing thing is that it has been remarkably dry since last weekend with days which could even be described as summery. The rain has stayed away since last Monday night when I was making my way to a show about the Smiths and all that was going through my head was the lyric ‘The rain fell down on a humdrum town’. The show in question Half a Person, My Life as Told by the Smiths was, fortunately, emotionally stirring, thought provoking and concise. It even made me forget the dampness of my drenched clothes and at one point brought me close to tears and this is no mean feat. Especially within the world of live theatre when emotional intensity usually loses its intimacy due to the exaggerated medium necessary to appeal to an audience who don’t have the advantage of camera close ups. A full review can be found here.

Other five star shows-full reviews can be found by clicking on the name of the shows in question- are the inestimable talents of beat-boxer Tom Thum, the intense drama of Glory Dazed and if a good night out with friends is required then The Boom Boom Club is a night out like no other. Featuring fire-eating strippers, wedding ceremonies blessed by a dildo, a hula hoping slinky and a forty five minute cabaret show it will have you wondering what is part of the act and what is not. This , of course, is half the fun and my companion and I spent several minutes watching someone sweep glitter from the stage convinced he was about to do something outrageous. When he didn’t-sweeping the floor was all he was there to do- we merely turned around to be distracted by some other happening. It is a bonkers night out and for anyone who complains that a good night out in Edinburgh is hard to find then I suggest you re-consider spending twenty quid to watch a DJ who has been around since the Jurassic era and get yourself along to this.

Not far behind these shows are Marcel Lucont’s Gallic Symbol show, a great show about Oliver ReedWild Thing-, The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, An Audience with the Duke of Windsor, Bitch Boxer and  the scattergun musings and rants of Josie Long.

Slightly missing the mark-though they may have improved since I saw them- are Loretta Maine’s Bipolar and Sammy J and Randy which are both shows I had high hopes for but unfortunately both fell a little short of expectations. Beyond hope though, I fear, is Confessions of  a Grindr Addict which was very definitely a grind. This was disappointing as I feel the subject has great dramatic value and interest-especially with the recent crashing of the site due to overuse when the Olympic athletes all descended on London and started downloading/using the app.- unfortunately this show is not the one to bring these values to fruition.

Talking of the Olympics, most of them have passed me by although I did get emotional last night when Tom Daley won a bronze model-what is it with me and emotion at the moment? A transient phase or fad I hope- and am beyond hyper excited at the prospect that Kate Bush ‘might’ be performing ‘Running up that Hill’ live- her first live performance since 1979- at the closing ceremony. This would be an amazing coup and the reclusive singer would satisfy several generations of fans by simply being there. As I write this I am listening to the perennial classic ‘Hounds of Love’ album very loud. The thing I love most about Kate Bush-apart from the obvious genius she possesses- is the way that when you listen to her you actually enter in to her universe to inhabit a world she has created for you. She is just so unstarry whilst being a huge star in possession of a gargantuan talent and this is re-assuring in these days of reality TV non-entities and wannabes who possess little ,if any, talent whatsoever.  I may be induced to sit through the whole proceedings just for this one moment alone.

The Olympics are also bearing the brunt of the blame for the Fringe being quieter than usual. It is noticeably quieter on the streets compared to the last few years and many venues are expecting it to pick up after the Olympics are over. The good weather also contributes to the more relaxed atmosphere as usually the rain forces everyone to rush to where they are going pushing past anyone who gets in their way. Or perhaps that is just me!

Manners do, by tradition, take a back seat around this time of year in Edinburgh as everyone considers their route to be the most important and anyone in their way merely an inconvenience. Spending a substantial part of my day waiting in queues has admittedly tried my patience on several occasions- I am not renowned for my patience at the best of times-but at least it is not raining.

Today sees a drama about Agatha Christie’s Marple and the big screens most enduring image of her as portrayed by Margaret Rutherford. This is followed by Australian comic Asher Treleaver. The rest of the week includes another show based on the Smiths –Unhappy Birthday- an adaptation of A Clockwork Orange, dramas about Tony Hancock and Tommy Sheridan as well as a promising show by Edinburgh veteran Ruaraidh Murray called Big Sean, Mikey and Me. I have sensibly decided to round the week off on Friday evening- I avoid reviewing shows at the weekend as it is too busy- with Fringe stalwarts and super-fun megastars Frisky and Mannish who never fail to impress.

Also on the agenda this week is the first ever Edinburgh International Fashion Festival and I am looking forward to the opening launch party on Wednesday at Summerhall.  Showing nightly at the Institute  is Gavin Evans’s short film The Audition featuring Oliver Reed,  Daniel Craig Samuel .L. Jackson and about twenty five other major A-list stars . The venue also houses his much discussed and controversial ‘Naked Touch’ exhibition. It is free entry and the film screens every night at 10pm. Apart from that it is work all the way so off out for a dose of murder in the form of Marple. Perfect Sunday afternoon entertainment suited to my tweeds and brogues!

EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL FASHION FESTIVAL

Edinburgh International Fashion Festival

 

During the month of August when the International Festival/ Fringe/ Book Festivals are in full swing one thing which seems to get constantly overlooked –not least by a high proportion of attendees- is fashion. An art form in its own right and one which actively affects our daily lives in some form or other this is not only a glaring omission but also a grave oversight. This year however the arrival of the new Summerhall complex on the South side- a mere sashay along from the central hub of the world’s largest arts festival- this is about to be rectified as it is hosting the first Edinburgh International Fashion Festival between the 16th and 19th of August.

The four day event will hold talks, showcase displays and feature live catwalk experiences not only at the central base of Summerhall but also separate events at the National Museum of Scotland, Harvey Nichols The Danish Institute and the Institut Francais Ecosse. Long overdue on the Festival scene the idea of fashion as more than simply a way to clothe ourselves is not new to those within the industry and certainly has never existed in a vacuum anyway. This festival hopes to enlighten those previously in the dark how much science, design, art and architecture all conspire in the creation of the garments we use to adorn, decorate and protect ourselves with.

High profile fashion insiders and innovators including Jeurgen Teller, Stella McCartney, Pam Hogg, Hussein Chalayan, Amanda Harlech alongside many others are included in the line up and there are still others waiting to be confirmed so it is no thrown together ragbag of remnant garments but an event cut from the finest cloth. An essential section of the arts, it is good that at last fashion is about to be recognised as an important part of our daily lives and dictates not only how we look  but also affects how we feel, act and think on a daily basis.

A totally worthwhile event surely worthy of investigation during this vibrantly buzzing time of year when Scotland’s capital city is at its most exciting, this Festival is a more than worthy addition to the collective display of talent on hand. Let’s hope that the rain stays off long enough for attendees to wear something more than an outfit designed simply to keep dry/warm although being Edinburgh in August it may be wise to never venture out without an umbrella tucked away inside the prerequisite designer bag.

The Edinburgh International Fashion Festival is based at Summerhall between 16th -19th August.

Full details about individual events and further information can be found by clicking the following link edinburghinternationalfashionfestival.com