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Top July Films by myETVmedia
Top July Films, a photo by myETVmedia on Flickr.
I came home from work on Hallowe'en to groups of children with their parents, walking up and down our street dressed as creatures of the night, carrying orange buckets for their sweet goodies.

I saw a neighbour come out of the corner shop and at first I thought she had made herself up to look like a zombie. Upon closer inspection, I realised she was just tired.

My boyfriend and I spent the evening watching Byzantium, a pretty decent vampire film set in a nameless location in the British Isles. It had a new twist to the genre: a mother and daughter were on the run because vampires were a brotherhood that did not allow women.

(Nobody knocked on our door.)

The 16-year-old daughter had been moping like a teenager for 200 years. She dealt with her curse by feeding off elderly people who wanted to die. She played the piano beautifully, which made me think of the pianos in St Pancras, with their signs "Play Me." There's one just by the Eurostar's arrival door: visitors from France and beyond, quite often, are greeted by some random traveler playing it as they roll their suitcases into London. It's quite a nice idea and I salute whoever came up with it.

I wish I could play the piano. I wish I could play any musical instrument actually (apart from the triangle.) I'd drop by St Pancras once in a while on my lunch break, sit at the piano and whip up a sonata.


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We came in from the heat and sat down at a corner table covered with cowboy comic strips from the 50s. A man in the corner played a trumpet until a basil-scented pizza on a platter arrived for him from the kitchen.

The girl behind the bar wore lipstick that was slightly too red for her face - as vivid as the cowboy's shirt on the comic strip. We rested our drinks on the cartoons - beer, lemonade, Coke - and pulled out our notebooks and pens for a spontaneous creative writing exercise brought about by hours of talks on literature and art in a nearby park.

We were grateful for the fresh breeze that came into the pub from all the open windows.

After the trumpetist was done with his pizza, he picked his instrument up again and was joined by a man at the piano. We stopped our writing to clap every time they completed a song. Then we were back into our pages, the cartoon smiles from the American Wild West peeking at us from underneath our notebooks. More people arrived and the clink of glasses from the bar counter, and the chatter from outdoor tables, rose whenever there was a pause in the free jazz.

Vicky said we could be in Italy.


commonpeople1: (B & W)

My six-day holiday has been perfect so far.  Yesterday morning I lounged around home then went to meet [livejournal.com profile] millionreasons for coffee. We have been LJ, Facebook, Twitter, God Knows What Else, friends for four years but only now did we meet in real life for the first time - and she lives just up the road! We had coffee in this nice little café North of Victoria Park and chatted away for two hours about books, the Royals, music and our families. She surprised me by bringing a copy of Atwood's Bluebeard's Egg, which she originally nicked from a B&B in Bath. I have to pass it on once I'm finished.

For lunch, I cooked myself a huge bacon and eggs fry up then got myself ready for the garden. On the bus ride there, I saw police running across Mile End Road, through screeching traffic like cops in a U.S. TV show, chasing five hooded boys. They pushed them all against a wall and started searching them. One of the boys reacted and a scuffle broke out. A few minutes later, I walked past police searching and interrogating more youths in a West Ham park. I wonder if it's related to those squat raids?

The garden was quiet, with just the garden leader, one of the regulars (George) and one of the people who live across the street. I planted five broccoli plants and weeded some of the pathways. At 6pm, I headed for the South Bank to see La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc (1928). Just before the film, [livejournal.com profile] wink_martindale and I bumped into [livejournal.com profile] denalyia . We had a glass of white wine on the Royal Festival Hall's balcony and chatted about the Expanding Mind podcast.

Jeanne d'Arc was accompanied by a live band and singers. Five guitars and basses, drums, harps, keyboards, and more. It was a mixture of Godspeed You Black Emperor, Barry Black, a dash of the Cocteau Twins and church coral songs. It was epic and marvelous. It made the film seem currant and brought out the intensity of Maria Falconetti's performance. I want to own that soundtrack.

Edit: Looking at info on yesterday's performance, I just realised that it was the guys from Portishead and Goldfrapp who created and led the score.  I should have known about this beforehand, shouldn't I?

Strung Out

Dec. 3rd, 2010 05:30 pm
commonpeople1: (Jehovah's Witness)

Cello. Times Two.
Originally uploaded by quite christine
An orchestra is the perfect setting for a murder mystery. All those egos. All those tensions. (Because we know that's what happens when you get a large group of people working towards a common goal.) All that intrigue. Plus, the posh setting: some earning a hell of a lot more than others (how much does the triangle player get?!) And the explosive sexual chemistry! All these thoughts ran through my head yesterday as I sat through a concert at the Royal Festival Hall.

I've mentioned before Ray, this octogenarian from Hackney who loves to buy large amounts of concert tickets and invite his friends to come along. He's a member of the Royal Opera House as well as the Festival Hall so he gets them for £4 a piece ("Oliver, it's cheaper than a glass of wine in this place!") Some time ago, everyone pitched in some money to get a seat named after him in the Festival Hall. The seat is there, with his name on a golden plaque. I got a call from him on Sunday to join him yesterday, with [livejournal.com profile] wink_martindale, and it sounded like the perfect night out in these snow bound days.

There were twelve of us. Italians, Finns, Hackneysians, Brasilians, Canadians, Unknowns. The Philamornia Orchestra started with Maria von Weber's Overture, Der Freischütz, a ten-minute long piece that was quite lovely. This was followed by Schumann's Symphony No.1 in B flat (Spring), which was quite dull.

I noticed two cello players sitting side-by-side. She looked like a young, brunette Uma Thurman with serious eyes. He had light brown - and silky smooth - hair, stubble and cheek bones to kill for. They shared a partitura and glanced at each other when they thought the other wasn't looking. Her cello was darker than his. Near them were two women dressed in identical black outfits. I bet they wanted to kill each other. (See, it was from these observations that my murder mystery took shape.) Somebody else in the orchestra looked like a tall and intense Casey Affleck. Suspicions fell on him after the body was discovered.

The second half was Brahms' Violin Concerto in D. Violinist Arabella Steinbacher came on stage dressed in red and played alonside the orchestra for the whole half hour without looking at a partitura. Amazing.

London has so many classical concerts which are incredibly affordable. It's one of the best things this city has to offer. That and murder mysteries.
commonpeople1: (Glasses)
I found a family of baby rats today.  I was digging the compost heap at the community garden when I noticed something shiny and grey wriggling amidst the rotten egg shells, mud and wood lice.  Soon the viscous thing broke apart into three tiny sets of blind eyes searching for a way back inside the heap.  Everyone stopped what they were doing and gathered around me.  "Baby mice!" I said.  Someone lifted one by its very long tail and corrected me: "baby rats."  "Where's the mother?" someone else asked.  We all stared silently at the heap and shuddered.  There was something trying to poke out of the mud - like that bit in Alien - so I raised my shovel in self defence.  It turned out to be four more baby rats.  We pulled them out and put them in a cardboard box.  Nobody knew what to do with them.  We couldn't exactly rehouse them but nobody had the guts either for drowning the lil cuties.  When I came home, the impasse still stood.

I'm on the third episode of Dynasty's first season.  During a glamourous dinner, Blake Carrington's daughter smokes a spliff in the garden with her cousin while her closeted gay brother reads Emily Dickinson to one of the guests in the library (the guest that just came out of the loony bin.)  I'm loving it.  (I'm quite surprised at the amount of versions for the theme song on Spotify; and the same for Dallas.)

It would be kinda fun to write an 80s style bonkbuster centred around a rich and powerful family (much like the ones I used to write when I was fourteen - inspired by my mom's Sydney Sheldon collection).  Or a reboot script for Dynasty.  I think there's a market out there in these banker bonus times.
commonpeople1: (March of the Dead)
The Duchess of Malfi

Punchdrunk and the ENO's Duchess of Malfi )
commonpeople1: (Aiko)
There's a man outside my office window listening to Verdi's "La donna è mobile" on a gramophone. He's inside a paddle boat, rowing up and down Regent's Canal. He's wearing a cream suit and a summer hat, and he's being filmed.

I wish I could be outside today enjoying the sun.
commonpeople1: (James)
I came home last night and A Room with a View was on television. I watched it, of course, and realized that it has now displaced Groundhog Day as my all time favourite film.

A Room with a View

commonpeople1: (Steven Lubin)
commonpeople1: (Log Lady)
múm


Somewhere beyond the land of Slowcore, Tweecore, Noisecore and Bleepycore lives múm (originally from Iceland). There are seven of them - three women and four guys. They seek inspiration in computers as well as traditional musical instruments, which they all play well. They harmonise like happy Smurfs and dance maniacally to songs nobody else can dance to.

Kevin, who happens to be on their mailing list, found out weeks ago about tonight's gig at the Museum of Garden History (an old church facing the House of Parliament, with barely enough space for a hundred people, and walls decorated with old shovels). We joined the crowd of lean blondes and elegantly messy students on the church's courtyard, just before the doors opened. An orderly line up was formed and we were soon inside, close to the stage and the fatal sound speakers.

Songs from múm's new album, go go smear the poison ivy, made me think of Rosemary's Baby, shards of my beer bottle in the face of the girl behind me, Satan our Lord levitating above the crowd then flying through the glass windows, ABBA, and the already-above-mentioned-Smurfs. Just as the eardrums' drilling was surpassing my psychotic episode limits, the band performed their last song and said their goodbyes.

They were excellent, in a there-is-nobody-out-there-like-them kind of way. múm are going their own merry way, happy for us to tag along, but not too bothered if we fall by the wayside (kind of like one of their compatriots, Björk). It's great to know that some music is still being made with its own internal logic, its unique melodies, its complete disregard for what's fashionable or marketable.

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