Saturday, December 10, 2016

A handful of photos I took when picking up my brother from University on Friday.

Coat: Miss Selfridge
Bag: M&Co
Leo in The Revenant-inspired earrings: Dorothy Perkins
Glasses: Twiggy for Aurora

The chaplaincy at my brother's college.

pretty Christmas tree.

From afar, the college has a touch of Wayne manor about it. Bruce Wayne's manor from the Christopher Nolan Batman movies, obviously, not the Snyder bastardisation.

We went on a ferry from Woolwich on our way back to cross the Thames back to Bromley, haha.

And, true to form, me and Tom had a proper sibling catch-up over our go-to junk food!

Restaurant review: AL BASHA (Knightsbridge)

Because I seem to be a glutton for punishment who never seems to learn my lessons from previous crooked Groupon deals, I recently purchased yet another one: a 9-course-tasting menu for two at the Lebanese restaurant, Al Basha at Knightsbridge.

The meal was a bit of a mixed bag. It started with a chickpea soup that didn't look very inspiring, and was a bit too cool in temperature to serve its purpose: - 

Salvation came in the form of the mains, pictured in the first photo, as well as the meat, photographed below:

I really loved the humus dip; one of my favourite parts about middle Eastern dining, and the fact that there was an ample bowlful of it was very much appreciated. The spicy potatoes were also consumed rapidly. Both the meats - the beef, and the chicken, complemented the range of dips and vegetables extremely well.

Items I liked less included the macaroni & cheese, which, in addition to not sounding remotely middle Eastern, was also too cold (this seems to be a common complaint for food at this place, would it kill them to use the heater on higher power?!). I've had my share of falafels over the years and those served in Al Basha tasted rather unexceptional, too.

The service was also quite bizarre. Rather than leave a jugful of tap water on our table, as most restaurants do, in Al Basha, a woman walked around with a jug. This was inconvenient for both her and me as I consume a lot of water, so I had to keep calling her. When I asked her if we could just have a jug for the table, she pretended she couldn't understand the question. Hmm.

Finally, with the Groupon deal, you got a glass of wine. We both had white wine. Bad decision; it tasted absolutely awful. And I'm hardly a wine connoisseur; I'll gladly drink Tesco's own brand. But if the wine tastes significantly worse than Tesco's own brand, then a restaurant ought to be worried.

It's in the restaurant's interest to serve better-quality alcohol to their punters, because, who knows, if I was more inebriated on better-tasting drink, I might not be so critical of this haphazardly-run venue.

Grade: C+


All my restaurant reviews are listed here. If you'd like me to review your restaurant, email me at and I'll see what I can do.

Zack Snyder's ego v His ability to make a good film.

I didn't see Batman v Superman when it first came out in the cinemas in March, as it was released the same week as Zootopia. Whilst dithering as to which to invest my time in, I noticed Zootopia got rave reviews and BvS got woeful ones. I watched Zootopia, as was the right decision; it's still my third favourite film of the year.

That should have been it, but, misguidedly, with my girlcrush on Gal Gadot, the cast featuring Amy Adams and Jesse Eisenberg and me wanting to know if it really was as bad as everyone said, I finally sat down and watched it with my brother last night.

Here be a ten thoughts I had during the film:
1. The bath scene was embarrassingly forced and unerotic, and so unhygienic!!! I mean,  understand trying to convey passion and the heat of the moment, and would have been cool with Cavill getting in the bath with Adams when he was fully clothed.

But getting in the bath with his dirty shoes on, when she was naked in the bath? That's just bad sanitation. Gross.

2. Zack Snyder is a talentless hack who cannot direct to save his life. Mark Kermode's review of Snyder's Sucker Punch, where he repeats the directors name in a hyperactive voice, is the funniest thing ever, but honestly, I can totally see Snyder directing BvS in such a high-pitched voice, no structure to his vision at all, and worse, no-one bothering to step in and reign him in, so the end product is just whatever Zack feels like bunging into a movie, namely, SUPERHERO FIGHT! THEN BATH SCENE! THEN JESSE EISENBERG BEING TWITCHY! THEN ANOTHER SUPERHERO FIGHT!

3. Jesse, honey.... So 2016 might be the first I bestow an actor the dubious honour of appearing in both my 'favourite performances of the year' (Eisenberg's bittersweet performance as Bobby in Cafe Society is still comfortably my favourite performance this year, for how much I recognised myself in his role), as well as 'worst performances of the year', where Eisenberg's hilariously bad Lex Luthor currently has him ranked second behind Blahra Delevingne in Suicide Squad, ofc.

He's not helped by a portentous script that has him evoking Greek mythology all the time and Snyder's direction which is completely devoid of nuance, but Eisenberg doing a half-assed Mark Zuckerberg impression and punctuating it by being a jumpy caricature in an attempt to create an unsettling villain was epic fail, on so many levels.

4. All of the action scenes were way too long, did not grab the audience's attention and just played like messy, loud, over-CGI'd nightmares.

5. Affleck was decent as Batman. I can't say I like the guy on account of him in real life basically being like the character he played in Gone Girl (he cheated on nice Jennifer Garner, the cad), but his delivery of laughable lines of dialogue in the self-important script were basically as good as you can expect from any actor. His rapport with Jeremy Irons (playing Alfred) was quite nice too.

6. The most eye-catching turn in the film was easily Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman; impeccable casting and BvS's main saving grace.

A 5'10'' former Miss Israel-winning model with long flowing locks, lips to rival Margot Robbie's in turns of juiciness and an athlete's physique, Gal definitely looks the part, but she also injected Diana with an inscrutable quality which suited the character well. Gal is the perfect age to play a character who's tough and world-worn, but at the same time retains a certain vulnerability, and the fact that she was relatively unknown when cast means that the actress doesn't bring baggage to the role, baggage that most other actors in the film did (with Affleck, I'll always think Nick, with Eisenberg, I always think Zuckerberg, with Irons, I always think the paedo from Lolita, etc). 

And she sports a range of slinky dresses and arm bangles.... hawt.

You know when I said I was trying to lose weight? The goal is basically to be slim enough to rock an arm bangle like Diana, haha.

7. One of the few moments during BvS when I sat up and took notice of what was going on was when I spotted this photo:
That's handsome Chris Pine!! The inclusion of this photo played as a nice tease for next year's Wonder Woman, which despite how bad BvS was, I will definitely be seeing... come hell or high water. 😎

8. I watched the extended cut of this film, and it was too bloody long. 3 hours of my life I shall never get back. Again, all Zack Snyder's fault, for his inability to trim the fat, to give exposition and backstory in a more streamlined manner, and for lingering on scenes which didn't contribute to the story at all, but was clearly only there so he could trouser as much money as possible from the production companies.

9. Hans Zimmer's score for this film, which he collaborated with Junkie XL on, isn't a patch on his scores for the Christopher Nolan Batman movies. Whilst the score wasn't distractingly bad like the direction, it was also quite forgettable and generic action movie-sounding.

The only exception to this was the track, 'Is She With You?' which played in several variations throughout the film and then was properly blasted in a pretty epic manner when Diana finally made her entrance. It's the track that's used in the Wonder Woman trailer; apropos that the most interesting character gets the most interesting theme.

10. The BBFC have gotten quite a few complaints this year about Batman v Superman's 12A certificate, especially as the extended cut was also a 12A, when that version was rated R in the States. Meh, I think R is an overreaction. There was one grisly prison scene, but most of the violence was off-frame, so I think the BBFC actually got this one right. Mind you, violence tends to make more of an impression on me when I'm, you know, invested in the plot, which I definitely wasn't in this case...

Overall, I give Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice a 3/10 mainly because Gal Gadot was fierce and Amy Adams was completely credible as Lois Lane.

I won't be watching Justice League tho, and personally feel Zack Snyder should not be allowed near a major franchise for the rest of his life.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Two Guns (the Sequel).

The last time I waxed lyrical about Gary Cahill's insane biceps, Chelsea had beaten Manchester City at the Etihad. Well, this weekend, we beat Manchester City at the Etihad (ironically enough, the man with the golden guns scored an own-goal, but we'll just chalk that down to him kindly giving Agüero a masterclass in finishing), so it's time for another appreciatory post  for Gazatron's arms!

The best arms in football, bar none. Appreciate his commitment to constantly making them even bigger, too.


I shan't be watching Passengers. It stars a certain actress who's acting prowess I don't exactly hold in the highest regard,  and I don't like sci-fi much (Arrival was an exception to this rule). Plus I don't see the point in hate-watching a movie when I barely have time to view the many films I actually want to see.

However, whilst I'm still staunchly 'you'd have to drag me to the cinema to see this', I have to admit the BBFC have trolled me slightly, in that by using 'sexual activity' rather than 'sex' in the short insight, my interest is piqued as to what the 'sexual activity' is.

I've noticed an increase in the prevalence of this curio turn of phrase recently. It seems to be employed for situations rather than intercourse, e.g. describing the masturbation scene in The Survivalist. In Childhood of a Leader (a shining example of a film I'd love to see but sadly didn't because the Odeon didn't screen it), a film rated 12A for moderate sexual activity, the activity in question is a husband running his hand along his wife's leg in a horny manner.

Which is fair enough, it's good to be prescriptive and delineate the lines between a shag and sexual behaviour to the audience. But I'm intrigued as to why it's been used in Passengers' case, given that in interviews about this film, Lawrence has been bleating on and on about her sex scene with Chris Pratt, and even falsely claiming this love scene is her first. (I've seen Serena, Jennifer. You might like to pretend that film never happened, but I saw it).  She also had a sex scene with the late Anton Yelchin (RIP) in Like Crazy, so I don't know why she's pushing selling the fallacious narrative that this is her, quote, 'first sex scene'. To sell more tickets for the film, perhaps? 🤔🤔🤔

So I would have thought Passengers would feature an out-and-out love scene. But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe they start having Cesc, then J-law's character starts reading her whiny essay about how underpaid she was for American Hustle instead and Pratt's character loses his wood.

Just speculating.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

A pretty Christmas tree around where I study.

I'm just gonna bore y'all with photos of pretty Christmas decorations I see around London. #SorryNotSorry

Film review: CERTAIN WOMEN (Kelly Reichardt, 2016)

Certain Women is a triptych of stories about three women living in Montana, whose lives are peripherally connected. In the first instalment, lawyer Laura (Laura Dern) struggles to get through to a stubborn client, who later takes another character hostage in order to get what he wants. In the middle segment, Gina (Michelle Williams) and her husband try to build a house together, the procurement of sandstone for which betrays some fundamental fissures in their marriage. And in the final story arc, a nameless ranch hand (Lily Gladstone) attends an evening class taught by Beth (Kristen Stewart), and develops a crush on her teacher.

Relative unknown Lily Gladstone, who has been picking up various critics’ awards for her beautiful performance as the rancher, is easily the film’s MVP, and consequently, her section of the film was my favourite. In another universe, where independent films could afford to distribute screeners for the Oscars (and Oscars were actually awarded on merit), she’d be a shoo-in for a nomination for Best Supporting Actress. The majority of her character’s feelings are illustrated through her face rather than words and her big brown eyes convey a lifetime of longing for human company. It's a mesmerizingly moving performance, all the more poignant for its artlessness.

Interestingly, in Maile Meloy's short story collection from which this segment was adapted, the character Gladstone played was a man. But it’s a curiously gender-fluid role, and a sign of cinema graduating with the times, that Reichardt successfully adapted the character to be female in her film. In fact, the besotted way in which Gladstone gazes at Stewart was hauntingly reminiscent of the loving look Jesse Eisenberg gives the same actress in Café Society, as well as the way Emory Cohen looks at Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn. Both actors gave fine portrayals of men in love, but in witnessing the unguarded yearning in Gladstone's eyes, and knowing that the object doesn't feel the same way, filled me with more pathos than watching the guys did.

Michelle Williams cements her reputation as one of the best actresses of her generation as a hardworking and under-appreciated wife and mother. As with her most powerful scenes in Brokeback Mountain, Williams makes excellent use of body language to convey a mountain of resentment at her slack husband. Michelle Williams, Laura Dern and Kristen Stewart all impressively shed their natural grace and beauty to inhabit far more ordinary characters, without the de-glamorisation process feeling too ‘awards-begging’.

The fact that the actresses so convincingly slip into their run-down roles make the human interactions which they are implicated in the more urgent, even if the register of the film never reaches a dramatic crescendo. In Certain Women, there are 'good' or 'evil' characters, epitomised in the first part, where the disgruntled client who entangles Laura in a hostage situation, it transpires, really was screwed over by his previous company, and feels he has nowhere left to turn. Such scenes are reflective of the real world, where there are no easy answers, and people can only try to make the best of bad situations.

Essentially, Kelly Reichardt's understated, intelligent film makes like that Beyoncé lyric; "Who run the world? Girls." Except in her celebration of the minutiae, she illustrates that while certain women don’t make a song and dance about their actions or their consequences, it doesn’t render them any less profound.



If you enjoyed this review, feel free to check out my other reviews hereCertain Women hits UK cinemas on the 3rd March 2017.