Film club

Not the most popular flavour of Jacob’s once popular chocolate-coated biscuit, but neither mint nor orange would serve my titular needs.

As mentioned in my last post, whilst in Cambridge at the end of September I took in some of the annual Film Festival.  This was great fun, as ever, and allowed my to renew my acquaintance with the Arts Picturehouse, but offered two particular cinematic delights.

Firstly, I saw Othello transmitted live from the National Theatre – the first time I’d been to see the theatre at the cinema.  This was surprisingly effective and does allow you to get extraordinarily close to the action (and the actors!) and I shall definitely use the cinema to catch plays again (it is even cheaper than the original and would normally involve a rather shorter journey).  The performance of Othello itself was staggering powerful and more than worthy of the five start reviews it had garnered.

My second highlight was a British romantic comedy with the rather improbable title of Dead Cat.  This was enormous fun, not the clichéd nonsense that is so often passed off as romantic comedy, and made for a tiny fraction of the budget.  Since I saw it, it has even won prizes (so, it wasn’t just me that liked it).  Sadly, lacking a major studio the film has no distribution deal and so can only be caught at film festivals – today Cambridge, tomorrow Oaxaca.  It can’t find funding from the BFI as it is not appearing at festivals considered “major” enough and can’t appear there due to the lack of funding.  Given the tosh that weekly fills our multiplexes, I can’t help but feel something is very wrong in the way we fund movies.

My local cinema now, the Harbour Lights, is also part of the Picturehouse group, but is somewhat smaller than its Cambridge counterpart.  It does, however, offer the advantage of reclining seats and a balcony with views across the marina which has been a very pleasant place to partake of a little pre-movie cake (though may become less desirable as winter closes in).

At the Harbour Lights, I have enjoyed a rather fine run of films in recent months with my top tip being What Maisie Knew.  My most recent visit was to see Le Weekend which I was amused to see had been given a 15 certificate.  Given its subject matter I cannot imagine it would be of any possible interest to the under 15s, despite the lure of its fruity language and use of soft drugs.  No, the people who should be kept away are the over-50s who might acquire some highly inappropriate ideas if exposed to the movie’s content.  Perhaps the BBFC could use my input for future classification?

All too often when I do go to the cinema, avoiding the over-hyped blockbuster, the place seems far from full – though this may be as a tendency to visit when normal people are at work.  Nonetheless, I worry that my attendance is not going to keep art house cinema going (despite my economically significant consumption of incidental cake and ice cream).  So, can I exhort the readers of GofaDM to give films whose blocks are far from busted a try – there’s a surprising amount of decent stuff out there, and art house cinema doesn’t even have to be depressing (though it certainly can be, if that is your desire).


Wasting the clock change hour

This poor blog has been much neglected of late as, frankly, I haven’t had the time to ramble textually to a largely indifferent audience.  I shall chose to blame work and the “man” for this, though a wholly disinterested observer may wish to lay some of the blame at my doorstep for my tendency to go out to have “fun” rather than staying in and committing my soi-disant thoughts to print.

Well, today I have been given (along with most of the inhabitants of this fair continent) a free, “bonus” hour – though it will be taken back in March (so it’s more of a loan if I’m honest) – so I felt I had no excuse for not blogging.

Having left Cambridge in a marked manner less than three months ago, this is my second weekend back by the banks of the Cam.  I’m sure a psychiatrist would tell me this is terribly unhealthy and that I should make a clean break, but what do they know?

My first time back was to take in some of the Film Festival (something Southampton seemed to lack, though was merely being incredibly secretive about).  I also managed to meet up with friends, take in some music and a lecture and wangle an invite to formal dinner at one of the colleges (surrounded by alumni and staff, I was somewhat of an interloper – getting in by dint of giving them my piano as part of the move away from Cambridge).  On that occasion, I stayed at Churchill College in one of their student rooms – this was a wonderful (and slightly nostalgic) experience and I would always stay there again if it were possible.  Sadly, during term time they insist on allowing students to stay in their rooms – the cheek of it!

This weekend, I am back to enjoy some music – both student and otherwise – and take in a play.  I’m staying above a pub, which offers a perfectly decent room – but which is neither as cheap nor as redolent of days past as staying in college.

Cambridge, unsurprisingly, still feels like home – despite the fact that I am “living” in places I’ve never stayed (or even visited) before.  However, being here without a bicycle feels very odd – I have to walk or use the bus to get anywhere which just feels wrong.  In Oxford (and even Southampton), I can hire a Brompton for £5 per day from a “machine” at the station  – but not in Cambridge where bike hire is substantially more expensive and less convenient (especially on a Sunday).  On the plus side, staying much nearer the city makes a nice change with no need for an 8 mile bike ride home into a strong wind (well, almost always) after a gig.

Still, the sun has come out and I ought to go out and enjoy its rays before Britain is raised to the ground by the oncoming storm, or so the media would have us believe.  They have definitely learned “a” lesson from Michael Fish in 1987, I’m just not sure it’s the right one.  Then again, if by the middle of the week I am forced to forage for scraps in the ruins of our civilisation, hiding from marauding gangs of feral ex-citizens – they will be able to enjoy a brief feeling of smugness at my expense.  Anyway, I better go as with the shift to GMT, nightfall can only be minutes away!