Posts from December 2009
Most of the pubs on this top 25 list have offered years’ worth of fond memories, but even so there’s always the chance for new discoveries. You have to sneak them in though sometimes, when your contingent of drinkers has visited the Doric just once too often in recent weeks and the area in question isn’t too difficult to escape from if necessary. Mentioning that you’ve just read about the place on a beer geek’s blog is probably not going to be much help in the matter. And quite apart from straying outside the comfort and convenience of London’s West End, you’re not usually going to be able to entice people to visit an estate pub.
Estate pubs, of course, occupy a special place in pub fandom. Being integrated into the fabric of a residential (often Council-built) estate makes them peculiarly close to the lives of the residents, and often makes for a more cosy and welcoming environment, if always with the danger of a hostile reception for outsiders. You never can quite be sure.
Every year since pubs were invented (nine years by my reckoning), the fine drinkers of Freaky Trigger and ILX have spent the 29th December in a pub. Well, at least seven pubs infact, for the 29th is the date of the Annual Between Christmas and New Year Pub Crawl. Why the 29th? Well it’s the quietest pub day of the year, so we do our bit for the licensed trade and try to bolster their coffers.
Past crawls have taken in the Euston Hexagon, the Mornington Crescent, strange arcane routes across the river and last year a foray into Marylebone. This year we are again pushing further afield, by about half a mile and have settled on the wonderful environs of Pimlico, and its surprisingly large number of estate pubs!
So I give you Das Pimlico Boot (when you see the map it makes sense).
Three more unreviewed. Two good one TERRIBLE. From which I think you are starting to get the view that I really like writing about mediocre films, or films that almost made it. Find me an interesting flaw and I will be all over you like a badger with binbag (full). Make a film I really liked, I want to keep that to myself. Which, as noted regarding Frozen River below, I really shouldn’t do.
District 9: Sometimes there is no point to writing about a film. Usually there is something interesting to say, or at least some sort of critical dialogue, but with a film like District 9 all the interesting angles are really obvious. So Blah blah – apartheid analogy, blah blah alien invasion, blah blah low budget Peter Jackson. Even the interesting stuff I though I was the only one to notice was quickly battered to death by the media.
A wonderfully atmospheric podcast produced by our own Elisha Sessions form the Hackney Podcast which takes a long look at the history of the Hackney Empire, and tiptoes into its current woes. Eli has written on here in his Hackney Empire New Act Of The Year pieces about the future uncertainty over the operation of the Empire, one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever been in – albeit to see a terrible stage production of The Usual Suspects*. This Hackney Podcast is a great example of “in their own words” history, a relaxed example of reportage without obvious editorialising. I say without obvious editorialising, its clear what the Hackney Elders, regular Hackney Empire goers, think of the current Arts Council initiative there, and I can’t say the comments of the new Chief Executive give much solace. But listen away for a wonderfully atmospheric piece of radio. (As the comment says – though as the comment is from Louis, which is the name of Eli’s 1-year old child I am a touch suspicious).
*It was MA research for my dissertation on plays based on films. And my conclusion in this case was IT WAS A BAD IDEA! But at least I got to look at the theatre.
Anyone who paid attention in GCSE Geography will be aware of the concentric circle model of a town, with the CBD in the centre and the ‘commuter zone’ around the outskirts. Each zone has its own advantages and disadvantages for why people might want to live or work there.
The same model can be tenuously applied to the proximity of pubs to my workplace (situated bang in the middle of pub-saturated Fitzrovia).
More unreviewed films from 2009 (just be grateful I don’t include the 160 odd DVD’s I saw this year too), and this batch is from late summer, and all of these films I didn’t review were slippery. One I wanted to write about at length but it escaped me. One was fading as I thought about it. And the other one? Well the other one I couldn’t write about without wanting to punch the smug faces of its smug cast with a copy of its smug script. Which would distract anyone.
Broken Embraces was great while I was watching it. While on screen I was thinking that this was probably one of Almodovar’s best, tricksy, clever, self reflexive but with a command of his audience that I think is probably without parallel in modern European (world?) cinema. When it finished, I was less impressed. Because when it is boiled down, there really isn’t much story in Broken Embraces, and certainly no story that would be more than a basic melodrama if it had been shown chronologically. Almodovar clearly knew this and thus plays it in flashbacks, with the time out of joint necessarily creating the suspense that the film would not otherwise have. It looks great, Penelope Cruz is terrific and while you are in the cinema it is a great ride. It just lacks the thematic strength of his best films.
Gamer: Why did I not review Gamer? I spent a lot of time thinking of ways to review Surrogates and Gamer together, as they both have similar flaws. Both of them imagine a world in which one form of technology has increased massively without any other ones keeping up. Both use this to make some sort of point about modern day life. And both of them have the point of “this is what modern people would do if they have this technology”. But without really thinking through the sociological changes in society that a new piece of technology causes, the whole finger wagging exercise falls down. Also both are clearly dumb action movies bolted on to a philosophical chassis. At which point Nevedine/Taylor’s movie should win out because, as the directors of the Crank films, they know how to do batshit action. Oddly though Gamer is too serious for their type of action to work, and so they lurch between bloody and frenetic without really nailing it. Couple that with a humourless Gerard Butler as a – yawn – man sent down for a crime he didn’t commit and you have Death Race where the cars are people. More of the musical number at the end, a lot earlier in the film, would have made a lot of difference.
What’s this through the extra-large double-door of the 24th?
You’ve played the freeform Line Rider, right? (And if not, this truly is the best double-dose flash game day of the advent for you.) It’s been given a tiny festive makeover on the original site, but nothing like SNOW LINE. Help Santa collect all the presents. Easy. And no drugs content at all.
HAPPY HOLIDAY AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR
You can fall in love with a pub. Sometimes there are pubs which you are suited to, fit with your personality and your needs perfectly. These may be locals, ones which make you feel at home, or they could be pubs which just do everything in the way you want them to. And in the full flood of young love they may just be the pubs that were available.
The Blue Posts, Rupert Street, was my first London love. Sure I had dallied with a few pubs in Oxford, and there were a few old boilers in my suburb that I had affection for, but the BPRS was the first pub I “discovered” and made mine. And we fit together perfectly. It was a small, unpretentious pub in the heart of the West End, set on a tiny alley which is a perfect rat run between China Town (China Street more like) and the Trocedero.
My new years resolution in 2009 was to review every film I saw in the cinema that year. That came to 114 films (so far) of which I managed to say at least something about 97 of them. So over the next few year ending days I will run down the films I did not review, with a general thought, and perhaps an explanation why they ended up being unwritten about. It soon turns out that it wasn’t necessarily due to them being unloved.
So working in reverse order, based on the theory that the most recent films I have had less time to write about…