Thursday, May 29, 2008

Film Review: Sex and The City

Warning: Although I will try not to reveal any spoilers that are not indicated in the trailer, if you wish to see the film without knowing anything about the plot, I suggest that you stop reading now and come back once you have watched the film.

I will start this review by stating that I am a Sex and the City fan; I own all the series which I watch and re-watch, for the clothes as much as the girls. I embrace the shoe-loving cliches which emanated from SATC and my favourite comment on this blog was the lovely person who compared me to Carrie Bradshaw. That's not to say I would actually like to be her (I'm quite happy with my own life) but I wouldn't mind her job, her flat or her wardrobe. I was therefore extremely excited to see the film, which I waited many years to see after the series ended. So, with baited breath BestFriend, Faux Sister-In-Law and I dragged our respective partners to the preview screening last night.

Many professional reviewers have commented that the film, a romantic comedy, was too long at 2 and half hours. I barely noticed the time passing, such was my enjoyment in watching the film. I thoroughly enjoyed watching it, thought it was fab. A great nights entertainment. I laughed, cried, cooed over the fashion and marvelled at how good the actresses looked despite their advancing years. Thinking about it in more depth though, I realised that a great piece of entertainment and it being a successful film do not necessarily mean the same thing.

Carrie says at the beginning of the film that people come to New York for the two 'L's - labels and love. The film certainly addressed these two issues in some detail - the whole film was glorious in it's technicolour-ed fashion and I cannot have been the only girl who wished for the Yves Klein blue Manolos with diamond detailing. As far as love went, SATC seemed caught between two posts - portray love as a happy ending or love as it honestly is? Forgiveness, selfishness, idolatry, happiness; these were all ideas which worked around the central theme which ran through the series and into the film - single girls looking for love which met their all consuming expectations. The most serious problem that the film encountered was that SATC seemed to have lost it's identity somewhere - it wanted to be bigger than a TV series yet it relied completely on the TV series for the story lines. Fast paced editing at the beginning gave way to elongated episodes which could have been cut in favour of more detail - time passed alternately very quickly and slowly, without any of the soul-searching of Ms Bradshaw that was the back-bone of the TV series. Each character needed to have their stories told yet somehow it seemed that there was too much attempted but not enough realised.

The plot was fairly predictable - Carrie is still a writer, although of books not newspaper columns, Charlotte and Miranda both married with a child, Samantha still in PR, there was a wedding, some minor twists, some loss, some forgiveness, some comical moments, some sad ones - but in trying t0 pack in so much action so much essential detail was lost. There were no girly discussions and dissections only a few cocktails, there was no love for New York or of culture or of the small things in life. Small details which looked like they might lead somewhere or mean something were glossed over. There were elements of the old SATC still visible occasionally though - the irony of Carrie agreeing to be photographed for Vogue was reminiscent of the use of the question mark on the last magazine shoot she did for example (and is it co-incidence that there is an age feature in this month's British Vogue?) - but it seemed that there was something missing. It was, as Wendy Ide in the Times Review put it, "like being reunited with old friends only to realise that you’ve grown irreparably apart". Still, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it and I cannot wait to see it again on DVD.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Returned to London after a weekend in Cornwall with friends. Despite the weather forecast predicting chilly winds and pouring rain, it really only rained when we were not wanting to be outside anyway. I went for a long solitary walk along the edge of the Camel estuary, following the exposed sand bank round at the lowest of low spring tides, the tide so far out that the water had receded to the teeniest channel allowing slow headway up towards Rock and Padstow, the gap so narrow it seemed as if a running leap would take you safely over the water. The boys played golf, I read, we had drinks in the sailing club and a huge comforting chili in the evening whilst the sun set over the cliffs. On the Sunday we meandered around the clothes shops before the most delicious roast lunch at the sailing club and a rather damp ferry crossing to Padstow. Once in Padstow the sun came out and we pottered around the harbour and the winding streets, in and out of shops and galleries and pausing for a cup of tea before catching the ferry back across the estuary, this time in hot sunshine, and a walk along the beach to the church for evensong. It was very peaceful sitting there in the quiet cold church listening to the singing, the sound of birdsong filling the pauses, the sun streaming through the windows and brightening the white washed walls. And then back out, blinking in the still bright sunshine rather like moles emerging from their hills, walking back across the beach, home for supper, for a film, sleeping solidly for 9 hours and waking to the sound of rain lashing against the window, the view of the sea blocked by low lying sea mist hanging over the hills and golf course. Lying in bed in the warmth, watching the rain against the sky light. And then the long drive back to London. A wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

This & That

Our house guests might have departed but reminders of them remain; I used my clothes brush to remove an entire fistful of fur from the arm chair in the sitting room and every time I sneeze at night previously invisible hairs rise off the bedspread in a cloud. A freshly washed, ironed and clothes brushed pair of navy suit trousers still covered in white hairs. Stray pieces of litter behind the wine boxes in the hallway, a remnant of Louis' over excited digging; a discarded biscuit behind the bin in the kitchen.

Our feline house guests may have departed but it was a busy weekend for human ones. A quiet roast dinner on Friday evening with BestFriend turned into her sleeping over on the sofa. We spent a companionable Saturday morning cleaning and turning chicken bones into stock before she departed for some flat hunting mid afternoon. As one guest left another arrived, this time for a dinner party we hosted in honour of a university friend leaving to join his girlfriend in Stockholm at the end of the month. M cooked a beautiful if time consuming beef in borollo dish. Sunday saw him turn the stock from Saturday into demi-glas which has now been frozen in an ice cube tray - the basis for many more lovely meals in the future. Another dinner on Sunday, this time at someone else's house and an opportunity for M to finish watching The Wire in preparation for the delivery of the OC (series 4) this week. Tonight M is watching football and I shall be hiding in the bedroom for The Apprentice followed by as much OC as I can fit in before bed.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

House Guests

They departed last night, our guests Louis and David. They came for the weekend whilst their parents were abroad and spent the weekend playing games, causing trouble, sleeping and eating. Like 'proud parents' ('PP') M and I spent evenings entertaining them and taking photographs of them snuggled up together angelically or fighting in the middle of the floor. Even at such a young age both had distinct personalities: Louis settled down very quickly and thought most activities to be a great game whereas David remained resolutely grumpy and stand-offish. Make the most of a weekend away, not him.

Much as I enjoyed being a PP, I was rather pleased to have an unbroken nights sleep last night. No more drifting off to sleep hoping that they were still alive, no more awakening suddenly as one of them climbed onto the bed, no more lying there in the dark as they chased each other up and down the sitting room engaged in some form of horseplay which invariably ended up with them fighting each other. No more crying outside the bathroom door as I got ready for work, not allowing them inside as they jumped straight into the shower and started trying to lick all the bottles before padding wet paw prints up and down the hall.

There were many touching moments in the weekend as well as the outright comical, like finding Louis down the back of the bedside table snuggled into a ball in a space which looked far too small for him and having to get him out again somehow. Or both of them standing on their back paws trying to reach up to the glasses of water on a table. Or finding them both curled up on a pile of shoes on the floor underneath our clothes rail. They also both had a habit of sneaking under the duvet during the early morning hours, so I often awakened to find one of them curled up sleeping in the crook of my knees. So it was with mixed emotions that I packed up their food and bowls, emptied their tray one last time and watched with horror as just before their parents came to collect them Louis coughed up a fur ball and was sick on the floor.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Overheard at lunchtime...

On trying to ingratiate oneself with the partners of a law firm: "I attended University of Columbia, before that the Spence School. Of course, I was at school with Gwyneth Paltrow. I'm a year older than her." "Are you friends with her then?" "We see each other at Spence School functions...could get her as a client. Their marriage is good though. He, Chris Martin, is really down to earth...cares for the kids". "Well, I'll certainly bring it up at the next partners meeting."

On finding adult children too needy: "He rang me when we were on holiday to say that he'd punctured the fridge with a knife whilst he was defrosting it, and what should he do? We can't even go away by ourselves without them ringing up. The other one rang from her honeymoon in the Maldives to say that she was worried she was depressed. She doesn't know the meaning of depressed..."

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Say hello to your neighbours

The BBC reports today that 1 in 10 people questioned for a survey do not speak to their neighbours. It goes onto suggest that the streets are empty and that there is a serious decline in everyday interaction.

We live in a typical somewhat suburban inner London street; a mixture of Victorian and modern houses, some converted into a number of flats, some are family houses. We are not on a main bus route but there is a tube station fairly nearby so there is pretty much a constant trickle of pedestrians up and down the road for most of the day. Every match day this number is multiplied many fold. There are also various workmen about completing one project or another.

One of the nicest things about living where we do is that we have friendly neighbours. We are friends with the people who live upstairs from us and frequently pop round to each other's flats for drinks. We are also able to just text each other if the music is too loud, or whatever, rather than letting it annoy each other and cause resentment. It is surprising how low our music can be and still be heard 2 flights up.

We are also on good terms with the neighbours to the side - greeting each other rather than drinking together - and they came round last night with a bottle of champagne to apologise for some rather prolonged building work which had taken up many weekends before they moved in. Last week we popped home to vote at lunchtime and returned quickly to the house. The dog started barking and Mrs Neighbour came to check that there were no burglars. Whilst some people may deem that nosy, I was very appreciative that someone noticed that there was unusual activity in our garden and came to investigate.

Our property is unusual in terms of access to other properties so we do see our neighbours at the back more than perhaps others do as we share an access way and also the gardens are connected. We are on very good terms with the parents of the family and do our best to use our shared parts of land to minimise disturbance to each other. The BBC article indicates that many neighbourhood disputes arise over a lack of communication - something which we have certainly noticed first-hand. Sharing communal parts inevitably leads to differing ideas over how things should be done and whose priorities are more important; an issue exacerbated when one party owns and the other party rents. Communicating with each other regularly seems to have smoothed the issues of contention and both parties have learnt to compromise.

As to other people on the street, well that is harder. People do tend to keep themselves to themselves in London and apart from our immediate neighbours I would not recognise people who live near-by. Free-cycle has introduced me to a few very friendly people in the area but they are not people I see on a regular basis. I know our normal postman to say hello to and he knows which address is mine but it is not always the same postman (or at least I presume it isn't since sometimes the postman hands me the post yet on other occasions our neighbours bring it round as it has been posted through the wrong door).

Whilst I agree that everyday interaction is important there is also a need, especially in a city like London, to be able to switch off at home and not feel that people are constantly haranguing you or being nosy. Personally I am appreciative of friendly neighbours and go out of my way to cultivate this relationship but I also understand that some people do not want to be under an obligation to say 'hello' or even idly chit-chat for a couple of moments if you both happen to be in your garden at the same time or step outside the front door simultaneously. However, I do think that a happy medium is preferable, not least because it encourages a safer neighbourhood and, I hope, lowers crime rates.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Gardening Lessons

The gardening plea has gone down well. We are in Yorkshire as part of a trip seeing family and I spent yesterday afternoon learning some gardening techniques in Granny's greenhouse. 42 plugs of yellow geraniums had arrived from an offer in a newspaper and Dad showed me how to gently poke them out of the plugs using a handy pointed device (this happened to be the part of a bird feeder which a bird would stand on, was it in use) and tease them apart, re-planting them safely in individual pots and then watering them. He showed me the way to handle plants, how to feed them, different types of compost. We identified plants in the garden and I was shown how to feed things and how to plant up my hanging baskets. I then looked through the weekend papers and am writing this after going on-line to place my order for 24 free sweet-peas. 

Granny has had a look through her bookcases and has found an encyclopedia of container gardening which I have been reading this afternoon and deciding on potential combinations of plants for different kinds of containers. Sadly it has been raining or no doubt we would have been in the garden as we were yesterday afternoon, sitting on the freshly mown lawn drinking cups of tea and enjoying the sunshine after all our earlier efforts.

Dad produced a box from his car which contained some old tools, some pots, some seeding trays and two containers of food. Granny has found some spare hanging basket compost with water granules already mixed in. Tomorrow we return to M's parents en-route to London where there is some other compost and some small plants which M's mother has  grown from seed for us. I look forward to having a bash myself next weekend at planting up some of the baskets and tubs.

Image from New Zealand Garden Stuff