Tuesday, 30 October 2007

HOT: The English Surgeon at Times BFI London Film Festival

A moving and inspiring documentary about British neurosurgeon Henry Marsh, who has visited the Ukraine regularly for the last 15 years bringing his knowledge, skill and second-hand medical equipment to his friend and fellow neurosurgeon Igor Kurilets and Igor’s impoverished patients for free. It wasn’t just a weepie feel-good film but a portrayal of a generous man trying his best to do his little bit to help others. The most poignant scene was Marsh slumped in his chair as he remembered a young Ukranian girl who became disabled and died as a result of his treatment. Afterwards there was a Q&A with the director and Henry Marsh, and the man in real life was as humble and dryly witty as he was in the film.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

HOT: Henry Moore, Kew Gardens

Beautiful exhibition of Henry Moore's sensuous sculptures set in autumnnal Kew Gardens. The show was not a retrospective but a panorama through his major thematic influences - reclining figures, mother and child and internal/external forms. Mostly I liked his abstract works because as you walked around each one you discovered beautiful lines and vistas from every different angle.

HOT: Kew Grill, 10b Kew Green

One of Antony Worrall Thompson's restaurants (famous TV chef) and very highly recommended. It was everything your neighbourhood bistro should be - cosy ambience filled with comfortable brown leather chairs, cheerful service and most importantly, classic comfort food done consistently brilliantly (roast pigeon, duck breast, rack of lamb, creme brulee, apple crumble, chocolate fondant pudding). Yes yes yes!

Saturday, 27 October 2007

HOT: Ratatouille at Odeon Whiteleys

A delightfully charming and funny film about a rat with a well-developed palate in Paree. I love how Pixar are able to animate tiny gestures or facial expressions on animals or objects that you wouldn't normally associate with having feelings. Quote of the movie from the 'Grim Eater', dour food critic Anton Ego: "I only swallow if I love it".

Friday, 26 October 2007

HOT: Carlos Acosta with Guest Artists from Ballet Nacional de Cuba at Sadlers Wells

A joyous and vibrant performance from the high-leaping Carlos Acosta and his old ballet company. I've never seen anyone do a switching full turn grand jete like him and it drew gasps from the audience. I liked the company's style too - at times comical, classical, jazzy and emotional. All that litheness and lightness made me feel like a cloven-footed lump of lard.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

HOT: Water at Lyric Hammersmith

I love the Lyric - modern funky on the inside, ornate cosy on the inside and the crowd is full of Bright Young Things. The multimedia staging of this production was very creative - all the sound was created by sound technicians on stage and the actors using various pedals, microphones and everyday objects and the transitions between different scenes and different characters (played by the same group of actors) happened seamlessly on stage. The interweaving storyline was interesting too, melding in themes of loss, identity, change and climate change.

Monday, 22 October 2007

NOT: Rendition at Odeon Marble Arch

I think it was a bit much to watch another torture movie within a week. Not a bad film, but none of the characters were particularly well developed and the storyline was too neat for my liking - but I think guess there was really no other ending possible other than a happy ending in Hollywood. Hopefully it will at least make audiences question the principles and the legality behind extraordinary rendition.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

HOT: Afternoon tea at the Lanesborough Hotel Conservatory

There is nothing more luxurious on a Sunday than dressing up in a pretty frock to enjoy tiers of sandwiches and cakes in an elegant hotel. I really loved the décor of the Lanesborough’s conservatory – flowered settees, wooden colonial furniture, big palm trees with a pianist and trickling fountain in the background. I’m salivating just remembering the unlimited coronation chicken sandwiches, fruit scones and chocolate mousse cake and I think I might be addicted to High Tea.

Saturday, 20 October 2007

HOT: Golden Age of Couture at Victoria and Albert Museum

Thanks to Huy’s corporate largesse, I was able to enjoy this exhibition of delicious clothes for free. Sigh. It just made me want to shop afterwards and wear nothing but pretty dresses.

HOT: Cajun Dance Party at Club 229 Great Portland Street

The bouncer stared at my face and my ID incredulously “1979???”. Quickly doing the maths, that would make me probably 10 years older than everyone else at the school gym hall cum ‘Club 229’ for the gig of up-and-coming London rock band, Cajun Dance Party. As we looked around at the baby-faced crowd, Caro and I played ‘guess his age’ and the boys calculated the youngest girl they could date acceptably (half your age + 7 years). The support act was particularly disturbing with a kohl-eyed mini-skirted ingénue breathily singing into the microphone. CDJ were very good and with experience could become really big - the lead singer had the requisite skinny jeans angsty look (holding his head in his hands a lot) and the lead guitarist was very talented. Keep an eye out on these youngsters.

Friday, 19 October 2007

HOT: Broken Social Scene at Koko

So hot I fainted in the mosh pit. Ugly man band = great music from my experience and BSS were true to type. Good songs, fantastic energy, funny banter.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

HOT: Redacted at the BFI London Film Festival

A harrowing doocumentary style film based on the true rape and murder of a 15 year old Iraqi girl in Samarra by US troops. I thought this film was really effective as it used a mixture of first hand filming, documentary, Iraqi news reports, interviews, video blogs and VOIP video conversations to capture the feelings of the main characters before, during and after the event. I wondered how US audiences would react though as it highlights another US war crime in which the authorities did nothing.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

HOT: Stephen Osborne for the International Piano Series at Queen Elizabeth Hall

A young gawky British pianist playing a lovely and uncontroversial programme of Debussy, Beethoven and Rachmaninov as part of the International Piano Series. I loved his crystal clear tone and lightness of touch especially in the Waldstein Sonata.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

HOT: Rafta Rafta at National Theatre

Funny and poignant play about a British Indian family set in an amazing dolls house set where you could peek into every room. I was worried when I first started watching that I'd need subtitles to understand the mix of Indian and Northern accents but the jokes about being a migrant and growing up in another culture really hit home for me.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

NOT: Dimitri Hvorostovsky and the Moscow Chamber Orchestra at Barbican

A canter through two centuries of Russian music, from church hymns to opera to movie themes sung by the famous baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky. His voice was pleasant (not stunning) and it was hard to take him seriously as he was dressed in a open-necked pirate shirt and skintight polyester trousers. After the second encore I was starting to dream about heading to bed but the Russians in the audience all seemed to enjoy it, yelling Bravo! and bobbing their heads to all the familiar tunes.

Monday, 8 October 2007

HOT: Chowki at 2 Denman Street, Picadilly

A nice retreat from the neon fast-food madness of Picadilly with tasty and reasonably priced Indian food (with 2 for 1 toptable offer it came to 10 pounds per person), although for some reason in a half empty restaurant they did try and shunt us out after our meal.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

HOT: Hummingbird Bakery, 133 Portobello Road, Notting Hill

The line of women snaked out into Portobello market in anticipation of some of the best cupcakes in town. Despite the surly service, these cupcakes really were the bomb - lovely flavours, just the right amount of icing, soft spongy cakes. I could eat a dozen of these at once - try their bestseller, the red velvet.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

HOT: Julie's Restaurant and Bar at 135 Portland Road, Notting Hill

A beautifully decorated and unique rabbit warren restaurant and bar in an elegant and sedate part of Notting Hill/Holland Park. Every room was decorated differently - light and airy conservatory, Victorian Gothic, chandeliered salon, underground medina. It used to be an old morgue and retains many of the gothic features and was the location for Prince Charles' bucks night. Oh, and the smoked salmon and scrambled eggs with hot chocolate were great too.

Friday, 5 October 2007

NOT: Holding Fire at Shakespeares Globe

Slightly dull play about the Victorian Charterists movement which tried to weave in a personal element with little character development. The best bit was 80 year old Tony Benn coming up on stage and encouraging the crowd to turn up to Trafalgar Square on Monday to protest the Iraq war.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

HOT: Mary Poppins at Prince Edward Theatre

This production is definitely SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXPEDIALIDOCIOUS (with manic clapping dance moves to match). The songs and story are happily familiar, but having it transformed into a stage production was just magical. Seeing rosy-cheeked Mary Poppins taking her hatstand out of her carpet bag, the amazing 3 storeyed Banks house (complete with cosy furnishings) and seeing Burt dance upside down on the ceiling of the stage made for an absolutely delightful experience.