Monday, May 31, 2010

Animal magic

Animal Kingdom is a relentless, powerful and utterly compelling film - without a doubt the best thing I've seen all year. It's Shakespearean in its ambition and in the tragic arc of the story, featuring an incredible performance by first-time actor James Frecheville in the role of a young man dropped into the heart of a Melbourne criminal family which is about to be torn apart. The characters are beautifully, yet economically drawn; the cinematography is precise, the action evolves with intensity, there's humour and there's despair. Music is used sparingly but effectively, and the key actors' performances are often low key but always true. A quite incredible film which you must see at all costs.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Jolie laide

You can't tell me he wasn't a genius. This isn't beautiful, by any means - hence the title of this post - in fact it's quite disturbing; the pattern is hypnotic, you're looking into the belly of a beast; it draws you in, it rustles in the grass, it follows you stealthily... To be worn once, and then kept in a glass box.

Alexander McQueen, from Net-a-Porter. GBP3,300, and already sold out.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Burn baby burn

Every year for the last 6 years I've raced at Deep Water Bay dragonboat races. Every year, my team's kit has had tops with thin straps; and every year, the sun beats down and despite the apparently perspicacious, not to mention frequent, application of sunscreen of factor 30 and above, I get weird burn-then-tan marks around my shoulders in the shape of little straps. How old am I?

I'm ruined, then, for dresses like this one. But this year I decided enough was enough and though it didn't arrive in time for today's race, our kit has cap-sleeved t-shirts instead.

Dress, Alexander McQueen. Espadrilles, ChloƩ. Both from Matches.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

To be a light

Not long ago I watched a documentary about the 7/7 bombings. At the end, there was a clip from one of the remembrance services and someone was singing a beautiful piece of music that I recognised. I use my mother as a MyPhone app: if a fragment of music has been haunting me, I'll phone her and sing it to her. Often she knows it straight away; if not, she writes it down (one of the advantages of being able to write musical notation) and asks someone in what I imagine to be a vast network of musical contacts: Paul the clarinettist, Mary the conductor, Alan the treble recorder player, Morag the composer...

This beautiful, elegiac piece of music was sung in Rosslyn Chapel in 1983, and recorded there, by my classmate J, sparsely accompanied by our class teacher on what I remembered as a clarinet. I remembered both words and music but not enough to find it on Youtube.

Marg didn't know what it was called, but amazingly, she found the cassette recording within minutes and played it to me as I sat enthralled on my sofa in HK. It wasn't a clarinet; it was a treble recorder (which Marg plays). J himself did the rest: I emailed him and of course he knew it. Here it is - it was used as the end credits for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1979), this time accompanied by a trumpet.

In a peculiar coincidence, I bumped into my friend Claire at Pret a Manger this morning and was telling her about hearing J's voice from 1983 down the phone from East Lothian, and the story of how I'd come to be listening to this before leaving for work. She told me that she was at school with Paul Phoenix, whose voice you have just heard.