The Oscar Nominations

Oh dear.  It’s not a great year, is it?

Nine nominations for best film and none of them were;

  • Drive – The Best US movie I’ve seen this year
  • Senna – The Best documentary I’ve seen this year, and not even a nomination for best documentary (or for Project Nim)
  • A Separation.  The best film I’ve seen this year, although it does get, and must surely win, best foreign movie and remarkably it has broken out with a best Screenplay nomination.  Why not best movie then?

Instead we are left with;

  • The Artist – nice but ridiculously overrated
  • Hugo – often derided by the critics but leads the way with 12 nominations overall
  • The Tree of Life – Great in parts, abysmal in others
  • War Horse – after initial good noises largely slagged off in the press and written of as sentimental tosh.
  • The Descendants.  Will see it next week when it opens.  Sounds like a good movie that’s nothing more than that.
  • The Help.  Oh please.
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.  Not much to go on this one but it’s a surprise choice and a 25/1 outsider.
  • Midnight in Paris.  A return to form by Woody but has largely sentimental and fairly forgettable by all accounts.
  • Money ball.  A baseball movie.  Enough said?

If I was pushed to vote I’d say The Tree of Life (because I haven’t seen The Descendants yet).

It won’t win.

At least the lousy Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy didn’t make it (12 BAFTA’s, I ask you) and Gary Oldman might as well save the air fare because he ain’t got a chance against Clooney for best actor.



Adele. The phenomenon.

A year to the day since its release (24 Jan 2011) Adele’s 21 returned the number one spot on the US album charts.  It’s pretty much never been out of the top ten in the intervening 104 weeks and 16 of them have been in that coveted top spot.She’s had 19 weeks at the top in the UK.

It’s a remarkable achievement for a singer who has, in that period, become nothing short of a national treasure.

OK, I know a lot of us are sick to death of her, but not me.  I think it’s fully deserving of the 3.84 million units it has shifted in the UK (17m worldwide) especially as it has been without the help of Simon Cowell and on an independent label; XL records.

Shame, by Steve McQueen. How appropriate

There’s a scene early in Shame where Michael Fassbender languorously wanders, completely naked, through his flat and stands at the toilet before slowly micturating as we watch voyeauristically.  It sums the film up.  Pish.

Hunger, McQueen’s debut,  was my movie of 2008.  McQueen and Fassbender pulled off a coup with a brilliantly thought provoking and totally engaging story about Bobby Sands and the dirty protests in the Maze prison in Belfast.  It was a horrifying journey to hell and back with a miraculous central peformance by Fassbender.

This movie attempts to do something similiar, performance wise at least, by stripping Fassbender back literally to his skin.

It’s a story about unsaid things.  Clearly Fassbender and his sister (Sissy, played by Carey Mulligan) have a past that has severely damaged them emotionally and their onscreen relationship hints, at times, of near incestual closeness but this is kept at bay by extreme aggression to each other.

Sissy is a self harmer, Fassbender a sex addict.  Neither evoke any sympathy whatsoever, because McQueen has set out to make a movie that moves glacially and observes the action with a remoteness and aloofness that is chilling and utterly unengaging.

The truth is, this is a self absorbed piece of film making that leaves one cold, in fact, pretty bored actually.

It’s unsympathetic stance towards the central characters actually ends up with you not caring by the end.

A cold, uninvolving self indulgence of a movie that I’d recommend avoiding.

An interesting start to the week…

I’m off to the Lyceum for the first read through of the script for “of Mice and men:”.  John Steinbeck’s classic.

Very excited.

It comes to the theatre in mid- February and here is the synopsis as posted by The Lyceum…

Armed with nothing but hope, and the dream of one day living and working on their own land, George and his childishly innocent companion Lennie start work on a ranch.

New friendships are made and at first life looks good, until gentle Lennie, unaware of his own immense strength, unwittingly shatters their dreams in one disturbingly tragic act.

This is theatre at its most powerful.


George…………………William Ash
Lennie………………….Steve Jackson
Candy………………….Peter Kelly
The Boss/Whit………Greg Powrie
Curley………………….Garry Collins
Curley’s Wife………..Melody Grove
Slim……………………..Liam Brennan
Carlson………………..Mark McDonnell
Crooks…………………John Macaulay


I stumbled upon this astonishing poem today

Thanks to my old mucker, Bruce Haines who was President of the IPA back in the day when I sat on the President’s committee.  He now resides in Seoul so I’m sure he could have a lot of fun teaching this to the locals.

It’s an astounding vocal trickery  game really that has to be read out loud.

A wonderful celebration of the English language.  Enjoy.

If you can pronounce correctly every word in this poem, you will be speaking English better than 90% of the native English speakers in the world.
After trying the verses, a Frenchman said he’d prefer six months of hard labour to reading six lines aloud.

Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.
Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it’s written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.
Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.
Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation’s OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.
Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.
Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Fe0ffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.
Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover, clover;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.
Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.
Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.
Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.
Pronunciation (think of Psyche!)
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won’t it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It’s a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.
Finally, which rhymes with enough,
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!!!