I hadn't read the book, I hadn't seen the series; So I arrived at the cinema yesterday evening without too many prejudices and expectations, apart from the fact that 1) it was a British movie with a Scandinavian director, and therefore not an overblown American bling feast and 2) the cast was superb anyway, so it couldn't be all bad.
I had heard a few reviews on the radio (I never let myself be influenced by reviews, mind) - Front Row on Radio 4: they all adored it, and The Saturday Review, on Radio 4 again: a bit more blase, and I have to quote the uber-irritating Miranda Sawyer who didn't like it mostly because (she moaned) "There is only ONE woman in the movie and she's BEAUTIFUL and she DIES" and of course mumbled something about feminism. She must have had an orgasm, then, when a graffiti spelling "The Future is Female" can be seen on a fence several times in one of the scenes... And actually, Kathy Burke has a speaking part, so it might be demeaning to her to say such a thing... If these programmes could avoid inviting embittered female guests to review movies and plays, they would do us a favour... At least, the blokes get on with it.
Anyway, so, the movie...
I loved it, because it was such an unusual piece of work. Moody, slow, atmospheric... It recaptures the idea I have of the seventies - not that I remember any of it, though, I was just a kid - everything is dirty, grey, messy, unkempt, depressing.
Of course, all the actors were all excellent and Gary Oldman, whom I have always liked for actually having a personality and taking risks, is masterful: understated, quiet, reserved, thoughtful but also a wounded man in his personal life. He ends up being very touching.
It is rare nowadays to see a movie that takes its time and that understands the importance of silence, of facial expressions and of what's happening behind a person's eyes.
And some of the reviewers clamoured loudly that of course, they had guessed who the mole was from the beginning, well, I didn't even try to guess, I let myself be carried to the end by the plot and the actors. It was strangely gripping, and deserves to be successful at the box office, although I am sure quite a lot of people wouldn't have the patience to sit through this slow-burning, unglamorous, intelligent movie.
Next movie for me will be Anonymous, the "Shakespeare" movie, out at the end of October. Looks like this one won't be moody ...
Today, I have been doing a little bit of research on 1920s cigarettes.
I have just come across this gorgeous 1924 advert and thought I would put it on here, as it is wonderfully suited to the theme of my novel, The Book of Thoth!
The picture was found on HERE. They have some more gorgeous images!
If you like books and literature and if you, like me, are fascinated by writers, their inspiration, the way they work, why they write, then do watch the Culture show special with Hilary Mantel (only 3 days to go HERE).
I admit that I have only read Beyond Black, but her other books have been on my "to read" list for quite a while now, and I have read one or two in-depth articles about her.
It was a fascinating and very touching portrait of an incredibly sensitive, imaginative, intense person. I found myself in a few things, for example the way writing has rescued her, how it's allowed her to carry on living.
This is the way I have always felt about writing and books: if everything else goes wrong, I'll always have them.
If I see the words "Coldplay" and "Rock" in the same sentence again, I scream. OK, it's in The Sunday Times, and as interesting their "culture bit" is, they really don't know anything about music. Oh, well, maybe classical.
You wanna rock? Here you are... Why not try a little bit of KILLING JOKE?
"As sound artist Bill Fontana puts the final touches to his latest project - the sound of waves from Dorset's Chesil Beach broadcast live across London's busy Euston Road - he explains why he hopes his work will help people listen more to the world around them."
CHESIL BEACH WAVES TO WASH OVER CENTRAL LONDON
This is an interesting concept... But nothing beats the real thing... We also fell in love with Dorset and Chesil beach last June, and we loved it so much that we will be back there in 4 weeks... So we will sit on the pebbles and listen to the real sound of Chesil beach, while watching the waves crash on the shore... Bliss...
Yesterday evening, we finally sat down to watch the first episode of the second series of Downton Abbey. I usually don't do series, apart from (maximum) 3 or 4 parts dramas.
But I loved the first series and whatever the trendies think about it, I'm absolutely not ashamed of it! I am particularly interested in this second series as it deals with the First World War and its effect on the people back home, whatever their social background.
Much like the first series, the music, the sets, the props and the costumes are absolutely splendid. The actors are very good as well, and even though some social aspects appear to have been ironed out - I am still convinced upstairs and downstairs can't possibly have been that close and tolerant to each other - I have enjoyed each and every episode.
I am not a big romantic but couldn't help feeling a big knot in my throat when Lady Mary watched the train leave the station, taking away the love of her life and bringing him to the slaughter of the trenches. It is difficult to imagine with our 21st century minds what it must have been like, and I just imagined the chattering pain it would cause me if I had been standing on that platform with the love of my life on that train.
Once the programme had finished, we fell into a big conversation about the way people coped at the time, courage, bravery, dissent, fear, the psychological and physical scars of the war, etc. I do hope I will manage to recapture this when needed in "The Book of Thoth", even though I would only scratch the surface.
I am in the middle of writing my second novel (TBoT) and it is set a few years after the end of WW1 - in 1925 to be precise - and even though this will not be the central theme of the novel, the shadow of the Great War is everywhere and permeates the very fabric of the house and the tight knit group of people who live on the (fictional) Whitemoor estate and the village nearby.
It will therefore be interesting for me to see how Julian Fellowes has treated the intricacies of personal relationships on such a heavy national and international background.
I have my very own WW1 expert here at home. I will make sure he provides me with the details I need and he will guide me in my work in order to make sure it is as accurate as possible.
Because there are some mythical and supernatural elements in my novel, I believe it would be good to make the rest as believable as possible!
What do you mean, "Dolly Who?"
Here is Matt ArtPix's report from the Leigh-on-Sea Handmade and Vintage fair that took place last Saturday... He had some very funny customers! We had a lot of fun and can't wait for our next fair (more on this soon!)
Talk about coincidence(s).
The art and design centre managed by one of the main characters of my debut novel "I Am a Muse", is called... The Hive!
"The landing felt slightly chilly – the heating system would slow down between 8pm and 6am as the
offices, shops and studios that occupied the Hive building were empty between those times, and the industrial strip tube lights made the whitewashed brick walls of the corridor look a bit grim, cold and unfriendly, the complete opposite of the office Constance had just left. She made her way downstairs, passing the doors she knew opened on empty magazine offices, photographer and design studios, multi-media consultancies, fashion workshops … During the day, the place was a beehive of activity – hence its name, and the corridors had been made wide enough to sustain the constant comings and goings of the people who made The Hive building one of the most exciting, privately run new centre of creative activity in the area. But towards the end of the day, it turned into an inhospitable monster whose beating heart and source of human warmth would occasionally be Constance’s red office."
Extract from "I Am a Muse"
For a year now (exactly one year next week), I have been attending art, vintage and design fairs with my boyfriend, Matt ArtPix.
We now have met quite a few creative, dynamic and interesting people, all doing their own thing, and it is always a pleasure to start setting up our stall and be able to say hello and stop off for a chat with other stall holders.
Two of those stall holders are Sue Beardsworth and her daughter. They sell vintage clothes and accessories at vintage fairs but they also take part in more artistic events, selling Sue's wonderful range of handmade wonders - she is a textile artist and costume jewellery maker.
Sue talked to us about The Hive artist studios in Chelmsford, a space she shares with seven other artists and invited us to visit the studios as part of their open studio weekend for the Chelmsford Arts Trail.
Imagine our surprise when she mentioned that one of the artists she was sharing the Hive with was the artist and illustrator Karen Jones!
We had had the opportunity to admire Karen's work at the Beecroft gallery in Westcliff-on-Sea earlier this year. I have talked about Karen Jones on my Facebook page before and linked her wonderful website, but I am going to link it on this website too, because her work touches me so much: hers is a wonderful world inspired by storytelling, literature and artistic movements such as the Pre-raphaelites. (KAREN JONE'S WEBSITE)
We turned up at the studios this afternoon and got a wonderfully warm welcome by all the artists present:
Karen Jones, Kitty Guthrie Oakley - artist and illustrator, Jill Tushingham - sculptor and Elizabeth Carpenter, illustrator (also PEPPERMINT PAPER DESIGN).
We even got a nice cup of tea!
All these artists have a very individual style, and this makes for a very lively, colourful, infectious atmosphere.
We had a lovely time chatting to the artists and seeing their working environment. We probably could have stayed there the whole day, but we wanted to go and have a quick look at the rest of the arts trail...
Have a browse around the Hive artist studio website, learn about each artist and future events here: THE HIVE ARTIST STUDIOS
Unfortunately, due to the detestable downpour, we decided to put enough money in the car park for only an hour and to go to one or two venues. We managed to get to The Old Barclays Bank and to the Shiny Shed... Some great stuff in there!
Browse the Chelmsford arts trail website and learn about the artists and spaces involved here: THE CHELMSFORD ARTS TRAIL
Tomorrow, I will be taking yet another break from writing in order to help my lovely boyfriend who will have a stall at the Leigh-on-Sea Handmade and Vintage fair.
He will be selling his vintage-inspired collages: frames of all sizes and cards, his lovely Seaside Specials and Dazzling Decades series and his Retro Football range.
In addition, he will be selling retro/vintage football programmes and sports books, a little addition to the Matt ArtPix family which proved to be extremely successful at his last fair in Colchester last week!
The fair will be taking place on the same day as the Old Leigh Regatta, so come down and make a day of it!
60 stalls, a photo studio, tea and cakes...
MATT ARTPIX LEIGH FAIR BLOG
I think therefore I write.
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