Recent Articles

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

'Artch London Spontaneous Combustion Festival', 27th July 2013

Tuesday, July 30, 2013 - by londoncitynights · - 0 Comments

Hackney Wick is about to explode.  The battle lines are drawn.  On one side are the long-term residents of the area, those who've watched a slow decay and think of warehouses as a place to store things rather than an exciting residential opportunity.  On the other are the artists, most of them relative newcomers, springing into the neighbourhood with floppy haircuts, expensive coffees, limited edition Converse and omnipresent Apple Macs.  The best representation of this conflict is the the graffiti covered exterior of the Lord Napier pub. Disused since the nineties, pub wall has had a photograph pasted on it comparing 'then' and 'now.  A line-up of bearded men drinking bitter is contrasted with an empty, graffiti covered street.  Below it some unhappy local has scrawled "If U R a so called artist in "The Wick" then U R a CUNT!"  

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Monday, July 29, 2013

‘Only God Forgives’ (2013) directed by Nicholas Winding Refn

Monday, July 29, 2013 - by londoncitynights · - 0 Comments

They panned It’s a Wonderful Life. They mocked the pretensions of The Shining. They dismissed The Thing as mere 'gore-porn'. Sometimes the critics get it wrong.  Dead wrong. Only God Forgives (currently sitting in the mid-30s on the Tomatometer) will soon join these unfairly maligned classics.  This is a film beautifully and intelligently put together with such an admirable purity of focus that nearly everything else I’ve seen this year pales in comparison.

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

'The Heat' (2013) directed by Paul Feig

Thursday, July 25, 2013 - by londoncitynights · - 0 Comments

The best scene in The Heat is also the most daring.  A man begins choking in the restaurant our hero cops happen to be eating in, and they must save him.  When the Heimlich manoeuvre fails, one of our heroes slits his throat with a kitchen knife and jams a straw in the wound in an attempt to perform an emergency tracheotomy.  Blood spurts everywhere, the characters react with horror and confusion.  It's gory, it's gross and most importantly, it's funny.  It also has no relation to anything that comes before or after, a symptom of a film that's a series of variably funny sketches rather than a compelling narrative.

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

'Whitecross Street Party 2013', 20+21st July 2013

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - by londoncitynights · - 0 Comments

Midway through Sunday afternoon I was walking down Whitecross Street, enjoying the sights, the sounds and the smells of the street party when I passed a pale old man with milky eyes and a scruffy white beard.  He reached out and grabbed my arm with a steely grip, looked at me, and with a quavering voice said "Help me, I don't know what's happening."  

It's an understandable point; loud drum n bass was booming a rat-a-tat beat; giant writhing tentacles had sprouted from a building site; bombs with bushes growing from them were suspended on free-fall above us; everywhere was the hubble and bubble of sizzling meat and yelling kids.  Hardly the quiet and calm of a usual Whitecross Street Sunday afternoon. But this is party weekend, our own personal Carnival, a sudden rush of art, crafts, fashion, food and music.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

'The World's End' (2013) directed by Edgar Wright

Tuesday, July 23, 2013 - by londoncitynights · - 0 Comments

Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz are two of the funniest films of the 2000s - perhaps the funniest films of that decade.  As far as creative partnerships go, Edgar Wright directing Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as co-leads is one of the most fruitful of modern times.  The classic sitcom Spaced - where this partnership has its origins - still stands as the epitome of young, incredibly talented and funny people frolicking in their personal subcultures.  So after mainstream Hollywood success for Pegg in the Star Trek and Mission: Impossible and Edgar Wright helming the magnificent Scott Pilgrim vs The World, what could go wrong?  If there's such a thing as a sure-fire success, The World's End is it. 

Or is it?  

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Monday, July 22, 2013

'Easy Street' (2013) directed by Jacob Brookman

Monday, July 22, 2013 - by londoncitynights · - 0 Comments

Objectivity is a tricky thing at the best of times, especially when you know the director of a film. Especially when he lives directly below me.  With that in mind...

Easy Street is about Easy Street Studios, a recording studio in Bethnal Green with a history of producing reggae and ska music.  It's run by UK producer EddyMan, who has recorded some of the most significant UK reggae artists of the last 30 years: including Gregory Isaacs, Denis Brown and Sugar Mintor.  But the last few weeks marked the end of an era, soon after completion of this film Eddy Man was evicted from the Cable Street premises and forced to relocate elsewhere in East London. So the film marks the end of an era, acting as a retrospective and history of what Easy Street Studios stands for.

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‘Frances Ha’ (2012) directed by Noah Baumbach

- by londoncitynights · - 0 Comments

At first glance Frances Ha doesn't exactly rock the indie dramedy boat.  The titular character is an aimless, kooky, off-beat yet slightly melancholic dancer struggling to fit in an adult world.  She’s the kind of person who yells “Ahoy sexy!” across the street to her friends, loves to play fight and has a reputation as ‘undateable’ despite being obviously beautiful and interesting.  So far, so Noah Baumbach, whose The Squid and The Whale and Greenberg  also featured a cast of kooky, offbeat yet slightly melancholic characters struggling to fit in the adult world.

Yet Frances Ha manages, by sheer force of the star and co-writer Greta Gerwig’s charisma, to rise above these twee cinematic connotations by intelligently examining what it means to be young and directionless.  Frances is going through what they condescendingly term the 'quarter life crisis': the late 20s transition from kidulthood to becoming a ‘proper’ adult. Large swathes of the film are spent very gently criticising shallow, unrealistic ambitions and pretensions with an tone that's both kind and surgically precise. Gerwig acts the hell out of this role, her performance is so strong that even when we roll our eyes at her lack of direction we stay entirely sympathetic to the very real, very recognisable terror she experiences, namely, the numb, existential neuroses that come when a person begins to realise that their options in life are for the first time beginning to shrink.

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

'The Frozen Ground' (2013) directed by Scott Walker

Thursday, July 18, 2013 - by londoncitynights · - 0 Comments

Jamie Edwards of Magic FM is full of shit.  This isn't in anywhere near the same league as Seven.
When does entertainment tip over into exploitation?  This is a film about the exploitation of women; encompassing everything from casual misogyny to child abuse to rape and, naturally, the cold-blooded, sadistic murders we know and love.  So far, so Hollywood.  What sets The Frozen Ground is that this is a  true story.  This verisimilitude is unique selling point of the film: a historical recreation of real life horrors.  The question worth asking then, is why.  Why are we being told this story, to thrill and shock us, or to educate and inform?

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Exploding Cinema at the Cinema Museum, 13th July 2013

Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - by londoncitynights · - 0 Comments

I like to think of myself as a pretty serious cinephile.  In a good week I'll go to the cinema 2 or 3 times and try to watch at least one film every day.  I spend most of my downtime either writing film reviews or arguing about the merits of various directors   So why have I never been to London's Cinema Museum before last Saturday night?  

As I stepped through the door I entered a wonderland of cinema miscellanea, the idols of the golden age benevolently beaming down at you from the walls.  Once you've made your way upstairs you enter a huge, vaulted room stuffed full of obsolete projectors, decorative fittings and furniture culled from London's vast array of dead cinemas.  These are the archaeological remains of what was once the prime medium in entertainment: you see 'Odeon' branded standing ashtrays, golden buttoned staff uniforms and bulb-lit signs that would once have yelled out over the bustling streets of London.  

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Ray Davies in Hyde Park, 12th July 2013

Monday, July 15, 2013 - by londoncitynights · - 3 Comments

I've never been much of a fan of Elton John, but there's part of him that I'll now appreciate forever: his mischievous appendix.  He was booked to headline Friday night in Hyde Park, supported by Ray Davies and Elvis Costello.  But that vestigial little beauty buried in his guts began to swell up with pus like a pro, resulting in a quick trip to the hospital for Elton, and a rapid reorganisation of Friday night's festivities for the organisers.  To their credit they didn't cancel the event, deciding to refund everyone who'd bought a ticket and release the remaining tickets for free.  

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Friday, July 12, 2013

'A Field in England' (2013) directed by Ben Wheatley

Friday, July 12, 2013 - by londoncitynights · - 2 Comments

*spoilers within*

A Field in England is a testament to what you can do with a couple of costumes, some great actors and an eye for cinematography.  It's also a lesson on how little you really need to make a movie - get a couple of DV cameras, head out to a field and just starting shooting. There's a ton of limitations to shooting on a micro-budget like this and Wheatley demonstrates how to cleverly work around them - showing how to suggest with mood, dialogue and old fashioned cinematic sleight of hand what you don't have the money to put on screen.  

All of this is important, because A Field in England is one weird as hell film with, to put it mildly, questionable commercial potential.  Yet it's a film that raises interesting questions,: allowing Wheatley to continue his interrogation of the relationship between modern Britain and our violent, oppressive and chaotic history.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

'Gazing at the World while Hanging from the Sky: A Retrospective' - Ofelia Rodriguez, Consulate General of Colombia, 9th July 2013

Wednesday, July 10, 2013 - by londoncitynights · - 0 Comments

Gazing at the World while hanging from the Sky, mixed media, 2009
It's a strange feeling getting an invitation to the Consulate General of Colombia.  I usually experience my art tucked away in obscurity, hidden in decaying industrial warehouses, or emerging from East London garages.  Lately though, with a weekend spent at the Freud Museum and this night at the Colombian Consulate I feel like I've taken a step towards the art establishment.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing, though it's an odd feeling to having a the constant presence of a nation state looming over the work, though at least here it appears to be a benevolent one.

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'Totemic Festival Third Day' at the Freud Museum, 7th July 2013

- by londoncitynights · - 0 Comments

By the third day of the Totemic Festival, Sigmund Freud’s house was beginning to feel disarmingly familiar.  When I’d first walked in on Friday evening everything seemed slightly saintly and hallowed, but by Sunday it felt like the artists owned the place.  A pleasant avant-garde infection had spread through the timbers. The visitors to the museum  had no choice but to breathe in this shifted atmosphere, having to contend with densely symbolic performance art taking place all around them.  Quizzical looks flashed between these visitors, who were either amused or annoyed at the disturbances to their sunny afternoon out.

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Monday, July 8, 2013

'Totemic Festival Second Day' at the Freud Museum, 6th July 2013

Monday, July 8, 2013 - by londoncitynights · - 0 Comments

It's another beautifully sunny day down in the beautiful garden of the Freud Museum in Finchley.  There are worse places to be in the world. I had a fantastically fun time at the opening night so immediately resolved to fit in as many artists as I could into what was becoming a pretty busy weekend.  I couldn’t see everyone I wanted to, but those that I did were well worth the trip. 

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Sunday, July 7, 2013

'Pacific Rim' (2013) directed by Guillermo del Toro

Sunday, July 7, 2013 - by londoncitynights · - 1 Comment

Holy shit.  Holy shit!  An apocalypse painted in messy splashes of blue phosphoresence!  Neon-soaked robot gods launching into martial arts mayhem!  30 stories of messy, graceful. beautiful, cathartic pleasure!  Destrudo, untamed and rampant, swelling up from within the Earth's unconscious being beaten back by co-operation, compassion and love.  Holy shit! Pacific Rim is just about perfect. Guillermo del Toro is a genius.  It's been a long time since I sat through a film with a stupid grin on my face the whole time.

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Saturday, July 6, 2013

'Totemic Festival Opening Night' at the Freud Museum, 5th July 2013

Saturday, July 6, 2013 - by londoncitynights · - 0 Comments

Sigmund Freud was a odd chap with a lot of very strange ideas.  Last night I was standing in his lounge peering at his desk.  The room is carefully constructed to give the impression that the man himself has just stood up and left the room for a contemplative walk around his garden.  The chair was pushed away with papers scattered across the desk and resting on top of them was a pair of small, thin round-rimmed glasses.  It's rather poignant: the room is haunted by his absence.

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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

'Making Art' co-curated by Silvia Ziranek and Sandra Higgins at Gallery Petit

Wednesday, July 3, 2013 - by londoncitynights · - 2 Comments

I always feel like an interloper on the clean, leafy streets of Chelsea.  Zebra crossings lead to to confrontations with angry revving Range Rovers acting like the simple act of stopping to let me past is an affront to their dignity.  Inside the pub talk is of second homes in Provence and the cost of private schooling children with names like Freddie and Max.  Give me the East End any day of the week.  So as I walked the streets looking for Gallery Petit I was convinced that a heavy hand was about to fall on my shoulder and an authoritative voice echo from above asking me to get back on the tube, quickly and without making a fuss.  As it turns out I did eventually hear a voice from above, but fortunately one of a infinitely friendlier variety. It belonged to Silvia Ziranek, waving at me from an balcony overlooking the street.

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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Hard Rock Calling at the Olympic Park, 29th July 2013

Tuesday, July 2, 2013 - by londoncitynights · - 0 Comments

It's like being in a butcher's window.  The sun beats mercilessly down on the shadeless Olympic Park.  You lie on a sheet of bristly green plastic glass, baking slowly - sweating with nowhere to go.  The arena is essentially one gigantic, dusty car park covered in fake grass.  Surrounding it are stalls selling expensive junk food, enormous queues for both the toilet and beer snaking this way and that around the arena.  It was an hour and a half queue at one point for a £5 pint of warm Tuborg.  Glastonbury it ain't.

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Monday, July 1, 2013

'Monsters University' (2013) directed by Dan Scalon

Monday, July 1, 2013 - by londoncitynights · - 0 Comments

Monsters Inc was and is a fantastic film.  It deftly creates a complex, surreal and comprehensible world that makes a weird amount of sense.  I imagine there's tonnes of stories that can be done within this universe, yet Monsters University focuses on one of the more prosaic and (frankly) kind of dull.  Was there anyone that walked out of Monsters Inc dying to know just how Mike and Sully got their qualifications? Does Pixar imagine that this is the story we're clamouring to hear?  Do they picture people idly wondering either they went to technical college or university, what they majored in, perhaps even speculating on the subject of Mike Wazowski's no doubt meticulously researched dissertation.   Now, finally, we learn the answers to these burning questions.  

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