Category Archives: Entertainment

Film 2010!

Since moving to MK, I’ve got back into the habit of going to the cinema on a regular basis, and last week decided to treat myself to Cineworld’s offer of paying a fixed amount to see an unlimited number of films a month. Cineworld are pretty good at showing movies one wouldn’t always get to see without an independent cinema in town, such as quirky British films or niche market movies, but they are very expensive, to the point where if I see two films a month, I get more than my money’s worth. I’ve realised that given my job can be quite exhausting, and I do sometimes get very lonely with Tractorgirl not being about very often, treating myself is a good thing. I’ve also overcome my anxiety about going to the cinema on my own, as when I first moved to MK, if I didn’t go alone I wouldn’t be able to go at all!

The result is that I have seen three movies recently. The first of them is ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, starring Julia Roberts as an unhappily married woman who, having dropped her husband and leaped straight into another unsuccessful relationship, goes on a round-the-world trip to ‘find herself’, as seems to be the custom with a certain type of American! She ends up in Italy, where she eats lots of pasta and pizza and makes a lot of friends, for three months. She then moves on to India and the shrine that her now ex-boyfriend was keen to one day visit. This is by far the best section of the film as she is forced to face up to the reality of her life and has some moving encounters with local people and other pilgrims. Finally, she heads to Bali (and, yep, you guessed it!) falls in love. The sweetest character is the old man she visits and copies books for, who is very huggable indeed. Overall, it’s a fun bit of escapism but suffers from predictability and being somewhat cliched 5/10.

The second is a film I found about from Diva magazine, about a lesbian couple with two teenage children who seek out the sperm donor responsible for bringing them into being. ‘The Kids are All Right’was an eye-opener for me, as someone who finds themselves, rather reluctantly, with a teenager suddenly appearing in their life. Nic and Jules have been married for over twenty years and, while they love each other deeply, feel the spark has gone out of their marriage of late. Jules, who is trying to start another new business, as a landscape gardener, ends up being more than a little attracted to Paul, the donor, when she works on re-designing his restaurant’s garden. Paul is a happy-go-lucky guy who initially takes to fatherhood, but antagonises doctor Nic by not recognising the challenges when you’re not ‘the cool new guy’ on the parenting scene and by muscling his way into the family. It all ends badly when Nic discovers the affair, and the latter half of the film takes place against the backdrop of this and the daughter Joni (named for the wonderful Joni Mitchell) preparing to go to college.

I found the film funny and moving in equal doses. The challenges of dealing with teenagers and some of the issues around step-parenting (of a sort!) are explored. I wasn’t expecting an instruction manual, but still felt a little miffed that I came away feeling more uncertain about how best to handle various aspects of that role, such as negotiation of boundaries. Maybe I learnt a little of how not to do it! The film also shows all too well how easy it is to hurt the ones we love, and how hard it can be to put the pieces back together again, which resonated deeply with me, though here is really not the place to go into all that, sufficed to say that God has a way of popping up in the most unexpected places! A good film, well worth a watch 8/10.

The third and final movie was ‘Another Year’, starring Jim Broadbent (in my opinion one of the best character actors out there) and Lesley Manville, and directed by Mike Leigh. It’s about a middle-aged couple coping with a very odd bunch of dysfunctional friends, including lonely alcoholic Mary who has a crush on the couple’s son Joe, and Ken, a civil servant dreading retirement and with a host of health issues. Doesn’t sound very jolly, I know, and apart from a few belly laughs, isn’t really. It’s one of those films where one should really have a box of tissues on standby! I did enjoy the film, especially the saga of Mary and her car, but mostly I just felt sad for Ken and Mary, both of whom are the kind of characters we can all recognise in some of our friends (or maybe ourselves!). A very well-acted and moving film, but one which would have benefited from more of a conclusion 7/10.

Right, that’s the movie world out to rights!

Bangs and Brummies

This weekend consisted of some much needed chilling out and relaxing. On Saturday, I headed to Birmingham to meet up with TractorGirl and go to a GCN gathering. We had an hour to catch up and chat before joining the others for some time praying in a church near the Bullring and then on to a French restaurant of the relaxed variety for a meal. The food was nice (I had some cheesy garlic bread and vegetarian risotto) and the company lovely. I learnt a lot about Eastern Orthodoxy and being in an Irish folk band!

I was feeling pretty knacked after food (think I’m coming down with something, which makes having to wait for my passport to come through before I can register with a GP more than a little annoying…) so we retired to the hotel for a happy few hours of just chatting and chilling and, for the first time in what seemed like ages, a good catch-up. The hotel in question was the City Inn, which is in the heart of the Irish district. The staff were friendly and the room was spacious, clean and comfortable. I was sad at not being able to pinch the shampoo and shower gel (from the White Company, so good stuff!), which is after all the main reason for staying in a hotel! The only downside was the location, and it was quite noisy till late with all the clubs around and about, but ear plugs sorted that out. Worth the money!

On Sunday, we had breakfast in an Italian place near the Bullring. They did nice bacon and egg butties with accompanying cheesy Italian power ballads! Next, we went to the church we’d visited the previous day for a ‘Crossing Service’, which was basically Common Worship Order One with modern songs. Enjoyed the latter half, but the sermon was full of business cliches and “purpose-driven prayers” and life coaches and “making an impact” – if I ever preach such dribble, shoot me! Afterwards, we went to an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet place, which was nice enough (I’m fussy about places being too crowded). TractorGirl, new book in hand, headed off early and I retired to the pub at New Street station for a pint and to read my book, which is very funny. Dawn French’s wicked sense of humour comes through and I think I unnerved people around me with suddenly laughing out loud!

On getting back to Milton Keynes and after a quick pit stop to layer up (it was freezing!) and unpack, I was off to the fireworks with some people from church. They (the fireworks, not the church people!) lasted about fifteen minutes and were pretty, just about justifying standing around in the cold. We then had dinner at an Italian place in the shopping centre, and I got pasta down my tie, which was annoying, but the food was good and the company interesting, so it didn’t matter.

Overall, it was a lovely weekend which reminded me exactly why I’m head-over-heals in love with TractorGirl and how much I like the GCN folks, and showed me that my current location and choice of church are pretty good 🙂

Just wish the long-distance relationship thing was easier – I miss you, darling!

Rising from the ashes…

I have discovered that my work computer, which does not allow me to access Facebook, YouTube and other fun stuff, does allow me to access my blog, which is therefore now back in business!

Life is pretty good at the moment. This week I have been to see a fantastic production of Oliver at the Drury Lane Theatre and a classical concert at St Martin-in-the-Fields, and so have hardly been at home. When I can think what to say, I’ll post something more informative!