Thursday, 1 February 2018

January 2018 films events etc

Who with & venue 
Director etc Date
Lead Actors
Thoughts and story etc 
All 4 family Upstairs at the Gatehouse in Highgate.
Paid normal prices
Top Hat *****

Songs Irving Berlin
John Plews
Ovation Productions
Joanne Clifton dancer from strictly & Joshua lay 
As usual John Plews Christmas production was fast, slick and exciting. Silly story of a tap dancing man from America who falls for the singer/dancer in the room below him in London - there’s a whole lot of stuff about mistaken identity and they all end up in Paris where it all comes right in the end. Wonderful songs. Top Hat, Puttin on the Ritz, Cheek to Cheek, Let’s face the Music & Dance. 
Malcolm & me Phoenix Cinema

Free screening 
King Creole ***
Elvis Presley 
Danny (Elvis) is trying to support his family by working before and after school - he discovers he has a real talent as a singer but gets dragged into criminality and falls for two women simultaneously- one innocent & one manipulative- it inevitably comes right in the end but there are some hairy moments - I hadn’t realised that Presley could act so well
Phoenix Cinema N2

Free screening 
The Young Ones ***

Sidney J Furie - shot at Elstree 1961
Cliff Richard, Carol Grey, Robert Morley, the Shadows. 
I thought I must have seen this, but didn’t remember it at all. Cliff Richard plays Nicky Black who is a member of the youth club but also the son of a wealthy property tycoon. Not knowing that his son attends the youth club the father buys the site for redevelopment. The youth club mobilise to save their club by putting on a show to raise £1500 for a five year lease. Dad played by Robert Morley frustrates them at every point. Eventually of course father and son are reconciled, Nicky gets both the girl and a recording contract and the youth club is rebuilt. I remember huge rows with my parents when I wanted to listen to it’s music with my friend Joy Smith, but it really is surprisingly tame and I really can’t understand what all the fuss and anguish was about. 
Malcolm & me Phoenix Cinema N2

Paid senior prices 
Darkest Hour ****
Joe Wright 
Filmed at Wentworth Woodhouse, Manchester University Library, Westminster, Greenwich etc. 
Gary Oldman Lily James Kristen Scott Thomas 
Churchill in WW2. Chamberlain has been hoping for a negotiated peace but Attlee has had enough and calls for a government of National Unity without Chamberlain. Some want Lord Halifax but there’s doubt that the people would accept a non elected leader, so it falls to Churchill supported by his wife and his secretary. There’s distrust of Churchill because of Gallipoli and King George is not pleased. However more by oratory than tactical ability, Churchill builds a movement in favour of fighting for our island. 4000 men are sacrificed at Calais, to create a diversion whilst the evacuation of Dunkirk takes place. Churchill wins over the king and parliament, Halifax comments that he’s taken the English language into battle. 

Southgate Beaumont 

Rambling with Rothenstein 

Dr Mark Banting

Georgian age stimulated a renaissance in British culture and creativity. Most of our art had been coming from Europe because those who could afford went on the Great European tour, bringing back art treasures. During the 1700s this changed. Fashion moved towards grand paintings on walls & ceilings - mimicking Italian baroque eg Greenwich eg Lanscroon in Southgate both Broomfield and Arnos.
This time saw the rise of Thomas Hudson from Devon, William Hogarth, Joseph Wright of Derby and George Stubbs - leading to Gainsborough and Reynolds. 
There were moves by Thornhill and others towards an art academy in London, the first was Hogarth's enterprise - St Martins lane academy in a former chapel - sitting in the round painting nude models and retiring to old slaughters coffee house - social commentary in painting is new Rothenstein - picks out a painting of a polling station - 
Life was flourishing in Georgian England - 18th century mid 1750s - French and Germans looking to England as new enlightenment- coffee houses bohemian democracy- factories theatres showrooms - art and ideas 
Joseph Wright of Derby born to professional family - trained under Hudson in London and returned to Derby where he was  painting the wealthy eg Joseph Arkwright factory owner - spinning frame in the portrait Other pictures showed the wealth and fabrics from industry rather than inheritance - moving into the gentry  eg Joseph wright portrait of Joseph Arkwright jnr and family -Joseph wright also paints industrial scenes  Iron forge in Derbyshire has references back to roman times there was money to be made in forging iron and a pride in making money to support the family 
18th century culture- John Locke thinking of mind as dark space - eyes letting in information Science coming to the fore - age of discovery Masonic idea of divine architect Joseph wright becomes social historian of the time 
Sir George Stubbs was a self taught painter - he disappeared in 1750s to Lincolnshire village with Mary Spencer - over 18 months dissected a succession of horses painting in great detail - taught himself art of engraving in order to self publish the anatomy of the horse - practical book for artists After which he starts being commissioned to paint society figures with their horses and dogs. Charles 3rd duke of Richmond invited him to goodwood to paint horses - 1760 picture of Charlton Hunt - every dog is a portrait - also Gimcrack with John Pratt in Newmarket heath Whistlejacket for Wentworth Woodhouse. Stubbs dogs not human whereas Gainsborough dogs look lovingly at master Stubbs went on to paint zebras and rhinos 

With Helen 

Intimate Theatre Palmers Green 

Paid normal prices 
The Little Mermaid 

St Monica’s Players 

Helen & I met in horrid weather to see the annual Panto at the Intimate - we’ve gone there most years for the last 10 years or more, it’s part of our annual cycle. The Intimate has a fascinating history, it was used for early live theatre transmissions by the embryonic BBC, initially based at the nearby Alexandra Palace. The Latin sign above the stage charges us not to give way to evil. That’s a good motto for the BBC and any drama group. NE CEDE MALIS. 
St Monica’s Players always put on a good show and keep the tradition of pantomime alive. Dozens of corny fish jokes - mostly by an excellent crab who was last years snowman in Frozen / Frosted. I loved the Dame - they always do good dames - but I wasn’t thrilled with Mariel or her prince. They’d used the Disney story of the Little Mermaid rather than the one by Hans Christian Anderson and it’s all just a bit too easy. I got some lovely photos of Helen proving that our children never get too old for a good Panto. Next year they are going back to Panto roots with Snow White. 
With David 
Phoenix Cinema N2

Reduced price as members.
The Post *****

Steven Spielberg 
Meryl Streep 
Tom Hanks et al 
This is based on the true story of the publishing of the Pentagon Papers which demonstrated duplicity by the Washington administration about the Vietnam war, extending over several generations and presidents. 
It is a testament to press freedom and the role of a woman owner/editor, who was expected to do what the male financial protectors wanted, but stood up for what she believed in and was proved right. Brilliant film! 
This film relates closely to All the Presidents Men and Watergate. 
“I am honored beyond measure by this nomination for a film I love, a film that stands in defense of press freedom, and inclusion of women’s voices in the movement of history,” she said in a statement. “Proud of the film, and all her filmmakers. Thank you from a full heart.” Meryl Streep nominated for an Oscar. 


Atrium Royal Free Hospital Hampstead 

Free and with refreshments 
Symposium to recognise the career and achievements of Dr A David Webster immunologist who died last year.
Various immunologists from Royal Free Hospital, GOSH, Northwick Park etc and from Europe 
I went to a symposium on immunology at the Royal Free Hospital last night - I’m not really sure how I got invited - it was a tribute to their wondrous Dr David Webster who died last year.
Dr Webster saw my son in about 1998/9, this appointment followed a series of investigations by Dr Webster’s colleagues and assistants. It was the most profound and useful appointment of my son’s entire life.
What became apparent in last nights symposium was how far and how quickly immunology has moved on since its infancy in the 1940s & 1950s, through major developments in the 1970s and especially the links between immune dysfunction and genetic make up were first recognised in the 1990s. It’s a very different science today. 
One of the early slides in the symposium was of Dr Richard Asher in the early 1950s, ridiculing the idea of doctors sending patients for multiple tests (fishing exercises) when Asher appeared to be saying that he could work out what was wrong just by talking to the patient. The person showing the slide was demonstrating just how far science and the testing process has moved on.
And yet - I thought - we are still stuck with overarching definitions and diagnoses by people such as Asher, which with the efflux of time and the advancement of science may just be plain wrong. They were based on ideas which are or maybe no longer recognised as true. 
U3A HGS at Alyth Synagogue 


Free included in membership 
The Failure of Modern Art 
Colin Lomas 

Colin wasn’t at his best - I’ve heard most of it before from him and heard him put it over better. Turner and the impressionists broke the long established rules - especially Van Gogh. He’s not a fan of Duchamp and Emin but suggests that some things intended as comments or jokes were taken too seriously and accorded a worth beyond their intention.
He follows and relies heavily on the book by Will Gompertz : ‘what are You looking at’. 
Vue Cinema North Finchley

Alone using a free ticket voucher given to David. 
The Greatest Showman ***

(P.T. Barnum of Barnum & Bailey Circus)

Micheal Gracey, Laurence Mark et al
Screenplay Jenny Biggs

Filmed in studios in New York 2016
Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Michelle Williams et al 
A romanticised variation based on the story of the birth of the first circus - Barnum & Bailey in New York which closed whilst the film was being made.
Barnum was a poor tailor’s boy who fell in love with the daughter of one of the big houses which he served. He wooed and married her and spent his life driven to provide her with what she’d given up for him and more. He sets up a museum which becomes a popular theatre or circus. They gain respectability through an audience with Queen Victoria. Inevitably he goes too far and looses everything - his wife through jealousy of the manipulative singer Jenny Lind and his museum through a fire. He forms a partnership with Bailey and they set up a huge tent in the New York docklands, where all the artists with strange body aspects can be happy amidst trapeze artists and animals. I’d thought they shouldn’t go there on the ‘freak show’ aspect but they got away with it through sensitivity and spectacle. Not great but enjoyable and worth seeing. 
Phoenix Cinema N2 
Free screening 
Brigadoon ***

Filmed in New York by Vicente  MineIli 

Screenplay & Music by 
Lerner & Lowe 
Gene Kelly et al
Brigadoon. I remember my mum being very emotional about this story of a ‘risk all’, seemingly impossible love affair. I understood from her that it’s story related to her decision to marry my dad - so when The Phoenix offered it as part of their fortnightly programme of free films for vulnerable people, I was desperate to see it. It’s very dated, with lots of very obvious green screen usage. Some of the songs are beautiful. I was very surprised to see that the film was 1954, which is after my parents were married and I was born - I’d assumed, from her emotional response to an am dram production in my teenage years, that my mum had seen it before she married. However it was apparently only performed at that time on stage in New York and the London stage version was the month of her 1949 wedding. Maybe there was a book associated with the New York stage play? 
Synopsis from IMDb: Americans Tommy Albright and Jeff Douglas, on a hunting vacation in Scotland, discover a quaint and beautiful village, Brigadoon. Strangely, the village is not on any map, and soon Tommy and Jeff find out why: Brigadoon is an enchanted place. It appears once every hundred years for one day, then disappears back into the mists of time, to wake up to its next day a century hence. When Tommy falls in love with Fiona, a girl of the village, he realizes that she can never be part of his life back in America. Can he be part of hers in Brigadoon?

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