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New Order, The Troxy (10 Dec 2011)

About an hour before New Order come on stage in The Troxy, in a nearby pub on The Commercial Road, East London, a fella initiates a conversation with a couple on a table, asking them what they are expecting from the band tonight; he sits down and shares memories of past gigs, before summing up the passion of the music by saying New Order playing ‘Ceremony’ live is the closest anything comes to seeing his club scoring a goal in football.

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Moments after the closing titles of ‘Snowtown’ finish, the lead actor Daniel Henshall walks to the front of the stage and knowingly turns back to an audience who are sitting back in their seats, having watched him play a terrorising serial killer for the best part of two-hours; he is at the Curzon Soho for a Q&A, the day ‘Snowtown’ open across the UK. He grins, and in his Australian accent, asks everyone if they are alright.

Not everyone who was at the screening that evening will have seen the dark humour in that smile. One member of the audience had already left, walking out after the most brutal scene in the film, when the nature of Henshall’s sadistic character, John Bunting, truly comes to the fore, torturing a character who the audience has no regard for, clearly for his own pleasure.

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Midnight in Paris

Woody Allen’s prolific approach to filmmaking continues, with his second British cinema release of the year; ‘You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger’ came out in the spring covered in Allen’s standard movie DNA:  the dark secret and guilt of a lead character, the romantic shot in the rain, and the complicated lives of people of a certain age with artistic ambitions – lives which inevitably get messier during the course of the film.

While it was a pleasant enough viewing, as even the most ordinary of Woody Allen films are, it was, in truth, an average film; and while an ordinary Woody Allen film is still more enjoyable to watch than most other fare, much the same can be said of ‘Midnight in Paris’.

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England v Spain 12 Nov 2011

Pattern of Play

Lessons From What’s Poor

I am not really into Horse Racing but when I was invited by a then work partner to a corporate day at Wetherby races, I made the effort to get into it. I studied the form guide in The Guardian’s racing pages on the train and bought myself a copy of The Racing Post. I started off well, spotting a bit of value in the first race, picking a winner in the second. In about the fourth race of the day there was a small field of five horses, with one clear favourite. It was already about half-a-mile clear of the rest of the field when it fell, and the sigh from the whole course was audible. That was the day I should have learned never to bet on a dead cert.

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I Agree with Butch

Butch Wilkins, eh? Of all the pundits, in all the world.

Ray Wilkins: the man who when he was Sky’s analyst during the 2005 Champions League Final almost started speaking in an Italian accent at half-time (he played for Milan you know, you may have heard him mention it occasionally); with the slowing of his speech and delicate hand gestures, he was only missing a cappuccino and a pair of sun glasses from an on-air transformation, before suddenly morphing into a Ray Winstone type after the game, adopting a broad cockney accent, extolling the virtues of the British Bulldog spirit, and practically clenching his fists.

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The Killing



On the Saturday evenings when I stayed in at the start of the year, I was watching ‘Boardwalk Empire’, on Sky’s newly launched channel Sky Atlantic. Though it never reached the heights of some of the great American Drama serials of the last fifteen years, it was decent enough television; there were strong lead performances from great actors including Steve Bescumi, Kelly McDonald and Michael Shannon, and an opening episode that was easily identifiable as being directed by Martin Scorsese.

It was admittedly hard work sitting through episodes I hadn’t recorded, and couldn’t fast forward between the ridiculous amount of ad breaks, but I stuck with it, because the best American drama (such as The Sopranos, The Wire, West Wing, Dexter and Six Feet Under) has shown that television can be a superior medium to cinema. The long-running serial allows multiple-storylines, complex plots, characters to have real depth and personality, as well as a sub-context only previously achieved in great novels.

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Top Boy

In The Clash’s film ‘Rude Boy’ Joe Strummer tries to explain to the moronic title character, Ray, that there are flaws in a system where the few prosper at the expense of the many: “I don’t see the point in getting all rich and locking yourself in a country mansion because sooner or later some cunt is going to come round with a shotgun and blow your head off”, he says, in a staged conversation about political ideology, set in a pub.

‘Rude Boy’ was filmed in 1980, a year into a new Tory Government that adopted harsh monetarist economic polices, amidst the backdrop of rioting on the streets, bleak London council estates, and mass political protests. Fast-forward 31 years, and we are back to the future, and the contemporary home-grown drama Top Boy last week focused in on a fictional East London council estate, where on different levels, money is a key motivating factor for many of the characters.

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