Top 10… films
This 1940s classic has it all – Bogart and Bergman, a script full of quotable quotes and As Time Goes By.
Seen it many times now both at home and in cinemas on Valentine’s Day at art house cinemas in both Glasgow and Bradford, but missed out on seeing it in Lisbon by four days back in 2015…
Sicily, film, love and the Catholic Church’s local censorship of feature films all play their part in this DVD and occasionally TV screened delight.
There’s fun, pathos and social commentary, all in the same movie. My DVD copy came free with a weekend newspaper. My iPad copy cost a bit more…
Want an over the top action film to watch while you eat pizza and sink beers?
Well Con Air has it all once the initial few minutes are out of the way and Nicholas Cage’s character ends up in jail.
Is it loud? Certainly was when I saw it on the big screen on Saturday night in Middlesbrough a few years ago.
I’d gone to see Pulp Fiction, but the wrong film had been delivered – and that wrong film was Con Air.
A good night out, even though it took a couple of days before the hearing returned to normal. Someone had turned the volume up to eleven!
Yippee Kai Aye!
I’d passed up the chance to see this in Geilo, Norway when it was first released back in the 1980s, but finally caught up with it at the National Media Museum in Bradford on Christmas Eve a few years ago.
Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, more action than you could shake a stick at and some great one liners too.
It may have been Christmas Eve, but the cinema was packed!
Chicago takes over from Islington as the setting for the film of Nick Hrnby’s book with John Cusack in the lead and a scene stealing Jack Black as one of the workers in Championship Vinyl record shop.
It’s pretty faithful to the book, has a great soundtrack and a cameo appearance from one Bruce Spingsteen.
The second of the Cornetto Trilogy sees Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as police officers in the sleepy town of Sandford where strange things happen in the name of “The Greater Good“…
Nothing is quite what it seems in what appears to be the perfect example of Small Town England, and you’ve never heard a former James Bond swear so much, especially in the blooper reel!
Simon Pegg and Nick Frost play two comic book guys heading out on a road trip around alleged sites of close encounters.
A car accident sees them having their own close encounter with Paul (a Seth Rogen voiced CGI alien) and it isn’t long before they’re being chased by men in black suits, The Big Guy and a bible-toting father with a shotgun who wants his daughter back.
I still haven’t seen this on the big screen, but there’s more than enough going on via the small screen to keep you glued to it.
Royale with cheese, Dusty Springfield on the soundtrack, Harvey Keitel in the role that he riffs on in the current batch of Direct Line adverts and Big Kahuna burgers too.
Shakespeare In Love
Yes, it’s that award winning film with a strong cast, witty script and Gwyneth Paltrow’s closing walk on Holkham Beach.
It’s a classic, and rightly so!
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
This is a film I can watch over and over again and one of the few that I will still watch if I happen to chance upon it once it’s already begun.
The strong cast and script deliver the goods and whilst I was surprised that there was a follow up, I’m pleased that they didn’t go the whole hog and make a second sequel.
And one for a potential film list later in the year is Victoria And Abdul. Seen yesterday at Broadway Cinema in Douglas, Isle of Man, Stephen Frear’s film is sad, funny and engaging. Judy Dench plays Queen Victoria for the second time on the big screen.
A very good way to spend a very wet afternoon just off the Promenade in Douglas. Back home tonight!
Top 10… books
Colourful illustrated guidebooks that hit the spot to give the reader an excellent overview of towns, cities and the local attractions along with brief details of where to eat and where to stay.
Favourites are the guidebooks relating to Portugal and Spain.
Fifty People Who Buggered Up Britain – Quentin Letts
Journalist Quentin Letts aims carefully and highlights fifty targets. Some may surprise you whilst others may well be regarded as very suitable for inclusion in such a work!
Greece On My Wheels – Edward Enfield
Yes, that’s Harry Enfield’s dad.
Edward Enfield has written several books on his cycling exploits around Europe, but this was the first that I’d read by him and it’s on the list of books to read once more.
Hamish’s Mountain Walk – Hamish Brown
A classic book on hillwalking and backpacking around Scotland. One of those books that I read years ago and took lessons from, especially when it came to choosing and using lightweight camping and walking equipment.
An excellent read too!
Use paper versions when planning a trip, usually in conjunction with the equivalent Rough Guide (the latter’s city guides beat the LP versions hands down IMHO!).
There have been times when I’ve cursed their layouts (maps pages away from area info in two editions of the Portugal guide for example) and there have been one or three places that we won’t be returning to – allegedly!
My Dining Hell – Jay Rayner
The Observer’s restaurant critic’s collection of past reviews is a joy to read – unless you own one of the places visited!
I don’t always agree with what’s written, but the appropriate Rough Guide is bought in paper format and used in conjunction with the same area’s Lonely Planet when planning a trip.
I regularly use paper area, city and country guides plus eBook only city or island guides.
The Descent Of Man – Grayson Perry
This is the newest book on the list and one of the few books in my collection that I have in both hardback and Kindle editions.
Not my usual type of reading by any means, but a book that has a lot to say about modern life and is engaging enough to read in one sitting.
The Moon’s A Ballon – David Niven
I first read this back in the late 1970s and thoroughly enjoyed reading it again a couple of years ago. A classic autobiography with loads of anecdotes about Niven himself and his life in Hollywood.
Another book from this list that’s going to get another reading soon.
These Foolish Things – Deborah Moggach
You may not recognise the title, but you may well have heard of the film that was largely based on this novel – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel..
A few changes were made along the way from the printed page to digital screens, but it still hits the spot…
Malaga and home…
When we left White Nest Hostel in Granada, we were already discussing where we would go to on our next Andalucian next road trip.
With flights more likely to be in and out of Malaga than Seville, the likelihood is that our destinations will include Ronda, Cadiz, Jerez and Seville.
We’d probably also top up on the places we visited in Malaga too.
Some were closed on our first full day there whilst the morning after was a complete wash out thanks to the rain storm that hit the city and lingered until after we’d got our bus to Seville.
When we reached Malaga, returned to the Ibis for another night, found our room, the bags hit the floor and we sat down, put the television on and started flicking.
As one might expect, the Spanish channels were first up on the menu, but the pictures onscreen were very familiar to us as we’d been in Westminster a month beforehand and had taken photographs around the Houses Of Parliament and that end of Westminster Bridge.
The news about the Westminster incident had obviously broken as it was on all of the Andalucia channels. We found CNN and heard what had happened from both the news anchor in the States and a reporter on the ground in London.
As repetition set in as it always does on rolling news channels, we flicked once more and were surprised to find one of the channels we’d viewed a few minutes beforehand broadcasting some very raw images of what had happened on Westminster Bridge.
Should that footage have been shown? Probably not (in the UK at least) unless some pixellation had been applied to protect the injured person’s identity (our suspicion though was that images being shown were of a body rather than and injured person).
So, there was a bit of a dampener put on the end of what had been a rather enjoyable road trip around Andalucia. We decided to do some pavement pounding in search of coffee and a handbag that Caroline had seen on that first day in Malaga.
Malaga was in festival mode as it was the Malaga Film Festival. We walked the red carpet laid along one of the main streets, dodged displays of an Audi SUV and tried to work out which of the films we’d actually seen.
We didn’t see the local boy made good who was picking up an award (clues to his identity – he’s played a Mariachi, an animated cat with hat, claws, swordplay and the ability to sing Living La Vida Loca alongside a walking, talking donkey plus a few other roles too).
After coffee etc, it was back to the hotel for a shower, change and out in search of food. One place that wasn’t trying to pull people off the street was Ciao, an Italian place that had its menu outside and quite a few people eating inside and outside.
Yes, it was full, but if w’ed care to wait for a while, we’d have the next available table was the gist of the conversation we had with a member of staff. We wandered off in search of somewhere else, but went back, had another chat, took a couple of seats and received as complimentary glass of wine to help ease our waiting time.
Eating at an Italian restaurant has become of a bit of a last night thing for us as we’ve ended up having pasta or pizza on several last nights now in Malaga, Lisbon, Oslo, London and Glasgow.
Ciao was definitely on a par with our favourite Italian eating place in Lisbon – Restaurante da Vinci. Fine pasta for Caroline, a larger than expected calzone for me plus wine, coffee and a dessert ensured that we needed to walk some of the meal off before heading back to the hotel. So we did.
And got temporarily misplaced (or lost if you prefer that term!). The street map was back at the hotel, but after twenty minutes of wandering, I spotted the cafe we’d had a meal in on that first day in Malaga.
We backtracked a bit, headed up one of the side streets and spotted other cafes or shops that we’d passed before. After about fifteen minutes, we spotted the sign on the Ibis hotel and headed in that direction for one last drink before bedtime.
The following morning ticked all the usual boxes – breakfast, pack, check out of the hotel and walk to the station to get a train to the airport. Getting through security didn’t take long and neither did finding an overpriced sandwich and drink for lunch.
The airport shopping bill was a small one – one bottle and a pack pocket size black bull. Caroline rolled her eyes once more, but the bull stayed in the basket, was paid for and has a new home on my desk… And why not?
The best part was about to come though. We’d booked priority boarding with Ryanair and were ushered through the boarding gate with several other priority bookers.
There did appear to be something missing as we waited to board the plane.
I’d spotted that you could see a fair bit of the airport through the windows by the ramp we were waiting on, so it wasn’t a total surprise when one of the check-in crew announced that we would have to come back up into the gate area because the plane had been told to park up by a totally different gate…
We eventually boarded, got to Manchester and then got the train and a cab home from what had been a very enjoyable trip…
We’ll be back, but where did we go to next – that will be revealed next week once we’d covered the wisepacking angles from this trip!
More from Spain…
Five days in Northumberland
Five days in North Norfolk
More thoughts on packing
Bits of news
Some silly stuff
Books, films and television programmes
And links such as the one below…
We’ve used and mentioned Osprey Farpoint packs a few times on wisepacking, so we’re pleased to see that there’s a new variation on the theme – the Osprey Fairview range.
They’re ladies packs and more info can be found here…
This story goes to 11…
There’s a lot going on in the world at the moment, so it’s good to see that some light relief going on in the media here in the U.K.
There’s some good comments on the story too that highlight how many have seen the source film and taken it in…
And the comments also show how many have spotted that the piece has been run next to one on Stonehenge!
The comments are a bit sweary in places – you have been warned!!!
TV or not TV II
Wells, Somerset – or is it Sandford, Gloucestershire?
Well, I missed two films when I looked through Radio Times yesterday…
The first is on tonight on ITV2 at 9pm – Hot Fuzz.
Good cast, good lines and a mad shoot-out near the end as the good guys take on the opposition. Cornettos are optional!
The second is on ITV3 at 8.55 tomorrow morning.
The script has loads of quotable lines whilst the soundtrack includes a bone fide hit single too. Bogart, Bergman and Peter Lorre are all in there, as are the usual suspects…
The one and only Casablanca…
Here’s looking at you kid.
TV or not TV?
Yes, the holiday fortnight is upon us, as is the seasonal selection of programmes and films destined to be on our screens (or not)…
We gave Strictly, SPOTY and The Apprentice a miss and as Caroline was out on Saturday night, I caught up on an episode of Endeavour series 3 and the first couple of episodes of To Play The King (with Ian Richardson as Francis Urquhart).
Last night’s viewing was two episodes of a sixties classic – the first series of The Man From Uncle in glorious black and white. Sharp editing, sharp suits and a hint of what was to come gadget-wise too. Not much screen time yet though for Ilya Kuryakin (David McCallum gets more in his average appearance in NCIS fifty plus years after his role as Napoleon Solo‘s Russian sidekick).
There’s more of a travel feeling to a programme highlighted in the Radio Times at 6pm on BBC2 over the next three nights – The Real Marigold Hotel. Six personalities head to India and it’s interesting to see who they all cope with the experience.
Four are back for follow-ups on experiences in Miami and Tokyo soon and there’s a new set of names heading to India for the second series of The Real Marigold Hotel.
In the meantime though, there’s always the film that inspired the reality show – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel which has been given an early evening Film 4 slot on Sunday 25th – albeit in an edited format (I somehow suspect that the DVD of the same title will hit the player around the same time as a way of avoiding edits and adverts).
The Beeb are showing a of their few home-grown films too – The Lady In The Van, Pride, What We Did On Our Holidays and Saving Mr Banks.
Anything else? Well there’s a bit of Yorkshire in the air at 9pm on Thursday 29th as The Brontes come to the fore on BBC1 whilst over on BBC Four there’s a bit of slow TV as The Flying Scotsman takes to the tracks of the Severn Valley Railway at the same time…
There should have been another programme to watch at 9pm on the same day, but that’s been pulled from the schedules. Truck mechanic, bike racer and adventurer Guy Martin started an attempt in early December to ride around Britain on a pedal cycle with the aim of covering around 4800 miles in twenty days.
After 800 miles in four days and eight hours, an achilles tendon injury brought the attempt to a close at John O’Groats. One suspects that Guy will try again once he’s recovered from the injury problem…
Will we be watching It’s A Wonderful Life again? Possibly…
And might I be watching the film that’s become my favourite one set on December 24th?More than likely, even though it will be at home rather than in a cinema this time. It’s Bruce Willis, that colour changing white vest and Alan Rickman…
Yippie-ki-yay, it’s Die Hard!
Kings Cross Station, London
Just spotted what’s being shown as part of the Keith Richards’ Lost Weekend thread on BBC 4 here in the UK tomorrow night (Saturday 24th September) at 9.15pm.
It’s Julien Temple’s ‘London – The Modern Babylon’, a fascinating documentary about London since the beginning of the 20th Century. It’s a mix of archive material from the BFI (British Film Institute)library, interview footage and clips from various films too. And it has a cracking soundtrack too… starting with The Clash and London Calling.
Will be watching it as it goes out, even though there’s a DVD copy on the shelf in the lounge.
More friends in the North…
Yes, we’ve got box-set fever!
As last night’s TV wasn’t wonderful here in the UK, the second disc of Our Friends In The North was fed into the DVD machine.
Yes, it was cracking stuff, so much so that last night’s post-meal washing up wasn’t done until this morning, something that Caroline decided to tease me about an hour or so ago (in my own defence, I usually do the washing up when there’s an ad break on C4, More 4, 4/7, 5USA or Dave…).
The 1970, 1974 and 1979 episodes were cracking and I can see why the actors and series garnered so many award nominations twenty years ago.
These latest episodes covered a period that I can remember from my time up in the North-East, so the last ones should be even more memorable as the dramatisations relate to fairly recent history from the time I was working in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and then living/studying in Sunderland.
Once tonight’s session is over, then it’s time to find something new to watch (unless of course we keep something back for viewing during the Olympics).
New stuff to us includes Spaced, the Jean de Florette/Manon des Sources double pack, The Bridge Series 1, Alan Bennet’s Talking Heads series of monologues and a couple of Italian travelogues.
There are of course other things that could be pulled off the shelf to watch.
The box set of the original Top Cat cartoons, The Flashing Blade (the original, not the Saturday morning TV re-voiced version!), The Singing Ringing Tree (in full rather than the BBC 1960’s edits shown in ‘Tales From Europe‘ tea time slot) and the likes of High Fidelity, Cinema Paradiso, Amelie, Run Lola Run, Belleville Rendezvous, The Illusionist and MicMacs. And The West Wing.
Yes, there’s a whole lot of subtitles going on, but unlike some people we know, Caroline and I don’t mind watching movies with subtitles.
They think it’s all over…
It is now!
Yes, Part One of ‘The Great Summer Of Sport’ has left the building.
Problem is, Part Two is almost upon us…
The Tour De France is working its way through France at the moment with Froome getting the yellow jersey (and a fine for his troubles regarding an over-enthusiastic Colombian a day or so ago) and Mark Cavendish holding onto the green jersey for his sprint efforts and stage wins.
Are we watching it? Only when it’s meal time and there’s naff all on the other channels apart from episodes of NCIS that we’ve seen at least once!
Next up is the Olympics.
When I was doing my degree in 1996, a Media Studies lecturer asked myself and fellow students whether we’d watched any of the Olympics. It turned out that I was the only one!.
Needless to say the seminar went kind of flat at that point and our lecturer had to fill out the rest of the hour with something we could relate to given that I was the only one who had seen anything (and that was 10 minutes of mountain biking…).
Fortunately we have some DVD’s to fill in time we have when there’s so much sport on TV and so little inclination to watch it.
Mr. Holmes was Saturday night’s viewing and whilst it was slow, I found Ian McKellen to be an engaging Holmes – Caroline likes Benedict Cumberbatch’s take on the detective, but I saw the first episode and have avoided it since then.
And yes, this was shot on a Stormy Monday!
Sunday night saw us going back in time to a 1990’s series and not seen by either of us until last night. Our Friends In The North has a good ensemble cast and it’s been interesting to spot the locations used in and around Newcastle-upon-Tyne, an area I know quite well.
We’ve watched the first DVD of the three in the box and we’re going to finish it off over the next couple of nights by watching the remaining two.
As I know nothing about what’s coming in Our Friends In The North, but a little bit about what was going on in the area thanks to years of reading the papers and watching local news bulletins on either BBC Look North or Tyne Tees Television in the seventies, eighties and nineties, watching the rest of the series could be interesting.
One nice touch though was a homage to another DVD in our collection – Stormy Monday.
This was shot in familiar places on Tyneside and one scene featuring Sting and Tommy Lee Jones’ characters in Stormy Monday walking across the High Level Bridge (the middle one in the moody shot above) may have been used as a template for a scene in Our Friends In The North.
It could be that Spaced comes out during the Olympics – along with six seasons of The West Wing or the second of Young Montalbano!
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