Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Raise Higher the Banner of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin, 1933

The Nightmare of Future Wars - Workers of the World Unite, 1920s














Emancipated Woman - Build Socialism! 1926
Fascism, The most evil enemy of women, 1941
Don't Chatter! Gossiping Borders on Treason, 1941 
Love that last one which I guess is Russian for 'Careless Talk Costs Lives.' More posters - and poster girls - this morning at Tate Modern for a fascinating exhibition Red Star Over Russia. (And it's not too big, just the right size!)  I've only been to Russia once but it struck me that I must have been there this week - I think it was 29 years ago - because I remember looking out of a window and seeing tanks rolling into Red Square. Only rehearsing for the annual pageant but what a thrill and one of my most exciting holiday memories! 
I saw this book in the exhibition shop which reminded me that somewhere in a cupboard I have some wonderful posters from Gorbachev's anti-vodka campaign that I bought for about 10p and of course I never got round to having them framed. They'd look stunning so maybe it's about time. 

Sunday, 5 November 2017



We weren't planning a Sunday morning movie this week, then changed our minds at the last minute; the friend I go with has walked dogs and swum lengths by the time we meet, but I'm just happy if I'm up and dressed in time and I've combed my hair ...
Our last minute choice was The Florida Project, set in a purple-painted, budget motel on the edge of Disneyworld, that's a Magic Kingdom for a sassy six-year-old and her friends as their mothers barely scrape by on food handouts. It's getting wonderful reviews and the children's performances are incredible. More reviews and a trailer here.


Saturday, 4 November 2017

I'm still here - but my geriatric Mac is dead and buried and there have been countless traumas getting me up and running on a new one. Bereft of timewasting technology, I've been reading big, fat books - like I did in the olden days! And going out instead of watching TV. And then binge watching all of Howards End and Alias Grace as soon as I was restored to the 21st century.

Yesterday I made it to a delightful exhibition Poster Girls at the Transport Museum. (I love the Transport Museum shop and coveted the gorgeous scarves inspired by Underground station colours.)

Arnrid Banniza Johnston, 1930
I loved this, with the animals feeding Cockney Vulgaris, the caged Mayfair Beauties, Great Crested Magnates and the Common Undergraduate ... Look at the bored hippo watching a judge cavort on a swing. And the bears throwing cigars - not buns - to the Parliamentarians.

Vera Willoughby, 1928
This art-deco sunburst does feel joyful - and in 1928 a courting couple could enjoy a ciggie en route.

Herry Perry, 1931

So stylish.
Nancy Smith, 1922


Alma Faulkner, 1928

Travel by Underground in that lovely new dress? It'll be grimy by the time she gets home ...

Gaynor Chapman, 1962
In 1962, London Transport was urging us to explore village churches because 'one might boast an odd piscina.' I fear that this might be setting the bar rather high for passengers today.

Friday, 3 November 2017



An ode to the 50-something woman ... that's not something you often see in a film review! I really enjoyed this gentle, funny, optimistic film tonight and the cinema was packed. (Agnès Jaoui, I gather, is very well-known in France.) In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I got chatting to a Frenchwoman on the train home - who loved it just as much as I did - and went past my stop. Heavens ... the film that made a Londoner talk to another passenger on the Tube! They should put that on the poster.
Aurore is a menopausal woman who has lost her husband, her job, her name - her creepy boss thinks it's sexier to call her Samantha - and she's becoming so invisible that even automatic door sensors ignore her. Then she meets a group of older women who show her that it's never too late.
The French Film Festival runs until mid-December but what a shame that this won't have a wider release. I've just checked the leaflet: not a hope unless you're in Edinburgh/Glasgow/Inverness/Hull/
Richmond, North Yorkshire/Hereford. (You might find it billed as Fifty Springtimes, the English title.)




The other film I saw this week was The Killing of a Sacred Deer: laugh-out-loud funny, but very, very weird. 

Sunday, 8 October 2017



My new guilty pleasure ...Bake-Off-Vlaanderen. (You can watch it from the UK. I hope it won't prove too addictive!) Of course, I can't understand a word of it but they're looking for de beste koek - de top koek - de koek der koeken - de koekoek en de flopkoek ... so you get the gist of it and niet goed is niet goed, no matter where your Bake-Off tent is pitched.

Saturday, 7 October 2017



I felt a bit sorry for the handful of people who turned up in white tie and evening gowns for tonight's premiere of Journey's End; it might have been more glam in the stalls, but up in the circle they were sitting next to riff-raff like me who'd rolled along after work. Saw one girl (un)dressed to the nines in the kind of gown that demands a bikini wax; she must have been frozen ... I wriggled back into my coat and longed for a woolly jumper; you don't need the A/C on full blast in London in October!
I so wanted to love the film more than I did, but I couldn't help thinking back to that wonderful stage production with David Haig that left me so emotionally wrung out I could hardly stand up at the end. I'd forgotten how huge the Odeon, Leicester Square is; perversely, I think I'd have felt more involved in my cosy, little local cinema (where the seats are comfier, too!). Somehow, that claustrophobic feel of men in a dugout had been lost. Reviews have been mixed: the Guardian gave it 2* which seems harsh, 3* from the Telegraph and 4* from the Times. I'd say 3.5. If I hadn't been cold - and I hadn't skipped lunch - who knows? Yes, I know, this present generation, it's all about creature comforts ...

London Film Festival has just opened and, though I've had the brochure on my desk for weeks now, every time I flicked through it, I felt overwhelmed by the choice. But tonight - inspired by chatting to the woman sitting next to me who is seeing two or three films a day -  I got home feeling ready to go for it ... only to discover that everything I really want to see (On Chesil Beach, Loving Vincent, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) is already sold out. Oh well, there will be other chances.

But I have seen a couple of other films this week, nothing to do with the film festival.



In some ways this is the sequel to Journey's End, when the men have returned home with PTSD. I snuck into the cinema while I was shopping, only too aware that friends would sooner pull the teddy bear's arms off than sign up for two hours of this. (There was hardly anyone in the cinema.) Oh, there's part of me that loved it; when the credits rolled, there was a knitwear consultant - how can you not love that? But that appalling child ... how can you not want to throw up? Or cheer when Christopher Robin gets kicked down the stairs? I wasn't raised on Winnie-the-Pooh and it's too late now; I can hear my mother's damning verdict, 'It's very English!'

The Glass Castle (film).png

I wasn't expecting much from The Glass Castle; it had mostly ropey reviews, but I do like a Sunday morning movie and that's what was on, so that's what we saw. I wasn't keen on Woody Harrelson hamming it up and it did feel like something you'd watch on telly with a bad cold and Lemsip - but it held my interest and I was fascinated to see the real family members at the end. It did make me want to read Jeannette Walls' book about her outrageously feckless parents which sounds rather better than the film and has the advantage of being Woody Harrelson-free.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017



The book I should have abandoned after 50 pages - because it didn't improve! Are there no editors out there prepared to say, 'Go back to the beginning - and slash it by half!' 400 pages of tosh! Is it a rom-com? Is it a satire on the art world? `Is it supposed to be funny? It might have been if Hannah Rothschild had a lighter touch. Oh well, when the Daily Mail calls it a masterpiece, that should be warning enough! I did feel slightly uncomfortable with Nazi war crimes as the backstory to such a silly book. And no, it was not a good idea to have a long-lost painting by Watteau that talks to itself ...
I'm asking myself why I plodded on? Perhaps because a very unenticing book group book is nagging from my pile; still, if I leave it a week longer I can skim read without any guilt! (Bill Bryson. So predictable, I just can't be bothered.)