Monday, 26 November 2012

Food and Film Fun. . .

Kudos to Squash Nutrition, a food and educational collective, that was the force behind Liverpool's inaugural Food For Real Film Festival.  Combining two of my favourite things and hosting the food filled films at a variety of venues around the city was a brilliant idea. And did I mention that all the films were screened for FREE?????  I really liked the programme too which included a recipe for a hearty lentil soup and even a pattern to knit a boob (in support of breast feeding).

I managed to get out to three events over the five day festival.  I've seen I Am Love twice before, but I never get tired of seeing Tilda Swinton on the big screen, especially in the clothes and stylish interiors of this film.  This is a lush and sexy melodrama where a bowl of soup plays a very prominent and pivotal role in the plot.

The film was shown at FACT but not in their usual theatres.  Instead, I was directed to The Box, a very cozy and very purple viewing room on the ground floor.

This was also the venue for the showing of Big Night at 10:30 am on Saturday.  Why don't more theatres show movies in the morning?  This came with complimentary Italian coffee and yummy pastries.  So civilised.

Lastly I headed out to Camp and Furnace, a warehouse turned bar/restaurant/space of all trades. It's located just a ten minute walk from downtown in an area that reminds me very much of Toronto's Distillery District before all the condos started going up.  The pairing this time was of the Japanese film Tampopo about a widow running a noodle restaurant and the travelling truck driver who tries to help  improve her cooking. It was a very odd comedy interspersed with various homages not only to food, but French movies and spaghetti westerns.  Sitting amidst picnic benches and parked caravans, there was something rather surreal but comforting too about slurping noodles and broth while watching a movie.

I was surprised that most of the events were not full, but given that this was the first year, I'm sure word of mouth will improve future attendance.  I'm certainly looking forward to seeing what the organizers come up with next year. 

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Double Dutch Delight. . .

The Dutch obviously love their libraries.  A few years ago I was visiting Amsterdam and was absolutely blown away by their huge central public library.  It was so sleek and modern and had a terrific cafeteria on the top floor with great views over the city (along with tasty pastries and lattes).  Now just outside Rotterdam, is a new library called Book Mountain with what may be the biggest single bookcase in the world.

Check out this video on the BBC website.  It's just incredible and so heartening to see public money being spent on making libraries beautiful spaces for all.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Burlington Bertie in Liverpool. . .

One of the things I've missed by not being in Toronto this fall is the annual Cabaret Festival in the Distillery District, especially as this year featured Sophie Milman, Jean Stilwell & Patti Roach, Brent Carver (he's so amazing on stage!) along with regulars (and favourites) Jackie Richardson, Patricia O'Callaghan and Mike Ross AND homages to the musical Oliver! and the music from Fellini films.  Arrrgh, I would have loved to have been there - the festival goes from strength to strength each year which is just fantastic.

I'm not entirely bereft of cabaret in Liverpool though.  Last night I went to the Unity Theatre for The Girl I Left Behind, a one-woman show performed by Jessica Walker that explored the women who worked as male impersonators in the Victorian era and the first part of the twentieth century.  As she pointed out at the beginning, there was no deliberate ruse; the women sang in their own voices and the audiences were never in doubt as to their gender, which brings up all sorts of interesting ideas about the purpose and appeal of these performers, some of whom were famous in their day.  Walker certainly alters her voice though, to great effect, as she switches from opera to 1920s Harlem, to a series of songs performed by various "Johnnies" representing men from a bashful teenager to a randy wealthy senior, desperate to find the girl.

But there was one song in particular that I was waiting for.  When I was a child, I was a huge fan of Julie Andrews (still am).  While other kids were singing along to Disney, I was incessantly playing the soundtracks to The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady and in particular, the movie Star, in which she plays Gertrude Lawrence.   I didn't actually get a chance to see the movie until I was in my twenties, but I knew that record backwards and forwards.  And my favourite track was a music hall number called "Burlington Bertie From Bow".  This was made famous by Ella Shields, born in 1879.  Her husband, William Hargreaves wrote the song for her in 1915 and she performed it for decades, all over the world.  She even shared the stage with a very young Julie Andrews who is said to have modelled her character in Victor/Victoria after Shields.  Ella kept performing the song, right into her seventies and Walker chose to represent her last performance in 1952, a tired and somewhat creaky Shields who at one point forgot her lines.  After she finished, Ella collapsed on the stage and died shortly after.  You can her her singing her famous song here.