That Film Quiz

Last night, the 26 May 2016, in a friendly pub in North London, friends and family gathered to test their strength in the world of Film and Television, raising money for the Eave Alan Fountain Scholarship Fund, to support documentary film makers in South America – a cause close to Alan’s heart.


So how did team Straight to Video get on?  Well, it was a disappointing result in that we didn’t win.  But it was a glamorous, not to say glittering event.

IMG_3164 (3)Straight to Video began the evening by opening a Fortune Cookie to raise morale and with any luck give last minute advice – mine suggested that ‘Wisdom goes not always by years’ and Maureen Who Likes Frasier had ‘A smile is the distance between two people’.  After that we felt it best to rely on our own knowledge and experience, possibly a foolish move.

There were a nice lot of TV questions (Alan did after all work in television) so our combined knowledge of Coronation Street and Brookside, with a glance to Countdown (the first ever C4 programme – loved by my mum) was put to excellent use.

We didn’t win – but because the organisers were lovely young people, they only announced the first two winning teams.  So we were quietly confident that if there had been another system of marking (possibly the Pointless way – ie the fewer the points the greater the chance of success) we could have been contenders.

A full room in a lovely pub (the Clissold Arms in Fortis Green, North London), good questions, a constant supply of snacks and water, an excellent mistress of ceremonies and a lot of dosh raised.

A lovely tribute to a lovely man.


Movie News

Mk2 Odeon

We have been to the cinema.  Mustang is a sweet film – five sisters living in a small Turkish village at the start of the summer holidays.  Their uncle and grandmother with whom they live, have plans for their future.  The girls get on well together and have a loving, sisterly relationship.  The futures planned for them are not so bright.

See the trailer here

This is the first film of Turkish French director Deniz Gamze Ergüven.  She tells a harrowing story with a light touch.  I read a review that said this was a feel good movie, a comment with which I can’t totally agree, but there are some lovely pieces and it is beautifully acted.

I have written elsewhere about Miles Ahead – directed by and starring the wonderful Don Cheadle.  Criticised by some for creating a story it is a wonderful evocation of the time, the man and the music.  He didn’t want to make the film at first, but there was an agreement that he could from a straightforward retelling of Davis’s life to a jazzier, more dream-like film. Cheadle did not want to make a straight bio-pic, he wanted ‘a jazzier, dream-like’ film.  He wanted the film ‘to be hot. It has to be creative, insane, improvisational’ (Guardian April 2016). Ewan McGregor is the wannabe journalist who befriends the magic trumpeter.  A great film which you should catch if you can.

We have also seen Our Kind of Traitor.  Ewan McGregor is everywhere!  In this John le Carre story he is a University professor of Poetry and his wife (Naomie Harris) is a Barrister (area of law not divulged).  The couple become enmeshed in the travails of a Russian mafia man, as you do on a night out at your favourite restaurant.  The professor gets into fights with a lot of severe punching, and walks away, relatively unscathed.  His wife is crisp, cool and calm, like no barrister I know, but is often the way women barristers are portrayed.  Damien Lewis is good as the uncontrolled spy-master.  The plot became unbelievable and frustrating, as the couple become more and more involved, so that you don’t care.  I even went for a comfort break towards the end, which I never do (and indeed I regard it as cinematic bad form).  That’s how disappointed I was.

And The Nice Guys.  Dear oh dear.  We walked through the doors of Mk2 on Boulevard Saint Germain (as you do) with such high hopes.  Russell Crowe and Kim Basinger, what could go wrong?  Who can forget their roles in the wonderful LA Confidential?  Well, the writers of this film obviously.  LA Confidential was slick, clever, funny and moving.  The Nice Guys, co-starring Ryan Gosling, was not.  It has a somewhat illogical story.  Both men, one a private detective (Gosling), the other an enforcer (Crowe) are involved in investigations around a porn star – one looking for her, the other trying to conceal her.  They start as opponents (cue much punching) and become colleagues, elsewhere colleagues become opponents without so much as a word of explanation, many long unnecessary fight scenes ensue, an irritating thirteen year old daughter acts cute, and there is some very unfunny drunken slapstick.  I see Wikipedia says it has received critical acclaim.  There you are then.

So films – we love them, sitting in a dark room on a velvet covered seat with a cup of tea and possibly a ginger biscuit, forgetting the world outside and melding with the lives of the people on the screen (except Russell Crowe).

Which is why we have a date tomorrow night in North London for a Film Quiz.  It is for an excellent cause – the EAVE Alan Fountain international scholarship fund, to assist South American film-makers (Alan Fountain, my brother-in-law, who died in March, was very involved with supporting independent film).

However.  Ardent readers of this blog will know that on the last two occasions that a Movie Quiz has been attempted by the writer, success has not come easy.  That is, it has not come at all.  In the first quiz our team came last, and in the next one we came second to last – progress yes, but not a positive omen.

Our team – aptly named ‘Straight to Video’ – consists of Maureen Who Likes Frasier, C, Kate (who has suggested her strengths lie in ordering drinks at the bar), myself and possibly J if she is not ministering to the sick.  I am hoping that my new glasses and new perfume (something pink by Yves Rocher) (it’s not called Something Pink, it is pink) will act as the perfect disguise in the event of a humiliating result.

IMG_3086But let it not be thought that we are inviting failure.  We have watched the Barry Norman Film Quiz DVD (2006) – although the results weren’t promising.  And we have of course been to the cinema, and taken notes.  Hopes are high.

Sunday morning at Alexandra Palace

IMG_2316 (5) Picture the scene – a sunny Sunday morning and an offer of coffee from Maureen Who Likes Frasier.  Where to go?  M suggests Ally Pally, the sumptuous surroundings of the Palm Court. 

Alexandra Palace was originally opened in North London, between Muswell Hill and Wood Green, in 1873 but after a fire it reopened in 1875.  It was described as The People’s Palace and intended as a public centre of recreation and entertainment.  In 1936 it became the home of the world’s first regular public “high-definition” television service, operated by the BBC. The original Victorian theatre survives. Alexandra Palace became a listed building in 1996, at the instigation of the Hornsey Historical Society.

Sunday was May Day

Cg-f4bmWkAAMeq9.jpg large and there was an antiques fair on so the place was busy, but the high airy palm filled space was still awe-inspiring.

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M had arrived by the W3 bus and had saved a table.  We glanced at the leaflets for forthcoming events (we have already been to a Drive-In in one of the car parks – the Martian – good movie)

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and then with a last look at the wonderful architecture it was time to go.

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We walked round to the front of the building and went down the steps

IMG_2302 (2)crossing the road we heard a honking car – it was favourite niece B, looking lovely, leaning on the window frame!  We had a quick shouted conversation till the lights changed and then we walked down through the park.  How lucky we are to have this wonderful place so close by.

At the foot of the hill was the Farmer’s Market where we bought stinging nettles (C has a yen to make ravioli with a nettle filling), spring greens,  golden beetroot and an enormous chicken. 

IMG_2338  IMG_2342   IMG_2329And who should be serving behind a coffee stall but L – one of my first ever clerks in Wellington Street chambers!  We chatted and compared our grey hair (she has recently stopped dying hers). 

And then home for lunch in the garden.  A couple of dunnocks pottered around while we ate in the sunshine.


Oh and by the way, I’ve finished Beyond the Beehive!  More on that later.