Thursday, 20 October 2011

Confusion on the U-Bahn (adventures in Berlin)

Last month I spent three and half jam packed days in Berlin. It is an awesome city and will I definitely go back, mainly to see and do all things that I didn't get round too!

We stayed in East Berlin at the Odyssee Globetrotter Hostel - v.nice indeed, free coffee, cheap beer and the offer of a good old German breakfast.

Kreuzberg was the most recommended district to mooch about  in - shops/bars/eateries - we spent a lot of time there, in particular, wandering down Oranienstasse where I bought my gravy jug and comic style tights!

We did all the touristy things too - visiting the Brandenburg Gate, the Holocaust Memorial (by Peter Eisenman), the Tacheles and the Berlin Film Museum where there were showing a very interesting exhibition on story boards as well a lot of history about the German film industry. We attempted to see the Bundestag but, and a word of warning to anyone else who wants to see it, you can't just wander in - woah no - you have to register three days prior to your visit so that they can check your not a suspicious kinda person - there was a terror threat last November so security is large.

Berlin transport is v.efficient, we only took the trains (not a fan of trams in general) and they are pretty easy to follow except for one detail: their U-Bahn and S-Bahn appear on the same map - it doesn't help that some of the lines are practically the same colour. The London equivalent being our tube AND rail network all thrown in together. It's not a big deal but Katie and I got a little confused on a couple of occasions.

Food and booze was mostly cheap in Berlin - swimming pools (super tasty cocktails) for 3.50 euros and on our first night we had pizza for just 3 euros! Other notable places - Michelberger Hotel (also on recommendation) - the comfiest hotel bar/lounge and where my sister and I created the excellent card game 'Who's got the Goat?', Angry Angry Chicken doubling up with Soju Bar, this really lovely cafe by the river - sadly I forgot the name - where I had the best Chai Tea Latte EVER. They like their nuts and meat out in Germany (including pistachio meat - amazing!) which was great for me as I like those things too but those with a nut allergy beware, pesto find it's way into lots of things.

Lastly, how could I write about a German adventure and not mention the currywurst, one word: YUM

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Reading & Seeing 4

Ryan Gosling in Drive

Jurassic Park
What? (you might ask) This was released almost 20 years ago, why is she writing about it now, silly girl. Actually "clever girl"(you see what I did there) because I got a ticket to see it in all it's dinosaur glory at the IMAX! Kudos to Mitch for getting the tickets - v.good surprise. To co-inside with its Blu-ray release some excellent people decided to show it on the (really) big screen. Seeing as I was only around 5 or 6 in 1993 when it was first shown, I was too young to be taken to the cinema to see it and so missed out only to watch it on VHS a couple of years later in the comfort of the living room, cushion at the ready for the scary parts (namely t-rex eating the lawyer off the toilet). No place to hide my face at the IMAX (you'll be pleased to know that I can watch it ALL the way through now) but what an awesome experience it was! Particularly enjoyed the fact that some of the audience started humming the theme tune whilst we waited for it to start and that we all clapped afterwards. The joy of being in the company of other dinosaur fans! On a side note: I realised that when I watched it as a child I not only missed a couple of quite obvious continuity blunders but also that I wasn't listening to some of the dialogue. I remembered all the cracking good lines (mostly owned by Jeff Goldblum) and can still recite most of the script but that was the first time I heard Jeff Goldblum explain Chaos theory to Laura Dern in the car AND the first time I heard Samuel L Jackson talk about the access codes whilst hunched over Dennis' computer! It's a film that just keeps on giving!

What? (you might ask again) This came out at least two years ago, what now? Another fancy screening? Why yes, actually. The lovely people at the Nomad Cinema did an outdoor screening of it beneath the stars at the London Observatory Greenwich. Clear skies, picnic, blankets - perfect. I didn't get to see Wall-E at the cinema either when it was first released so this a lovely treat for me (and Mitch)! It was first time with the Nomad cinema and I'm already looking forward to their film schedule for next Summer.

I think I'm probably one of the last people to see this film so perhaps there's not much to say apart from: "I loved this film". However incase there still are a few of you out there who have not yet gone/waiting for the dvd...its atmospheric, beautifully shot, the soundtrack is awesome and, in a way, bewitching, what little dialogue there is delivered by an immense cast (Gosling, Cranston, Perlman) and it's beautifully paced. There's no danger of being lost in a complicated plot but the story development is substantial, the difference between the way it begins and way it concludes is vast but as the last scene ends your not surprised you ended up there. Highly recommended.

It's the end of the world. That sort of film premise will usually get my attention (I do like my sci fi) and it was the subject of love and controversy at Cannes (so it's a decent 'end of the world' film not like 2012 or The Day After Tomorrow). Although it is one film, to me it felt like three all linked together. The first is the beautiful opening sequence of events with slow motion and scenes of the Earth and Melancholia and their fatal meeting in space. The second is the wedding party. The third is really the crux where it all ends, literally. But this could also be a film about the relationship between two sisters, wherein the conclusion is the same (the world ending) but it's not the focus, rather just a way to conclude it. Either way you want to look at it, Melancholia s quite a hope-less film - Kirsten Dunst's depression, Keifer Sutherland being an arse (and a coward), the world coming to end, Charlotte Gainsbourg trying to juggle it all - but it's good. See it but make sure you've got something upbeat to watch/do afterwards.

Imperial Bedrooms
The most recent, albeit over a year since it was first published, book from Bret Easton Ellis. I bought it nearly a year ago and then, truthfully, couldn't bring myself to read it. Imperial Bedrooms is the sequel to Less than Zero, Ellis' first novel. I distinctly remember how I felt after reading Less than Zero: empty. The events that transpire in that short book are pretty disturbing and I expected the same feeling to resurface upon finishing Imperial Bedrooms. It's the same friendship group but now, instead of teenagers, they're middle aged yet drugs, sex and violence are still the glue that holds their world together, or rather allows them all to fall apart one way or another. It's quite a cold and  emotionless world that Ellis creates, and, leading on from Less than Zero, the characters are still unlikeable and you don't get too attached to them especially to Clay (our main protagonist as before). Will I read it agin? No, but I'm glad I have. The only thing left of Ellis' I've yet to read is The Informers, however I don't think it, as none of his others in my opinion, could top The Rules of Attraction.

The Best Of Everything
After the emptiness of Ellis, I needed something which wouldn't require me to think too much about what I was reading, hello Rona Jaffe's The Best of Everything and, as you can imagine from the title, it did the job nicely. It's about four girls trying to make in New York City in the 1950s. However, although there is a bit of drama based around their jobs, what this book is really about is trying to find a man/husband. The four girls are all v.different (you can see how the comparisons to Sex & the City have been founded), different in terms of love, sex and career. What this book also does (and SATC to an extent) shows female insecurity in it's various forms. Unlike SATC though, at the end of the book there's no Candi Staton belting out 'You Got The Love' whilst  the central characters smile and link arms with each other/their potential husbands. Only two find love, and all four women are separated from each other - so much for sister hood, but it's the 1950s, you go where your man goes and leave all hope behind. So, although I normally dislike books that end in a lovely neat bow, but that is what I wanted with The Best of Everything and it's not what I got.
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