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1 Jan 2012

Beautiful New York

Some top places to eat and to see:

Gage & Tollner
Was an unspoilt late nineteenth-century chop house with functioning gas lamps. Opened in 1892 and named after the original owners; when they sold it in 1911 one of the conditions was that nothing ever be changed, the original wallpaper was still in place and most of the furniture dated back to the 1890s. It sadly closed it's doors in 2004 due to flagging business.

Gage & Tollner

The Airline Diner
The only American diner in the five boroughs to retain its original decor. A perfectly preserved 1950s eatery. Built in 1954 it features all the classic essentials including neon signs and vinyl covered benches and stools. Featured in the 1990 film Goodfellas.

The Airline Diner

The Spotted Pig
This Michelin starred restaurant opened in 2004 by owner Ken Friedman and investors like Mario Bateli and Bono, apparently... It is rated as serving some of the best burgers in the country! Always crowded, and very popular with locals and celebrities.

The Spotted Pig, downstairs

The Spotted Pig, Bar

The Spotted Pig, upstairs

McSorley's Old Ale House
'Good Ale, Raw Onions, No Ladies' read the sign that hung outside the door when it opened in 1854. Regulars through the ages boast the likes of Humphrey Bogart, Henry Fonda, Laural & Hardey and virtually every president since Abraham Lincoln. The bar stayed opened during the prohibition through the use of hidden foot pumps serving the famous McSorley Brew to the regulars. 
The McSorley motto "We were here before you were born".

McSorley's Old Ale House

31 Dec 2011


A lovely new collage of all the images from the blog so far for the new Facebook welcome page
Remember to 'like' & share


Stan and Jack

Isn't this just a great photo? Stanley Kubrick and Jack Nicholson on the set of The Shining.


Pastička is one of my favourite pubs in Prague. A short walk up from Wenceslas; an intimate smokey, basement style pub that's not a tourist spot, I've only ever seen Czech patrons or locals here. Great food, great beer & great service. Get there early if you want food as they're popular and fill up pretty quickly most evenings. 

FYI, it's not as brightly lit as those pics suggest.


I just finished reading Cormac McCarthy's Suttree and what an incredible book it is. Considered by many to be McCarthy's finest work he tells his semi-autobiographical story of Cornelius Suttree who has turned his back on his former life of privilege to become a fisherman on the Tennessee River. He spends his days in the company of down-and-outs, prostitutes and often surreal and carnivalesque characters. 

The first thing you'll notice is how rich, and thick and languid the dialogue is. The whole book is a flowing, mucky poetry washing over you and leaving you covered in a dark greasy coating of pure brilliance:
He struggled to his knees, staring down at the packed black earth between his palms with its bedded cinders and bits of crockery. Sweat rolled down his skull and dripped from his jaw. Oh God, he said. He lifted his swollen eyes to the desolation in which he knelt, the iron coloured nettles and sedge in the reeking fields like mock weeds made from wire, a raw landscape where half familiar shapes reared from the slag heaps of trash. Where backlots choked with weeds and glass and the old chalky turds of passing dogs tended away toward a dim shore of stonegrey shacks and gutted auto hulks. He looked down at himself, caked in filth, his pockets turned out. He tried to swallow but his throat constricted in agony. Tottering to his feet he stood reeling in that apocalyptic waste like some biblical relict in a world no one would have.
Suttree is a sad novel, but also humorous, dark and grotesquely entertaining. Some of the imagery will catch you off guard with how frightening and stark it is, whilst there are moments of genuine beauty, heartbreak and sincerity. Cornelius Suttree's journey sees him face tragedy, sorrow and transcendence in equal and overwhelmingly powerful measures whilst his relationships with burnt-out and similarly tragic figures along the way compliment the bleak backdrop and foul, violent and maggot ridden world they inhabit.

27 Dec 2011

A Lonely Place to Die

I was genuinely really looking forward to this, the tightly edited trailer really makes the most of the good bits, like any good trailer should do, and promises a great thriller that will deliver on all fronts. ALPTD is set in the Scottish Highlands and sees a group of rock climbers discover a kidnapped infant girl in an underground cell, they attempt an increasingly dangerous and fateful rescue as the kidnappers hunt them across the hillocks and slippery shale. Unfortunately, almost immediately I became distracted by the clunky, sometimes embarrassingly bad and unnatural dialogue which made the characters seem cold and distant from each other. On top of that there was the other immediate distraction in the lack of any believable friendship between them. It seemed to me that the actors had only just met on the morning of the first shoot and bought to mind the friendship between the characters in Shark Night 3D, I'm sure ALPTD was not intended for that same audience.

It's a shame because Melissa George is an excellent actress, working with directors such as Steven Soderbergh and David Lynch, but she didn't have the opportunity or screen-time to shine in this. She would have certainly been able to carry the film with the outstanding support of Sean Harris and Stephen McCole as the psychotic bad guys hunting her across the fens; a chase and showdown between just those three, George attempting to hide and protect the kidnapped infant in the wilderness whilst Harris & McCole tracked her through the crosshairs, shot in a minimal and gritty style would have been a film worth watching. But sadly the antagonists performances were painfully brief and the plot was stymied with an unnecessary inclusion of an Eastern European sub-text. Not to mention the drawn-out finale surrounding the rescue of the infant girl by a private security firm played admirably by Eamonn Walker et al; the near annihilation of a local village procession and a murderous rampage provided the absurd and not-at-all believable climax that the film wasn't calling for.

I get the impression that the Gilbey brothers were like a 'dog with a bone', not wanting to give up any of their precious screenplay and seeing as it was one of them that directed the film they had no real incentive or third-party advice to do so (or none that they were willing to take on board), thus wasting the opportunity of some cracking performances from what should have been a minimal and scaled-down cast and plot that must have been staring them in the face the whole time. There seems to be a general bloated, convoluted amount of padding around what had the potential to be a genuinely exciting and emotional action thriller.

A Lonely Place To Die, 2011. J Gilbey.


From the opening shot Snowtown will grab hold of you with a grip tight enough to squeeze the life out of you. It's incredibly dark and bleak and at times difficult to watch however in its bleakness there is a beauty in the cinematography and some of the most powerful and impressively natural performances you are ever likely to see.

After the hard-hitting introduction of the horrifying subject matter within the first 7 minutes, the story unfolds like a dark, sinister shadow gradually creeping across the screen. Set in a small Australian town in the late 1990s and based around the impoverished lives of a single mother (Elizabeth played by Louise Harris) and her four sons and, more importantly, the company she keeps. Elizabeth regularly hosts meetings where the discussions focus on the problem of local sex-offenders and the lack of any suitable justice, which is where John comes in. John is the self-styled, self-appointed protector of the community, doling out his own sadistic brand of punishment as he sees fit. At first you may find yourself asking whether or not John (played by Daniel Henshall) is a necessary evil, after-all his arrival in the family unit certainly brings a confident and much needed father figure to the home, someone for the brothers to look up to and learn from. However, before long you realise that the evil he has introduced to Jamie's (Lucas Pittaway) life is in many ways far worse, far more terrifying and far more tortuous than the life he was dealing with prior to John's arrival. 

Many of the graphic and violent scenes are as brutal and realistic as the real-life story the film is based on and the only respite you'll get from the at times sadistic imagery are the stunning and beautiful atmospheric shots, sometimes of the landscape or maybe just a calm evening in front of the television. Particularly striking is the imagery of a pet snake pouncing on, then coiling itself around, its prey, very much like John's all consuming control over his 'family' and friends. 

It's hard to believe Snowtown is based on real life events surrounding the infamous murders in a small Australian town in 1999. The film is unflinching and gruesome in its recollection of what took place and it demands our attention; the cold bleak subjects and settings frame the horrifying narrative perfectly whilst the excellent sad and brutal performances from an astounding cast cement Snowtown rightfully at the top of the critics' lists.

Snowtownis available to preorder and I strongly suggest you do so as it is my official selection for the film of the year.

24 Dec 2011

The Maimed

A few people have asked about the name of the blog. I just wanted to set the record straight, I'm not trying to make a deep, profound statement on the nature of individuality. It's the name of one of my favourite books.

The Maimed by Hermann Ungar

Ungar was Born in 1893 into a Jewish family in the small town of Boskovice in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. His career, whilst acclaimed was sadly very short lived due to failing health; he died in 1929 aged just 36. His writing was highly praised by the likes of Thomas Mann and the director Berthold Viertel but never received the attention it deserved, going forgotten for decades, until he was recognised by the Kafka conferences in 1963 & 1965.

From the cover:
Called by Thomas Mann a "sexual hell" as well as "pure artistry," The Maimed is Set in Prague and relates the story of a highly neurotic, socially inept bank clerk who is eventually impelled by his widowed landlady into servicing her sexual appetites. At the same time he must witness the steady physical and mental deterioration of his lifelong friend who is suffering from an unnamed disease. Part psychological farce, Ungar tells a dark, ironic tale of chaos overtaking one's meticulously ordered life. One of only two novels Ungar wrote, this translation marks the first time his work has appeared in English. 

This is all just a very brief introduction to a fascinating career and life of a now legendary author. 

Meek's Cutoff

This is one of my top film recommendations for 2011, released in the UK in April, Directed by Kelly Reichardt.
Set in 1845 the film sees a group of settlers travelling across the Oregon desert who find themselves stranded in the harsh conditions. They are torn between following the advice of Meek, a cock-sure self-styled frontier guide who seems to be leading them on a merry dance, or following their prisoner; a native American AKA the presumed enemy of their people.
The casting is superb, and the central performances from Bruce Greenwood as Meek and Michelle Williams as Emily provide Meek's Cutoff with the conflicting voices of reason and potential insanity. The bleak yet beautiful settings also deserve a mention as they provide the oppressive, omnipotent hand of doom that persistently tightens its grip around the weary, dehydrated travellers' throats.
In a year when the great True Grit was deservedly taking up all the limelight for the whole genre, Meek's Cutoff deserves special recognition.

23 Dec 2011

The Scandinavian Home

I just found this amazing bookand got a bit scan-happy, I love Scandinavian design so this should keep me busy for hours.

All images: copyright © The Vendome Press

I highly recommend it, it's available in hardback here: The Scandinavian Home

22 Dec 2011



Don McCullin

Shaped by War: Photographs by Don McCullin
Imperial War Museum: 7 Oct 2011- 15 April 2012
Don McCullin is one of the most important photographers of our generation. For more than 50 years, his uncompromising black and white photographs have shaped our awareness and understanding of modern conflict and its consequences. Shaped by War presents the largest collection of Don McCullin’s work ever seen on public display.

More info

Croche Cafetin

By far the best restaurant/cafe/bar I've ever had the pleasure to visit. If you're lucky enough to find yourself in the historical town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, about 28 miles NW of Madrid you should stop by this great venue. The food is incredible and the interior Parisian design is stunning & drenched in character.

Hein Troy

Velux Sunlighthouse, Pressbaum

This is amazing.

21 Dec 2011

William Eggleston

William Eggleston is an American photographer famous for his ability to make the ordinary seem extraordinary, the mundane appear unsettling. His images grab you with their vivid colour and haunting atmospheres whilst, to my mind there's often the suggestion of something sinister or perhaps lonely and isolated dwelling the shadows throughout much of his work.
Copyright © The Eggleston Trust

You can purchase a selection of his prints from the Egglestone Trust website.

Christmas wish list - #2

Albam's Casual Blazer: Thick, dyed Italian Cotton Twill・French corozo nut buttons・Multiple hidden pockets for phone and wallet・100% cotton・Crafted in Portugal.

Olly Moss

I want to bring your attention to the fine work of Olly Moss, particularly his film posters. I'm so envious of the way he builds an amazing piece around the smallest detail of his subjects. His prints are always limited and available in small quantities, so think fast if you want to own one.
Copyright © Olly Moss

Before you ask, the Star Wars prints are sold out and will never be re-printed.

20 Dec 2011


Check out the trailer for Snowtown. Perhaps, the best film of the year.

Raven by Tomer Hanuka

I'm a huge fan of Tomer Hanuka. His work is mind-blowing, powerful and never ceases to amaze. Raven is a recent limited edition silk screen print, inspired by Poe's classic poem.
Copyright © Tomer Hanuka
His art is at once beautiful and gruesome; a greasy, sinister and sometimes violent shadow is always creeping through, or glistening around the edges of every picture he creates.