Filed under Reviews

Midnight Special – a review. #film

midnight-special-poster

So Midnight Special.

 

Please only read this if you have seen it – contains some spoilers.

 

I thought about acting school recently – my teacher said ‘as a protagonist you always need to lose. In all major movies, the good guy loses, even if he gains.’  I thought about major movies. My god she was right – Shawshank – he loses his wife, his freedom, his friends, Forrest Gump – he loses the love of his life and so much more, Casablanca he loses his love, Raging Bull etc you get the picture. They all lose. Got it.

And while Michael shannons’ character in Midnight Special very much loses something very important to him – I didn’t feel like Alton, his son, was losing anything.

Alton, as you may have guessed, is extremely special. The title of the movie actually refers to a late night news report about the fact he is missing. A man, played by Michael Shannon, appears to be missing with him. His importance isn’t stressed at first, but you guessed it – he’s his father. Alton does a lot of screaming and crying and shooting bright effervescent blue laser beams out of his eyes for no apparent reason.  It’s certainly mysterious, interesting. But when the thing happens that is supposed to split us apart as an audience – it doesn’t happen. There was no struggle, no sadness at leaving his human* birth* ? parents. The thing about ET was that he knew he had to go home – but he had bonded with Elliott – it was going to be a struggle – he was going to miss his friend. This is what tugs at the heartstrings, this is what moves you, this is what causes that conflict in ourselves. As an audience we are completely invested, and devastated really, that this friendship and bond gets terminated. You all blubbed watching ET too, admit it.

 

While Midnight Special was tense – and it certainly was -the tension is ratcheted up beautifully, to the point where you are almost uncomfortable, squirming in your cinema seat.  The thing is, I didn’t feel very much else. I didn’t feel sad. I didn’t feel turmoil at the predicament. The parents had completely, almost matter of factly, accepted the fact that their son was probably going to be jetting off to another plane.  I didn’t feel anything from Alton – the boy. He told his parents not to worry. But he was quite happy to bugger off back to his people.

And although Michael Shannon has a very intense face – and his face is perfect for these odd, tortured parts due to his very bizarre, almost boggly eyed look- I was almost distracted to the point of not getting much else from him. It was a stress for sure, having the FBI on your arse, trying to capture your other-worldly son, but what else was going on? I didn’t get the layers (did you Mary Berry?) No offence to Mr. Shannon, I think he’s a good actor, but I wasn’t receiving the subtext.  He was always so tense, that anything else was almost inaccessible.

I also didn’t really get a sense of why he was where he was as a character.  Why had his son been adopted? Had he been a bit of a crap father and then had an attack of guilt last minute? Was it because he left the creepy cult acrimoniously? Having not brought up his son, was this why he was seemingly so detached?

Joel Edgerton on the other hand was fantastic. I felt the most from him. His guilt about the storm trooper they shot, the concern about the boy’s health, his empathy at the family that couldn’t be – shown by very subtle actions, basically you could read his face like a book. He’s very good at emoting. Not what I expected, having just seen Exodus, in which he was fine but the character was  a brash buffoon (and hard to accept as an Egyptian when he looked more like an eastern European wearing eye liner ha.) But he did impress me in this. I could see someone like Jake Gyllenhaal taking the part of the father (had he been older.) He would have been good too.

I will say that this film was super compelling. It’s a chase movie really, with supernatural elements. A road movie without the popcorn and soundtrack. An ‘us against them,’ the ‘little guy versus ‘the man.’

There is a wonderful reveal at the end, I won’t go so far as to say ‘twist’ and I certainly won’t say what it is (even though this review pretty much has ruined it for you all anyway.)

Midnight Special is definitely worth the watch. If you have seen it, please let me know what you thought, in the comments below.

And if you haven’t seen ET, then get a hold of yourself, and go and watch it immediately – it’s a master class in how to do it :)

 

The End of Longing – a review

The_End_of_Longing

So a couple of weeks ago my lovely friend who lives in London treated us to tickets to see ‘The End of Longing’ – a play conceived by and starring Matthew Perry. The reviews had been mixed and one of my friends warned they heard it was awful but I like to make my own mind up about things and try to avoid reviews like the plague (how ironic as I write this) because I don’t like to have any pre conceptions before seeing/experiencing something. Otherwise you don’t know if what you are thinking is your own feeling, or something subliminal.

That in mind, this does contain spoilers, so I would only advise that you read on if you have already seen it, or you are the kind of person who loves spoilers, you devil you (my aunt is such a person.)

I have to start by saying that the name Matthew Perry  is very much the reason this got to the west end. Friends was, and still is, huge (see my previous post about it http://www.lippychick.co.uk/the-one-with-all-the-talk-about-friends/). It’s certainly a creative dream to write something and have it performed on stage (I had this pleasure at University.) Even more luxurious to be the person to star in it too, after all, who knows how to interpret your writing better than you?

I just wish he had been braver. I wish it hadn’t been so predictable. If themes of ‘life is pointless’ etc then where was the moment where life IS displayed to be random and unpredictable and completely unyielding. The play opens with the character of Stephanie, a prostitute, telling us ‘It’s not my dream to work on my back, but then again neither am I happy about the fact we all DIE at the end of our lives!’ Each character is introduced in a snappy way, to give us an insight into their motives, and so that we as an audience don’t have to think too much. We get all four of their MOs in the opening 30 seconds. Fine. It’s just that none of them have a proper story arc. None of them develop. There is no rite of passage, no real suffering. A lot of arguing, a lot of matt pushing his grey hair back and swearing but no epiphanies. The fact that Joseph prays hysterically for his ill and pregnant girlfriend, and she is saved – is Matthew Perry trying to tell us he’s secretly religious, or does he not want to offend anyone ? OR does he really want to believe that there is life after death? (As this is something he is seemingly wrestling with.)  The scene where Joseph is praying could have poignant, maybe, but it’s still interjected with jokes when he is ‘talking to God in the church.’ He starts by thanking him for an encounter he had with another woman… it just made it hard to take seriously.
It’s clichéd, it’s cloying. It’s very American.
It didn’t move me, but I really really wanted it too.
Of course Matthew Perry can act. We’ve seen him do it before. He was very convincing as a drunk – I suppose he’s had lots of practice (sorry Matt) and it’s definitely a well observed take on our society – especially the women – we are all neurotic head cases. There’s so much to worry about these days, and modern technology (ie smart phones and social media) haven’t helped one bit. We have all become obsessive, paranoid cluster fucks ‘he hasn’t texted me in 4 hours, what does this mean?!’ And I love the line ‘why aren’t you in therapy? Maybe we should put you in therapy so we can figure out why you aren’t in therapy!’
The writing was really good in some places, like the example above. Other times it was cloying and dragged a little bit.
I was most disappointed that I predicted the whole thing. I would have loved a twist. I also found it strange, that Matt having been an alcoholic in real life, thought it was realistic for his character to declare and successfully quit drink in 30 days (as he promises her character he will.)
And it definitely had far too many ‘fucks’ in it (swearing, not literal fucks although I suppose that would have been entertaining.) To the point where it loses all meaning and you think that it’s a lazy writing device. All the characters swore. There was no differential in terms of their dialogue, which speaks volumes about character, except for the ones they banged over our heads – Joseph is stupid, Stevi is neurotic, Jack’s a drunk, Stephanie has daddy issues.
I’m afraid I found the delivery of Stephanie so sing songey that I found it difficult to connect with her as a human being. She was fine being a prostitute and made loads of money ($2500 per guy, really? Did the customers get a gold model of her vagina at the end?) I think I found her to be the most 2D. And realistically, Stevi, who found Joseph dull and boring, would have settled with him for 2 minutes before it all turned to shit in reality. What her character screamed was desperation and ‘ladies, if he likes you, settle, at least it’s *someone* girls!’ Not such an attractive or realistic prospect.
There were a few moments that made you semi smile, but unfortunately no laugh out loud moments. Lots of ‘Friends’ style devices – leaving a long pause after someone delivers a line and then saying your one worder-  ’anyway.’
There was also a lot of waiting for the laughs – which Matt did frequently – and he did get them – people who adored him as Chandler were fawning over him in the front row. Pretty sure he could have dropped a turd on stage and people would have loved it – such is his gravitas and preceding reputation.
I don’t want to completely trash it of course. It was certainly watchable and ticked along. There was potential here.  But there was no epiphany, no defining change, no development of character and nothing that made me emote. And it’s very easy to make me emote. I’m a softie. I like to feel when I go to the Theatre. But all I could feel was how hard my seat was, and the legs from the person behind me, pressed into my back.
The end of longing was fine, but it could have been so much more.

 

 

 

50 Shades of Nay

50 SHADES

 

So I read that Jamie Dornan didn’t attend drama school. Jamie thinks acting is ‘instinctual.’

That’s a shame. Maybe he would have been better equipped to deal with the cold slab of flesh that is Dakota Johnson. Rumours are they lacked chemistry and he found her difficult. To be honest I would struggle to act opposite a piece of wood myself. She certainly lacks je nais se quoi. (Sorry Melanie G). We know that the character of Anastasia is meant to be somewhat plain, however we are led to believe (in the book anyway) that there is something intangibly irresistible about her- which means Grey can’t stay away.

We failed to see this in the film. Unfortunately Dakota Johnson seriously lacks the sex appeal/innocence combo required for this role. Alexis Bledel would have been an ideal choice, and I think many fans envisaged her taking the role. I’m unsure as to whether she was even asked, possibly too old for the role.

A few things about the movie to consider:

 

*Why was her roommate like 35?

*Why was her roommate unbelievable as a human being? She seemed to be a caricature of a person.

*Why were Dakotas’s eyebags so fucking huge?

*Why was Dakota so bumbly?  Anastasia is naïve, but she’s not meant to be an idiot.

*Why is Jamie Dornan married (FML)

*What did Grey find so great about her? Whatever it was did not translate well to film.

Fact is that some of the bits in the book which are so hot (and of course implausible) became laughable when put on screen.  The bit where he growls ‘fuck the paperwork’ in the book is actually sexy as hell- on screen it’s just a bit… cringe.

Credit to Jamie Dornan though who acts his pants off, literally. I was disappointed that we didn’t see more of the goods though, especially as there was lots of Dakota naked.

Dakota I did not believe for one second in the role. In turns she seems positively bored, disinterested, disaffected. She doesn’t looked pained when she can’t touch him (in the book she is devastated) she’s more mildly annoyed here. This woman is supposed to be deeply consumed by him and I don’t buy it for one minute.

I think Jamie actually gets better as the movie goes on (i’m not biased I promise!) I thought he portrayed a very sympathetic Grey. It was obvious why she was so in to him. Also, a fucked up man is always so interesting/tempting/exquisite.

The one sexy scene in the whole movie is when they are sitting at either end of a very long table with a sunset type of quality to the background (even if it’s in the office) and he tells her he wants to fuck her and you wonder if they will on the table. They don’t and it actually makes it all the more sexy.

For her role I’m afraid they needed someone with a lot more gravitas.

The film itself cut a lot of the foreplay moments that the characters had in the book and I think this did it a disservice. There was no frisson or build up, or chemistry or will they won’t they ( I mean we all know they WILL but it never gave us any reason to doubt it. And that’s a serious quality that it should have striven to achieve, makes it sexier)

From the moment she fell in his office (like a dick), it just seemed to be a count down to the sex. And her writhing naked with too many shots of her twiglet nipples (while we see nothing of him – perhaps one tease of his ball – believe me I was REALLY looking)  while he does the odd spank isn’t sexy really. He should have really seduced her body – gone down on her for example (which happens in the book a lot and didn’t happen much here)  and she should have SOLD that shit like she was loving it and she simply didn’t. Disappointing. Believe me, if I had Jamie Dornan between my legs, it would have be difficult to keep it to just simulating if I’m honest.

I do wonder how different it would have been had someone more stylised tackled it – a Soderbergh or a Tarantino for example. Not that either would touch it with a barge pole, but there was potential here, and  I don’t think Taylor Johnson did it any favours.

It wasn’t terrible don’t get me wrong,  watchable – but a let down.

 

 

THE ONE WITH ALL THE TALK ABOUT FRIENDS

FRIENDS POSTER 2014 

The magic ingredients – just how did they do it?

 

There are so many things that make Friends the delicious success that it is and continues to be. How can it be 20 years since this first lit up our screens and our hearts? Unless you have been living under a rock, you will know that this TV juggernaut has surpassed generations and made the six actors global superstars. One of my friends is ten years younger and yet we quote this show all day long at each other. There seems to be a friends-ism for literally every situation.

 

It does seem to be permanently on.  And even though I own every single episode on DVD boxset, when Friends is on, I can’t seem to switch channel. Like a moth to the flame, I select it, and watch it, for the umpteenth time, it all its TV glory – such is the gravitas it possesses. And Friends just keeps on giving. Something you found funny  the first time, you will keep finding funny. And that’s no mean feat.

 

The creators have recently said that ‘Friends is about that time in your life when your family are your friends’ – this was Marta Kauffman talking about why she wouldn’t revitalise the show for a comeback movie (which is desperately wanted by the fans)  because ‘that time has passed for the sixsome.’

Friends is literally the dream. I lived it at university. I embodied it when living abroad.  When I lived in New York – I would come home, open my dorm room and my two cool neighbours  (and who became my best friends) would gravitate to my room like magnets finding metal.

Whit would go on my laptop as hers was broken and Lis would watch my TV as it was big. We would slouch together on my bed.  And we would all chat. And I loved it. There was something so cool, comforting and awesome about it all.

Living with the people you choose to surround yourself with, really is a joy to behold. At uni, my bloke neighbours really would come and help themselves to the food in my fridge. There really were heartbreaks, and inter group relationships and falling outs and meeting family,  but mostly it was fun, carefree,  golden years.

This scenario alone though, could not have ensured the show’s staying power.

So just what is the secret to its everlasting success?

 

The Writing

I literally cannot stress this enough. I know they had copious writers – and it shows. Your actors are only as good as the writing – and in this case it is pure gold. Funny, witty, biting, snappy and well considered.  Bravo guys, seriously.

Relatability

I may have just made up this word. Oh well. Friends has such a broad spectrum. It really does appeal to anyone – mostly because we have all lived through those situations which are familiar to most of us.  Also, it is about one of our most satisfying human activities – hanging with your friends.

Likeability

This would not have worked if the characters were all douchebags.

The fact is they are all flawed, but they have ridiculously warm hearts (pre possessing aortic pumps, anyone?)  and would do anything for each other. Awww.

Rooting for the underdog

Let’s be honest – they all have their issues. Chandler is damaged goods but witty and sarcastic. Could he BE any more endearing? (sorry)

Joey is pretty but dumb. Sorry I mean pretty dumb..

Ross is Geek central and was in the friend zone for a long time. Bam – 9 years later he had Rachel.

Rachel was the spoilt princess who didn’t have a clue about the real world. She had to go get one of those ‘job things.’

Monica is the OCD personified that lives in all of us – but she really is the glue that holds the group together.

And Phobe? Well she’s off her rocker. Proving that patience is a virtue and maybe we’ll find her at Flimbys..

 

Thanks for the music Bright, Kauffman, Crane.. thank you for the words.

 

Friends is the equivalent of a hot chocolate or a Sunday roast. Comforting, satisfying and so enjoyable you want to repeat it every week.

 

To celebrate the 20th Anniversary,  Warner brothers, has released a  236 second clip of the all the episodes smooshed together. Enjoy :)

 

 

 

 

 

Cutting the deck – A House of Cards Review

HOUSE OF C

 

So I know I’m late to the game, but I have recently started watching House of Cards.

My brother raved about this show after watching it when he lived in the states and so I requested the boxset for my birthday. I was looking for something new to sink my teeth into after devouring 5 seasons of the Good Wife and chomping my way through Damages – which I ingested much like a drug addict getting their next cocaine fix. My god that show was good.  Is there anything more delicious than getting completely and utterly hooked on a show that you actually think in the morning, ‘Ok I’m going to work now, but later, I’ll be watching *insert favourite show here*- yippee’  When the credits roll at the end of an episode and you think ‘NOOOO. Must. Watch. One. More.’ Even if it is 1am and you have to be up in 5 hours…

 

I tried Breaking Bad.  I was thoroughly bored for the first season. The arid scenery did not help its cause. Is it just me that feels like a city/setting should be another character that adds to the show? I also found it repetitive and formulaic. Guy has cancer, guy coughs his guts up. Guy kills a guy and takes like 3 episodes to dispose of the body. Guy gets horny and shags wife. And repeat.

I heard that it gets better, that you have to persevere  before it really kicks off – but I don’t want to ‘persevere ’ – this isn’t hard graft or a job I’m trying to get through – it’s meant to be escapism.

I tried three episodes of Game Of Thrones, but in truth I hate fantasy – there is only so much you can do and I find the genre very limiting: battle, death, shagging, dragons – and again .  It’s so intangible and unrelatable – for me anyway. My sister is absolutely addicted – along with the rest of the population.

 

So to the political drama that is House of Cards which exploded onto Netflix, taking a hearty chunk of the viewer base along with it for the ride. In a nutshell, and according to Wiki:

 Washington, D.C., HOC is the story of Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey), a Democrat from South Carolina’s 5th congressional district and House majority whip who, after being passed over for appointment as Secretary of State, initiates an elaborate plan to get himself into a position of power.

 

Ooh.. Sounds juicy right? It certainly is, if a slow but steady burner. You get a hint of the characters’ intentions right away. It’s all very softly- softly; I would almost say that the approach is somewhat insidious, with each episode slowly burning on your psyche.

It definitely has a lot of appeal right off the bat. Sumptuous shots of Washington DC; a stellar cast lead by the ubiquitous Kevin Spacey, and supported by Robin wright who I thought was sublime in Forrest Gump and whose performance made me weep during that film. Set in the White house, with an array of guest stars -It was definitely an exciting prospect.

 

The pilot has lots of setting up to do. The dynamic of Frank and Claire is the driving force behind the show and the powerhouse combination of Spacey and Wright propels the drama where it needs to go. Their relationship is extremely complex, and as is revealed, far from perfect. For the first couple of episodes you feel almost voyeuristic as you try to decipher their unconventional and sometimes very stifled pairing. What is the true subtext here?  Before long you realise they are linked like chain metal – although not without any chinks in the armour.

Stuff happens for no apparent reason, although I am sure there is plenty of symbolism at play. This perturbed me a bit to start with – I guess I search for (and like) meaning in everything. Little moments that the music seems to give weight to – I’m still wondering the significance of the rowing machine (anyone?!)  seem to plant the seed of doubt, and yet you are not entirely sure why; it’s more of an uneasy feeling. All designed to make you slightly on edge, which is something that permeates the drama – who can you trust? Will they die? Was that a double bluff? I certainly love to be kept guessing.

Together they are utterly compelling to watch – I love their scenes together. I love their devotion to one another, despite the fact we still don’t 100% trust their motivations

There are so many layers to these characters; it’s like peeling an onion. Just when you think you have figured them out for the vindictive schemers that they are, another layer is revealed which makes them seem much more human, almost as if their spiteful behaviour were justified, a tiny but. The show is very good at this. Too much vitriol and we would hate these characters – but we find ourselves sort of rooting for them – and sometimes sort of not.

It’s a kind of ambivalence that is almost risky to play with – shouldn’t the audience always love the protagonist?  Sometimes I find myself hoping Frank will fall on his face – because I think he deserves it. The key is in Spacey’s gravitas of course. At first I wasn’t so convinced about his dodgy southern accent that kept slipping in and out (I have learnt to accept this now – a bit like the fact that no matter who Sean Connery plays – he will always be Scottish and I don’t even notice any more.) And the fact that he breaks the fourth wall and talks to camera I wasn’t so sure about either, but now it has been weaved into the very fabric of the show,  I can usually tell when he’s about to do it, and it doesn’t actually detract from the show itself. I quite enjoy him confiding in us.

 

There is of course the issue of the political jargon. I have no idea about American Politics. A lot of it goes right over my head, which is a shame – perhaps I’m missing out there – but I would have to sit on Google whilst watching the episodes to decipher the political machinations that they are hashing out – and I think that would make it less fun to watch. To be fair though, despite my political ignorance, my rudimentary understanding allows most of it to make enough sense that I am not scrabbling for answers to the inner workings of white house etiquette. I’m too busy trying to work out who is screwing who – metaphorically and in actuality.

 

Although the show is definitely not one that relies on a twist or a shock at the end of every episode, I think that by not doing that it packs more punch when something gasp -worthy happens. There are certainly some ‘Did that just happen?’ moments. All I will say is that if you want someone bumped off, don’t look to the mafia, just call a politician. Does this stuff really happen? Probably more than we think.

House of Cards is definitely worth a watch for Wright alone. She is stand out for me. She’s so intriguing and multi-faceted, giving humanity and genuine credence to a character who could so easily be reduced to a Cruella De Vil type.

Don’t be fooled though –  House of Cards is definitely a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Start watching it today, and don’t trust anyone.

An Evening with music composer George Fenton

So last year I had the pleasure of being invited to an exclusive evening with the music composer George Fenton.

I have always been fascinated by and in awe of music composers. What would Jaws have been without those few spine chilling bass notes? When we think of powerhouse films like Star Wars or Indiana Jones we immediately think of the epic rousing score. Films that make us emote – Forrest Gump when he is at Jenny’s graveside – it’s the score that gets the lump in our throats.

I was invited to this prestigious event by a director that I worked with on the short film, Etiquette, Andrew Carslaw.  Carslaw is an upcoming filmmaker from Oxford who has close ties with Oxford University and their creative sectors, having worked at the university for quite some time.

You could say that George’s music is eclectic. He has scored a diverse selection of films from Ghandi to You’ve Got Mail. His style of music is versatile and refreshing. He doesn’t have the universal recognisability of a John Williams or a James Horner, however I think this definitely works for him.

I always lament the fact that I didn’t learn to play a musical instrument. I told George about this. He gave some wonderfully encouraging advice. ‘It’s never too late to learn to play an instrument. Truly. Learn to play something – you won’t regret it.’ I have been thinking about taking up the piano. I genuinely thought this was something you had to start when you were 5. After all, hadn’t Beethoven scored his first symphony at 5? (This blows my mind by the way.)

 

Advice from George for film composers in the making;

Learn to play an usual musical instrument. This makes you indispensible. If they want someone to play the Aeolian Wind Harp and you are the only one that can – they’ll hire you.  George was a relative unknown when they hired him for Ghandi – however he was one of only a handful of people who knew how to play the Persian Setar. This essentially got him the job.

Never take rejection personally. It is nearly always politics at play. George told us that he had composed two thirds of the film ‘Interview with a Vampire’ starring Tom Cruise. Some of the producers felt edged out of the project so to assert their authority they fired George and hired someone else. He was collateral damage.  I asked George how that made him feel.  ‘Not very good, but it wasn’t about me. It happens in the business more than you think.’ We urged him to tell us on what other films but he remained discreet, if revelling in the mystery.

I asked George if he ever watched a movie and listened to the score and thought ‘I could do a better job than that.’ George laughed and commented that this was a very good question.

‘Not ever actually. The thing is I know how much work, sweat and tears has gone into that score. Above all else, I feel huge admiration.’  What an amazing guy.

To join in on the events, check out Film oxford http://www.filmoxford.org.

 

To Tea or not to Tea, that is the question

So last year for my birthday, me and one of my best friend’s decided to spend a lovely chilled day in London, and we fancied afternoon tea. Such a middle class pursuit I hear you say, but we are grown ups now. Long gone are the days of falling out of clubs half cut on my birthday and vomming in a cobbled street –  and I’m quite glad about that.

 

I have actually been meaning to write about this for a while, and despite laziness prevailing, the urge to document this outing has not been quelled by the passing of time.

 

My friend did the necessary research, and we decided upon the Bluebird in Chelsea. Apparently this fancy spot is featured in the Channel 4 debacle,’ Made In Chelsea’ – a show about wanky rich kids who have nothing to do but sleep with all their friends, and then start all over again. Whilst conversing as if they are in school. ‘Yar, I like her.. ya.. I do, but I don’t know.. does she like me too?’

 

Why I ever thought that would be an good indicator of its value is beyond me, but anyway. I guess I made the assumption that if these rich toffs frequented such a place that it would have to be of certain standard.

 

The weather was utterly gorgeous and hot enough to wear a little summery dress – I wore my floaty, flowery, Abercrombie number. We had taken a long walk up the embankment, marvelling at the silvery Thames (ignoring the fact that it’s probably filled with London’s finest waste) and then we had taken a nose at the vintage shops.

 

Our booking at the Bluebird was at 3pm and we arrived promptly just before.

 

In classic 2013 style I said ‘take a picture of me outside!’ As our generation are want to do, to document ‘the moment!’

ooh, because the Bluebird is *the* Stonehenge of Chelsea, right? .. Gotta capture that.

 

We arrived inside and were ushered upstairs. We climbed the heavily padded maroon stairs and at the top were two glass doors.

 

Upon opening it we came face to face with four girls all squeezed into a burgundy booth. They were all yakking and when we arrived we waited for them to notice us.

 

They were wearing what looked like school uniforms for Japanese girls: short short skirts, white shirts and weird maroon ties. They all had their hair scraped back in dark brunette buns.

 

‘Excuse me, hiya, we have a booking for 3.’

 

One girl shot us a look of incredulity, that we had just interrupted her chat. Another girl got a huge book out and started leafing the mammoth pages. She soon lost interest.

 

‘Yeh just go through and sit to the right.’ she ventured, waving an arrogant hand in the air, as if she were wafting a bad smell away from her. ( Us I guess)

 

We sat down on the heavily padded, burgundy cushions. They were leathery and sweaty. Every time you moved you squeaked and got a bit of your thigh stuck to it. They were comfy, but the layout reminded me of an old hotel – the furniture was oppressive and there wasn’t nearly enough natural light in there.

 

Our ‘server’ arrived – this is what his  name tag  indicated anyway-   he stood and advised us that he would be bringing afternoon tea and asked which tea we wanted. We advised English breakfast and Darjeeling respectively.

 

I told him it was my birthday. I was quite perky and said I was excited about celebrating.

 

He looked at me as if I had taken a dump in his tea towel.

 

‘Ok then.’  he answered, literally confused as to why I had shared this information, and with that he walked off. I was extremely surprised by the lack of pleasantries, and for want of a better word, manners.

 

He came back with two champagnes. Teeny tiny. £9 a glass I believe.

 

We clinked glasses, dunked our tipple, and the sweet acidity slapped my empty stomach.

We were properly starving by this point.

 

He returned with the teas. Popped them down and then walked off. He did return, quite promptly, and brought the three tiered cake vessel for the food stuff.

 

Now, don’t get me wrong, the presentation was beautiful. The top was even elegantly designed like a bird cage with a ‘bluebird’ at the top. It was intricate and unique. The sandwiches were nice but absolutely tiny, and amongst the sweet things, only ONE  scone each and then a whole host of other overly rich, sickly puddings which, quite frankly, were unnecessary. I would have happily had more scones and none of that synthetic stuff. I imagine it was to bulk out the rest of the foods.

 

Check out my fake smile below:

 

Chelsea bluebird

 

Well anyway, after the very beautiful small sandwiches,  we were still hungry. We had worked up an appetite walking around prior to this and I had skipped breakfast for this.

 

We decided we would like to order more. And this is where is gets UTTERLY ridiculous.

 

We gestured to our waiter and he walked over to us.

 

‘We would like to order more sandwiches please.’

 

He threw his head back aghast, and looked at us confused.

 

‘No. You can’t order any more. We don’t do that. We only make one round of afternoon tea for each booking.’

 

Er ya WHAT.

 

‘Sorry, are you saying we can’t order more (child sized) sandwiches.. we would obviously pay.’

 

‘Yes no, you can’t do that. As I said, we only make round of afternoon tea per booking, they are made at the beginning of the day. We don’t make any more.’

 

His eyebrows were dancing wildly on his forehead. It was as if I had asked him to explain Hawking’s brief history of time.

 

To be honest, I can’t comprehend this. This is LUDICROUS. We are talking sandwiches, not a gourmet Coq Au Vin. They are seriously missing a trick by not offering seconds – and how lazy is the chef?

 

It was the epitome of pretension.

 

‘OK well if you can show us the menu we will purchase something else.’ I was doing my best not to lose my cool, and what really got my goat was the fact that this guy just could not give a shit.  He was not interested in us as customers, he didn’t care what we did or if he lost our business.

 

Perhaps we should have stuck some veneers in and talked about  ’daddy’s boat’ –  would we get better service?

 

‘We are not offering food now. The kitchen reopens at 6pm. There is a restaurant downstairs but we are fully booked.’ The corners of his mouth turned updward whilst he was stood next to us.  Smirking?

 

WOW.

 

‘Can I speak to the manager please?’ I ventured, as softly as I could,

 

He shrugged his shoulders. ‘Yeh.’

 

He ambled off. I was in disbelief.

 

The manager arrived, a slick Turkish business man with thick black hair gelled to his head.

 

‘Hello Madam’  MADAM, oh dear lord it gets worse.

 

‘What seems to be the issue?’

 

I advised that we simply wanted to purchase some other food from the menu.

 

‘Well,  the kitchen here is not operating at this time (?!) If you are desperate, the best I can do is ask the kitchen to make you chips.’

 

Is his Kitchen an Ocean’s Eleven type vault that can only be accessed at certain times of the day?

 

After much arguing, I had to concede to his shit offer.   So we were presented with seriously overpriced chips.

 

At one point I requested more hot water for my tea and he refused. They request I buy another tea.

 

And believe it or not, this whole experience equated to £90!

 

I was utterly horrified. They had added a £10 tip that was ‘discretionary.’ My friend very kindly treated us as it was my birthday but I was equally mortified and embarrassed. She asked me if she should pay the tip. I said hell no.

 

When we advised that we weren’t paying the tip, he asked us why not.

 

I explained very carefully, that he hadn’t provided any sort of ‘service.’ He was disinterested, didn’t try to solve any of our queries, did not check on us to see if the food was satisfactory (as you are supposed to) and basically reluctant to serve us at all.

 

I may have been a waitress in a ‘lowly’ bar In Cardiff, but I worked my ass off and provided the best service I could – routinely I took the most money for beverages sold,  and made the most tips. The proof is in the pudding.

 

I would advise anyone to avoid this pretentious sink hole like the plague. And if I ever become stinking rich, I might pay to have it raised to the ground. Ha, not really, but I would certainly make sure me and my friends go elsewhere. The Bluebird may be over priced fluff, but manners are free.