Tate Modern

Although I travel to London frequently on business, it’s rare that I get the chance to do the tourist thing and see the sights. So last weekend was a full on treat – a couple of days in the smoke with the family celebrating my sister’s birthday.

One of the highlights was our visit to Tate Modern.

It’s a breathtaking place with the enormous turbine hall setting the tone for what has to be one of the best galleries in the world – it’s certainly up there. One of the permanent highlights for me is the Rothko room. I adore the muted lighting and the set of paintings that belong to each other, like a beguiling brotherhood of modernism they sit in their darkened room waiting to surprise and delight..

I love the story of how the paintings were commissioned by Seagram for their Fifth Avenue HQ, but when Rothko finished them he decided he liked them so much, he returned the commission fee and kept them. Fair play. Quite how they ended up in Tate Modern in London I don’t really know – but what I do is that they always captivate and reward repeat viewing.

The other paintings that really caught my eye this time around was a trilogy of Bridget Rileys. The colours were spectacular and the combination of technical excellence and composition blew me away. In the flesh the colours really did pop and the vibrancy of the colours makes your eyes water.

The History of Sci Fi

Artist Ward Shelley has created a fabulous hand rendered infographic on the history of Sci Fi. If you’re a geek, you’ll love this incredible piece of work charting the history of one of my favourite film and book genres from fear and wonder right through to Star Wars and beyond. You can see the entire thing bigger here

Killing Joke

Loved this…Joker Brian Bolland era Killing Joke and iPad. What’s not to like?

The King’s Speech and Bull’s Testicles

A lot has been said about this year’s standout film, The King’s Speech. It’s been critically acclaimed by people far more qualified than I and the BAFTAs and Oscars complete the picture. But was it worth all the accolades? I tend to view the awards as vindication of a film’s quality from acting right through to costume and cinematography and although these can be subject to the whims of fashion, by and large awards are a good measure for me.

Coming very late to the party, we only saw the film this week. It;s worth saying up front that I do think it deserved the critical acclaim. This is a very simple film about a friendship between two men, one just happens to be the King. The performances are beautifully judged and whilst the film is set against the sweeping backdrop of a looming war in Europe, this film has an intimacy which is rarely seen these days. Colin Firth is very good and I do think he deserved his oscar, but Geoffrey Rush is outstanding as the King’s speech therapist. Surely this was one area where the Academy got it wrong. Rush’s performance carries the film for me and he allows the King to be the stuttering focus with consummate ease. A pleasure to watch.

So is this film worth all the praise? I’d say yes – it’s rare thing in this day of the blockbuster: painfully slow-paced, unflashy in every sense, classic Sunday night period drama, a small story with big performances. I hope that the small budget this film was made for and the huge profits it has gone on to generate will do two things: first encourage the studios that these films are worth making and if they are done properly they can be a huge success and secondly give heart to the British film industry that when we do get it right, we can go all the way.

So what about the bull’s testicles?

On the same evening we had dinner at Kendell’s Bistro in Leeds (splendid early bird deal pre theatre/cinema bargain affair) and they asked us if we’d like to try out a new recipe that Steve (owner/chef) was planning to put on the menu.

He didn’t tell us what it was, which was a bit of a giveaway so we knew it was something interesting. It was clearly offal of some kind, quite mild and creamy with a slight hint of egg, oddly. I guessed sweetbreads but  whatever it was, it was sensational. Turned out we were chowing down on bull testicle and very good it was too. We will be returning to try it officially by which time I’m sure it will be a success with open-minded foodie types.

And if you’ve not been to Kendell’s yet – go, it’s the best restaurant in Leeds with a wonderful ambience and great food.

Thought for the day

Caring about what we do and being passionate about how we do it has been at the front of my mind all week. So when I saw this it made me smile and reminded me of one of the universal truths.