Tuesday, August 15

Film: Atomic Blonde Click for more info

We went into Atomic Blonde expecting a somewhat dumbed down action butt kicking flick - a John Wick with a hotty, say. Boy were we wrong.

Atomic Blonde was a bit more cerebral than that, but still managed to capture a lot of the aforementioned butt kicking. The last spy film that had me in such a brainspin was Tinker Tailor, so maybe this is a kind of amalgamation of that and good ol' Wick?

This combination might have worked against it however, as the plot did end up being a bit confused, muddled and hole-ridden; the assumption being that a lot got left on the cutting room floor to make room of the kicking of butts. It definitely was not as satisfying to grok as Tinker Tailor was.

In conclusion the film was flawed for me overall. I just hope the sequel disposes of the mind games and sticks to the butt kicking.

Thursday, August 3

Food: Pizza Toto Click for more info

I'm not quite sure how we ended up on Walthamstow High Street for a pizza, as poignant as that might be. The place was empty which wasn't the best sign. The service was lovely though, with what seemed like Authentic Italians™ welcoming us and making and serving our food.

Most of us went for the Calzone, substituting the pork for halal beef. We received some garlic bread too (and now that I think about it, I'm not sure if they charged us for that) on top of which was Scotch Bonnet oil. That alone was an experience all in itself. Luckily we were able to remove that ingredient from the calzones to come.

When they did arrive we were quite taken aback by the sheer size of them, although our fears turned out to be pretty unfounded by the end of our meals. They were perfectly weighted, if a little soggy, but ultimately satisfying enough for me.

Topping off the meal was a scoop of ice cream, promised to have been sourced by one of the best suppliers in Italy. It was decent, although I'm not sure if it was entirely worth the £2.80 it was listed at. Luckily we were given a decent discount on the bill (with the costing of the garlic bread remaining a mystery) which resulted in a relatively acceptable £7.50 charge per head.

Overall I'm not sure if I'd go out of my way to eat at Pizza Toto again. That's a bit of a shame since it was actually quite a nice experience having eaten there, and could possibly improve loads as time goes on. If you're on the High Street at the time then you could probably do much worse.

Tuesday, August 1

Film: Dunkirk Click for more info

I don't really have much of an affinity for war movies. I'm not entirely sure why this is; it's certainly nothing as lofty as finding war porno perverse, or a distaste of the glorification of killing or even a critical stance on certain perceptions of history. I guess I just simply find them boring, so it was with some trepidation that I approached Dunkirk (having primed myself on the relevant Wikipedia page beforehand).

Although I was aware that this was a Nolan film, a few things did take me by surprise. Tee shifting time spans had me puzzled for a while, but showed their effectiveness once they made sense. The acting was a bit mixed, with some terrific performances sat alongside... well Harry Styles (he wasn't that bad actually). The plot was simple and straightforward, with some subtlety if you chose to acknowledge it.

Overall the film was a good one, and less warlike than I was anticipating (not withstanding my lack of reference material, that is). Recommended.

Tuesday, July 25

Film: Spider-Man: Homecoming Click for more info

You know your blog is old when you've already written about the previous two reboots of a comic book character. On the other hand, that kind of pedigree and exposure does put this, the first MCU iteration of our favourite neighbourhood webslinger, in a unique position - it's impossible to watch this without some kind of comparison.

Well in short Sam and Tobey still top the list for me. In fact I'd go as far as to say that the MCU might have even spoiled the character a bit - the superhero side at least is pretty much unrecognisable from what we've been fond of all these years. The characters are revamped and updated and the whole thing just feels a bit shoe-horned in and web 2.0.

On the other hand this is possibly the first Spider-Man that captures the immaturity and youth of Peter Parker, and that while avoiding (in the most part) falling into the angsty trap that young adult film sometimes falls into.

So yes, MCU Spider-Man is okay, not great... and that probably only because we've seen it done so well already. Given the size of the MCU now that's probably as much as we should expect really.

Tuesday, July 18

Film: War for the Planet of the Apes Click for more info

Oh man, where did they go wrong? After the first two chapters in the sublime franchise about clever apes, how can releasing such a shallow cash in of a movie ever be seen as just or fair?

Yes there are apes, yes there is a bad guy, yes there is action. But it's what's missing that's really upsetting - there's no depth, no nuance, no engagement here. It felt like more of a formality than a conclusion, and that's quite sad seeing as how the first two we really did have the making of a great trilogy.

On the other hand, if you did like the first two then you probably won't hate this. For me, it's made all three forgettable and that's a real great shame.

Sunday, July 16

Food: Razza Click for more info

I was preparing to say how generic and passe Razza was, being just another Indian... but it turns out that it was actually novel enough to stand out from the usual - if anything a few of us were stumped by the dizzying array of new options to try. The highlights included Tava Rolls, Chicken Paneer and even a Chicken dish served with a mango sauce and whipped cream (!).

The food itself was above average - so not great but passable. The service was also above par. Cost wise we ended up paying a tenner per head after enjoying a Gourmet Card discount which didn't feel too unfair.

Overall Razza was curious enough to grab our attention for this night, and for those who live in the vicinity it's a solid enough choice.

Wednesday, July 12

Film: Baby Driver Click for more info

As a film, Baby Driver was an okay, largely forgettable, series of car chases and musical fanservice. It's probably worth a watch at some point, but I don't think I would have been too upset if I had missed out.

But as an Edgar Wright joint, Baby Driver was very disappointing. It's almost as if Wright had started with a musical theme (a la La La Land) and built a movie around it, while omitting any of the depth or nuance of his other ingeniously made films.

This is a bit of a shame since the industry needs someone like Edgar Wright, whose willing to stick to his guns instead of buckling to common denominator pressures - his leaving of Ant Man was a case in point of his belief in his movie making style, but alas it didn't seem to quite carry all the way to Baby Driver. All apart from the opening credits coffee fetching scene - that was pure Edgar. It's just a shame it all ended there.

All of which leaves me quite sad actually, and so I've decided to revisit Hot Fuzz to cheer me up.

Wednesday, July 5

Film: The Mummy Click for more info

It turns out that The Mummy really was as bad as they told us it was. The premise was decent enough I guess - on top of the standard mummy affair we had the opening of the Dark Universe (what can I say? I'm a sucker for franchises), the introduction of a wider set of characters and some fun and games along the way too.

But the film itself just didn't work. The acting was shoddy, the production and editing confused and the whole flow just a bit of a mess really. It would be unfair to call the film terrible, but it certainly wasn't unmissable. I like to think that my investment will pay off when the franchise eventually opens up... but I'm not holding my breath really.

So no, I guess that really falls short of a recommendation.

Sunday, July 2

Food: Faroz Click for more info

You know, it's now come to the point where it's difficult to do a bad Turkish or Lebanese. That's not to say that such places serve no purpose - they're great for when adventure or pomp isn't required, the default workhorse when it comes to picking a restaurant. So yes, a solid and dependable grill will always be welcome - more so at least than a substandard one.

Faroz is a solid restaurant. There were no surprises here, the food was well above standard with the food coming quickly in an effective demonstration of good service. The price was bang on as expected, with my two sticks of kobdeh and chips coming in at just under a tenner.

Oh and the location was interesting, with the restaurant paying for our parking while we ate - a decent bonus all things considered. Faroz at the very least has become my go to place when I can't be bothered to look further afield.

Saturday, July 1

Harry Potter And The Cursed Child Click for more info

Just to be clear, I had no plan (or hope) to ever get to watch this play - the idea of booking anything a month let alone A WHOLE YEAR in advance makes me a little queasy, and these days I'm happy to overlook things if they happen to be just too much hard work. But that's why I jumped at the chance when a friend offered me a spare ticket for both parts today - there really would have been no probable way I would have seen this play otherwise.

First things first though: Harry Potter And The Cursed Child is not an epic production. It's okay. That of course is more than enough for any kind of Harry Potter fan (of which I place myself at a sturdy 6 on a 10 scale), and there was plenty of fan service and nostalgia for those who fondly remember the last two decades of the Wizarding World. The lack of music is particularly jarring, although I'm not quite sure why I expected this to be a musical in the first place.

So yes, the acting was okay, the wardrobe okay, the plot slightly undercooked (especially when placed in relation to some of the more twisty Potter plots). Technically the stage was pretty fun - the sense of magic was definitely there with some clever and cool tricks played on us, the audience. But I can't say too much, especially seeing as I picked up a #keepthesecrets badge too. Oh and on that note, splitting the play into two parts was pretty much criminal; there's no real reason for it to have been so long really.

So in conclusion: Am I glad I went? Absolutely, most definitely, and not just for the exclusivity of the occasion. Watching The Cursed Child definitely expands the Potter world we know and love and you can't really claim to have seen it all with out it.

On the other hand, do I think it's indispensable? Probably not, but then that is coming from a 6/10 fan. If you have the patience to wait a year then you probably should, especially for the price of £30 that we paid for both parts. Otherwise you could read the script for the story, which for me was the best part of it all.

Wednesday, June 28

Film: Wonder Woman Click for more info

The DC Extended Universe has had its critics in the past, so much so that Wonder Woman has been seen as the uptick in the series, the first indication that yes, perhaps the alternative will be able to combat the mighty MCU. I have to kind of disagree though, both with WW being the turning point (I actually quite liked BVS) and that WW is a decent enough film.

It was, at best, okay. Gal Gadot's acting was okay. The special effects were okay (although really the CGI fighting scenes really should have been better). The plot? Okay. The film was very middling, and didn't even take the opportunity to discuss feminism and the like in any great depth.

So yes, I left a little disappointed... but not enough to completely dislike the movie. As I mentioned I've already formed a like of the DCEU and WW hasn't really changed my stance there.

Wednesday, May 24

Food: Pizza East Click for more info

Hipster pizza ahoy! I really wanted to dislike Pizza East, but it turns out it wasn't half bad. The food itself was mixed - the garlic bread starter was uninspiring but the main itself, a veggie special, was equally spectacular. At around £15 per head it wasn't the best deal but it did just about enough for me to want to try it again. Recommended.

Tuesday, May 23

Food: The Big Easy Click for more info

BBQs are typical useless areas for us Muslim types; a meat orientated menu doesn't really offer much. But this is London in the 201x's (?) and even the most hardcore of meat places now cater for those with particular diets. Not that Big Easy is the perfect place for an Eid lunch; alas no, it's only the chicken that's Halal here, most of which is smoked alongside more porky types of meat (if indeed such a restriction applies). But alongside the various lobster options its enough to provide a decent amount of range - I at least was happy with my lobster roll and chicken strips.

The food was solid and plentiful, and with a lunchtime menu pretty decent value. £13 got me more food than I could eat (except I did) consisting of a starter, main with chips and a drink. That's pretty decent fare if you ask me and alone earns The Big Easy a recommendation. That everything was good just added to the good times.

Wednesday, May 17

Film: Alien: Covenant Click for more info

After the train wreck that was Prometheus, one might accuse me of being insane to give the franchise another try. But here I am, that glutton for punishment, hoping that this time things will be different.

And for me at least it kind of paid off. I rather enjoyed Covenant. It appeared to have corrected all the issues I had with the previous instalment at least - sure there were still some issue here and perhaps even some plot holes, but all in all there was enough to keep the film ticking along.

I do have to give the crew of the Covenant a special mention (or even award) for being the least professional shiprunners ever in any film with a ship, but that frustration just added to the engagement really. Recommended.

Wednesday, May 10

Book: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams Click for more info

I know I'm supposed to have read this years ago, and I know I'm supposed to like h2g2, I know it's supposed to be a core part of what makes me a nerd but I also know I'm the first to be surprised by what I actually think of the book.

I didn't like it.

I found it scatterbrained, illogical and... quite boring. The thing is, it is actually quite nerdy, and this manifests in a certain level of arrogant comedy where the book laughs at itself with quite cheap humour. I guess that could mean that I found it of little substance? The book doesn't flow, the plot is non existent and farcical, and it all seems to have been a bit of a punt. That said, it does feel like it would make a great radio show.

I have the collection, and the next book is something about a Restaurant at the end of the Universe, but I can't quite find myself to continue.

Wednesday, May 3

Food: Saffron Kitchen Click for more info

Sometimes it's the local options that remain overlooked. Saffron has been on my list of places to try for the five years its been open, but it was always skipped for other more seemingly exotic options. But now that I've been, I've come to realise exactly what Saffron is: the safe, solid choice if you want a decent Indian without wanting to optimise or think about it too much. The default option if you will. The fact that the place is huge (190 covers or so) means you don't even have to plan a visit ahead (although the proprietor at the time did tell it it does get very busy).

We stuck to starters tonight, which were all more than enough for us. Dessert was also a decent surprise with the red velvet cookie dough hitting the spot quite nicely. If I'm honest, the £55 bill for four (including a jug of Mango Lassi) was a bit of a surprise, but we did over order slightly so perhaps it was a calibration error on our part.

All in all though it was decent and I will come again.

Film: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 Click for more info

GotG Vol 1 was a bit of a surprise hit when it came out in 2014 - I for one wasn't expecting it to be as good as it was. It also heavily progressed the Infinity arc, was fresh in a landscape of "samey" MCU films and all in all was generally full fat and very much good value for money.

In contrast GotG Vol 2 is a very vanilla film. That's not to say that it wasn't good - I thoroughly enjoyed it, in fact - but it doesn't feel as magical or fresh as the first film. It was actually all rather safe in fact. This isn't a bad thing, since sometimes you do need to rebalance the stage that is the MCU, but for some who are expecting "more" it could feel a bit disappointing.

Still, I will recommend the film.

Tuesday, April 18

Film: Fast & Furious 8 Click for more info

Although it only seems like yesterday that I watched it, I can't quite remember much of F&F7 apart from how... flat it compared to the three before it. Unfortunately that trend continues with the eighth instalment with Dom and co providing all the actions and thrill you'd come to expect... but little of the heart, charm or magic that always used be the most important part of the films.

Perhaps it's just run it course, or maybe after continually trying to top the previous one F&F has just devolved into a farce of preposterousness. It's just not the same.

Having said that, the film was fun and still worth watching as a fun packed action flick, so it does still get that recommendation... I just wonder if it's time to give up the idea of it being that everlasting franchise we all hoped for.

Sunday, April 9

Food: Masala Chai Nashta Click for more info

South Asian Breakfasts have long been a thing, with greasy Sunday morning halwa poori and the like being served all over East London in the last few years or so. Its a guilty pleasure (well, for some who actually care what they eat) which then makes it a bit of a special occasion really - which then brings with it a bit of cognitive dissonance since most of these places can only be described as "sleazy dives".

Which is why Chai Nashta was a bit of a surprise. It was actually a pretty clean and relatively swanky place, with lots of space and families treating themselves this Sunday morning. The service was on a "best effort basis", accommodating but a bit slow, but the food that eventually came was certainly worth it. Already then, Chai Nashta is a bit of a hit.

The only real puzzle was the menu - it seemed a little bit imbalanced really, but that does mean those who know what they want will be able to apply a bit of arbitrage. If they do then they're in for a bit of a bargain: a few pence over five quid fully satisfied the five of us who were sat there today, which to be frank was already a steal.

So yes, definitely recommended for the place then, although of course the qualifier about one's health still applies. Maybe every couple of months is a decent enough balance. Cough.

Tuesday, April 4

Film: Power Rangers Click for more info

So I was actually a pretty big Power Rangers fan back in in the days of my youth. I'm not sure if I actually spent any of my Eid money on merchandise, but I certainly did get up every Saturday morning (or whenver it was) to catch the weekly episode of my favourite hammy fighting team. And oh my days, the zords were super cool too, and that was before the Green Ranger came on the scene. Oh Tommy.

Despite my nostalgic love for show, I was fully expecting the film to be bad. Like really, bad. Except.... it wasn't. In fact, it was rather good. Yes, sure, it laboured with the angsty teen stuff a bit longer than it needed to, but as a film it flowed pretty well and was a lot of fun. It even managed to recreate the same sense of hammy fighting and action I so dearly loved.

Which kind of puts me in a quandary. Do I recommend Power Rangers or not? Does the context matter? I'll with my gut and say no; that Power Rangers 2017 was way fun enough to stand on its own two feet.

Thursday, March 30

All the Single Muslims

(Blog title shamelessly ripped off from the recent Extremely British Muslims here)

I mentioned in a previous post how I had recently discovered a vocabulary/language/framing that I found to be quite useful in thinking about some of the trials and tribulations suffered by those looking for a partner in these modern times. In that article I alluded to some of the more unique or specific scenarios that single Muslims are subject to and as promised here is the follow up post hoping to discuss that further. To recap though, those looking for a partner generally fall on a scale between two extremes:

  • The Companionates, who are looking for something a little more practical and measurable.
  • The Passionates, who are looking for something a little less describable and more subjective.

I'd recommend having a skim of the last post if you wanted more detail on the two groups. The important thing to note is that companionate and passionate concerns largely lie on the same axis and it's difficult if not impossible to reconcile the two. Feedback from the last post suggests that many don't agree, and if you're one of them the following probably won't hold much water for you either. In fact in many ways the manner in which some people claim that the two are orthogonal is the essence of my post below. Not that may smack of some kind of personal post-justified confirmation bias but hey, that's why this is a blog and not an academic paper.

I'll start with Identity. We all have one. Sometimes we choose what makes it up, sometimes that happens naturally via osmosis or upbringing. As we get older, we get more control over it. Muslims are generally taught to make Islam a large part of their primary identities. There are well defined concepts of brotherhood, community and character and with Islam being a largely scriptural religion a lot of things have been modeled for us, not many less so than marriage. In essence, marriage in Islam is naturally companionate and we are taught what to value and look for, and what to offer in return.

This isn't necessarily an issue (and perhaps even made things easier during simpler times), except for the desire for (or pressure placed on) many to embrace more identities alongside that of Islam. There seems to be a natural drive to be more than just an individual of a single dimension but the trouble here is that as with most things, identity is a finite measure and has a capacity, and each component we wish to add to it takes up some of that capacity at the expense of stuff that's already there - in fact we're often explicitly told to ignore any limits we might have or compromises we'd be making, and the result is a struggle to reconcile some quite disparate internal agendas. This struggle manifests itself in the issues some face in our workplaces, in our more social settings and (as you might have guessed by now) in our marriages and relationships. And I should be clear here: having multidimensional and multifaceted identities isn't in itself a bad thing, provided that the implications are acknowledged. Unfortunately they are more than often not.

With respect to marriage most requirements from the non Islamic part of ones identity will almost certainly be passionate in nature - for example a man might be less expected to fulfill what would have been seen as an Islamic duty to provide. Potentially, partners might not even need to be Muslim in the first place. In other words, the companionate requirements due to the Islamic identity should, in theory anyway, be replaced by the more passionate demands introduced.

And this is where the first obstacle might be seen: the Muslim identity is a powerful one and difficult to overtly compromise on, particularly when third parties become involved. Some have a tough time accepting the fact that if they want to embrace new identities in themselves, then they will have to compromise on their existing Islamic identities as well as compromise on the level of Islamic identity they expect in others. As a result they are left with two sets of requirements, one companionate and the other passionate... and we already know that that's the easiest way to have a very difficult time in the search. It seems like most caught in this trap are passionates on the surface, but can't quite let go of their ingrained companionate requirements. Worse still, the companionate demands tend to be requested and not offered, with the subject offering only passionate fulfillment in return. For the opposite party, whether companionate and passionate, this will never be seen as a fair trade.

Otherwise the observations are the same as in non-Muslim interactions: there seem to be more Passionate types than Companionate (at least overtly), with the latter knowing what they have to give to get and the former taking more of a "let's see what happens" approach. The twist is that many want and want to be both, the end result being complaints about candidates either "not wanting to fulfill their responsibilities" or "with whom a click isn't found", the irony being that in some ways these two requirements will always be diametrically opposed (at least during the search itself). The search for a passionate also demands a flexibility in dating that many believe their faith might have a positive view of: intimacy, co-habitation and the like.

Apart from the mismatch between passionate and companionate requirements, this "identity dissonance" also manifests in other ways. Progressive individualism contradicts the more traditional communalism many also seem to want, and we're left in a situation where every party is looking for someone to subsume rather than join. Differing concepts of chastity and morality also tend to add confusion, resulting in marriage sites which blur photos (demanded by a companionate, but scorned by a passionate) and mass marriage events - something I believe can only be seen in the Muslim demographic.

These internal conflicts have brought challenges and problems that still haven't quite been solved, and indeed seem to be the root of many issues seen in the Muslim demographic elsewhere. Coming back to this specific topic however, it seems the only perceived answer is to somehow conjure up a notion of Halal-yet-passionate boy/girlfriend type relationships which seems extremely difficult if not impossible to implement. It's then not that surprising there's a bit of a crisis.

Or is it really that impossible? Perhaps Islam has already dealt with this very issue by default. If so the real solution might be for those in the conflicted position to figure out exactly which companionate requirements they genuinely want and then to make those abundantly clear - and once formalised in a legal way to then focus on the less objective stuff. That in itself sounds like the companionate search, except one that forces each as individuals to decide for themselves where those requirements actually lie.

Tuesday, March 28

Film: Kong: Skull Island Click for more info

Another Kong movie? Maybe I've just been around longer than I'd like to admit... but it seems that the last one was just a few years ago. Skull Island is a pretty decent attempt nevertheless and does just about enough to qualify as an enjoyable movie. Kong himself manages to blur the lines between the goodies and the baddies, but in the end the audience ends up rooting for everyone who survives anyway.

It's also the start of a very obvious franchise (which could very well be epic), so as investment it's a pretty good bet. Recommended.

Saturday, March 25

BAHfest London 2017 Click for more info

I've linked to a few SMBC comics from here on this blog, and I still maintain it's the comic XKCD thinks it was. Since I'm such a fan, it probably comes as no surprise how eager I was to attend one of the annually held BAHfests hosted by the maker of the comic in various cities around the world, none of which were London... until last year. Imagine my disappointment then when I realised I was going to be away from the city during the inaugural festival, and that I was travel to the USA which was making me miss it.

But my historical angst aside, I did mange to grab the second annual BAHfest here in London this year, and it was just as fabulous and funny as I expected it to be. Perhaps this cements my nerdy status (I never denied it) but I laughed more and harder than I would have at other "themed" comedy nights (you know, the Asian or Muslim ones for example), the level of humour defeating even my most cynical of minds.

We had DNA hard drives, Earth defense shields (or really, escape barriers), renewable energy derived from ranting twitterers, and a theory on why natural selection has ensured why we're all so unattractive. Such fun.

And I think that was it really - it was the intelligence of the comedy, the not quite right logic and rigour, all presented with a straight face (well, most of the time anyway). That it was hosted by Imperial College was a bonus which added a few percentage to my perceived nerdy joy.

So yes, a definite hit and one which I'll be sure to attend every year.

Tuesday, March 21

Film: Get Out Click for more info

I'm sure I missed lots of the social commentary this film had to offer. I mean sure, I got the obvious stuff - you know, how even nice racism is still racism or how appeasement sometimes gets you results faster than any other method. Still, I'm sure there's more that I didn't pick up on because even if I didn't identify the genius, I did feel it.

And that's why I'm okay with that. Discussions on race and racism aside, Get Out was a thrilling ride and a lot of fun anyway. It kept things relatively straightforward, presented a perfect balance of fear and comedy and led the audience through the plot at a steady pace. I did feel that the ending was a bit flat and possibly rushed... but thinking about it more I really don't see how else it could have resolved all that it raised.

Once more then: Get Out is a thrilling ride and a lot of fun, and so much recommended.

Sunday, March 12

Book: Towers of Midnight, Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson Click for more info

Book thirteen (2010) and we really are now at the end. Just like in the previous book, the story races along with all sorts of revelations and significant events exploding along the way. My observation of how Sanderson's contributions has made the final three books more accessible seems to hold, although of course as the end approaches plots and arcs tend to write themselves too.

Whatever the case, I really enjoyed book thirteen and yet and poignant about the fast approaching final chapter in the epic. It'll soon be pretty much over and that makes me sad.

Wednesday, March 8

Film: Logan Click for more info

Ah, so so sublime. Logan really is a wonderful film, and that for many reasons. It's a swan song, a liberation or even an unchaining of sorts. It dances, it sings, it performs. Hugh Jackman is awesome in the skin he's been wearing for the past 17 years, but this time he's joined by Patrick Stewart, Stephen Merchant and the wonderful Dafne Keen, a distilled ensemble that allows a more mature and intimate story and characters to develop.

It's quite adult too - this isn't no kids' film. And yet it's appropriately grown up - this isn't aiming for a Deadpool level of shock, but more a commanding of respect, a demand to be taken seriously. And yet all this hangs on such a simple story (held over a total of 4, perhaps 5 locations), that it just remains pure and to the point.

Anyway, the film is great. Recommended.

Thursday, March 2

Food: DUM Biryani House Click for more info

FIFTEEN QUID for a biryani? Surely even the most stupid hipster of brown people wouldn't fall for this? And yet here I was sitting at a table at what must be the most preposterous offer in London Town. Forget Dishoom; if you're looking for a place full of people who value style over substance, then check out DUM Biryani. In fact, in comparison, Dishoom is verifiable gem.

Of course it was well presented - sealed with a layer of puff pastry for what I can only imagine being the more fuller Facebook effect and I'm sure all your Snapchat fans will love your 10 second story of you breaking into the rice goodness below. But still, an experience worth £15? That'd better be worth a fair few likes.

Some tactical ordering did help - I stuck to multiple snacks from the starter menu which if I'm honest wasn't too bad (although really, the alternative of paying £15 for a biryani was pretty horrific), so if you find yourself forced to go there like I was there is a way to get through the whole ordeal. I paid £15 for enough to fill me, while those (possibly more sensible? Or perhaps less? I'm really not sure) paid twice as much for the honour of leaving behind some food. I guess in that sense there is a perverse argument for value for mone... no, wait, who am I kidding? This was £15 quid for a biryani.

Anyway, no, not recommended, not even if if gives one an excuse to lament how stupid (or maybe DUM?) the brown people of London can be at times.

Friday, February 24

Food: Hare & Tortoise Click for more info

At first I thought I had made a mistake - Hare & Tortoise has all the makings of a hipster joint: high price, low quality sushi for the Instagram crowd. Of course I wouldn't make such a bold opening without also eventually admitting that I was wrong... and I was indeed wrong.

I'll start this review in the reverse to what I usually do: we paid £17 per head which, on balance, is quite pricey. However it turns out that we had made a mistake in ordering a sushi platter - partly because we weren't actually that hungry but mainly since the mains we ordered with it were so full and generous. If I adjust the price for that, it comes to around £12 a head which I think was actually pretty good for what we got.

That said, the mains and (redundant) sushi were great and worth the entry fee. The service was a little below what I would have expected, but the place was clean and open and lent itself to good conversation and company.

I wouldn't put Hare & Tortoise on the top of my list, be it for sushi or otherwise, but it's most definitely a solid option if the opportunity ever arises.

Tuesday, February 21

Film: John Wick: Chapter 2 Click for more info

John Wick was a bit of a sleeper hit a few years ago. The main attraction was its purity - there wasn't much fluff here, just a man going around whupping butt for some reason or another. It was very much like an action beat 'em up video game, with levels, bosses and climaxes throughout.

John Wick 2 was no different in intention, although it managed to cram even more action in and that at a higher quality. It might have suffered a little from art film syndrome, where it tries to outgrow its own previously championed simplicity, but it's minimised enough to be forgiven if not ignored altogether.

Recommended.

Wednesday, February 15

Film: The LEGO Batman Movie Click for more info

The LEGO Batman Movie was very funny, and that in a different way to The Lego Movie. It also had a decent plot, but again in a different way to its predecessor. It was just as polished, well made and overall enjoyable, but all in a subtly different way to what came first.

It was therefore also really really good. Just differently.

I actually think the focus on a specific character and universe detracted from the genius and nuance that The Lego Movie presented us, but that was more than made up for by some cool Batman juxtaposition and self deprecation. I guess the point is that there's no point looking too deeply as to how and why the film was or wasn't different; it's great and that's all that really matters. Recommended.