Wednesday, December 23

Film: Star Wars: The Force Awakens Click for more info

There's nothing like the start of a new trilogy in a franchise to make you feel old. Was it really over 16 years ago that we were introduced to the much hated Jar Jar? Apparently so. Except I seem to have better memories of the middle (or first?) three films; I found that I enjoyed and loved them as much as the classic trilogy, which probably means I'm not a real fan or something.

This personal context is important when considering the latest in the series of such a genre defining set of films. Like everyone else I was excited, force feeding the previous six films (in order of release, naturally) to the kids in the next generation in order to nurture the same anticipation we would hope to have for the seventh. Regardless of whether it fell short or not we would have enjoyed the experience I'm sure.

And yes the film was good. It had the same pace and action as the previous, and invoked some of the feelings I was looking for. However I am quickly coming to the conclusion that I don't like Abrams messing with my memories; alongside Star Trek he has this unique ability to temper and mute any deeper feelings of poignancy I was looking for. As such, some bits did jar (a few not really his fault). The cast was pretty awesome apart from a few head scratchers, and all the standard ingredients of set pieces, dialogue and hammy acting were all there.

We chose to watch the 3D version which although was able to provide a few extra thrills during the action sequences was still a personal distraction and thus made the film more effort to watch than would have been otherwise.

But overall none of the detail matters really. The film is more than Star Wars enough and provides everything you would expect to some level. Recommended.

Film: Bajirao Mastani Click for more info

Amongst most film industries, Bollywood particularly demonstrates a correlation between the type of a film and the actors in it. You pretty much know what you'll get from the cast list of each, and regardless of my personal bias a Deepika movie now implies great things. Well, apart from Chennai Express. And Happy New Year. So maybe all Deepika movies are great except for the ones that also star SRK then.

So running with the theory we have yet another film with Deepika and Ranvir. I loved the last one, and I also enjoyed this too, if only because it was more or less exactly the same. Having said that it's worth going to watch even if you're not a Deepika fanboy, just to see some of the performances within. Deepika seems to get better and better with each film, but alongside Priyanka and Ranvir (albeit never in the same number) there's a lot for those who wish to just veg out on the song and dance side of things.

So a decent jaunt then, with my only criticism being to do with the run time - the film does labour a little. Despite that it gains nothing less than a recommendation from me.

Saturday, December 19

Food: Red Iron Burgers Click for more info

Well before Stax, Loaded and even the famously disappointing Meat and Shake there was Red Iron Burgers. This was, at least for me, the place where the whole halal gourmet burger fad started - something which I feel gives it a pretty decent status in the now well saturated market of the stuff.

Its location of Uxbridge did mean that I wasn't really given much of a chance to visit Red Iron, and so it's a little ironic that I finally have; and that after already sampling most of what London has to offer. The cynical side of me couldn't believe that it could have lasted as long as it had - particularly when the newest and closest to me is also my current favourite. It almost seemed an exercise in futility to even bother.

But! It turns out that with age does indeed come experience and prestige; Red Iron turned out to be actually rather good, and that in all the places it counts. The service was great considering how busy the place was, the cost was decent (a healthy £15 per head for a burger and fries each, and shared wings and milkshakes) and most importantly of course the food was pretty amazing.

So yes, it seems that the original can be the (or at least, one of the) best. Red Iron easily gets a recommendation from me, it's just a shame it's so far... but then again, that's just another exercise in trying to figure out excuses to visit.

Tuesday, December 15

Film: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 Click for more info

Considering my distaste with the decision to split the last book into two, I actually rather enjoyed this, the concluding part to the whole Hunger Games franchise. I'm a little torn actually - I can never quite forgive authors and film-makers for the labouring of this whole young adult girl-power-for-the-sake-of-it theme we've experienced for the past decade... but if Mockingjay proves it is actually possible to enjoy something for what it is and overlook the flogging of a dead horse that went into its making.

Jennifer Lawrence was good once again, and once again her supporting cast was adequate. The action scenes were rare but of a decent quality, and I might be getting old but I'm sure the ending was changed somewhat from the book (considering I enjoyed the film that was probably for the better).

All in all though my conclusion is unchanged - Mockingjay Part 2 is only worth watching if you've so far invested fully in the franchise. Anyone else should just pass this one by.

Sunday, December 13

Food: Al Kareem Click for more info

Sometimes it's the simple things in life which brings the most reward. Al Kareem offers a very simple menu, a very simple decor, very simple service and wraps it all up with simple prices. What results is a very pure experience - it's just you and the food - which makes it very easy to determine exactly how awesome it is.

And awesome it was. Puri, Chana, some... Potato dish. It really was great. And very unhealthy, but some things are worth it. Recommended (but perhaps in moderation).