Sunday, March 27

Film: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Click for more info

I'll take the strange approach of starting with my conclusion - I actually rather liked BvS. I went in relatively blind and not already having decided it was going to suck, although I did detect the growing post release hate the movie was getting. I may have had slightly low expectations, but as someone who doesn't believe in the whole "it will be bad if you look forward to it" theory I don't think that mattered much. So yes, I think I genuinely enjoyed the film.

I won't bother mentioning things like acting or plot (both sufficed). The action was good, the fun factor surprising given the dark theme chosen for the DCEU, and the superheroics... well, super heroic. There just wasn't much to complain about.

All in all, you'll probably already know whether you'll like BvS or not. From me however it gets a recommendation and I'll even go as far as to say I'm excited for the DCEU movies to come.

Tuesday, March 22

Film: 10 Cloverfield Lane Click for more info

Well is it a sequel or isn't it? The producers of 10 Cloverfield Lane were very careful in not telling us, and neither will I. I will say that answering this question does add to the enjoyment of the film - it's something meta that adds to the general psychological thrill of the whole thing.

Three actors stuck in a bunker is always going to be a petri dish for fun, but 10CL could have been much worse than it is. This partly comes down to the acting: Goodman is creepy and Winstead heroic, but the plot and direction all lend themselves to the whole jolly good romp too.

If there's one thing to complain about it's that the pacing is a little off part way through the film, but since it's so short anyway that's really no big deal. All in all a hearty recommendation from me.

Sunday, March 13

Rebel Muzik Click for more info

Am I really writing this post? I have to say it seems pretty surreal - after all it's been over six years since the last Rebel Muzik and most regular attendees had made their peace with its transiency: in fact that was almost what made it all so so good. I didn't even really believe that it was back at first: perhaps some hipster upstart was trying to be original or something... after all it was being hosted at the Rich Mix. They were even selling tickets in advance for heaven's sake.

But no, it turns out that this was the Rebel Muzik we all knew and loved... and yet it was also very different. The new location was the most visible difference, with the more grand stage and space losing some of the intimacy you'd have found way back in the Inn On The Green. Most of the old faces we all knew and loved were there, but joined with a more fresh crowd - a show of hands put us who had previously attended Rebel in a clear minority. The stalls were more elaborate and varied - but it was criminal to have no halal chicken pies. So yes, different but the same.

But it was the performances that immediately threw us back to the old times. The proceedings opened up with a screening of Hip Hop Hijabis, a mini documentary that provided an insight into the life of Poetic Pilgrimage. This was followed by the open mic, which as always both impressed (with the sheer talent of this so called amateurs) and depressed (with the realisation of exactly how talentless I am myself).

And then it was the featured artists.

First up was the both-inside-and-out-beautiful Rukeia who blew us away with her acoustic soul haunting sound. We were then treated to some classic yet still relevant spoken word courtesy of Amen Noir. Amen was followed by a set by Poetic Pilgrimage themselves (accompanied by the adhoc band "Soul Brothers", because, well, that's how Rebel Muzik rolls) which as always was worth the entry fee alone - and this was when I finally accepted that Rebel Muzik was back. I'm grinning just writing about them.

The evening was rounded up by the most wonderful Son of Ee whose effortless performance honestly left me wondering how the heck talent shows like the X-Factor even exist. Liza Garza was up next for some more spoken word and then finally we (well, those of us who remained anyway - the Rebel Muzik crowd obviously need warming up before the next event) were treated to a few hip hop tracks by Shay D.

All in all it was a brilliant night out, in vibe and effect if not scope and exposure. To be frank in a landscape of pretty safe and totally unradical (DYSWIDT?) corporate sponsored cultural roadshows it's equally refreshing and vital to have a deeper level of conversation when it comes to the almost hijacked and agenda laden topics of Islam, the environment, spirituality and social commentary. I'm so glad that Rebel Muzik is back and I look forward to all the shows, support and engagement to come.

Tuesday, March 8

Film: London Has Fallen Click for more info

First we were excited: a sequel to the best White-House-gets-taken film of the past five years (just about mind, I liked White House Down too). Then we were disappointed: London Has Fallen hadn't reviewed that well - it was so bad that we decided not to give it a go at all. Then the twist: we ended up watching it since we didn't have any other options. And then finally: I actually quite enjoyed it.

I'm not sure why to be honest: perhaps it was the lack of expectations, or maybe it was fun seeing London play a big part in the film. The ensemble were just as good as before, but I guess the plot could have had more meat on it, but this was always going to be a jock of a film really. The action wasn't too shabby, with one sweeping continuous-but-not-really shot was quite fun to watch.

I don't think I would actually recommend it mind; I just don't feel like I had wasted my time watching it. One for a home viewing then perhaps.

Sunday, March 6

Food: The Second Wife Click for more info

The Second Wife is a bit of a curiosity. It's a cosy little place, the type run by hard working families (I do not know if this is true), where you know the attention to detail is what will count. Our group of many (10 perhaps?) were led downstairs into the Moroccan themed basement, where we were able to relax to some level. Browsing the menu certainly stroked my appetite; there was something about how basic and simple the breakfasts on offer were (just to be clear, we went for lunch), and quite frankly I wanted to try more than one item on the menu.

I eventually settled for the Eggs Royale - two poached eggs on salmon and a bagel with hollandaise sauce - and it was good enough. As a side (cough) I ordered a stone baked sausage pizza which, quite frankly, was very ordinary. Overall the food was middling, but at around a fiver or so per breakfast it was of a decent enough value.

The only complaint was, unfortunately, a big one. Unfortunate from two angles actually - firstly a lack of service will always have an impact, no matter how amazing or cheap your food is. But secondly it was unfortunate because it probably wasn't normal: our group was joined by another similarly sized one and it was clear the kitchen wasn't equipped to deal with such number of covers on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Orders were omitted and cancelled and even the basics like plates and table water were a struggle.

It's a shame because I could have imagined the place to have been the default place to go for a greasy breakfast (yes yes, at lunchtime), but unless we know we'd have a basic level of attention I can't see us going back. So I'll say it for the third time this article: unfortunate.

Friday, March 4

Food: Abu Zaad Click for more info

"I've never had Syrian before!" I thought as I approached Abu Zaad. I don't usually get too excited about food, but I've been lucky enough to have tried a wide range of weird and wonderful cuisines and so the oppurtunity to try something new is always welcome. Heck, I couldn't even imagine what food Abu Zaad could offer.

It turns out that there's a reason for that - anyone who's been to a Lebanese or Persian restaurant would immediately feel at home at Abu Zaad; the place is as identikit as these middle eastern grill type places can be. I had actually felt like I had been tricked.

But the crashing of my dreams aside, Abu Zaad really wasn't all that bad. The staples were solid, the kebabs above average. The decor was half way between a kebab shop and fancy place, and the service was adequate enough but the cost of £15 per head was more than I would have paid elsewhere.

So although our time at Abu Zaad was decent enough there just wasn't anything special enough to have me return there again; it turns out the next time I fancy a Syrian I can go to any one of the hundreds of grills in and around London anyway.

Wednesday, March 2

Food: Feng Sushi Click for more info

There really isn't a place to go for cheap sit down sushi - Yo! has always been a bit of a (costly) gimmick for me, and from what I remember the food wasn't worth the time or the cost. So yes, I always felt that there was a gap in the market for a go to place for a Japanese cuisine fix.

Until now that is. Now, I'm not sure when Feng Sushi came about, but there's a fair few branches so I'm guessing I've just been out of the loop. Regardless I'm glad that I've found it - the food is good and cheap (although I did leverage a Tastecard) and the locations relatively convenient. If I do have a complaint it's that the service wasn't exactly timely, but with the right company that might not really be an issue.

From the sushi, through the tempura and until the mochi desserts, there really wasn't much Feng could do wrong. Recommended.