Look the Film: Mon Oncle

Mon Oncle

Right, well this isn’t going to be cheap. Let’s start with the shoes again, because:
a) they set the tone for any outfit, and
b) they are probably the most affordable key element of this get up.To achieve the reserved, down-to-earth tone of Jaques Tati’s ‘Mon Oncle’, these Manners shoes (£74.99, Base London) keep things both suave and understated. Above, the understatement continues with some grey No Wale Corduroy Slim Fit Jeans (£29.90, Uniqlo). If possible buy longer than you need and turn up for a suitably French look. Bridge the gap strikingly with some teal Stripe Socks (£6.50, Firetrap).

The signature piece will take a toll, with a Burberry London Gadsbury Wool Coat (£895, Mr Porter), almost perfectly mimicking the French charm of Tati’s original (and you can bet he didn’t spend THAT much on it). Underneath, a sharp white shirt with accentuated collar, like a French waiter’s moustache, is needed. The St. George by Duffer White plain sateen long sleeved shirt (£32.50, Debenhams) should do the trick. While it is expensive for a piece that remains hidden, if you have followed me this far I can’t really see that being a problem for you.One of the most beautiful touches in Mon Oncle is the splash of deep red provided by Mr Hulot’s impeccable bow tie. The Plain Burgundy Bow Tie (£14.99, Swagger & Swoon) will suffice.

The second signature of the outfit can be aped by a York wide brim hat (£195, Lock & co. Hatters). If you are happy to blow nearly a grand on a coat so you can look like a French film genius from the late 50’s, you won’t think twice about bending up the rear brim on £195 worth of head wear.

Top it off in a remortgaging fashion with the Swaine Adeney Brigg Collapsible Travel Umbrella (£235, Mr Porter). Crushingly expensive, but the details are all there right down to the black tip.

Don’t invest in a pipe. Smoking will kill you.

And while you are waiting for that to happen it will make you look like a tit.

Base London: Manners – £74.99
Stripe Socks – £6.50
No Wale Corduroy Slim Fit Jeans – £29.90
St. George by Duffer White plain sateen long sleeved shirt – £32.50
Burberry London Gadsbury Wool Coat- £895
Plain Burgundy Bow Tie – £14.99
York wide brim hat – £195
Swaine Adeney Brigg Collapsible Travel Umbrella – £235

Total Cost: £1,483.88
Total cost with postage (UK): £1,513.73 – but I suppose you could just send that chap who runs errands for you…

Look the Film: Back to the Future II

Back to the Future II

Another Look the Film, another shaky start in the shoe department. The complete Back to the Future II look is more achievable than the Steve Zissou, because the necessary shoes actually exist – albeit in an extremely limited fashion. The Nike Air Mag shoes recently went to auction and sold for what can only be described as ‘lots of money’. 1,500 pairs were available, with the money raised going to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

It’s great to see trainer-lust being used for a worthy cause at last, but it does mean the rest of us must compromise. The Air Mags were noteworthy due to self-lacing, glowing and requiring a battery pack. Their other defining feature was an understated cool grey profile, which we uncharitable folk (read: those of us with significantly told wealth) can replicate for this look via the Nike Air Force 1 Mid ’07 (£45, JD Sports).

For the first Back to the Future sequel Costume Designer Joanna Johnstone (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Forest Gump, The Sixth Sense) stripped back the quad-layering of Marty McFly’s first outing for the retro-future looks of 2015. While not self-drying, the Dassy Lugano Two Tone Work Jacket (£59.99, Brix Workwear) carries the same distinctive grey/red ratio as in the film.

To complete, throw in a pair of ASOS Light Wash Slim Fit Jeans (£25, ASOS) to achieve the broad shoulder down to tapered waist look (if you can). Again, the definitive shoes are hard to come by, but frankly we could all do without one more thing to plug in before bed.
Nike Air Force 1 Mid ’07 – £45
ASOS Light Wash Slim Fit Jeans – £25
Dassy Lugano Two Tone Work Jacket – £59.99

Total Cost: £129.99
Total Cost with postage (UK): £133.94

Just Not Cricket: How Don Delillo Breaks Cultural Sporting Barriers

Delillo’s Sports: End Zone, 1972 – American Football, Pafko at the Wall, 1992 – Baseball.

Here in England it is hard not to understand the passion evoked by football on some level. Not the wife-beating hooliganism passion, but the type born out of formative years spent watching and yearning and of infatuation and opinions passed on from parent to child (admittedly mainly from father to son). Obviously this goes beyond our boundaries, and the same passion can be found from the villages of Lagos to the icy playing fields of St Petersburg.

But baseball? American football? We seem to have a tacit agreement with our country folk to not understand the sport of the ‘other’. There are too many rules, everything is played out on technicalities. They look tough but they are dressed up like bomb disposal experts. On and on we can go, all the while ignoring the undesirables of our own game; the divers, the overpaid self-infatuated shadows of the game’s past, Birmingham FC.

When I was in my teens I liked American Football because I thought Americans were, without doubt, the most amazing people in the world. They made TV, sounded cool regardless of what they were talking about and were, like, totally awesome in a war. I learnt the ins and outs of American Football via a combination of late night TV and the Sega Mastersystem – but it was only ever a surface attraction: the fanfare enthralling an underdeveloped mind.

Don Delillo writes the American sports on the same level we understand ours: a schoolboy infatuation which for a select few turns into a fantasy come true. He captures the reality of slight increases and the pain and despondency of failure heaped on defeat with a sprinkling of humiliation. His writing doesn’t seek to explain the sport, but shows how the game is made to mean something by the people who watch it.

He speaks to the majority of his readers by being the majority of his readers; the focus of our passion makes an attractive livelihood for very few. A scattering more hold it as a jobbing hobby/second income. For the majority these achievements are a social sacrifice too far, or more likely a skill unhad. Delillo turns you on to a sport by capturing all the anguish and disappointment wrapped up and released among the masses gathered to watch the few.

Look the Film: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

All good outfits start from the shoes up, even at sea. That gets creating a sartorial (and not merely fancy dress) take on the Zissou look off to a ropey start. The highly coveted Team Zissou Adidas trainers from the film attracted such trainer-lust that the market is flooded with opportunist knock-offs. Whether these are rebranded trainers or complete do-it-yourself jobs is a £50 risk I am unwilling to take to find out.

As a compromise I turn happily to the 21st century’s shoe crisis resolution: the Converse All Star. Converse.co.uk currently offer the opportunity build your own from a variety of designs, colours and prints. Sticking the colour ways from the film’s three-stripe onto a Chuck Taylor All Star Ox Canvas (£54, Converse) gives us a shoe which may not belong to Wes Anderson’s vision, but at least now it belongs to us.Following the nautical military theme set out in the film sees us plump for the Dockers Bright Twill Chinos in light blue (£75, House of Fraser) for a crisp ordered feel. Up top the sharp military lines of an Alexander McQueen Epaulette Regular Fit Single Cuff Shirt (£325, Selfridges & Co.), and darker blue trim are evocative of the film’s detailing. The lack of a central stripe can be countered through a Turnbull & Asser Ribbed Blue Silk Tie (£75, Mr Porter) to pull the ensemble together. Some slight alterations might be needed, as the shirt comes long sleeved, sacrificing the sporty look worn by the crew of the Belafonte. But the McQueen costs the best part of £400, so it’s your call.
To complete the look add the Red Tiny Beanie (£8, ASOS) – shabby and bobble free for the Bill Murray look, with variations for the rest of the crew.

Chuck Taylor All Star Ox Canvas – £54
Dockers Bright Twill Chinos in light blue – £75
Alexander McQueen Epaulette Regular Fit Single Cuff Shirt – £325
Turnbull & Asser Ribbed Blue Silk Tie – £75
Red Tiny Beanie – £8

Total Cost: £537
Total Cost with postage (UK): £550.90

Films: Ultra Violence in Drive

Drive, Rated 18


Oh, this film is for those people.

That’s what hits you when ultra violence appears in Drive.

Those are the people:

  • For whom a semi-trailer turning into a giant robot made Transformers their film of the year.
  • Who cannot get enough of saying how ‘awesome’ that syringe bit from that Saw film was.
  • Who see a face caving in under a shoe as a defining moment in a film’s existence, and that before all that blood it looked like it was going to be boring.

As the blood spatters, this is the stain left by the recollection of decades worth of films aimed at delivering sick thrills. But this wasn’t a film to instantly gratify and be discarded. There was something at work here, and it felt like people have returned to making films with an overriding value.

Just as Kubrick employed ultra violence in Clockwork Orange, so Nicolas Winding Refn uses such brutality to define Drive’s protagonist. The unnamed driver comes to reveal his hidden character traits – just like all of us, there is a side to his character he wants to keep hidden, or at least expose selectively.

Which is what makes this violence more than a cheap thrill. It gets the reaction all disturbing imagery will, but it is focused and crafted. The film is arranged like a symphony; it is dynamic, starting slowly and building to a crescendo. It lulls us along, gets us to invest in Ryan Gosling’s character, in relationships, in aspirations and social struggles.

Then comes the reveal.

The blood in itself tells a part of the story, but not more so than Gosling’s reactions to his own behaviour. Suddenly, character is complete – moving from mysterious stranger into much darker and irretrievably flawed territory. The transformation in depth is made more stunning by the meagre dialogue Gosling works with. With repeated exposure, violence goes on to redefine struggle, a sense of hopelessness and love all within the film’s final third.

Live Review – Emeralds/Fennesz

Union Chapel – 25/09/2011
Does it Look Like I'm Here
Laptop musicians, with their fingers stuck to a trackpad while adoring audiences look on, pose two eternal questions:

a) What are they looking at?
b) Wouldn’t that be easier with a mouse?

In Fennesz’s case, with his long hair, dark leather jacket and overwhelming soundscapes, he may well be viewing a portal to hell: both curating the horrifying and amazing sounds allowed through to this dimension while keeping watch over anything else which may try to pass through. Or it might just be a series of WAV files and filters. Its anyone’s guess.

His opening set overwhelms with a power which keeps the audience absolutely silent. When not driving the soundscape through his laptop, his guitar playing does a lot of the work either creating the raw material for layers of sound or delivering more orthodox spectral riffs. The white noise and chord progressions swap roles, one forming an infrastructure for the other to hang off, before forming details on the other’s foundations. The overall effect is a sweeping barrier of sound punctuated regularly by formations of melody – a soundtrack to a less dystopian post-apocalyptic world.

If Fennesz’s guitar scrapes the underworld for source material, Emerald’s guitarist Mark McGuire starts their set sounding like he is playing on a British seaside pier while we stand on shore. Their largely drum-free set chimes and sequences itself, giving the floor to the guitar before swamping it in a wash of bent synth noise. Walking through the halls and stairways of the Union Chapel as they play is an eerie sensation, as though you are listening to the hymn evolved: like a Vangelis score left with an AI to mutate, iterate, decay and be reborn eternally.

The faintest whiff of a beat grows into an organic pump, taking the music in a new direction. It builds and crescendos, before being stripped out and taking Emeralds back to their signature ‘Does it Look Like I’m Here?’ sound.

As with Fennesz, Emeralds’ tracks flow into one another leading to a classic Proms like release when the set does finally reach a conclusion. An audience sat in revered silence were transformed instantly into believers in rapture.

Tate Modern: A Bricked Insult

During opaque weeks containing a few job interviews, I met my brothers on the Southbank for a decompression, who-would-want-THAT-job drink. Trying to get off a street level bustling with autumnal tourists we took to the Tate Modern bar. My eldest brother told the story of the designer of the Millennium Bridge, who had drawn up the expansion looking like an extended middle finger leading straight to St Paul’s as something of a synechdochial fuck you to the church.

On getting, accepting, launching into, being admonished by and finally, I would hope,
settling into the job which sprang forth from the original set of interviews, I’ve traipsed across that bridge to get to work dozens of times as my own little laugh at London’s public transport (even though I am belched from a bus before I can do so). The journey, monotonous as any work-transit can get, finally led me me to explore this concept further.

When I yabba-dabba-doo out of that office every evening, am I waddling up someone’s digit to enter the rectum of priests united? Your turn boys! Or, better yet, journeying North to South every morning, am I excreted out by someone’s vision of God so that I may take my seat of employment?

And is that actually what flipping someone the bird indicates? With the accompanying warcry “up yours!” I would think that that’s your intention: to stick your finger into someone’s anus. And while it won’t necessarily be pleasant for the other party, at the end of the day you’ve just stuck one of your ten best friends into the bum of your rival, so at best its a score draw.

From what I have read the Greek established accessibility of such non-verbal assaults by contextualising a gesture contrived by primates. It is thought that with mere rags at best to cover us, it was easy to get our actual bits out and wave them at enemies as a means of expressing your sexual virility over them. It was a ploy which could presumably be scuppered by cold weather, the clap or (heaven forbid) the superior weight, length and/or girth of your target’s bits. Greeks, being clever (invented the olives, lets not forget) took the risk out of the situation by adapting the gesture to involve one’s hand. From there the Roman’s picked it up, and being a saucy lot took it on a run of poetic debauchery so intense as to ensure that these centuries later we still use and discuss it. Between then and now the whole gesture may or may not have taken a turn through the on-again, off-again myth of the French and their threats in Agincourt. Popular truth one moment, pedantic QI style put-down the next.

All academic anyway, as it turns out my brother mentioned nothing of the bridge, but that the gesture is embodied in the Tate itself, formerly Bankside Power Station. Once this is a fact you are aware of, it is impossible to see the building without imagining it as a large, bricked insult. If it is indeed a fact, being as it is hard to track down any firm evidence. It could be that, as a Catholic, architect Giles Gilbert Scott’s trapped subconscious decided it had had enough. More easy to believe, at least for the petty among us, is that it was petulant rebellion at being forced to keep Bankside’s chimney at a height lower than that of St Paul’s spire. This further research revealed that my decompression drinks may have administered the bends.