Thursday, 10 February 2011

Manchester's Not All Rain And Football

We've been to Manchester scores of times so it shouldn't strike us by surprise that there's more to it than the rain and football that one always associates with the city. Just look at the magnificent ceiling of The Royal Exchange Theatre which lets the light stream in and ,being above the stage,creates amazing echoes to the most powerfully delivered lines. We've been many times but it never ceases to impress.

And the theatre in the round lent itself perfectly to the playground jungle of Mogadishu where a simple cage created both a school perimeter and a human zoo for the school's wild pupils.

The city Art Gallery was opposite our hotel so we paid it a visit for the first time. We thought that the hour that we had spare would be adequate but could not have been more wrong as we were only able to take in a couple of the galleries within this deceptively large building. Being a lover of ceramics, the display of Pilkington Royal Lancastrian pottery was essential viewing for me. I'm not sure how long this exhibition is on for but they have got together some of the best pieces from that pottery that you will ever see and accompanied them with some fascinating history of the Manchester factory (which I had always assumed to be Lancaster based). There's a good mix of local history too and some wonderful paintings with plenty of Pre Raphaelites and other Victorian artists. I particularly liked the works of Ford Madox Brown (especially the social commentary of the painting below) and I would have loved to be at the unveiling of this enormous portrayal of Ulysses being lured by the sirens by William Etty which takes up almost an entire wall of the gallery. It provoked a massive response in 1839 when an artwork combining the corpses of sailors who followed the siren calls and the voluptuous sirens themselves was enough to provoke apoplexy in some who viewed it.

It's a pity that our visit was so short but we'll be back in April as we've booked to see Lenny Henry in his  new show after reading some good reviews. He's on at the Lowry so we've booked into the Lowry Hotel and on the day after the show we'll visit the Imperial War Museum nearby and then go into the city centre again. 

There's an excellent cinema in the Trafford Centre. It was hard for us to get used to the giant screen at The Odeon after our regular outings to FACT and Vue. We enjoyed our Orange Wednesday trip to The Fighter. It has been nominated for an Oscar in the Best Film category but if there's one sure fire bet this year, you will certainly win if you lay it (although with current odds of 120-1 it would involve an outlay of £1200 to win a tenner). That's not meant as a criticism - it's a good film - it's just not THAT good. Christian Bale has been getting all the accolades with his nomination as best supporting actor but Mark Wahlberg's beautifully understated performance stole the show for me and I am not the first to feel that Bale was "acting" as Dicky whereas Wahlberg "was" his brother Micky. I am sure that the real Micky Ward, who appeared in the closing credits, was extremely flattered to be portrayed by the handsome Wahlberg but, if the brothers' seven sisters and mother are anything like the coven portrayed on film, I imagine that the director and his crew will be keeping some distance from them as the sisters came across as a ghastly bunch of idiots and their mother a bullying harridan. The fight scenes were mercifully short and, as boxing films go, this is good and well worth seeing.

I mentioned that I like good ads the other day. I didn't like the Halifax ads but, now they've added some better music, I'm having a rethink.