After watching Liverpool's disappointing defeat to an excellent Man City side on Monday night and needing something to cheer me up, I went with Marion on Tuesday to the wonderful Ipswich Film Theatre where you are always guaranteed a warm welcome. Sadly Joe, our film choice for the night, is not exactly the barrel of laughs that my upbeat nature thrives on. That's not to say it isn't a good film- it's an extremely good film but boy is it GRIM.
Tye Sheridan plays Gary Jones the fifteen-year-old son of depraved and evil alcoholic drifter ,Wade. Despite his background, Gary is a kid with a work ethic and he is taken under the wing of ex-con gang master Joe played by Nicolas Cage and given the job of poisoning trees to clear a forest. The performances from Sheridan and Cage are central to the film and even boozy, violent, whoring but honest Joe is a better role model for Gary than his irredeemable father. The levels of violence in the movie are, at times, extreme but the underlying theme is one of redemption and whilst Joe and Wade have passed the tipping point there remains hope for Gary to escape to a better future.
The performance of Gary Poulter as Gary's drifter father in this film was so convincing I wondered why I had not seen or heard of him before. It turns out that he really was a homeless man who sadly died shortly after the film was made.
Our choice of entertainment yesterday was a little more upbeat when we travelled to London to see Alan Ayckbourn's 1987 play A Small Family Business at The National Theatre. Having been involved in our own small family business I wondered if it would reflect our experiences in any way. But, apart from a few references to "the lads", Ayckbourn's furniture makers were a long way from Instanta. The play is almost (but not quite) a farce and opens with a very funny surprise party scene where we meet the family. From then the plot darkens as innocent and honest MD Jack discovers that his own scruples are not shared by his co-directors and their spouses. As in Joe, the underlying theme here is also one of redemption but in Ayckbourn's cynical view of entrepreneurship will Jack's incorruptibility prevail or will he jump aboard the gravy (or in this case spaghetti) train along with everyone else?
It was an entertaining afternoon. The suburban detached house set was brilliant, all of the cast were great and there were some very funny scenes but, like A Taste Of Honey which we also saw at The National a few moths ago, the play has not aged too well. Whilst it captures the culture of the tail end of Thatcherism brilliantly things have moved on.
Before the play we had time to do a little sightseeing and had a look at the ceramic poppy installation at The Tower Of London. This is a very beautiful and poignant artwork and well worth a detour to see before it closes on 11 November by which time 888,246 poppies will fill the moat.
We walked along the Thames path on the way to the theatre. We were very impressed by this building Three Quays which has a surface of rippled constantly flowing water by William Pye.
Although there was a bit of a limescale problem where some of the water had not followed its correct course.
Every time we walk this path we notice something new. Yesterday we were impressed by the splendour of the old Billingsgate fish market - these iron grilles above the gates are beautiful.
We had time for a snack and tried Zorita's Kitchen just below the Millennium bridge. It's a Spanish tapas restaurant and deli and we enjoyed a delicious light and inexpensive (by Central London standards) lunch of cheese, Spanish omelette and sardines on toast with a good glass of Tempranillo.
Our journey home was marred by a family of two adults, two kids and a grandmother who decided to spend the entire journey laughing uproariously and thinking it was fun to sing "This is a song that will get on your nerves" in full voice for most of the hour long train journey to Ipswich. Their reaction to commuters who expressed their displeasure by moving carriages preferring to stand for the rest of the journey were howls of derision and "some people are miserable" and "they don't know how to enjoy themselves". Sad thing is none of us had the guts to point out to the tipsy bunch that, whilst everyone loves to see a happy child, some people had had a long day at work.