Oxfam Unwrapped

November 22, 2007 by  
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I have been pretty darn confused these past few weeks by the posters lining the tube escalators that consist of black and white photographs of forlorn looking celebs sealed at the mouth by a solitary red ribbon.  The likes of Helena Bonham Carter, Helen Mirren and Rob Bryden appealing tearfully to ascending herds of glazed-eyed commuters are actually part of Oxfam’s effective new campaign for alternative Christmas gifts. 

Far from the usual yank of the heartstrings, the ‘Oxfam Unwrapped’ TV advert parodies the customary sob story associated with charity ads. Its gloomy colouring and repetitive poignant piano music make a spoof plea for the poor souls who needlessly receive utter junk at Christmas.  The rapidly sliced shots of mockingly troubled faces keep the tone palatable but the genuine “really, really important message?, which has little to do with gift-disappointment is quite clear.  Spend your money on something decent.

Oxfam’s drive aims to shepherd the rosy cheeks of our consumerist, purse-waving festive frenzy in the direction of useful products for poorer countries.  Rather than smothering our loved ones with unnecessary stuff that gets slyly given away to people we don’t really like in January or put up on a shelf only to gather dust, we can instead drop our Christmas coins into a gracious till and buy tools, fertilizer or a toilet for a community in poverty. If the holiday must be about excessively pouring vast amounts of money into a black hole, let it be a hungry mouth, a vegetable patch or a loo for a poverty stricken village.  Kind of makes sense when put like that, doesn’t it?  Plus, think of the jaw-ache everyone will avoid minus all that fake smiling.

The Mighty Boosh

November 16, 2007 by  
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BBC 3, Thursday 15th November

The Mighty BooshI have been eagerly hoping for quite some time now to be reunited with Vince Noir and Howard Moon, and last night finally saw the long awaited return of ‘The Mighty Boosh’. Set in Naboo’s knick-knack shop Nabootique, the pair were left in charge as he and his gorilla companion Bollo went on a shaman stag do. Of course, disaster ensued. The boys went head to head to see who was the better salesman and Vince’s indie celebrity radar device proved far more popular than Howard’s selection of elbow patches. Howard ended up being urinated upon profusely by an unwelcome Londoner and told he had to cough up 1,000 euros as he was left alone in the shop by Vince who went off to spend his winnings. Luckily enough though, they were saved by a woman lusting after Howard and it all ended in a new rave extravaganza of a song.

A bit too ‘in touch’ for my liking though. Yeah, so there was a scene where Howard shrunk and went inside the Hitcher’s top hat, danced with a mini-ballerina and sang a song about eels, but what was the abundant reference to Shoreditch all about?! I wasn’t particularly interested in the celebrity-hunting nature of east London trendies even if that is where the actors hang out to drink the latest cocktail and dream up ideas for the show. I wanted more surrealism, more unexpected absurdity – where was the arctic tundra?! Less popular culture references, more randomness I say.

Still, it was nice to have them back. Like old friends who you can not see for weeks or months yet with whom easily slip back into the same familiar ways, I was soon beaming at their endearing, meandering exchanges. And there were reappearances of some old characters – the shamans “bound by shaman law but what goes on tour stays on tour?, the Moon and the Fagan-esque Hitcher – all adding to the smooth transition into what looks to be a suitably mind-bending third series.

By Susan Allen

Sony HD Digital Camera

November 9, 2007 by  
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How terrifying would it be if everyone in the street were to start grinning and thrusting their pelvises in your direction as you made your way home one day!  Imagine the psychological strain the morning after a heavy Friday night out as you try and keep your head down and prevent the mild nausea in your belly from taking physical form until you make it home, shower and sleep it off but people around you insist on fuelling your confusion and “working you baby? – now that would be the walk of shame from hell!

An imaginatively mesmeric new ad from Sony set to the soundtrack of Justin vs. Simian’s ‘Never Be Alone’ advertising their High Definition digital camera, the tag line, “ready when you are? promotes the latest in high-speed imaging technology. 

Its enchanting yet disjointed, ‘Donnie Darko’ feel (Jake Gyllenhaal lookalike, slo-mo camerawork, strange sexualised school girls etc.) is especially effective in depicting the compelling creepiness of the narcissism that the camera brings out in everyone.  I certainly don’t believe that they’re all his “friends?, particularly not that little girl blowing bubblegum aka one half of ‘The Shining’ twins or the zombie-like bloke on the bus who looks like he might start devouring the guy’s neck at any given moment.  Perhaps this is just what the average paparazzi guy has to go through when he pops out for a loaf of bread in Primrose Hill – “look, I’m not taking a photo of you just now ok?!?

Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares

November 7, 2007 by  
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Channel 4, Tuesday 6th November

Gordon Ramsay“The food was sh*t?, declared Gordon after tasting the slop initially served to him in Piccolo Teatro, the little restaurant tucked away on a street in Paris where this week’s show found him. Hardly surprising – as the nature of the series dictates – that the food is often rather disastrous before our culinary hero swoops in to save the day. However, this particular vegetarian eatery looked like it would give him a run for his money, apparently doomed from the start with a circus of staff swept up in the culture of carefree, more set on entertainment than service. No doubt, the daydreamer chef, David was doing his utmost to stop an astounded Gordon from liberating the hungry mob at dinner time with a fine attempt at breaking the world record for slowest chopping of an apple. Moreover, when asked to leave he reached for a knife and had to be restrained, eventually being carried out of the place in a Ramsay fireman’s lift!

Gordon put them all to shame, single-handedly cooking for and serving the lunchtime trade that Scottish boss, Rachel was sure weren’t worth the bother. Feeding her cat had so far ranked significantly higher than her customers, but seeing the money on the table looked like it at last sparked in her a sense of motivation. With father Brian flying out to join the rescue mission came too a new chef, India – a lassie that little bit more on the ball and willing to learn Gordon’s ways of kitchen toil. Taking her under his wing, he clearly saw her as the restaurant’s ticket to success and things began to look up.

Determinedly setting off on a quest to bring sexy back to vegetarian food, they took a stroll down the Moulin Rouge to sample the local beverages and watch some performers shaking some feathers, and breasts, to inspire Piccolo Teatro with the zesty spirit of Parisian indulgence. Naughty pastry tartlets were made as free samples and some cancan dancers brought in to attract attention (many a tart joke was had) and at last the restaurant saw the guests fired up about their menu. All appeared to be going well, as is so often the way with the third part of the programme but by the time the last ad break was over, Gordon looked set for disappointment as he returned to the scene of the cuisine to find lights off and the doorway bolted.

A nonchalant Rachel stormed out, unwilling to listen to Gordon tell her that she “deserve[d] a kick up the f**king arse? and her father dispiritedly concluded that the place be sold. At that, Gordon washed his hands of Piccolo Teatro, salvaging what was worth salvaging as he whisked young India back to England for work experience in one of his own restaurants. A cheerily hopeful conclusion for the aforementioned diamond in the rough – as one door closes another one opens it would seem. Perhaps she’ll star in a spin-off, ‘Ramsay’s Kitchen Dreams’. You heard it here first.

By Susan Allen

Coronation Street one hour special

November 2, 2007 by  
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ITV1 London, Wednesday 31st October 2007

David PlattThis Wednesday saw David Platt, Corrie’s teen super villain, drive his car into the canal in an act of insolent disregard for his sister’s wedding day. An apt soap-thriller for Halloween eve, snarling David left what can only be described as a downright insensitive message for his family on the answer phone before putting his foot down to the Wannadies “You an Me? – an interesting choice of send-out song for a loner misanthropist.

Meanwhile, a livid Sarah, whose vows were interrupted by the archetypal police presence at a soap wedding, refused to halt the proceedings and gave Jason, her fiancé an ultimatum at the altar – say ‘I do’ now or forever hold your peace. And so the celebrations continued. How no-one properly cottoned on to her manic ‘there’s-no-way-I’m- going-to-not-enjoy-my-wedding-day-even-if-my-brother-has-just-topped-himself’ smile is a mystery. Off they traipsed to the local Italian for the reception where gossip about the unstable individual proliferated across the champagne flutes.

Eventually though, it all got too much for Jason and he understandably couldn’t stomach a groom’s speech what with the crisis at hand so he risked the wrath of his wife and the confetti-covered newly-weds gathered at home with Gail et al to wait for news of David. After an aggressive encounter with an innocent trick-or-treater Sarah could only manage a gasp when he finally turned up on the doorstep, soaking and muddy while Gail positively smothered him in relief.

An impressively varied performance from Tina O’Brien throughout as the somewhat more sane sibling pushed to the edge, without doubt, this gripping episode from the street anticipates only more drama to come.

By Susan Allen

Tesco F & F

November 1, 2007 by  
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Doesn’t this ad just make you wish you had a valid excuse to stride fabulously through a room and coolly pour a drink over someone at a glamorous party!  No doubt about it, the new ad from Tesco with its air of French chic, is edgier than their last effort.  The previous commercial, featuring a girl on horseback galloping through woodland while frivolously spattering mud on her flowing frock was a blissful depiction of the romance of beautiful excess.  However, this one’s altogether more ruthless in its portrayal of expendability – both Tesco’s cheap F & F range and lovers alike that is. 

Sexy and empowered, the wronged woman takes a leaf out of her husband’s book, effortlessly disposing first of her wedding ring and then her stained dress in an assertion of indignant invincibility.  Her catapulted drink – note: the same sort that her hubbie’s new bit of stuff throws back at her – echoes this ‘getting rid’ theme that sums up the value that Tesco clearly place on their clothing in general – the capacity to be replaced.
The trouble is it kind of leaves you wondering whether it’s just a bit brutal on your wardrobe.  Ok, so by throwing out your barely worn clothes at any given chance you might be able to maintain your cool but what did the clothes ever do to deserve such dismissive treatment?!  No, I think I’d have to prearrange with a friend to slyly pick up my dress after my grand exit and whack it in the washing machine for next time!