Spring favourites

iPhotoApril seemed to run into May when I wasn’t looking and now we’re nearing the end of June I thought I might do a bumper edition of my favourites for Spring.

When I was home in April I took advantage of a tremendous Groupon deal and treated myself to a QFT Film Card.  Those in the know have been keeping mum about Belfast’s best independent cinema which boasts cutting-edge film 7 nights a week.  (I promise they didn’t pay me to say that.)  The offer was something crazy like £10 for a year’s membership which affords members discounts on cinema tickets and free refills on tea and coffee.  Plus when you join you get 2 free tickets to enjoy at whatever film you fancy, with the exception of live broadcasts – more on that later.

IMG_3242I think I’ve mentioned QFT on the blog before but to jog your memory it really is the jewel in the crown of Belfast’s University Quarter.  Tucked away down University Square it has a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it front.  The only thing distinguishing it from the otherwise identical terraces is it’s discreet signage above the door frame.  Venture inside and the open bar space welcomes you like an old friend with mischief on her mind as signs of the venue’s principal sponsor, Jameson’s Whisky, abound.

The screens themselves take a leaf out of Goldilocks’s preferences and are juuuuust the right size to make you feel like you’re in a private screening of your favourite film.  Comfort is king and you can sink into the velvety seats without scraping your knees up against the back of the person in front.  Lovely stuff!

Which brings me to my next Spring favourite:  Samba.  (I wanted to link to a review of the film here but all the ones I found give too much away about the plot and I don’t want to spoil it for you!)  I exchanged my free tickets wisely for two seats to Samba and I was not disappointed by Gaumont’s latest offering.  Starring Omar Sy and Charlotte Gainsbourg, Samba tells the tale of an illegal immigrant trying to make ends meet in Paris.  Just as he gets a job contract to support his residency application his life goes to merde and his path crosses Alice, (Gainsbourg) who is tasked with helping him come to terms with the fact he may be deported.

At a time when our current government and its allies in the mainstream media encourage us to be wary of immigrants and their intentions, Samba draws on our similarities as people: we all feel the same things and, generally, just want to make the best of the hand we’ve been dealt.  Although the premise of the film seems outwardly heavy it’s comedic delivery is deeply endearing, poignant and serves as a reminder that life is rarely shot in 2D.  I think I could watch Samba day and daily and never tire of it.  If you enjoy wry wit paired with raw emotion and relatable storytelling Samba is one for you.

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Spring was a time for great adventure and marked my first ‘proper’ sailing trip.  I brought along my Canon 650D to record a film and take some pictures and am so glad I did!  We sailed from Largs to the idyllic Isle of Arran and the views took my breath away.  I’ve been holding off on posting the pics and film because I want to do them justice (and am still figuring out how to work the editing software on my Mac.)

The above picture makes me smile every time I see it.  It’s so ridiculous!  We had docked a little way offshore the night before this was taken.  (Is that even the right terminology?  I think this probably clarifies my sailing knowledge prior to this trip.)  In the morning we were full of confidence as we piled into what I can only describe as a rubber dinghy with an engine and attempted to make the deceptively short journey from the boat across the bay to shore.  Unfortunately the wind was blowing a bit of a gale and we were pelted with salt water from every direction.  We ended up completely soaked through but we made it – just!  Squelching our way to a campsite we searched for hot showers and coffee we ended up laying our wet clothes on the grass at the rear of the coffee shop before setting off again.  I remember the lovely lady behind the counter took pity on us and put everything in the tumble dryer.

For posterity I wanted to take a picture of us all but couldn’t work out how to set the timer on my camera to take a picture other than after 2 seconds so the result is me jumping mid-air to try and get into the pic with everyone.  The result is the best of a series of attempts.  I’m not kidding.  It also prompted said lady to come out and take the below, she couldn’t bear to see me struggling any more.  Great times!

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Last on my list for Spring is the magnificent Joy Williams.  I had the good fortune to go along to see her first London show since her split from songwriting partner and fellow Civil War, John Paul White.  As a die-hard Civil Wars fan I genuinely grieved the music world’s loss of this partnership.  Their final show as a pair took place in London so it seemed fitting that Williams introduced her reincarnation as a solo artist in London where she left off.

While the band split under a cloud of mystery neither has since publicly commented on one another’s decision to part ways though the otherwise guarded Williams has addressed the split directly in her own unique way through her song What a Good Woman Does.

Of course, Williams was an artist in her own right before happening upon White in a Nashville songwriting session way back when but the air in Islington’s Assembly Hall felt charged in anticipation of her taking to the stage.  I’m so glad I was able to see her perform.  The magic the duo had previously bottled had been distilled into something new and every bit as wonderful and it was lovely to see Williams reborn as a solo artist, owning the stage and taking the audience on a journey through her new sound.

If you ever get the chance to experience a Joy Williams gig don’t pass it up.  On the off chance you need convincing I’ll leave you with her latest anthemic offering, guaranteed to have you walk down the street steely-eyed, head held high and a spring in your step.

See you next time!xx

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