Saturday, December 03, 2005

"Watch, pen, DVD..."

... 'Very beautiful ... Cashmere ... I give you nice price ... "
... have been the words most heard this week, during my trip to the utterly fascinating People's Republic of China, where I discovered in myself a hitherto-unknown talent for hard-nosed haggling at Shanghai's bustling - yet ultimately, or indeed, after-half-an-hour, too-much - flea markets...
Having touched down (very choppily, it must be said) tonight at Heathrow, after a 12-and-a-half-hour flight, I'll save full reminiscences of the week for a time when I'm a little more lucid and compos mentis - in fact, I've targeted Sunday for writing up reminiscences of the week and uploading photos (relatives and friends have already been quicker off the mark on the picture front), so for now will confine myself to simply recommending the Chinese wedding experience to all and sundry. I was over in Shanghai for my next-brother-down's wedding to his Chinese fiancee, and Monday was a sheer spectactle to which any words would struggle to do justice. It was lovely stuff - so many stunning (and in my brother's case, amusing) costume changes, more strange rituals and superstitions than me on North London derby day, and some lovely cross-Shanghai exploring (and being treated like the visiting British Royal Family by the endearingly-curious local Chinese community who were all cheering, hustle-and-bustling, and (excuse the pun) peeking to get a glimpse the first stage of proceedings at the bride's parents' flat...
Oh, and the complimentary bottles of wine on our table at the reception were well welcomed too. Along with the 55 per cent bottle of a mystery spirit us non-Chinese-speaking wedding crashers simply dubbed 'firewater', before smuggling it into the hotel bar and a round of Sprites after hours, then serenading (and no doubt peeving) the rest of the hotel guests with rowdy Beatles songs, thanks largely to my bridegroom brother's guitar I'd sneakily stolen from him at some point...
Before, predictably, passing out...

Any----way. More follows, as I attempt to wake up over the weekend and provide (for myself, at the very least) a more considered encapsulation of my Oriental adventure.
In the meantime, I'll simply pass cursory verdicts on the in-flight films I watched during the flights there and back (before somehow successfully carting through Customs maybe triple-my-body-weight in dodgy DVDs, wedding chocolates and, er, pashminas...) :
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - *** (Depp impressive and irritating in equal measures, and too many jarring Americanisms adding a needlessly-sour taste to the otherwise-devourable-enough confection)
Crash - **** (Lovingly put-together, for all the straining-a-bit-too-hard right-on-ness. A serious enterprise all-round, and this along with Hotel Rwanda should probably clear from Don Cheadle's account his VanDyke-esque, alleged 'Cockney' accent in Ocean's Eleven)
The Business - *** (Flashy and fun enough despite Danny Dyer yet again proving himself one of Britain's most promisingly atrocious young actors)
Silver City - **** (Lovely turn by Chris Cooper as a Dubya double - Primary Colours for the Republicans, maybe not blockbuster potential but a fair old fix for us West Wing addicts / self-important, under-achieving journos)
Sin City - ***1/2 (Maybe struggles in places to quite overcome its inbuilt cliches as cleverly as intended, but utterly beautiful and horrifying to watch, and so different from anything else)
Festival - ***1/2 - Never heard of this Edinburgh Festival satire before but was very sardonic and entertaining, especially having been there for the first time this summer to support my mum's first Fringe venture. That bloke from Green Wing and, less hilariously, Adrian Mole: The Cappucino Years, steals the show. Or, at least, shares his larcenous spoils with Edinburgh Castle in silhouette and Daniela Nardini's breasts.
Stoned - *1/2 - Not just stoned, but stupid, superficial and soporific. Can understand them failing to hoist Brian above boring, but how can you manage to make Keef look quite so pathetic? A career-wrecking performance by Leo Gregory as the boy Jones (if there's any justice in the world, that is...) He sounded more Scandinavian than the girl playing Anita Pallenburg. Lovely visuals and costumes, mind - got the Sixties feel. Or maybe I'm just a sucker for that heavily-mascara'd, mini-skirted dolly-bird look...

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