Then and Now – Cabot Circus

This is a regular series of blogs about photographs of the same place taken years apart. The first of the posts in this series was of a council building in Manchester. I always thought I should give then and now photographs a go. However what I have started to notice is that I have been doing Then and Now photographs unintentionally over the years and have been taking photographs of the same thing or place from the same view or perspective years apart. Now this has come to my attention I have started to intentionally take photographs of the same place.

In November I posted one in this series about Cabot Circus at Christmas time having taken a photograph in December 2019 and then intentionally took a similar photograph in November 2022.

What I hadn’t remembered was that I had taken identical or similar photographs before. Going through my collection and some old Flickr albums I found two more photographs.

This photograph was taken not long after Cabot Circus had opened. The shopping centre had opened on 25th September 2008, this photograph was taken on the 21st October 2008.

I took some more photographs and at the time I was then approached by security who told me that this was against their rules. I thought this was bizarre. Was I taking photographs of the shops?

No!

Was I using my big Canon 400D with 75-300mm lens?

No!

Was I using my nice 50mm lens which I keep meaning to use more?

No!

Was I using my point and shoot Sony W35?

No!

What was I using?

I was using a Nokia N95 phone!

I was surprised to be asked to stop. Weird policy. Of course once more people had more phones they stopped enforcing the policy.

Going through my collection I also had taken this similar photo on the 4th July 2016.

Three years later on December 8th 2019. I was on my way to do a pick up from the Vue Cinema, so I took a photograph of the festive Cabot Circus. Not realising I had taken similar photos before.

This photograph was taken on the 26th November 2022. I remembered I had taken a photograph in the same location, so took this one.

So I had unintentionally taken three photographs of roughly the same place over an eleven year period.

Movie Advent Calendar #07 – Stan & Ollie

Stan & Ollie

In 2011 I did a musical advent calendar that I posted to Google+ (remember that) and a final summary on this blog. In 2012 I did a cinematic advent calendar of twenty four films. These were films that I really liked and have enjoyed at the cinema. In 2019 I did a televisual advent calendar of twenty four television programmes. These were television programmes that I really liked and have enjoyed watching. This year on a similar theme I will be posting a movie advent calendar of twenty four movies.

I got Stan & Ollie on Blu-Ray for a present, though it took a while for me to sit down and watch it.

I remember watching Laurel and Hardy films when I was young on the television, so was aware of their fame and background.

The film focuses on details of the comedy duo’s personal relationship while relating how they embarked on a gruelling music hall tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland during 1953 and struggled to get another film made. Though they were famous for their movies, by 1953 their careers were waning and they were less popular than they were back in their heyday.

I loved the production and cinematography of this movie. It made clever use of CGI to recreate 1950s Britain. The story is both funny and also sad.

I really enjoyed the film and made me appreciate the life, challenges and difficulties that Laurel and Hardy faced in their professional lives.

A text epilogue explains they never performed together again. Oliver’s health did not recover and he died in 1957. Stan refused all offers to perform without Oliver but continued, until his death in 1965, to write material for Laurel and Hardy.

Get Stan & Ollie at Amazon.

Remembering The Eagle has Landed

Cinematic Advent Calendar #07 - The Eagle has Landed

Back in 2012 I was doing a cinematic advent calendar and on the 7th December 2012 I posted about The Eagle has Landed.

There are quite a few films in that advent calendar that have significant memories over and above the film itself. With The Eagle has Landed I went to see it at the Aldeburgh cinema with my grandparents. Looking back I was seven (maybe eight) when I went to see it, which when you consider the current certification of 15 was way too young! What I do remember was that whenever there was a scene with blood, my grandparents would say to me, that’s tomato ketchup! I think because I saw that film at that cinema that it is one of my favourite films and in that list.

Cinematic Advent Calendar #07 - The Eagle has Landed

The film was set in Norfolk and partially in the Channel Islands. However, the filming of the Channel Islands and coastal scenes was mainly filmed in Cornwall. The majority of the film was in and around the fictional village of Studley Constable, these scenes were filmed in the village of  Mapledurham in Oxfordshire.

In March 2014 I was driving from Oxford to Reading, and having watched the film recently and checking out IMDB for the filming locations, I realised that Mapledurham was on the way. So I set the sat nav and drove to the village. It was easy to find and I drove down to the Manor House.

I think what surprised me was how little the village had changed in the last forty years.

It still looked very much as it did in the film.

During the filming mock buildings such as shops and a pub were constructed on site in Mapledurham while interiors were filmed at Twickenham Studios.

They had added a waterwheel to the mill for filming, but apart from that it was very familiar.

I didn’t spend too long looking around, as I didn’t have enough cash for the parking meter, and I had meetings to go to.

Movie Advent Calendar #06 – Paddington

Mrs Brown says that in London everyone is different, and that means anyone can fit in. I think she must be right – because although I don’t look like anyone else, I really do feel at home. I’ll never be like other people, but that’s alright, because I’m a bear. A bear called Paddington.

In 2011 I did a musical advent calendar that I posted to Google+ (remember that) and a final summary on this blog. In 2012 I did a cinematic advent calendar of twenty four films. These were films that I really liked and have enjoyed at the cinema. In 2019 I did a televisual advent calendar of twenty four television programmes. These were television programmes that I really liked and have enjoyed watching. This year on a similar theme I will be posting a movie advent calendar of twenty four movies.

I loved the Paddington Bear books and the BBC animated television series based on the books by Michael Bond. That series was broadcast from 1976 to 1980, scripted by Bond himself, and produced by FilmFair. It was narrated by Michael Hordern, who also voiced all of the characters.

So when the Paddington film was announced and released in 2014, I was hesitant and a little sceptical. I was pretty confident that it wouldn’t be as good as the TV series from the 1970s. Well to be perfectly honest I don’t think the film is as good as the series. However, despite that, I really enjoyed the film. I thought all the cast did an excellent job. Ben Whishaw’s characterisation of Paddington was spot on, as Paddington was a young bear, and I can see how the original casting of Colin Firth was probably inspired by the BBC series narration, but didn’t work, as Paddington was a single character, whereas Hordern did all the voices in the BBC series.

The story was certainly cinematic and I think that is why the film worked for me. This wasn’t a TV programme on the big screen, this was a big screen adaptation for the character. The set pieces, from the flooded bathroom, the Geographers’ Guild were fun.

There is one scene which does amuse me, and that is when the Brown family find Paddington at Paddington Station. The scenes set on the platform reflect the reality of Paddington Station. Then they go to the station tea room. Yes you might have seen such a station in the 1950s, but not in 2014, when there was a Caffe Nero and a Costa at the station. I kind of wish there was such a tea room at the station now!

I have to say I also enjoyed the sequel, Paddington 2. Hugh Grant was excellent. I even enjoyed the skitch to celebrate the Jubilee in 2022. I also see that a sequel Paddington in Peru is set to begin principal photography in 2023.

Movie Advent Calendar #05 – The Untouchables

“I think I’ll have a drink.”

In 2011 I did a musical advent calendar that I posted to Google+ (remember that) and a final summary on this blog. In 2012 I did a cinematic advent calendar of twenty four films. These were films that I really liked and have enjoyed at the cinema. In 2019 I did a televisual advent calendar of twenty four television programmes. These were television programmes that I really liked and have enjoyed watching. This year on a similar theme I will be posting a movie advent calendar of twenty four movies.

I think I would have probably included The Untouchables in my (first) cinematic advent calendar. The story follows Eliot Ness as he forms the untouchables team to bring Al Capone to justice during Prohibition. 

The film was released in 1987 and I think this was a film I didn’t get to see at the cinema. I actually don’t remember the first time I saw it, it might have been on the television, or could have been an VHS rental from Blockbuster (remember them).

The story of the formation of the team, known as the untouchables, the challenges they faced, in attempting to bring the Chicago gangster, Al Capone, to justice. This was during the age of prohibition, when the US government brought in a law that strictly prohibited the production, importation, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages from 1920 to 1933. Of course the reality was that there was still a huge demand for alcoholic beverages, so the criminal gangs filled that vacuum with bootlegging and speakeasy illegal bars.

I really enjoyed the strong performances from Kevin Costner as Eliot Ness, Sean Connery as Jim Malone and Robert De Niro as Al Capone.

Of course reading Wikipedia in later years you realise how young Al Capone was when he took control of the crime organisation. He was just 26. De Niro was 44 when he made the film.

Similarly Eliot Ness was just 27 when he was asked to lead his squad. Costner was younger than De Niro, but was 32 when the film was shot.

Aside from these minor inconsistencies, I feel the film really captured the essence of 1920’s Chicago and the story of Eliot Ness and Al Capone.

Get The Untouchables from Amazon.

Movie Advent Calendar #04 – Notting Hill

“Whoopsidaisies!”

In 2011 I did a musical advent calendar that I posted to Google+ (remember that) and a final summary on this blog. In 2012 I did a cinematic advent calendar of twenty four films. These were films that I really liked and have enjoyed at the cinema. In 2019 I did a televisual advent calendar of twenty four television programmes. These were television programmes that I really liked and have enjoyed watching. This year on a similar theme I will be posting a movie advent calendar of twenty four movies.

I did go and see Notting Hill at the cinema, I think I saw it in Leeds of all places. I have always enjoyed comedies by  Richard Curtis. In my previous calendar I did choose Four Weddings and a Funeral, which is probably my favourite Richard Curtis comedy. For me Four Weddings and a Funeral was the first time I thought to myself and recognised that there was a British film industry that could make great films. There were lots of films that echoed the success of Four Weddings, but though good in their own right, for me none compare to Four Weddings.

I enjoyed Hugh Grant’s portrayal of his character, Will Thacker. Richard Curtis described the starting point as “the idea of a very normal person going out with an unbelievably famous person and how that impinges on their lives”.

I also enjoyed Hugh Bonneville as Bernie, Tim McInnerny as Max and Gina McKee as Bella. Though there are two leads, the other cast are essential to make this film whole and act as a foil to the actions of Will and Anna.

On the surface this is very much a romantic comedy, but under that surface is an examination of “celebrity”. Many of the comic moments are about how people persevere and interpret the concept of celebrity. 

The film was (rightly) criticised for not reflecting the real diverse character of Notting Hill. It failed to reflect the demographic of the area. As a journalist said “only Curtis could write a movie about Notting Hill, London’s most diverse borough, and not feature a single black face in it.”

This is a film I enjoyed at the time and I do watch again now and then.

Get Notting Hill at Amazon.