Monday, 11 June 2012

Fitzbillies (café) & Café de Flore (film)

Where to Snack: Fitzbillies 
Cambridge, CB2 1RG
We were in Cambridge for a wedding, but before we left the next day, we made sure to try out Fitzbillies. There's been quite a lot of hype around it since it re-opened, so we wanted to see if it lived up to expectations. 

The first thing I found out when we got there was that 'no one' had ever gone into Fitzbillies before it shut down. Everyone in Cambridge knew it existed for a very long time, and had heard about its signature Chelsea buns, but no one (at least, not the student population) ever passed through its front doors. 

Well, the clientele now is packed full with young people and young families! So they have turned it around. The decor is clean, simple yet friendly, and their Chelsea buns are lovely. I have never had one before: I'd say it tastes like a Cinnabon, except with less cinnamon and sugar. It was still quite sweet though, so I'd recommend sharing a bun with someone. 

Their hot chocolate, by the way, is creamy and very good quality. As for their lunch menu, I really liked my 'lunch salad', which consisted of nice green salad with rabbit and beetroot and other sorts of yummy things (yummy means I can't remember what the ingredients were), but the other friends all thought their food was overpriced. At £7.10, I thought my salad was quite perfect. I also have never had rabbit before, so it was a nice little adventure trying out the meat. 

Lastly, just before we left, we also took away some ice cream, and boy was it good. It's not as amazing as some of the gelati I've had in my lifetime, but it's very creamy and rich, and our chocolate and raspberry & cream scoops complemented each other perfectly. We even took it down to the river and sat under the sun to watch the punters go by. 

I would definitely recommend going for tea at Fitzbillies, but perhaps skip the lunch fare if you think it's not affordable. Everything tasted good though.


Title: Café de Flore
Where to watch: Selected Theatres in UK

Café de Flore is a very enigmatic film. I went to see it because the same director directed one of my favourite Canadian films of all time: C.R.A.Z.Y. That film is utterly mind-blowing for all sorts of reasons (the psychedelic use of music with Pink Floyd & Rolling Stones - great soundtrack!, beautiful & creative shots, surreal slow-mo scenes, great acting...) 

Anyway, I was hoping to get another film like that with this, but nope. Read a review here. The film has two storylines slowly converging into one, but the final conclusion was not really satisfactory. It felt more like a 'whaaaa?' than an 'ohhhhh!' (if you get what I mean). 

A lot of Jean-Marc Valleé's signature tropes were present: music of various genres were highlighted, good slow-mo sections, underwater shots, and beautiful young actors. His auteuristic style worked more or less, but occasionally I'd think that he's doing the same old trick because people loved it in C.R.A.Z.Y. For example, Pink Floyd again?! Can he not pick another band, or even another song, to feature? 

One interesting fact: you'd think that the film title refers to the café made famous by Sartre, de Beauvoir and the likes, but actually it refers to a song. Oh another tidbit: this director made Young Victoria! I haven't watched that yet but it had some good reviews.  

There's some moving acting in Café de Flore - Vanessa Paradis is in the cast - but overall, I wouldn't suggest anyone see it. Please go see C.R.A.Z.Y. instead!

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey (Trilogy)

Author: EL James

Why is the word-of-mouth hit Fifty Shades Trilogy (Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, and Fifty Shades Freed) so popular? Most critics give credit to the rise of e-readers and their ability to allow for discreet reading. The plotline's not great, the heroine and hero lack character development.

Fifty Shades feels more like a fanfiction story than an original one, and indeed, after a bit of quick research, I found out the series started life as a piece of Twilight fanfiction. You can see the resemblance to Twilight in the brooding, secretive older man who has a dark, twisted past, and a submissive young lady who gets acquainted with the 'dark' side of life and discovers her 'inner goddess' along the way...

More than three friends have recommended the book to me (most of them in publishing actually!), so there must be something compelling about the novels. I guess the dark, racy nature of the story makes for an exciting page-turner.

The critics have given it mixed reviews. Some US states even banned the books from libraries. You should read it anyway, to see what it's all about. You can't escape from it really, they're about to turn it into a Hollywood film!