As 2017 limps to its much wanted end, we thought it might be lovely to point out some of the Vitamin D injections of cultural significance that have held the year together for us.

Tamarin Fountain

Theatre: The Red Shoes

Ballet may be a standard festive day or night out, but Matthew Bourne proves it to be a spectacularly theatrical, opulent and stunning year-round source of high-end entertainment. This production of The Red Shoes was visually remarkable, psychologically and emotionally layered, thematically interesting and utterly delightful. While the fluttery frothiness of sparkly tutus on wintery or fairytale backdrops is all very nice, this grand version of the famous film offered satisfyingly dark, rich undertones that made a lasting impression.

Food: Maki and Ramen

Having passed Maki and Ramen by many times (I live around the corner), I hadn’t taken a huge amount of notice. It’s not much of a looker from the outside: perched on an uninviting corner of a busy junction and housed in an unexciting building. But, in the mood for sushi and not fancying an epic walk, we gave this a shot – and I’m glad we did.

Sitting at the sushi bar, sipping sake from a tiny stone cup, we watched the two skilled chefs create our orders. It’s a great way to wait for food – a kind of theatre in itself. One chef meticulously and intricately de-boned some mackerel with tweezers (fascinating to watch and not something I’ll be trying at home), while another rolled nigiri. As an experience this isn’t unique of course, but it was well done, tasty and local, with an unrushed sophisticated ambience to boot. Also in the restaurant on this night was a large group, a young family, a couple clearly on an early date and at least two sole diners. I love that. A place where you can come alone (the bar set up is really condusive for single dining), with kids, or on a romantic night out and feel right at home in this ancient meets contemporary Japanese vibe. There’s plenty of choice in the city when it comes to Japanese food, but for a classy meal, a great atmosphere and food options that don’t break the bank, this is a superb place to get your wasabi fix.

Film: Aurore

The French Film festival is always a great opportunity to discover cinematic gems. Hollywood is notoriously bad at producing strong, interesting female characters, with an emphasis instead on youth and model-like beauty. So, a film about a middle aged woman in the throes of early menopause with no career and who looks like a normal relatable human being, is a breath of fresh air. Yes, it’s slightly irritating to read subtitles while watching, but the eyes and soon get used to the dynamic and it’s worth it. This is a very funny, witty, thoughtful, warm, involving and truthful celebration of what it is to be a woman, at every stage of life.

Ricky Monahan Brown

Film: Okja

Having welcomed a baby boy to the family in 2017, I suspect that nights at the cinema will be a rarity in 2018. But if Netflix continues to send quality cinema like Okja direct to our telly, I don’t think I’ll mind. The live action and CGI parable of a superpig bred by the Mirando Corporation is thoughtful and quirky, and director Bong Joon-ho doesn’t compromise the quality of his visuals for a small screen distributor.

 

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