Dark Shadows, Dark Dinner
When: May 2012
Where: Imli (SoHo) and Empire Leicester Square
Dinner and a movie, for me two of the things that make my world go around. If I were to make a film it would be in the style of Jim Jarmusch's Coffee and Cigarettes. This night out was a way to escape the dreaded nail biting Champions League Final. Last time in 2008 I shouldn't have been watching, we should have been out doing dinner but the Roman weather forced us to stay in the hotel and everyone suffered... This time round it was dinner and a movie, two of my favourite things to enjoy and then I could check the scores at the end of the film and celebrate or commiserate depending on the result. Things started off well as the bus got us to the West End in record time. Our driver was not a patient man and beeped and swerved his away through town taking no prisoners, it was just like being in India all over again but this time with a little more restraint on the horn. This set us up nicely for Imli, a modern Indian restaurant. I really like Indian food and as my partner had been before and quite liked it my expectations were fairly high. However, our first problem was that she liked the set meals but these were only on at lunch time and we had arrived in the evening. Secondly our friend booked online and after looking online I noticed you could get a free dessert if you booked online, she hadn't noticed... Oh well, things can only get better.
We were shown to a nice quiet and decent sized table at the back corner of the restaurant and ordered some drinks. One of our friends seems to have got into cocktails which is nice as I'm now not the only one to order an alcoholic drink when we go out. I wasn't feeling too hungry so I shared the Tandoori Mixed Grill - Chicken, Fish, Lamb and Paneer with Dal and Naan Bread. This looked like being more than enough and it was. I love good tandoori food and after having an amazing Tandoori meal in Orchha in India I am hooked for life. Our friends ordered a mix of dishes from the menu. Service was good and our waiter was trying hard with some "money saving" upsells. The food arrived and I was a little disappointed, I think in part because my eyes are greedier than my stomach. We had one piece of each of the dishes and a bowl of thinish and difficult to share Dal. The lamb was very good, but was really only a bite as it was a tandoori lamb chop. The chicken was bland and only just cooked, the paneer was ok, the bread was ok and the dal was ok. I don't really eat fish but my partner enjoyed it. The meal was at least filling and we washed it down with some coffees and Masala Chai. I think I've now become a little stuck in my ways with Indian food. I find a place I like and keep coming back, again and again and again... It will take something special to prise me away from the Star Of Bombay on Westbourne Grove or Nayaab off Parsons Green.
Dark Shadows (Tim Burton, 2012)
It seems these days every Tim Burton film is the same with Johnny Depp playing some kind of ageless monster trying to claw back a life that cannot be lived anymore. Sometimes you have to grow up and move on, Scorsese manages this in Hugo, albeit leaving America to do so as we watch someone who has hit rock bottom get built up and given one last day of glory, rather than be spat out by the American Dream gone bad. Anyway, getting back to Burton, at his best his creepy Depp led films are fantastic pieces of fantasy with amazing performances and a believable world portrayed well enough for you to completely suspend your disbelief. At worst there's Alice in Wonderland, worse than that is Alice in Wonderland in 3D...
Dark Shadows is a simple love story with a nice contrast in the narrative. The Collins family escape Victorian England for a better life in the new world where they see their fishing business go from strength to strength. The young Barnabas will one day inherit the family fortune which is not only the business but the town where they landed which is named Collinstown in their honour and the large family house filled with wealth and secret passages. However, life is not so easy as Barnabas has an affair with Angelique who's family are servants to the Collins family. Barnabas likes her body but doesn't love her as a person and in a fit of jealousy she turns to magic forcing Josette, his wife to be to commit suicide and turns him into a vampire who is locked away in a coffin as a freak of nature.
Time passes and Barnabas is dug up and is very much alive but he does not fit well with the modern world. He fights to restore his family to their former glory but finds Angelique through various guises has made sure to do everything in her power to thwart the Collins family and their business out of revenge. The two battle it out as Barnabas wants to move on in his personal life whilst rebuilding his family to what it used to be and find true love again and Angelique who whilst moving on professionally has not moved on personally and is still, 200 years later unable to accept that Barnabas might want to have sex with her but doesn't love her.
History repeats itself but this time Barnabas is ready and although he doesn't manage to stop his new love plunging off the cliff, she becomes a vampire and they live quirkily ever after whilst Angelique ends up a broken woman (literally). Although it may not be the greatest story of all time the acting and casting in Dark Shadows is fantastic and for me made it all worth while. It was nice for the day to finish on a high. An enjoyable night at the movies followed by a Champions League victory on my phone to read about on the journey home, whilst my ears rung from a THX induced evening.