OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL

From the opening black and white credits to when the final curtain falls, this is a truly magical adventure.

Whether or not you’re a fan of the original Wizard of Oz film (and I truly hope that you are) you can’t help but fall in love with the land of Oz in all it’s technicolour beauty.

A prequel to the original Judy Garland film, Oz The Great and Powerful takes you on the journey of Oscar Digs (played by James Franco), a charlatan circus ‘wizard’ who’s hot air balloon is swept away to a strange place called Oz. He quickly finds himself at the centre of a battle between three witches as he tries to save the Emerald City and all it’s quirky inhabitants.

While the plot is somewhat predictable and we all know how the story will eventually end, it doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy the journey. Twists and misdirection are sufficient enough to keep you suitably aroused.

The characters are marred by failing to develop past the usual stereotypes you’d expect from a Disney film such as the hero’s loveable and humorous sidekicks. But I defy anyone who does not shed a tear at the plight of the China Girl.

I went to see OTGAP at the Odeon IMAX and have to admit that it’s one of the most spell-binding 3D films since Avatar. Expect stunningly beautiful sets and jaw dropping CGI with all manner of objects flying in and out of the screen, keeping you literally on the edge of your seat.

Don’t expect any singing or talk about the Yellow Brick, and there’s not a single ruby slipper in sight, leaving plenty of scope for a sequel (in fact there are 14 books in the original series.) Fingers crossed eh?

A truly fantastic-ical film that’s well worth a watch.

Coke.

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A GREAT TIME AT LYME

Contrary to popular belief, not every Sunday morning for Brandy and Coke involves a brain-haemorrhage-inducing hangover.

OK, so on this occasion, I was feeling slightly light-heading after one too many glasses of wine the night before. But nothing a co-drydamol and pint of water couldn’t fix.

With the weather looking OK (as far as Sunday morning in Manchester ever can be) we decided to stick to our plan for a ‘civilised weekend’. Adorned in thermals, fur hats (faux of cause) and woollen scarfs we set off to The National Trust’s Lyme Park.

It’s a straight-forward drive from Manchester city centre so we arrived shortly before 11am. A £5 entry fee rewarded us with a CD featuring the history of the park and a family quiz **yawns**.  I press –PLAY- and my hangover returns with a vengeance –STOP-.

The park is vast. If I’d listened to the CD I’d be able to tell you exactly how big. The ‘map’ provided to us on entry would be more accurate if drawn by a visually impaired three year old so we had to explore rogue. We walked and walked, over hills and mountains (it seemed) through woods, over roads, across footpaths with little sense of direction.

After three hours (and getting slight lost) we returned to the car invigorated and refreshed.

The park was beautiful and felt very rural at times. I’d highly recommend visiting for some fresh air, light exercise and to escape city life, without needing to travel too far.

On our way home we stopped for lunch at The Red Lion in Disley. We were pleasantly surprised by the modern décor and clean interior (unlike most pubs located near to National Trust sites) The ‘famous French onion soup’ was delicious, although small in stature, and the Sunday Roast well proportioned and tasty.  However, we were forced to question the discretionary 10% service charge which topped the bill at whopping £10 for a meal that cost only £50. Bad maths or subtle swindle, you decide.

Civilised day out. Achieved.

Coke.

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PAM ANN-TASTIC

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‘Looooofthansaaaaaaa’ – the unmistakable potty-mouth of Pam Ann is something of a gay rite of passage.  Although she has a cult following amongst the trolley-dolley community, she has become a regular fixture on the Manchester scene since she led the Annual Manchester Pride Parade two years ago.  It was lovely that her opening words to the audience at the Manchester Opera House (they’ve still not found a mop and bucket to deal with the toilets, by the way) reflected how much she loved the City and its LGBT community.

Now, I have seen Pam live a few times, so I recognised a number of the gags.  However, I managed to refrain from heckling every punch line like the extremely annoying super-fan in the Stalls – who was only just about silenced with a very barbed ‘OK….you’ve had your attention, now shut the f**k up!’ from Pam.  It does have to be said that some of the ground she covers is standard….Virgin Airlines employ thick bimbos, Lufthansa hostesses are all Helga from Allo Allo and the collective noun for a group of British Airways Cabin Crew is a stable!  But it’s clever too because she manages to develop these stock gags a bit further every time I see her and keeps it current – and this show has some brilliant additional material drawing on recent news reports about  the apparent chaos that goes on in the skies

Where she really comes into her own – and where she also manages to plumb new depths of filth and inappropriateness (she’s not for the faint-hearted) – is in improvisation, which formed most of the second half.  This demonstrated that only the attention-seeking and stupid sit in the front three rows, but that’s good as it resulted in some great comedy for the rest of us neatly tucked away in the Gallery (or the Asylum Seekers’ Centre as she called it!).

All in all, a completely outrageous 2 hours of comedy which was the perfect antidote to a long week.  If you’ve not seen Pam Ann and you think you can take it, get involved!

Brandy.

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TAURUS TRANSFORMATION

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Taurus Bar has been a popular venue for the gay community for as long as I can remember. And for as long as I can remember it hasn’t changed at all.

But it’s never been the aesthetics that’s attracted people to Taurus. Far from it.  It’s friendly atmosphere and welcoming service that keeps you coming back time and time again (not to mention Iain and Polly.)

So, when Brandy and Coke heard that Taurus had re-opened after a refurbishment, we just had to check it out. So, armed with some trash-magazines, off we went for a leisurely Saturday lunch.

If you’ve been to Taurus before, don’t expect to return to see a multi-million pound makeover.  But the changes that have been made make a big difference.

New lighting and furniture coupled with a fresh lick of paint really helps to open up the room and give a real sense of space.  Everywhere looks cleaner, fresher and ready for a bustling year of business. Sadly, like the Great Wall of China, the aertex walls remain stubbornly in place.

The food and service, as always, were both above par.  We also used our Canal Street Card to purchase Happy Hour prices of lager and wine, leaving us with a bill that was easy on the purse strings. We left a few hours later stuffed and slightly tipsy. What more could you ask for on a Saturday afternoon?

Coke.

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PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT

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Brandy & Coke love the theatre, so when Priscilla hit the road to tour around the UK (particularly with Jason Donovan back in the role of Tik/Mitzi) a Friday night out was planned.

Setting aside the hellish experience of visiting Manchester’s crumbling Opera House – where we are fairly certain that the wine is bottled from the puddles of water to be found on the floor in the decay-ridden toilets – the show is impressive.   The costume changes are numerous and every one more extravagant than the last; there are some outstanding performances and, all in all, it’s a good tribute to the iconic film that Brandy & Coke have sung-along to on the sofa so many times.

Jason Donovan got the biggest cheers from the crowd and was a good sport when it came to the endless run of Kylie-gags that were added ‘especially for…’ him!  From time to time there were some dodgy Australian accents going on which made Brandy & Coke think that Ayr’s Rock was somewhere in upstate New York, but the classic Bernadette lines like ‘that’s the only bang you’re ever gonna get, sweetheart’, ‘Oh Felicia, where f**k are we?’ and ‘Just what we need  – a c*ck in a frock on a rock!’ saved the day.

Well worth seeing , though don’t expect the classic 70s track ‘Never been to me’ as it didn’t make it into the musical – shame.

Brandy.

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