The real deal


Watched an old Hitchcock movie last night. Marnie is not one of his classics, but I was interested in seeing it again pretty much because of Sean Connery.

Sean Connery is one of my favourite ever actors, and not just because he’s the best 007. There’s a lot’s of reasons he became a star, but for me what set him apart from just about everybody else is his style. He was always good looking, and had the build to go with it, but so do plenty. What made him different was a kind of sardonic masculinity. Good looking as he was there was something cruel in his good looks. With the curl of the lip he could express contempt, disdain, arrogance. Often it was backed up with some physical expression of that as he took on the baddies and and knocked them over, no matter the odds. With a great speaking voice he was also a natural at the cool wit that was generally written for him. Often he would deliver his lines with the curl of the lip and a knowing look in the eye as if sharing a joke with the audience. Put him in a tuxedo and he looked born to it; shove him in an action role and he was a natural. He performed with a masculine ease that lifted him off the screen, and the self-possession that intimidates lesser men – on screen and off. Somehow you always figured he wouldn’t be much different off screen, the real deal.

I reckon there’s a lot of men who looked upon him as a kind of model of masculinity. I’m the same to a degree. I watch him, even in lesser roles such as last night, and just enjoy how he goes about it. He has that dominant attribute which you watch as a bloke and think, yep, that’s how it should be. The other month someone threw up Steve McQueen as a paragon of lost male masculinity, and good call it was too. Connery is another I reckon, from another the same era. Fewer around these days like them.

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Good, but not Bond


It’s that time of year again when wherever you look there’s
something happening. I’m busy, busy like I always am, but at least I have an excuse
for it now.

Monday night went and saw Quantum of Solace at the Rivoli. It’s a good movie, though not
nearly as good as Casino Royale. The
action is spectacular and exciting, Daniel Craig once more a tough and compelling Bond.
What it lacks is that trademark of previous Bond movies – wit. There is the odd
throw-away line, but they are few and far between, and pretty forgettable.
Maybe that’s excused because the Bond of these movies is grieving; and maybe
there is something of Daniel Craig in that, for while he is convincingly brutal
– as a true Bond should be – he does not have that twinkle-eyed savoir faire,
that dry delivery of a Sean Connery say. Even the sex – a Bond staple – is cursory and off screen.

The other thing that occurred to me was
that one of the strengths of Casino Royale
was that it was an adventure movie that just happened to have James Bond in it.
It returned to the thrilling fundamentals of the genre, rather than the
over-blown caricature some Bond movies had become. Here though that advantage
has been turned. It’s great that they are thrilling still, and the character of Bond
has become authentic again, but some of the Bond branding has been lost. End of
the day this is not just another action movie, this is a Bond movie – and part
of that is the wit, the strange gadgets and quirky characters (such as Q and Ms
Moneypenny), absent from this.

Tuesday night I went to a Christmas party at Crown, the
client guest of one of our travel providers. I only intended to make an
appearance and head off, but end up being nearly the last to leave. Funny how
many times that seems to be the case. I had a good night. I walked in and of
the 150 or so guests there probably 135 were women. The food was good, wine
plentiful, and I even managed a massage. As for the rest, moved between people
chatting and having fun and occasionally laying it on pretty thick. Towards the
end Donna arrived for a drink before giving me a lift home.

Last night was Rockpool again, the third meal there this
year, and I haven’t paid for any of them.

I won a $200 voucher at last years company Christmas party.
I’ve been saving it for the right time, but had to use it before the end of the
month. Ended up going with Rod, which must have looked pretty gay, but at least
he is a safe dinner companion.

They do everything pretty well at Rockpool. The décor is fine and elegant and perfectly aligned with
the ethos of what is predominantly a steak restaurant. The service is excellent
and the ambience comfortable. The food is pretty good too, and some of it
exceptional. The funny thing is that while the steaks they are renowned for are
very good, they’re not great. Nothing wrong with the meat, it’s spot on,
tender, juicy, flavoursome. Each steak is perfectly cooked to your desire, so
it’s hard for me to say exactly why I preferred the steak I had at the Station Hotel to what I’ve had at Rockpool. Perhaps it is in the actual
cooking. The meat at the Station was similarly wonderful, though a slightly
bigger, thicker chunk of it that had more of a char grilled, almost roasted
flavour to it. There is more of a marriage between the meat itself and the
cooking method, which resulted in a much more robust flavour.

A good steak you should be able to eat without any sauce or mustard
or anything else. It should be complete in itself. Rockpool is minimalist and very traditional in terms of
accompaniments – a jar each of béarnaise and horseradish cream, a selection of
mustards. The Rockpool steak can be
enjoyed without any of these, but is better with. The best steaks want for
nothing added, they cannot be improved on. They’re few and far between, but a
steak like that is as good as it gets.

If I would recommend anything particularly I would suggest
the Wagyu Bresaola (think a very fine beef prosciutto) with mushroom toast – fantastic – and would go the grain fed
rib eye on the main menu. Rib eye can be hit and miss – it can be too fatty – but at
a top shelf restaurant like this you have to expect the best quality. In this case that
means the fattier meat makes for a juicier, more flavoursome cut. Pretty good.     

Anyway, finished with drinks at EQ afterwards, just as we
had started. Got home a little before one. Tonight is a quiet one at home.