Bill Murray

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Birthday parties are a tricky business. As an auto-pilot anxious type, I love them in theory but then suffer from crippling nerve rattles as the event arrives. I worry that no one will come, that they will come and it will be awkward, that no one will mingle, that the drinks will be too expensive, that the music won’t work, basically every scenario from a bit crummy to nightmare un-recoverable-from embarrassment. I got around this issue by having a joint party with some fellow May-babies for a few years and that helped take the pressure off. That birthday ship has now sailed, so last year I had a solo affair. Wow, could you tell I was a party rookie! I planned it on a Friday night; so everyone was tired from a tough work week and drop outs were rife. Then I didn’t have any dinner. Then I met everyone in a Mexican bar, didn’t eat ANY dinner, and accepted every shot of tequila my generous guests (and strangers) offered me. After probably an hour I was too drunk to stand up and ended the night at about midnight being forced, in a manner similar to how police put robbers in their cop car, into a taxi by Nick. It was such a waste! I had fun, but I could barely remember being there and then felt so horrific and sorry for myself the next day that even looking at cake or wrapping paper made me feel queasy.

Not this year! Surely being the grand old age of 29 is all about learning from your mistakes and this year I was determined to make it my best party ever. My birthday was also on a Saturday which is a precious, rare gift in itself! I was lucky enough to have my brother come to stay from Yorkshire (he hasn’t visited in 5 years!), my friend Manda visisted from Cheltenham (via Paris & Yorkshire) and my best friend & her husband train-ed over from Stoke. Before I even talk about the glorious theme, you’ll be relieved to hear that I stuck to 3 key rules to avoid birthday disaster:

  • Eat dinner: Prior to partying we stuffed our faces at the glorious Chicken Shop where they even put candles in a brownie and sang happy birthday to me!
  • Stick to one genre of drink: I only accepted Vodka, Lime & Soda’s all night. I didn’t veer from this one choice. It was both refreshing and merry making.
  • NO SHOTS FOR GOODNESS SAKE! (I might have had one tequila at Aces & Eights Saloon Bar at 1am to congratulate myself on not being too drunk)

Suzy & Sam

Wes Anderson is my second favourite director (David Lynch clinches #1, sure Wes would totes understand) and I’ve wanted to have a Wes Anderson theme party for a VERY long time but worried it would be slightly obscure. Then the exquisite Moonrise Kingdom came out in 2012 and I felt more confident that people might have heard of him and be up for the challenge. I knew instantly that I’d go as Suzy Bishop because she is a) my new fashion icon and b) I already had most of the clothes. The only thing I had to do was sew cuff/collars to a 60s vintage dress that was sitting unloved in my wardrobe, and I bought a special pair of green (real!) stag beetle earrings from this lovely lady on Etsy. Nick was a trooper and rather than go for someone cool and manly out of The Darjeeling Limited (his favourite) he agreed to wear a questionable fur hat and be the Sam to my Suzy. I bought a £4 khaki shirt from Primark and sewed some vintage scout badges all over it. I also sewed on a felt badger that is actually from a brooch Nick bought for me in the first week we met, when he was off galavanting at End of the Road festival and I was pining away. I think we did a pretty accurate job?

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I was so touched by the effort all my friends went to in order to make my birthday perfect. The costumes they cracked out must have taken days and weeks of preparation and so much thought and care. I got so choked up being stood in a room surrounded by my favourite people all dressed as characters I love so dearly. For the party I hired the upstairs of our absolute favourite local boozer; The Pineapple. If you live in London (or ever visit London) you have to visit this quaint little slice of Kentish Town brilliance. The pub is so kitsch, with pineapples adorning the inside, a conservatory room, tropical bird wallpaper and excellent ales / Thai food. I felt it was important I had a location that Wes himself would approve of; and the old fashioned lantern lamps, open fire, dusty couches and gaping windows were perfect. We also had a sweet little sound system set up, which my brother & Nick’s brother Phil happily took over with some impressive playlists. From the Royal Tenenbaums soundtrack to The Walkmen to Daft Punk’s Get Lucky over and over, there were a lot of drunken Eli-Cash swaying dance moves going on by last orders.

& Here’s a run down of the costumes in all their glory…

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Suzy Bishop (Moonrise Kingdom) & Dignan (Bottle Rocket)

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Richie & Margot Tenenbaum – Number 1 (The Royal Tenenbaums)

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Richie & Margot Tenenbaum – Number 2 (The Royal Tenenbaums)

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Team Tenenbaum

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Dudley (The Royal Tenenbaums)

Team Zissou

Team Zissou (The Life Aquatic)

Bird

Suzy Bishop in bird form “What kind of bird are you?” (Moonrise Kingdom)

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Sam Shakusky (Moonrise Kingdom) & Francis (The Darjeeling Limited)

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Richie Tenenbaum & Eli Cash (The Royal Tenenbaums)

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Max Fischer x 2 (Rushmore)

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Richie Tenenbaum (The Royal Tenenbaums) & Suzy Bishop (Moonrise Kingdom)

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Mr & Mrs Fox x 2 (Fantastic Mr. Fox)

It was only right that we gather together for an en masse Westastic group photo, and in-line with his cinematography movie-poster style, dead pan faces all round! Which on reflection makes it look like we were at the worst party ever.

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The best thing was the variety of films & characters my clever friends managed to cover. EVERY single Wes Anderson film was represented. After partying until we got booted out of The Pineapple, the hardcore Wes-dressed hit Aces & Eights Saloon Bar for some power ballads and amaretto sours. An unexpected amount of people came over throughout the course of the night yelling WES ANDERSON at us and it stirred up alot of excitement. It was surprising how many people recognised what the theme was, especially as by the post-midnight point various bits of costume had been lost/stolen/abandoned. I would love to relive the night over and over, and might just force everyone to dress like this every year. I like to think I’m the only person to ever have this theme for a party? Next time I’ll dress a Wes himself…

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When Zombieland was released at the cinema, it seemed to come from nowhere. I saw a few glossy billboard posters and turned up my nose. I ADORE zombie movies, but I don’t really adore zombie movies that have glitzy Hollywood budgets and are part of a cyclical fad for the genre. I want my blood gunky and ketchupy, the tape flickery and scratched and the acting wooden. It all just looked a bit too trendy and so I retreated to behind my sofa to rewatch Plague of the Zombie for the thousandth time and grumble to myself!

Then the recommendations started. At first it was a few texts, then a few phonecalls and then it literally felt like I couldn’t wade through my day without someone demanding that I go see it immediately. I stubbornly (ok geekily, as I didnt want audience reaction to distract me from indulging in potentially brilliant proper zombie movie action) waited for it to come out on DVD and on Sunday I finally watched it with baited breath. And…………………………… I LIKED it. I actually really liked it.

My partner in film-watching crime announced 0.5 seconds in (before the opening credits had even rolled!)  “this is totally shit isn’t it, and actually, aren’t zombie shit. They aren’t even funny! All they do is run at things”. Rather than batter him to death with my dissertation (“Are zombie movies a resource for social commentary?“) and tell him the million flaws in his statement (like duh, they totally stagger… even if it’s a quick stagger)  I gritted my teeth and he was promptly asleep before 20 minutes had passed (great help he’d be in an actual zombie invasion!)  This was a good thing though, because it meant I could wallow in geeky zombie glory with a dorky grin on my face AND do an air-punch Bill Murray cameo happened. If I hadn’t already decided I liked the movie, that definitely cineched it. I BM.

There are lots of things that aren’t great about the movie. It has some really cheesey text that appears on the screen all the time, nothing ever gets explained, nothing actually that massive really happen and the reason for the zombie invasion is the lamest I have ever, ever heard (mad cow disease turned into mad human disease?! ?!) BUT all these head-bashingly annoying things actually become charming and by the end I was completely engrossed and had that I never want this movie to end feeling.

The cinematography is beautiful, every shot feels like it could be a print or a postcard. Relative unknown lead Jesse Eisenberg plays the Adam-Brody-in-The-OC/Michael-Cena-in-Every-Role-Ever geek lead in a genuinelly funny and charming way.

So to repeat the sentiment of pretty much everyone I spoke to last October, SEE THIS MOVIE! It’s subtle (well as subtle as gore spluttering zombies can evr be) and it’s quietly brilliant and you are guarenteed to chuckle at least once and squeal in horror at least once. What more could you ask for, really?

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