Thursday, 23 December 2010

Home Alone (1990)

"Marv, why the hell d'ya take your shoes off?!"
"Why the hell are you dressed like a chicken?"
Every year we the family watch the following films at Christmas time; Home Alone, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, The Bishop's Wife, It's a Wonderful Life, The Muppet's Christmas Carol. We also watch Holiday Inn but we do that on New Year's.
Without fail, the real start of the Chritmas films, on the night of the 22nd we watch Home Alone, we watch it on the 22nd so we can watch Home Alone 2 on the 23rd! I know this sounds properly mental but when I think about Home Alone, the music, the 90s, I get emotional. I feel Christmassy, it may be schmaltzy and American but that's only the lines Kevin says, and really we know Kevin can't be that pukeatronic because he's so badass too.
I know the script to Home Alone by heart. It's brilliant writing, it is hilarious. There are so many quotable lines. I wish I could watch Home Alone every day, but watching it once a year makes it more magical, I know that the next day (today!) will be spent getting the last of the food shopping and putting up the last decorations before Home Alone 2, and then after that it's Christmas Eve and we'll pick up the turkey from the butcher's, hoover the house, put out tthe presents and then start the feasting and cry at the Muppets. Christmas to me is about food and those films up there. I could do without Holiday Inn to tell you the truth, by then I'm waiting for the 22nd of December to come around again and watch Home Alone.
"I'm up here, you big horse's ass!"

Bridget Jones' Diary (2001) and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004)

When I saw both these films at the cinema I didn't think much of them. The first one was fine, a nice girly comedy, but not my cup of tea. I found the second one very weak; I just thought the plot got more and more ridiculous, ski trip all fine, break up fine, but it started to get weird when publisher Hugh Grant was suddenly a TV presenter at Bridget's work. Ok, a bit odd. Then Bridget gets arrested in Thailand and gets 15 years in jail. Wait, what?! Ok, fine, I suppose that might happen if she accidentally tried smuggling drugs. Finally Bridget runs to see her man only to find the 22 year-old lawyer (already; wot?) she thinks he's having an affair with is actually in love with HER! Right, this was the bit that really annoyed me, the girl has never spent any time with her! How is she so in love with her?! Stupid! Also you really shouldn't expect a marriage proposal from someone you've been seeing for eight weeks. WTF?
But, I watched both films again recently, the second one two days ago and the first about a month ago. The second one still has all those stupid plot devices in it but I found it more enjoyable this time because I liked Bridget so much. It was sort of like how when my friend Suzie watched the sitcom Spaced for the first time and hated Daisy but by the end of the first series she loved Daisy because she realised- like all girl geeks who watch spaced- she IS Daisy! We all are!! And now, on watching Bridget Jones' Diary for the first time sine it came out, watching it at 25 I realised first with horror, and then with fondness, that I AM Bridget. We all are.
It was quite terrifying really how many similarities there were. Bridget duck-walked around the office looking pink and messy with a short skirt and a cardigan on, smug that she's flirting with a handsome man. I said while watching it "Jeez! What a mess she is!" I was wearing the exact same outfit. I wear the same clothes as Bridget every day. I think I look great but I don't, I look pink and messy. And even more horrifyingly the giggly flirting and hoof in mouth in front of handsome bastards, Christ, that's me! Even the massive pants ring a bell.
The only problem is that though I have realised now that I am Bridget Jones I am the Bridget Jones dead and alone in her flat being eaten by alsations rather than the one Hugh Grant and Colin Firth have a brilliantly funny fight through a Turkish restaurant over. Boo!

The Eighth Day (1996)

Daneil Auteil is a top salesman and a shite dad who's not allowed to see his adorable 1990s girls, he decides to end it all one day and closes his eyes while driving in the dark hoping that he will hit a tree and die. Instead he hits care-home escapee Pascal Duquenne's dog and has to bury it in his back garden, take the lost boy into his home and try and figure out just where the hell he's come from and who the hell he belongs to.
Very sweet gentle sad French comedy with some bizarre dream sequences, I enjoyed Luis Mariano turning up all the time to sing his song about his mum.

Candleshoe (1977)

As if it wasn't obvious Jodie Foster wasn't uber-gay right from the beginning! In this Disney film angry little American tomboy Jodie decides to go in with Leo McKern to scam an old British lady out of a fortune by pretending to be her long lost granddaughter- whether she actually is or not is never revealed.
Jodie gets the riches in the end of course, she has to solve a bunch of clues to get them too, that's an old Disney style adventure for you... but she learns that family and friends and being British are more important, with the help of some loveable orphans (older boy, rival girl, cute cockney boy and token asian kid) and David Niven.
I love David Niven. Shouldn't I be watching The Bishop's Wife like right now?! My fave actors of old are himself and Anton Walbrook, the warm charm of Niv and the intensity of theatrical Walbrook, tha's what I love.
In Candleshoe Dave, as the butler, has to disguise the fact that there is no more money and cuts costs by disguising himself as the gardener, the chauffeur and the only visitor who ever comes to the house, a handsome old colonel. What ridiculous crap! Loved it!

How Not to Live Your Life (BBC3)

I missed the first two series of How Not to Live Your Life written by and starring Dan Clark. It seems weird to me that I managed to miss them because there's practically eff all on TV these days and this show is hilarious.
Dan as Don is brilliantly stupid, lazy and gross. But there is something charming about the character which is why it's such good fun. Supporting cast and guest cast are good too, loads of crazies. I enjoyed last week's penultimate episode when he and boss Jason went as Lethal Weapon to Samantha's fancy dress party, I sort of saw it coming but at the same time had never seen a white man blacked up and a black man whited up for such a simple gag then just doing the rest of the show like that and it being so normal. Series finale was ACE, Top Gun The Musical is a play I'd go and see.

Elizabeth (1998) and Elizabeth: the Golden Age (2007)

Anna told me just as I was away to watch these films "Look out for Tom Hardy and Lilly Allen, they make cameos."
Alfie Allen was in the first one and apparently Lilly was in the background of a scene, I didn't see her, Tom Hardy on the other hand was in a TV drama with Ann-Marie Duff as HM. But because I was on the look out for Tom and Lilly I noticed loads of other folk I might not have seen if I'd just been paying attention to the plot!
David Threllfall as John Dee, Adam Godley as Geoffrey Rush's brother and David Armand as Geoff's spy!
Who's David Armand?
"She's a witch!!!!" from Sorry I've Got no Head.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (RSC 1980)

I have finished watching Nicholas Nickleby, all eight hours are gone. What the heck am I going to do tomorrow?! I am quarrantined with some sort of flu, the second bout of tonsilitis in a month is over and has been replaced with this new sickness. Bloody irritating. But if I hadn't been ill for so long I don't know when I'd have got around to watching this.
And what a rollercoaster it was! It was beautiful! I wish I had been there! In the theatre that is, seeing it live, not living a Bleak Expectations sort of life (series four is currently playing on Radio 4). The cast were amazing, I'll get to that in a minute, I just want to stress first how perfect the production was in every sense; music, costumes, stage direction and design, wow! I'm so glad it was filmed and that thirty years on I got to see it.
Ah, now, actor-fest! That will cheer a sickly Amy, spotting character actors and trying to place them. I loved John McEnery most of all, he played a number of outrageous drunk characters, including the madly dressed Mr Mantalini, you know I have a weakness for charming drunkards. Bob Peck as the heroic yorkshireman and the villain after Kate was brilliant in both roles, I liked him. Alun Armstrong was his usual, but I expect this was before we knew what his usual was, so he was really fantastic as disgusting arsehole Mr Squeers, I liked how the audience cheered both times he got the crap kicked out of him but weren't really involved in the rest of the eight hour recording at all! An assortment of brilliant comic turns from ladies and Suzanne Bertish and Janet Dale and damn near everyone else too!
And the leads, David Threlfall very moving as Smike (not nearly as annoying as I've seen him portrayed before), Roger Rees, who- being a bear of very little brain and not keeping up with the West Wing- I recognised instantly from Cheers, was excellently foolish and angry in the title role and as his sister Emily Richard was equally charming and tragic. Best of all the Nicklebys however for me was Ralph, the cold, evil uncle! (Good old Dickens) Played by John Woodvine - the only cast member of David Tennant's RSC Hamlet who I actually saw walking around Stratford, oh wait I saw Tennant too, he was eating dinner in the same restaurant as me, I was more excited by Woodvine though!- he was my favourite. He handled the unravelling of the character very well and delivered a bonus performance as the opera singer in the show Kate went to see!
And unfortunately, though I found Edward Petherbridge's Tony nominated performance of Newman Noggs brilliantly entertaining I couldn't help thinking that with his mad hair, grim countenance, sickly palour and pinkish nose that in my present state I look exactly like him.

Monday, 6 December 2010

The Morgana Show (Channel 4 Tuesdays)

The clip used to advertise Morgana Robinson's sketch show was disturbing.
It made me not want to watch it. It looked like yet another "edgy" comedy show where the politically incorrect or just plain gross sketches make you uncomfortable. Turns out that the character featured in the advert (Gilbert) was one of her most likable, cute and amusing characters.
In fact most of Morgana's sketches and impressions were light-hearted cute fun and none of the characters were disgusting or going for the gross-out factor! There were no sexual jokes, which I found really surprising from channel four, I didn't feel uncomfortable at any point, I liked her a lot!
The talked about Fearne Cotton impression especially good.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Mad Men Series four (BBC4)

I have to say that this series of Mad Men has been my favourite. Probably because I watched it like you're supposed to watch a series, one a week for thirteen weeks making me think about it a lot more than the usual buy-and-watch-in-a-day I went through with the first two series and then watch-in-the-wrong-order I did with series three.
My pal Suzie told me she didn't like this series as much, maybe because it wasn't as safe in it's formulaic setting like the first three, the work at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce [& Campbell!] was not stable so all the characters became even more unstable than usual- but I love character! So this series full of everyone's characters freaking out, breaking down and making out was just a joy!! Jared Harris' episodes were brilliant, Joan and Roger, well, I'm all about that! Pete, excellent and Peggy! Peggy is so flipping ace! I love her more each series.
Bit of a strange series finale, not as exciting as the past finales have been but I'm still excited to see what happens next for Don and his new fiancee... He made the right choice, I think.
Secretly I think the reason why Suzie didn't like this series is because her favourite character, Betty, was shown as the total fucking fruitcake and uber-bitch we all know she is all the way through!! Ugh, she's such a loathsome character! So well written and acted!

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Rosemary's Baby (1968)

I really enjoyed this film, I thought it was a nice balance of horror and just good story telling. There was nothing gross, no gore, just suspense and paranoia- and quite a bit of unsettling comedy actually. There was a moment towards the end- probably when Charles Grodin turned up- when I thought "Jeez, maybe it is all in Rosemary's mind, maybe she's just mental!"
But it turned out everything was fine!
Oh wait, no it wasn't! She gave birth to the son of Satan!

Merlin and the Sword (1985)

Me and Lauren watched this masterpiece on saturday morning with our breakfast. It was actually very entertaining in a total trash way, you would never guess it was made in 1985, it looks like 1970.
The best bit was the dragon fight at the end and the many shots of Rupert Everett's gormless face. I wanted a picture of his gormless face for the review but there is practically nothing on the internet about this film other than weird youtube videos of naked Rupert... Oh, and a trailer that someone has put their own narration on to, I can't really see how the original narration could have been much different to tell you the truth.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

The English Patient (1996)

The English Patient is my sister's favourite film, she carries this picture of Ralph Fiennes and Kirsten Scott-Thomas dancing together in her wallet. My favourite film is The Elephant Man, I do not carry a picture of John Merrick.
I think what Anna likes about The English Patient is the passion between the lovers, it's pretty intense! I think she likes how real and horrifically painful their love seems to be- and it helps that they're both gorgeous! The film is gorgeous, it looks beautiful and it sounds beautiful, it has a really good musical score. It's a tragic romance and that's what Anna likes to write about.
So what do I like to write about? Isolation and loneliness, horrible nasty bastards and drunks. I love The Elephant Man, it has the real life tragedy yeah, I like tragedy too but more importantly it has over the top theatrical performances, which I adore, it has a good musical score and it looks like a black and white illustration. I watched Anna's favourite film with her last night but no one ever wants to watch The Elephant Man with me.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Lost in Austen (ITV 2008)

Wide Saragasso Sea is the world's most accepted fanfic. Don't know the meaning of the word "fanfic"? Let me explain, Lost in Austen is a typical example of a fanfic.
A character who is not supposed to be in Pride and Prejudice turns up with intersting hair and all the characters fall in love with her, fucking up and ruining the beloved novel. It is something teenagers all over the world do when they learn to write. I myself, though no longer a teenager, indulge in writing fanfiction, fair enough the things I write are not your typical "But then Snape reaslised he did love [insert ridiculous Bratz-doll style name] even though she was only 16 and it turned out he was ridiculously hot and well endowed the end." I don't do that, well, not anymore...
The idea that someone can get their fanfic turned into a TV series starring a lot of really really good British actors is mental, isn't it? Fanfics are drivel, aren't they? Yes, they are. And essentially Lost in Austen is drivel, but it is so enjoyable!
I don't even like Jane Austen let alone Pride and Prejudice but I have watched Lost in Austen so many times! The Mary-Sue (Jemima Rooper's Amanda) is so likeable! She's not an uber-babe with a mysterious past, she's a normal girl who just happens to fall into her favourite novel. She swears and kicks people in the balls, she is ACE.
And the characters, they are as they are on the page! The Bennet sisters are all appalling! Lizzy is normal (cameo from Gemma Arterton) Jane the beauty is weird looking- pale and pointy, the kind of face that was considered beautiful back then! The others are just silly girls! Mr and Mrs Bennet are so well written, Hugh Bonnenville on excellent form! Alex Kingston playing it like Miss Piggy, fussing and fuming! Mr Bingley is an idiot and his sister a horrible cow! Darcy is gorgeous like Heath Ledger and Collins, well, Collins is unbelievably disgusting.
Played with such relish by Guy Henry, I liked him already but after seeing this, I adored him. He is utterly utterly vile as Mr Collins. In the Keira Knightley film he's played by Tom Hollander, who plays it pious and uptight but he is not physically repulsive! These girls are supposed to be revolted by the idea of marrying him and Guy Henry does it such justice.
I made my Canadian friend Katie watch this after we went to see Harry Potter, I had told her "Guy Henry's in it, he looks like one of your drawings; a long, creepy undertaker." And he does look long and weird, but he has a spectacularly beautiful face, maybe not shown off in the Potter movie and certianly while he gurns and simpers through Lost in Austen you don't see it often, but there are moments when his face is at rest that you can see those dark dark eyes framed by lovely long black eyelashes... sigh! He's one of my favourite actors.
I love Lost in Austen. Everything goes so wrong and Amanda tries so hard to fix it. Best thing ITV has done in 25 years.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One (2010)

Bill Nighy!! Guy Henry!! Rhys Ifans!! Dave Coaches!! Sophie Thompson!! The guy Harry turns into at the Ministry!! And that guy playing the lead snatcher who is doing an obvious impression of Russell Brand!!
Yes, it's Harry Potter time. So phone up some more British actors!
My sister's review of the new Potter film sings it's praises more clearly than I ever could: "It was the first one that didn't disappoint me."
Yes it was good. The new lot of supporting actors (see my list above) were good, the actors who are always there acted within their respective ranges and the actors who treat it as a children's film didn't feature heavily so they didn't fuck it up (Alan Rickman and Timothy Spall I'm talking about you).
Yes, DanRads, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson were all good in this film, Emma in particular I found surprisingly good, she is usually the worst, but all she had to do in this film was look worried and she did it well- it's when she has to do unnatural things such as laughing and joking that she is dreadful, turns out pain and anguish is something she does quite well! Rupert is always good and DanRads was his usual.
I said it was good because the campier actors didn't feature heavily, there was only one Snape scene so Rickers wasn't there to camp it up like he usually does and I don't think Timothy Spall had any lines - he still managed to make me cringe though with an "amusing" noise as he was cursed by a house elf (the only real change from the book- and possibly for the best), while this is happening Hermione is being tortured and I just don't think it's appropriate to have a bit of comedy thrown in to lighten the mood, Timothy Spall has always done this with his character and it's always bothered me, Wormtail is not a comic role, he's the right hand man of a fucking evil psycho! Tim Spall is one of my favourite actors, best in comedic roles but very real in pathetic roles as well so why he chose to play the part like Barry from Auf Wiedersehen Pet is beyond me when actors around him are playing their parts so straight! (I tell a lie, Barry is much more realistic- and my favourite character)
Dobby and Kreacher were there, who knows where they've been all this time, not getting makeovers unfortunately, the animators are still shite. Kreacher is a better, a more convincing design for a CGI character because he doesn't have stupid cartoon eyes like Dobby but I never liked Dobby in the books either so I suppose he worked well too, sort of. Pointless cuteness in a film full of horror and holocaust references.
That's what was done well in the film. The feeling of everything being disgustingly wrong- especially at the ministry. And the isolation and paranoia with the trio camping in the woods losing their minds, I was waiting for Harry to snap and murder the other two. Good soundtrack and good camera work for those bits- also, not nearly as boring as in the book!!
So they changed Wormtail's death, maybe now he'll use that silver hand of his to kill his werewolf ex-buddy like we all asumed he would when JK Rowling wrote that in. Or maybe not. The only other major change was the exclusion of the Lupin/Tonks storyline but no big surprises there, they always cut those bits. I'm glad though, Lupin is the only character I had cast in my mind before the films, I like that no one but Paul McGann has acted out those parts in my head, David Thewlis is ok, but Lupin is such a well loved character that I don't think he lives up to anyone's expectations. But yeah, in general it was a really good adaptation.
Oh yeah, before I go... Why are Lucius and Draco Malfoy now being played by Mad Men's Don Draper and Pete Campbell?!

Monday, 22 November 2010

Asylum (1972)

JD saved the best for last, Asylum stuck to the same formula as The House That Dripped Blood, a collection of short stories linked by the film's setting. In the first film we watched a detective hired to find out the deal with the spooky house- Elliot, Cushing, Lee and Pertwee all died there after renting it. We didn't really see what the curse was as the detective got killed by a vampire Doctor Who before figuring it out! Asylum might have had a couple of weaker stories but the setting and the final twist were all together creepier!
It reminded me of a Batman comic, all my favourite Batman comics take place in Arkham, the villains will grab an intern at the asylum and torture him or her mentally, by telling tales. Robert Powell was the intern in the film and the cast of crazies were all stars; Charlotte Rampling, Britt Eckland, Peter Cushing, Herbert Lom, James Villiers... And of course, the best part, the doctor showing young Powell around turned out not to be a nice chap at all but a proper mental played by Catweazle, Geoffery Bayldon. Yay!!

The House that Dripped Blood (1971)

JD, Heather, Big Iain and I had a Dundee-horror night last weekend, I like horror films but I don't like gore, I like psychological thrillers. JD delivered with an excellent variety of pics, we started with two recent horrors; Pontypool (2008) and The Children (2008).
Pontypool was exactly what I wanted, thumbs up to that one, a real mind-fuck!! I fancied The Children because I fancy Stephen Campbell-Moore, JD lied though, there was gore in that film- gross realistic wounds!!- I don't like that!! I like things that will haunt my brain!
I'd had enough of realism. So after the two recent films JD asked what we would like next, I chanted "Catweazle! Catweazle!" I needed something light.
We'd both been watching Mark Gatiss' History of Horror documentaries on BBC4 and I'd enjoyed the section on British horror so much that I'd watched the horrible (but good) Witchfinder General so my host picked out this little gem...
The House that Dripped Blood, despite it's title and gross poster over there, contained not one single drop of blood! Just four little horror stories starring a collection of dreamy British actors! And when I say dreamy I mean I've always liked them; Denholm Elliot starred in the first, then gorgeous Peter Cushing- swoon, big handsome brute Christopher Lee and then, urm, John Pertwee hamming it up in the last- BUT with cameo from even hammier Geoffery Bayldon aka CATWEAZLE!!

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Kevin Bridges (West Yorkshire Playhouse)

Went to see Glasgow comic Kevin Bridges last night in Leeds. Yes, he's funny but he's not good enough for an hour and a half.
The guy's only twenty three, he doesn't have enough material yet, cut half an hour and it would have been great.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Witchfinder General (1969)

I listened to a radio play about the making of Witchfinder General about six months ago, Nicholas Grace played a miffed Vincent Price; Vinny had a dreadful time being forced by a director who did not want him in the first place to tone down his usual eyebrow-flashing acting into the subtle performance he gives in the film. Vinny thought he was dreadful and it was crap, turned out it was his best performance and it is a pretty scary realistic film about torture starring the world's campest villain playing it straight!
Yeah, and I thought Black Death was horrible, this one was just as gross and it was made forty years ago! Ian Ogilvy was very cute and I liked him being totally mental at the end but I did like Vincent Price a lot... I reckon someone might be able to get this straight a performance out of Alan Rickman one day if they really really tried.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

The Devil's Backbone (2001)

Lauren and I watched a lot of films last night, Green Card, Three Men and a Baby, Lesbian Vampire Killers, Sleepy Hollow and The Devil's Backbone. Jeez, that is a lot, we did have the most appalling hangovers though, so it was ok, and we were in bed by 0ne (that gives you a good idea what time we started watching).
Anyway, apart from Lesbian Vampire Killers I had seen everything before- Three Men and a Baby is so sexist! How did I never notice?! It was horrible, like feminism was something that happened to other people. Luckily we made chocolate brownies and had dinner with that one just playing in the background. Sleepy Hollow is great fun, I love a good British ensemble! Claire Skinner was in it! Never noticed her before! Lauren saw that The Devil's Backbone was on Film4 after Sleepy Hollow and said "that's a great film!" so I said; "let's go!" We had bought the Shining and planned to watch that as our scary movie finale but I'd have much rather seen something I hadn't seen before and Lauren was asleep anyway so I watched it quietly, spellbound.
Much better than Pan's Labyrinth! Way better! So well acted!! It was scary but compelling, the supernatural element didn't get in the way of the Spanish Civil War story at all! I was gripped by both stories, more by the real one though- I did find the ghost boy a bit terrifying so I was glad that it mostly focused on the relationships of all the alive people in the school!
A young man to make out with and an older man for poetry? I get it.

Lesbian Vampire Killers (2009)

Total shite.
The lesbians never even made out! They just writhed around each other! How is that lesbianism!?
Lauren and I felt it our duty as Paul McGann fans to see this rubbish, and yes, when Paul's in it he is good. He even managed to make us laugh! Unlike the film's comedy duo Gavin and Smithy, who were both appallingly bad... I mean, we knew it was going to be shit, and we were both glad it was such a failure because, coupled with Cordon and Horne the worst sketch show ever fumbled together, it cemented the fact that they are just not funny. It made it plain that all the good bits of Gavin and Stacey are obviously written by Ruth Jones.
But why, Paul? Why?

Green Card (1990)

A question: Andie MacDowell or Bebe Neuwirth? Personally I'd go Bebe every time; her voice, her skin, her hair, those eyes, argh! She's gorgeous. I watched that episode of Cheers a couple of weeks ago where she and Frasier go on the psychology chat show and practically have sex with their eyes, it was the HOTTEST thing I'd ever seen! Unfortunately Bebe wears a stupid hat in Green Card so I'd probably go for Andie, who instead wears a variety of stupid hats.
Green Card was one of my favourite films when I was younger, it's what I thought romance was, and I guess I still do because I saw it again yesterday for the first time in years and I thought it was lovely! It's got a gentle silliness and it's full of sexual tension, what more do you need?
Who is the Andie MacDowell of nowadays? We don't have one. It's a shame, she is mostly shite and annoying but she's in four great films and she's perfect in those films as the stuck-up, beautiful woman. Green Card, Groundhog Day, Four Weddings and yes, I'm going to say it, Michael -I liked it!

Tamara Drewe (2010)

This is a brilliant photo of that dog-actor mimicing Dominic Cooper's face. With impressions like that that dog is set to be the next Michael Sheen.
I really like Posy Simmonds. She's one of my main influences art-wise and her story telling is great, I like her graphic novels, they're fun and saucy. Gemma Bovary was a great modern retelling of Madame Bovary (and I really liked the shape of the book). Tamara Drewe was a good take on Far From the Madding Crowd but I preferred Gemma...
Doesn't matter though, when I read the casting on Tamara I thought, yes, yes, yes. I'm a fan of Dakin, I love Gemma Arterton's face and body and YES; Roger Allam as Nick. I was excited.
And it was all pretty much to the book, sort of, I didn't like how they changed Tamsin Greig's character into actually liking the American loser, urgh! But it turned out that the best thing in the movie was the two teenage girls so I'm glad they changed the ending because Jody was ACE and that song Dakin sings over the end credits about her was brill.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Hamlet (National Theatre)

Finally! Finally after two years of thinking about it constantly we got to see Rory Kinnear's Hamlet.
I think one of my first posts here was about Kenny Brannagh's Hamlet, always a favourite, started my Shakespeare obsession as well as my troublesome actor obsession. I think I spent a lot of the review comparing it to David Tennant's Hamlet, which I saw a couple of times and enjoyed, but this is the one, the one I had been waiting for... Beloved Rory!
I have probably talked about Rory in glowing terms here before, but let me just recap, I first saw him in the NT's The Man of Mode, an excellent fool, apparently it was after his show-stealing, award-winning success in this that they decided he would play Hamlet, but first they had to show him off, no one is going to come and see Roy Kinnear's son play Hamlet, no one's even heard of him! So they gave him some starring roles; wastrel son in The Philistines, desperate, blood-thirsty and betrayed in The Revengers Tragedies, clever, very clever angry young man in Burnt by the Sun. Such success! All amazing! All perfection and so different!! On a break he did Measure for Measure at the Almeida and got married and is now pregnant (dagger through our hearts, Rory!) But here is Hamlet!
David Tennant found much success in his comic Hamlet, he played it funny, his Hamlet was a character. Rory does not play a character, he plays THE character. He is the written Hamlet, he obviously understands it all, and because the actor understands what he is acting, my god, the audience knows too! Every meaning was crystal clear, it was all about the words- THE WORDS!
He's a clever actor. And you do need to be clever to deliver something clever- like when I saw The Power of Yes and only understood certain actors, because if a stupid actor recites some lines it usually doesn't matter, he's still an actor, he can make it work. If some pretty, spiky haired Scottish boy tells you the Earth is about to explode that's fine, we can get that, but if he doesn't get it, I'm not going to either... Tennant was good, he found jokes in it, but seeing Rory, well there's SO MUCH MORE! God, Shakespeare is so good when Rory does it!! He's a clever bastard!!
Now let's talk why the production all over was glorious.
The set, for a change at the National Theatre, was lackluster, but it didn't matter, not once the acting started, and if, like I say, acted by compelling actors, who gives a shit what the set was like? This production was all about the words. The idea of a totalitarian state was conveyed in the Tennant Hamlet through surveilance cameras littering the set (in the BBC film version anyway)- that was it. In Nicholas Hytner's current production it is truly TERRIFYING. The addresses to the state are done to camera for the people and when finished the mood in the palace changes completely, is everything a lie? No soliloquy is unheard, Claudius' people are everywhere, Ophelia is bugged while confronting Hamlet, the players are all killed instantly for knowing too much! Ophelia is murdered for the inconvenience of her madness! Claudius is a cold fucking psycho.
At last, in Patrick Malahide you see a Claudius who did not kill for love, he killed solely for that crown! And his alchy bride Claire Higgins' Gertrude is expendable, after a while you get the feeling she went along with the marriage just to stay alive! It's only the booze that keeps her smiling! The ghost! Of course she sees the ghost!- She believes her son! Because a mother would!! Brilliant direction. Claudius was evil, just evil. After seeing this version I just found both Tennant's and Brannagh's so unbelievable, their characters' motives seemed all wrong, both of those Hamlets were full of love, this is not a Shakespeare romance, it's a fucking tragedy! Everyone was full of bile and evil! Brilliant!!
God, I loved it, I fucking loved it.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

The Habit of Art (NT Tour- The Lowry)

Went to see Alan Bennett's play within a play, the one about W.H. Auden and Benjamin Britten having an imaginary conversation about Death in Venice. It was good, the first act I think was better, funnier, but then the second act was more focused on the fictional conversation whereas the first was more about the theatre- more of the play within a play.
The actors were all fantastic, not the original cast of course but with the National Theatre that doesn't matter, their touring casts are always just as good and I loved Desmond Barrit and Malcolm Sinclair, they were brill.
But I felt Bennett didn't have much to say with this play, it was self-indulgent of course, the History Boys was self-indulgent but fantastically focused. I can see why the National commissioned it though, it was very indulgent for them too! I really think they could have done a bit of rewriting for the tour, they kept referring to the theatre they were playing in as the National and there were a few bits at the end that of course didn't work in Manchester and NEVER could. A small point but one that bothered me nonetheless.
And I could have done with more of Britten's music, not just played it as the actors took their bows, there was poetry throughout, where was the music?

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

The Infidel (2010)

So I finally got to see the Omid Djalili/David Baddiel "I was adopted by Muslims but it turns out I'm a Jew" film.
And it was ok, I never expected it to be fantastic, I wanted it to be fantastic but knew from the trailer that it wouldn't be. Good concept though, a sort of Jewish Pygmalion...
Some good gags, but glad I waited to rent it from the library rather than buying it. It was, in the end, too much about how everyone should just try to get along and that ain't going to happen just because Omid falls over a few times and eats a dumpling.

King Lear (York Theatre Royal)

Anna and I went to a fundraising event in York, it was a recorded reading of King Lear with a bunch of well known actors, they were there firstly to raise money for the theatre and secondly to celebrate the life and work of Freddie Jones -who played Lear.
Well, we certainly celebrated his life afterwards as I got to go after-partying way into the night and had far too much to drink! But I shall review the reading not the party, maybe i should have a separate blog for parties- though it wouldn't say anything because the best parties are the ones I'm too pissed to remember!
Freddie was great as Lear but the people I really enjoyed were Patterson Joseph as Edgar, the guy who played Kent and all the girls- particulalry Niamh Cusack's horrible flirty Goneril. I liked meeting her afterwards she was lovely. I told Freddie that he was my favourite Ghost of Motley Hall and that made him laugh, especially as I added "Don't tell Nick," who was of course there too, how else could I go to the after-party!? So Nick le Prevost played Gloucester and it turns out hearing someone get their eyes ripped out is still as horrific as watching it.
I will stick a picture up here when the theatre posts some- (edit: rubbish photo!)

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Bleak Expectations Series FOUR

Anna and I went to see two episodes of the new series of Bleak Expectations being recorded.
Bleak Expectations is ace. We watched episodes three and four being recorded, the second one was much much stronger than the first, what a relief, Mark Evans hasn't lost it. I won't go into detail but the Robinson Crusoe bits were hilarious.
The BBC Radio Theatre is gorgeous (and not in this picture of series two being recorded!) lovely art deco. And as we were on the guest list (yeah, that's right, guest list!) we got to sit very close to the front and appreciate the amount of facial expressions the actors did while in character. Anthony Head obviously has a brilliant time playing Gently Benevolent- ironically the cruelest and most horrid man in all of Victorian Britain.

Friday, 17 September 2010

House of Cards (1990)

Francis Urquhart is so fucking creepy and Machiavellian, he is AMAZING.
Ian Richardson makes my flesh crawl. But I love it!
I have never seen talking to the camera used like this before and it works because Richardson is so fucking good. When he talks to you, his audience, his conspirator, it's the fucking creepiest experience of your life, he makes TV better than theatre.
It is addictive. I want more. And the best thing is, I completely don't fancy him! He makes me feel sick, he makes me shudder with disgust, but I do want him, I want Urquhart.

What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)

This film was better than Stand by Me(1986), which I won't even bother reviewing separately (also watched last week), I'll just say that the best bit in that was either Keifer's hair or the fat kid saying "You're right, what the fuck was Goofy?!"
Well, actually, the film wasn't better. Just the actor. Stand by Me was a good story and reminded me of other Stephen King movies of the time and Something Wicked This Way Comes (1986)- mainly because of the location and the narration. I thought Gilbert Grape was ok. I still dislike Julliette Lewis, though still love Mary Steenburgen. Johnny was ok, nothing spectacular, but I never really think he is- only in Ed Wood do I think he's something really special!
Nah, this film is all about Leo. He was the fucking bomb. Best spazzmo ever. How come he never got that Oscar? Let me just check who did get it that year... Tommy Lee Jones?! What the fuck! He's shite!!

Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)

That boy who played John Cusack's twenty year old reflection looked more like John Cusack than twenty year old John Cusack did in Stand by Me!
I really enjoyed HTTM, it was brill, just totally stupid. No pretending it was possible or explainable, just; "oh right, the hot tub must have sent us back in time," and if you're willing to accept that why not accept the whole film as being jolly good fun? The first joke seemed gross and out of place though, dog-crap jokes? Puh-leaze!*
The only other niggle I had was that the girls they got off with twenty years ago were still the same age when they got back to the future.
That reminds me, Crispin Glover is still ace.

*The conclusion of episode two of HR was brought about by Peter and Sam engaging in a dog shit battle with an enemy.

Monday, 30 August 2010

HR, Series Two (Monday mornings BBC Radio4)

I say he has been providing it ever since, but in the second series of Nigel Williams' radio comedy HR Nick le Prevost is sort of the straight-man, well, gay, but still the straighter-ish-man to Jonathan Pryce's insane Peter.
I found out about this second series earlier in the month, I am now friends with Nigel Williams. Tell that to the me who eighteen months ago reviewed series one and praised his writing, I'd have a field day. I did have a field day. I'm still there- in the field.
Anyway, no longer in the office, Peter and Sam are living together and still getting on each other's tits but still clearly meant to be. I adore how ridiculous this show is. But it's all startlingly real! That's what's most ridiculous, Peter- the character that Jonathan plays- is appalling, but he is my father! My dad would do and say all the appalling things Peter does and says. Fuck sake!
So far the two of them have lost a boiler and gained a dog. Next week I think they're going on holiday. You'll never be rid of me now, Nigel, I'm sending you my Christmas Special script!

Catweazle (1969-70)

I got a Catweazle boxset for my birthday. I've been asking for it these past three birthdays and Christmases and finally the family caved in... they didn't cave in so much to buy me the 40th Anniversary special boxset with commentaries, documentaries, reunions and postcards in it, no, they bought me the boxset with dutch subtitles and no extras. But never mind, when I'm rich and famous it's at the top of my list.
I've been asking for Catweazle for so long because I really enjoy The Ghosts of Motley Hall- written by Richard Carpenter after he wrote his more famous children's sitcom. I bought Tony Robinson's Maid Marian and her Merry Men complete series recently and they're as good as I remembered them. There are lots of shit kids' shows out there, everything except Sorry I've Got No Head actually, but in the past there have been some real crackers. Big Kids with Imogen Stubbs was a nice one and the recently cancelled Young Dracula was brilliantly written and acted- something rare these days what with the shortage of good child actors on British screens, don't get me started on how I despise that kid from Outnumbered who I predicted would be the new Just William and ruin it for another generation... Thank God for audio books.
So I finally got to see Catweazle. And it was wonderful. It was magical and it was funny and it was quite sad. Beautifully shot and acted, the boy was lovely and likable, the guest stars- Brian Wilde, Peter Sallis, Peter Butterworth, all brilliant. And weirdly, that first series shot in 1969, looked timeless. Farms still look like that, boys still look and dress like that!! I adored it.
Series two by comparison was disappointing. Aside from changing the dynamic of the show- in the first series Catweazle just didn't understand anything and every episode was him being freaked out by modern times, in the second he knew about everything and had a mission, so you automatically knew what to expect from every episode- aside from the way it had somehow lost all it's sadness and soul by becoming almost slapstick, the main problem for me was the boy.
You cannot expect an audience to relate to- or like!- a snobby squirt who tells Catweazle he's too busy for magic in every episode and lives in a gigantic manor house, perfectly content. He was hateful from the get-go! Carrot was a slightly downtrodden yet permanently cheerful and interested farmboy! Owlface was a fucking twonk. I hated his specky gob and I wanted to punch him.
The final episode of the second series almost recaptured the poignancy of the first series when Catweazle at last gets his greatest wish and flies off into the sunset in his hot air balloon, I say almost, it would have done if the camera hadn't panned back to Milhouse's stupid smug face! Argh!!
Anyway, Carpenter obviously learned his lesson by the time he wrote and cast The Ghosts of Motley Hall, the boy in that was a lovely, eager to help, poor, dead stableboy. Freddie Jones played a brilliantly mad character similar to the one that Peter Butterworth played in the first series of Catweazle (not the part he played in the second- that was a waste of Butterworth), Sheila Staefel was a really strong and funny female character (there were none of these in Catweazle), Arthur English provided the soul and the same relationship that Catweazle and Carrot had with Matt the Stableboy, and because we needed some sort of fool, a young Nicholas le Prevost provided drunken comic relief and has been providing it ever since.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Pete Versus Life (Channel 4)

Rafe Spall is ace. The concept for the show is sort of a good idea but it's done on the cheap and doesn't work so well for me, but cut out all the crap and Rafe's acting makes this comedy gold. Not as bad as Vexed. Which I actually like. So there you go.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Danton's Death by Georg Büchner (National Theatre)

Tobes was his usual handsome, charming, brutish self as Danton but the real stand out performance was creepy, calculating, repressed Elliot Levey as Robespierre. Man, he was horrifyingly cold!! He even got booed at the end when the actors took their bows, which luckily he found quite amusing.
Great production- terrifyingly real guillotining at the end!

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2010

I'll whiz through these because (on a Toby Stephens kick) Anna and I are off to London for the day tomorrow to see Danton's Death at the Nation Theatre. Last week I saw five Fringe shows, they were all good, but very different, which is what you want when you're seeing five shows in three days! First up was Flanders and Swann tribute act Flanders and Swann. They managed to cram about fifteen classic songs into an hour and a lot of good and sweaty banter too- man, it was hot in that sauna. In the evening I saw my pals DBS Productions do their sketch show A Brief History of Scotland, We Done Loads, for what seemed like the tenth time, but is probably around the eighth. It was the best I've ever seen though, some hot new actors in their company and some excellent new scenes to accompany that talent!
Jimeoin was a standup I'd never seen before- always a gamble seeing someone you don't know- especially on your birthday- but he was great, dry and Irish, just what you want. The next day however I went back to stand-ups that I know I like and saw a legendary recording of internet-podcast AIOTM (aiotm!), Richard Herring is one of my faves, all three podcasts I listen to star him. It was weird being able to see him as well as hear him (small, in't he?). Enjoyed the rest of the gang too, TV's Emma Kennedy, Christian Riley (great song about Scottish girls) and favourite Dan Tetsell, oh, and both Andrew Collins and Tiny Andrew Collins.
In fact I was thrilled later when on the way to see favourite stand-up Jon Richardson do his current show Don't Happy, Be Worry, I saw Andrew Collins again just standing having a drink "Andrew Collins! Film Editor of the Radio Times! That's my favourite publication!!"
Jon's show was fantastic, he never disappoints. I'm glad he's on his way up, I've seen his last four Fringe shows, I miss his podcasts. He's a very clever and mildly-angry young man.

Vexed (BBC1 Sundays)

So after Sherlock- which was really well done in every respect- comes another three episodes of something new from the BBC, why, it's Toby Stephens in a police comedy show!
Such lazy writing!! They never once go anywhere near a police station never mind another member of the force! Forget a backstory, these two are detectives on a case, you got it? And look here's Rory Kinnear doing what he does best, eating eggs.
The jokes are offensive and not very funny but there are lots of them and somehow, maybe it's Tobes' charm, it's really quite enjoyable! It's because it doesn't switch, the writers have decided it is half-arsed, and it's consistently half-arsed, there's no sudden plot, it is just cheap and funny shite. Great stuff.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Stoppard's The Real Inspector Hound and Sheridan's The Critic (Double Bill at Chichester Festival Theatre)

When I was seventeen I was almost in a production of The Real Inspector Hound, we rehearsed it and had a good time and it was the first play I'd been in since I was about five, but in the end it was cancelled because the school decided to go with another play and a less giggly bunch of actors. I have to admit that we were shite, me especially as I'd never kissed anyone and my character had to make out with two of my teenage friends in the play so I was a bit inhibited when those scenes came along. When I sat watching Chichester's current production and watched actors Joe Dixon and then Nicholas le Prevost make out with the character I had almost played I thought; now there's a couple of people I wouldn't have a problem with.
At Chichester this summer there's lots going on, Rupert Everett is in Pygmailion, there's a stage version of Yes Minister with David Haig, 42nd Street is the big musical and over from the main building at the smaller Minerva Theatre there is a double bill of one-act plays both along the theme of plays within a play- and their critics.
The Real Inspector Hound was acted exactly the way I had imagined when I read it at school, it was ridiculous, campy, silly and just brilliant fun. The Critic was a little longer than Hound and I think was much better, strangely spot-on despite being written so long ago and it was riotously funny. I wasn't drunk but I hadn't laughed that much in years, I laughed so much that I was actually in pain.
Both plays were wonderfully staged with beautiful costumes- especially in The Critic, I do like the old powdered wigs etc. everyone looked so beautiful while they were being so stupid! Excellent direction, brilliant physical comedy from all the actors. Yes, it is of course the combination of sharp writing, clever direction and excellent ensemble that made these plays really shine. Joe Dixon, who I saw two years ago in the RSC's A Midsummer Night's Dream was brilliantly OTT in both plays, I was pleased I got to tell him afterwards that he had really made that Shakespeare because he was really really excellent as Bottom. I also met Sean Foley who was just as good in these two! I really love silly. I think that would be the best word for the sort of acting I appreciate. Nick le Prevost, of course, was super silly but he disguises it well by being completely natural throughout the farce, this is very good acting- but I also know that maybe he's a bit of a cheat because he's naturally a very silly man in real life -which is why I adore him. Una Stubbs cracked me up constantly in both plays and the two girls; Hermione Gulliford and Sophie Bould were so sweet, but not sickeningly so- only in a very silly way!
Yes, it hasn't been a very critical review, but I'm not a critic, this is my diary so I can remember what plays I've seen and why I loved them. I don't think I've enjoyed myself at a comedy play so much for years, I actually can't remember the last time I laughed so much. The sight of Nick dangling from the rafters hanging off a giant globe while screaming was a brilliant high to end on, and if they'd have left him up there and I hadn't got to tell him how much I enjoyed it afterwards I don't think I would have minded too much, it was perfection.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Inception (2010)

Best film I've seen for AGES!
Looked amazing, brilliant intelligent script, wonderful ensemble! No shortage of eye-candy either, god I love Tom Hardy.
I want to OWN it!

Russell Crowe's Robin Hood (2010)

So just what was Robin Hood trying to steal from the rich and give to the poor in this appallingly American rewrite of the legend Britain's best loved crim? Liberty?!
I have been watching a lot of Tony Robinson's Maid Marian and her Merry Men (1989-94) lately and I have to say that as a spoof and a children's show even MM was a better telling of the story than the drivel I sat through tonight! In Ridley Scott's RH Russell Crowe leads an army into battle with France on the shores of England. He never EVER steals anything from the rich and gives to the poor- he steals some grain from the church and gives it to the relatively wealthy bird that he fancies. NOTHING else.
The production design was awful, AWFUL. What the hell did they base the look of it on?! It was all wrong. Bad script, bad look, bad casting. Yeah, half the time- no wait, I'm being kind, MOST of the time I didn't have a clue what Russell Crowe was saying, I had no idea what his accent was supposed to be, Scouser, Geordie, Yorkshire, Irish?! What?!
I was angry that Guy of Gisborne never turned up, I was even angrier that the Sheriff of Nottingham had about three minutes screen time- especially as Matthew MacFadyen seemed to be the only one in the film not taking it so effing seriously! He must have signed up and thought "Yeah! Sheriff of Nottingham! That's a brill role! The bad guy, yeah?" Only to find that Mark Strong was the bad guy Godfrey of Basingstoke! He must have got his script and said: "Well eff this, if Alan Rickman can camp it up to fuck then so can I!" And he was extremely campy while everyone else mumbled their lines like it was a serious piece of history.
Yes, I enjoyed the Sheriff's cameo but I spent most of the film (trying to find something to enjoy) deliriously lusting over Mark Strong. The thing I usually like about Mark Strong is his ill-fitting wigs, they change from film to film, but in this, without the ridiculous syrup as sported in Sherlock Holmes, I could really appreciate just how perfect his face is. Pity he got that badly made scar right at the beginning of the film. Boo!

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Mr Bean's Holiday (2007)

I went to see Mr Bean's Holiday at the cinema when it came out and I loved it, it was just so French! It made me desperately want to go to France.
I saw it for the second time a couple of days ago, it was very sweet, I still liked it. Mr Bean is unique, he is in a genre of his own; he is a silent movie- universally accessible. It's ridiculous that no one else has picked up on that. I should think it's made Rowan Atkinson a lot of money over the years.
I lie though, the French have a lot of stuff like this going on in film, that's why France was the perfect holiday for Mr B. The French still go for mime and physical comedy, that film Micmacs that I wrote about a couple of months ago, I don't know if I mentioned it but the lead character hardly says a word throughout... And of course Mr Bean in this film- harking back to the original series rather than Bean: The Ultimate Disaster Movie(1997) (which I also love)- has a vocabulary of about 6 words, one of them being "Bean".

Toy Story 3 (2010)

Brilliant and utterly, horrifyingly heartbreaking- definitely not for kids. But then the other films out there that have made me cry have not made me laugh out loud nearly so much. It was most excellent.
I especially liked how they made Andy look like Zac Effron.

Monday, 19 July 2010

The Pirate (1948)

Gene Kelly's wig was ridiculous and Judy Garland's real-life terror came though in her acting but together they were an excellent comedy and dancing duo. The film had some good songs and top-notch dancing. The ballet was a bit self-indulgent and Gene's black hot-pants were a bit campy, but hey, it's an MGM musical- and remember it's all in Judy's alcohol and drug-fueled mind!
Could have done without the reprise of Be a Clown though...
Ace poster!

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Twilight: Eclipse (2010)

Even though there was a sort of exciting big fight scene in this one the film was still extremely uneventful- it ended with NOTHING happening- and it was ridiculously overlong.
The three leads are so horrifically uncharismatic and hateful, I don't know if it's just the three boring actors playing them or the appalling scripts or heck, both! But I wondered- as I had given up whilst reading book two because it was so disgustingly badly written, self indulgent and basically just unreadable!- I was wondering if I might actually end up liking any of the characters after seeing what happened in this movie. Well, I just wanted them all to die more!
Ugh. It made me want to watch Black Death again! It made me think Sean Bean was a good actor!!

Black Death (2010)

"Don't act until I tell you!" said Sean Bean half way through the film- I wish he'd bloody told them at the beginning!
This film was basically a medieval torture showcase! Some actors got hideously tortured but Eddie Redmayne showed that he has promise as a versatile film actor by playing a repressed monk and then at the end a psycho bad guy- but quite a pretty one. So this film was probably good for him but not for the others. Sean Bean played his usual and a rather miscast Tim McInnerny (still my favourite) played the heavy who ended up in the extravagant torture device last seen at the end of Blackadder I. Yeah, looking at Tim there playing a big thug I was like; "Oh dear, you really have some odd choices, Amy. Why do you like him?" And then he started speaking and even though the script was drivel McInnerny has a voice I could listen to all day. Sigh!
Terrible script, mostly terrible acting, terribly violent and above all terrible camera work- I felt headachy watching the hand held effect that lasted the majority of the film, ugh, focus damn it, focus!!

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Women Beware Women -Middleton (National Theatre)

This production is now over!! Anna and I were supposed to see it in previews a few months ago but you know, I got sick and stayed sick for a very long time. But we managed to go down to London specifically to see it the day before it closed and it was magnificent!
I was expecting a massacre of Revenger's Tragedy (2008) proportions so when the final balletic death-dance came along I was pleased that there was an amazingly choreographed bloodbath but relieved that it wasn't bloody like the disturbing scenes I remembered from the last restoration tragedy I'd seen at the National. Yes, the final scene was amazingly well done, really beautiful and spine chilling without being disgusting, it was terrifying! One after another after another gets their revenge and is killed until there is no one left, wow, it made all the hairs on my arms stand on end!
Anyway, some brilliant performances. I went to see Sam Barnett and Harriet Walter, neither disappointed. Barnett did his usual cute Posner act (Awwww!! Posner betrayed!! Awwww!!) and Walter was outstanding, seemingly unknowingly cold and calculating in the first act and then a giggly girly so taken with the young boy in the second. Oh! That character was me! That was my future!! My two husbands dead and buried and then along comes Posner, a beautiful blond boy, sigh, swoon! I adore him!! Ugh, I'm going to be such a predator when I'm old. But enough about my horrible self-realisation. Harriet was amazing, a wonderful strong lead and she is stunning!
But there were discoveries too! That's what we love!! Discovering young actors! The two girls were good, especially Lauren O'Neil who had the stage presence of a young Alex Kingston, what a deep powerful voice that little blonde has!! But this is what it's all about folks... This was the same feeling the first time I saw Rory Kinnear on stage in The Man of Mode (2007), the same wide smile on my face, the inability to take my eyes off him whenever he was on stage. Harry Melling is hilarious. Who'd have thought that it would be Dudley from the Harry Potter movies who would come out of those films a promising actor. Not only is he ridiculously funny, both with delivery and physically- he is actually really good looking! I saw him in Mother Courage last year and he was playing the dim-witted son, he has been promoted to scene-stealing fool, it won't be long before he's given more opportunities. I can see his whole stage career, he is going to be brilliant.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Micmacs a tire-larigot (2009)

And now by comparison a brilliant and beautifully designed French film!
Now here was a nice surprise from the library. A French revenge comedy that featured an ensemble of homeless circus-freak-types (strong man, contortionist, human, cannonball, etc.) and yet it was not in the least bit grotesque, as sometimes these things can be- I found the freaks in The Vampire's Assistant(2009), a shit American kids film, too much - no this film knew what it was from the beginning, it was a bit of light relief. It was sensitive and sweet and most importantly it was very French; heavy on the traditional slapstick and mime, wonderful assortment of character actors, surreal plot and fabulous design in costumes and mad machines- think Wallace and Gromit but it's real!
Very obviously from the director of Amélie(2001), so if you loved that but you're sick of seeing it now, try this one, it's got one up on Amélie for me, it had a political message: satire on the world's arms trade!

Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Tim Burton's Alice may have looked amazing in 3D on a big screen, but this 3D gimmick is still in it's infancy, the impressive graphics were lost in translation on my normal HD tv and the whole thing just looked like a horrible video-game. In fact, the whole thing seemed like an advertisement for one big boring Disney game.
The thing about Alice in Wonderland is that it is a series of nonsense poems and sketches, to try and give the characters backgrounds and plot-lines is utterly pointless, it annoys purists and it ruins classic characters. This "sequel" was pointless, the idea that Alice went back to reality again was utterly unbelievable, she had nothing waiting for her and when she got back she did nothing to better herself other than a short embarrassing dance.
Either stay with Johnny Depp and all the other mad characters who quite frankly were not in the least bit mad- just annoying. Or got back to reality kill Gerry James and mary Tim Pigott-Smith, that's what I would have done.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Cold Comfort Farm (1995)

I don't know why I never got around to reviewing Soccer-Aid on here, that was the last thing I watched on TV and really enjoyed! I always enjoy Cold Comfort Farm. Every time Anna and I have a visitor we educate them in the ways of the world through DVDs, usually with a Bronte TV drama to accompany their inevitable trip to Haworth and then after a walk in the countryside around our house Cold Comfort is usually (appropriately) viewed.
Anna's guest was American Maddy, she is not the first American to be subjected to Cold Comfort and Jane Eyre (Ruth Wilson & Toby Stephens), next thing Maddy knows she'll be sat in front of Brideshead Revisited or the complete Blackadder, that's what I did to my American...
This is going to be a bold statement: I like Cold Comfort Farm as much as I like Withnail & I- and not just because some of it is filmed in the same tea room-it is all extremely quotable. It is of course almost word perfect to the book but the casting is what really makes it a joy every six-months (I could watch it every week I reckon). It is an all-star cast, but none of them probably as massive in 1995 as they are now. And it is the role, out of all he has played on screen, that Rufus Sewell is most perfect in, the role that he should have lived, hell, if he really was Seth in 1930 he would have been a HUGE movie star. The way they shoot his scenes are brilliantly funny, he is perfect for that role. Le sigh! And lead Kate Beckinsale is adorable, if she'd have stayed in Britain she wouldn't have all the fame and riches that she has now in Hollywood but she would have continued to shine in lead roles in TV drama, her film roles of the last ten years have been nothing special, look how bloody funny and sharp she was in this! Jesus fuck! Brits are wasted in America!
Anyway, I like word perfect adaptations of good books, this one is one of the best (and the bits they changed I don't care about! Rennet and Reuben are good together!). I even like Stephen Fry's comic turn, though I suppose it was made before he was on EVERY channel EVERY night in self-indulgent TV documentaries.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Pygmalion (Royal Exchange Manchester)

Saw this a week ago (when I also watched the films 500 Days of Summer and Up in the Air which were both great films, glad to see people have remembered Tommy has a knack for comedy and George Clooney is just charming charming charming AND talented!)
Anyway, went to Manchester and saw Pygmalion at the Exchange Theatre, it was the first time since I studied the play more than ten years ago that I saw Shaw's ending- well, I didn't see it ten years ago, I read it. Even the Leslie Howard film has Eliza running back to him! No no no. Now that I've finally seen the original ending it makes more sense and it is a much more empowering ending for Eliza, not another little victory for Higgins, fuck you Higgins, you're an arsehole!
Had a bit of a problem getting into it thanks to knowing the script to My Fair Lady off by heart, a few times I sniggered because the actors delivered some familiar lines in sing-song voices. I mean, the script's the same! The songs are practically still in there, just not sung. I got over that quickly though, there were lots of good gags and commentary that Shaw wrote that whoever adapted My Fair Lady chose to cut. All the characters in Pygmalion are perfectly written but Eliza is such a good part, such a brilliant comedy part for an actress! Cush Jumbo, the girl playing Eliza was really good, she was goofy and disgusting in the first act and completely transformed in the second (well, sometimes her hand did stray to pull her pants out of her bum but she always stopped herself), she was quite realistically cold and businesslike at the end, just the way it should be played, like I say, fuck you Higgins.
Simon Robson as Higgins was equally as good; smug, arrogant, shouty bastard, that's what you need. If you have a good Higgins and a good Eliza it doesn't matter about the rest- though I have to say the rest were good too, Freddie was such a complete idiot, he really bit the bowl off the spoon.
Yeah? Yeah? Trying that out as a new idiom.