Tuesday, 30 March 2010

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009 ish)

I really don't know what the reviewers were talking about. I was expecting an embarrassing mistake, something a hundred times worse than the Brothers Grimm- which I cringed all the way through. Have the reviewers of Dr Parnassus seen The Brothers Grimm?!? Well, i've got news for you I thought the Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus was Terry's best film for ages! I thought it was really good! It's probably too early for me to tell if that's only because my expectations were so low! But I don't care. I really enjoyed it.
I thought the replacement actors all did brilliant jobs doing impressions of each other and of Heath Ledger and it worked seamlessly! It made perfect sense that through the mirror in other people's imaginations Heath would change into some ideal! Brilliant writing! And actually quite a tight story! Especially for Terry!
And I loved the ending! I love how Gilliam does that! Fuck you Hollywood! The star turns out to be shit all along!! Yes, I'm a Gilliam fan. I mean, come on, I'm an illustrator and I like funny. Obviously I'm going to be into him. For me this was a good attempt at compromise between the slight-Hollywood of The Fisher King and the brilliant originality of Brazil. The Brothers Grimm was far too Hollywood and was awful because of it. I really liked Twelve Monkeys. I think that was probably the most successful Hollywood-Gilliam compromise but I don't have it in my collection. I know the critics thought it was awful but The Adventures of Baron Munchausen is in my collection and absolutely one of my favourites.
Well done to Terry and Charles McKeown for doing a great job on this one considering! I particularly enjoyed the Jonathan Pryce part, quite obvious that if it was made twenty-five years ago Andrew Garfield's part would have been played by him.

The Power of Yes (National Theatre)

Anna and I went to a sunday matinee to try and understand The Recession in more detail. The sunday matinee was full of wheezing pensioners, apart from all the coughing it was a good deal and there were lots of tickets available, I might go again- though not to The Power of Yes! I don't think I've ever felt more out of the loop in all my life!!
This piece of theatre- it's not a play, well, not really- got amazing reviews from all the critics, and I can see why, I just wish I had the brainpower to understand everything that was discussed (I am a bear of very little brain). I came out of the show and had to have a couple of parcetemol, I'd given myself a migrane from trying to concentrate for two solid hours. It was like an educational film there were a lot of jokes but a million facts and opinions, and it was SO fast!
The setup is an actor playing the author David Hare interviewing lots of figures from the banking world to attempt to understand why what happened happened! But there were so many people and some were explaining far more complicated things than others that a lot of the time by the time I'd grasped one idea the following idea had finished being explained and I'd completely missed it!
I wondered if all the actors knew what they were talking about. I understood what the women were saying but not all of the men, I wondered if maybe the women (being women) had said after reading their script "I don't understand this, please explain it to me." And therefore when they understood their lines they delivered them with the emphasis in the right places and I (the audience) understood too, whereas the men- too arrogant to ask just what the hell am I saying?- Learned their lines and delivered them with the emphasis all wrong so I didn't understand at all! ...I am such a sexist.
Anyway, it made me want to watch Drop the Dead Donkey. Good old Andy Hamilton, he knows how to explain the issues to the masses. Also Jeff Rawle was in the play and I was thrilled by this surprise.

The Bounty Hunter (2010)

The options were a French film, the Leo film or this. Anna and I had just spent a week in Italy seeing amazing architecture and works of art and ice cream, we had saturday to kill and we were tired, so instead of seeing a film we actually fancied seeing we settled on this obvious drivel.
And what drivel!
You know a film is badly written when at the end the main characters explain the last two hours to the audience through typical Harry Potter conversations: "So you see, it wasn't Snape after all! It was Voldemort all along!" Yeah, that happened at the end of this film, but in much more detail, as if the audinece actually cared what the FUCK was happening by then! Total rubbish.
Anyway, Anna and I both came out of the cinema talking about the same thing, how gorgeous Jennifer Aniston is. There was a time towards the end of Friends when she was so horrifically thin that she made us feel sick, well those days are over, she is 41 and she is lovely, her legs, her arms and her face are perfect.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

The History Boys -National Tour 2010 (Cambridge Arts Theatre)

The distinct lack of handsomes in this production of The History Boys does not take anything away from the experience of seeing this let's face it "cult-play", in fact the casting of such ordinary looking boys (though all very talented actors!) helped me remember why it is one of my favourites. It's Alan Bennett's writing I have gone to see not the jail-bait boys.
Before I saw the film version of The History Boys I had read the play after Anna saw one of the National Theatre's tours (Doctor Who was Lockwood and Prince Caspian Dakin) and forced me to read it. And I had listened to the BBC radio dramatization, so I enjoyed it, no I loved it, before I even saw those handsome lads in that movie (Jamie Parker as Scripps is my History Boy of choice- it's his arms, piano playing and brilliant voice).
Tonight we saw in St Patrick's Day with spoonfuls of cough syrup and a trip to the theatre. I was really looking forward to seeing it after seeing/hearing/reading it in all other formats! And I was not disappointed. I loved it.
The boys were all brilliant and did great things with the wonderful lines that were shared out between them. Because they all looked so normal it was so much more believable that they were all bright and suffering from such ordinary problems, Dakin was I thought more believable as a sixth-form boy who thought he was wonderful -when he obviously wasn't! He was a bit pudgy, not a sleazy Dominic Cooper type, but an actual cocky twat! That's what those sort of boys are like!! Posner was perfect, he was little! Not just a boyish looking face like cute Sam Barnett, actually smaller than the others and what a voice, he handled the songs beautifully! Well done James Byng! A lovely lead!
I read a review from a Cambridge woman saying that they weren't characters you could connect with, this is total crap! I was never a gay boy at a boy's school in the 80s, but I get it! I get being an outsider! Who are you if you don't understand every one of those boys!? Who are your boring privileged robotic friends if you don't know Posners, Scripps or Dakins?!
The design was great, nice and simple and the in-between music reminded us it was the 80s when normal hairstyles failed. The "adult" cast were fantastic, nice caricature Headmaster straight from the Beano, Totty- the only woman- was really good, what a good part that is! Hector nice imitation but not much else you can really do with that role! And Irwin rather creepy and pathetic. Liked it all.
I was however painfully aware that I was seeing this play in Cambridge rather than at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. I saw Alan Bennett about a month ago at Kings Cross Station, he got on the Leeds train, he was obviously going up to see how the boys were getting on. I imagine the production got the laughs in the right places- the places Alan intended them- in the WYP. In Cambridge the bits that got the most laughs were all the digs at other universities. I know I'm paranoid but I felt sure they were not laughing at the jokes but instead the idea of having to go to a "shit university".

Monday, 15 March 2010

Sleepers (1996)

Paedophiles beget Paedophiles, this is a well known fact. So Brad Pitt's character who was obviously very disturbed to obsessively research such a scheme for 13 years to plot the downfall of his torturers in the end moved to England to be a "carpenter"... CODE= he's now a creepy English perv.
The film started off well with an excellent soundtrack and a horrific abuse plot but it went downhill as soon as Kevin Bacon was murdered. I saw the trailer last night and thought "wow, what an ensemble piece!" so I bought it for £3 from HMV but as soon as the childhood half of the film was over and the film's star was Jason Patric it was shite -and Dustin Hoffman and Bobby De Niro weren't in it enough to make a difference.
It was just BORING, and ridiculous that a judge would allow a lawyer to ask someone totally inappropriate questions for that long! "How is this appropriate to the case in question?" was only asked after about ten minutes! Stupid!!
I just got annoyed that it wasn't the bloody-revenge film I hoped it would be, I really liked the beginning! I did say at one point in the first half: "You know it's amazing how film making has changed, nowadays American directors would film the rape scenes, don't they understand that it's much more psychologically disturbing like this when it's all in your head?" But of course later on in the film there were flashbacks that debunked my praise.
And in the end let's face it! You shouldn't have stolen that hotdog cart!! You are not Ignatius J Reilly! You brought it on yourselves!!

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Bedtime Stories (CBeebies)

I watched a load of these at Christmas and then forgot about how flipping great they are!
So I write and illustrate books for children- that's my job, or at least, that's what I'm trying to do! So this programme that showcases new work -but also does a lot of old favourites- is obviously a dream for me: "One day an actor will read out my book on Bedtime Stories!"
Yeah, it's like Jackanory used to be except the books are usually between four and eight minutes long so if they're rubbish it doesn't matter! I used to love Jackanory, I thought they were all good but of course we have George's Marvelous Medicine read/performed by Rick Mayall on video and watch it yearly.
I've watched lots of actors doing Bedtime Stories and I think what's even more exciting is the range of actors they get in to do different books (I am excited now as both children's writer/illustrator AND actor-phile) David Tennant (above) is by far the best reader of bedtime stories, though I also enjoyed David Harewood very much. It's funny because it's not the people you'd expect who are the best, I assumed Kenneth Brannagh would be great- but I had to turn him off! He was cringey and hammy. Tennant I thought would be creepy and overenthusiastic, but he uses his natural gentle Scottish voice and is extremely charming, he's like your big sister's boyfriend reading you a story rather than Kenny who was like a boring old uncle.
So who would I have reading out my story? I wonder if the authors have any say in the matter...
"Excuse me, I'd like Jonathan Pryce to read out 'Timby and the Great Cake Robbery' if you don't mind."
"Tough luck, you're getting John Thompson."

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (BBC Radio 4)

I read Of Mice and Men for my English GCSE and completely loved it, I listened to this hour long dramatization ten years later and I remembered it all word for word. I totally loved it.
Seeing The Grapes of Wrath put on by the English Touring Theatre last year and listening to this excellent radio adaptation just makes me think Steinbeck was meant to be performed, it is such perfect simple truthful writing that I bet it took hardly any effort to turn the novels into scripts.
When I went on holiday to Nantucket last September the tiny tour bus stopped by a golf course and the ancient driver pointed to a house in the distance and said; "John Steinbeck used to live there." I automatically gasped and cried what I always cry when Steinbeck's name is uttered: "The richest author in the dust-bowl!"
Got to be rich, average cost of a house on Nantucket is two million dollars.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Being Human, Series 2

One of the things I like most about Being Human is that there are only three major characters. Buffy had WAY too many in the end, like I care about a cast of TWELVE characters!
I much preferred this series to the first- probably because I knew the characters and I anticipated what an annoying weed George would be throughout, he really bothered me all through the first series!- but as with the first I only really watch it because it's something to watch while I eat my lunch! Yesterday I watched the final episode while eating... probably not a good idea, there was a lot more blood and gore in this series.
Anyway, Aidan Turner and Leonora Crichlow both play brilliant charming characters, she's a lovely ghostie making everyone tea and smiling her big gorgeous smile and he's a moody vampire with a lot of problems. Russell Tovey is so camp he really grates me, I find it impossible to believe his character is not in love with Mitchell- and I know Tovey is gay but straight acting is something he can do so why in this role (a werewolf desperate for a normal family life) is he playing it SO camp?!
There were some good stories in this series, the main story being very scary! I loved all the flashbacks; brilliant opportunities for the costume department! But overall I enjoyed Annie's storylines the most, being a ghost she is the most human, she is the heart of the group and I am ready for series three right now!! Good ending- well, it would have been a good ending if they'd have cut after George, Mitchell and Nina had watched the TV fade away... That bit with the bad actress girl vampires raising that vampire jerk from the grave was completely unnecessary and ruined what was a poignant and terrifying cliffhanger.
Ho hum.