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!)