Thursday, 25 October 2012

Ginger and Rosa - Vue West 12 - 24th October 2012

(Rated 3/5 film/script... 4.5/5 performances.)

This is a beautiful little coming-of age story, by Sally Potter of Orlando-fame,  concerning the power of female friendship to bond two people and the power of love that can tear them apart. At the time of the Hiroshima bomb, Ginger's and Rosa's mothers (Christina Hendricks and Jodhi May) go into simultaneous labour and so begins a friendship literally from birth. Ginger (Elle Fanning) and Rosa (Alice Englert) share all their experiences, including kissing practice with each other and then one being present as the other moves on to a boy. They discuss deeply and join anti-bomb protests - attempting to put the world to rights. But whilst Ginger is genuinely wedded to important causes and intelligent thought - some of which she shares with her father (Alessandro Nivolla), Rosa is more wedded to herself and the growth of her femininity, which she also desires to share with Ginger's father. Will this betrayal of trust rip them apart?
The story is good in a nice simple way, and the film is beautifully shot - though at times feels disconnected. But it's the performances that make this piece. ALL  - including supporting players Timothy Spall and Annette Bening - are absolutely stunning. Elle Fanning is exceptional in a highly sensitive, understanding and emotionally intelligent performance. She needs no dialogue to convey precisely her feelings and thoughts to us and is gorgeous to watch.
Highly recommended as a feelings film interestingly of a similar vein to Song for Marion, but involving younger people.

Ginger and Rosa – Review by TheRestrictedReviewer © 2012
Twitter: @RestrictReview

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Song for Marion - Premiere at the BFI London Film Festival - 19th October 2012

(Rated 3/5 film/script... 4.5/5 performances.)

I expected Song for Marion to be a comedy along the lines of Rock Choir for OAPs - resembling the level of comedy and song performances of the likes of The Full Monty. I had been entertained by the OAPZ - the choir of elderly people in the film - themselves, for about 5 hours,  as an extra on the film. They were absolutely brilliant in both comedy and musical performance. But the tone of the actual film is somewhat different. There is far more poignancy and somewhat less comedy.
The film follows grumpy pensioner Arthur (Terence Stamp) - addicted to not enjoying himself - and his relationships with his wife Marion (Venessa Redgrave), who is suffering from cancer, and their son James (Christopher Eccleston). Arthur and James are estranged - we are told Arthur was not a good father - whilst the love between Marion and her son is clear and warm. Marion enjoys singing as a member of the OAPZ, who are led by cheery conductor Elizabeth (Gemma Arterton). Arthur refuses to join in and is hostile towards Elizabeth and Marion's other choir friends, even in their support of his wife. The film goes on to explore Arthur's relationship with Elizabeth as she tries to help him 'de-grump' {my word} and find his voice and his heart.
That said Arthur, as played by Terence, clearly has a great heart - just keeps it safely closed, resembling the rock Marion describes him to be.
Vanessa Redgrave is outstanding as ever! She blows me away with her ease of emotional expression and natural ability in character inhabitation. Meanwhile Terence Stamp moved me to tears - both in what he was expressing and what he was holding back. I have never experienced a closed-off, cold character pull so much at my heart strings. I have to say he genuinely did too when I witnessed him singing for the film. My response as an extra was not forced at all! However it seems it ended up on the cutting-room floor. Christopher Eccleston is also very good indeed as a mirror to them both. He IS their son. Only slight flaw is he lost the accent now and then, but otherwise a beautifully reflective portrayal. Gemma Arterton also did very well with what she was given as a character. I did feel, though, her character was the one who most showed up the lacking in the script - it was a little basic compared to the power of the other three. 
Writer/Director Paul Andrew Williams has given us a lovely, sensitive film and I really felt it came from his heart inspired by his own grandparents. For me his writing and direction lack a little in clarity and impact - but his professional actors understood what he wanted to convey and did the job superbly. I just wish there had been a little more of the OAPZ to enjoy, but I will buy the soundtrack and DVD!

Song for Marion – Review by TheRestrictedReviewer © 2012
Twitter: @RestrictReview

Friday, 5 October 2012

‘Twelfth Night’ - Shakespeare’s Globe - Thursday 4th October 2012

Twelfth Night – the name of this play is as familiar to me as A Midsummer Night’s Dream – and yet I hadn’t seen it before, at least I don’t think so – it is one of those, in seeing which, you get kind of a deja vue feeling. Here we have another that starts with a shipwreck and uses two of Shakespeare’s favourite comedy devices of mistaken identities and twins – well hey if you have a formula that works, it well bears repeating. That said I’m not sure many writers these days would get away with quite so much repeating ;)
This is a great fun romp - the main attractions in this case are Mark Rylance playing Countess Olivia and Stephen Fry as her steward Malvolio; both of whom romp to the max. The production marks Stephen Fry’s first return to the stage after his now famous disappearance from it 17 years ago during a performance of Cell Mates. He was said to have had a bad reaction to reviews – as he later and so movingly explained in his documentary The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive, he in fact had a bipolar depression. Since that coming out, Stephen seems to have coped with life and performance even better than before – he is on our screens in something almost every single week, as presenter, actor, comedian, quiz show host… he now also has his own production company, writes profusely, travels also profusely and is an all-round absolutely wonderful example of a highly creative human being. He’s been challenged on his kindness by Pamela Stephenson Connolly in one of her Shrink Wrap programmes – but as he said he just likes to be nice – and whyever not?! In my opinion he is the nicest celebrity of whom I’ve had any experience and I am the proud owner of a personal letter from him – that said, as are many others – he gives as much as he can to as many as he can. He also has my empathy and understanding because I have experience of a loved one with bipolar disorder. For that reason I’d decided this review would honour that empathy and be as kind as possible. BUT he has no need of that degree of kindness at all. His performance as Malvolio is absolutely excellent!! No excuses required – in fact so much the opposite. If I can be so bold I think that his coming out, and being so open and sharing, has enabled his expressiveness and now he can fully excel in who and how he is. Stephen lends the very best of Stephen Fry to this role and is absolutely adorable. (Okay, yes, as Shakespeare is a repeater of plot devices, so I am of superlatives and absolutelys ;))
I felt so anxious for him. Not knowing the play I didn’t know when he would first make an entrance. I was also eagerly awaiting Mark Rylance’s entrance. And, of my goodness, what an entrance that was! Countess Mark-Olivia tiptoes in and parades the stage as though on wheels – I still haven’t worked out how it is that men in Elizabethan dresses as woman look like they are being wheeled around but it’s very funny! Dressed in black – his character in mourning for her father and brother and swearing to avoid the company of men for 7 years; which doesn’t last much more than 7 minutes! – looking elegant, perfectly feminine, poised, lady-like and very slim! Such a far cry from the puffed-up strength and burliness of Rooster in Jerusalem. In fact you wouldn’t believe it was the same person, and yet, in Mark Rylance’s case you absolutely would! There is such an ease to his manner and embodiments that it all seems as natural as breathing – a turn of phrase, manner and attitude occurs seamlessly in a heart-beat. He gives us acting perfection, so real that it really is not an act. He is just being! He can be male or female and we believe him. And yet he can still work so delightfully with the incongruence and hence comedy of the fact that he is a man playing a woman. A man in drag?! Oh no! It’s like a gender in between, which is how he seems. So soft and sensitive – how can such a person convincingly give us Richard III – well he can and did – albeit with much more sensitivity and humanity; still the bitter, deformed tyrant. And so he processes the stage and takes us; the audience along with him – so much so that it took me some time to realise others had come along in with him – amongst those others Stephen-Malvolio. Before I was aware there the dear man was advising his mistress!! Stephen and I had somehow avoided the anxiety of his entrance in the entrancement of Mark-Olivia.
And maybe the entrancement by both of these is the reason why scenes without them seem almost banal and routine. You find yourself thinking “Okay, here’s a bit of Shakespeare filling, til the best bits come.” And actually that IS a shame. Twelfth Night is the story of young Viola - here played by Samuel Barnett – who survives the aforementioned shipwreck, in which she believes her twin brother Sebastian to have drowned, and takes on the disguise of a young man, calling herself Cesario, and enters the service of Duke Orsino (Liam Brennan). The latter is attempting to woe Countess Olivia and sends Cesario to do the job for him ;) Viola falls for Orsino and Olivia is bewitched with love for Cesario… and so the usual wonderful Shakespearian romantic comedy ensues. Samuel Barnett is a very worthy and talented young male actor – whom I liked very much indeed as Queen Elizabeth in Richard III by the same company. But here he drowns and Viola along with him – NOT because he is bad, but because his goods aren’t good enough to make him as visible as he needs to be to match the likes of Mark-Olivia, Stephen-Malvolio and also Paul Chahidi as Olivia’s gentlewoman Maria. One of the wonders of this play are Shakespeare’s musings – through his characters – on men and women in love and how they deal differently with love and that state of being. Samuel is a man, playing a woman, who then takes on the role of a man, and Shakespeare made the absolute most of this in the dialogue he provided for Viola and her interactions. Sadly this doesn’t make enough impression. The subplot involving the tricks played by Maria and others – including the lovely fool Feste (Peter Hamilton Dyer) – on Malvolio seem to become the main plot…
And OMG how delicious! Malvolio is convinced that Olivia is in love with him and that she delights in him wearing yellow stockings and cross-garters… he must smile profusely at her to show her that he returns her affection. And here is where we get the highlight between Mark-Olivia and Stephen-Malvolio as the latter delivers the famous line…
            “Some are born great, some become great and some have greatness thrust upon them…”
thrusting himself onto her!!! The entire audience laughed long and hard at this.
Where Stephen’s expressions of love as Malvolio are thrusting and blatant, Mark’s towards Cesario, and then Sebastian are charmingly subtle and faltering. Where Stephen strides across the stage and later dances deliberately and clumsily like a bouncing baboon, Mark glides along until startled when he trots along like a colt before rapidly regaining that graceful mare.
I’d happily see that baboon and horse together on Strictly Come Dancing… meanwhile they were stunningly entertaining in the finale dance on that beautiful replica Globe stage. 

Twelfth Night – Review by TheRestrictedReviewer © 2012     

Twitter: @RestrictReview

Monday, 1 October 2012

Doctor Matt and The Ponds - a very mini review

Farewell Amy and Rory Pond... the Weeping Angels finally got yas...

(Rated 4/5... on a scale where I'd rate Doctor Chris and Rose at 6/5 and Doctor David and Donna as 7/5.)

This little snippetty review is really just to say something about the relationship developed between The Doctor (Matt Smith), Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) and Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill). For me, amidst all the excitement of monsters, aliens and Sci Fi, the interaction between the Doctor and his companions - how he influences them and vice versa, and each companions particular story - is the most interesting part. I have a big penchant - not nose or chin - for relationships!

I think writer Stephen Moffat has great storytelling skill - he is superb at that - and keeping you on your toes with excitement and Geronimo! ... here we go! But something lacks in emotion between characters and from them. The dialogue is genius and witty in the extreme... totally yowza! And the delivery of that dialogue from all three lacks nothing at all. Oh and have to mention Alex Kingston as River Song too and her contribution in chemistry with The Doctor - charged? yes - highly? no.

The acting is faultless. Every actor brings something different to The Good Doctor - the very best of themselves - and just as Chris Eccleston and David Tennant nailed that - so does Matt Smith. And wonderfully fantastically brilliantly they all look like they could be an alien and give us the majestic, strong yet traumatised doctor from the North, the all-round funny yet high EQ expressive doctor from North of the border and the professor, public school-boy doctor from somewhere a little bit posh ;)

BUT there is an emotional quality that Russell T. Davies and his Whovian team of actors - Billie Piper's Rose Tyler and Catherine Tate's Donna Noble in particular with their respective doctors - gave that, for me, never comes out in the Moffat-lead series. Russell's writing and their performances tore at my heart strings in ways these guys just can't somehow. I was addicted and couldn't get enough. Now I love it but can cope without.

So I do feel sad to see The Ponds go... but not as upset at the loss of Rose... or devastated at the loss of Donna.

The Eleventh Doctor and The Ponds – Review by TheRestrictedReviewer © 2012

Twitter: @RestrictReview

Dexter - a minireview - from DVDs of Series 1-6

(Rated 6/5 )

Hi RR viewers,

Sorry for my silence over the last few weeks. I have been even more restricted than usual, and in part Dexter was responsible - though he was more a help - and bizarre to say comfort - than a restriction and thankfully he didn't wrap me in cling-film! Then again I haven't taken up serial killing so he'd have no reason to.

I have adored this series ever since I finally gave it a chance at least a year after season 1 was gifted to me - more on that in a bit - but never reviewed it. I am reluctant to review in detail though as there are so many edge-of-your-seat surprises that to give any away would be to spoil it somewhat. It really is a HAVE-TO-SEE and all people I know who have, have become addicted. I now get the new season DVDs ASAP and then have a queue of pals who borrow him after Dexter and his colleagues have entertained me :)

The very basic premise - Dexter Morgan is a blood spatter analyst for the Homicide Department of Miami Metro Police. And on the side he happens to be a serial killer. So how on earth is it that anyone likes the character and/or has any empathy for him?! Why has he become such a massive hit on both sides of the Atlantic and round the world? I absolutely did not want to get involved in watching this show. In a maybe slightly daft way I felt like I might be supporting the cause of serial killers by doing so. I also feared I'd be disgusted, revolted, have nightmares or just simply find it unpleasant. In fact I couldn't understand why anyone might remotely and felt concerned about the person who had gifted it to me, even though I love her very much! ;) Several times she told me I'd find the psychology interesting. Oh yeah really?! Do I really want to know why someone becomes a serial killer?! However interested in psychology I may be?! Well even that is to put it far too simplistically. Dexter is a serial killer but his psychology is far, far more interesting than even that would imply. Yes he has a pretty major trauma to 'make him' go that way. But what is far more interesting is the arc of his character through the series. Can he turn from psychopath to human? And how can each series challenge him in new ways? Each time I think it can't possibly. And each time it does. The ante is continually upped if you like, in a way highly unusual for an ongoing series. Once you get even a little attached to him you cannot leave! You are dying to know what will happen next in his psychological and external life journey.

Michael C. Hall - of Six Feet Under fame - plays Dexter. And my goodness how impressively he does so. So believable! Sometimes voice-overs can sound lame and annoying, but personally I love Dexter voice-overs - they give us such important insight into his internal life - absolutely necessary - it's a bit hard for us to find out about him in confidences to other characters - how can he genuinely confide in real, healthy humans?! Or even highly loveable unhealthy ones?! The show is littered with supremely interesting and, to varying degrees and varieties, flawed characters. My favourite of whom is Debra Morgan - Dexter's sister - played excellently by Jennifer Carpenter - shown with Dexter below. She is tough yet vulnerable, sensitive yet needy and self-centred, totally beautiful and yet with very ugly language! And her relationship with Dexter is of great interest - even though for so much of the time it's packed with incongruence on both sides. There is a character to please everyone in the show: Lauren Velez as ambitious yet gorgeous power-house Lt. Maria LaGuerta, David Zayas as very cuddly Sgt Angel Batista and C.S. Lee as sex-obsessed yet starved Vince Masuka - I am highlighting character traits but there is so much more to each of them - these are not just 3D but 4D characters, and I am naming just a few.

The main antagonist serial killers include Trinity (John Lithgow); so named as he kills in 3s: woman in a bathtub, mother falling to her death and man bludgeoned with a hammer and The Ice-Truck Killer who bleeds his victims out before cutting them into pieces, which he leaves for the police to discover. Nice!

Let the avenging angel onto your TV screen - you won't be disappointed!

Dexter – Review by TheRestrictedReviewer © 2012

Twitter: @RestrictReview