Monday, 25 November 2013

The Day of the Doctor... borrowed review as I NEED A DOCTOR of hips ;)

I'd love to write more on THE DAY OF THE DOCTOR but am feeling pretty restricted by pain and lack of sleep currently thanks to my unsettled 9-year-old replaced hip - oh for a Doctor and a sonic screwdriver to fix it in nice and firm! - so instead I'll share another review with you in a mo...
We did have an absolutely fantastic time at the Barbican Cinema, which we found by following a man wearing a Tom Baker scarf with a woman dressed in a TARDIS onesie. I was Van Gogh TARDIS twins with my friend - both of us wearing his T-shirt designs and I has my trusty - but sadly ineffectual - 9th Doc's sonic screwdriver in my hand bag.
I particularly enjoyed Matt and David's introductions regarding our 3D specs (not 57D or whatever it was Matt thought ;)) and warning about the presence of Zygons in the room and the fact that all 13 docs come back to save Gallifrey!
Well done to ALL involved over the 50 or 1200 years!

Friday, 22 November 2013

‘Much Ado About Nothing’ - The Old Vic Theatre - Thursday 21st November 2013

(Rated 1.5/5 ) 

Actually a very appropriate title for this production sadly - much ado to get tickets for a production that was almost the most 'nothing' and 'boring' experience I have ever had. SORRY director Mark Rylance and actors involved, but not that sure why you bothered. I really don't like being so negative but this is my honest experience of it. For I think the first time in my life I left at the interval. The main attraction for me - the gorgeous talented Vanessa Redgrave - was 'indisposed' for the night and so we had her understudy. My friend suggested that maybe she was so embarrassed to be part of it. At least her absence made it easier to leave. Mark Rylance is such an extraordinary actor I expected so much better from him in directing fellow actors. And some members of the cast were even stumbling over their lines. James Earl Jones was fine but lacked the expressiveness I am sure he has. The set was dull too. Nothing comes of nothing indeed! This was just nothing! Vanessa, I would love to have seen you on stage and hope to in a much better production. Now really wishing I'd seen Driving Miss Daisy with you two.

Much Ado About Nothing – Review by TheRestrictedReviewer © 2013

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

‘Peter and Alice’ - Noel Coward Theatre - Saturday 25th May 2013

(Rated 8/5 ) 

Yes I know! 8/5 doesn’t really make sense in our ‘normal’, adult world, then again in a world of fiction and fantasy – in a child’s world – anything and everything is possible – and this restricted reviewer can fly to the giddy heights and give this production the best score she has ever given! Not that I/she tends to restrict herself anyway – I’ve gone to 7/5 for my previous favourites: The National Theatre’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Tennant and Tate’s Benedict and Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, but this truly is even better! This is exceptional! The performances of Dame Judi Dench and Ben Whishaw in this are the most moving I have ever witnessed! For many years that ‘honour’ went to Chiwitel Ejiofor’s Othello, when his anguish at Desdemona’s death by his own hand due to the dastardly deeds of his trusted Iago (Ewan McGregor) ripped at my heart. I was crying with him – and the intimacy of the Donmar Warehouse added so much to his sharing with us the audience. With Judi and Ben my heart was going through every single emotion it can possibly feel – from the joy and excitement of a child on an adventure in a wondrous world of the imagination, via the ecstasy of falling in love, through the devastation at the loss of your own children, the pain of crushing disappointment and abuse to the empty loneliness of isolation. I could almost say it beat faster as I felt the warmth of my blood rushing the good emotions through it, then cold slow pulses before it was ripped to shreds.
Yet I realise I haven’t even told you what this play is about. Perhaps it is unexpected that it comes from the pen of John Logan – author of James Bond movie Skyfall. Action movie this isn’t. But then again Skyfall was also packed with psychology and the relationships between adults and the ‘children’ taken under their wings. Here we have the stories of Peter Llewelyn Davies (Ben Whishaw) and Alice Liddell Hargreaves (Judi Dench), who as children inspired Rev Charles Dodgson – better known by his pen-name Lewis Carroll (Nicholas Farrell) and James Barrie (Derek Riddell) to write Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Peter Pan respectively. The play begins with the catalyst for John Logan to write it – when the real life Alice and Peter meet each other – they were both adults and preparing to appear before the public at an anniversary celebration of Alice in Wonderland. John Logan wondered what they might have said to each other…
What was it like to be the inspirations for these two characters? What is it like to be an expectation of something that isn’t really you? A ‘poor’ adult reflection of a ‘richly exciting’ fictional child. The child/ren who never grow(s) up both in books and in the readers’ minds. What is it actually like to grow up and leave that child behind? To face the painful reality of adulthood. Or not – to live in isolation and escape in your head because the real world is too much to bear. What were the ‘real’ relationships between Alice and Lewis Carroll and Peter and James Barrie? John Logan explores all this – partly based on research from biographies – and Ben and Judi show us with the most extraordinarily natural and true performance skills. In fact so convincing were they, that even at curtain call, neither seemed able to escape the world and lives they had created for us, and I then imagine took their time in their dressing rooms to do so. (They did not appear at the stage door afterwards.) And nor did the audience giving them a standing ovation loaded with smiles and tears.
Ben/Peter opens the play for us – coming on stage and nervously waiting for Judi/Alice to arrive. Ben conveys Peter with every single element of his being; his vocal expression, his body language; the way he holds himself, walks, the bow of his head, anxious hand gestures to push back his hair and… his eyes! I’ve never seen more expressive eyes. Blinking is a Ben Whishaw trait for sure - something he cannot fail to lend his characters – but there is such poignancy in how his eyes dart around, how they well-up with emotion, how they shine and then fade. He is exquisite; slight and yet so powerful. As is Dame Judi, who at one point has a line about how people don’t expect someone famous to be so small, which she delivers perfectly as she stands in her small exceptionally well-known self. She gives us an frail elderly lady needing a walking stick to a skipping and dancing young girl. She is gorgeously sensitive – so deep and honest as she takes us to the core of painful emotions, and then ever so subtle yet effervescent as she escorts us to the dizzying heights of jolly good fun. Another time Alice cries for a full five minutes creating, as she describes, a well of tears – as did Judi completely authentically. I wanted to get up on stage and hug her. And yet actually didn’t need to as audience and performers were completely integrated in this experience together all as one so it felt as though we were carrying each other anyway.
In some productions the ‘stars’ outshine their supporting cast. Not in this case. This was a beautiful ensemble piece bringing out the best in everyone. Olly Alexander energetically gives us the delightfully boyish Peter Pan and Ruby Bentall is the prettily inquisitive Alice in Wonderland, wondering at everything she witnesses. Stefano Braschi ably takes on all remaining parts.
And production father – director – is Michael Grandage from whom – especially following his superb 10-year stint at the Donmar Warehouse – we have come to expect genius. He does not fall short.
This is a must-see – though that could be difficult as it’s nearing the end of its run – Saturday 1st June – and is sold-out! Queue for returns if you can!

Peter and Alice – Review by TheRestrictedReviewer © 2013

Friday, 24 May 2013

The Name of the Doctor: Mini-Review

(Rated 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 8.5?!, 9, 10 and 11/5)

OUTSTANDING, HEART-POUNDING high level drama from the pen of Stephen Moffat! This half-series had taken a bit of a dip for me up until this point. It was good, but not great and I struggled to connect with Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman) and felt The Doctor did too. Who IS she?! (Not in the voice of that Big Brother star but maybe in a similar disbelieving vein as to why she is so important!) And then we discover and suddenly her ratings in each of our hearts - and his two hearts - climb universe-high! If you will forgive the use of this word, this episode was orgasmic for fans of Classic Dr Who - as we see - SPOILER alert - Clara save all of them! And for this Nine-fan an extra rush for me as she crosses paths with him! And spoilers OMG!! Dearest loveliest Prof River Song (Alex Kingston) also returns to - well yes spoilers - but has a gorgeous interaction with Sweetie Doctor Matt Smith! Matt put in yet another great performance - he is excellent as the Professor/Public School-Boy Doctor creating toy-boy feelings in this Whovian ;). And then at the end we have the man whose name we still don't know! - played by John Hurt - but have to wait til November 23rd 2013 for our climax! 

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

I, Claudius - BBC

I, Claudius
(Rated 6/5)
I just wanted to say a few words about this BBC drama series from oh so long ago, that is currently being repeated on BBC4. I was a child, under 10, at the time it was made and now I'm almost a middle-aged woman! The sets creating ancient Rome were a little wobbly - just like good old classic Dr Who - but it didn't matter then, and actually doesn't matter now either! It was expertly written and sensationally performed by the best acting talent of the day and still now in some cases! Derek Jacobi as Claudius - pictured below - was exceptionally natural in Claudius' physical walking disability, uncontrollable twitching and stammer - who could not adore this highly intelligent 'fool' who instilled such empathy that you willed him to get his words out and carry on playing an idiot so as not to be a threat to his crazy family in power who could kill someone at the drop of a toga?! And the best at that - Empress Livia - Sian Phillips - who calmly poisoned all those she perceived as a threat to the Roman Empire and in the way of her quest for power. One of the worst serial killers ever and yet I completely adored her as a child and still now. So much so one of our cats was named after her. In last night's episode she was no longer there to poison the problematic people and all hell broke loose! I missed her so much and yet we have John Hurt as the dreadful Caligula, also putting in a delicious performance. They were all completely mad - except Claudius - and terrible too in many cases, and yet this is like a glorious farce as well as stunning drama. I highly recommend catching up with it if you can...

Sunday, 28 April 2013

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - Olivier Award Winners 2013!

And now a multi-Olivier Award Winner:
BEST ACTOR Luke Treadaway for
The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time
Nicola Walker for The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time
Marianne Elliott for The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Tim
The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time

and more...

And a copy of my review...

(Rated 7/5 )

Absolutely thrilled and delighted to give the National Theatre’s production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time my top mark! I am sure Christopher, the hero of the piece, would query giving a better than perfect score, but I would then tell him it’s like an A*, but with an extra-special additional star added to that! 5=A, 6=A* and 7=A** J.

‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ - National Cottesloe Theatre - Saturday 25th August 2012

I read Mark Haddon’s book many years ago and absolutely loved it. Definitely one of my all time favourite novels. According to popular marketing of the novel, Christopher John Francis Boone has Asperger’s syndrome. I would say this is probably the closest it’s possible to get to ‘easily’ labelling him so that people can have some idea as to what to expect of him. However, I completely agree with Mark Haddon in his article in the theatre programme for this production – labelling people and putting them into boxes comes no way near to describing who and how they are and, in many cases, is completely unhelpful. Within all our peculiarities and syndromes, we are all individual, and on a kind of continuous scale of ‘abnormality’ – which of us is in fact normal?! It simply does not exist!
Christopher has difficulty reading and understanding other people’s emotions – his empathy is highly limited. He also struggles to allow people close to him physically – hugs are a nightmare and should be avoided – his way of coming close to someone, as shown in the play, is to slowly bring hands together, but at the point of touching, Christopher will withdraw. He loves and becomes absorbed my mathematical problems. He is very good indeed at proofs of theorems – there is a safety and security for him in the world of maths, in which you can prove things 100%. The outside world, or even the world in his own home, does not provide that safety, because nothing can be proved – it’s all a great, big confusion of people and their odd behaviours.
This becomes even more of a problem when he faced with a murder mystery to solve. Who killed Mrs. Shears’ dog, Wellington, with a garden fork? In the process of solving this mystery, Christopher goes detecting and also solves a much greater mystery of his own family and faces many of his demons along the way…

Luke Treadaway, who played the lead in the NT’s Warhorse also, continues to show his exceptional talent in performance as Christopher. This is a virtuoso study of a character, in which he uses voice as well as body language to take us along with him in understanding Christopher. We adore him! The poetry and movement of his internal world are delightful and so moving. We both fully get how hard it is for Christopher to appreciate the feelings and roller-coaster emotions of other humans with whom he has to deal, and also understand them and ourselves better in exploring with him. The beauty of his fantasies of being an astronaut comes across in a dance of lights, images and computer graphics, in which props, as well as fellow cast members are used to lift him aloft and help him fly weightlessly. The staging is complete brilliance, the biggest supporting role in exhibiting the fascinating workings of Christopher’s mind. Very well done to designer; Bunny Christie, lighting designer; Paule Constable, video designer; Finn Ross and movement directors; Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett. And of course also sound designer; Ian Dickinson, music maestro; Adrian Sutton, voice coach; Jeanette Nelson and fight director; Kate Waters. This is definitely an ensemble piece. And an ensemble stage also, which opens up at various points to reveal all sorts of secrets, devices and treasures, and on which Christopher builds a train set – which later comes to life, and draws the faces Siobhan teaches him to interpret people’s feelings. All parts of performance and staging contribute in equal measure in showing us who and how Christopher is and how his world and our world operate and come into conflict… and maybe harmony.

Niamh Cusack plays his teacher, Siobhan. Totally and utterly wonderful! As much as we adore Luke as Christopher, we love Niamh’s Siobhan too. She is so much more than his teacher. Through her narration of some parts of Christopher’s story, as well as voicing him in parts like a counsellor would with a client, we experience the intense empathy and support she gives Christopher. It also emphasizes his own voice at times when he is maybe struggling to express himself. She is so gentle and yet so strong. There are also some highly humorous moments when she tells us and Christopher what another character has said, and then they say it themselves in their own way; playing with similarity and contrast.

Luke’s father is played by Paul Ritter and mother by Nicola Walker - both very good indeed. Father, Ed is portrayed as hesitant yet honest when he feels appropriate and we feel his dilemma in trying to do the best practically for his son, whilst holding big secrets from him in attempts to save him – these have catastrophic consequences. This is a man who silently contains his emotions or in crisis lets them out with his fists or by seeking emotional consolation and rescuing from women. He shows us how hard it can be for men in our society, who are expected to be strong and brave and practical and show the stiff upper lip. It’s a huge load! Mother Judy also shows us how difficult it can be to be a fully-functioning feeling mother to a child who cannot appreciate and understand that. This will be poignant for any mother, any parent who truly cares for their child. Her story, disappointment in life and quest for an ideal, are a catalyst for events, yet whilst we may blame her for a while, we certainly do not condemn. How can we? The writing of Mark Haddon, adaptation by Simon Stephens, production and performances make us understand all the issues involved in a way that makes us truly interested and sympathetic to all involved. This story is rich in issues! Mark Haddon is a genius and I was pleased that so much of the original text was kept in the adaptation.

Other characters, voices, props etc are played by Una Stubbs, Sophie Duval, Nick Sidi, Matthew Barker, Rhiannon Harper-Rafferty and Howard Ward. They act as witnesses to Christopher by sitting on the sides of the stage and simply observing… and then support and empathy by being the characters with who he interacts as well as literally supporting him in his journey. Ingeniously done and all really great! I’d also like to give a shout out to Toby, the rat, who put up with being swung around during Christopher’s hectic travels.

It is Siobhan who suggests Christopher convert the book of investigations into the ‘curious incident’ into a play, and that she and others will help him. And that is exactly what happens, with the book and play constantly referred to and included in the action. Fellow actors step into characters as required, with Christopher commenting on their suitability to take on the roles at times. And when he wants to explain a mathematical proof to the audience – which may delay the action, but which were of course included in Mark Haddon’s book – Siobhan suggests he does so in an appendix after the curtain call, which he does to perfection, with the glorious help of the full technological wizardry of graphics and stage.

Christopher recites the prime numbers in order when he feels frightened or uncomfortable. In essence, they are his best friends. When we came into the auditorium to take out seats, for a moment I thought my seat wouldn’t be next to my companion’s. There was a seat covered in white and with the number “173” on it. An envelope told me I was sitting in a prime seat! We wondered if that meant I was going to be called on to take part in the show. For that reason I withheld from opening my envelope. At the interval I realised in prime seats had opened theirs and so I did. Inside was more information on the number “173” and a little exercise to see if I was special. You add up the numbers associated with the letters on your name – A=1, B=2 etc. to 26 – and if they make a prime number, you win a prize. We tried various combinations of both out names, short and long forms, with and without middle names, and it turned out that I’m not special, but my companion is! We won a badge showing one of the faces Siobhan draws Christopher to help him understand people’s expressions. It's a smiley face as with eyebrows over the eyes as so... \ and /...

Let me know if you know what it means?! :)

For me the second half lost a little. For a while I couldn’t work out what it was… and then I realised… we lost Christopher’s voice and expressiveness under the external pressure of the world around him and his retreat inside himself, leaving others to tell the story. Very powerful drama to lose him and for him to then return even stronger.

I have been to The Cottesloe before, but it was unrecognisable to me in the way it was transformed. Not quite as small as The Donmar, but still retaining a great sense of intimacy and connection between performers and audience. It is accessed from outside the main NT building, a little way along from the Stage Door. It’s my favourite of the NT theatres and easier for those with walking disabilities trying to get to their seats, of which there were a fair few of us that evening!

I highly recommend this production!

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Review by TheRestrictedReviewer © 2012

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Broadchurch ITV Closure 22nd April 2013

(Rated 5/5)

Broadchurch will return... but should it?! Now we know who killed Danny do we really need anything more? Series one had all the ingredients of a truly cracking whodunnit and suitably traumatised lead investigators with mysterious pasts - well in fact who did not have a mysterious past on the show?! - but to me it felt like an extremely good but self-contained piece. When something is that good should it really be repeated or stop when the going's good. Then again The Killing and other shows have successfully done it. I just hope it does not get over-milked. The acting was truly superb from everyone - I was particularly moved by Pauline Quirke's performance during her revelatory story... and then later Olivia Coleman in response to the final awful resolution. David Tennant was brilliant at stepping into a fully-rounded, damaged and flawed slightly cruel; later sympathetic character - even though I struggled for just a while with "DT is always nice DT deep-down really and that's it" - goodness knows how I will respond to him in The Politician's Husband when he will apparently be truly not nice! Arthur Darvill also did very well in a non-RoryPond role as the supportive yet challenging vicar... and Jodie Whittaker truly heartbreakingly wonderful as Danny's mother. The linking theme is abuse and love of children - where the two may even meet and the rights and wrongs of that - very emotive and powerful.
Broadchurch – Review by TheRestrictedReviewer © 2013
Twitter: @RestrictReview

Saturday, 23 March 2013

‘Trelawny of the Wells’ - Donmar Warehouse - Thursday 21st March 2013

(Rated 3.5/5 ) 

I am sure somewhere I read that this play was the writer’s love-letter to the theatre. That was one draw for me. An additional attraction was reading that the leading lady of The Wells, Rose Trelawny, is wooed by a young gentleman who ‘stage-doors’ (my term) her. Now having done that myself in times gone by – stage-dooring my favourite actors that is – and harbouring secret fantasies about the outcomes of those stage-doorings ;), I thought maybe this play would provide a wonderful satisfaction by proxy .
If I were writing a love-letter to the theatre though I reckon it would feel more passionate, but then of course it would feel more passionate to me as I’d be writing it! I am sure it felt very passionate to Arthur Wing Pinero as he wrote his close to autobiographical story. And of course it was set in a very different time and place in which the rules of society were so far removed from our own and now seem a little ludicrous. I don’t think I’m that good at stepping back into 19th Century! I’m much better at stepping back into Shakespeare’s time, but then again he was superb at stepping into any time and making his plays time-less – back, now and even forward. Also I’m not a farce-fan ;)
But getting over my 19th century farcical play issues, this was produced really well. Rose Trelawny (Amy Morgan) is leaving The Wells theatre to marry her successful stage-door suitor, well-to-do gentleman Arthur Gower (Joshua Silver). The players of the company are sad to see her go, but wish her well and give her a great and highly amusing send-off. Amongst them is ‘general-utility’ actor Tom Wrench (Daniel Kaluuya), who also writes plays with dialogue which, as lead-actress-come-theatre-manager Imogen Parrott (Susannah Fielding) comments, is more ‘real’ and less ‘speechy’ – radically different to the plays of the time. Miss Trelawny is obliged, (‘obleeeged’ as Sir William Gower (excellently played by Ron Cook, who also assumes a hilarious Mrs Mossop and pulls off an extraordinarily quick transformation from female to male; dress to suit, at one point), to be parted from her fiance, Mr Gower, during an appropriate – according to Sir William and his sister, Miss Trafalgar Gower (Maggie Steed) – courting period, but Arthur (accident that the writer gave the young stage-doorer his name?! ;)), sneeks out to carry on his courting! Sir William is horrified by the behaviour inspired in his son and the gypsy-ness of his prospective daughter-in-law. Rose in turn feels unable to continue – she doesn’t fit in – and returns to her friends and theatrical family at The Wells. However, is she able to fit back in?! It now seems she can no longer act – or at least can no longer over-act – and is a fish out of water wherever she is.
Meanwhile Imogen Parrot has successfully got funding – after some haggling and humour with Sir William of all people – for her new theatrical venture and the first play to be produced will be that of Tom Wrench. Can Rose Trelawny produce first class acting of the more real variety? And who will come to woo her at the end of the play?
This really is a lot of fun with a great deal more meaning within it than is immediately obvious, dealing with the class issues of the time as well as some eternally fascinating questions around the nature of life and acting and which is which. The ‘new’ acting is what we would now recognise as ‘The Method’. It was staged well and appropriately to the nature of the play, and very well performed by all. Nobody really stood out for me, though - simply because I haven’t already mentioned them - Aimmee-Ffion Edwards, whom I recognised from The Donmar’s production of The Recruiting Officer, was delightful again and Daniel Mays enormous fun as the over-acting thespian Ferdinand Gadd.
A highly entertaining couple of hours.

Trelawney of the Wells – Review by TheRestrictedReviewer © 2013

Friday, 1 March 2013

Freud, 1962 - Montgomery Clift Season at the BFI South Bank - 28th February 2013

(Rated 4.5/5.)

In introducing this film Trevor Johnston discussed how director John Huston had thought Montgomery (Monty) Clift's performance was disappointing. There had been many difficulties in the lead up to filming and then law suits followed! Only a few years before, Monty had been in a car accident, following which his life was saved by Elizabeth Taylor, who found him with his face mushed to a pulp up against the dashboard of the car! 
This performance as Freud was so far from being pulp! It could be, and would naturally be, that his way of acting had changed, but maybe for the better! I cannot comment as I have seen him in so little. But the intensity of his portrayal of Freud's thought-process as he observes hysterical patients, works with a particular young lady; played superbly by Suzannah York,  tries out his own new methods to help, studies his own psychology, and comes up with his revolutionary and unpopular theory on the Oedipus Complex, was outstandingly brilliant! Monty's eyes speak volumes!
This film, though of course appearing a little dated, is far superior to the more recent A Dangerous Method and much more convincingly acted by all. 
Hard to see at the cinema but a DVD is available of the full-length cut. For anyone interested in the father of psychoanalysis and/or really good psychological drama, I highly recommend it.

Just a little note of annoyance. I found Screen2 at the BFI absolutely freezing! By the end of the film my hips - from which I suffer some of my restrictedness - were in a lot of pain, and that even when wrapped in my winter coat. Why do cinemas and theatres have to have air-con on full-blast?! I think I may get the DVD myself and watch in full comfort :)

Freud – Review by TheRestrictedReviewer © 2013

Friday, 22 February 2013


BFI Preview:

Also want to add more thoughts from a second viewing at the BFI:
This time I came away feeling it was an exceptionally poignant film, full of so much 'deep and meaningful' on so many personal (for all of us!) levels with some absolutely gorgeous profound performances in it. This is MUST SEE! It could be a surprise really big hit of 2013! Many others at this preview thought so too. And there were many tears and much laughter from the audience.

Terence Stamp attended the preview. He plays the protagonist Arthur. Asked afterwards about his experience of performing in the film he told us a little story about how he had been trying to find "it" in performance many years ago and since... in Song for Marion he went into each shoot "empty" - then working with, especially Venessa Redgrave and Gemma Arterton, "it" came out of him! It being that feeling/those feelings - that maybe you can't put into words, but are the essence of true acting... of true emotional expression. He went in knowing his lines and with nothing else planned, and came out with total magic committed to celluloid. (He did also say he loved the script on first viewing but didn't think he was ordinary enough to play Arthur!) I haven't seen all his work, but yes what he produced was extremely emotive!

Vanessa Redgrave was also amazing and real. In one scene she sings Cyndi Lauper's 'True Colours' to Terence.

LFF Preview:

(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

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

'War Horse' - DVD - 2011

(Rated 3.5/5)

Just seen the film War Horse. Somehow had less of an impact on me than the stage show! Why? Because, I think, you can convey more by showing less, be more evokative - by being symbolic and representative rather than having a multitude of special effects... and perhaps, arguably, by having a puppet-horse-human combination which somehow emotes so much more than any of those individual beings can. A good film yes. A stunning stage show so much more! But horses truly are so beautiful!! Finder played Joey in his most intense acting scenes, whilst George took on Tophorn in his - georgeously sensitive animals with wonderful personalities.

Warhorse (film) – Review by TheRestrictedReviewer © 2013

Twitter: @RestrictReview