Thursday, September 29, 2005

More reason to hope...

I don't want to read the review til I've seen it, but thye header for Billers' review of Much Ado bodes well -

A charming, handsome and basically sunny production about a post-war world in which two habitual solitaries find their hearts prised open by passion.

I like sunny. :)

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Dylan overload. But he's worth it.

Lisa's blogged this, and brings together a few other great other blogs on the subject, but one more won't hurt... No Direction Home really was an absorbing three and a half hours, and let's face it, that in itself is an achievement. Then there's the fact that Dylan didn't just tell bare-faced lies (as far as we could tell!) during the interview. We can never get to fully understand him, any more than we can fully understand anyone, but this got pretty damn close. And it showed the idiocy of some interviewers which is always good. How Dylan kept up his witty replies for so long is beyond me, but the drink, the drugs, the booing and the terrible questions were obviously taking their toll by the end. Luckily he still had enough fight in him to make that wonderful final remark - 'I don't believe you....'

Monday, September 26, 2005

Richard II, Old Vic - 24/09/05

Mulling over the performance we'd just seen, Mama Waits said what I'd just been thinking; namely, 'I feel a blog coming on, Anna'.

So, was it especially good, or especially bad?

Well, here's a subsequent conversation, having just discovered that the press/opening night isn't until October 3rd -
Mama Waits: But that means they'll have been previewing for weeks!
AnnaWaits: Well judging off last night, they need it.
Papa Waits: The need more than a few weeks to sort out those problems.

That'd be 'especially bad' then.

Ok, let's get the positives out of the way, first. Trevor Nunn's production was set in the present day, and there were certain aspects of how they used that which I thought worked pretty well. For example, Gaunt's famous 'this sceptre'd isle' speech was done infront of a camera and news reporter. Inevitably, this gives the impression that the speech was pre-prepared and therefore cheapens it. For some, this was no doubt seen as bordering on sacrilidge, but, for this production, I think it worked. We were meant to feel like everyone was performing for cameras, always putting a positive spin on their own cause. From then on, the speech was shown on large screens, edited and rearranged as if it were being used by Bolingbrook's followers as a justification of his war.

The second positive was Ben Miles' portrayal of Bolingbrook, but that's probably best discussed in relation to Kevin Spacey's Richard. So here goes. Spacey's portrayal of the king was far and away the worst thing about this production. Somehow, Kev and Trev had managed to make Richard II - the man, and therefore also the play - completely uninvolving (read - dull.) We literally had no idea why anyone would want to be one of his 'flatterers': he was uncharismatic, a poor speech maker (I know the words are still good, but they were delivered so flatly) and while they threw in a few attempts at showing Richard's fun side (he and his friends go to a club at one point)and his tendency to be childish (he throws the sceptre down when he gets bored of the Mowbray/Bolingbrook dispute), they were complete one-offs. The rest of the time, Kevin's Richard was barely there or just shoutily pissed off. When his followers defected to Bolingbrook, I felt sure it was more to do with the fact that they were a bit bored than that Richard had frittered all their money away.

What showed up Richard's want of character further was that Bolingbrook was a more involving character. Because Miles delivered his speeches so much better than Spacey, he seemed to be the one with wit and charisma, and came off as an all-round nice guy. Maybe that's what Nunn intended, and if so, I apologise for knocking such an unusual interpretation of the character. What I think they were trying to achieve was to give Bolingbrook a kind of Blair circa-1997 sheen and smarminess, but it didn't come off that way. In the end, we didn't feel sorry for Richard, or see that, while his fate was deserved, he still had that sparkle which allowed him to make us pity him. We just wanted to crown King Henry and be done with it.

Overall, the production did nothing to involve you because ultimately you didn't care. You have to want to hear Richard's speeches because that's all that's left of him. He didn't even have that to fall back on in this production. The whole thing made me once again be grateful that I've got the Crucible nearby. People were whooping and clapping (and giving a standing ovation to) Kevin as if he'd just delivered the performance of his life - for his sake I hope he hadn't. I'm not one who dislikes American actors coming over here, in fact I've always fought their corner, so this was pretty disappointing. Some might say that I shouldn't judge a preview as if it were a 'proper' performance, but if that were the case I shouldn't have been charged the 'proper' price for my ticket, either.

Quite glad I went really; I like a good rant.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Super Supergrass video...

If you've ever got a few minutes spare, try and hang around the Amp channel (channel 469 on Sky) for a while, and hopefully you'll bump into the new Supergrass video for their single 'Low C'. It really is an astonishing piece of work.

We're used to music videos and adverts getting all the innovative direction, but that's not what's amazing about this video - it's the fact that it's a mini-documentary about a truly interesting subject, namely Weeki Wachee; 'City of Mermaids' in Florida. Essentially, this is one of those random tourist attractions, but it's a particularly enchanting one. For decades, young women have donned tails and, well, swum about while people watch. It's much more beautiful than I'm making it out to be.... And it's tough too; this is from the above link -

Half the trainees who make it through the formal interview and water auditions never achieve the rank of full mermaid; the year of on-the-job training and the final exam -- holding your breath for two and a half minutes while changing out of costume in the mouth of the 72 degree spring -- finishes many mermaid wannabes.

The director, Garth Jennings has unearthed a real gem, and got some ex-Mermaids, now well into their forties and fifties back into the water. Even though we've only known about these women for under three minutes, it's an emotional moment!

If you get the chance to sit down and watch it, make sure you do.

Doonesbury's back.... *conspiratorial "hmmmmmm"*

So Doonesbury has returned to theguardian/The Guardian/The Berliner Guardian/TheGuardian etc etc... This all seems very 'we're gonna change Coco Pops to Choco Crispies and there's going to be a big outcry and it's not a publicity stunt at all, oh no no no' to me....

Or maybe not.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Oh, and the Berliner Guardian

Reading Lisa's blog reminded me I was going to give my two-penneth (sp?!) about the Berliner. Great size and shape, the layout's good. But the headline font is barely distinguishable from the rest: needs to be bolder. And don't get me started on all the letters kissing the feet (and ass) of the Guardian, heralding the Berliner as a work of art both in terms of content and layout. It's a newspaper like all the rest. Don't trust it.


Being excited about a TV programme isn't the coolest thing, I realise, but it's Spooks; I mean, come on.

I missed most of last series being at uni, but me and mum weren't going to let anything get in the way of Spooks time for this double-bill. We taped it while we watched it, in case of interruptions, of course.

It's a good job that, afte the attacks on London, Shining Dawn as a concept was just silly enough to make sure the programmes weren't completely unwatchable. I'm not sure planting random bombs is the most efficient way of wiping out the majority of mankind, but, hey, it worked for the show. Just about. Zafar looks to be a great addition as long as he keeps up his one-liners; seems like there'll be good rapport between him and Adam. Rupert Penry-Jones is just a reliably stunning actor and I'll always look forward to watching him. Good start.

Oooh, tonight's Lost looks at Charlie's backstory: the best so far.

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Arcade Fire

Well, what a stunning album - strangely reminiscent of 'Promenade' era Divine Comedy and there's more and more to hear every time I listen to it. Truly an amazing new band - I'm just annoyed they're not going to tour 'Funeral' any more; apparently it's straight back into the studio...

They did find time to pop into the Top of the Pops studio however, and put on the most astonishing television music performance I've seen in a very very long time. Of course, I expected them to be wonderful, but it was the crowd reaction that really surprised me. Half of them had probably never heard of the Arcade Fire, but they applause at the end was absolutely huge - really nice to see. In fact, TOTP had a stupidly strong line up last night: Franz Ferdinand are one of Britain's best and best loved bands, Foo Fighters should have the title of the biggest band in the world (in a perfect world - ie no U2 - they would have), and the Arcade Fire pretty much are the best new band around. Add in a couple of the greatest TOTP performances from David Bowie and Ian Dury and the Blockheads and it all made up for an atypically good TOTP. Let's hope it continues!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

I should have put my money where my mouth is... was...

I said Antony and the Johnsons!! I'm really liking what I'm hearing - his album will be bought very soon, along with Arcade Fire's. I know it's shameful that I don't have it already. 'Wake Up' that's on the BBC's Autumn advert is stunning.