Sunday, February 27, 2011

After a last minute flurry, I think I've seen enough of the Oscar tipped films to have an opinion if I were to bother to sit up tonight to await the verdict.

With the notable exception of the film in which the man chews sorry saws off his own arm. There's a loss.

I'm not entirely well-placed to comment on True Grit as my best reckoning (and corroboration with my fellow cinema goers) ("your head was lolling right back on the seat back and your mouth was gaping open". Yes, thanks, JC.) suggests I might have missed anything up an hour of it on account of a short nap.

But I did like the cinematography. Great art direction, as Oscar afficionados might say. The Girl was very good. I woke up in time for the ending which didn't seem any less daft without the midsection as build up. I liked Matt. Very versatile. And as for Jeff. Weyell, I couldn't har'ly understan' a darn word he sayed. Acting or no acting. Western or no Western. I do think you should be able to understand your principle protagonists. Or provide subtitles.

The Fighter, on the other hand, I watched spellbound. Additionally fascinated because I spent the entire film labouring under the delusion that Mark Wahlberg was actually Matt Damon. How remarkable, I thought to myself, what versatility. A horrid wispy beard one day and a mountain of muscle the next. What an actor. And then I watched the credits.

The film is a most beautiful snapshot of a world. The world of this small town boy trying ever so hard to be good (at boxing) but with all sorts of things standing in his way. It's beautifully located, shot (I loved the switching between 'real life' and the TV footage of the fights and the documentary), nicely written. Just great story telling. Oh, except apparently it's true.

The master stroke of this movie is the casting. Matt / Mark is excellent. Lost enough but tough enough for you to believe that he pulls it out the bag at the eleventh hour. Christian Bale. My, he's a good actor. A deserving Supporting Actor if he gets it. Matt / Mark's mother is up for Best Supporting Girl I think. Along with pretty soulful Amy. Amy's sweet. His mother is a horrifying harridan and thus far more Oscar deserving for my money. But the whole thing is beautifully cast. Down to the seven wide-eyed and lumpen sisters with their awful mullet hair.

I'd be hard pressed to choose between The King's Speech, The Social Network and The Fighter for director, picture or script.

I hope Girl Crush Natalie gets best actress. I think I hope Colin gets best actor for his admirable stammering.

Dogtooth gets my vote for Best Foreign Film.

And maybe The Illusionist can get the animation award. For Edinburgh's sake, you know?

Good luck everybody.
Another cake is in the oven.

Lemon and almond this time.

Is this healing me spiritually?

Or just taking up time that I could spend doing my Spanish homework?

Friday, February 25, 2011

The very first scene in A&C introduces us to A and C. He's all brave warrior. She's all stroppy gorgeous queen. They're bickering a bit, a messenger wanders on with vitally important news from the battle scene, A waves him away because he's far too in love to worry about practical warlike stuff like that and A and C skip off into the sunset.

To this.

Just to continue the camp pop icon theme, you understand.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Apropos of nothing, lovely, lovely, lovely.

More here.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My very own Tennessee Williams moment today.

One of my favourite ever plays is one of his: The Glass Menagerie.

Central character (is that fair? When there are only four in total? Anyway) is Amanda Wingfield. Mother of two. A hopeless romantic dreamer of a boy trapped in a dead end job. And a hopeless romantic dreamer of a girl with a terrible limp and a giant sense of her own inadequacy. Poor Mother Amanda is also a hopeless romantic dreamer, both when it comes to re-imagining her past and re-imagining her hopeless loser childrens' futures.

One of the features of Mother's hopeless romantic dreaming is a hungry wish to see her daughter married off and thus unloaded from her own clawlikes. Perhaps in a bid to spur said daughter on - or perhaps in a bid only to revel in her (former) glories, she spends much of the play recollecting the glorious afternoon in her youth when she was Scarlet O'Hara thin, bee-aa-uutiful, deliciously charming and consequently received - in one single afternoon - a prize total of seventeen - 17! - gentleman callers. "Why, sometimes there weren't chairs enough to accommodate them all."

Today, on the approach to my local supermarket, I was accosted by a squat old gentleman, laden with bulging carrier bags. He told me first of his recently broken hip. Oh my, the painkillers they gave him in hospital did nothing to numb the pain. And then leaning into me, breathing pungent alcohol fumes into the inoffensively mild night air, seamlessly segued into the fact that when he was young, oh my, the girls had loved him. (On account of his unbroken hip?) It was a rare day that he didn't have six - 6! - girls knocking at his door wanting to take him out. Six! He rocked and leaned and breathed the fumes and exclaimed the six! I ran out of polite murmurings quite quickly.

But just think. My very own (male) Amanda Wingfield. Right on my doorstep.

Ripe for a staging.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My dance partner deserted me last night. In advance, I mean. A premeditated preplanned desertion. But still. A desertion.

I stepped along to the dance class with vague apprehension.

But as it turned out, a prize total of six women had been abandoned by their respective partners so we prowled in a pack around the studio. Safety in spinster numbers.

The Playboy Bunny roadshow must be in town.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

I almost didn't read this because I found the cover so spectacularly ugly. But being lent a book (thanks, dkpw) adds a wonderful impetus to the reading of it.

(Perhaps the lesson here is to only read books that I've been lent. Imagine how much more I'd read!)

But I'm loving this author very much. And the Lending Guilt. So I delved into it.

This is not the place for a review of it. But be assured that if you ever want to feel as if you're out of your mind on psychedelic drugs, this is probably the best way (I imagine) of doing it without illegally (boys and girls) indulging.

The reference here is being justified as it includes - well, one hundred and one wonderful phrases - if not more - but one particular phrase which captured my easily won imagination.

He's speaking of the Chief, Ken Kesey, he of One Flew and then he of much much much LSD. And he writes:

He has on a hincty washed-out faded tourist sport shirt and balloon-seat pants. He walks like a repertory theater shambles.

How many people - how many over the years - pop unbidden into your head as you read this?

He walks like a repertory theater shambles.

Love it.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

So. Let's see.


Rambert Dance Company.

I'm very ambivalent about contemporary dance as I think it can be beautiful. And it can be absolute rubbish. Sometimes both. Rarely only the former.

It's very often very well lit is the consolation prize. Though I've said this here a thousand times before.

Thursday, happily, was both beautiful and beautifully lit.

We had three pieces of work. I might say "dances" but that's because I don't know any better.

The first was apparently based on Oliver Sacks' Awakenings. I only found this out afterwards but it certainly explained why they all looked so unhappy. Luckily, they were beautiful and unhappy. They rushed around the stage making uneasy movements in little fleshy coloured clothes for the most part. Although a couple of luckier chaps got to wear suits. Exquisitely lit. I barely know what I'm talking about here but there was hardly any - I don't know how you call it - JGH? - "spill" as far as I could see. V clever.

Second was called Monolith and indeed, the stage set for this consisted of four large pillars. The dancers ran around them looking uneasy. The music for this one was also sad (Peteris Vasks' Quartet, movements I, II, III, V and VI apparently).

Neither coaxed my arms out of a suspicious (defensive) position. Although I believe all of the dancers would make a rather better fist of my Body Balance class than I myself manage.

But the third "thing". This was a delight.

Imagine the back of the stage has a curtain of silver beads run across its width. The front of the stage has this same curtain but gathered into bunches.

Lights up on a tiny girl at the back of the stage wearing the cutest tiny pink dress, a (very fashionable, I gather) green swimming cap and pink sunglasses. Oh and she's got these long very long talon finger nails, also in green, spiking up to the sky. (Well, overhead lights, anyway.)

Nice springy music. Bouncing along. At one point, veering into an arrangement of Mac The Knife.

And a whole bunch of other beautiful people burst onto the stage, technicolour dressed, fingernailed to the hilt. The front silver curtain is unleashed and tethered. The colourful beautiful strut and swarm. We, the audience, imagine we half understand and laugh along with them. And it's all sparkley and bouncy and lovely.

Once again, I have no idea what's going on. Their commentary says: filled with bizarre silhouettes and stranded angels; part fun fair, part star gala, with a dash of Rio thrown in. But confusion aside, I'm terribly tempted to stand up and dance along. (Which I'm sure, in my prize seat two rows from the front, would have been welcomed.)

This. This funny little Cardoon Club, whatsoever it stands for, is why I'll indulge (occasionally) in the obscure and impenetrable artform that is contemporary dance.
You'll all know about this already.

But for any stray prospective auditionees passing through the ether, auditions for our May show are tomorrow.

Information about aforementioned show may be found here.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Well. I'll write about this properly sometime soon.

But it was gorgeous. Quite quite lovely.

Rambert Dance Company.

Festival Theatre.

Til tomorrow. (Which is today now, actually.)

Friday. 18 Feb. 7:30pm.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Saturday night saw me at the Nottingham Arts Theatre, attending the closing night of the self-same theatre company's production of the schools' edition of Rent.

I think I've seen this before. I remember the poster more than I remember the production.

I'd forgotten what a misery it is. All thwarted dreams and relentless death.

I'd also been completely unaware at my last viewing of how similar the plot is to Mark Ravenhill's Some Explicit Polaroids.

(For those of you that missed the spectacle of Ross the shrouded corpse being "entertained" by a 'Russian' go go dancer - well - these are the moments on which theatre will long thrive.)

Anyway, these things are neither here nor there.

Director Maggie Andrew did a cracking job with a big cast on a not enormous stage.

My father did a cracking job with the set. Personal bias not withstanding.

The costumes were beautifully colour co-ordinated. The kind of effect I was after with CCC and hmmm, let's be frank, we didn't really achieve.

There was some incredibly admirable singing. You'd hope for this in a musical but - oh my lord - it's soooo not a given.

And some great acting.

The cross-dressing Angel and the bossy slutty lesbian, Maureen, were particularly impressive.

It's a condition of the performing rights that none of the actors are older than 19.

So we had 33 very young people lined up to take the curtain call at the end.

Final night, hands clasped, bouncing through their final number, the very youngest (carelessly clustered mostly right in front of me) clearly overwhelmed by the horror of the end burst into sobbing tears as the audience whooped.

Sentimental Fool burst into tears of sympathetic camaraderie.

(And O The Tempest!)

And then I got to help with half of the move out. Which given my general incompetence (and father's full awareness of my general incompetence) consisted mostly of carrying around a bucket to collect spare screws. (Yes! It's true!)

Aside from the shameful moment when surrounded by a pack of the Cool Young, I imagined a small piece of scenery was about to fall on my head and cringing, ran (Yes! Ran!) away. As the Cool Young, the picture of immobile disdain, looked on.

Shameful Sentimental Fool.
It's all beginnning. It's extremely exciting.

Lovely Mary O emailed me today asking for a bit of blurb for a letter we're sending to All Schools urging them to entertain the thought of our fine Shakespearean programme of events.

So here is my first stab at it:

Antony and Cleopatra is a timeless tale of lovers – and countries – at war. Antony’s wife dies, freeing him to be with long-held love, the sultry Cleopatra. But to advance his military cause, he marries Caesar’s sister, setting in train a tragic course of events.

One of Shakespeare’s greatest plays, this production provides a rare chance to see the tale updated to the modern day and served up in bite-sized format. Miss it and may the wrath of Eygpt fall upon you.

To be accompanied by favourite quote that the attentive amongst you will have seen already.

“Sir, you and I must part, but that’s not it

Sir, you and I have loved, but there’s not it:

That you know well: something it is I would,

O, my oblivion is a very Antony,

And I am all forgotten.”

(Google's own sizing at play here.)


Comments on postcards, please.

As I've got months to make it better.

My very own exercise in crowd-sourcing.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Oh, hey, we have ourselves a festival venue.


May I say.

I could string together a whole soundtrack featuring all of my favourite camp pop artistes for A&C if I wanted to.

Antony can sing this before he goes nuts and (spoiler alert) stabs himself.

And then Cleo can have a bit of this just after Antony (pre-stabbing) has stormed off in a sulky sulk (I couldn't even bring myself to watch this through but perhaps just listen to the words and ignore the pics).

You've already seen my Scissor Sisters suggestion.

A little Holly Johnson and a little Erasure (Love To Hate You?? - Cleopatra could sing this - spoiler alert again - to the asp??) and we'll be good to go.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

May I commend DG for his impressive efficiency.

I tentatively sent off my utopian dreams for my festival show last night.

By the end of this afternoon, it was incorporated into his super smart year-long proposal and despatched to the aforementioned long-established theatre company.

Now we await their verdict.

Keep your fingers crossed for us.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Well. Tonight was meant to be solely dedicated to our joint application to a long-established theatre company for the inclusion of our 2011 programme of activity in their "being benevolent to amateurs" scheme.

Unfortunately, all sorts of other nonsense got in the way. (Body Balance class. Lovely Spanish teacher: "Just kick your legs together and imagine they're a mermaid's tail." Cue slightly derisory look from holiday envy lady next to me as we thrashed around on the floor like thirsty beached whales.)

So I began my portion of our prize application - perhaps the only thing standing between us and financial ruin - far closer to the witching hour than I would like.

The advantage of such late night work is that my imagination runs free and liberated when it comes to detail.

The disadvantage is that I can't tell what does and doesn't sound like freely liberated nonsense.

We'll soon see I suppose.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

I'm not a huge fan of Arthur Miller. And I can't quite put my finger on why. As he's undoubtedly very popular and undoubtedly very talented.

I wasn't going to bother with the Lyceum's View From The Bridge. But my Secret Rapture sister expressed an interest in seeing it so I went along with this to see her more than the show. Drunken stepmother came too. And we were quite the happily re-united band.

I've seen the play once before. In the Festival in 1997 in one of the tall thin buildings along Princes Street which was going under the C banner at the time. I remember almost nothing about the production aside from the fact that it was exceeding hot in the venue, we'd already seen two or maybe three shows that day - and it was only mid-afternoon - and I - surprise - struggled to stay awake. Some things don't change.

It was a bit of a week, last week, so my full attention could not have been said to be undividedly on the stage. But I stayed awake almost all the way through it. Only falling asleep (exceedingly carelessly) in the final ten to fifteen minutes. Like Mr Hope in Metropia, this won't have helped my understanding of the overall plot. But sister / drunk stepm filled me in so I don't think I missed out too badly.

Given these shameful circumstances, it's perhaps unfair of me to pass any kind of comment on the overall production. But as that has never stopped me before, it shall not stop me now.

Even though I'm a little tentative in my reaction.

As I didn't think it was amazing.

And lots of other people appear to have.

The Lyceum - who are proving to be masters of social media - have done a fabulous job of retweeting popular delirious excitement about the production since it opened.

The reviews have been pretty overwhelmingly positive.

And then I found this rhapsody on the blog of A Man Of Whom I Know (is a more accurate description than A Man I Know).

And this made me doubt myself a little bit more.

The simple trouble is - great play, great story. Fabulous story in fact. If a little histrionic. But the performances. Well, they were good. But not outstanding. (Says she.)

Patriarch Eddie did the big blustery bully bit very well. But I didn't see much of what made his girls (wife and niece) adore him as they so clearly did. The lawyer, Alfieri, was capable enough but appeared to keep fluffing his lines. Though perhaps, as (fake) sister said, this was supposed to be a character trait that just hideously backfired. The two incomers, Marco and Rodolpho, were sweet enough boys but hard to see why pretty Catherine ended up so smitten.

The girls, to be fair, were excellent. I got Beatrice's loving everyone and not wanting to let anyone down. And Catherine (who's now been a lovely NTS Wendy and a particularly perky Cecily) was as pouty and posturing as you'd want a teenager on the brink of it all to be.

And the story is tremendous. Eddie makes a stand for what he believes to be right, alienating everyone that loves him in the process. And he ends up (spoiler alert) dead stabbed dead as a consequence. The lawyer is given this beautifully impenetrable speech to round things off (luckily, I woke up just in time):

Most of the time we settle for half and I like it better. Even as I know how wrong he was, and his death useless, I tremble, for I confess that something perversely pure calls to me from his memory—not purely good, but himself purely. And yet, it is better to settle for half, it must be! And so I mourn him—I admit it—with a certain alarm.

What a fine message. To be urged to seize life with both hands and do what has to be done, no matter how hard the outcome.

But to my mind (and a little reassured by Thom), served up only serviceably by the Lyceum.

Clearly, the climactic nap didn't help.

Nonetheless, I'd think I'd rather have watched Strictly Ballroom.

Same message. So many more sequins.
May I be permitted to rail against the horrible fact that the stuff of life takes up so much time..? Just briefly. So I don't waste too much more of it.

Today is a beautiful case in point. Obviously it depends on your definition of necessary stuff of life. But I think most who know me would agree that I'm pretty low maintenance. If not low to no maintenance. Today, I had to go to the gym, do some washing, some washing up, some bits and pieces online, a fragment of work that I didn't finish yesterday. The list of things I should do is obviously much longer.

And yes, I slackly got up rather later than I could've. And then I frittered the time away with some online not at all necessary stuffs, made a clumsy attempt to go to the cinema, decided I'd embark on a rare food shop instead, got distracted by the siren call of rival retail outlets, bought things that were long overdue anyway (never good when a work colleague comments on a hole in your leggings and a loyal female co-worker jumps in with "it's not a run, it's a hole and holes are acceptable") and that was another hour and a half guzzled up.

Why can there not be more time to do the things I like?

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Delving around on old memory sticks and I found this rather fine piece of graffiti, snapped in the super cool laneways of Melbourne. A&C publicity?
I've seen some bizarre things on the boat / barge in my time.

As far as the shower is concerned, it was a repository for Miranda's costume for two weeks last August. So was scattered with strappy shoes and a scrap of velvet embellished with bottle tops and a plethora of make-up products.

For approx one hour before the show, the doorway was filled with a folding chair and Mr B.S.Neill sitting in his Cap'm's jacket reading Barcelona Plates by Alexei Sayle.

Both of these things came to seem fairly normal after 14 days.

Last night, a new peak of weirdness.

A belated Burns Night for clients on the barge. We had haggis and - well of course we did. All the usual trappings. And then we had to tidy away the residue to make way for the truckles of cheese.

I would imagine that anyone reading this has seen the kitchen on the boat. It rivals my own home kitchen for compactness. (Actually, that's a lie. It's about double the size. But still, compact.) There isn't a great deal of space for haggis and vats - tureens sounds nicer - of root vegetables.

Hopelessly, I asked The Man In Charge where I should stow the discarded food. The shower, quoth he.

So from Miranda's make-up to Brian's books to trays full of entrails.

Oh. The things I have seen.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Black Swan.

It's my own fault.

I had stupidly high expectations.

I love Natalie Portman. (Want to be her.)

I love ballet. In the abstract at any rate.

(I'm sure I'd have made it as a prima b if I'd started classes any sooner than 16 years into my life at reputable local dance studio - note the f - Hoofers. But I got to wear those soft pink tights with a seam up the back. That was more or less enough for me.)

So Black Swan. A combination of my two loves. How could it go wrong?

But wait. This winning combination was overlaid with giant great dollops of Darren Aronofsky.

I haven't ever really recovered from seeing what - certainly at the time - was the most harrowing film of my life to date. Requiem for a Dream.

Rewind to the year 2000. Young Me steps along the street to meet Ross at the pub opposite the Cameo for a cool refreshing drink before we - oh so cool it felt like we were on the very fringes of filmic culture - ventured in to the cinema to see this obscurely tipped masterpiece.

I remember almost nothing of the film. I watched a great deal of it through splayed fingers (my clever tactic for avoiding gore and horror). But there were drugs and drugs and drugs. And it was exceeding harrowing. Or I was very young. I'd be interested to see it again now with my old tired eyes. But we ventured out into the dark of the night once the credits had begun to roll, shaking slightly, and I remember thinking with some mild distress that the world was clearly a wickeder and more miserable place than I'd quite realised before.

Then The Wrestler was brilliant. So what's a girl to think?

What she now thinks is that Black Swan is The Wrestler (except Natalie's a rising rather than a fading star) about anorexics.

I loved the tutus and the feathers and the sequins and the make-up.

I loved less the slicing and the smashing and the wide wild eyes and the sinister slightly out of focus camera work and the shrieking sound design and the blood and the blood and the blood.

I see exactly what he was trying to do and I think he did it. (Oh how pompous she is!) With an abundance of lascivious gore along the way.

But it was a little bit too self-indulgent for my liking.

Having said that, Natalie was superb. My girl crush lives on.