Thursday, April 24, 2014

Perfectly placed to shake me out of Old Smug Complacency, Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake last night at the Festival Theatre. 

What is Swan Lake if not a story about a Prince who feels he doesn't fit in? 

Particularly in clever creative wish I could have a fraction of his imagination Mr Bourne's version. 

It was stunning. 

I cried like a child.

Not so much more grown up than the teenagers after all. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A feast of teen movies last week. Well, two. Divergent. And The Amazing Spider-Man. 

Both were fun. Divergent was beautifully art-directed. Spidey was beautifully edge-of-your-seat crash bang wallop gripping.

Both were thin on plot.

(Spoiler alert.)

Divergent is about a girl who doesn't feel like she fits in. (But good news. Nor does the hot boy who's responsible for making her into something she maybe is or isn't really.)

Spidey is about the dread devastation of being let down by someone you thought was a friend. And just in case you didn't quite get it the first time, this plot line is recycled across characters kind, villainous and disappointment-turned-villainous for 141 minutes.

Don't get me wrong. They're both great popcorn movies. But more interesting was the fact that the passel of teenagers with whom I viewed the aforementioned were enthralled involved delighted with both storylines (clever (older) cynic aside). Child of Siobhan liked Divergent so much that she went to see it twice.

So I see that the reason the only reason I can be so dispassionately critical of both films is because I am TOO OLD. I am no longer wrestling (much) with the nature of my identity. I discovered far too long ago to be storyline-immersed that people Will let you down. And therefore, the novelty - the need to consider reflect observe regret come to terms with rue and rue the day - is much reduced.

My advice to you then, if considering either, is take some teenagers along and enjoy them not quite knowing themselves yet. With a gigantic bucket of popcorn to occupy the dull bits.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

It's time.

Last Saturday was a peculiar weather mishmash of a day so after having sorted and valiantly attempted to bin a collection of garments that pass for costumes at Home Street, I sat outside (bold) a tiny sandwich shop on Melville Street in thin and sickly sun and finished reading (again, I hasten to add) the script for November's show. 

(I still owe you part three of the performing rights excitement, of course. Bet you can scarce breathe for suspense.)

I supped yellow pea soup, gave directions to a visiting German, read the final scenes, wept a bit in the thin and sickly sun (always am excellent sign. If the script makes me weep, buckets of potential for the real thing) and started to feel the first flicker of excitement for it all beginning again.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

María y yo. 

The Spanish call it a documental. I'm ashamed to say I wouldn't have gone anywhere near it as it looked (heaven forfend) worthy but my Spanish teacher (a misleading description as that suggests I'm actually learning) spotted it and suggested a class outing which turned into me and she.

It formed a part of the rather clumsily titled Ibero-American documentary festival. A niche within a niche of a remit. But seemingly, the Spanish-speaking world is rich with documentaries so where better to celebrate them than Edinburgh?

The film was lovely. A window into the lives of a father and his autistic daughter. I know very little about autism but I know there is a spectrum - though I'm sure even that is simplistic - of symptoms and this girl displayed more pronounced symptoms than some for sure. 

The story was elevated from a "simple" exploration of fitting life around the daughter to something more visually rich still by the convenient fact that this father was (is) an illustrator. He draws for a living. He had charted the life of María in pictures in a giant collection of notebooks since birth and continued into her teenage years to entertain her with his drawings. And some of these are animated and woven considerately and captivatingly throughout the film.

As it turned out, the film was inspired by a book written by the dad (and now winging its way to me via the wonders of amazon) about her and they. It may perhaps be more of a graphic novel; I'll soon see. So the documentary version may not be such a leap of inspired creativity. But nonetheless, it's beautifully done. 

And the whole adventure was rendered more captivating still when the film showing was followed with a Skype onto the baby Filmhouse 3 screen conversation with the director, Félix Fernández de Castro who was hanging out at home in Barcelona. Turned out he made ads for a living (and I fancied I heard a disapproving murmur from the assembled audience), wanted to make something longer, seeked and sought inspiration for years, bumped into the book, loved its frank and honest and 'man this is hard but I love her' tone and took this as his start. 

I hope I have a similarly inspired and inspiring bump one day. 

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Twenty Feet From Stardom.

I'd imagined this as a cross between Pitch Perfect and Step It Up, featuring some collection of women styled like the Supremes. Shows how much I know about backing singers.

In fact, this is a bright and brilliant documentary that dabbles in a history of pop music but really focuses on the (most often) women who lurk in the background and prop up the pop star's sometimes spindly vocals. 

All sorts of tales are told. Stellar singers who opted for supporting roles for fun. Potentially stellar singers whose songs were stolen by producers. Families fabricating a living out of background singing and Avatar (who knew?) sound effects. 

And it's all woven about with the sultry, seductive, soaring sound of the beautiful background harmonies.

I, for one, burst out of the cinema thinking I should like to try. (Beyond my Bitch outing in the Tempest.) And I raced home and bought some CDs so I can start practising.

Sting, if you're reading this, I think I'd be an excellent complement to the insanely talented Lisa Fischer. My dance moved might be lacking but stick me away at the back and no-one'll notice.