Category Archives: Film & TV

2015 Personal highlights from the Young Critics & 3rd Act Critics

 

2015 New Year celebration with the date outlined by colourful fiery sparklers on a dark New Year's Eve night

 

Members of the Young Critics and 3rd Act Critics have selected their own personal highlights of 2015. Their first choice is that a cultural event they have reviewed or attended. Their second is something they have personally experienced which has resonance for them as an individual.

 Young Critic Lois Arcari

2015 is, like all other years, impossible to forget for many reasons. One such reason was an amazing blur, both individually and for the Young Critics as a whole – the celebration of Welsh talent and its abilities at the annual BAFTA Cymru awards. For a review and as a day, what was daunting turned easily to something wonderful, truly hopeful and encouraging for a defiantly blossoming industry in the face of cuts to the arts and critics of its worth. An event that continues developing to give Wales international renown. This day was both an honour, and a joy to be part of.

https://theyoungcritics.wordpress.com/2015/09/30/bafta-cymru-awards-2015-by-lois-arcari/

My personal pick of this year is something as much as a cultural event, platform for debate, national icon and builder of careers and friendships alike as it is a show – the incomparable Doctor Who. In light of criticisms thrown at showrunner Steven Moffat for a number of years now, this season has episodes widely regarded as some of the most experimental, diverse and emotional at least post revival. Whilst I was worried at the apparent superficiality of this choice – Doctor Who is iconic for a reason. Not least this past season because of the sensational acting masterclass in acting from Peter Capaldi, and Jeanna Coleman. Coleman has laid claim to being a divisive character, but personally I think her performance is one of the most raw, layered and deftly handled in the show’s history, especially when coupled with Moffat’s no holds barred approach. Though missteps were made, they were made in interesting ways. The Doctor, expertly handled, has always been a personal character – an icon of unflinching hope and possibility that even helped through uncertainty and anxieties through eager viewing last year following a serious car accident. Seeing the characters, writing and ambition grow in tandem has been moving and joyous, and the many layers encouraging fans to analyse, speculate, and always, always hope. As the show-runners (as a brilliant personal meeting at the aforementioned BAFTA Cymru awards with Russel T Davies showed) did with the same love.

 

3rd Act Critic Barbara Michaels

My first choice would have to be Mack and Mabel at WMC. The production was brilliant on all fronts, Barbara reviewed this production for The Reviews Hub

Mack and Mabel – Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff

Secondly my personal choice is Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake with male dancers as the swans.  A new take in one of the most popular classical ballets and spine tingling.

 

Young Critic James Briggs

For my choice of 2015 I would like to say Jersey Boys at the Wales Millennium Centre because this was the first production that I reviewed for Young Critics and so if I had not chosen to attend that show I would not have been so involved with Young Critics this year.

Review Jersey Boys, WMC by James Briggs

For my second choice of 2015 I would like to say the Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular that was at Cardiff Motorpoint Arena back in May this year.

This is a review by Wales Online about the show

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/whats-on/music-nightlife-news/doctor-who-symphonic-spectacular-shows-9328752.

 

Young Critic Kiera Sikora

I would definitely say my favourite production which I reviewed in 2015 was Alix in Wundergarten- Difficult Stage/Other Room

https://theyoungcritics.wordpress.com/2015/12/05/review-alix-in-wundergarten-the-other-room-by-kiera-sikora/

My second choice would be A Doll’s House- Sherman Cymru a relevant retelling of a theatrical classic!

 

Young Critic Amina Ali

My first choice would be the TV series Agent Carter

https://theyoungcritics.wordpress.com/?s=Agent+Carter+&submit=Search

My second choice would be the Black Lives matter movement. I feel it’s important because as a black person the miscarriages of justice are almost personal. It is important to know that there are people standing up for people like me.

http://blacklivesmatter.com/about/

Young Critic Sian Thomas

My first choice would be the book Unspeakable by Abbie Rushton, I feel I wrote my review well and there was to my surprise online interaction with the author and her publisher on Twitter. I know someone also bought it as a consequence of my review which I thought was amazing!

https://theyoungcritics.wordpress.com/2015/08/15/review-unspeakable-abbie-rushton-by-sian-thomas/

 

My second would be the release of the World of Professor Layton which is a big art book about my favourite ever game that came out around November 5th and I really enjoyed and felt the closure of the series ending personally.

 

Young Critic Bethan Hooton

My number one event of the year would have to be the One Direction concert – seeing your favourite band live is something you will never forget!

https://theyoungcritics.wordpress.com/2015/06/26/review-one-direction-cardiff-millennium-stadium-by-bethan-hooton/

My second choice would be getting my GCSE results – 2 Cs, 7Bs, A, A* . I was so proud of myself for these grades, and I got into college with them to study subjects that I now really enjoy and love.

 

We are all looking forward to what 2016 will bring!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review Dr Who ‘Hell Bent’ by James Briggs

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So the time has finally arrived and another series of Doctor Who has come to a dramatic end. Please be aware that this review does contain spoilers of the final episode of Series 9. Before the airing I think we were all expecting explosions and mass panic on Gallifrey but we had quite the contrary. We had the Doctor walk into a Nevada dinner and is served by someone who seems to look a lot like his companion Clara.

The previous events of Face the Raven were highly nodded to in episode 12, with many of the loose ends being tied up. The episode opens up an enormous blue box of sorrows and often leaving the audience with a tear in their eye; the most emotional time being when the Doctor first strums “a sad song” on his electric guitar, or as it is more commonly known Clara’s theme. The use of the Doctor calling the song “Clara” really tugged at viewer’s heartstrings.

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Steven Moffat very cleverly gave us the idea all through the episode that the Doctor was visiting Clara and filling in her memory because he had wiped it. However, Moffat being the showrunner he is decided things would not be that easy. Clara had not had her memory wiped instead it was the Doctor and he was only reciting what he could remember about his lost companion Clara. Clara knew all along who the Doctor was and could not say anything about Clara to the Doctor as he does not know who this mystery Clara could be. This was a very clever trick as the dinner meeting was their real parting. Clara is and always has been in charge of the circumstances. She has set the scene for the Doctor, reunited him with his trusty Tardis and says goodbye the only way she can: “Memories become stories when we forget them. Maybe some of them become songs.”

The one central story that gripped many Whovians was the return of Gallifrey and the Timelords. Among Whovians this is an extremely big deal. Following the great Time War the Doctors home planet has been lost or as said in episode 12 “at the extreme end of the time continuum”. It has become far too much of a muchness that all the Galiffrey citizens are decrepit and old. The episode smashed this away to the other side of the universe, it really was out with the old and in with the new. As the Doctor self-proclaimed he was Lord Chancellor of Gallifrey it was time to send of the old one into deep space. Even when the Doctor shot the Chancellor’s guard he too regenerated into a much younger female version of himself. This male to female regeneration does leave one wondering however is could this be the closest we will get to seeing a female Doctor, Moffat promised us there could be one in the future but could this be his way of saying anything is possible?

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One of the best moments of this finale was the re-creation of the original Tardis control room from the 1963 series. The glorious set was resplendent once again with the bright white walls and panels and the iconic circles, does anyone know what they actually do? This may not have been the 20th Doctor’s personal version of the Tardis but still Peter Capaldi’s Doctor, Clara and Ashildr looked seamlessly at home when speeding through the universe. The end scene where the Tardis is made to look like a 1950’s dinner worked so well and had a nod back to when Doctor Who first started.

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The director of the episode Rachel Talalay finds lots of fresh new angles to make the vast interior of the Tardis look so different and interesting. No words need to be spoken in this scene and with the backdrop of Murray Gold’s magical theme we can feel the power of Peter Capaldi’s Doctor build. In a channel of blinding backlight and smoke, the Doctor enters his trusty old Tardis. Slowly powering up in his presence we get a feeling of the link between the Doctor and his Tardis. The chalk message on the blackboard by Clara “Run you clever boy and be a Doctor.” Is a wonderful link back to when she first joined as companion with the then Doctor Matt Smith. A new velvet jacket is waiting for the Doctor next to the board and just like magic a brand new sonic screwdriver shoots out of the console and lands into the Doctors hand. The doors close as he clicks his fingers and as he moves the controls and goes off to new adventures; but no longer with Clara this time his Christmas assistant the fabulous River Song. For me this is an absolutely fantastic closing sequence for the end of a series of Doctor Who. This could almost be seen as the first time that the Doctor has lost and won so much in the same episode. The Doctor has earned the power over life and death which is something he has aimed for since the start of his series. The Doctor has his favourite companion stuck between one heartbeat and the next and the medieval woman that he has spared from death after causing death to his friend. Clara and Ashildr are united in a dynamic time traveling duo who have their own Tardis in the form of an American diner and heading off together to have adventures of their own. Could there possibly be a spin of show from this?

Overall an utterly fantastic end to the series and it has left many fans of the show with lots of unanswered questions like who was that person that was talking to the Doctor in the shed on Gallifrey? Could it be his mother? We shall have to find out in the future. Doctor Who will return on Christmas Day with the special episode and the companion will be River Song. While you wait until Christmas Day I will be traveling in my Tardis to watch the episode. I promise not to give too much away beforehand.

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Young Critic James Briggs on the set of the Tardis

Review Cardiff Film and Comic Con by James Briggs

James at comic con

Young Critic James Briggs

Cardiff Film and Comic Convention

The Cardiff Film and Comic Convention is one of the biggest fan events of the year in the UK. Held at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena, the weekend long event features the opportunity to meet some of the most well-known stars from the world of film, television, sports, comics and much more.

As the doors open and the mad dash to enter starts you find yourself feeling like a child again with a feeling of awe with the vast space filled with all of its amazing geekiness. You will always find the guests are located at the back of the venue past the merchandise stands and talk areas which greet you on the way in.

The feeling of awe is continued when it comes to meeting the celebrity guest that are attending the comic convention. One of the most exciting parts of a convention on offer are the photo shoots, this year there were many different celebrities but most popular were Carl Weathers of ‘Rocky’ Fame and Dave Prowse who shot to fame by playing the infamous dark lord himself ‘Darth Vader’ in the hit movie franchise ‘Star Wars’.

As well as having photographs taken with celebrity stars you are also able to have a picture in different settings (with the help of course of a green screen). This year I had a picture in the Jurassic Park setting where I was being chased by a deadly dinosaur.

When receiving autographs from the guests, Showmasters also supply photos of the guests showing them in the various television series and films they have appeared in. The public can also take along their own items such as movie props, books, posters and DVD’s to be signed. Showmasters are very accommodating to ensure each and every person at that convention has the best time they possibly can.

Another feature that the Comic Convention offers that draws in many different people is the panels they hold with special guest stars. One of the panels I attended on the day was that of the Doctor Who panel, the special guest stars were Angela Bruce who really got the audience going and had fantastic comic timing, Wendy Padbury and Annette Badland. The three were a great group and really made the audience feel that they were their friends and we had all just dropped in for a chat and a cup of tea.

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Dr Who star Angela Bruce

As well as seeing the guest stars and stalls people were also able to take a look at the ‘KITT’ car from the well renowned television series ‘Knight Rider’ that was on display at the entrance to the convention, many people gathered in order to take pictures of this, one of the most famous movie cars.

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Knight Riders car KITT

A special mention must be given to all the cosplayers that attended the two days of the convention. Many of the costumes were amazing and the cosplayers are more than happy to pose for photos with you. I happened to come across a very realistic Darth Vader and a gang of fellow Stormtroopers who happily went around threatening fans with lightsabres providing great photo opportunities for all fans.

One final mention must be to the city of Cardiff itself as the people there are always so welcoming to cosplayers and celebrity guests during the Cardiff Film and Comic Convention weekend and also enjoy seeing the movie characters gracing the streets of the city. We look forward to the next Cardiff Film and Comic Convention which will be on 5th and 6th of March 2016.

http://www.showmastersevents.com

 

BAFTA Cymru Awards 2015 by Hannah Goslin

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Gruff Rhys winner of Original Music Set Fire to the Stars

With a carpet as red as the Welsh dragon, the streets of Cardiff opened up to support the glamour and talent that has come out of Wales for the 2015 BAFTA Cymru Awards. Stars that are known among the TV dwellers, some who have reached the realms of Hollywood and even celebrities that fly the flag for this wonderful country were out in their glory in the centre of the capital.

Seeing and getting the chance to speak to the likes of Scott Quinnell, Charlotte Church and Russell T Davies was a joy but also a warm sense of pride was evoked for someone who comes from a Welsh mother but predominately studied and trained in this creative country that is not given enough acknowledgement in the industry.

It is all well and good celebrating the United Kingdom as a whole, but to celebrate Wales specifically is a triumph. Underestimated for its acting, musical and writing talent, we have brought out fantastic shows and films from the BBC, S4C and Pinewood Studios.

This especially comes from conversations I have had  with those I know in other parts of the country. There is an attitude that this event is nothing but a lower version of the larger event – a laughable act to celebrate Wales. But how can this be? Do people so easily forget that majority of our programmes and creative people come from Wales? And that this is only growing.

Due to this underestimation of Welsh talent, the focus I wanted to find from talking with these people was what should young people be doing in Wales to get into the industry? Many move away to find better opportunities, and while I moved myself, I was under no illusion that there were prospects in Wales, but more to experience somewhere else for a short time.

Russell T Davis especially was so interesting to speak to. He recommended that the industry is hard work but just to persevere. Writing, especially, the key is to just keep writing. And while this is specific, it could be said that this is great advice for everyone. Working hard gets you everywhere and within a country that slowly is becoming more recognised for the talent it produces, the industry will become harder than it already is, and hard to break.

Other conversations, mostly with actors gave opinions that Wales is a great place for the young in the industry. With fantastic institutions, the way to train and get involved has changed from the days of leaving and finding the hard work of the big smoke that is London. London and England no longer is the be all and end all of the industry but nor does the advice to work hard and find these institutions means that the industry is a lonely place where you look out for only yourself. It was said that finding a group that supports talent such as drama classes or dance classes can also open avenues. Some fall into the industry from these outlets but ultimately, with Wales being such a small place, these training classes can open avenues which still will rely on hard work.

This patriotic and beautiful celebration gives much food for thought, especially for those like myself who moved away to find herself never far from Wales and returning. London is beautiful, it’s fantastic but it is vast. Sometimes lonely and difficult in this vastness. And while Wales is becoming more and more recognised for fantastic talent and may one day will become as vast as London, the warmth and patriotism of the country at such events shows that the industry does not need to be so wide and for the solo, but can be homely, welcoming and so close-knit as Wales as a whole, in my experience, has always been.

BAFTA Cymru Awards 2015 by Lois Arcari

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Director Euros Lyn and writer Russel T Davies with the Sian Phillips award which was presented to Euros by Russel at the ceremony.

Last Sunday, our dragon roared in celebration of the talents of this country, why I hear you ask?

Last Sunday was the 2015 BAFTA Cymru Awards, a buzzing celebration of Wales’ talent, and blooming attraction to international shows and films, with the public watching amongst home grown stars.

Wisdom –easy to receive, hard to listen to – certainly when your brain has a series of buffers and filters to make the challenge of it getting in there that tad bit more exciting, the cogs and emotions of your brain cheering on the wipe out style spectacle before them. Luckily, wisdom is astronomically better fated straight from the horse’s mouth – when the ‘horse’ is another thing entirely. An institution of a show runner, a brilliant, lauded writer, Russel T Davies. The chestnut in question- “just write” Which of course, I am in the process of doing, somewhat strangely with the same, utterly euphoric glee that came over me, and all spectators during the event.

This buzz, according universally to the winners and hosts of the event, is reflected in the unlimited potential of Wales. This potential has, according to, among others, winning director Euros Lyn always been here, but is now being sought ought internationally, with shows like The Bastard Executioner recognising our well of talent.

Each and every interview, however long or short, showed this talent just as easily as the ceremony and awards themselves, with insight into special effects, saying great effects must be ‘wedded to the story’, Director Clare Sturges with her aim to humanise and to stop victim blaming in ‘Sex Work love and Mr Right’, and that tenacity and ‘keenness’ are the first essential steps to arriving in the industry, ready to work for getting to a standard for events like these – something I, as an aspiring writer, would leap at, both hands waiting, despite dyspraxia producing some (light) trauma in the form of PE flashbacks, ready to catch the chance.

No, not even turning the poor saucer of my coffee cup into a small lake could put a damper on the evening. Though slightly soggy. (I shall not, as my friends know full well, ever be up for a comedy award!)

With meeting a childhood icon, industry greats and new friends in the form of the other critics, the buzz is almost certain to remain whenever the memory is looked at, as fondly and excitedly as the night was lived through.

This is as good an incentive as any to have faith in our TV and film, to support upcoming projects and look again at ones past. Among the winners were Euros Lyn, Clare Sturges, Rhod Gilbert, Mali Harries and Gruff Rhys, with Hinterland, Jack to a King and Set Fire to the Stars some of the luckiest projects on the night.

 

The full list of winners can be found here;

http://www.bafta.org/wales/awards/news/winners-announced-british-academy-cymru-awards-2015.

BAFTA Cymru Awards 2015 by James Briggs

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All of the stars were out in force on Sunday the 27th of September at St David’s Hall, Cardiff to attend the annual BAFTA Cymru awards. With the red carpet out and public awaiting the arrival of Wales’ television and movies biggest stars the atmosphere was electric, with plenty of autographs being signed and pictures being taken.

One highlight of the red carpet for me was being able to meet and interview my idol, Russell T Davies. What a really nice guy, so down to earth and a pleasure to chat with. Disappointingly though, he told us that his hit series Cucumber will not be returning for a second series as it was written purely to be for one series only but there seems to be lots more to come from him.

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The Young Critics meet Russell T Davies

After the excitement of the red carpet, we made our way to the press interview room, where we were lucky enough to meet and interview some of the award winners and presenters. Their excitement at winning a Welsh BAFTA was evident and it was a great experience to interview many famous faces such as Gruff Rhys, the renowned and well deserved winner Euros Lyn and the Production team for Jamie Baulch – Looking for my Birth Mum to name but a few.

It was evident from many of the winners that they appreciated winning a BAFTA Cymru award. You could see that whether they were in front of the camera or in the production teams that it was an amazing achievement and one that they would cherish.   For some, who had started from humble beginnings, were happy to share their stories and by winning an award for their hard work they had achieved one of their ultimate goal by receiving such a prestigious award.   Everyone who attended the awards, be they in front or behind the camera, were all inspirational and really did make you feel that you should chase your dreams and one day you may be lucky enough to be collecting a BAFTA yourself.

So, overall a truly magical evening that allowed fans of Welsh TV and Film to come out and join in with the celebrations of what Wales has achieved. We wait in anticipation and look forward to seeing what the coming year will bring us in the world of Welsh film and television.

Review Agent Carter, Ep1 Season1 by Amina Elmi

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The Marvel Cinematic Universe has dominated the box office over these past few years and it is only getting stronger. It seems only fitting that it spreads to the small screen as well. Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD is about to start its 3rd series in September and many fans are looking forward to it. Agents of SHIELD has created the path for Marvel’s latest series Agent Carter.

Agent Carter continues on with some of the most loved characters from the first Captain America film. The first episode begins where the movie ended. We see a heartbroken Peggy attempting to move with her life after the loss of Steve.

The show is set after the Second World War where Peggy Carter continues to work as an agent. After Peggy’s work in the war, you would at least think she would be treated equally by her co-workers, unfortunately not. Every day she battles sexism as well as the bad guys.

What I like most about Agent Carter is that it provides a role model for girls. Agent Carter is a strong, fearless woman who does not need anyone’s approval. Watching the show gives you a feeling that being a woman is not a disadvantage, it is an opportunity to show the world that you are just as capable.

I don’t need Agent Thompson’s approval or the President’s. I know my value; anyone else’s opinion doesn’t really matter.” – Agent Carter S1 Ep8

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Hayley Atwell plays Peggy Carter brilliantly. She embodies what it is to be a strong woman. The fight scenes are choreographed really well and it is comforting to see a women kick-ass. Hayley is also really entertaining on social media. She is always engaging with fans, making funny videos and generally making people smile.

Agent Carter has taken the world by storm. Its success has allowed another series with more episodes for fans to enjoy. Even looking through pictures of San Diego Comic Con, I don’t think that many people have ever cos-played the same character. I am a massive fan of Agent Carter and can’t wait for what she gets up to next.

Agent Carter can be seen on Fox at 9pm on Sunday evenings in the UK.

Review Slow West Chapter Arts Centre by James Knight

 

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In Martin McDonagh’s 2008 film In Bruges, Colin Farrell turns to Brendon Gleeson and says, ‘Purgatory’s kind of like the in-betweeny one. You weren’t really s**t, but you weren’t all that great either. Like Tottenham.’ John Maclean’s Slow West is a Purgatory-esque new Western that doesn’t reinvent the genre, nor will it reboot it, but just like Spurs, it’s still entertaining.

Scottish filmmaker Maclean’s debut feature tells the story of sixteen year old Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee) as he travels west across nineteenth century Colorado in search of his one and only love Rose (Caren Pistorius), who previously left Scotland with her father. On the way he employs outlaw with a shady past Silas (Michael Fassbender) to safeguard his journey through the dangerous forests and vast open landscapes of the American West.

The history of the Western is essentially the history of movie star charisma. From Jimmy Stewart, to John Wayne, to Robert Mitchum, to Gary Cooper, to Clint Eastwood, to Henry Fonda, not forgetting a little dash of Walter Brennan here and there, the genre has always been a driving force for star quality and personality. Slow West however, is a lonely desert when it comes to charisma. As Silas, Fassbender makes no mistakes but then again he takes no risks, he doesn’t play a personality but instead a ghost, and an uninteresting one at that. But maybe he has no personality to give, which seems to be the modern trend with this recent batch of new movie actors where less is more seemingly because they have nothing more than less to give so less becomes less, i.e. Tom Hardy, Taylor Kitsch, and so on and so on. Smit-McPhee’s most notable performance to date alongside Viggo Mortensen in John Hillcoat’s The Road, is a film not to dissimilar in structure to Slow West, but whereas The Road is brutal and barbaric, Slow West is rather sophomoric in its nihilism and at times Disney in its visuals and cinematography (that is until a brilliant sequence right at the end of the picture when Maclean shows us one by one a conveyer belt of dead bodies, each framed thoughtfully and poignantly that will match anything in The Road).

Despite its flaws, the film is lean, brisk, and well-paced with a gentle but interesting rhythm. The film culminates in a well-directed shootout that’s littered with brilliant point of view shots from outlaws who hide out in picturesque cornfields, whilst before that there’s a wonderful sequence between Jay and Werner (Andrew Robertt), a nomadic writer researching Indian tribes, which stands out above everything else in the picture. Maclean also dresses the film with the odd moment of welcome surrealism with the score in particular sounding like something straight out of Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man.

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The Western genre in its most classical sense, once the most popular of genres has become in recent times nothing more than a memory. What contemporary cinema gives us instead is not the Western in terms of setting, but a Western in terms of mood and tone, No Country for Old Men for instance, is essentially a modern Western even though it’s set in the South. The problem with Slow West is, it neither feels like a classical Hollywood Western, nor a contemporary one like No Country, there’s a distant lack of authenticity (for instance, filming took place in New Zealand instead of Colorado and this shows throughout), it is a film very much in Purgatory in that sense. With a misleading title the film is neither slow nor is it really a Western, but whatever it is, it’s pretty good nonetheless.

Slow West (15)

USA/2015/84mins/15. Dir: John Maclean. With: Ben Mendelsohn, Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee.

At Chapter Arts Centre until July 2nd

– See more at: http://www.chapter.org/slow-west-15#sthash.dmtmc3Hy.dpuf

Review This is How We Die, Chapter Arts Centre by James Knight

 

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Hunter S. Thompson’s 1971 novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas begins famously with, ‘We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.’ Christopher Brett Bailey’s This Is How We Die seems to carry on from where Thompson left off in this brilliant piece of spoken word black comedy theatre that will shudder you to your very core, and then shudder your core’s core, and then your core’s core core (if that’s even a thing, if it is then this play will find it and shudder it).

Bailey seems to appear on stage out of nowhere, he nods politely to the audience before sitting down at a desk which houses a microphone, a glass of water, a lamp, and Bailey’s script. Then an explosion occurs, an explosion of words that is. Bailey uses the microphone like a drum that he thumps and thumps with words that bounce off the microphone and splatter into the faces of the audience before punching their way into their souls. Through sheer physicality of his lips, tongue, and his bobbing head, Bailey brings his prose to life as spit flies, sweat flies, and emotions whiz. Reading mostly from his script, Bailey keeps his eyes down away from the audience, creating a distance, before carefully choosing his moments to eyeball the onlookers in order to land a joke or an emotional punch.

If you’re the romantic sort and wished you could’ve been there so see Allen Ginsberg read “Howl” in 1955, see Charles Bukowski read live in California, go back to the fifties to see Lenny Bruce perform his “Meaning of Obscenity” or “Religions Inc” bits, or have the desire to see William Burroughs’ Naked Lunch come to life before your eyes then this is the show for you. The musicality of Bailey’s almost word perfect performance conjures images of contemporary rap, but also the music of Tom Waits, in particular his song “Step Right Up”, but as if Waits’ music had been sucked into a David Cronenberg film and come out looking like the love child of David Lynch’s Eraserhead and Samuel Beckett’s Not I.

This Is How We Die is almost impossible to process, but maybe that’s its purpose, we will be forever trying to process it, forever trying to get to grips with it, maybe that is what makes it art. It deals mainly with the void and the space in between Bailey and the audience, after the performance Bailey took part in an impromptu Q&A session which in its formal reality seemed fake, there was an ugly space between him and the audience asking the questions, yet his performance on stage with all its fantastical absurdities seemed utterly real and utterly truthful.

This Is How We Die takes us into the blackness (both emotionally and literally via some genius lighting cues), engulfing us in the darkness of humanity. It is truly a battering of the senses where emotions pour out uncontrollably. With the final and resounding emotion being that of sheer amazement.

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At Chapter Arts Centre – June 23rd at 7:30

Written and performed by Christopher Brett Bailey

Musicians: George Percy, Alicia Jane Turner, Christopher Brett Bailey, and Apollo

Dramaturg: Anne Rieger

Lighting Design: Sherry Coenen

Production Manager: Alex Fernandes

Producer: Beckie Darlington

Review Knife in the Water By James Knight

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In 1941 there was Citizen Kane (Orson Welles), in 1955 there was The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton), in 1959 there was The 400 Blows (Francois Truffaut), in 1960 there was Breathless (Jean-Luc Godard), in 1969 there was Easy Rider (Dennis Hopper), in 1989 there was Sex, Lies, and Videotape (Steven Soderbergh), and in 1992 there was Reservoir Dogs (Quinten Tarantino), all great directorial feature debuts, but add to that list Roman Polanski’s 1962 maiden effort Knife in the Water, playing at Chapter Arts Centre as part of Martin Scorsese’s “Masterpieces of Polish Cinema” series.

The story of Knife in the Water is simple; a bourgeois sportswriter named Andrej, played by Leon Niemmczyk, and his wife Krystyna, played by Jolanta Umecka (making her onscreen debut, who Polanski discovered one day at a local swimming pool), pick up a hitchhiker known only as the Young Man (we never learn his name), played by Zygmunt Malanowicz, and take him with them on a sailing trip, with the vast majority of the film taking place on the boat. On paper this might seem like a smooth but forgettable little thriller but add in the Polanski touch and it evolves into an erotically charged psychological game of cat and mouse all with the accompaniment of Krzysztof Komeda’s masterful jazz score. Knife in the Water, alongside Chinatown (1974), the greatest neo noir detective film ever made, and Rosemary’s Baby (1968), possibly the greatest human horror ever made, have firmly established Polanski as a master of cinema. But unlike other filmmakers featured in this series, the likes of Andrej Wajda and Krzysztof Kielowski, Polanski’s films, especially Knife in the Water, are almost completely void of any political and social commentary. His films are a lot more interested in cinema, in the reality of a reflection rather than a reflection of reality (to steal Godard’s wonderful term). Knife in the Water does not take place in Poland but in Pol-anski-land.

In his autobiography, Polanski recalled the difficulties he and his crew encountered whilst shooting Knife in the Water, saying; ‘the yacht was quite big enough to accommodate three actors but uncomfortably cramped for the dozen-odd people behind the camera. When shooting aboard, we had to don safety harnesses and hang over the side.’ Yet from this confinement, Polanski manages to liberate the camera, almost creating a new set of cinematic rules in the process. The film is a technical marvel. It reminds me of another Polish film, The Night Train (1959), indecently also starring Leon Niemczyk, where the director Jerzy Kawalerowicz, also managed to create a technically impressive film despite having to shoot the entire picture inside a moving train.

Knife in the Water is a cinema first film, image and sound hold far greater precedent over dialogue which in the film is often meaningless and empty and carries no weight in the telling of the story (in fact the majority of the dialogue is dubbed, with Polanski giving his own voice to the character of the Young Man). Towards the end of the film when the sailing trip has come to an end, there’s a sequence where Andrej and his wife lock up the boat in harbour, they tie up the ropes, put down the sails, padlock the doors, all without one word of dialogue. On the surface it’s an innocent little sequence but look a little closer and you’ll see that Polanski manages to capture their whole marriage through raw image, sound and simple action, no dialogue, like a true master of cinema.

Like Polanski’s two most recent films, Knife in the Water deals with a limited cast, but whereas Venus in Fur (2013), and Carnage (2011) through their limitations become essentially filmed theatre, Knife in the Water is cinema and cinema only. It is ninety minutes of pure intimacy where we too feel like we’re on that boat with them. When it’s all over we realise that we’ve learned nothing concrete about the characters yet we somehow know everything that’s important. The film ends where it began, no one changes, no one grows, yet there’s a sense of a new beginning.

In one scene, the Young Man hangs over the edge of the moving boat and by hovering his feet over the surface of the water makes it look like he is in fact walking on water. Knife in the Water is such a cinematic achievement that whilst watching it, you can’t help but get the sense that Polanski too was walking on water.

Knife in the Water (PG)

Poland/1962/94mins/subtitles/PG. Dir: Roman Polanski. With: Leon Niemczyk, Jolanta Umecka, Zygmunt Malanowicz.

At Chapter Arts Centre from June 28th – 30th

– See more at: http://www.chapter.org/knife-water-pg#sthash.jqBSid1t.dpuf