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Review Mary and the Witch’s Flower by Jonathan Evans

(3 / 5)

With the fate of Studio Ghibli still uncertain, what are all the talented artist and storytellers to do that worked there to do? Get up, form their own studio and make a movie. Good for them!

Mary and The Witch’s Flower is the movie debut of Studio Ponoc and they take it upon themselves pick up the baton to create accessible movies for children that are just as filled with whit and inspiring images that would wow an adult.

From its first scene, it is here to intrigue and impresses. A hooded figure runs away from other hooded figures, they carry something. They grab a broom and fly away on it, grey, blobby being chased them and the tree city they came from explodes. While being pursued what the hooded figure has is dropped into a forest and so is their broom. We instantly have many questions and there is a lot of color, sound, music and beautifully realised animation to kick off the movie already.

We then see a little house in the countryside and a young girl by the name of Mary (Hana Sugisaki) is moving in. She wants to help but she is a terrible clutz, not even being able to tie a flower or pick of a box of her stuff without causing a mess. While exploring her new home she comes across two cats, one grey one black. They lead her into the forest and there she finds a broom held by a tree with vines and a flower that is so blue it seems to be glowing. One night the broom starts moving by itself and takes Mary through the clouds and to a place like no other, Endor College for witches.

It is the sequence where Mary is introduced to the headmistress Madame Mumblechook (Yuki Amami) and is shown all the facilities of the college that is easily the best part of the movie.

The animation is just like that of Studio Ghibli, with thick lines, blobby movement, and simple but expressive character designs. Being that the new studio is composed of almost entirely former Ghibli staff this isn’t really a surprise.

There is a wealth of generosity paid to the animation. Sure it’s pretty and smooth but the generosity comes in little things that most people wouldn’t even notice but they did and put in the extra effort. Take a moment where Mary is being guided through the school, we see the big establishing shot and when the camera is closer to her face we can still see something going on with someone else. Animation, particularly hand-drawn animation requires one drawing at a time to be produced to create the illusion of movement and when it’s done must be colored in, which is also time-consuming. These little things which take up much time and go by so unnoticed shows that the people working there are passionate about bringing the whole world to life.

Eventually, sinister intentions are revealed, our hero must use her wits and bravery to overcome them and we are left with a satisfying ending.

The movie is the tale of a normal person being swept up into a world of magic and having to maneuver this new world where there are stakes and plenty of creative visuals along the way. It will entertain your children with it’s easy to understand plot, likable character and vivid color pallet. Adults will also be sucked in.

 

Review Peter Rabbit by Jonathan Evans

 

(1 / 5)

Ow, my. What a waste of talented animators time and effort. Such a shame that pretty cinematography would be used to portray such pandering material. A cast that could lend itself to much better material yet is stuck in this feature that is trying so hard to impress yet comes off as desperate in the end.

Is this really the hardest thing to get right? A family of rabbits need to survive and there is a source of food in a nearby garden, so they go and take what they need from it, but the owner of the garden is the mean old Mr. McGregor. This is essentially a tale of Tom & Jerry but with a rabbit and a human.

We have the titled character Peter Rabbit (James Corden) getting up and getting ready for another day of stealing from old Mr. McGregor (Sam Neil). He takes his triplet sisters Cottontail (Daisey Ridley), Flopsy (Margo Robbie) and Mopsy (Elizabeth Debicki) and their cousin Benjamin (Colin Moody). Instantly the problems start, Peter, is a motor-mouthed, obnoxious twit that believes themselves to be so great and even speaks right into the camera and addresses the audience telling them about how smart, fast, well dressed etc. he is.

The special effect people really have created good work in bringing the animal characters to life. They do look like the actual animals they’re based on and have found a way to have them stand on their hind legs and emote their faces without looking off or ending up in uncanny valley territory. The rendering of the fur and the denim jackets they wear are also rather convincing. It’s such a shame that all this effort was wasted on pandering, obnoxious characters.

One day, in the midst of a conflict old Mr. McGregor, dies of a heart attack and with his dead body laying there Peter repeatedly pokes him in the eye. Survearly distasteful. So with him gone his great-nephew Thomas McGregor (Donmhall Gleeson) has inherited him home. So now the rabbits have a whole new McGregor to deal with.

The dynamic between a hero and a villain is simple really. We root for the hero because they inhabit goals and morals we connect with while the villains oppose them. So through experiencing the story playout we root for our hero and hope they overcome the villain. There are variations on this but this is a basic staple. I more morally complex material we can understand the villain and why they do what they do but a sign of failure is when we agree with the villain. Thomas McGregor is uptight and quite odd but it is shown that he is indeed a hard worker and is capable of being considerate as well as having a reasonable goal. Now, these obnoxious rabbits break into his property and give him such a hard time. Sure the argument is made by Bea (Rose Byrne), the neighbor, that they’re animals following they’re basic instincts, but they’re not, we see that they talk and discuss and wear clothes, they are aware of their actions. So I’m rooting for the “mean” human that has a dream and is willing to put in the work while the hero is selfish and would support cooking him into that pie.

How is it that the moments with the human characters are so much more concise than the moments with the animated animals? It costs a lot of money and takes a lot of time to render these talking animals on-screen and yet the filmmakers seem to fall in love with the material the actors were either improvising behind the microphone or reading from the script and decided none of it need editing down or being cut out. It does, so much of this, a waste of time or isn’t funny and sometimes both.

When I was sitting in the theatre one child was laughing and the adult next to them was on their phone, I can’t say I blame them. This will probably make the children laugh but it won’t make them any smarter by the end of it and when they’re older they’ll probably realise it’s tripe.

If we took out all the animated rabbits and had an off-beat story about a city slicker coming to the country and being charmed by someone then we might have had something here. Yes, I know that that formula has been done to death but at least it would have been something stomachable. I have no patience for these rabbits.

For a well made, charming, intelligent children’s movie based on a British series of books, I point you towards Paddington.

 

Preview Teimlo Llais (Feeling Voice) exhibition by Tafsila Khan

Teimlo Llais (Feeling Voice) exhibition

Artists: Penny D Jones, Gemma Green-Hope and Sally Richmond

An installation of touch and sound.

Opening Night: 18th April 2018 6pm-8pm
Exhibition runs from Thursday 19th April until Saturday 5th May (Wednesdays to Saturdays 12:30pm-5:30pm)

Location: Arcade Cardiff, 3b, Queens Arcade, Queen St, Cardiff CF10 2BY

You can listen to Tafsila discussing this exhibition with Penny with the sound file below.

As a visually impaired person I have shied away from attending art exhibitions in the past, as they are normally very visual and often you are not able to touch the art. Last week I met up with Penny D Jones to discuss her upcoming art exhibition called Teimlo Llais (Feeling Voice), the exhibition is a touch and sound experience which Penny hopes will encourage blind and VI people to attend. Penny was originally a painter and still loves to paint, however at the age of 55 Penny attended art college which opened up the world of contemporary art. Penny says that her mind was blown with the possibilities of using different ways to communicate with people.

Penny explained that the exhibition carries on from an earlier piece of work called Llais Menywod (Women’s Voice) in this piece of work she made recordings of predominantly young women having conversations in Welsh about what interested them. For this upcoming exhibition she has taken extracts from the recordings and will use them as soundbites. This exhibition is made up of three different pieces, the first is a large black quilt created by Penny made up of different textured materials, which have an electrical wire threaded through to a speaker which when touched each square of the quilt gives a soundbite of a woman’s voice. The second piece is a smaller quilt which is made up of ceramic tiles, which also houses the sound bites and can be listened to via headphones, Penny worked with different artists on this piece, one of the artists was Sally Richmond. The final piece is a collection of tiles with different textures on the wall which has no sound, so you can enjoy and interpret from them your own ideas. Penny has said that the exhibition contains two of her interests, women’s voices, and the Welsh language. To hear longer extracts of the conversations please follow this link here

To find out more about the exhibition you can pick up a braille or large print version of the leaflet at Cardiff Institute for the Blind (CIB) or listen to the bilingual audio flyer and this can be found in Welsh and English below

Tafsila Khan

 

An interview with Janet Aethwy, Director of Estron, Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru

Estron Rehearsals, Janet Aethwy (Cyfarwyddwr / Director). Images: Kirsten McTernan Photography & Design

Hi Janet, great to meet you. Can you give our readers some background information on yourself, please?

Hi Guy – I’m an actress and director. I can be seen sometimes on the Welsh soap opera Pobol y Cwm playing the role of a local detective. I’ve been acting for nearly forty years, but in the past five years I have turned to directing. I am a voice director for Welsh versions of animated series for S4C as well as a director for several one-person history plays for schools.

So what got you interested in Directing and the Arts?

In 2013 I attended a directing course with Elen Bowman of Living Pictures, which provided me with valuable tools and opportunities. I took part in several workshops ranging from Meisner and Frantic Assembly to writing sessions with Mike Bartlett and Sacha Wares. The creative process is integral to any vibrant society and developing the ideas of playwrights and staging their work enables me to contribute in that function.

A new initiative for Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru is Theatr Gen Creu which will support talent, develop theatre craft and offer unique opportunities to artists in Wales. One strand of this new initiative is support for new directors. Why do you feel this new initiative is important?

As a beneficiary of an innovative directing course myself, I fully endorse any support given to fledgling directors.

Ceri Elen (Han), Janet Aethwy (Cyfarwyddwr / Director). Images: Kirsten McTernan Photography & Design

Estron was previously brought to life in 2017 at the National Eisteddfod. Will this new production differ in any way?

As we have been given the opportunity to take the work around Wales, the production is not intrinsically different but it has evolved, developed and matured.

Playwright Hefin Robinson won the Drama Medal at the 2016 National Eisteddfod for Estron. As someone who has a personal relationship with this work, what do you think caught the judges’ eyes? 

Hefin’s writing is playful, imaginative and original. He confronts a difficult truth with a light, humorous touch. He deals with the subject of death and loss, but only as part of the continuum of life. His message is both positive and uplifting.

The production will have a BSL performance. Can you please tell us more about this, and why you feel it is an important part of your offer for audiences? 

Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru are committed to making their productions accessible, and providing a BSL performance is part of that commitment. They want their productions to reach as wide an audience as possible, and they seek to remove barriers that may prevent people from attending. They are working with industry specialists – Cathryn McShane as the BSL interpreter and Jonny Cotsen as their advisor – to ensure that the BSL performance meets the needs of the audience.

Get the Chance works to support a diverse range of members of the public to access cultural provision. Are you aware of any barriers to equality and diversity for either Welsh or Wales-based artists? 

We welcome the opportunity to extend our work to as broad an audience as possible. The theatre should reflect society in all its diversity.

If you were able to fund an area of the arts in Wales, what would this be and why?

I would like to see more funding for local musical/art/drama events in our communities. Supporting live events promotes small town businesses and engenders a sense of well-being to all those involved.

What excites you about the arts in Wales? 

The Welsh arts scene is an incubator for young talent as well as a stage for established and well-versed world class performers.

What was the last really great thing that you experienced that you would like to share with our readers?

Recently, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Tudur Owen – a well-established comedian from Anglesey – at The Miners’ Theatre, Ammanford. I now hope that you will enjoy your visit to the same theatre to see Estron – directed by another Angleseyarian.

Many thanks for your time.

Estron is on tour 19 April – 19 May 2018 Y Daith / The Tour: Theatr y Glowyr, Rhydaman / Miners’ Theatre, Ammanford: 19 + 20.4.18 Canolfan Garth Olwg / Garth Olwg Centre: 24.4.18 Neuadd Dwyfor, Pwllheli: 26.4.18 Y Stiwt, Rhosllannerchrugog: 1.5.18 Theatr Bro Alaw, Bodedern: 3.5.18 Theatr Felinfach: 5.5.18 Pontio, Bangor: 8.5.18 Canolfan Morlan, Aberystwyth: 9.5.18 Neuadd Gymunedol Maenclochog Community Hall: 11.5.18 Ffwrnes, Llanelli: 12.5.18 Chapter, Caerdydd / Cardiff: 14-16.5.18 Canolfan y Celfyddydau Taliesin Arts Centre, Abertawe / Swansea: 17.5.18 Galeri, Caernarfon: 19.5.18

 

Cyfweliad gyda cyfarwyddwr Estron Janet Aethwy Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru

Ymarferion Estron, Janet Aethwy (Cyfarwyddwr / Director).  Kirsten McTernan Photography & Design.

Shwmai, Janet, mae’n dda cwrdd â chi. Allwch chi ddweud tipyn wrth ein darllenwyr am eich cefndir, os gwelwch chi’n dda?

Shwmai, Guy – dwi’n actor ac yn gyfarwyddwr sydd i’w gweld o bryd i’w gilydd ar yr opera sebon Pobol y Cwm, yn chwarae rhan ditectif lleol. Dwi wedi bod yn actio ers bron i ddeugain mlynedd, ond yn y bum mlynedd ddiwethaf dwi wedi troi at gyfarwyddo. Dwi’n gyfarwyddwr llais ar gyfresi animeiddiedig ar gyfer S4C ac yn gyfarwyddwr nifer o ddramâu un-person ar thema hanesyddol i’w perfformio mewn ysgolion.

Beth ysgogodd chi i gymryd diddordeb mewn Cyfarwyddo ac yn y Celfyddydau?

Yn 2013 cefais gyfle i fynd ar gwrs cyfarwyddo gydag Elen Bowman o’r cwmni Living Pictures, a rhoddodd hynny nifer o sgiliau a chyfleoedd gwerthfawr i mi. Cymerais ran mewn sawl gweithdy, yn amrywio o Meisner a Frantic Assembly i sesiynau sgrifennu gyda Mike Bartlett a Sacha Wares. Mae’r broses greadigol yn rhan annatod o unrhyw gymdeithas ffyniannus, ac mae datblygu sgiliau dramodwyr a llwyfannu eu gwaith yn fy ngalluogi i gyfrannu i’r swyddogaeth honno.

Un o gynlluniau newydd Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru yw Theatr Gen Creu, a fydd yn cefnogi talent, yn datblygu crefft y theatr, ac yn cynnig cyfleoedd unigryw i artistiaid yng Nghymru. Un elfen o’r fenter newydd hon yw darparu cefnogaeth i gyfarwyddwyr newydd. Pam, yn eich barn chi, mae’r fenter yn un bwysig?

Fel un sydd wedi cael budd fy hun o ddilyn cwrs arloesol ar gyfarwyddo, dwi’n llwyr gefnogi unrhyw gymorth sy’n cael ei roi i egin-gyfarwyddwyr.

Cafodd Estron ei llwyfannu’n wreiddiol yn Eisteddfod Genedlaethol 2017. Fydd y cynhyrchiad hwn yn wahanol mewn unrhyw ffordd?

Gan ein bod wedi cael y cyfle hwn i deithio’r gwaith o amgylch Cymru, dydi’r cynhyrchiad yn ei hanfod ddim yn wahanol, ond mae o wedi esblygu, datblygu ac aeddfedu.

Enillodd y dramodydd, Hefin Robinson, y Fedal Ddrama am Estron yn Eisteddfod Genedlaethol 2016. Fel rhywun a chanddi gysylltiad personol â’r gwaith hwn, beth yn eich barn chi oedd wedi apelio at y beirniaid?

Mae gwaith Hefin yn chwareus, yn llawn dychymyg, ac yn wreiddiol. Mae’n mynd i’r afael â gwirionedd anodd gyda chyffyrddiad ysgafn, doniol. Er ei fod yn delio â marwolaeth a cholled, mae’n gwneud hynny fel rhan o gontinwwm bywyd. Mae ei neges yn bositif ac yn ddyrchafol.

Ceri Elen (Han), Janet Aethwy (Cyfarwyddwr / Director). Kirsten McTernan Photography & Design

Bydd y cynhyrchiad yn cynnwys perfformiad mewn Iaith Arwyddion (BSL). Allwch chi ddweud rhagor wrthym am hyn, a pham eich bod o’r farn ei bod yn rhan bwysig o’r hyn rydych yn ei gynnig i gynulleidfaoedd? 

Mae Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru wedi ymrwymo i wneud eu cynyrchiadau’n hygyrch, ac mae darparu perfformiad BSL yn rhan o’r ymrwymiad hwnnw. Mae’r cwmni’n awyddus i sicrhau bod eu cynyrchiadau’n cyrraedd cynulleidfa mor eang â phosib, ac yn ceisio chwalu rhwystrau a allai atal pobl rhag mynychu. Maen nhw’n gweithio gydag arbenigwyr yn y maes – Cathryn McShane fel Dehonglydd Iaith Arwyddion Prydain (BSL) a Jonny Cotsen fel ymgynghorydd – i sicrhau bod y perfformiad arbennig hwn yn cwrdd ag anghenion y gynulleidfa.

Mae Get the Chance yn gweithio i gefnogi ystod eang o aelodau’r cyhoedd i’w galluogi i gael mynediad i ddarpariaeth ddiwylliannol. Ydych chi’n ymwybodol o unrhyw rwystrau i gydraddoldeb ac amrywiaeth sy’n bodoli yng nghyd-destun artistiaid Cymreig neu rai sydd wedi’u lleoli yng Nghymru? 

Rydyn ni’n croesawu’r cyfle i ymestyn ein gwaith i gynulleidfa mor eang ag sy’n bosib. Dylai’r theatr adlewyrchu cymdeithas yn ei holl amrywiaeth.

Pe byddech chi’n gallu ariannu un maes celfyddydol yng Nghymru, pa faes fyddai hwnnw a pham?

Hoffwn weld mwy o gefnogaeth ariannol ar gyfer digwyddiadau cerddoriaeth/celf/drama lleol yn ein cymunedau. Mae cefnogi digwyddiadau byw yn hyrwyddo busnesau bychan mewn trefi ac yn ysgogi teimladau llesol ym mhob un sy’n cymryd rhan.

Beth sy’n eich cyffroi chi ynghylch y celfyddydau yng Nghymru? 

Mae maes y celfyddydau yng Nghymru’n feithrinfa ar gyfer talent ifanc yn ogystal ag yn llwyfan ar gyfer perfformwyr profiadol a hyddysg o safon uchel.

Beth oedd yr un digwyddiad arbennig y gwnaethoch chi ei fwynhau’n ddiweddar, y byddech yn hoffi ei rannu gyda’n darllenwyr?

Yn ddiweddar, cefais bleser mawr yn gwylio Tudur Owen – comedïwr adnabyddus o sir Fôn – yn Theatr y Glowyr, Rhydaman. Dwi’n mawr obeithio y byddwch chithau’n mwynhau eich ymweliad i’r un theatr i weld Estron – sy’n cael ei chyfarwyddo gan Fonwysyn arall.

Diolch yn fawr i chi am eich amser.

Ar daith 19 Ebrill – 19 Mai 2018 On tour 19 April – 19 May 2018 Y Daith / The Tour: Theatr y Glowyr, Rhydaman / Miners’ Theatre, Ammanford: 19 + 20.4.18 Canolfan Garth Olwg / Garth Olwg Centre: 24.4.18 Neuadd Dwyfor, Pwllheli: 26.4.18 Y Stiwt, Rhosllannerchrugog: 1.5.18 Theatr Bro Alaw, Bodedern: 3.5.18 Theatr Felinfach: 5.5.18 Pontio, Bangor: 8.5.18 Canolfan Morlan, Aberystwyth: 9.5.18 Neuadd Gymunedol Maenclochog Community Hall: 11.5.18 Ffwrnes, Llanelli: 12.5.18 Chapter, Caerdydd / Cardiff: 14-16.5.18 Canolfan y Celfyddydau Taliesin Arts Centre, Abertawe / Swansea: 17.5.18 Galeri, Caernarfon: 19.5.18

Get The Chance to explore Cardiff Fringe Theatre Festival in 2018

 

Image credit Dave Daggers

Like theatre? Like sharing your opinions? Want a free ticket to everything in the Cardiff Fringe Theatre Festival this year? Then read on…

Cardiff Fringe Theatre Festival is working with Get the Chance to find a team of critics of all ages and backgrounds, with the aim of reviewing every event in this year’s festival.

Back for its third year this summer, the festival begins on 31st May and ends on 16th June. It aims to offer theatre that is affordable for the audience and the performers, and to provide opportunity for budding artists to grow. Get the Chance offers a platform for a diverse range of people to experience and respond to sport, arts, culture and live events. Both organisations share the belief that the arts should be for everyone. It is hoped that this collaboration will give new critics an opportunity to develop themselves and share their voices.

To be a CFTF Critic you will need to have good availability over the festival period so that you can see lots of performances and write a review of each one you see. Your reviews will be published on the Get The Chance website. You can choose what you want to see and review from the wide range of genres in the CFTF programme.

 

Anyone interested in becoming a CFTF Critic should contact Get theChance at this email getthechance1@gmail.com

If you are interested in this opportunity you need to check you are available to attend and review the productions that form the CFTF festival Please state why you are interested in this opportunity in your email

cardifffringetheatrefestival.co.uk

facebook.com/cardifffringetheatrefestival

twitter.com/Cardiff_Fringe

 

Review A Quiet Place by Jonathan Evans

(5 / 5)

 

You can go outside, you can eat, bathe, all the other things, just don’t make a sound, for then the monsters will get you!

This dark tale picks up after what would usually be the in-sighting incident. The monsters have already come and wiped out a lot of other people. A family is surviving fine, they all go out into an abandoned town and enter a mostly empty abandoned store, they gather what they need and leave. While walking home the youngest boy puts batteries in a toy plane he found, it lights up and makes noises. Dread instantly fills the faces of the others, the Father races to him, all the others can do is cover their mouths so not to make any noises themselves, the father races and races, something moves in the trees and before he can get to his son something has leaped out and taken him.

We gather through careful and skillfully placed visual information that monsters have come and they are blind but are very sensitive to and instantly attack sound. So all they need to do is not make a noise.

What cinema offers as a medium, is to show you things through movement. Not tell you things, if you want to be talked to you can get that in comics, books, or radio plays. Cinema is about expressing its story or message through the image and the movements on the screen, that is what Hitchcock referred to as “Pure Cinema” which is what is present here.

The best visuals require no dialogue. If the dialogue is good then great, but the truest essence of something visual should not require an explanation. All the actors are rendered mute for approximately ninety percent of the movie, yet through body language, they are able to convey their fear, determination, even a little bit of humor into their existence. Emily Blunt as the mother, Millicent Simmonds as the deaf daughter (who is deaf in real life)

Noah Jupe as the young son all brings to life people that must feel many things through this story and with virtually no words. Special credit goes to John Krasinski who plays the father as well as serving other duties as director, writer, and producer, this is clearly his vision that he has worked very hard to create.

Immense care has been given to constructing the families lifestyle to living without making a sound. They use sign language to converse (which is accompanied with subtitles), they pour powder down on a path where they walk to soften the sound of their footsteps, the house where the floorboards creek have paint marking where it is safe to step. They play board games and have to roll the dice onto a cloth and the game pieces are made of foam, plush or sponge. Such details like these show how well the concept has been thought through and help us connect with the characters living situation.

The creatures themselves are of course a major focus point. We don’t really know if they are aliens, a science experiment went wrong or demons. But such knowledge is out of the characters to reach and is superfluous anyway. What matters is the situation they have put the character in. They are very threateningly designed, though I will forgo a description and let you watch the movie for yourself. What truly matters is the skillful way in which they are not seen, when a loud noise is made there is so much dread that fills the scene, before anything of them can be seen or heard we register that these things mean death, pure and simple. For most of it, we only get flashes of them as they strike lightning fast and they disappear. Don’t worry, we get a good, full look at them, but these early scenes serve to wet our appetites.

Whilst it is built on a very intriguing premise, one that could fuel a classic literary work or a very memorable episode of The Twilight Zone or Outer Limits, it is in the thinking through and execution that makes A Quiet Place one of the most well made and striking horror movies to come out in a while. It is minimal in exposition details but deep in thinking through how to deal with the situation and masterful in crafting it’s scares.