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Review NDCW Autumn Tour ‘Folk’ by Helen Joy

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(4 / 5)

Profundis, They Seek to find the Happiness they Seem, Folk

Profundis

In whispered tones of reverence, I am told: it is, oooh, wonderful, you’re in for a treat…

A woman in purple stands hugging herself in dance. She is singular, beautiful.

The spot light shifts to a gloriously sexy scene, a woman in white revelling in her spot-lit body writhes on the stage. She is right in front of me, I can see into her eyes. I am mesmerised. Carted away by men in black, the performance erupts into a fantasy of colour, dance, commentary, music and comedy. It is at once surreal, curious and charming. Sinister. Younger audiences find this funnier; we are awkward, we laugh in the wrong places. The dancers say that they find their voices in dance not in language but have enjoyed this challenge, being free to be themselves, to speak, to interpret freely within the confines of the psalm. De Profundis.

It is the creation of genius. It has the feel of a masterpiece. It is an abstract painting come to life. It is Kandinsky dancing. Of all the images, I am left with the man in red knuckling his way across the floor, man as ape as movement to music. A treat, indeed.

The Seek to Find the Happiness They Seem

Dance partners in black and navy and they trip through the dark, faces lit like portraits looming out of Rembrandt. Oh, this is exquisite. They are so lovely to watch. Perfectly in unison, Fred and Ginger ducking and diving and dancing in front of us, I can feel the warm swoosh of air across my face as they sweep past.

To Richter, they fail, their sense of loss and confusion is complete.

Folk

Bosch. It is a Bosch in all its painted madness cavorting in front of us. It is a crazy world. It rises from the soil of Autumn leaves into this crepuscular land. It is a topsy turvy place, a slight inversion, sensitive to struggling personality, to groupings, pairings and isolation.

Something warm and heavy, muted and visceral, carefully cadaverous, so beautiful from a distance but gently sinister close up. It is a convoluting palette of earth. It is breathtaking.

To see these dancers up close and personal, the bandages on their toes, the straps around their knees, the sweat on their faces, each muscle flexing, is to see perfection. To hear their feet feel the ground, to see expression in every tiny movement, is to see beauty.

I want to pull this piece into the night air, I want to let them free to scatter real leaves, dancing under real trees.

I want to press Stop: I want to fix them like statues and examine every moment. I cannot watch it all and I have missed so much but oh, I have taken something magical, ethereal, wonderful away with me.

http://www.ndcwales.co.uk/en

Enjoyed:         14th November, 2016 at NDCW, Cardiff

Profundis

Choreography:             Roy Assaf

Music and Sound:       Uoon I, Alva Noto (Vrioon Electronic)
Enta Omri, Umm Kulthum (Original 1964 Live Recording)

Lighting Design:          Omer Sheizaf

Costume Design:          Angharad Matthews

Costume:                     Deryn Tudor

Angharad Griffiths

 

They Seek to Find the Happiness They Seem

Choreographer:        Lee Johnston

Music:                                    Max Richter

Lighting:                     Joe Fletcher

Costume:                   Zepur Agopyan

Dancers:                    Matteo Marfoglia, Elena Thomas

Folk

Choreographer:        Caroline Finn

Visual Artist:             Joe Fletcher

Music:                                    Assorted (see website below)

Lighting:                     Joe Fletcher

Costume:                   Gabriella Slade

Dancers:                    Josef Perou, Camille Giraudeau, Matteo Marfoglia, Mathieu Geffre, Angela Boix Duran, Elena Thomas, David Pallant, Josie Sinnadurai, Ed Myhill

 

 

http://www.ndcwales.co.uk/en/what-s-on/autumn-tour-folk/

 

Review Lost Souls and Lunatics, The Bread and Rose Theatre, Clapham Fringe, By Hannah Goslin

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(3 / 5)

Back again to this wonderful spot. The Clapham Fringe, with all its’ wonders is something that should definitely be looked out for by all artists.

A one man show, we are introduced to an hour of semi-biographical account of the east end of London and the writer’s response to the Peshwar massacre, reminding the writer of children who are affected by World War 2 and other traumatic incidences. We visit some painful, some funny and some unusual events.

Reminiscent to me of east end/Londoner stereotypes such as Ronnie Barker’s character in the Tv sitcom Porridge, and infamous villains such as the Kray brothers (who are also mentioned as an memorable event), it is a wonder whether this period of time (50’s-70’s) stereotype of hard Londoners is true or a play upon what we already know. Either way, Billy Colvill does a wonderful job of portraying this lost soul – an east ender himself along with writer Johnnie Quarrell, I suppose we can assume that this is more biographical than theatrical.

Colvill’s stage presence is distinct – able to produce an hour long one man show is a feat in itself and is impressive to watch as the cogs in his brain moves from one story to the next. The writing at times goes back to previous stories or references and at times is a jumble to show his deteriorating brain. This confusion in itself is representative of the character and Colvill is fantastic enough a performer to execute this well and without stammer.

Lost souls and lunatics is funny, touching and an engaging piece of work. Without thinking, it is relatable to each person well worth a watch for Colvill’s abundant character.

http://www.breadandrosespub.com/theatre.html

Review Trolls by Jonathan Evans

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(3 / 5)

Trolls is like a sugar rush. Giving you loads of candy. There are so many colors, jokes and popular music but even though there are moments to enjoy you will realise that too much sweetness can make you sickly. No matter the intentions or effort.

In a far off land there is a kingdom where creatures called Bergens (that look a lot more like typical portrayals of Trolls), they are unhappy creatures by nature and can only experience happiness by eating Trolls (looking like their toy counterparts). One day they escape and are able to live in happiness and not fear being eaten.

Years later the Trolls have made their home deep in the forest and now enjoy singing and hug-time with Princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick). They have a special ability to manipulate their hair as they wish and others have some other abilities that go by without explanation. However there is one Troll that doesn’t join in on the dancing and singing Branch (Justin Timberlake) who dedicates his life to preparing for the day the Bergens come after them. Which surprise surprise one day they do. So now Poppy and Branch must go on a quest to rescue their friends.

Poppy and Branch serve as a good duo. They are opposites that due to inconvenience have to work together. They have the same goal to work to but have different ideals and morals so they debate which leads to character dynamic.

Dreamworks, typically, is known to cater to the larger demographic, it takes on material that is popular in the public mind now and cast celebrities for their voice cast. This is the prime example of Dreamworks trying too hard to connect with the children and be popular. The premise itself is cute but they feel the need to add all these other pop-culture references and sayings for the children to connect to when what they really do is cheapen and distract.

This is one of the most colourful children’s movie, or maybe just any movie you will find. It really looks like a children’s toy-box come to life. With all the different shades of the rainbow moving on the screen. It’s like Cloud Cuckoo Land from The Lego Movie, but throughout the movie.

As a unique visual gag it gives Poppy the characteristic of doing scrap-booking which lends itself to visually engaging to audience with a mix-up of style. It serves to give the children something to connect with as well as serving as an excuse to have exposition with something interesting happening on-screen.

The soundtrack is composed of covers (mostly) they are the hit pop songs that everyone knows. But also some of them have rapping verses inserted within. They are just so clearly forced and in bad taste. Also there are a few times when a song plays and it doesn’t seem like its the right pick. Just a popular song that doesn’t work for the scene.

The movie is at its best when it is cynical and picking apart the cutesy things that the other Trolls hold so dear. Its a case of everything being too adorable that it becomes sickly so some bitterness is welcome.

Trolls will have the children happy, smiling and probably singing along to the music. A few adults may also smile or even get a chuckle out of the moments that make fun of the cutesier moments.

Marina Abramovic, Southbank Centre, By Hannah Goslin

(5 / 5)

A once in a lifetime opportunity – Marina Abramovic has been an idol of mine from a young age when performance art was being introduced to me as a performer. A strong female taking the performance world by storm, to listen to this woman talk about her life, work and future only a few yards away was nothing less than extraordinary.

A simple set up on a Q&A, Abramovic is at all times in control. Known for moving interviewers in the direction she wishes to go, this simple Q&A soon becomes a little less simple, flustering the interviewer as she opens up to interesting, moving or hilarious stories on a tangent.

Growing up with not such a wonderful childhood, from the age of 14 when she put on her first performance, she says she believed even then she was too old to put on performance work as greats such as Mozart had done so at a much younger age. She takes her pain, her love, her anger and releases it in her performance art, challenging boundaries and the society of the time.

An honest woman, there is nothing she does not offer on the plate to us. From such inspiring and emotionally full work, I expected a serious yet dedicated woman. And she is, but mostly, she is funny. She has an addictive and wonderful personality that makes your ribs hurt and a can do, but also care free attitude that is inspiring and envious of.

An interesting point made by Abramovic, is that she does not believe she is a feminist. Questions from the audience about femisim, one from an art student from South Korea where woman are taking their sexual abuse and turning it into art is offered to Abramovic to comment on. And she does not hide behind a lie – she has experienced pain, euphoria, many emotions that you can see in her work but she admits she has never been abused, nor has she had any patriarchal/misogynist comments or influence and admits that this way she cannot comment. A lucky lady, we think of performers of having some tormented soul, but this woman has not, she is purely clever, creative and a genius.

Marina Abramovic has released a memoir on her life, and it is my belief that this is worth a good read for all performers, male or female to explore and gain insight into one of the greatest performance artists in our world.

Review Snout Sherman Theatre by Helen Joy

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(3 / 5)

 

This is a tricky one. The write up says that this is a play which examines ethical farm practices and may put you off your pie.  This is not quite what we get. It is not ‘Fun’ but it is ‘Food, Drink and Drama’. Or did I miss something?

I take three friends with me –we are all women, all farmers and two of us keep pigs. We discuss the play we have seen and the pie we have eaten a lot. In fact, we talk about it over chips later on Penarth Pier and again in the week. It has made us think. But perhaps not in the way Playwright Kelly Jones would like us to.

snout-1

Cast members  Sally Reid, Michele Gallagher and Clare Cage

Photographic credit Kirsten McTernan

It is a play about 3 little pigs, 3 women acting as pigs and as women. They are in a trailer heading for the slaughter house. Their actions and conversations are an odd mixture of supposed pig talk and young women chatter. They grunt occasionally. One is a cross carrying faithful type who misses her sister, one is a punky type who misses her lover and the other is a party going good time girl. A bit stereotypical. They work out that they are not going to a show but to the abattoir and so forth.

Now here’s a problem. Facts. Anyone who knows anything about pigs, knows that they don’t carry hairbrushes or wear crosses. They also don’t get electric shocks for bad behaviour when they squeal in a trailer. They might wander into a shed to watch a farmer, er, enjoy himself but we are pretty sure that we don’t know anyone who finds pigs that attractive.

When they talk about life, death and the lack of control over their lives, something resonates with me. Do they contemplate the meaning of life? Do we, as owners, play God?

Pigs are fun to be around precisely because they are calculating, funny and usually, miles ahead of their keepers. But we keep them also because they can be eaten. The speech at the end, before they trot out to their doom, is tediously predictable and aimed at converting the audience to vegetarianism, I think. My colleagues are not impressed and feel that this last scene spoils an otherwise interesting and thought-provoking play.

Then we have the after-show discussion. Lots of people have stayed behind for this and we are keen to debate the ideas raised in the performance.

But there is a surprise. Jones take an unexpected stance. She tells us about tattooed pigs and cruelty. She then explains that the play is actually about feminism; she uses the pigs to slaughter as metaphor for seeing women as meat, as bodies to be cut up into pieces, as porn, as without control. Oh. I see now. This makes sense of scenes previously lost to me.

pi

We discuss life and end of life, self-determinism, women’s rights, farming practices and eating meat. The audience is enthusiastic and picks up a particular thread with zeal: why have a play about killing animals and then give us a meat pie? Where does that meat come from, asks another. But it’s about women, not pigs, really.

We get it.

It makes even more sense when Jones explains to me that she had taken a 1hr40min play and made it into a 40min production. Sometimes, we need to rewrite not just slash and edit or we lose the meaning of a piece.  The playwright cannot attend every production to explain. The metaphor is clever, her idea is sound and with tweaking, would make an outstanding work.

I looked up the use of tattooed pigs for handbags – can’t be true, we said, but it was: art as an excuse for profit. Deeply shocking. I can see where she is coming from and Jones definitely is on to something here.

Enjoyed:         10th November, 2016 at The Sherman Theatre, Cardiff

Playwright:    Kelly Jones

Director:         Kenny Miller

Actors:

Coco Clare Cage

Lacey Michele Gallagher

Viv Sally Reid

http://www.shermantheatre.co.uk/performance/theatre/a-play-a-pie-and-a-pint-november-16/

 

 

 

Review Ethel and Ernest by Jonathan Evans

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(5 / 5)

Ethel and Ernest tells the story of a boy meeting a girl, they fall in love, get married and then share their life together. That is the story and through watching it I realized that it was enough. There doesn’t need to be anything more, a life is filled with so many moments and challenges that that’s all you need.

It is based on the graphic novel by Raymond Briggs, who is a household name because of his extremely popular The Snowman (which was also adapted into animation). He based it on his own parents, he himself is introduced into the story but the material seems oddly uninterested in him. More on these two people.

They first met in 1928 in London so that is where our story starts. Ethal is a young woman working as a maid in a wealthy house. Ernest is living his life by riding his bike down the street when they gazes meet, Ernest takes it on himself to ask her for a night in the cinema. Soon after they get married, move into a nice house and from then on they witness history. From the rise of Nazis, surviving World War two and having a son its all about what comes and how they deal with it, but no matter what, their love endures.

Brenda Blethyn plays Ethel, Jim Broadbent plays Ernest. They are able to recreate the quick, higher tones of their youth effectively though if you are looking to find the elderly tones in their voices you’ll find them. But they own their dialog as simple people but filled with personality. Ethel is a woman that was one of eleven children so is very restrained and enjoys things neat, clean and proper. Ernest was an only child and raised in the slum area of London and knows a lot of cockney songs. He is more spirited and more likely to play pranks.

The drawing style is based off and very effectively emulates Briggs. The characters have realistic proportions but their features are stylized, the eyes are where they’re meant to be, but just dots with a line above and below. Other interesting touches like noses and fingers being shades redder than the usual skin color makes the whole thing feel more textures and organic.

The movie is so generous with its film-making. What I mean by that is that there are moments that could have gone by with less effort but they decide to put in the extra effort for the simple reason that they want to film be be good. Take for example a moment where Ernest goes to light a cigarette, he strikes his lighter a few times and no flame, he inspects it, tries again then the flame comes. In live-action you would have gotten that moment for free, with animation, every new pose cost money and requires planning. So they had no other reason to put it in the film other than it serves as a little extra charm.

This movie falls under that same category of The Long Grey Line, Bambi, Tokyo Story and Boyhood, just the tale of life. A simple story with simple people at the center but filled with great moments. By the end I was so moved by the feeling that I had really experienced these peoples lives with them, things had changed and I was nostalgic for the good old times. A sign of a truly great movie.

Review London Stories Made by Migrants, Battersea Arts Centre, By Hannah Goslin

Image result for london stories made by migrants

(5 / 5)

Battersea Arts Centre has been transformed.

Walking into the beautiful lobby, the grand staircase has been covered by a black curtain and we are handed coloured wrist bands. The ceiling has lightbulbs shabby chic-illy hanging down, mostly colourless, apart from 4 with different colours. My wrist band is blue with the London district of ‘Merton’ written on it. Lots of audience members, I have not seen such a large crowd at the BAC in all the time I have been visiting.

We are soon informed that we will be split into groups, travelling around to meet different migrants in difference spaces around the entire building. Some spaces have never been open to audience members before, and this performance piece not only sees us travelling in representation of the migrants, but also a sneak peek into the restoration work of a building that once as a town hall, was open and inviting to all persons.

With the 4 groups, there are altogether around 24 migrant tales – in theory each time you come, you will hear different stories. The stories range from the heart warming, to the painful and disturbing to overall happiness. Each room we entered would have a different theme – some made into comfortable bedrooms that, if BAC are renting, I would not mind being in! To a kitchen,and some of individuals with only a simple lighting in large rooms. The experiences of each person hit some resonance with the audience, and it was a privilege and pleasure to meet each individual. Some were open and welcoming and some still closed off, depending on the experience. And this was okay, and it was brave for such individuals to offer to tell their stories.

Coming away from this, there was a sense of community. The openness and welcoming nature our country has for these people who have travelled to live here is abundant in their tales of acceptance and their gratitude. A sense of pride and elation came to me as I heard this, and also thanks to such wonderful people to join our community. It gave us a sense of unity with these complete strangers and thankfulness for our own, less traumatic lives.

Review The Accountant by Jonathan Evans

the-accountant-poster

(5 / 5)

If history is any clue The Accountant shouldn’t work. This should just be an insultingly bland movie which serves to get the males excited which really dumb’s them down to a perverted sense of masculinity. However, this movie works, because of that simple little extra effort which has infused this stale premise into a gripping action movie.

We see a boy putting a puzzle together, is intensely focused on his task and keeps reciting Solomon Grundy, his parents are at a clinic for different children, this is Christian Wolff, he has autism and the doctor tells them that he needs to be handled with care and avoid intense scenery bombardment. But his father, a decorated war veteran, does not accept this, he knows the world is nothing but intense sensory bombardment, so instead in adapting the environment to Christian he adapted Christian to his environment. So begins his years of training with all the resources to become one of the most deadly men on the planet.

The boy grows into a man and he is (as the title suggests) an accountant. He is very good at what he does, deducing what is needed for his clients and working the rules to accommodate them. He gets hired by a big robotics company to go through everything to make sure their finances are secure before they go public. It’s fifteen years of intense complex finances so they doubt anyone is up to the task. In the company office clerk Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick) offers him help but he is most comfortable in solitude. He gets to work processing all the years of intense data and writing it on his whiteboard and when that runs out uses the glass walls of the office.

Affleck is actually rather understated in terms of other performances. Usually there is an overemphasis on the quirks and behaviors that come with autism (Dustin Hoffman in Rainman for example), to be sure you can tell he is abnormal but not enough to be an obvious red flag. He can move about in society. He is very blunt an minimal with his dialog and clearly is repressing great frustration when people talk more than they need to. He’s also given his typical behavioral quirk of blowing on his fingers before starting any task.

Kendrick has typically been cast in comedy roles as the cute, spirited one in comedies. She could be out-of-place here in this movie about numbers and bullets. But she serves as a contrast to Wolff’s dry attitude and still plays to her strengths though she’s used as the fish-out-of-water.

J.K. Simmons plays Raymond King, one of the heads at an intelligent agency who seeks to know the facts about Wolff. Simmons is solid throughout this movie, but within it he gets a moments which he genuinely moved me, a scene alone which sums up everything about this character in one moment and could earn him an Oscar on that alone.

We also get our villain, played by Jon Bernthal, some kind of hired gun that is wiping out all the witnesses. He is the opposite of Wolff, very expressive and an energetic talker. So you know the two will meat eventually and because they each have their moments it’s a confrontation your actually anticipating it with excitement.

This movie, or these kinds of movies, for example Taken, The Equalizer and The Gunman I have always found very boring. They are the case of some character that is actually very poorly defined and can mow down roomful after roomful of opponents with little hesitation and the same stern expression. Furthermore all those previous movie I just mentioned have middle aged leads so it just seems like we have to sit through these actors working through they’re midlife-crisis. But this movie comes with so much more. Firstly we get into his past so we know why he’s like he is and how he got to be the best at his work, he is most happy when he solves number problems, wear a pocket protector. This isn’t interested in typical portrayals of a macho-man.

Typically with these types of movies there’s a big action scene at the end and what this usually means is that the movie has run out of story, but this one, even though it does indeed have and action scene in the last act, there is still plot. So many movies last an hour and thirty minutes and only have an hour worth of things to say then give up and resort to gunfire, this movie is two hours long and has a whole movies worth of plot. Such a shame that I have to emphasise how good that is.

There are a whole bunch of movies that are similar to these movie as it could have rather easily been anther one to fall by the wayside. But it has a story that requires the run-time to tell it, engaging performances, a character that has a back-story. The fact that it’s a good movie is enough but knowing that it could have been so stupid makes it a marvel.

REVIEW: ‘SNOUT’ SHERMAN THEATRE BY GEMMA TREHARNE-FOOSE

(4 / 5)

This was my second time to attend a ‘Play, Pie and a Pint’ at the Sherman Theatre, Cardiff and once again it did not disappoint. This low-cost evening is a great option for those looking for bite-size and accessible nights at the theatre. Perhaps in anticipation of the subject material in the play, there was a vegetarian pie option. Thankfully, no pork pies were on the menu!

Snout is the latest new product from Sherman Theatre and Oran Mor’s partnership and is a new script from the writer Kelly Jones: winner of the BBC Wales Drama Award in 2014.

Those with a penchant for pork – beware! Snout is a play that does not beat around the bush when it comes to broaching the subject of animal welfare. The central three characters are pigs – Coco, Lacey and Viv , skilfully represented by Claire Cage, Michele Gallagher and Sally Reid.

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We are led through their backstories from within a cramped, dirty lorry and as the tension and claustrophobia sets in, it slowly becomes clear that Viv is keeping a secret that even she doesn’t want to face. Far from a day out ‘at the fete’ there is a far worse fate awaiting them at the other end of the journey.  As the panic and the fear becomes palpable – there is scrapping and squealing via a tense soundtrack courtesy of Andy Cowan, squabbling and bickering between Coco and Lacey and desperate praying and bargaining from Viv. There is something horrible brewing for these three little pigs.

Director Kenny Miller could so easily have played up the ‘pig’ image: via masks, curly tails or cutesy ears. But the three characters clothes and regular appearance only serve to humanise them and make the audience acknowledge what is about to happen to them.

‘How would they feel if it was them – their children?’ one of the characters says. We realise how pigs and pork are so firmly embedded our popular culture, our vernacular and our food choices: greedy pig, pig ugly, pig ignorant, bringing home the bacon, looking ‘porky’.

There are some really grim passages where Viv describes how her sister Annie was taken away, how the meat is butchered, prepared, consumed and sometimes even sexualised and fetishised. As an audience member, I felt almost complicit in the suffering of Viv, Coco and Lacey and the theatre space and sheer proximity to the cramped box feels claustrophobic for you too.

There are tender moments played out following Lacey’s electric shock after a panicked escape attempt. I could not take my eyes off Sally Reid (who plays Coco), whose spiky and awkward demeanour is softened as we progress in the play.

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The play shines a light on the sheer hypocrisy and selfishness of meat consumption and meat for fashion purposes and for me certainly, threw up a few questions. Why do I care so much about whether my chicken is free range, but not my pork? Why do I crinkle my nose at the thought of eating veal, but not suckling pig? Why is tripe revolting to me but not belly pork? I know that pigs are intelligent animals, so why have I never thought about whether they know what’s awaiting them at the end of their trips to the slaughterhouse. Do I really care about animals if I have this knowledge and do not act upon it?

I had my reservations about whether or not the play would be preachy or overtly anti-meat eating, but it was to character-led for that. What Kelly Jones’ script does manage to do well is to make you question yourself, to step outside your frame of reference and pre-conceived thoughts.  I can’t tell you if Coco, Lacey and Viv made it….but I can tell you that my enthusiasm for ‘meat free’ Mondays has tripled since seeing the play. And I will lay off the bacon for a while, I think…

Type of show: Theatre
Title: Snout (A play, Pie and a Pint)
Venue: The Sherman Theatre, Cardiff
Dates: 8-12 Nov
Author: Kelly Jones
Director: Kenny Miller

Ross Kirkland / Chris Reilly: Lighting Designer
Andy Cowan: Sound Designer
Jonathan Scott: Designer
Gemma Patchett: Assistant Designer
Claire Cage: Coco
Michele Gallagher: Lacey
Sally Reid: Viv

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Review Dr Strange by Jonathan Evans

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(4 / 5)

Doctor Strange is a movie that must stand out. It has Strange as in it’s title and the name of its main character. So there needs to be something about it that is unlike the other MARVEL movies, hell at this point, where we may be near the saturation point it needs to distinguish itself from all the other Superhero movies we now have.

What MARVEL now puts before us is a gamble. Just as big or maybe more so than what they did with Guardians of the Galaxy. The straightforward way of telling the superhero has almost run dry, so now they need to give us something new. Can they deliver a movie that captures the psychedelic imagery and mind-bending rules of this character and still make it accessible to audiences?

Our hero is the aforementioned mentioned Doctor Stephen Strange a shrewd, arrogant surgeon able to perform the most complicated operations with ease, he also comes with an encyclopedic knowledge of music. One day wile racing to a soiree in his sports car, believing he can do that and talk on his phone, crashes but survives, except his precious hands have been crushed. He can no longer perform surgeries, he could be a consultant but he cannot accept this and spends his fortune seeking out different treatments, to no avail. His quest eventually takes him to Kathmandu where he finds a new lease on life not in science but through magic.

Benedict Cumberbatch soured to a lot of peoples favourite actors list when he debut as the star of Sherlock. Since then he has amassed a very wide range of roles under his belt. This role requires him to capture the transformation of an arrogant, ego inflated, controlling man and have him broken and rebuild himself in a whole new way. He also sounds like Hugh Laurie in House (though that may just be me).

For his supporting characters we have Rachel McAdams as Christine Palmer, the part of Stephens ordinary life and his grounding force for humility and kindness. When the training begins we are given The Ancient One played by Tilda Swinton, the mentor character, Swinton is an entity like no other, you really do buy her as a character out of this world or at least not of the norm, able to take the most obscene mystical mumbo-jumbo dialog and roll it off the tongue. Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Mordo, another but more experienced sorcerer. Ejiofor is an amazing talent and he does indeed have moments to shine in this movie but he really deserves a part where he’s given a fully fleshed-out character that will bring out his amazing talent. Benedict Wong plays… Wong (no really) another sorcerer, head librarian and the classic non-smiling straight-man.

In terms of the layout of the plot this is still what you will have come to expect from most Superhero movies, especially from MARVEL. But what keeps them fresh and able to continue their winning streak is that they perfect the formula, adding the necessary alterations when needed and still giving us something unique. Doctor Strange has been a character that has flourished in its visuals, this movie shows us colours and transitions like we’ve never seen before, there is a scene where Stephen literally has an outer body experience and we get so many visuals that they may have used them all up, but they continue to give us them. This movie is a the psychedelic one of the MARVEL movies. If you enjoy that, then you will find yourself at home in the other worlds this movie takes you to.

Like any fictional world there needs to be rules to establish the way things work and so the audience can understand it. The sorcerers cast spells by abandoning the previously established limitations of time and space, they need to unlock their minds so the normal rules will bend to them. However some acts put too much of a strain on them so they use tools, which allows them to focus their abilities and easily conjure the spells they need to.

Dr Strange doesn’t, and never really has existed in the same realm as The Avengers. His place is a smaller, more neish corner of this universe. He exists within dreams and nightmares, the worlds unseen, but just as important.

The visual inspiration for the movie is very clear. With having a cityscape fold they have obviously taken inspiration from Inception, however that images was taken from a Man With a Movie Camera. But also when we go inside a building it resembles the morphing effect in Dark City.

But what does this matter? Truth is it doesn’t because they use it for their means and make it more complex and intense. But there is also the running theme of the breaking glass, like his hands, his should and his perception of reality, this movie is about the breaking of the this layers we have in life.

In this movie is a chase scene like nothing else I’ve seen in movies (and I’ve seen a lot). It seems straightforward with two people working together to try and get to a portal and they have pursuers. But the pursuers and shift the landscape. They change the angel of the whole city, then bend the buildings and warp the architecture. Eventually the whole things taken on the a shifting rubix cube seen through a kaleidoscope.

Going way back to his first run in the comics Doctor Strange was a character that wasn’t the most powerful but he was smart, strategic and committed to defeating his enemies. Our climax in this movie is not one where two beings hit each-other with lights and sound until the other is knocked out, it is one where what has comes before playing into the end strategy. This is where our hero out-thinks the threat instead of out punches him, a refreshing and important take on to show to the masses in Superheroes.

This movie shows what MARVEL still has. Even with nearly twenty movies under their belt at this point and so many characters used they still have things to show us and different angles and views to take in this genre.