Category Archives: Film & TV

She Will – A Review by Eva Marloes

Contrary to so many horror films that over the years have depicted nature as the enemy and their female protagonists as victims, Charlotte Colbert’s She Will is a tale of personal and collective trauma and empowerment found in a deep connection with the land.

The film opens with the ageing film-star Veronica Ghent (Alice Krige) in a luxurious art deco train compartment taking Traumadol to relieve the pain from a recent double mastectomy. She is travelling with her young nurse Desi (Kota Eberhardt) to a retreat in the Scottish Highlands. At their arrival, they are met with exaggerated characters headed by Tirador, played by Rupert Everett in a little too caricatural Oscar Wilde pose.

All around is a wild and bleak forest that was once the theatre of the execution of women accused of witchcraft. The ground has absorbed the women’s power, be that of witches or of victims of a misogynistic crime, and it now insinuates itself in Veronica’s life bringing healing as well as power.

Director Charlotte Colbert excels at weaving together the physical elements of the forest with the symbolism of trauma and healing. The ground penetrates into Veronica’s cabin as a black sludge and into her dreams as nightmares. It liberates her from the shame she feels of her scarred body, deprived of breasts, symbol of femininity. It also brings redemption from the childhood trauma of being sexually exploited by the director of the film that launched her career, played by Malcolm McDowell. As Veronica embraces the power in the mud, her spirit haunts the film director who commits suicide.

Alice Krige dominates the film with intensity, subtlety, and charm. Krige’s Veronica is captivating in her transformation from a former film-star clinging to beauty by masking her body to an empowered woman with no fear. It is ironic that she played the evil witch in the faux feminist Gretel and Hansel that was so rife with misogynistic themes (see review). 

The film is at its weakest when it leaves behind symbolism and tries to portray real characters and situations. Veronica’s relationship with her nurse Desi has little life in it notwithstanding solid performances. The attempted rape of Desi by a local young man is contrived, only serving the purpose of presenting an example of misogynistic violence which is punished by the revengeful forest. Other characters are a little too incidental adding little and at times disrupting the cohesiveness of the film. 

Aside Krige, it is the physical and mental landscape that carries the film conveyed by the striking photography of Jamie Ramsay who fuses together the haunting images of Veronica’s nightmares and fantasies and the dark and sinister landscape all around her. 

The choice of Scotland as a setting resonates historically. Between 1563 and 1736, an estimated 3837 people in Scotland were accused of witchcraft, a much higher proportion than in other European countries. 84% of them were women. It is estimated that over 60% of the accused were executed. This historical injustice has been addressed by the Witches of Scotland campaign, which has led to an official apology by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and has inspired movements in other countries. 

Review Lost Highway, Watershed Bristol by James Ellis 

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Dir: David Lynch, 1997, 134 mins, 18.

Anyone who knows me will declare my love of American film director David Lynch. The dark, eyebrow raising, nightmare vision that is his canon leaves most perplexed and others reeling. I’m usually in the later category.

For one reason or another his late 90’s classic Lost Highway has alluded me for years. The Watershed in Bristol had the great fortune of getting the 4K remastering of the film, a UK premiere. I’ll confess the film looked blazing on the screen. The exquisite close ups of mouths, eyes along with some truly vivid sexual scenes. Now known as the first flutter in Lynch’s L. A. Trilogy, the superior (in my opinion) Mulholland Drive followed by the even denser Inland Empire.        

A post-mortem on the film requires time and patience. The first third of the runtime, is the definition of total paranoia, the use of VHS is of it’s era and a clever component of the horror aspect the film swerves in and out of. Bill Pullman plays Fred Madison, a free-form jazz saxophonist who suffers with headaches and an intense anxiety seen little of in cinema. His wife, Renne played by a stoic Patricia Arquette add a deeper mood to the film, seen later as the sensual Alice Wakefield in one of the films most head scratching phases. In a strange transformation scene, Fred whilst in prison for the murder of his wife, appears to morph into Pete Dayton, played by a chipper, subtle Balthazar Getty. 

It is the performances of Pullman, Arquette and Getty which command the film, most of the intrigue coming from what on earth happens to these characters. One wonders if doppelgängers and tulpas might be involved, a theme in Lynch’s work for decades. You can easily see the influence of Greek myth, Buddhism and American folk heroes smeared all over the film and it works to the best it’s ability. Co-written with Barry Gifford, Lynch’s usual tricks are never far away, the smoke, fire, booze and rock music, the trappings of this movie master forever enthral. What exactly occurs in the film is up for debate, though appears to have clearer abstraction then later work.                 

As always with Lynch the humour is flies through and this Bristol audience got some good laughs throughout this absurd, beautiful film. Some idol police detectives inject some well needed laugh earlier on, as the realisation of a home invasion is established. Some more surreal supporting cast choices include Richard Pryor, Mink Stole, Gary Busey and Henry Rollins. Also of note is Jack Nance as Phil, in his last feature role, a Lynch veteran who wowed and delighted audiences for years, only to die in a bizarre attack in a donut shop. 

Robert Loggia intimidates as both Mr Eddy and Dick Laurent, with neither character you’d want to cross, as proven by the hilarious car chase scene where he pistol whips a driver who cuts him off, whilst lecturing him about the highway code. Nothing remains more spooky in the film as The Mystery Man played by the pure terror of Robert Blake. I found I had chills in his scene with Pullman, the now famous “At your house” line is later heard in Twin Peaks: The Return, in keeping with the cyclic condition of Lynch.         

Some of the musical choices may date the film slightly, though most are inspired: the likes of David Bowie with Brian Eno, Rammstein, the now cancelled Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails are highlights. Angelo Badalamenti’s score is evocative as ever, the perfect companion to most of Lynch’s warped presentations. Not his most brilliant music, but some nice moments by any standard.    

Lost Highway remains troubling, funny, transient and thought provoking. 

Series Review, Y Golau, S4C by Gareth Williams

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

For such a highly-anticipated Welsh drama, Y Golau seemed to run the well-worn tracks of what has become the genre’s favoured train: the psychological thriller. Given its all-star Welsh cast, I expected something much more original and distinctly different from previous Welsh noirs like Hidden and The Pact. As a result, I felt underwhelmed by its decision to present yet another murder mystery, complete with the same familiar tropes as its predecessors. Not that there was anything inherently wrong with the production. It just simply didn’t thrill and engross in quite the way that it might have done had it not been in the guise of similar series that had gone before.

Joanna Scanlan as Sharon (photo by Alistair Heap)

The typically rural setting and small-town cast of characters is one thing; but the desolate landscape, solemn music, and gloomy figures present yet another side to Wales that panders to the bleak and pedantic detail of the crime subgenre. Iwan Rheon plays the haunted convict who is released from prison having served a sentence for the murder of the daughter of Joanna Scanlan’s haunted mother. He returns to the town that is still haunted by the events of 18 years previously, his presence disturbing an uneasy peace which is exacerbated further by the re-appearance of Alexandra Roach’s journalist, who is looking for a story. The three of them give ample performances for what are very rare appearances in a Welsh-language outfit. Yet none command the kind of screen presence that has come to be expected of them. In particular, the animated spark that enlivens Scanlan and Roach’s appearance’ in No Offence is largely absent here. Instead, vacant stares obtrude their presentations such that it becomes difficult to make a significant emotional connection to their characters.

Ifan Huw Dafydd

It is Ifan Huw Dafydd that gives the best performance here. He strikes a menacing veneer over his character Huw that is justifiably unsettling. It is no surprise that his growing presence onscreen and involvement in the central narrative coincides with the more compelling and intriguing parts of the drama. If anything, the return of his estranged daughter Shelley (played by Rhian Blythe) is the catalyst for the twists and turns that follow in the final two parts of the series. This is where Y Golau becomes gripping in a way that its shortcomings, up until this point, can be forgiven. It enters a similar phase to that of Yr Amgueddfa, whereby its web of disparate characters start to become interconnected, drawing the various strands of the narrative together to create a big grand finale. But whereas Fflur Dafydd manages to maintain interest in the opening episodes in spite of the expositional setting up of the story, Regina Moriarty’s script doesn’t possess the same hooks with which to retain the audience’s attention. The result is a requirement to persevere in order to be rewarded rather than being kept sufficiently entertained throughout.

In the end, Y Golau aims a bit too high. Issues of abuse and power are dealt with admirably. The final episode ensures the series ends strongly. But I expected more from this drama, not least because of the roster of Welsh stars that appear in its cast. Scanlan, Roach, Rheon, Hannah Daniel, Aneirin Hughes and Sian Reese-Williams, all lend it an air of quality that meant expectations were high. To then find a characteristic S4C offering in the mould of an Ed Talfan production that didn’t quite utilise the talent involved left me slightly dissatisfied. As a result, Y Golau lit up the screen but wasn’t a roaring success.

Click here to watch the series on iPlayer.

Review by
Gareth Williams

Windrush Caribbean Film Festival 2022, Rebel Dread a film by Don Letts, followed by Q&A with Don Letts and Aleighcia Scott, Newport Riverfront Theatre & Arts Centre by Tracey Robinson

Newport Riverfront Theatre & Arts Centre is the only venue in Wales to host the Windrush Caribbean Film Festival 2022 the turnout was poor considering the amount of effort that it must have taken to put this event together, however, my experience was not disappointing in any way – I had a fantastic evening. 

I had the pleasure and excitement of being catapulted back to my rebellious, wild, outrageous youth by watching Don Lett’s film ‘Rebel Dread’.

‘Rebel Dread’ tells the story of Don Letts, born in Brixton to parents who had come over from Jamaica in the mid-50s to work on the buses and the garment trade. Letts is a first-generation Black British-born filmmaker, DJ, cultural commentator, author, and musician, who grew up with the ever-present threat of racism, police harassment, and violence in London during the 60s and 70s—framed by Enoch Powell’s ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech in 1968 and the 2018 ‘hostile environment’ immigration policy.

It was fascinating to learn Letts had the second largest collection of Beatles memorabilia in the UK (which he swapped for a big American car) and as a youth, his first gig was going to see The Who, which changed his perspective on life, brought out the ‘rocker’ in him and led to him setting fire to his desk in the classroom at his school. Desmond Coy, his older brother, recalled a David Bowie phase too, when Letts wore earrings and sported eyeshadow.

Don Letts has led a dynamic life, he became friends with Malcolm Maclaren and Vivienne Westwood and found himself at the epi-center of the emerging punk movement, he came to notoriety in the late 70s as the DJ that single-handedly turned a generation of punks onto reggae, which also coincided with his initial thrust into film-making, following the gift of a Super-8 camera from Carolyn Baker.

Letts was a DJ at the first punk club ‘The Roxy’ in 1977 and it was here that he made his first film ‘The Punk Rock Movie’ featuring the Sex Pistols, The Clash, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and many others. This led to him directing hundreds of videos for a diverse and impressive mix of artists, ranging from Bob Marley, The Clash, Elvis Costello, Musical Youth and many, many more.

Letts was a very cool, stylish man, his image was original and at that time he was unlike his fellow Rasta brethren which led to him ‘standing out’ and being something of a ladies’ man, he had a very complicated personal life.

During the 80s along with Mick Jones, he formed Big Audio Dynamite, making music that incorporated film samples, rock n roll, dance, reggae, and rap.

Since 2009 he has presented ‘Culture Clash Radio’ a weekly show on BBC6 Music. His autobiography ‘There and Black Again’ was listed in the Rough Trade top 10 books of 2020. Don is currently working on his first solo record with Cooking Vinyl, due for release in Spring 2023.

After the film Letts appeared for an interview with Aleighcia Scott (Cardiff-born Welsh-Jamaican reggae artist) and a Q&A session, which saw him merging with and interacting with the audience, enjoying the random questions and relaying his eclectic life and exciting times.  

     

He is a very personable man, he was funny, interesting, intelligent, and energetic, he has time for people, he understands the value of socialising, and absorbs the world around him.

Don Letts is a fearless, courageous, influencer and purveyor of change, a merger of cultures, and a blender of people.

Review Screening of Rebel Dread plus Q&A. The Riverfront, Newport by Gary Pearce

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Five out of five very bright shining stars, shining almost as bright as the man himself! The film Rebel Dread tells the story of a video producer, DJ, broadcaster, filmmaker, songwriter, musician, author and as the title suggests…Rebel. All of this can only point to one man, the super-talented and incredibly likable Mr Don Letts.

Rebel Dread documents Letts’ life growing up in 1960s/70s London where it all began and beyond, from his schooldays where he was subjected to racial abuse, which was all too commonplace at the time, to his first rock concert and his first act of rebellion. It talks about his teenage years and the point when his life direction would change forever, right up to the present day. It looks at how music, fashion, cultural difference, police harassment and unrest had a massive impact on his life and how he embraced what was happening and how he ‘turned problems into assets’.

Letts posed a striking figure, he had the good looks, the charisma, the attitude and the balls to go out and get what he wanted. He trod his own path, a path that would lead him right to the epicentre of a newly emerging and exciting London scene that he would so quickly become a major part of. Rubbing shoulders with up and coming entrepreneurs Vivienne Westwood  and Malcolm McLaren and meeting and eventually working with some of the biggest names of the punk rock scene at the time including The Clash, The Sex Pistols, Siouxsie & The Banshees and The Slits, which he would manage, to name just a few. Oh yes, he also met and became friends with Bob Marley!

At the time it was initially seen as strange for a dread to be mixing in the punk scene,a scene that was predominantly white and Bob Marley told Letts this when he turned up wearing bondage trousers. But Letts viewed the punks as being very much like some of the black community, disenchanted with the politics of the time, oppressed & harassed, a minority looked down upon by others, a minority that weren’t afraid to speak out and to rebel against the system. Letts embraced the Punk scene and through his love of reggae music enticed the punks into his world with the throbbing baselines of heavy dub.  Letts was like some kind of social honey bee, mixing with different cultures, pollinating and fertilizing to create the perfect hybrid. 

Being a child of the 1960s myself and a punk and reggae lover of the 1970s and beyond I found it very easy to relate to Letts’ story even though our lives were poles apart and I hadn’t even heard of him at the time. It doesn’t matter as our love for the fashion and the music was the same, our burning desire for change was the same and our willingness to rebel was the same. What I didn’t realise at the time was the influence Letts was having on me without me even knowing it!

Letts has led an exciting and varied life, he’s had his share of woes and personal problems, highs and lows, he has traveled and worked with some of the biggest names in music and at 66 years of age it doesn’t look like he has any intentions of stopping just yet. 

After the screening we were invited to stay on for a Q&A with the man himself and what a lovely, sociable, grounded man he is. Letts answered the questions put to him by the interviewer, local reggae artist Aleighcia Scott and also found time to answer questions from the audience. After the Q&A Letts stood around chatting and posed for numerous photographs.

If you want to hear the rest, and there is a lot more to hear! Watch the film Rebel Dread and read the book There And Black Again.

Review: Conversations With People Who Hate Me by Dylan Marron, By Sian Thomas

Four stars

I remember when this podcast went live, boosted somewhere into my online feed because I had been a fan of Welcome to Night Vale, even as I felt it slipping from my grasp of enjoyment (it’s back now).

“Conversations With People Who Hate Me” is a podcast initially beginning with Dylan Marron, the creator, reaching out to people who have left him mean comments on his online work. They discuss the comment, among other things, and while not strictly having to come to some ample, satisfactory conclusion, usually both parties leave the table feeling different to how they sat down at it. It would later evolve into Dylan moderating a conversation between two people – one whose work or art piece or the like received a mean comment, and the person who left it.

I thought this was an interesting idea when it first came out back in 2017, mostly because I’d seen nothing like it outside of thinking back to when you’d get taught as a kid to “be nice”, or “not get angry” that kind of thing, that parents kind of do: “Remember to share!” when they’re, I don’t know, in the kitchen, and not watching you not share. “Just talk!” felt like impractical advice, I wasn’t sure how it would help, if it even could. But I remember listening to a few episodes before I fell off of podcasts entirely, (not for any particular reason, I think it would mostly down to this itch in my brain that told me if I’m listening to people speak then I have to listen and I found myself unable to do anything else if I had a podcast on, and I must not have been getting enough A-Level revision done as a result) listening to the back and fore of a conversation that would definitely frustrate me, but I found Dylan was navigating well. It wasn’t something I could have done. I’m not certain it is now, five years on.

The book was quite a lot about how the podcast came to be, and what was learned during its creation process. Which is fine, truthfully, I wasn’t sure it would be about anything else since the book and the podcast shared the same name. There is a tale woven within it about what the internet is and what it could be – how it effects us and the kinds of things, good and bad, it can lead us to doing or feeling. I enjoyed seeing the depth of something I had liked and then lost hold of years ago, re-entering my vision in a way that contextualised and solved what probably caused me to drop it in the first place. I don’t think I was ready to have the kinds of conversations Dylan was having then, and while I’m not convinced I am now, either, one thing I found dazzlingly soothing was the understanding of the “Everything Storm”. The “Everything Storm” is kind of how it sounds: everything is happening all the time, all at once, and if you can’t keep up, someone on the internet definitely thinks you suck. I never realised this was what was causing my own version of an internet fatigue, but on reading Dylan’s detailing of his own (even as it was attributed to discussions he was having and manifesting as different emotions and actions for him), I was like, oh man, this is it. This is what pushed me to the private twitter with all of my ten highly vetted followers, what made me rest my phone face down. It was nice to put a name to that weird feeling of guilt when something happens and all I can think when I look at it was, “Oh no. Not now. Please.”

This was definitely a feature of the book I really enjoyed, the detailing of the arcs of a conversation, serving you pieces you can recognise and take away with you, the smallest of navigation tips to assure your nerves if you ever take on the kind of conversations Dylan does.

The book is delightfully written, reading like a winding story while instilling a genuine lesson. I don’t often read non-fiction, but when I do I find I prefer it to feel almost personal. I enjoyed this deep dive into the very back of Dylan Marron’s mind: what lead to the podcast and the further book, and all the nuances of creation that came both before, and during, this chapter of his life. I can see why it would have been difficult to write, after learning it was supposed to release in mid 2020, not the first half of 2022. The deliberation of what may come of these “pieces” – the consequences to all of Dylan’s actions, in a way -was purposeful and honest. Which is refreshing to see in world tearing itself apart wondering who the main character of the day is, and how exactly then can get got.

I think Dylan Marron is the kind of person you either quietly follow through the years, even if you’re not aware that you are (which is the category I fall into: I heard of him through his work on Welcome to Night Vale, and found myself coming back to his page every so often to see what, if anything, had changed), or, one day, you happen upon him by accident entirely. For a long time he was just “that voice on that show I used to listen to”, but I realise now Dylan is much more and has been doing much, much more than that. I get the feeling that this is something of a memoir rather than a self-help-essay-type of book like Good Vibes Good Life by Vex King, which I really, really like. It feels real and honest; genuine and undoubtfully true. It has a similar kind of vibe to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic – a snippet of a wide, three-dimensional life, and how it made an unfathomably large ripple across the rest of that person’s days.

It was a fantastic read. I don’t know that I would recommend it to everyone, but I think it’s one of those books where if you look into it yourself and think yeah, I can get behind this, then do.

Sian Thomas

REVIEW Rybish (S4C) by Barbara Hughes-Moore

Written by Barry ‘Archie’ Jones (Dimbyd, Run Sbit), Rybish (‘Rubbish’) is an s4c/Cwmni Da comedy series which follows the crew of Cefn Cilgwyn, a recycling centre in North Wales. The centre is understaffed and overlooked, but though the team often disagree or fall out, they slowly become a family. The series premiered during the pandemic and was one of the only British series which carried on filming during lockdown. It’s subtle, kind, mischievous, melancholy – and hilarious.

Clive (Sion Pritchard), king of detritus

Its characters, and the actors who portray them, are the jewels in its crown. Sion Pritchard plays Clive, site manager and hero of the wasteland. Clive is a beleaguered but gallant leader, and while he might lose patience with his team, he would defend them with his last breath.

Val (Mair Tomos)

Mair Tomos Ifans plays Val, the warden of the waste. Always in her yellow jacket and Wales hat, not a lot impresses her, and I admire that. Dyfed Thomas plays Eurwyn, the sweetest man in the world, innocent yet wise; a gentle soul and healer of broken things. You might remember Dyfed from his iconic turn as Brian Lloyd Jones in the series Siop Siafins.

Eurwyn (Dyfed Thomas)

Rhodri Trefor plays Nigel, a soldier in his dreams, a layabout in his reality – though he soon becomes the kind of person you’d want by your side in battle. And last but not least, Betsan Ceiriog plays Bobbi, a college student searching for direction in life. Ceriog, in her debut tv role, is assured and strong – and I’m sure this is the start of a long and successful career.

Bobbi (Betsan Ceiriog)

Clive, Eurwyn and Nigel are like ancient Welsh figures lost in the modern age: a prince without a kingdom, a bard without an audience, a warrior without a battle. Bobbi is the muse who inspires them all to be their best selves. And Val is the sentry who guards the gate – or a druid, whose ways are mysterious to all save herself. With Bobbi in their lives, they all have something to fight for: she is the hope of future generations.

Nigel (Rhodri Trefor)

Writer Jones gets that a comedy’s joy resides in both in the specific and the universal. Rybish examines tradition and innovation, old and new; it finds excitement in the mundane, beauty in the unloved. Ironically, or perhaps fittingly, Rybish never throws anything (or anyone) away.

Series 1 a 2 are on Clic now.

Check out Gareth Williams’ excellent review here

The Cefn Cilgwyn crew

ADOLYGIAD Rybish (S4C) gan Barbara Hughes-Moore

Ysgrifennwyd gan Barry ‘Archie’ Jones (Dimbyd, Run Sbit), mae Rybish ydy cyfres comedi s4c/Cwmni Da sy’n dilyn criw Cefn Cilgwyn, canolfan ailgylchu yn y Gogledd. Mae’r canolfan yn brin o staff ac yn cael ei hanwybyddu, ond er gwaetha nifer o ddadleuon, mae’r criw yn araf yn dod yn deulu. Darlledwch y cyfres cyntaf mewn y pandemig, a Rybish ydy’r un o’r cyfres Brydeinig sy wedi ffilmio yn ystod y clo mawr. Mae’n gynnil, yn garedig, yn ddireidus, yn felangol – ac yn ddoniol iawn.

Clive (Sion Pritchard), brenin y sbwriel

Ei gymeriadau, ac yr actorion sy’n chwarae nhw, ydy’r gemau yn y goron. Mae Sion Pritchard yn chwarae Clive, rheolwr safle ac arwr y wastraff. Clive ydy arweinydd dan warchae ond dewr, ac allai golli amynedd gyda’i dîm, fyddai’n eu hamddiffyn â’i anadl olaf.

Val (Mair Tomos)

Mae Mair Tomos yn chwarae Val, warden y wastraff. Wastad mewn siaced melyn a het Cymru, dim lot yn gallu argraffi Val, ac rwy’n edmygu hynny. Dyfed Thomas yn chwarae Eurwyn, y boi melysaf yn y byd, diniwed ond doeth; enaid tyner ac iachawr o bethau toredig. Efallai eich bod yn cofio Dyfed o’i rôl eiconig yn y cyfres Siop Siafins, fel y gymeriad Brian Lloyd Jones.

Eurwyn (Dyfed Thomas)

Rhodri Trefor yn chwarae Nigel, milwr yn ei freuddwydion, lleyg yn ei realiti – er y daw yn fuan y math o berson y byddech chi ei eisiau wrth eich ochr chi mewn brwydr. Ac yn olaf ond nid yn lleiaf, Betsan Ceiriog yn chwarae Bobbi, myfyrwraig coleg sy’n chwilio am cyfeiriad mewn hi fywyd. Ceiriog, mewn rôl teledu gyntaf, yn gryf ac yn dibetrus – a ddwi’n siwr mae hyn yn dechrau gyrfa hir a lwyddianus.

Bobbi (Betsan Ceiriog)

Mae Clive, Eurwyn a Nigel sy fel cymeriadau hynafol Cymraeg, sy ar goll mewn oes modern: tywysog heb deyrnas, bardd heb cynulleidfa, rhyfelwr heb brwydr. Bobbi yw’r awen sy’n eu hysbrydoli i fod ar eu gorau eu hunain. A mae Val yn gwyliwr sy’n gwarchod y gât – neu derwydd, y mae ei ffyrdd yn ddirgelwch i bawb ond iddi. Gyda Bobbi yn eu bywydau, gallant gael rhywbeth newydd i ymladd drosto: hi ydy’r gobaith o genedlaethau’r dyfodol.

Nigel (Rhodri Trefor)

Mae’r awdur ‘Archie’ Jones yn ddeall bod llawenydd comedi yn gorwedd mewn y penodol a’r cyffredinol. Mae Rybish yn archwilio traddodiad ac arloesi, yr hen ac y newydd; mae’r sioe yn ffeindio cyffro yn y cyffredin, hardd yn y di-gariad. Yn eironig, neu ‘fallai’n addas, nid yw Rybish byth yn taflu unrhywbeth (neu unrhywun) i ffwrdd.

Gwyliwch Cyfres 1 a chyfres 2 am Clic nawr.

Darllenwch adolygiad gwych Gareth Williams o’r cyfres gyntaf yma

Y criw Cefn Cilgwyn

Series Review, Stad, S4C, by Gareth Williams

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

It is the North West that seems to be in the Welsh TV spotlight recently. The final series of Hidden has begun, Rybish has returned, and a brand-new series called Stad has just completed its run.  Set on a council estate near Caernarfon, it combines the drama and comedy of the aforementioned to create a slightly off-piste narrative similar to Enid a Lucy. This has made it lightly entertaining and surprisingly engrossing; a series that does not make you want to binge from the off but, by the time it reaches its final episode, leaves you desperate for more.

Stad is not strictly original, coming ten years after its highly-popular predecessor Tipyn o Stad ended on S4C. Viewers of that series will recognise the return of a few familiar characters, not least the Gurkha family. However, no prior knowledge is needed to enter this new chapter in the life of Maes Menai, described as “North Wales’ most colourful housing estate”. The opening scene might feel a bit overwhelming and thus confusing for those, like me, entering this world for the first time. But it does not take long to adjust to its tragi-comic genre and realise that the historic connections between some of these characters are no barrier to its accessibility. Instead, one becomes steadily intrigued by the issues, situations and circumstances that arise within the first episode and as the series progresses. Mental health is but one subject which is tackled with a surprising sensitivity, particularly in respect of trauma and loss. Elen Gwynne, for example, gives the most acute performance as Susan whose struggle with bereavement is portrayed onscreen in such a way as to be funny without being derisive.

The writers Manon Wyn Jones, Angharad Elen and Daf Palfrey have pitched the darkness and light of this drama to perfection. There is a bit of a Breaking Bad influence that seems to hang over it in more ways than one. There is the obvious connection to the selling of drugs for financial security, but it is also the hapless nature of the partnership between Ed Lovell (Bryn Fôn) and Dan (Sion Eifion) that strikes chords with the father-son relationship of Walter White and Jesse. The two also find themselves in sometimes absurd situations, like being held hostage by a crossbow-wielding farmer by the name of Iona Kebab (Janet Aethwy). Such wild, crazy scenarios end up contrasting nicely with the far more real-world dilemmas of other characters, like Alaw. Begw Rowlands ensures a real likability towards her character, playing her with a confidence that is tinged with a deeper, hidden vulnerability. It draws much sympathy when she discovers that she is pregnant, and makes her gently blossoming relationship with Kim (Gwenno Fôn) all-the-more sweeter.

Stad can feel a bit pedestrian at times, measured and paced, with no rush to excite or entice viewers into a suspenseful or twisting narrative. It prefers to operate at the most basic level of human drama even as some of its storylines take on a surrealist edge. This means that we get to know the characters themselves in the context of their ordinary lives and is what makes the final part of the series so unexpected and heightens the tension around it. We come to really care as Alaw attacks her dad Keith (Rhodri Meilir), with seemingly-terminal ramifications, and Ed Lovell finds himself trapped in the basement of a burning house. It ratchets up the anticipation before running into the closing credits to devasting effect. Suddenly, it is edge-of-your-seat stuff. A second series is demanded.

Stad becomes a series that gradually wins your heart and then has the power to break it.

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Reviewed by
Gareth Williams

Review The Garden Cinema, The Worst Person In The World/Cries & Whispers by James Ellis

Photo credit: The Garden Cinema

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5) The Worst Person In The World

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5) Cries and Whispers

A recent Time Out article caught my eye concerning a brand spankingly new cinema that has opened in the heart of London. To my delight, the discovery of The Garden Cinema holds up as a triumph for my most recent London visitation. If you like all things Art Deco then you have to look no further. The reds and golds are all here, the angular designs and the glamour of Hollywood’s yesteryear are all present. Sitting in Cinema 1 for two features, these held up as the most polished, comfortable seats I’ve sat on, quite similar to the ones in Cardiff’s Cinema 2 at Chapter Arts Centre…you won’t want to leave them.

I was greeted with great friendliness by staff, I found myself having gin (a rarity for me) and cups of dried pineapple and cashews. It’s amazing to see a cinema that will allow you to take glasses into the cinema and also maintain a no noise policy by having snack in quiet tubs. I did hear the odd rustle in the back row and some chatting in the first film, but thankfully that died down. Having a naughty look in Cinema 2, it was an even more intimate space, very welcoming and warming. It’s the touches here and there that sell this arthouse cinema. The posters, prints and the like all add a elegance not seen in today’s cinema. There is also an ethos on no trailers, instead short films to prelude the feature presentations. There is talk of having local film maker night as well. I will take to court any Londoner who will not support this pristine new enterprise and make it a regular for film and drinks.

The Worst Person in the World
Dir: Joachim Trier. 128 mins, 15

With Oscar nominations to boot, this fresh film sees a young protagonist Julie go around Oslo, lost in one relationship thinking of having another. Renate Reinsve compels the role of a woman who doesn’t really know what she wants, very relatable in today’s age of Me Too, social media and the general angst of living. The film pops with some flowery cinematography. Two scenes stand out: when Julie offers the blow back of her cigarette to new lover Elvind (a solid Herbert Nordrum) and when time stands still for Julie to sneak off to meet him. Poor Askel played by Anders Danielsen Lie goes through a lot in the film, an artist who creates the Norwegian equivalent of Fritz the Cat.

A scene in a radio interview speaks volumes about today’s cancel culture, both sides with fair points here. A fine performance form this sweet actor, sadly the third act leads to little in a Cancer diagnosis for the character and no where for the story to go other than having Julie spoil once again the new relationship she was in (perhaps that’s an assumption? ). There are predictable elements as well, a scene involving a shot of her legs in the shower could only lead to a miscarriage. The father sub plot could have also been tackled a bit more considering the run time. See for the camera work and decent, amusing acting.

I also caught the tail end of the short Single concerning romantic with people with physical disabilities. This appeared highly skilled, with a nice touch of romance. Will try and find a link to watch fully.

Cries and Whispers
Dir: Ingmar Bergman. 91 mins, 15

Death, regret and family resentments permeate Cries and Whispers. This is top quality Bergman, well regarded as Sweden’s finest master. His Persona is a personal favourite, yet this is up there for me. A quiet opening, the stillness with ticking clocks will soon fade away as two sisters come to term with their other dying sister. A chilling film by any standard, the psychology of the women remains fascinating, the maid Anna also a ground breaking exploration as care giver and loyal friend. Biblical sights also frequent the period setting, some very obvious. “A tissue of lies” said in the film seem to capture the aspect of the story well and whether Agnes did actually die at the end. Martha and Karen has hate for each other for no real reason and as the film goes on they appear to reconcile if only for a while. Each woman get’s their back stories fairly portrayed, helping us understand their plight much more. Most scenes fade to crimson red, a motif in the scene with plenty of blood seen later in a disbursing moment involving a broken shard from a wine glass. Of course, we have the famous expressionist close up, pure chiaroscuro every time.

This is devastating cinema.

Cries and Whispers runs at The Garden Cinema till 7 April 2022.
The Worst Person In The World runs at The Garden Cinema till 21 April 2022