Blade Runner 2049: Movie Review


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Someone needs to get Ridley Scott in check.  His recent Alien movie was awful and overindulgent.  This is far from awful but it has his stamp all over it and at two and a half hours long is really quite indulgent.

Ryan Gosling may also need to go to some acting classes because his one trick pony is wearing rather thin now.

Having said that, the bad stuff, there’s a lot to like about this movie.

Roger Deakins is in fine form with a simply gorgeous cinematographic experience.  The yellow city and the green biodome actually take your breath away.

The CGI is universally excellent.  The opening aerial sequence draws your breath and there’s a love scene in which a hologram juxtaposes the body of a replicant hooker that is one of the most imaginative things I’ve ever seen in the cinema.

Indeed this movie is RAMMED with great creative ideas.

I mostly didn’t mind how slow it is until perhaps the third act when, even with the excellent introduction of Harrison Ford, it began to outstay its welcome.

Clearly it’s a little Marmite as I’ve rarely seen so many of an audience leave, and its length certainly tested many a bladder.  Not mine thankfully.

The plot has its challenges and I’m not going to go there as it would be too easy to spoil for you, but it’s interesting and quite clever.

The score by Hans Zimmer is simply brilliant.  All booming, crashing percussive synth punctuated by little moments of Vangelis (echoing the original).  He’s on fire just now, what with Dunkirk under his belt.  He’ll have more than one soundtrack Oscar nomination come February.

I liked the way director Denis Villeneuve dwells on scenes, allowing you take in the mastery of Deakins’ and the technical team’s work but when he dwells lingeringly on Gosling again and again and again you do wish it would push on a bit.

So, overall, a good, but not great, movie.  I wouldn’t want to see it again actually given its drawn out editing.  But I liked it much more than I didn’t.

 

Cockpit. The Lyceum’s latest smash.


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Photo credit:  Production photo by Mihaela Bodlovic

In 1948 the young Bridget Boland (I know nothing of her) wrote this site specific play.  And it IS site specific even though it is presented in the Lyceum Theatre because she sets her play, about a holding centre for displaced persons in the aftermath of WWII, in 1948, in a theatre.

Actual genius.

This gives her the opportunity to introduce some great theatrical gags; most memorably the line spat out in complete contempt by the theatre’s stage manager for Front of House personnel.  A laugh out loud moment.  One of several.  Although this is no comedy.

The concept is that in this Displaced Persons’ (DP) ‘camp’, a sort of Calais ‘Jungle’ of 1948, in an unnamed German city, two British military personnel (the latter day peacekeeping force) are trying to organise the transport of 1,000 DP’s to their homelands.

It’s a Tower of Babel with many languages spoken and, more importantly, many short and long term differences of opinion and prejudices.  Of course, the Jews fare worst of all because the Jews were no less persecuted by the Nazis than many other nations and creeds.  That comes across strongly.

But Latvians and Lithuanians, Yugoslavs (Bosnians, Croatians, Serbian et al), Poles and Russians, French sympathisers and resistance all harbour deep grudges and these constantly flare up in an electrifying first act until a moment of humanity transforms the situation. It would be a spoiler to reveal this so you’ll have to see the show to find out how politics can be transcended by human nature.

It’s an absolute cauldron of infighting that shows partly how ridiculous political belief and dogma is (religion gets a right kicking too) but also how complex it is.  That scene from Life of Brian about the Judean Liberation Front is a great touchpoint, although it is treated far more seriously here.

The cast is drawn from a number of European nationalities which could have led to a dreadful ‘Allo Allo’ mood overall.  But how director Wils Wilson overcomes this is one of the many directorial sleights of hand that really impressed this audience member and means we have a truly international feel, but an all English script.  I have to say Wils Wilson has a masterful touch throughout.

It opens with a full ensemble Ukranian folk song that is brilliantly performed (and composed by the inimitable Aly Macrae – you may recall him from the The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart where he is a lead character) before resolving into the show itself.  I’d have liked to have seen even more musical pieces as they are all highlights. None more so than a few moments of operatic spinetinglingness that draws the breath away (I’ll not spoil it for you by describing what, where or when, but I guarantee you will be spellbound).

An actual real life showstopper.

It’s sort of Brechtian in places I suppose.  And resonates strongly with Caucasian Chalk Circle.  If you liked the Lyceums CCC you will like this.

Universally the ensemble acting is strong – really it’s as impressive a cast as I’ve ever seen at the Lyceum – but Peter Hannah as the fresh-faced and easily overwhelmed ‘Man in Charge’, Captain Ridley, is outstanding and is ably abetted by his more experienced and world weary underling; Deka Walmsley as Sergeant Barnes.

The design is a considerable feat and splurges out into stairwells, bars and the foyer, further enhancing the site-specificnesss of the production. The sound design and musical underscoring combine to create a sense of place, an air of menace and frankly an utter joy when it erupts into full blown musical scoring.

But, really, what most enraptured me was the script.  How anyone could conjure up such a politically accurate and insightful overview of the aftermath of WWII at a time when surely obfuscation, fake news and propaganda must have been rife amazes me.  What’s even more remarkable is that its relevance today (yes I know that’s such a weary phrase) is simply dizzying.

“The trouble with the British is they just don’t understand Europe.”  I kid you not.  Bridget Boland wrote those words in 1948. (I probably paraphrased.)

I rest my case m’lud.

 

 

 

 

The funniest letter ever written?


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Steve Martin (The Jerk, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Man with two Brains) was, at one time, the funniest man on the planet.  Sadly that’s no longer the case but, at the top of his game he was killer funny – just watch any of the above movies if you need proof of that.

Or read the letter below to a fan.  He’d long passed the stage where he could write personal responses to fan mail but he could sign them and so crafted this absolute corker  in 1979, the year The Jerk was released.

P.S.  The P.S. kills me.

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Brexit. The omnishambles of all omnishambles.


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Almost on a daily basis I sit slack-jawed as I read the latest developments in the ‘Brexit negotiations’ and in the words of David Byrne “I say to myself; How did I get here?  How did I get here?”

This situation is not just a mess, an omnishambles, it’s a national disgrace.

One contributor to the debate in the staunchly anti-Brexit Guardian said this morning;

“…the throwing away of Margaret Thatcher’s negotiated rebate…we being the only country to have one…the continuing use of our own currency…not being in Schengen …things that were we ever to apply to rejoin the EU we will never have again.

We are throwing away not only membership of the EU and the freedoms for ordinary people that brings , but PREFERENTIAL membership negotiated by a conservative Prime Minister who, love her or hate her, wouldn’t think this current crop worth employing as cleaners.”

Even the word – an abominable mash up – turns my stomach.  It just sounds made up, as it is, but also foolish, trivial and yet it represents the biggest single economic catastrophe that no nation on earth would contemplate, other than Britain.  Any why?  Because a tiny minority voted in a horrendously misleading referendum on manifestos that were warped (and misleading) on both sides, to teach the then government a lesson.  And, agree with me or not, in a significant enough minority (certainly more than 2% I would argue) to get rid of Johnny Foreigner.

Will that work?  Yes it will.  But only the best and most useful, most employable ‘Johnnies’ who are returning to their Easter European homes in their droves after the pound collapsed and they find it a better economic option than remaining.

Ridiculous as it sounds, David Cameron now looks like a visionary, except for one tiny thing; despite his total opposition to it he offered the country an opportunity to vote for this fucking monstrosity at a time when the rabid right were enjoying farcical, almost comical, support during the ‘Farago years’.

This absolute Frankenstein creation is now being ‘negotiated’ to frankly, derision by the likes of Michel Barnier.  Can you imagine his private conversations?  I mean can you? Through howls of laughter in Mansion House-esque European meetings.

“…and you wouldn’t believe what he proposed next…”

“Oh Michel, I don’t know how you can keep a straight face.”

Now it emerges that the European Court of Justice will remain the highest court of jurisdiction in our land in the farcically titled ‘Period of transition’.  Another red line crossed.  Another ridiculous outcome.

Just like the ‘we won’t give them a penny’ bombast that marked early ‘negotiations’, yup that red line was crossed too.

‘All the Johnny Foreigners will be turfed out on their ears’.  That red line was crossed.

Can anyone give me a good honest definition of the benefits of this decision?  The government is sharply divided on the whole matter.  Most of the Labour party (despite what they say) and all of the SNP is pro-Europe.

I understand, but DO NOT respect, in this instance, the democratic rules of the nation  that a decision is a decision.  I suspect ‘No’ would win by a considerable margin if this was put to the country as a snap referendum under the question…

“Given what you now know of the Brexit process do you wish to continue Britain’s exit from Europe’

Surely there must be a democratic mechanism to, at the very least, debate this and put an end to this extreme stupidity because I don’t want my children living with the dire consequences of this absurd xenophobic pig-headed fuckwittery.

It’s all terribly, terribly sad.