A girl walks home alone at night. Review.


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Ana Lily Amirpour is conceptually, if not literally, the lovechild of Ingmar Bergman, Jim Jarmusch and Eraserhead-era David Lynch.  It’s lazy of me, I realise, to create a Mr Potato Head type amalgam of offbeat complex directors with metaphors for brains to sum up the debut movie I ‘experienced’ tonight by Iran’s hot new director.  But trust me, the amalgam is a decent one.

Her next project is a dystopian love story set in a Texas wasteland and set in a community of cannibals; a romance featuring Keanu Reeves and Jim Carey.  So clearly this highly idiosyncratic debut has done the trick as far as Hollywood is concerned and bagged her a bunch of A-listers to make what sounds like an “off beat” sophomore movie.  Importantly, perhaps critically, it comes as a package with her cinematographer of A girl Walks Home… Lyle Vincent, because, let’s not kid ourselves, he’s every bit as important in this team as she is.  So too, it should be said, is sound designer Jay Neirenberg.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

What of this?  Amirpour’s debut Iranian black and white cowboy vampire movie.

Well, it’s good.  Very good in fact.

Too slow by far for many I’d speculate (and indeed in parts for me too) but let that take nothing away from the dazzling technical proficiency, the understated acting from leads Sheila Vand as the skateboarding ‘Girl/Vampire'” and Arash Marandi as the male eye candy.

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And then there’s the cat.  Ancient Celtic religions taught that cats were reincarnated souls of humans, and that they were able to see the future and clearly the cat in this movie is a pretty central character and presumably a metaphor for reincarnation.  (After all a fairly significant proportion of the characters would be in need of such hope after they met stylised, but grisly, deaths at the hands (or teeth more precisely) of ‘the Girl’.)

It’s a strongly feminist film with all men, bar the male lead, portrayed as misogynistic and cruel, surely a reflection of Iranian society: the use of ‘the Girl’s’ chador as the vampiric cloak is also very powerful.

The movie has been compared (lazily) to Let The Right One In, largely because it’s written in a foreign language and is about vampires but where Let The Right One In was a tale of love and innocence this is a far grittier beast with revenge and retribution at its core.

Ignore the comparisons.

So, to conclude, a little slow but featuring massive technical ability, great music and two great central performances in a movie unlike any you have seen before.

That adds up to 8/10 for me.  Edging 9.

Gypsy. Steven Sondheim’s masterpiece gives Imelda Staunton the platform of a lifetime.


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It was my great privilege to be in the audience tonight at the delightful Savoy Theatre on London’s Strand (having transferred from Chichester in March) to witness the performance that EVERYONE is talking about.

Whilst the entire 20+ ensemble is excellent (especially Lara Pulver as Louise/Gypsy Rose Lee) it is Staunton that we were all there to see and she did not disappoint with a perfect blend of anger, pathos, humour and demented misguidedness on the path to riches for her “star” daughter June and her overshadowed and overlooked sibling Louise who metamorphoses into the world’s greatest Burlesque star ‘Gypsy Rose Lee.”

The story itself is thoroughly engaging but what Sondheim achieved in his lyrics at the tender age of 24 (I’m guessing here) is nothing short of remarkable.

Jonathan Kent, who directs, has done a great job of making Mama Rose the star of the show without denying the rest of the ensemble their moments.

In particular, in act one the series of vaudeville ‘turns’ that Mama Rose’s various troupes perform are hilarious and highly amusing variation on a theme that was never particularly good in the first place.  It takes real skill to do “bad” well and the audience were eating from Kent’s hands each time.

Peter Davidson puts in a decent shift as the poor beau of mama rose, Herbie.  Ok he’s no singer but he makes the most of his limited vocal range, but when called on to add emotional depth to the storyline he delivers admirably.

But really this is Staunton’s great moment in the sun.  People will be talking about this performance for years.  It even exceeds the brilliance of her slightly more one dimensional turn in Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd where she blew Michael Ball off the stage stealing every scene.  I am privileged to have seen that too.

At the finale after a breathtaking rendition of Rose’s Turn that had the audience gasping the entire auditorium leaped to its feet. I have never, ever seen that at a professional theatre production.

Imelda you area goddess of the stage.

Thank you so much for tonight.

Here she is upstaging Michael Ball.