Filed under: Arts, creativity, religion, Uncategorized | Tags: Holy Mary, mary, Mary mother of Jesus, Our Lady
Perhaps a little melancholic for a wedding but rather beautiful I thought.
Filed under: Arts, creativity, movies, theatre, Uncategorized | Tags: arthur miller, August Wilson, Bobby Williamson, denzel Washington, Fences, oscars, Viola Davis
I feel a little mean criticising a Pulitzer Prize and multiple Tony winning play that has now become a movie. In the 2016 stage revival of the 1983 August Wilson play, both Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, the movie’s stars, picked up best actor awards for their performances, alongside fellow actors Stephen Henderson (Bono), Mykelti Williamson (Gabe) and Russell Hornsby (Lyons).
But, and here’s the rub. This is very much a play. Not a movie.
Ever seen a good movie version of All my Sons, A view from the Bridge, Death of a Salesman? (A minor success of the latter hit our screens in 2000, winning a couple of Golden Globes, but nothing of significance from the Miller pen has made the cut in the last 50 years.)
That’s because Miller, like Wilson, wrote for the stage. Long, often deeply allegorical speeches populate both of their plays about life, the universe, family, honour, duty, human fragility and responsibility. Meaty subjects that work in the intimacy of theatre where you can almost smell the actor’s vulnerability.
Hats off to Denzel Washington for taking a modern theatre classic, crafted very much in the style of Arthur Miller, and attempting to recreate that dramatic tension on the screen. Incidentally it has taken 35 years to reach us because August Wilson strictly instructed that this ultimate of ‘Black’ plays could only be directed on screen by a ‘black’ director.
But, my overall criticism is that, from the opening extended and overly vernacular scene (for my ears) which is a dialogue between Troy (Washington) Bono (Henderson) and Rose (Davis), this feels like a stage production with a few wide angle shots and locations thrown in.
(As an aside, in the first scene the continuity person needs a rocket as the levels in the very obvious ‘pint’ of gin that Troy shares goes up and down like a yo-yo. A criminal mistake given that the prop is central to illustrate Troy’s dependence on alcohol.)
The play’s title is a full-on allegory about the role of the fence that Troy laboriously builds throughout the play (something Donald Trump might surely prick his ears up to). On the one hand it’s a physical and protective barrier (Trump’s not much cop at complex allegories so that’s him out of the way now) on the other it’s both an emotional barrier representing Troy’s inability to accept his sons’ affections and a shield to the Grim Reaper who stalks his life.
Both Washington and Davis are excellent in their roles, as are the supporting ensemble, but I could not escape, almost at any point, the fact that this felt a cheat. A pirate movie for those of us who couldn’t see it (like me) in the theatre, where it should be seen. It made me distinctly uncomfortable.
It’s like watching pop stars mime in film studios. Somehow fake, unreal, unworthy.
For all its strengths I’m reminded of a quote by a former Hibernian FC manager, Bobby Williamson, a dull and forgettable man in any other scheme of things.
He uttered the immortal sentence, after another 0 – 0 draw, “If you want entertainment, go to the theatre.”
That’s how I saw this production.
Filed under: creativity, family, humour, movies, Reviews, Uncategorized | Tags: German cinema, oscars 2017, Peter Simonischek, Sandra Huller, Toni Erdmann
Naming German comedies could easily be a substitute parlour game for naming famous Belgians in the rather snooty middle class homes of the British Isles. I confess my list would consist of Toni Erdmann and… Deutschland ’83 (well, it has funny bits, doesn’t it?)
And as you leave the film theatre 162 minutes after the opening of a spectacularly soundtrack-free Toni Erdmann you’re left reflecting on the fact that it was funny, and when I say funny I mean screaming out loud as part of a cacophonous melee of filmgoers, but was it REALLY a comedy?
You see, it’s also deeply moving and actually the underlying sadness of the whole thing, the painful loneliness of the two extraordinary leads (both of whom should be Oscar nominated), makes your unrestrained laughter feel like a betrayal of their fragile mental health.
Father and daughter, Winfreid (alias Toni Erdmann) and Ines, are a dysfunctional 69 year old and 40 something.
He’s a semi retired music teacher with a practical joker streak. She’s a hard as nails management consultant who’s idea of a good time is to take a client’s wife mall-shopping, anything to succeed in her high stress work environment where she’s willing to trample over people to the top.
She has eliminated emotion from her life and that’s hurting no-one more than her dad Winfred (Peter Simonischek).
On a flying trip home from her temporary workplace in Bucharest, Romania she stages fake phone calls so as to distance herself from her family and friends group who are hosting an early birthday party for her. Her father can’t bear it and so springs a surprise trip to Bucharest, only days later, to see if he can win back her stone cold affection.
Sandra Huller, who played Ines, is magnificent in her role. She engages in filthy hotel room sex with her underling but completely without love or desire. She attends conventions on weekends, she socialises with a girl group but it’s a veneer of enjoyment as she sips unenthusiastically from half full drinks glasses – letting drink overwhelm her would be a DISASTER -and she has seemingly lost the ability to even FAKE smile.
She is a world class cold fish.
Arriving in Bucharest, her dad tracks her down and starts following her having assumed a persona, Toni Erdmann, Life Coach, in a long brown wig and oversized false teeth and somehow inveigles his way into her work group. That’s where the humour really kicks in, as he pursues a series on ‘did he really do that’ set pieces that contain a variety of comedy tropes including mime, slapstick and pathos.
It’s devastatingly funny in places. Most notably when he attends Ines’ actual birthday party which has already assumed levels of absurdity never before seen on screen.
This is an absurdist comedy at the end of the day. In places completely surreal. That’s why it’s certainly not for everyone. The reviews on IMDB range from awestruck to awful so I hesitate to say you’ll love it, but me and my wife both did.
It’s glacially slow but stick with it.
It rewards patience and stamina, but is engrossing from first frame to last.
This truly is a comedy classic.
You may need hankies.
Filed under: creativity, documentary, photography, Uncategorized | Tags: south queensferry
Filed under: Arts, creativity, music, Uncategorized | Tags: celtic connections, laura marling, orchestral
Really quite mesmerising.
Filed under: Uncategorized
This award winning case study of a campaign by Argentinian cancer organisation, MACMA, was created in the wake of Facebook and Instagram banning the showing of breasts on their platforms, even, and this was when the controversy really started, when showing women how to self examine for great cancer.
Had I have been asked, I’d likely have said yes, as this brave Argentinian male model did, to step into the breach and find a loophole.
The result is tremendous creativity and genuine originality.
Congratulations MACMA Argentina.
A slightly censored wall from the old pillbox at South Queensferry’s Shellbeds.