DVD Collection – Remembrance Day



A tenuous link to this latest collection of film reviews but nonetheless heartfelt. I’m not the biggest fan of war films per se but films that look at the impact of war, especially on women, are much more my thing and so that’s why there’s one of the former – Valkyrie – and three of the latter Atonement, Suite Française, Testament of Youth and Black Book.


Happy Hallowe’en 2016

Halloween pumpkins
I’m on the right…


In all honesty, I’ve never been the biggest Hallowe’en fan, dressing up is a bit of a faff (spray-painting that lampshade was a job and a half…), scary movies rarely do it for me, and as a rule, horror in theatre never gets me where it should. As anyone who knows me will tell you, I’m far more creeped out by the arrival of a puppet child than blood and gore.




But as I did a few years back, I thought I’d delve into the world of ‘horror’ films (at least those on Netflix) once more to see if I was missing out on anything. In the cases of Dracula 2000 and Victor Frankenstein I certainly wasn’t, Dracula Untold was more enjoyable than I should probably admit, and the Ruth Wilson vehicle I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House was something of a revelation.


Audra McDonald Day

As I’m sure you’re aware, I’m a contrary fool at times, especially when it comes to people who come pre-loaded with amazing reputations. Audra McDonald was one such performer, so many people raved about her before I even know who she really was that I was sure she couldn’t possibly live up to the hype. And with such a mind-set, I saw her concert at the Leicester Square Theatre at the beginning of the year with a great deal more scepticism than was strictly necessary.

I was looking forward to getting the chance to see her perform in a show for the first time when the transfer of Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill was announced, but when the small matter of a pregnancy put the kybosh on that, I decided that I would go on my own personal Audra odyssey by listening to all 5 of her albums and tracking down a televised version of the show to finally make up my own mind.

Safe to say, I’m the newest member of her fan club and I have to eat my words, she really does live up to the hype! So please find reviews of:
Way Back to Paradise (1998)
How Glory Goes (2000)
Happy Songs (2005)
Build A Bridge (2006)
Go Back Home (2013)
Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill

and I’ll see you at the next fan club meeting 😉

#Shakespeare400 DVD collection

“Tempt not a desperate man”

There’s a wealth of Shakespearean content available on film and this is just a mere scratching of the surface that takes in:

Five Kenneth Branaghs – Henry V, Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing, Love’s Labour’s Lost and As You Like It, as well as the Othello in which he starred but did not direct;

Two more McKellens in Othello and Richard III

And a Coriolanus
A Merchant of Venice
A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Maxine Peake’s superb Hamlet

Plus Brucie bonuses in the real-life backstage film of The Bridge Project and a fictional backstage film called A Midwinter’s Tale. Happy reading!

Blogged: Glenn Close

Part of the worst thing about the pathetic Poor Leo campaign that saw Mr DiCaprio bulldoze his way to victory at this year’s Academy Awards after a raft of nominations is the notion of particular unfairness, that he’d been cheated out of a trophy that should have been his. Never mind that he’s only just over 40, never mind that the similarly-aged Amy Adams has been nominated 5 times without ‘success’ too and yet still has all her dignity and never mind that someone like Glenn Close – who has been nominated six times – remains unadorned.

And nice as it would be for her to eventually win something, she instead has forged a fascinating and varied film career that has steered clear of obvious Oscar-bait, pursuing passion projects instead and exploring other mediums as well – she’s turned her hand to award-winning television shows like The Shield and the excellent (for the first series at least) Damages, and her credits on the theatrical stage date back to 1974 right up to the present day as she opens imminently in in a reprisal of Sunset Boulevard. Your move, pauvre pauvre Leo.

So I’ve had a dip back into the DVD collection to watch some of Close’s iconic big screen performances, as well as some I’d never seen before. We have the Oscar-nominees of Albert Nobbs, Fatal Attraction and my personal favourite Dangerous Liaisons; we have filmed versions of shows I’ve seen like Hamlet, South Pacific and The Lion in Winter; films I wish to never see again like Mary Reilly and Le Divorce; and of course, her memorable turn as Cruella de Vil in 101 Dalmatians and 102 Dalmatians. Enjoy!

In appreciation of…our elders and betters #2

It’s a little while I did the first version of In appreciation of…our elders and betters, part of my infrequent Collection series, but the piles of DVDs were mounting up and the opening of Escaped Alone – starring four absolute stalwarts of the British theatre and written by one too – seemed like as good a time as any to do the second.

I should acknowledge the support, practically the sponsorship, from Boycotting Trends in helping build up my collection of films starring the older generation. And stretching over a good few years of film-making, it is interesting to see how the overly genteel likes of Ladies in Lavender and My House in Umbria have been largely eased out (though not completely, as per My Old Lady) in favour of more nuanced takes on the ageing process.

45 Years, Late Bloomers and Le Week-end all look at the kinks that can emerge even in the longest of relationships, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel expands in a rather lovely way on the work of the original and saving the best for last, Love is Strange and Last Chance Harvey are two differently glorious examples of the confounding nature of life and how love can help us through it.


Blogged: Olivia Williams

I do love me a bit of Olivia Williams, so was more than disappointed that Waste at the National Theatre didn’t float my boat. Fortunately, she has a prolific body of work in both the UK and Hollywood with which I was happy to reacquaint myself, alongside some titles I was watching for the first time, like Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, Now Is Good and Peter Pan (the 2003 version). 

I’d loved her work in
An Education, The Ghost and Hyde Park in Hudson but was also really impressed by The Heart of Me, To Kill A King and Miss Austen Regrets. Hanna has a special place in my heart so I was glad to return to that film for the first time and she has a cracker of a role in Salting the Battlefield, the final part of David Hare’s Johnny Worricker trilogy.

There’s also some from the poorer end of the spectrum, not least the Channel 5 horror film
Altar, dodgy Brit flicks like Born Romantic, Lucky Break and The Last Days on Mars, and dubious TV specials like Krakatoa The Last Days and Agatha Christie – A Life In Pictures




Blogged: Nicole Kidman

Nicole Kidman’s return to the London stage hasn’t even had its press night yet and I am already sick of people rehashing the patronising and belittling Charles Spencer quote from her turn in The Blue Room. Along with the scrutiny that her appearance has long generated, this conveniently ignores the fact that she has won an Academy Award for Best Actress and been nominated twice more and pays little credit to an illustrious acting career that stretches back to the 1990s.

So in order to redress the balance, I’ve been watching and reviewing some of those films as a gentle reminder of what she should be best known for. So we have her Oscar-winning turn in
The Hours and her nominated roles in Moulin Rouge and the exquisite Rabbit Hole, plus Cold Mountain for which she was Golden Globe-nominated. I also watched three of her 2014 films – the glorious Paddington, Before I Go To Sleep and the much-beleaguered Grace of Monaco

She’s also collaborated with some interesting people so Alejandro Amenábar’s The Others, Jez Butterworth’s
Birthday Girl and Lars von Trier’s exceptional Dogville also get a look. And because no-one is perfect, I watch Bewitched and The Stepford Wives so that you don’t have to!


In appreciation of…our elders and betters

So much of the focus of our culture today is based on the young and the new that those at the other end of the spectrum can often seem neglected. Indeed, should a movie (for example) be aimed elsewhere than the tween market, it can get quickly labelled as chasing the ‘grey pound’ and with the success of some of these movies, it is a term that gained some purchase. Grey or otherwise though, I love watching stories that involve older actors, the experience that they can bring to bear is just unparalleled and when married with the right material, has significant emotional punch.


So on this day when I remember two of my grandparents, I present to you a selection of Third Age, grey pound-chasing films full of oldies. The unbearably poignant Amour which upset me more than any other movie of recent times, recent films Les Beaux Jours and The Love Punch which take place on two very different bits of French coastline, the very British pleasures of Mrs Henderson Presents and A Rather English Marriage, the striking sexuality of The Mother, and three films that were in cinemas recently which spurred on much of the grey pound chat – Song for Marion, Quartet, and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.




With love to Nan and Grandad x