Film Review: Yesterday (2019)

Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away…this British romcom doesn’t do it for my heartbear or my funny bone

“I’m trying to live outside the traditional concept of time”

Truth be told, I’ve never been the biggest fan of The Beatles (I know). Their music wasn’t a part of my childhood soundtrack and my first real memory of it comes from having to learn ‘Yellow Submarine’ and ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’ in primary school choir. So the notion of Yesterday wasn’t one that particularly jumped out at me, even as it posits a world in which no-one has heard of the Fab Four.

Written by Richard Curtis, from a story by Curtis and Jack Barth, and directed by Danny Boyle, it aims squarely for that ineffably British romcom aesthetic and pretty much lands it. Unrequited love interest/friend of the opposite sex, gawky best pal, garrulous inner circle, Himesh Patel’s Jack checks off all the Curtis tropes one by one, with the added twist of twee sci-fi in the mix too.  It should work, right?

Continue reading “Film Review: Yesterday (2019)”

Emphatically-not-a-review: Bitter Wheat, Garrick Theatre

I’d intended to let Bitter Wheat languish unthought-about forever more but last week’s Harvey Weinstein episode provoked this

Amber Anderson,
Lysette Anthony,
Asia Argento,
Rosanna Arquette,
Jessica Barth,
Kate Beckinsale,
Zoë Brock,
Juls Bindi,
Cynthia Burr,
Cate Blanchett,
Liza Campbell,
Alexandra Canosa,
Rowena Chiu,
Marisa Coughlan,
Emma de Caunes,
Hope Exiner d’Amore,
Florence Darel,
Cara Delevingne,
Paz de la Huerta,
Juliana De Paula,
Sophie Dix,
Lacey Dorn,
Kaitlin Doubleday,
Caitlin Dulaney,
Dawn Dunning,
Lina Esco,
Alice Evans,
Lucia Evans, formerly Lucia Stoller,
Angie Everhart,
Claire Forlani,
Romola Garai,
Louisette Geiss,
Louise Godbold,
Judith Godrèche,
Trish Goff,
Larissa Gomes,
Heather Graham,
Eva Green,
Ambra Gutierrez, formerly Ambra Battilana,
Mimi Haleyi,
Daryl Hannah,
Salma Hayek,
Lena Headey,
Anne Heche,
Lauren Holly,
Dominique Huett,
Amy Israel,
Angelina Jolie,
Ashley Judd,
Minka Kelly,
Katherine Kendall,
Heather Kerr,
Mia Kirshner,
Myleene Klass,
Emma Loman (alias),
Laura Madden,
Natassia Malthe,
Julianna Margulies,
Brit Marling,
Sarah Ann Masse,
Ashley Matthau,
Rose McGowan,
Natalie Mendoza,
Sophie Morris,
Katya Mtsitouridze,
Emily Nestor,
Jennifer Siebel Newsom,
Connie Nielsen,
Kadian Noble,
Lupita Nyong’o,
Lauren O’Connor,
Gwyneth Paltrow,
Samantha Panagrosso,
Zelda Perkins,
Vu Thu Phuong,
Sarah Polley,
Monica Potter,
Tomi-Ann Roberts,
Lisa Rose,
Erika Rosenbaum,
Melissa Sagemiller,
Annabella Sciorra,
Léa Seydoux,
Lauren Sivan,
Chelsea Skidmore,
Mira Sorvino,
Tara Subkoff,
Melissa Thompson
Uma Thurman,
Paula Wachowiak,
Paula Williams,
Sean Young

Continue reading “Emphatically-not-a-review: Bitter Wheat, Garrick Theatre”

TV Review: Save Me (Series 1)

Over on Sky, Save Me turns out to be something rather brutally brilliant, written by and starring Lennie James, alongside an exceptional Suranne Jones

“I’ve just gone to see my dad”

Lennie James is billed as the creator of Save Me, as well as leading the cast alongside Suranne Jones, and it is a good thing he is up to the job as it has turned out to be a rather brutally brilliant series. Set in a tight-knit community in Deptford, it’s a clever take on the missing child genre that proved remarkably tense and completely gripping as it winds to a gut-punch of a conclusion.

James plays Nelson Rowe, Nelly to those that love him and it is clear that many do in this corner of South East London. He’s a total chancer, sleeping with any number of lovers, and balancing any number of side hustles in lieu of an actual job. But when the police come crashing through the door, everything changes. The daughter who he hasn’t seen since she was three has gone missing and she was on her way to see him, as her phone shows she’s been messaging with him for weeks. Continue reading “TV Review: Save Me (Series 1)”

Review: Luna Gale, Hampstead

“I just want to know that it’s not that I don’t want you to get help, because I do, it’s just that there’s not any help out there”

There’s a moment towards the end of Rebecca Gilman’s 2014 play Luna Gale, directed by Michael Attenborough at the Hampstead, that is just breath-taking. Put-upon social worker Caroline finds herself pressured into praying in her office with a visiting pastor and her religious boss and as the minister lays his hand on her shoulder and offers a deeply seductive account of God’s love, Sharon Small’s deeply conflicted Caroline seems to teeter on the edge of something monumental in an extraordinarily charged moment of drama.

I’d describe it as a shocking moment but that reveals my own prejudices, a distrust of fundamentalist-tinged religion and a sense that such movements prey on easy targets, but in turn that reflects a larger point that Gilman makes in her play. Caroline is dealing with the case of 2 year old Luna Gale, born to teenage meth addicts and though rehousing the child with her grandmother seems the easy option, when she reveals she is deeply religious during a case meeting, Caroline’s instinctive reaction is to roll her eyes and offer a dry remark. Continue reading “Review: Luna Gale, Hampstead”

Review: Four minutes twelve seconds, Hampstead Downstairs

“Big Ian has named his son Ian too?”

Fresh from the news that a Hampstead Downstairs show will make its West End bow in the New Year (the excellent Di and Viv and Rose) after being the first to make the in-house transfer to the main theatre, the Autumn season in this officially critic-free space (I paid for my ticket, £5 early bird deal ftw) opens with James Fritz’s Four minutes twelve seconds. His first full-length play delves into the murky world of revenge porn, where an explosion in smartphone usage plus the abdication of responsibility enabled by the freedom of the internet has resulted in one of the more pernicious innovations of modern times.

At 17 years old and about to sit the exams that will hopefully send him off to a good university, Jack seems to have it made but when he comes home from school one day with his shirt covered in blood, all that is set to change. Initially trying to pass it off as a nosebleed, then a set-to with some kids from the rough school over the way, we soon find out who is responsible and why they’ve done this – a video of Jack and his girlfriend Cara getting jiggy with it has appeared online, only she’s not his girlfriend any more and so it looks like Jack has been trying to get even with her. Continue reading “Review: Four minutes twelve seconds, Hampstead Downstairs”

TV Review: Silk, Series 3


“It’s not what any of you want”

And so it ends. A little unexpectedly, it was announced by creator Peter Moffat that this third series of Silk would be the last and whilst I would love to say that it was a fitting finale to the joys that were Series 1 and 2, I have to say I was quite disappointed in it. After showcasing Maxine Peake marvellously as the driven QC Martha Costello, here the character was barely recognisable; after securing the fabulous Frances Barber as a striking opposing counsel as Caroline Warwick, her incorporation into Shoe Lane Chambers neutered almost all the interest that had made her so fascinating; and with Neil Stuke’s Billy suffering health issues all the way through, the focus was too often drawn away from the courtroom.

When it did sit inside the Old Bailey, it did what the series has previously done so well, refracting topical issues through the eyes of the law – the kittling of protestors, Premiership footballers believing themselves beyond justice, assisted suicide, the effects of counter-terrorism on minority communities. And it continued to bring a pleasingly high level of guest cast – Claire Skinner was scorchingly effective as a mother accused of a mercy killing, Eleanor Matsuura’s sharp US lawyer reminding me how much I like this actress who deserves a breakthrough, and it always nice to see one of my favourites Kirsty Bushell on the tellybox, even if she melted a little too predictably into Rupert Penry-Jones’ arms. Continue reading “TV Review: Silk, Series 3”

TV Review: What Remains

“Something bad always happens when you go upstairs”

Something is in the water of British crime drama that is making it more interesting than it has been for quite some time. Tony Basgallop’s What Remains, directed by Coky Giedroyc, has thrilled across four weeks on BBC1 making the kind of whodunnit that genuinely had one guessing right till the very end with its carousel of hugely unlikeable personalities remarkably all remaining in the mix for the crime for a very long time. Set in an inner-city townhouse split into flats, it plays on the anonymity of metropolitan life – the fact that we can live next door to people and remain strangers, dissociated from their lives entirely. Such is the fate of Melissa Young, whose decaying body is found in the loft of a building yet whose absence for two years has gone unnoticed. 

She owned the top flat but as soon we get to know the rest of the inhabitants, we soon see why this wasn’t the happiest of houses. A cranky maths teacher lives in the basement with something of a dirty secret, on the ground floor is a recovering alcoholic journalist whose romance with a colleague is under threat from his self-possessed teenage son, above them are lesbian graphic designers gripped in a psychotically abusive relationship and above them are a newly-arrived and heavily pregnant young couple. Throw in a widower detective on the brink of retirement and no life outside of work and the scene is set for cracking four-parter What Remains. Continue reading “TV Review: What Remains”