DVD Review: Mission Impossible

“Ethan, you’re not making any sense”

Emmanuelle Béart probably wouldn’t thank me for selecting this particular movie to represent her but as I scrolled down the rest of the cast list, I could scarcely believe that both Kristin Scott Thomas and Vanessa Redgrave were in this film – it being so long since I first saw it that I remember nothing of it – that I couldn’t resist revisiting it. A remake of the 70s TV show helmed by Brian De Palma and led by Tom Cruise, Mission: Impossible has since become a highly successful franchise, though this first film hasn’t really stood up to the test of time.

It is actually quite amusing to watch, not least because it is nearly 20 years old now and nothing dates quite so quickly as a movie that does hi-tech. The 90s version of the internet is hilarious as is the technological chatter, and the email client that is used is as quaint as anything. Special effects look laboured (those glasses…!) and the climactic big sequence is simply daft – a helicopter chasing a Eurostar train through the Channel Tunnel? (although granted, such ridiculousness is a Hollywood staple in such big-budget action films). Continue reading “DVD Review: Mission Impossible”

Review: The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, Minerva

“Do not rejoice in his defeat”

Despite feeling like I live in a theatre at time, my experience of Brecht has actually been very limited. When I first saw Mother Courage at the National, I hadn’t got a clue what was going on and it was a rather disconcerting experience all told. My subsequent discovery that all the shenanigans were an integral part of the show left me a little nonplussed, but since then I haven’t had the opportunity to revisit his work, or maybe I just haven’t been looking hard enough… Even when The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui was first announced as part of Chichester’s 50th anniversary season, I can’t say the thought filled me with much anticipation.

But the cast was attractive, led by Henry Goodman, and crucially, the word of mouth from trusted souls was excellent and so I booked myself in on a day when those lovely £5 train tickets were available. And I really enjoyed myself, having one of those great experiences where a complete lack of pre-knowledge about the show really paid off to just fascinating effect. Brecht wrote the play in 1941, a story about a small-time Chicago gangster whose violent seizure and control of the cauliflower trade (I know but bear with) saw him ascend to fearsome heights, but the playwright’s true intentions are revealed through the parallels, which are soon crystal clear, with the rise to power of one Adolf Hitler. Continue reading “Review: The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, Minerva”

Review: Danger: Memory!, Jermyn Street

“What you can’t chase, you’d better face or it’ll start chasing you”

Danger: Memory! is a double bill of Arthur Miller one-act plays showing at the Jermyn Street Theatre, offering the first chance to see these short works in London for over twenty years. Written in 1987 when he was in his 70s, the two pieces investigate the varying significance of memory and how we can use it to both comfort and protect ourselves.

I Can’t Remember Anything is the first play, a two-hander featuring a pair of elderly New England neighbours meeting for dinner as is part of their routine. Routine has become important as Leo, a retired engineer, is beginning to lose some of his mental sharpness, but Leonora’s memory is failing much more dramatically. Played by real-life husband and wife David Burke and Anna Calder-Marshall, there’s a really touching brittleness to the way in which they play off each other, constantly at odds and unable to agree on anything as their vibrant lives as are touched back on with varying degrees of lucidity, fading memory unable to destroy their beautifully easy rapport. Continue reading “Review: Danger: Memory!, Jermyn Street”