Short Film Review #54

A full-on Irish history epic, Tom Waller’s Eviction is an unflinching look at the difficult relations in 19th century Ireland with fearsome English landlords putting the frighteners on their Irish tenants and pushing them to ever more desperate measures. It’s really quite shocking but very well done and the production values are excellent – Gay Hian Teoh’s cinematography and Eddie Hamilton’s editing are top notch and a cast that includes Cillian Murphy and Rupert Vansittart make this well worth watching.

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DVD Review: Capturing Mary

“Is that the back of Evelyn Waugh’s head?”

Whether you care for his work or no, the body of work that Stephen Poliakoff has accumulated is most impressive as he consistently gathers top-calibre casts to deliver his often obtuse musings on human nature. And in what for me is a dreamily fantastic bit of casting, in Capturing Mary he has Maggie Smith and Ruth Wilson playing the older and younger versions of the same woman. That woman is Mary, who in the present day visits a hugely significant house and when the caretaker there takes pity on her, she regales him of tales of just why it was so important.

It turns out that she was a journalist and something of a socialite in the 1950s and so attended many a high society soirée in this venue and at one of those parties, she met Greville White, the man who would irrevocably change her life and not for the better. With his purpose unclear, he revealed a wealth of dark and dirty secrets about the rich and famous and important and influential people in the same house as them, secrets which involve some most distasteful revelations indeed. Greville saw this as an opportunity for Mary to join him in cahoots on the fringes of this powerful upper class world but she decided to demur.  Continue reading “DVD Review: Capturing Mary”

Review: My City, Almeida

“It can be hard to find an ex-teacher”

Opening with a chance encounter with a former teacher by St Paul’s Cathedral, Stephen Poliakoff’s My City is his first work for the stage in over a decade. But its opening promise of delving into the mysterious hidden depths of a city we think we know so well with the added spice of revisiting mythic childhood teachers outside of the familiar context of the classroom now they are retired is never really fully realised. Poliakoff directs his own work at the Almeida and has secured the return of Tracey Ullman to the stage to play Miss Lambert, the former Headmistress who is found sleeping on a park bench.

Former pupil Richard is the one who finds her and we find out that she has taken to exploring the streets of London at night-time now she is retired and her gift for story-telling that so captivated her pupils remains strong as ever. This in turn prompts a series of renewed contacts which brings in his old school-friend Julie and two more of their teachers. Richard can tell that someone is not quite right with his childhood heroine though and as he seeks to get to the truth of Miss Lambert’s behaviour, he uncovers a world of secrets, lies, disillusionments and memories from all five of them. Continue reading “Review: My City, Almeida”