Tags: Bob Hoskins, Dame Judy Dench, Dance, Film Review, Kelly Reilly, Maureen, Mrs Henderson, Nudity, Vivian Van Damm
I watched the DVD of Mrs Henderson Presents the other day and was surprised at how modern things were during the late 30′s.
The story is based on the real Mrs Henderson, who really did buy a un-used theatre and put on nude revues, starting before World War II, going all the way through WWII, and beyond. In the period covered by the film, the girls – ‘all of good character’ – were not allowed to move! still: art; movement: lurid! Oh and Mrs Henderson funded what became the Royal Ballet! as her theatre needed dancers!! (I suspect she saw it and the revue as a way to channel her considerable wealth into a neglected segment of society when money was short and times were hard for women.)
Dame Judy Dench is Mrs Henderson, and Bob Hoskins is Vivian Van Damm – the much put upon theatre manager she hires. Kelly Reilly is Maureen – the first of the girls hired by Vivian. The three have some nice chemistry and the film progresses smoothly from there.
There is quite a bit of nudity: but it is mainly art !
It is a nice period piece that give a reasonably accurate view of life in the 30′s and 40′s. Worth getting the DVD out.
Tags: Alexandra Danilova, America Ballet Theatre, Anne Bancroft, Ballet, Ballet Russe, Centre Stage, Clark Tippet, Dance, drama, Fernando Bujones, Le Cosaire, Leslie Browne, Lucette Aldous, Marcia Haydée, Marianna Tcherkassky, Martine Van Hame, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Peter Martins, Richard Cragun, Russian Imperial Ballet School, Shirley McClaine, Suzanne Farrell
I finally got to see this on DVD the other day and was blown away.
The movie has a strong plot and some really good ballet.
Two women meet up again after many years apart when a ballet company comes to town. Both were friends and dancers in the ‘corp’, one went onto become a principal dancer, the other opted to have children and teach in her own ballet school. Now the latter’s daughter is at an age and skill level where she could turn ‘pro’. The company offers her a tryout. The rest of the story is the rough introduction into the life of a professional dancer, and her mother and god-mother working out some of their un-resolved issues.
Interspersed is some great ballet; practically everyone who has a dancing role was a professional dancer. Only the god-mother (and principal dancer) is played by a non-dancer: Anne Bancroft. The mother is played by Shirley McClaine. And the daughter is played by Leslie Browne.The featured dancers are a list of who’s who of North American based dancers; ‘the rest’ (my apologies but that is how they are credited) of the dancers come from the American Ballet Theatre.
The movie, made in 1977, is now a ballet historical artefact. The Madame Danilova character is Alexandra Danilova (Russian Imperial Ballet School & Ballet Russe) – playing herself. There is priceless footage of Mikhail Baryshnikov dancing the solo from Le Cosaire. Other dancers featured: Lucette Aldous (a Kiwi!), Fernando Bujones, Richard Cragun, Suzanne Farrell, Marcia Haydée, Peter Martins, Marianna Tcherkassky, Clark Tippet, and Martine Van Hame.
The film clearly influence the more recent Centre Stage.
A must see if you are interested in ballet and dance.
Tags: Bill Nighy, Domhnall Gleeson, Film Review, Lydia Wilson, Rachel Adams, Richard Curtis, Time Travel
There is a familiar feel to this Richard Curtis film: the streets of London; kitchens, hallways, and bathroom from Notting Hill; and understated Brits. Somehow this film just picks up from many of Curtis’ other films – its like putting on a pair of old slippers.
Warning: plot elements revealed.
At the start, Tim, played by Domhnall Gleeson, learns that the men in his family can travel in time. The rest is a light examination of love, morality, and life. There is an element of Groundhog Day, as Tim wins over the love-of-his-life – Mary, ably played by Rachel Adams. Bill Nighy does his usual understated best, as Tim’s dad.
Tim’s dad’s secret is to live everyday twice: the first time is like a technical rehearsal, the second time minimises the bad and focuses on the good. It is no wonder the family lives in Cornwall and is always having long idilic teas on the beach.
The film doesn’t have a villain – yet manages to deal with conflict and bad choices without one. Tim executes a major intervention in his sister’s life (timeline) when she starts to spiral downwards: he makes sure Kit Kat, played by Lydia Wilson, never meets her not so good for her boyfriend. Tim also learns that when you change time, you change many things – some bad things go away, but some good things can too.
Thus when Tim’s dad is diagnosed with cancer the two men do nothing: any time adjustment that is likely to save dad, will also erase the last 21+ years of family life. The film does a wonderful job of portraying the love and respect between a father and a son without either man having to wade through rivers of blood or enduring mass suffering.
In the end, it is about living your life, and enjoying the joyful moments – time travel is not necessary.
On the face of it, it is a film about time, but really its about life.
A lovely film; go see it.
Tags: Alayna Ng, Andrew Simmons, Antonia Hewitt, August Bournoville, Ballet, Bradshaw, Brendan, Clytie Campbell, Dance, Danish Style, Don Quixote, Flower Festival at Genzano, Jacob Chown, Lucy Green, Marius Petipa, Peter and the Wolf, Qi Huan, RNZB, Rory Fairweather-Neylan, Royal New Zealand Ballet, Te Radar, Through to you, Tonia Looker, Yang Liu
I went to the Friday performance of the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s 2013 season of Tutus on Tour at the St James Theatre (in Wellington).
The show opened with Flower Festival at Genzano – ably danced by Lucy Green and Jacob Chown. The choreography by August Bournoville exhibits the classic footwork and fast leg movements of the Danish school. Opening with this piece is an excellent way for the company to re-introduce itself to an audience it might only perform for every 2-4 years.
Through to you, choreographed by Andrew Simmons, danced by Antonia Hewitt and Qi Huan, also caught my attention. There seemed to be a nice connection between Hewitt and Huan – with Huan showing a lyrical side of himself.
The First Act finished with a pas de deux from Don Quiote danced by Clytie Campbell and Brendan Bradshaw. This showcased some trademark Marius Petipa choreography: I’m afraid I succumbed and tried to counted the number of fouettes – 16 (?).
The Second Act was a wonderful adaptation of Peter and the Wolf. Persona dramaticus:
- Peter – Rory-Fairweather-Neylan
- Sister/Bird – Tonia Looker
- Father/wolf – Qi Huan
- Duck – Yang Liu
- Cat – Clytie Campbell
- Grandmother – Alayna Ng
The action all takes place in Peter’s bedroom. Tania Looker is fantastic bird; Clytie Campbell is a cat through-and-through; Yang Liu is was a great duck – I thought her bill would have been better placed on her forehead, rather than her nose :-). All three looked wonderful en pointe. Being in Wellington, the Wellington Orchestra provided an excellent live music element.
The narration was done by Te Radar; I wonder who narrates for the other half of the company?
The 2013 season of Tutus on Tour has something for everyone, and Act II is for the child in everyone.
Tags: Action Movie, Dr Ryan Stone, George Clooney, Orbit, Sandra Bullock, Space
Interesting woman-alone story adapted for space – Dr Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is adrift in low earth orbit without a re-entry capsule! George Clooney puts in a cameo.
Most of the film is just Stone/Bullock overcoming one adversity after another. It is quite a testing role for Bullock and good on her for doing something different.
I am not sure if the science – orbital mechanics – all stacks up, but it feels right, and you don’t need a degree in astro-physics to enjoy the movie.
The shots of earth are quite spectacular – even in 2-D. I saw the 2-D version because I did not want to be distracted by the special effects – the storyline and Bullock’s performance held my attention.
Worth a go.
PS: I went again, this time to the 3-D version, and it did make a small difference – some scenes looked better. Also, after a second look, I think that some of the laws of physics were ‘relaxed’: there should have been more rotational motion in the crucial scene with Bullock and Clooney. The final burn to rendezvous with the Chinese space station should have pushed Bullock into a higher orbit.
Tags: Action, Dahl, Film Review, Katee Sackhoff, Riddick, Vin Diesel
Riddick is a Vin Diesel vehicle, with Katee Sackhoff putting in an appearance.
It is a western re-cast as science fiction – complete with bounty hunters.
The film moves the bar upwards for self-surgery: surpassing Sylvester Stallone‘s bullet self-cauterisation in Rambo. Riddick ends up being harpooned with a large bone fragment and to seal the wound he picks up a white hot piece of rock (about the same size as the piece of bone) and pushing it into the wound!
Tags: Ballet, Contemporary Dance, Don Quixote, Glassworks, Imogen Sorley, Jo Funaki, Kitri, Luigi Vescio, Michael Parmenter, New Zealand School of Dance, No Lost Islands, Phillip Glass, Rise, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, Solitaire, Studio Performance, Studio Showing, Yayoi Matches
The New Zealand School of Dance has just put on another of its Studio Performances – to give their public a taste of what to expect in their graduation season in November. As usual it was a mixture of classical ballet and contemporary works.
- Waltz of the snowflakes: it reminded me of ballet-school productions.
- Sorley’s performance of Kitri’s variation from Don Quixote act II.
- Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s Solitaire – girl’s solo danced by Yayoi Matches.
- Rise – choreographed by former RNZB dancer Jo Funaki.
Technical issues meant that No Lost Islands – choreographed by Michael Parmenter – could not be performed. [I suspect the Apple devices upgraded to iOS7 refused to work withe the School's non-apple cables.]
Luigi Vescio was able to perform his solo set to Glassworks (music by Phillip Glass), by having the music physically played on the studio’s piano.
All this, and more, for a gold coin donation!
Tags: Surreal, Wellington, World of Wearableart, WOW
Another brilliant show
WOW ! I went to the 2013 World of Wearableart dress rehearsal AND opening night! Obviously, I think it is great, so get a ticket if you can. I might even try for another session.
Likes: Man Unleashed and Costume & Film
I liked the Man Unleashed section. WOW moved away from the models on revolving stage segments for this section; the audience got a close-up on the garments via a big screen. The guys danced and hammed-it-up on temporary stages made of white boxes moved by movers dressed in white unitards. The ‘Born to be Wild’ garment nearly bought the house down.
I also like the Costume & Film section, which was based on a 1900′s circus theme. The circus acts was so good that they stole the show
Observations: a Lighter Shade of Pale
WOW was very ‘white’ this year: many of the garments were white, cream, or dominated by light colours. The make-up, lighting, and ‘props’ tended to create a pale aesthetic. This was very noticeable in the South Pacific section. In other sections, things verged on a WOW re-interpretation of a Victoria Secrets show.
Between the Dress Rehearsal and Opening Night, WOW swapped the order of the Costumes & Film section and the Avant Garde section. The Dress Rehearsal closed with the Avant Garde section leaving everyone feeling a little flat. Opening Night used the Avant Garde section to create a serene calm before a torrent of circus fun closed the show. I thought the change was a good move – the little wave from the final circus act aptly closed the show.
Disappointments: No Air Guitar and Clutter
The Man Unleashed section had a very short air guitar sequence that did not give it the time to develop the energy that it deserved.
At times individual sequences seem disconnected, as many sections had large opaque artifacts – albeit very artistic ones – in the middle of the stage that blocked out a complete view of the stage.
Tags: Action Movie, Anthony Hopkins, Bruce Willis, Byung-hun Lee, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Film Review, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, RED, Red 2
Warning: plot spoilers.
This sequel picks up a few months after Red  finished: Frank (Bruce Willis) and Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker) are settling into a safe, if dull, suburban routine. Then Marvin (John John Malkovich) is blown up in the Costco car park and it is all go.
There is a nice touch with “You can’t always get what you want” playing at the funeral – just like in The Big Chill.
Anthony Hopkins is Dr Bailey – the baddy – and I though it was a nice touch for him to get back into the action/spy genre – an early foray was “When eight Bells Toll“.
A running gag is that everyone keeps giving Frank relationship advice! Sarah is not settling into the relationship – because Frank packs her in cotton wool. She just wants to be a kick-ass like Victoria (Helen Mirren) and Katja (Catherine Zeta-Jones).
Katja is an old flame of Frank’s, and her re-entry into his life causes some extra tension in the relationship. Katja and Frank have the most amazing driver swap sequence – possibly ever.
Mirren tends to steal the film with here restrained performance.
Its a bit violent, but worth a go.
Tags: Action Movie, Delacourt, Elysium, Jody Foster, Kruger, Matt Damon, Max, Neill Blomkamp, Sharlto Copley
I went to see Elysium the other day and it had its moments.
Warning: plot elements revealed.
The first half of the film raises some awkward questions for our time, and the second have is just action.
Max (Matt Damon) is a young man trying to better himself, in a world with a few ‘haves’ and many many ‘have nots’. The ‘haves’ live in a paradise, and everyone else – including Max – is trying to get in. Moral dilemma #1: when resources are limited, how should they be portioned out? In Max’s world, the resources are reserved for a few on a massive man-made satellite named Elysium.
Delacourt (Jody Foster) is charged with protecting the privileges of the privileged few. She is so sure that she is right and that it must be done her way. Moral dilemma #2: does the end justify the means? Delacourt attempts to take over Elysium – to over throw the elected government, to protect it.
Elysium is unpolluted and its technology is ‘like magic’ – particularly the medical technology. This provides the premise for the movie – Max has sustained a lethal dose of radiation in an industrial accident and if he wants to live he must get to Elysium and its medical technology. There are all sorts of complications but he gets there.
Earth is portrayed as a slum – not too surprising given that this is a Neill Blomkamp (director and writer of District 9) film. There seem to be some subtle and not so subtle digs at the South African government.
Max and Delacourt are a bit two dimensional. The villain – Kruger – played a little over-the-top by Sharlto Copley offers some black contrast.
The futuristic gadgets, weaponry and general technology look very real – great special effects. The slums look very real.
Worth seeing in a cinema for the bigger screen and fuller sound.