Tags: 2014, Andrew Paterson, Anna Flaherty, BATS Theatre, Danielle Lindsay, Emma Coppersmith, Fringe Festival, James Wasmer, Modern Dance, Muted Crane Productions
Last night, I went to a Fringe Festival event The ‘I’ Test. Billed as a dance and dance-theatre. I wasn’t sure what to expect.
I liked the unrequited love and love triangle sequences.
The ‘He is so not into you’ segment was very well choreographed and danced (and acted). The man just does his thing and she literally fits herself around and on him. It was an anti pas de duexs: there was no connection emotional connection, just a physical connection; the woman is not allowed to achieve eye contact.
This set things up nicely for the ‘love triangle’. The man encounters another woman who he is interested in and who is not indifferent; but there is a second man who keeps popping up.
Good to see Anna Flaherty, Danielle Lindsay, and Emma Coppersmith – now Muted Crane Productions – again. They were joined by Andrew Paterson and James Wasmer.
The temporary Bats Theatre was nice – my first visit.
Tags: Abscam, American Hustle, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, Con-artist Movie, Edith, Irving, Jennifer Lawrence, Richie, Rosalyn, Sydney
I haven’t seen a con-artist movie or TV program for a while, but I recently found time to see American Hustle. It is quite good, it has a genuine surprise end – and satisfying. I enjoyed it.
Warning: Plot elements discussed.
Irving, played by Christian Bale, and Sydney/Edith, played by Amy Adams, are a team of small time con-artists caught Richie the FBI agent, played by Bradley Cooper. Richie then forces them to help him catch other con-artistis; and before you know it Operation ABSCAM was born. The film is loosely based on this 70′s FBI operation to target public corruption.
There is a fake sheik who will invest in casinos and Irving and Richie are his intermediaries. As they meet with politicians, the FBI video tapes them.
Richie spins out of control and goes after the mafia. Irving and Sydney know that if he succeeds there will be lots of bodies – starting with theirs.
Rosalyn, Irving’s wife, played by Jennifer Lawrence, is a loose cannon amongst the play acting; any moment she will expose them all. She is also the other side of the love triangle with Irving and Sydney.
As the stakes get higher and higher more an more pressure piles up on Irving.
The film is morally ambiguous: would any of the politicians acted the way if the sheik was not offering money to invest in ‘jobs for Americans’; all they were doing is making things go faster – and they may never have actually taken a bribe for this particular set of circumstances. Richie is coercing Irving and Sydney to con the politicians and mafioso sails very close to entrapment; and his actions lack equity. Will he get his just desserts.
Bale, Adams, Lawrence, and Cooper turn in great performances. Bale is just great as a flawed man, with heart issues, trying to get out of a stressful high stakes situation. Adams shows she is not just a pretty face. Lawrence shows her amazing versatility.
The music is well thought out: a mixture of keynote 70′s music and jazz; Irving is jazz; and Richie is the flashy 70′s disco.
Tags: Ballet, Benesh Notation, Exhibition, RNZB
I went to the Turnbull Gallery in the National Library to see the Assemblé exhibition.
Last year was the Company’s 60th ‘Birthday’, and the exhibition focused on the creators of the ballets – the choreographers, the designers, and the lyricists. There was a very nicely framed colour wheel of all the materials used for the costumes for Romeo and Juliet.
The exhibition is crafted around the ballets of significance to the Company, like: Romeo and Juliet, and Swan Lake. There are posters, photos, notes, and excerpts of music from the ballets.
I found the benesh notation and choreographers notes interesting. Though, it would be nice if they had a plain-english translation to go with them.
The Exhibition finishes on Saturday 15 February, fans of the Royal New Zealand Ballet should go see and hear the items in the exhibition.
Tags: Adam Scott, Ben Stiller, Cheryl Melhoff, Danny Kaye, Film Review, Kristen Wiig, Ted Hendricks, Walter Mitty
I saw the original black-and-white version with Danny Kaye, and I was curious to see Ben Stiller’s take on this story.
The film goes through a number of phases: cringing, joyful innocence, and new found understanding.
The cringe phase is mercifully short, and I did not enjoy it. Walter, played by Ben Stiller, frequently zones out as he imagines himself out in the world ‘doing things’. This segment introduces Kristen Wiig as Cheryl Melhoff, who Walter pines after. Cheryl has a son, who Walter bonds with. There is also Adam Scott as Ted Hendricks: Walter’s mean boss. He plays a wonderful two-dimensional heartless arrogant corporate “suit”, who is responsible for all of the bullying.
Walter works for Life Magazine, and it has been taken over by some vast corporate who will make it an online only publication. There will be lots of jobs loses – though Ted keeps reassuring people that things will be alright. His job is to produce the last printed edition and at the same time shed staff – it is a tough balancing act but someone has to do it, and it helps if you don’t have an imagination.
Walter finally gets out of the print room – where they look after the negatives. After some improbable adventures he ends up in Iceland – in the middle of a massive volcanic eruption. Along the way he innocently endangers a number of people. It struck me that the icon of the ‘American abroad’ was alive and well.
Finally the film moves to the end-pahes, where Walter realises that the world is full of adventure, and that he can enjoy some of it.
The Iceland sequences are great advertisements for Iceland.
The film critercises corporate greed. At the end Walter says to Ted, words to the affect that “The people that you are getting rid of; they put a lot of themselves in the magazine and made it great.” By and large, the people working at the coal-face do their job well; the grave injustice is that someone like Ted comes along and tells them that they are very good at doing something that is no longer required – but is was an earlier Ted that told them to do what they do, and encouraged them to be the best they could at it!
Worth seeing for the Icelandic scenery and the unbelievable skating sequences – if you don’t like cringe moments come in 15 minutes late !
Tags: Ballet, is Opera, Paris Opera Ballet, Pierre Lacotte
The original title is Une vie de ballets; the film is in French, but it doesn’t matter – most of the important stuff is the ballet sequences.
The film is centred around Pierre Lacotte (dancer, choreographer and living repertoire repository for romantic ballet) and Ghislaine Thesmar (ballerina, his wife and muse). The two chat about their lives, the choreographers and dancers they have worked with. Of course, there is footage of famous dancers and ballets.
Being a French, we see a more Euro-centric recent history of ballet.
This DVD/film is a must see for balletomanes.
Tags: Ballet, Balletomane, Dance, James Franco, Joffrey Ballet, Loretta 'Ry' Ryan, Malcolm McDowell, Neve Campbell, Robert Altman, The Company
I watched the DVD of The Company and I enjoyed it.
This Robert Altman film is about a ballet ‘company’, not the CIA.
In the film, Neve Campbell (playing dancer Loretta ‘Ry’ Ryan) joins the Joffrey Ballet (playing itself), and the audience is given a view of a top professional company – at rehearsal, performing, and the lives of the dancers. It is like watching a smoothly scripted version of La Danse.
The dance – classical ballet and neo-classical ballet – sequences are great.
Campbell trained until she was 15 at the National Ballet School of Canada, before switching to acting. She fits into the Company fairly smoothly, and it is through her character that we see the Company at work, and at play. [Apparently she trained for months - daily private lessons and six weeks with the Joffrey Company - to prepare for the role.]
Campbell also co-wrote and produced.
Malcolm McDowell and James Franco – in non-dancing roles – provide support.
A must see for balletomanes.
Tags: Abigail Breslin, Asa Butterfield, Ben Kingsley, Colonel Graff, Ender Wiggin, Ender's Game, Film Review, Formics, Gavin Hood, Harrison Ford, Mazer Rackham, Orson Scott Card, Science Fiction, Valentine Wiggin
I have read the book (by Orson Scott Card) and most of the sequels and prequels, so it was with some trepidation that I went to see the film.
Warning: Plot spoilers.
The premise remains the same: aliens will destroy the Earth useless we find a brilliant commander; no stone is left unturned, and children are selected and trained from an early age – just like the Spartans, and it is no coincidence that the top commander has the title of Stratos. Ender Wiggin is one such child-military prodigy.
The film shows how rich the book is. Quite a bit of the book had to be cut to get everything into the book.
The book builds up tension by taking Ender through a series of simulated battles – each of increasing complexity and increasing force imbalance. In the book Ender is often hugely outnumbered and in a bad tactical situation. Most of these are missing from the film. Instead, Ender’s genius is explained to us by Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford). Consequently, the ‘final’ trick on Ender, is not set-up properly.
Abigail Breslin makes an appearance as Valentine Wiggin – Ender’s sister. Though it was interesting to see how she is developing as an actor, post Nim’s Island and Little Miss Sunshine.
The film focusses on the human side. Ender, ably played by Asa Butterfield, is put through many emotional and psychological tests. Ender passes, but, his humanity is stripped away from him.
I was disappointed in the way Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley) turned out. The richness and sadness in his character did not make it to the screen. The book created a love-hate relationship between Ender and Mazer – which set Ender up for his graduation simulated battle. Not much of this made it to the screen. Finally, Mazer ended up with a South Africa accent: his speech was too clipped, and lacked the slower deeper drawl more common to New Zealanders.
If you have read the books, and really like them, and Ender, then wait for the DVD, or free-to-air. Or if you are ‘brave’, then go see it on the big screen and enjoy the special effects. With Orson Scott Card as the other co-writer, it is not another ‘Starship Troopers’ – which completely inverted the philosophy set out in the book, and ruined the opening chapter.
If you haven’t, it is a reasonable science fiction movie.
Tags: Action Film, Catching the Fire, Donald Sutherland, Film Review, Haymitch Abernathy, Hunger Games, Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Katniss Everdeen, Peeta Mellark, President Snow, Woody Harrelson
Jennifer Lawrence :: Katniss Everdeen; Josh Hutcherson :: Peeta Mellark; Woody Harrelson :: Haymitch Abernathy; and Donald Sutherland :: President Snow are re-united for another view of life in a possible future North America (Pan-Am).
Sutherland does a great villain.
Lawrence is once more the conflicted reluctant role model; part of the conflict is what is she suppose to be modeling.
Some time in the past, the Capital won some kind of conflict with the other Districts, and has occupied them ever since with ‘peace keepers’. The Games are a tool of oppression and distraction. For a while I could not think of the Olympics as ‘just the Olympics’.
I found the second film in the series depressing.
As an indictment of 20% of the world enjoy 80% of the world’s resources – it is really in your face.
Once you suspend disbelief and enter the world of the movie, you are horrified that they have access to amazing nano-technology (and who knows what other ‘magic’), that you wonder how their world can be so set up so inequitably. A high level of technical advancement does not mean a high level of ethical and moral advancement.
Tags: Audrey Hepburn, Dick Avery, Fred Astaire, Funny Face, Haute Couture, Jo Stockton, Miranda Priestly, Paris
I saw this on DVD the other day.
Audrey Hepburn plays Jo Stockton, a book worm thrust somewhat unwillingly into the world of haute couture – in Paris no less. Fred Astaire plays Dick Avery, a fashion photographer who discovers Jo. Kay Thompson plays Maggie Prescott, the editor-in-chief of Quality magazine.
It is clearly the inspiration for some of the scenes in “The Devil Wears Prada”: Prescott’s offices and ante-chambers are clearly a 50′s version of Miranda Priestly’s offices.
Hepburn, Astaire, and Thompson are accomplished dancers: Hepburn was lyrical, Thompson was more in the broadway dancer mold, and Astaire was just Astaire.
The story is along the lines of ‘caterpillar to butterfly’ – Jo, the book worm, discovers fashion, beauty, and love. It is done with a particular 50′s sense of panache and naivety.
Worth watching to see three excellent dancers, Astaire’s choreographical genius, Paris in the 50′s, and the clothes of course!
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.