Armslength – a play

January 26, 2008 at 7:30 pm | Posted in Play Review | Leave a comment
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I got the chance and went to Circa Theatre to see a play.

Jan 26, 2008 by


Theatre Hanger

Paper Hanger Blog
Wellington
New Zealand

The play has five characters and three scene settings – actually there are four, but you see three most of the time.

The theatre space has no arch, so the audience is very close to the cast; at the end the audience is co-opted in to be the audience at a gallery openning. The three setting are side-by-side across the stage: a post-graduate office, a student flat, and a lecturer’s office. The characters never actually cross from one directly onto another; clever stage design creates the impression of doors and a series of corridors and roads at the back of the stage.

The cast are:

  • Elsie, played by Kate Prior, is a a photo journalist come home to study photographic art and to patch up things with her younger sister.
  • Ruth, Abby Marment, is Elsie’s estranged sister. She has a Mac-job, having stopped dancing, to support herself and her student boyfriend.
  • Steve, Jamie McCaskill, is the student boyfriend – half way through a two-year photographic art course.
  • Julie, Emma Robinson, is a photographic art lecturer and mildly famous as a photographer.
  • Harry, Eli Kent, is an alcoholic PhD student studying the Earth’s magnetism. a very geeky guy.

With an uneven number of characters and an uneven number of the sexes, the opportunity for pairing, triangles and quadrangles is explointed to the full. You wonder at times: who else has a relationship who, that is about to be disclosed. There is a love quadrangle !

The play is definitely worth the ticket price. The plot is rich – maybe too rich. I hope that the playwright – Branwen Millar – has not used up all of her material. There is even a knock-down fight. Plus the obligatory shock end.

For me, the best character was Harry: a real nerd !

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Alvin and the Chipmunks

January 16, 2008 at 10:10 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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Jan 16, 2008 by


Film Hanger

Paper Hanger Blog
Wellington
New Zealand

The film is really a tribute to Ross Bagdasarian Snr – Jnr produced the film – who wrote and was the voice for the chipmunks in the 1961-62 TV Series.

This time around Justine Long, Matthew Gray Gubler & Jesse McCartney are respectively: Alvin, Simon & Theodore. Jason Lee plays their manager Dave. Cameron Richardson plays Claire – Dave’s on again off again girlfriend.

It is all very sweat and surprisingly watchable. OK the Chipmunks are computer animated and they have very squeaky voices, but there is something for everyone. There is humour for kids and adults – they don’t over do the fart jokes. There is even a mild slapstick chase scene.

It is a bit predicatable: uncle Ian is the exploitative baddy – but you expect that; Dave and the Chipmunks do get back together, and Dave discovers commitment.

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The Golden Compass

January 11, 2008 at 10:30 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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An Alethiometer – it tells the truth. This review contains spoilers.

Jan 11, 2008 by


Film Hanger

Paper Hanger Blog
Wellington
New Zealand

The film is based on Northern Lights – the first book in Philip Pulman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. I have not read the books, but I might be tempted – just to see how much they changed. Chris Weitz was the director.

The first chunk of the film sets up the story for the first book/film and the sequels. It got a little tedious. It was fascinating to consider a world where people (a) have souls, and (b) these souls have their own physical manifestations, and act more like a close companion.

Inspired decision to cast Nicole Kidman in the role of “Mrs Coulter” – the trouble shooter for Magisterium. The Magisterium is an example of the kind of government you can end up with when there is no separation between religion and civic government; they are not the good guys! Consequently, Mrs Coutler is at best a grey character – all the more fitting that she is played as pale skinned blonde haired woman who wear pale/light colours. Mrs Coulter is bright in a grey world; she is an assertive woman in a man’s world; she is ruthless. For me, she stole the movie !

The heroine is actually Lyra Belacqua – played by newcomer Dakota Blue Richards. She has to rescue some children that the nasty Magisterium is conducting experiments on.

Between them, these two are the movie. Yes, there are lots of other characters – most notable, is somekind of polar bear. But they are just there to move the plot along and give Lyra and Mrs Coulter points to engage with. One of the reasons they engage so well, is that Lyra is not an orphan living with her uncle after all; she is actually living with her father, and Mrs Coulter, is actually Lyra’s mother. Presumably the parents split up when ‘uncle’ Lord Asriel (Daniel Craig) had a falling out over scientific and polictical philosophy with Mrs Coulter. In many subtle ways, mother and daughter are alike – they are both: fearless, manipulative, willing to be frugal with truth, not unwilling to do what needs to be done, and resourceful. Daniel Craig is hopelessly under utilised – maybe he has a bigger role in the sequels.

The alethiometer – golden compass – is the major plot device for moving Lyra around and getting her into and out of trouble. It turns out that not everyone can use it.

The last part of the movie was really disappointing. There is a long segment after the climax that has no entertainment value – it just seems to set you up for the sequel. It had the effect of making the film seem like half a film; you just know that there is more story to come. It really pulls the rug out from under the film.

An interesting question that popped into my head, as I watched Mrs Coulter and Lyrac lie and manipulate: when is it, if ever, alright to do such things?

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National Treasure : Book of Secrets

January 9, 2008 at 12:00 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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Just been to see this film.

Jan 9, 2008 by


Film Hanger

Paper Hanger Blog
Wellington
New Zealand

The film is the continuing adventures of treasure hunter Bejamin Franklin Gates (Nicolas Cage), his on-again-off-again girlfriend Abigail (Diane Kruger), his side-kick Riley (Justin Bartha), his father Patrick (Jon Voight). This time we are introduced to his mother ! – Emily Appleton, played by Helen Mirren!!

Asside from the injection of Helen Mirren, it all seemed a bit formula. The Gates family name needs to be cleared, and before you know it, we off on a treasure hunt. There is the usual car chase and Riley gets a little character development.

I have to confess that I am a Helen Mirren fan, and felt those scenes with her were definitely the better ones!! At 60+ she is still attractive and gives her character a fullness that some the other minor characters lacked.

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