English Royal Ballet – Nutcracker (2017) – the film

December 24, 2017 at 4:25 am | Posted in Ballet Review, Concert Review, Dance Review, Film Review | Leave a comment
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I went to see the Royal Ballet’s annual production of the Nutcracker – captured on film and shown at the Light House Cuba cinema. Darcy Bussell was one of the commentators: one of the difference between a live production and a production designed to be webcast and filmed. Bussell and her co-commentator interviewed, some of the young dancers from the Company’s dance school, and Peter wright – the guest ballet master for this production. Most of the principal dancers were also interviewed – pictured as they worked with Wright. The interval was shown in its full length (the main curtain counting down the minutes).

This production has been performed every year since 1984, when Peter Wright first ‘put it together’. What I liked about this production is that the party is a substantial segment; in some productions, the party is much foreshortened, serving only to convey the nutcracker to Clara. I also liked that Drosselmeyer (Gary Avis) has such a substantive part – and played with a wonderful Rothbart-like feel at times.

Francesca Hayward and Alexander Campbell dance the parts of Clara and the Nutcracker respectively. Hayward was superb as a young girl growing into womanhood. Campbell is strong yet youthful. A lovely touch that the nutcracker is also Drosselmeyer’s son / nephew (?).

Sarah Lamb and Steven McRae dance the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Prince. Lamb was beautiful; McRae soared. The various Sugar Plum Fairy and Prince pas des deuxs are often overshadowed by those from Swan Lake.

This production of Nutcracker really celebrates the Rose Fairy; ‘her’ dance is an extended piece of technical and dramatic substance. The Arabian dance was a very tidily choreography piece – technically demanding of the genie (?) and her three companions. the principle companion has to hold her aloft with straight arms, when he carries her on an off the stage.

The shrinking Clara – tree expanding – sequence was superb. Though, I did find the lighting and setting for the Snowflakes a little too bright; they looked to me like icicles.

I am pleased that I went to see this. It is unlikely that i will get to see such a show in person.

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Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi

December 23, 2017 at 4:58 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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I  went to see The Last Jedi – in 2D. I am sure there are many reviews that talk about the film’s plot elements, so I will just jump into my lists.

What I liked:

  • The on-again-off-again thing between Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and Rey (Daisy Ridley), as to who would go to the dark-side and the light-side.
  • Finding out how Kylo Ren turned away from his uncle/Luke (Mark Hamill), and cleverly showing the event from both sides.
  • There wasn’t a death star.
  • Captain Phasma returned. Other than being a fan, and so will go to a movie entitled Star Wars – Paint Drying, I went to Episode Eight, because wanted to see more of Captain Phasma.
  • The film stayed faithful to the aesthetic of the earlier films.

What I didn’t like:

  • The opening sequence where the Rebels destroyed a First Order dreadnought (a wannabe death star). It made no sense: why did the Rebels use the equivalent of strategic bombers instead of dive bombers or torpedo bombers? Why didn’t the First Order have a standing Tie-Fighter screen. When the dreadnought lost its last close quarter guns, why no get the surround star destroyers to bombard the dreadnought with their secondary or tertiary weapons. This is what a troop of shermans did in Korea when they got swarmed by grenade welding infantry – they resorted to machine gunning each other. Or the dreadnought just rams the bombers!
  • The constant switching between the points of action. It broke up the flow of the movie.
  • Repeating the structure of past films; e.g. the movable mini death star, having to decouple yet another machine.
  • Captain Phasma being on screen for ‘2 seconds’. Many of the characters are 2 dimensional and serve as cogs in a karma driven plot machine. But Phasma is interesting: what sort of lives do middle managers lead in the First Order? How did she get her rank? What is the significance of the silver armour?
  • The length; 154 minutes is too much.
  • Was it necessary to have Luke milk an alien?

Still a movie that is worth seeing – fan or not 🙂

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