Film Review: Cordelia (2019)

Antonia Campbell-Hughes and Johnny Flynn lead psychological thriller Cordelia through its uneasy relationship with reality

“You’re tortured by guilt”

There’s a lot of double duty going on in Cordelia, with writers Antonia Campbell-Hughes and Adrian Shergold also taking on the roles of leading actor and director respectively. Not only that, Campbell-Hughes plays twin sisters Cordelia and Caroline in a quirkily, dark movie that lurks somewhere close to psychological horror. Rather randomly, it also marks the debut of Sally Hawkins as an executive producer. 

After a traumatic event some 12 years ago, Cordelia has retreated from the world. A RADA-trained actress, she has now scored a part in the company of a production of King Lear at the Donmar and so can no longer remain holed up in the basement flat she shares with her sister in London. Over the course of a weekend when Caroline is away, Cordelia’s dalliances with the outside world are shaped, for better or worse, by her growing connection with the handsome cellist who lives upstairs. Continue reading “Film Review: Cordelia (2019)”

Film Review: Kindred (2020)

Essentially a three-hander between Tamara Lawrance, Fiona Shaw and Jack Lowden, Kindred eschews the supernatural for the simply scary

“I’m not paranoid…”

There are horror cinematic references aplenty in Joe Marcantonio’s Kindred, inspiration drawn from some recognisable classics of the genre but the end result is something which speaks loudly, and effectively, with its own voice. The particular insidiousness of unvoiced racism, maternal mortality, the dangers of being near a horse…all are dealt with gradually impending doom.

Lawrance’s Charlotte has discovered she’s pregnant and she’s not sure how she feels about it, not least because she and hunksome partner Ben (a briefly seen Edward Holcroft) are intending to emigrate to Australia. Ben’s mother Margaret is not best pleased at the prospect of losing her first grandchild to another hemisphere and when Ben gets too close to that horse, sets in motion a nefarious plan to ensure it doesn’t happen. Continue reading “Film Review: Kindred (2020)”

News: National Theatre adds The Deep Blue Sea and The Comedy of Errors to National Theatre at Home

National Theatre adds The Deep Blue Sea and The Comedy of Errors to National Theatre at Home

The National Theatre has today announced The Deep Blue Sea, with Helen McCrory in the lead role as Hester Collyer, will be added to National Theatre at Home for audiences around the world to experience. The recording is dedicated in fond memory of Helen McCrory, who had a long and rich association with the National Theatre and who sadly passed away last month. The Deep Blue Sea was her most recent performance at the National Theatre in 2016. Two on-stage conversations with Helen McCrory have also been made available on National Theatre at Home: one on stage in 2014 with Genista McInosh as Helen discussed preparing to play Medea (also available on National Theatre at Home) and one from 2016 in conversation with Libby Purves about playing Hester in The Deep Blue Sea.

Carrie Cracknell, who directed Helen in Medea and The Deep Blue Sea, said: “Helen was undoubtedly one of the greatest actors of her generation. Incandescent, playful, fierce and wildly intelligent. Her craft and precision as an actor was awe-inspiring. On some afternoons, while Helen was rehearsing The Deep Blue Sea at the NT, the sun would pour through the windows, and it would feel for a moment that time had stopped. That the world had stopped revolving, as the entire cast and crew would stand, quietly enraptured by the humanity and aliveness and complexity of Helen’s work. As we moved the production into the auditorium, I would marvel at how she held an audience of 900 people in the palm of her hand. She could change how we felt with the slightest glance, a flick of the wrist, a sultry pause, yet somehow she never lost the central truth of her character. I couldn’t be prouder that we have this beautiful recording of our production to share. Continue reading “News: National Theatre adds The Deep Blue Sea and The Comedy of Errors to National Theatre at Home”

News: Lauren Samuels & Sophie Evans announce new album

Lauren Samuels and Sophie Evans first found fame when they met on the hit BBC1 show Over the Rainbow. Both ladies made it to the final and were highly praised by Andrew Lloyd Webber and have gone on to have hugely successful stage careers. To celebrate a decade since the show first aired, Sophie and Lauren have reunited to record Chasing Rainbows, Finding Judy, a stunning album of songs made famous by Judy Garland, the original Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. The first single from the album, ‘The Rainbow’s End’, is available now.

The idea for the album was born out of a desire Lauren & Sophie had not only to collaborate and to celebrate how they met, but also to bring Judy’s music to a new audience – hearing these classic songs performed by younger voices. The album has been beautifully produced by Grammy-nominated producer James McMillan. Continue reading “News: Lauren Samuels & Sophie Evans announce new album”

Film Review: The Banishing (2020)

Not even the presence of John Heffernan and Jessica Brown Findlay can save The Banishing from its rather punishingly dull fate

“That poor, poor woman”

I did want to like The Banishing, starring as it does fave-around-these-parts John Heffernan and Jessica Brown Findlay in its cast. But Christopher Smith’s film reveals itself as a rather staid entry into the British horror canon, offering little to make it stand out on any creative level.

A haunted house would-be thriller set in the 1930s, it follows the travails of a young family who move into a creaking, creepy house in Essex as Heffernan’s Reverend Linus takes on a new parish. His wife Marianne (Brown Findlay) and daughter Adelaide soon find themselves hearing things that go bump in the night but the truth is something much more troubling is afoot. Continue reading “Film Review: The Banishing (2020)”

Film Review: Promising Young Woman (2020)

Carey Mulligan is in blisteringly good form leading Emerald Fennell’s debut film Promising Young Woman

“What are you doing?”

Emerald Fennell will forever be Call The Midwife’s Nurse Patsy for me but beyond her work as an actor (she’s an excellent Camilla in The Crown too), she’s also a writer and director too with credits from children’s literature to Series 2 of Killing Eve for which she was also the showrunner.  Promising Young Woman marks her feature debut as writer. director and producer and with a scorchingly good Carey Mulligan at the helm of her cast, its an accomplished first bow.

Mulligan plays Cassie, a 30 year old med school dropout who is working through some horrific trauma by spending her weekends acting passed-out drunk in bars, accepting the inevitable offers from men to take her home and then scaring the crap out of them when they inevitably initiate sexual assault by ‘snapping’ out of it and forcing a conversation about consent. When a chance encounter with a former classmate offers an irresistible opportunity for real revenge, she starts to plan… Continue reading “Film Review: Promising Young Woman (2020)”

News: some good-looking non-London shows to consider

‘My hands are shaking you know. I haven’t been so keyed up about anything since I was the Virgin Mary.’

Sheffield Theatres announces their new production of Talent, written by Victoria Wood, at the Crucible Theatre from Wednesday 30 June to Saturday 24 July 2021. Cast in the play are: Richard Cant (The Country Wife), Daniel Crossley (Me and My Girl), Jamie-Rose Monk (Dick Whittington), Jonathon Ojinnaka, (Coronation Street)James Quinn (Democracy) and  Lucie Shorthouse  (Everybody’s Talking About Jamie).

Directing Talent is Paul Foster (Kiss Me, Kate). Originally scheduled for the summer of 2020, Talent tells the story of a young woman with dreams of showbiz glory. Continue reading “News: some good-looking non-London shows to consider”

It Means Beautiful, for India Covid Relief

Irvine Iqbal has launched a new project called Same Voices Unite, which aims to raise awareness of the impact of Covid-19 in India and to get the message through, he has helmed a star-filled video featuring West End performers as part of its main campaign.

The video will feature a performance of Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom Macrae’s ‘It Means Beautiful’, from West End musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, sung by a cast of more than 30 performers. Audiences of the video will be directed to the One Family charity donation page. Continue reading “It Means Beautiful, for India Covid Relief”

Film Review: Judas and the Black Messiah (2021)

A pair of barnstorming performances from Laketh Stanfield and Daniel Kaluuya keeps Judas and the Black Messiah a fascinating story to watch

“Politics is war without bloodshed while war is politics with bloodshed”

There’s an interesting tension at the heart of Judas and the Black Messiah, as its two subjects tussle for attention in a film which tries to do them both justice. Not knowing any of the history behind this obviously affects my view but I was left wanting a deeper dive into one or the other of these striking characters.

Shaka King’s film is a biographical account of the betrayal of Fred Hampton by William O’Neal, the former the head of the Chicago-based chapters of the Black Panthers, the latter an FBI informant who has infiltrated the group at the behest of a determined handler. And in Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield hands, it is ferociously well acted. Continue reading “Film Review: Judas and the Black Messiah (2021)”

Film Review: Ammonite (2020)

Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan deliver committed performances in Francis Lee’s Ammonite but the film rarely excites

“You know you can always ask me for help”

Francis Lee follows up the exceptional God’s Own Country with another story about hard labour in LGBTQ+ lives, this time focusing on the first letter of the acronym. Ammonite follows the life of 18th century fossil hunter Mary Anning, a woman working hard in her chosen field but stifled by Victorian attitudes which resulted in her discoveries being shown without any credit being given to her in her lifetime.

Lee couples this narrative of historical misogyny with a love story of his own making, a speculative romance that sees a growing connection build with Charlotte Murchison. Their ‘meet-cute’ comes at the behest of Murchison’s husband, a geologist wanting to learn from Anning’s practices and when he opts to take a trip away which conveniently coincides with his wife falling into a depression, a period of convalesence under Mary’s care in Lyme Regis is prescribed. Continue reading “Film Review: Ammonite (2020)”