Film review: The Witches (2020)

Robert Zemeckis takes on Roald Dahl’s The Witches for a new spin but loses his purpose pretty quickly. And Anne Hathaway is no Anjelica Huston as the Grand High Witch

“That’s how you wanna play, we’ll play”

I swear I went into watching this ‘reimagining’ of The Witches with as open a mind as I could muster but the truth, Nicolas Roeg’s iconic 1990 film looms incredibly large in the mind as I first saw it then as an impressionable 11 year old. The fabulousness of Anjelica Huston’s performance, and Jane Horrocks’ menacing work too, etched themselves on my mind, leaving Robert Zemeckis with lots to do here.

And I’m not sure he really does it. His screenplay, written with Guillermo Del Toro and Kenya Barris, shifts the action to Alabama in the late 1960s but does little with that, aside from casting the excellent Octavia Spencer as Grandma alongside Jahzir Bruno’s Charlie. And in simply retreading familiar ground, there’s little that really gives any sort of compelling reason for this new adaptation to exist. Continue reading “Film review: The Witches (2020)”

10th Critics’ Choice Television Awards nominees

Best Series
Best Comedy Series
Barry (HBO)
Fleabag (Amazon)
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon)
Mom (CBS)
One Day at a Time (Netflix)
PEN15 (Hulu)
Schitt’s Creek (Pop)

Best Drama Series
The Crown (Netflix)
David Makes Man (OWN)
Game of Thrones (HBO)
The Good Fight (CBS All Access)
Pose (FX)
Succession (HBO)
This Is Us (NBC)
Watchmen (HBO) Continue reading “10th Critics’ Choice Television Awards nominees”

Winners of 2016 Lucille Lortel Awards

Outstanding Play
The Christians Produced by Playwrights Horizons and Center Theatre Group. Written by Lucas Hnath
Eclipsed Produced by The Public Theater. Written by Danai Gurira
Gloria Produced by Vineyard Theatre. Written by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
WINNER – Guards at the Taj Produced by Atlantic Theater Company. Written by Rajiv Joseph
John Produced by Signature Theatre. Written by Annie Baker

Outstanding Musical
WINNER – FUTURITY Produced by Soho Rep. and Ars Nova in association with Carole Shorenstein Hays. Music by César Alvarez with The Lisps, Lyrics and Book by César Alvarez
Iowa Produced by Playwrights Horizons. Written by Jenny Schwartz, Music by Todd Almond, Lyrics by Todd Almond and Jenny Schwartz
Southern Comfort Produced by The Public Theater. Book and Lyrics by Dan Collins, Music by Julianne Wick Davis, Based on the Film by Kate Davis, Conceived for the Stage by Robert DuSold and Thomas Caruso
Tappin’ Thru Life Produced by Leonard Soloway, Bud Martin, Riki Kane Larimer, Jeff Wolk, Phyllis and Buddy Aerenson, Darren P. DeVerna/Jeremiah J. Harris and the Shubert Organization. Written by Maurice Hines
The Wildness: Sky-Pony’s Rock Fairy Tale. Produced by Ars Nova in collaboration with The Play Company. Text by Kyle Jarrow & Lauren Worsham, Songs by Kyle Jarrow Continue reading “Winners of 2016 Lucille Lortel Awards”

Nominations for 2015-2016 Outer Critics Circle Awards

John Gassner Playwriting Award
Lindsey Ferrentino, Ugly Lies the Bone
Lauren Gunderson, I and You
Martyna Majok, Ironbound
Marco Ramirez, The Royale
Anna Ziegler, Boy

Outstanding Actor in a Play
Reed Birney, The Humans
Gabriel Byrne, Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Frank Langella, The Father
Mark Strong, A View From the Bridge
Ben Whishaw, The Crucible Continue reading “Nominations for 2015-2016 Outer Critics Circle Awards”

Nominations for 2016 Lucille Lortel Awards

Outstanding Play
The Christians Produced by Playwrights Horizons and Center Theatre Group. Written by Lucas Hnath
Eclipsed Produced by The Public Theater. Written by Danai Gurira
Gloria Produced by Vineyard Theatre. Written by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
Guards at the Taj Produced by Atlantic Theater Company. Written by Rajiv Joseph
John Produced by Signature Theatre. Written by Annie Baker

Outstanding Musical
FUTURITY Produced by Soho Rep. and Ars Nova in association with Carole Shorenstein Hays. Music by César Alvarez with The Lisps, Lyrics and Book by César Alvarez
Iowa Produced by Playwrights Horizons. Written by Jenny Schwartz, Music by Todd Almond, Lyrics by Todd Almond and Jenny Schwartz
Southern Comfort Produced by The Public Theater. Book and Lyrics by Dan Collins, Music by Julianne Wick Davis, Based on the Film by Kate Davis, Conceived for the Stage by Robert DuSold and Thomas Caruso
Tappin’ Thru Life Produced by Leonard Soloway, Bud Martin, Riki Kane Larimer, Jeff Wolk, Phyllis and Buddy Aerenson, Darren P. DeVerna/Jeremiah J. Harris and the Shubert Organization. Written by Maurice Hines
The Wildness: Sky-Pony’s Rock Fairy Tale. Produced by Ars Nova in collaboration with The Play Company. Text by Kyle Jarrow & Lauren Worsham, Songs by Kyle Jarrow Continue reading “Nominations for 2016 Lucille Lortel Awards”

66th British Academy Film Awards winners

BAFTA Fellowship
Sir Alan Parker

Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema
Tessa Ross

Best Film
Argo – Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck and George Clooney
Les Misérables – Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward and Cameron Mackintosh
Life of Pi – Gil Netter, Ang Lee and David Womark
Lincoln – Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy
Zero Dark Thirty – Mark Boal, Kathryn Bigelow and Megan Ellison Continue reading “66th British Academy Film Awards winners”

19th Screen Actors Guild Awards winners 

Film
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Daniel Day-Lewis – Lincoln as Abraham Lincoln
Bradley Cooper – Silver Linings Playbook as Patrizio “Pat” Solitano, Jr.
John Hawkes – The Sessions as Mark O’Brien
Hugh Jackman – Les Misérables as Jean Valjean
Denzel Washington – Flight as William “Whip” Whitaker, Sr.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Jennifer Lawrence – Silver Linings Playbook as Tiffany Maxwell
Jessica Chastain – Zero Dark Thirty as Maya
Marion Cotillard – Rust and Bone as Stéphanie
Helen Mirren – Hitchcock as Alma Reville
Naomi Watts – The Impossible as Maria Bennett Continue reading “19th Screen Actors Guild Awards winners “

Film Review: Les Misérables (2012)

“Life has dropped you at the bottom of the heap”

For many people, myself included, it is nigh on impossible to approach a film version of stage behemoth Les Misérables with a blank slate. It’s been a mainstay of the musical theatre world since its 1985 London debut – it is most likely the show I have seen the most times throughout my lifetime – and after celebrating its 25th anniversary with an extraordinarily good touring production, has been riding high with a revitalised energy. So Tom Hooper’s film has a lot to contend with in terms of preconceptions, expectations and long-ingrained ideas of how it should be done. And he has attacked it with gusto, aiming to reinvent notions of cinematic musicals by having his actors sing live to camera and bringing his inimitable close-up directorial style to bear thus creating a film which is epic in scale but largely intimate in focus.

In short, I liked it but I didn’t love it. I’m not so sure that Hooper’s take on the piece as a whole is entirely suited to the material, or rather my idea of how best it works. Claude-Michel Schönberg’s score has a sweeping grandeur which is already quasi-cinematic in its scope but Hooper never really embraces it fully as he works in his customary solo shots and close-ups into the numbers so well known as ensemble masterpieces.  ‘At The End Of The Day’ and ‘One Day More’ both suffer this fate of being presented as individually sung segments stitched together but for me, the pieces never really added up to more than the sum of their parts to gain the substantial power that they possess on the stage. Continue reading “Film Review: Les Misérables (2012)”

18th Critics’ Choice Awards winners

Best Picture
Argo
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Django Unchained
Les Misérables
Life of Pi
Lincoln
The Master
Moonrise Kingdom
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

Best Director
Ben Affleck – Argo
Ang Lee – Life of Pi
David O. Russell – Silver Linings Playbook
Kathryn Bigelow – Zero Dark Thirty
Steven Spielberg – Lincoln
Tom Hooper – Les Misérables Continue reading “18th Critics’ Choice Awards winners”