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)”

Review: i will still be whole (when you rip me in half), VAULT Festival

For me, i will still be whole (when you rip me in half) ends up plagued by some problematic directorial choices at the VAULT Festival

“I should have gone with her”

There’s something inevitably perverse that it isn’t a show in the aptly named Cavern that proves to be the first directorial mis-step that I get at this year’s VAULT Festival, but rather one in the comparative intimacy of the Pit next door. Wrapping the audience around all four walls has its definite advantages in establishing a certain kind of relationship with the audience but Helen Morley’s production crucially sacrifices a huge amount of audibility in doing so. 

And again, you can kind of see why the choice was made. The nature of Ava Wong Davies’ writing in i will still be whole (when you rip me in half) lends itself directly to the ruminative and muted. And as it takes the form of two monologues that wind ever closer, the movement of the two actors reflects both the emotional distance that exists and the way that it fluctuates. But the hushed delivery and static nature of many a scene proved fatal to actually hearing much of the text when presented with an actor’s back. Continue reading “Review: i will still be whole (when you rip me in half), VAULT Festival”