Film Review: Dead in a Week Or Your Money Back (2018)

There’s some cracking talent here – Nigel Lindsay, Marian Bailey, Christopher Eccleston – but the tone of Dead in a Week Or Your Money Back can’t help but feel a tad misjudged

“You’re only alive because I haven’t killed you yet”

After a whole lotta Killing Eve in preparation for its new series, a pal recommended Dead in a Week Or Your Money Back for a slightly more light-hearted take on the assassin genre. And Tom Edmunds’ 2018 film is certainly that, if a little too casual perhaps in the cavalier way it deals with its main theme of suicide. 

Aneurin Barnard plays William, a severely depressed young writer who has had little success in getting published and equally no success in taking his own life. Whilst failing at attempt #10, he’s approached by hitman Leslie (Tom Wilkinson) who offers to do the job professionally for him. William books him in but then of course, gets a call from a hot young publisher who has taken an interest in both him and his book. Continue reading “Film Review: Dead in a Week Or Your Money Back (2018)”

TV Review: This Is Going To Hurt, Episode 1

Led by a brilliant performance from Ben Whishaw, Episode 1 of This Is Going To Hurt is eye-openingly good

“It’s literally life or death here”

Just a quickie for this as though the Beeb has dropped the whole series of This Is Going To Hurt online, I’m not sure when I’ll be able to get round to it with so much to watch at the moment. Created by Adam Kay and based on his memoir of the same name, we follow Ben Whishaw’s Adam as he works his way through life as an obs and gynae doctor in the NHS.

I feel like I could possibly do without the direct address asides, seemingly forever marked by Fleabag now, but the rest of this first episode was cracking. A jet black comedy teetering on the precipice of horror, perma-overworked acting registrar Adam has a shift from hell, followed by another as he is called straight back in to pull a double to cover absence. Continue reading “TV Review: This Is Going To Hurt, Episode 1”

Film Review: Brighton (2019)

Based on a Steven Berkoff play, Brighton proves a candidate for one of the worst films I’ve ever seen

“We should have gone to Southend”

Sometimes, you just have to say, what the fuck do you think you’re doing. Stephen Cookson’s film Brighton, adapted from Steven Berkoff’s 1994 play Brighton Beach Scumbags, is one of those times. I suppose there is a film to be made about the fragility of British national identity in ageing white heterosexuals but this sure as hell isn’t it.

What’s worse is that you’ve got a top notch cast here. The two main couples having a jaunt back to the town where they met some 40-odd years ago are played by Lesley Sharp and Phil Davis, and Marion Bailey and Larry Lamb, fine actors all, who should be hanging their heads in shame for signing up to this horribly dated and downright nasty piece of work. Continue reading “Film Review: Brighton (2019)”

News: James Purefoy leads all-star cast for the Jermyn Street’s epic Odyssey

Jermyn Street Theatre has announced casting for its marathon performance of Homer’s The Odyssey, translated by Emily Wilson.

James Purefoy (RomeFisherman’s FriendsChurchill) stars as Odysseus, the Greek hero whose ten-year journey home from Troy is the heart of Homer’s epic poem. Purefoy is joined by Susannah Harker (Pride and PrejudiceHouse of Cards) as his wife Penelope, new graduate Chirag Benedict Lobo as his son Telemachus, renowned Shakespearean actor Michael Pennington as his father Laertes, Clare Perkins (EmiliaSweat) as Athena, the goddess who guides his journey, and Marion Bailey (The CrownMr TurnerVera Drake) as his devoted nurse Eurycleia. The ensemble cast is completed by Jim FindleySam CrerarDavid Sturzaker and Robert Mountford, all returning to Jermyn Street Theatre. Continue reading “News: James Purefoy leads all-star cast for the Jermyn Street’s epic Odyssey”

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”

Review: Royal Court’s Living Newspaper #6

Moments of dark humour are scattered throughout Edition #6 of the Royal Court’s Living Newspaper but elsewhere it is a bit more hit and miss

“I loved every minute of it, yeah, fuck it, why not, five stars!”

Originally planned as a six-edition run, the Royal Court’s Living Newspaper will actually be gaining a bonus seventh instalment with pieces written by writers aged 14-21. But Edition #6 is now live with its intention of  exploring “the strange and contradictory relationship between a closed theatre building and the world outside; asking questions about why we gather together and who we might have lost when we do so again”.

There are some short, sharp stabs of real brilliance here. Stacey Gregg picking through the minefield that is talking about Northern Ireland whether in English, ISL or BSL; Rory Mullarkey raking theatre critics over the coals in the highly amusing This Play (Louisa Harland, Sule Rimi and Micllicent Wong clearly having lots of fun); Amy Bethan Evans’ scabrously funny take on the agony aunt in Neurodiverge-Aunt, delivered beautifully by Cian Binchy. Continue reading “Review: Royal Court’s Living Newspaper #6”

News: writers and cast for Living Newspaper #6

The cast and writers of Edition 6 of Living Newspaper have been announced. It will be written by Pamela Carter, Hester Chillingworth, Tim Crouch, Molly Davies, Amy Bethan Evans, Robert Alan Evans, Stacey Gregg, Rose Lewenstein, Simon Longman, Rory Mullarkey, Lettie Precious, Pavel Pryazhko, Testament, Joe Ward Munrow, Kit Withington and Rachael Young. Pavel Pryazhko’s contribution will be translated by Sasha Dugdale.

Edition 6 explores the strange and contradictory relationship between a closed theatre building and the world outside; asking questions about why we gather together and who we might have lost when we do so again. It takes us on a journey from the familiarity of an old English pub, down the streets of Belarus, into the heady territory of global financial markets, stop briefly on a quiet park bench before bringing us back into the heart of the Royal Court itself. Continue reading “News: writers and cast for Living Newspaper #6”

27th Screen Actors Guild Awards winners

Film
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom as Levee Green 
Riz Ahmed – Sound of Metal as Ruben Stone
Anthony Hopkins – The Father as Anthony
Gary Oldman – Mank as Herman J. Mankiewicz
Steven Yeun – Minari as Jacob Yi

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Viola Davis – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom as Ma Rainey
Amy Adams – Hillbilly Elegy as Beverly “Bev” Vance
Vanessa Kirby – Pieces of a Woman as Martha Weiss
Frances McDormand – Nomadland as Fern
Carey Mulligan – Promising Young Woman as Cassandra “Cassie” Thomas Continue reading “27th Screen Actors Guild Awards winners”

27th Screen Actors Guild Awards nominees

Film
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Riz Ahmed – Sound of Metal as Ruben Stone
Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom as Levee Green (posthumous nomination)
Anthony Hopkins – The Father as Anthony
Gary Oldman – Mank as Herman J. Mankiewicz
Steven Yeun – Minari as Jacob Yi

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Amy Adams – Hillbilly Elegy as Beverly “Bev” Vance
Viola Davis – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom as Ma Rainey
Vanessa Kirby – Pieces of a Woman as Martha Weiss
Frances McDormand – Nomadland as Fern
Carey Mulligan – Promising Young Woman as Cassandra “Cassie” Thomas Continue reading “27th Screen Actors Guild Awards nominees”

TV Review: The Crown, Series 4

Whereas I was sad that the cast of The Crown had to regenerate at the end of Series 2, I’m kinda glad that Series 4 is the last we’ll see of this second generation  

“Let’s just say, I can’t see it ending well for you”

I sampled the first few episodes of Series 4 of The Crown on release and whilst still appreciating much of the quality of this prestige drama, I couldn’t help but feel that it just isn’t quite up to par. An element of that is certainly personal, I just have zero desire to see depictions of Margaret Thatcher in anything. But there’s also something more nigglingly fundamental awry here, as we move to closer to the current day and increasingly feature people who are still alive. 

Whether royalist or republican (do republicans watch The Crown…?), there’s something fascinating about the way in which Peter Morgan’s writing has challenged conventional notions of myth-building around the British Royal Family. What might previously have been called decorum has been jettisoned with little seeming sacrosanct now, particularly as we delve into the marriage of Charles and Diana and his enduring relationship with Camilla, plus going deeper into Thatcher’s psyche than one could ever care to. Continue reading “TV Review: The Crown, Series 4”