Film Review: Death on the Nile (2022)

Kenneth Branagh returns to Poirot with Death on the Nile but for all its starry cast, it does feel rather hollow

“Mother doesn’t approve of anyone born outside of Mayfair

With Maggie Smith, Bette Davis and Angela Lansbury among the company in the 1978 film version, Kenneth Branagh was always going to be up against it in remounting Death on the Nile. But even as he assembles the compelling (Sophie Okonedo, Annette Bening), the curious (Dawn French AND Jennifer Saunders) and the controversial (Armie Hammer and Letitia Wright both having their own issues post-shoot), the end result is something quite trite.

I wasn’t much of a fan of his Murder on the Orient Express and there’s a number of the same issues that recur here. A heavy reliance on CGI is painfully conspicuous throughout which really flattens out so many scenes. And it is all very well gathering an all-star cast but if they’re not given the material to work with, then it is hard not to feel like it is a waste of their talents. Agatha Christie may bear a little responsibility in gathering such a disparate motley crew here but Branagh show no interest in helping to create more rounded characterisations. Continue reading “Film Review: Death on the Nile (2022)”

TV Review: The Windsors, Series 2

Series 2 of The Windsors ups the absurdity and the satire of this cracking TV show, with Vicki Pepperdine’s Anne a real highlight 

“You lied to me when you went to bed with Nicola Sturgeon in her holiday persona of Flame”

Series 2 of The Windsors ups the absurdity and the satire of this cracking TV show as Theresa May (Gillian Bevan), Nicola Sturgeon (a genius Amy Booth-Steel) and Donald Trump (Corey Johnson) (and Ellie Goulding too – nice to see Lizzy Connolly on TV) all make appearances to further lampoon our blessed Royal Family. 

Harry Enfield’s Prince Charles comes in for some particular stick as his organic credentials, urban planning skills and predilection for interfering in geopolitical affairs all get raked over the coals to great comic effect. Elsewhere, most everyone else gets away with flights of fancy rather than having their actions similarly scrutinised, for the most part. Continue reading “TV Review: The Windsors, Series 2”

News: Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company’s Romeo and Juliet returns to cinemas

 Trafalgar Releasing, in collaboration with Fiery Angel, are pleased to announce the return of the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company’s modern and passionate production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to cinemas across the UK and internationally from July 7, 2021.

Staged in the West End in 2016 as part of the inaugural Plays at the Garrick season, this inventive and atmospheric reimagining of one of Shakespeare’s best-known tragedies was co-directed by Sir Kenneth Branagh and Rob Ashford with a stellar cast featuring Richard Madden as Romeo, Lily James as Juliet, Sir Derek Jacobi as Mercutio and Meera Syal as The Nurse. Continue reading “News: Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company’s Romeo and Juliet returns to cinemas”

Film Review: 1917 (2019)

Sam Mendes’ 1917 is undoubtedly an technically excellent film but the focus on format ends up detracting from the depth of the storytelling

“You’ll be wanking again in no time!
‘Wrong hand’.”

There’s no doubting the technical audacity of Sam Mendes’ 1917. With its ostensibly one-shot, real-time structure (with necessary caveats that it is neither), it is a bravura piece of film-making that elevates this movie from just your average Oscar-baity war flick (cf Dunkirk).

It is clearly a labour of love for Mendes, who directed, co-wrote (with Krysty Wilson-Cairns) and produced 1917, and whose grandfather’s own war experiences inspired the film. And its driving force, following 2 British soldiers tasked with delivering a vital message beyond enemy lines. Continue reading “Film Review: 1917 (2019)”

Film Review: All Is True (2018)

Ben Elton and Kenneth Branagh latter-day Shakespeare biography All Is True is at once precious and poignant

“You spent so long putting words into other people’s mouths, you think it only matters what is said”

A most curious one this, continuing our creative obsession with filling in the biographical gaps in the life of William Shakespeare (cf Shakespeare in LoveAnonymous; Dedication; Will). All Is True is written by Ben Elton, who has (comic) form in the shape of Upstart Crow, the TV show soon to make its own theatrical bow and has as its director, producer and star, one Kenneth Branagh.

In some ways, it is a beautiful film. Branagh eschews a lot of artifical lighting and flickers of candlelight illuminates several interior scenes to gorgeous effect. He also takes pains to find interesting angles for his shots and the opening image of his silhouetted figure against the burning Globe is stunning. And being able to call on the likes of Sir Ian McKellen (the Earl of Southampton) and Dame Judi Dench (Anne Hathaway) to toss off some Shakespeare recital is of course an unalloyed pleasure. Continue reading “Film Review: All Is True (2018)”

The finalists of The Offies 2018

The finalists of the The Offies 2018 have been announced and as ever, there’s much of interest there, in the choices made and the breadth of Off West End theatre celebrated. Play-wise, I’m delighted at the love for The Revlon Girl and An Octoroon here, nice to see the Bunker’s Eyes Closed Ears Covered rewarded too, plus Will Pinchin’s work in Frankenstein.

With the musicals, I’m not down with the love for Promises Promises, an ill-judged revival that added nothing to the conversation (and even less in these #MeToo times) and I’m disappointed that none of the boys of Yank! were recognised. The rest of the Southwark Playhouse’s spectacular year does get the appropriate plaudits though, with Superhero, The Life and Working all getting multiple nominations.

And lastly, at times it can seem like all you have to do is sing in your bathroom and you get an Offie nomination ? so it is interesting to see how the numbers break down, albeit somewhat vaguely. These 80 or so finalists have apparently been whittled down from over 350 nominations from over 190 shows – there’s clearly just a lot of Offies love to share. Should you wish to join in said sharing at the IRL award ceremony on Sunday 4th March at The Albany, Deptford, you can buy tickets here.

Continue reading “The finalists of The Offies 2018”

fosterIAN awards 2017

 WinnerRunner-upOther nominees
Best Actress in a PlayHattie Morahan/
Kate O'Flynn/
Adelle Leonce,
Anatomy of a Suicide
Victoria Hamilton, Albion
Shirley Henderson,
Girl From the North Country

Cherry Jones,
The Glass Menagerie

Justine Mitchell,
Beginning

Mimi Ndiweni,
The Convert

Connie Walker,
Trestle
Best Actor in a Play
Ken Nwosu, An OctoroonAndrew Scott, HamletAndrew Garfield,
Angels in America

Gary Lilburn,
Trestle

Ian McKellen,
King Lear

Cyril Nri,
Barber Shop Chronicles

Sam Troughton,
Beginning
Best Supporting Actress in a PlayBríd Brennan, The FerrymanKate Kennedy, Twelfth Night (Royal Exchange)Sheila Atim,
Girl From the North Country

Laura Carmichael,
Apologia

Romola Garai,
Queen Anne

Lashana Lynch,
a profoundly affectionate, passionate devotion to someone (-noun)

Kate O'Flynn,
The Glass Menagerie
Best Supporting Actor in a PlayFisayo Akinade,
Barber Shop Chronicles
Brian J Smith, The Glass MenageriePhilip Arditti,
Oslo

Gershwn Eustache Jnr,
a profoundly affectionate, passionate devotion to someone (-noun)

Fra Fee,
The Ferryman

Patrice Naiambana,
Barber Shop Chronicles

Nathan Stewart-Jarrett,
Angels in America
Best Actress in a MusicalJanie Dee, Follies AND
Josefina Gabrielle, A Little Night Music
AND Josie Walker,
Everybody's Talking About Jamie
Amie Giselle-Ward, Little WomenSharon D Clarke,
Caroline or Change

Kelly Price,
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾

T'Shan Williams,
The Life
Best Actor in a MusicalGiles Terera, HamiltonScott Hunter/Andy Coxon, Yank! A WWII Love StoryJohn McCrea,
Everybody's Talking About Jamie

Philip Quast,
Follies

Michael Rouse,
Superhero

Jamael Westman,
Hamilton
Best Supporting Actress in a Musical
Tracie Bennett,
Follies
Rachel John, HamiltonChristine Allado,
Hamilton

Julie Atherton,
The Grinning Man

Sharon D Clarke,
The Life

Joanna Riding,
Romantics Anonymous

Lucie Shorthouse,
Everybody's Talking About Jamie
Best Supporting Actor in a MusicalJason
Pennycooke,
Hamilton
Mark Anderson, The Grinning ManFred Haig,
Follies

Cornell S John,
The Life

Chris Kiely,
Yank! A WWII Love Story

Gareth Snook,
Romantics Anonymous

Obioma Ugoala,
Hamilton