Film Review: The Electrical Life of Louis Wain (2021)

Some may enjoy this more than me but I found The Electrical Life of Louis Wain to be almost insufferably twee despite Benedict Cumberbatch working hard

“The more intensely he suffered, the more beautiful his work became”

If you were playing Oscar-bait bingo, then you’d definitely want to draw biopic The Electrical Life of Louis Wain. Central character with vaguely defined mental condition, with a wife who dies young, plus Olivia Colman AND Benedict Cumberbatch in the cast. Maybe we should do shots rather than bingo, it might make the film a touch more bearable… 

Will Sharpe’s film seems likely to divide audiences. Not between dog lovers and cat fanciers as you might expect, but to weed out those who have a high tolerance for the insufferably twee. For in its attempts to depict the unique brain chemistry of artist Louis Wain, it errs towards a sepia-tinged, Colman-narrated vision of whimsy and wonder that belies the essential tragedy here. Continue reading “Film Review: The Electrical Life of Louis Wain (2021)”

TV Review: The Girl Before

A glossy psychological thriller that twists and turns entertainingly, The Girl Before is a nice bit of luxury TV

“I don’t think Facebook follows me into the shower”

Adapted by JP Delaney from his novel of the same name, The Girl Before does a clever job of taking all-too-familiar TV thriller tropes and if not subverting them, actually uses them efficiently and effectively, which feels like a more radical act in some ways. So there’s an incredibly glamorous house and a narrative unfolding in two time-periods simultaneously but for once, these choices are entirely justified.   

That house is 1 Folgate Street, an ultra-minimalist architect’s wet dream which has been made available by that architect for an incredibly cheap rent. Only thing is, there’s a whole set of rules you have to abide by, if you pass the interview, in order to maintain the place in keeping with its impossibly stylish aesthetic. And of course, that landlord has a handsome face and a mysterious past which doesn’t bode well for any prospective tenants. Continue reading “TV Review: The Girl Before”

Film Review: Dolittle (2020)

Sadly falling short of the ‘so bad it is so very good’ mark, this Robert Downey Jr-led Dolittle is just bafflingly, boringly bad

“That dog is licking the queen”

At that point where I couldn’t quite lift my arm to find the remote, I ended up watching Dolittle through apathy more than anything else, ending up rather transfixed by how bad it was and hoping in vain it would tip over into something camply enjoyable. Reader, it won’t surprise you to learn it did not.

The film’s troubled production history is no secret – substantial reshoots and a ballooning budget ensured it was a commercial failure.  But what is incredible is how obvious, and obviously bad, all the tinkering is. Having lost faith in original director and co-writer Stephen Gaghan – a left-field choice to begin with – the subsequent attempts to rework it are just the worst kind of butchery. Continue reading “Film Review: Dolittle (2020)”

Film Review: Die Another Day (2001)

Brosnan reaches an ignomious end as Die Another Day buckles under the weight of sponsorship deals, retrospective nods and that invisible car

“So, this is where they keep the old relics, then, eh?”

From opening surfing sequences to invisible cars, Die Another Day really does ask a lot of its audience, not least where Bond himself is concerned. Brosnan is 49 here and against co-leads Halle Berry (35), Toby Stephens (33) and Rosamund Pike (22), you feel it. Throw in an inordinate amount of product placement, random gadgetry and a misguided attempt to go dark in its opening segment, and the struggle is real.

What really hamstrings Lee Tamahori’s film though is the 40th anniversary of it all, the production choosing to acknowledge and explicitly reference the 19 films that went before. This further detracts from establishing any kind of workable, engaging plot or, more significantly, caring a jot about what is happening. My finger was hovering on the fast forward button for a considerable portion of the two hours plus, especially with John Cleese’s Q and his insufferable injokes – I couldn’t possibly recommend rewatching. Continue reading “Film Review: Die Another Day (2001)”

July theatre round-up

I might have taken a break from reviewing for the last couple of months, but I didn’t stop going to the theatre. Here’s some brief thoughts on most of what I saw  in July.

On Your Feet, aka the rhythm will get you, sometimes
the end of history…, aka how can you get cheese on toast so wrong
Equus, aka hell yes for Jessica Hung Han Yun’s lighting design
Games for Lovers, aka straight people be crazy
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, aka the one that got my goat
The Girl on the Train, aka Philip McGinley in shorts
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, aka Another Dream? dream on
Uncle Vanya, aka I really need to stop booking for plays like this with casts like that 
Jellyfish, aka justice for the second best play of last year
Sweat, aka Clare Perkins should always be on in the West End
Sue Townsend’s The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 The Musical, aka yay for lovely new musicals in the West End
The Light in the Piazza, aka Molly Lynch fricking nails it
Jesus Christ Superstar, aka was third time the charm?
Continue reading “July theatre round-up”