Yikes it’s been ages since I wrote anything on the site, so here’s a catch up:
Saw an excellent new version of Sunset Boulevard before Christmas at the Comedy Theatre. I’ve long been a fan of the show – I saw the original production at the Adelphi twice and then also on tour in Birmingham. This one is very, very different and far more captivating. Directed by Craig Revel Horwood (he was milling around in the bar with friends on the night we went) the show follows the tradition of the Watermill Theatre in Newbury by having actor/musicians on stage throughout. The original production was all about spectacle, glamour and glitz. This time round it’s dark and claustrophobic which breathes a new lease of life into the show. Highly recommended.
Also before Christmas I saw Tim Minchin at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. My sister had seen him perform in Cheltenham and said I must go and see him. Quite unlike any performer I think I’ve seen before. Definitely not one for a lazy night out – “you mean I’ve got to think about what is being said on stage rather than just laugh along?”. Here’s an example of his brilliance recorded on of the London nights.
In January, I saw previews of Milk and Bolt 3D at BFI Southbank. Both completely wonderful and followed by Q&A with Gus van Sant and John Lasseter. I saw The Times of Harvey Milk documentary at the BFI last year and thought it was amazing. Sean Penn puts in a spellbinding performance.
Finally, this month I took my mum out as a birthday treat to see An Inspector Calls at the Birmingham Rep. I’d seen the production at the NT in the early nineties with Kenneth Cranham as the inspector and remember liking it but I think this production made a much bigger impression. It’s such an amazing show. Not just for the cinematic quality of the staging but the performances are wonderful – the Inspector and Shelia in particular. It’s on tour around the country until June 2009 and I’d urge you to go and see it if you can. Theatre at its absolute best.
This animated feature has been getting rave reviews and after seeing the film yesterday, I can see why. Waltz With Bashir is a fascinating documentary about Ari Folman (Director), piecing together his memories of the 1982 Lebanon War.
The movie is visually stunning and captivated me from start to end. Mixing photorealistic and illustrated elements in the same frame is an interesting style that jarred with me at first but somehow it works. The shocking ending is absolute genius and leaves us in no doubt about the inhumanity of war.
It is 0715hrs on a foggy New York morning in August 1974. 415 metres above a waking city, a 24-year-old Frenchman steps out unannounced onto a wire strung between the twin towers of the World Trade Center.
No, it’s not the opening line of a fictitious screenplay. What became known as ‘The Artistic Crime of the Century’ really happened and Philippe Petit’s story has now been made into a captivating documentary, Man on Wire which opens today in the UK. Last month, I saw a preview at the BFI Southbank which turned out to be an extra special occasion because the man himself was at the screening.
After six years of meticulous planning and two previous wire walks at Notre Dame and Sydney Harbour Bridge under his belt, Philippe and his accomplices managed to sneak their way in to the World Trade Center building disguised as workmen. After hiding overnight, they strung a 43 metre wire between the still-unfinished towers and against all the odds the mission was completed. Not surprisingly, Philippe became an overnight celebrity.
“When I see three oranges, I juggle; when I see two towers, I walk.”
James Marsh’s film takes us on an engrossing and endearing journey towards this extraordinary achievement, although I would say that the distinction between reconstruction and archive footage wasn’t always clear enough for me.
In an entertaining Q&A session after the film, Philippe was asked where he would like to wire walk in London. “On an incline to the London Eye” was his response and I’d certainly like to see that! He was also asked how he felt on September 11th 2001. It was a question that was bound to come up but he graciously declined to answer saying his feelings were private and he didn’t want to taint the moment in time captured by the film.
Go see the movie. It’s the triumph of one man achieving the seemingly impossible and his spirit, tenacity and guts will knock your socks off.