The Book of Henry (Cinema Review)

12A – 105mins – 2017


 

QUALITY NOT GUARANTEED

After his 2014 indie sleeper hit won him critical acclaim, debuting director Colin Trevorrow was catapulted direct to the major league by being granted the keys to Steven Spielberg’s resurrected dino-franchise. Jurassic World proved such a monster smash (becoming the fourth highest grossing film OF ALL TIME) that Lucasfilm trusted him to close out their Star Wars sequel trilogy.

… Keep Scuttling!

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DOCTOR WHO, 10.4 – “Knock, Knock” (TV Review)

BBC One – 7:20pm – Saturday 6th May 2017

Written by: Mike Bartlett

Directed by: Bill Anderson


INFESTED DIGS

“No living puddles, weird robots or big fish. Just a new house. Nothing scary.”

New student Bill (Pearl Mackie) finds trying to get back to normal life after three weeks of travelling with the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) is more difficult than it sounds. A rattle-bang opening montage shows her and five uni pals struggling to find suitable off campus accommodation to move into, until a suspiciously generous Landlord (David Peter Pan Goes Wrong Suchet) offers them his antiquated manor – replete with out-of-bounds tower – for a hard-to-resist price.

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INSIDE NO. 9, 3.5 – “Diddle Diddle Dumpling” (TV Review)

BBC Two – Tuesday 14th March 2017 – 10pm

Created and written by: Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton

Directed by: Guillem Morales


 

#THELOSTSHOE

“A pair of shoes deserve to be together… have to be… they belong.”

Jogging around the cul-de-sac one Spring morning, husband and father David (Shearsmith) comes across a single black leather shoe, a seemingly random find which turns his and his family’s world upside down. Over the course of the next year, David becomes first distracted then consumed by the mystery of his “odd” procurement: who did it belong to, why was it lost in such a precise location and how can he return it to its other half?

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The Disappointments Room (Film Review)

Image result for the disappointments room15 – 86mins – 2016


THE HORRORS OF NOBILITY

In 2013 Prison Break star Wentworth Miller established himself as a talent behind the camera as well as in front of it when he penned acclaimed cult indie drama Stoker. A year later he co-scribed this promisingly premised supernatural horror with xXx: Return of Xander Cage director D.J. Caruso.

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A Monster Calls (Cinema Review)

Image result for a monster calls film

12A – 108mins – 2017


 

A CONOR CAROL

For a twelve-year-old, Conor O’Malley (Lewis MacDougall) has a lot on his plate: his estranged father (Toby Kebbell) lives in America with his new family; his mother (Felicity Rogue One Jones) is terminally ill, leaving Conor to look after her almost as much as she looks after him; his aloofly strict grandmother (Sigourney Finding Dory Weaver) is threatening to take him away to live in her archaic abode. If all of that wasn’t enough, Conor also has to deal with regular beatings from school bully Harry (James Melville).

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The Woman In Black (Live Review)

Two men in hats, sitting facing each other

Cambridge Arts Theatre – 29th September 2016 – 7.45pm
Based on the novel by: Susan Hill
Adapted by: Stephen Mallatratt
Directed by: Robin Herford
thewomaninblack.com   Tour tickets


 

FRIGHTFUL RECITAL

I have read Susan Hill’s scant-but-spooky ghost story, I have jumped more often than is respectable at Hammer’s 2012 filmic adaptation and I have even watched with utmost curiosity the ITV Christmas drama still unreleased on region 2 DVD. On Thursday night I experienced a fourth incarnation of The Woman In Black in the form of Stephen Mallatratt’s stage show. For 27 years a staple of London’s West End, it is now on tour and playing a week-long residency at Cambridge Arts Theatre.

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Branagh Theatre Live: ROMEO & JULIET (Live Review)

Image result for kenneth branagh romeo and juliet

12A – 210mins – 2016 – B&W


 

THE RO MUST GO ON

The performance last night was preceded by a clearly impromptu card-prompted introduction from Kenneth Branagh which explained Romeo (Richard Madden) had sustained an ankle injury just 48hours prior to this nationwide cinema simulcast (“the perils of live theatre!”). Nevertheless, the Game of Thrones actor was determined to power through this performance, which was part of the Cinderella director’s yearlong Plays at the Garrick season.

Branagh noted a few changes to the staging to better accommodate the lead’s mobility issues, but the show still flowed flawlessly and at no time did it appear the young Montague was in any sort of agony (other than of the heart) – quite remarkable given how he was still gamely dancing and fighting across the stage throughout.

Romeo & Juliet’s tone was set by the monochrome black and white palette, which empathised Branagh’s 1950’s Italian influence on Christopher Oram’s costume and set design. The camera direction on the night by Benjamin Caron was wonderfully dynamic and cinematic in its execution, with crucial scenes even incorporating focus blurs!

Image result for kenneth branagh romeo and juliet

In fact, so polished was the entire production that I almost needed reminding that this wasn’t tirelessly edited together from hours of unusable rehearsal footage; this was happening live, albeit an hour down the road from where I watched it in my local Cineworld. There were no dropped props, fluffed monologues or even winces from the delicate Romeo.

From Lily James’ hopeful and gushing Juliet to Meera Syal’s dryly humorous Nurse, the entire cast were superb – with special mention due to Derek Jacobi’s aged take on Mercutio. In a vox pop screened in the build up to the broadcast Branagh explained his “Wilde” inspiration behind this potentially divisive casting decision, and Jacobi delivered it with spunk and assured nonchalance.

Perhaps it was the lack of Mercutio’s unerring, larger-than-life presence, or the downward spiral of the fleetingly-promising love story, but the second half (following a twenty minute interval in which the camera lingered on a bird’s eye view of the milling Garrick attendees) was far more intense and far less fun than the spirited first. Juliet’s father (Michael Rouse) in particular delivering a shockingly brutal disavowal of his daughter’s protest against an arranged suitor.

Image result for kenneth branagh romeo and julietWhile the delivery of the awkwardly tongue-twisting Shakespearean verse made it impossible not to give the screen your full attention if you intended to stand any chance of following the ups and downs of this tragic tale, your concentration was rewarded with an impressive and immersive theatre experience. Purists may scoff at some of Branagh’s bolder revisions (a club song during the party scene, for instance), but this still retained the heartbreaking soul of the timeless original.

CR@B’s Claw Score: 4 stars