Saturday, 26 May 2012

What to expect when you're expecting (Film)

One thing that struck me was that there are sooo many big names in this film! It's not even a blockbuster...

The film's for a laugh, sure, but there are moments where you really think 'Ohhh... so that's what it's like?' I'm sure things have been blown up for comical effect but there's still a ring of truth in it. Parenthood is a bit scary, me thinks. But of course, like some guy says in the film, despite all the sacrifices that can be detrimental to the core of your being, parenthood is still something no one would want to swap for anything else in the world. I don't have to be a parent to see how true this is. :)

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Infinite Riches @ Old Red Lion

Was a bit disappointed by the performance this time - the story's a bit forced, and the acting's also not the greatest I've seen even in a small theatre like the Old Red Lion. We've seen quite a number of performances here, including The Importance of Being Earnest, Happy New and Playing Pinter which I didn't write about coz I just didn't get it (and didn't like it) at all. To me, the Old Red Lion seems to be an experimental theatre that showcases really small productions, most of which cannot make it to a bigger theatre (The Importance of Being Earnest being an exception coz it's exceptionally good - I think it's now showing in the West End!).

Infinite Riches has a simply storyline - a guy named Phil is in serious financial trouble, and it doesn't help that his plant-crazy and possibly mentally ill wife is obsessed with buying rubbish from pound shops. For some weird reason he then takes up a loan from the nan of a girl he meets at the park, and of course that's where the trouble begins. Basically the whole play's full of sick people - Phil who doesn't seem to have a will of his own as he seems to succumb to other people's wishes every single time; his wife who's obsessed with personified plants and pound shopping; the 'nan' who's not really the girl's nan but a child kidnapper; and the girl who is a habitual shoplifter, who also helps her nan in various delinquent deeds... and what's the point of the whole play? I suppose it's about how many people are in debt these days, and how it's like a tunnel with no end to it. But such a simple message isn't even conveyed properly in the play, in my opinion. The characters are just sick, and there is no way to explain sick people's behaviour. They're also so unbelievable as characters that you don't really care what happens to them.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

The Dictator

Nothing much to say about this film, other than that it's hilarious (as expected) and at so many levels politically incorrect (also as expected)! But it's Sacha Baron Cohen so what do you expect... ;)

The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists @ Hackney Empire

Saw this musical some time ago and it's quite interesting - interesting in the sense that it's quite different from the usual musicals, as the actors come out from all directions and sometimes they act 'off-stage' as well. The performance is based on Robert Tressell's novel of the same title, depicting a group of painters who are allegedly so blind about the inequality thrust upon them that they think it is alright for them to receive un-liveable wages (think London minimum wage?), therefore reinforcing the status quo, and that's why they're branded 'philanthropists' satirically by the author. I haven't read the book myself but I read that it's actually set in an English town, so I suppose it's quite heavily adapted in the Isango Ensemble performance, as the setting's changed to South Africa and the group of painters being exploited are all black. That adds a layer of colonialism to the original story, and I think that's what makes the performance a bit problematic. The focus becomes heavily racial, especially in the slides showing pictures of black 'philanthropists' and their white employers. I don't know what to make of this adaptation, as it's surely very different from the original story. I think it'd be much better to read the book first and compare it with Isango Ensemble's adaptation, that would make a very interesting contrast!

The Raid - sooooo good I couldn't believe it!

Anyone who knows me knows I'm not a big fan of action films. Call me whatever you want, but I think action films are mainly for guys, so I wasn't super excited to see this one. But I'm so glad I saw it! It's so good 'as an action film', though (or precisely because?) it's super bloody, literally. I was covering my ears and squinting my eyes throughout those 100 minutes, but still I have to say it's a really good one, though I just couldn't take in all that bloodiness and violence! And after the film when we were walking out of the cinema, I felt like I had done a whole day's manual work and I was totally knackered... soooo tense, I could fall asleep right there!
Iko Uwais has been compared to other famous kung-fu stars in Asia and he's really good.  There's one thing I don't understand about the film though; basically it centres upon the corruption in the Indonesian police force, and I'm not sure why / how such a film can make it so big internationally without the Indonesian government's censorship! Or perhaps it was banned in Indonesia and is only sold overseas? No idea...

Friday, 11 May 2012

The Duchess of Malfi @ The Old Vic

Saw The Duchess of Malfi last night, and I so, so regret not reading the play before going. It's only when I came back from the performance and googled it that I could fully understand the whole thing. I blame it on education (haha) - I didn't study it when I was at school but apparently many Britons (and Americans?) did, as I could find lots of study materials on the play. ;) Basically it's a 1600's play and I just can't understand the language if I haven't read the play before (the same goes with Shakespeare!). The performance was really good, and we were particularly impressed by the lighting and staging - it's really nicely done and enhances the mystery and horror of many scenes in the play. Regrettably, the audience didn't seem to be hugely impressed (judging from the applause at the end of the performance), and again I blame it on the language. I don't know if Britons can generally understand early modern English, but my guess is that most people would find it difficult if not impossible to understand everything. Not sure if I'm right though.

Globe to Globe 2012 @ Shakespeare's Globe

The Globe to Globe festival showcases 37 Shakespearean plays in 37 languages. I saw two of them, the Cantonese Titus Andronicus and the Hip-hop Othello. It's the first time I saw a performance at the Globe, and although it's not the 'original' Globe Theatre, it's still quite an experience!

The Cantonese one was much better in my opinion, and I guess it has to do with our 'location' and the language. We were at the yard, so we were really close to the stage (second 'row' if you can call it that), and though I had to stand for 2 hours for the performance, I think it's totally worth it. The performing group was from HK, and it's really good. A friend of mine told me that the same play's staged in HK previously, but I bet you can't get tickets closest to the stage at 5 quid? ;)

One interesting thing is that there were quite a lot of Westerners at the performance. I can understand those who went with Cantonese-speaking friends and family, but quite a lot were on their own. I don't think they understood anything, as there were only very brief scene descriptions throughout the play. :(

Had never seen a Tang Shu-wing Theatres Studio performance before, but this one's really good! Will keep my eyes peeled for future performances when I'm in HK! 

The stage

Ooops, a bit blurry but the pic shows the galleries at the Globe 

A really good performance! 

The Hip-hop one, to be honest, was a bit disappointing. Of course the fact that it's heavily adapted and in hip-hop means that it's quite a far cry from the original Othello, but I was still disappointed. My friend and I were sitting at the upper gallery (we got tickets too late...) and were really far away from the stage, therefore making it quite hard to hear exactly what's being 'sung' / rapped.

Soul Sister @ Hackney Empire

Saw Soul Sister quite some time ago and for some reason I just forgot to write about it. To be honest, I'm not a Tina Turner fan, and I don't know any of her songs (Yep, honest!)... so the musical's probably not as impressive for me as it is for Tina's fans.

It basically tells the story of Tina Turner's life, and focuses quite a lot on her turbulent relationship with her husband. I am quite astonished to know that despite his many affairs, she didn't divorce him - it's kind of 'explained' in the musical but still, I'm puzzled. The leading actress is quite good though she didn't seem to be too ready in the first few songs. It's an okay performance but I don't think it would have an impact on you unless you're a Tina fan.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Love 愛 2012

Watched this with a bunch of Taiwanese friends and nobody liked the film. They all thought the different sub-plots are silly and some of the lines are kind of cheesy too. I think it's quite similar to a lot of Chinese / Hong Kong / Taiwanese films in recent years in that they all try to tell a story with different interconnected stories, but perhaps the stories themselves all seem kind of unreal, because they're all underdeveloped. The ending isn't too bad though, but the surreal-ness is still hard to neglect. Not too bad if you're just watching a DVD but definitely not worth a trip to the cinema.

The King's Speech @ The Wyndham's Theatre

The play claims to be 'the original play that started it all' - but I guess most people get to know about The King's Speech because of the highly acclaimed film starring Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush, and I'm no exception. The film's just really good and it's hard to surpass it, but the theatre version is equally good if not better, in my opinion. Some scenes are almost identical to the ones in the film, but there are more details about the war, for example, and the background of the Logues. It's interesting that the casting very much resembles that of the film, perhaps it's because it's based on real people and close likeness is important?
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