Blakeson - Writer

Cardiff-based film, theatre and gig reviews, cultural ramblings, whingeing, short films, etc.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Watchmen, and that

I wandered into Zack Snyder’s “Watchmen” adaptation, without any prior knowledge of the graphic novel, other than that gleaned during the marketing push, and vague snippets picked up over the years. I enjoyed it rather more than I expected to, given that some critics had complained of longueurs (although these seem to be the kind of critics who find long stretches of non-CGI-enhanced dialogue somehow offensive). The use of a non-A-list cast meant that the fate of the characters was unpredictable, and the dingy 1980’s look was very evocative, especially when contrasted with the shiny sci-fi elements. Some interesting philosophical points as well, e.g. how much easier it is to be yourself when you’re being somebody else, sacrificing the few to protect the many, etc.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a premiere screening of “Zig Zag Love”, a film for BBC Scotland produced by members of the “Tracy Beaker” team. Like a lot of writer Mary Morris’ work, it deals with challenged young people struggling to live “normal” lives, and it was tear-jerking stuff, with lots of effective comic moments and an excellent cast. The evening provided much opportunity to ponder on why such initiatives are not happening here in Wales.

This last weekend, I was part of a workshop at London’s Soho Theatre, organised by the Arts Council of England’s Young People’s Participatory Theatre project, looking, along with a group of c.17-22 year-olds with an interest in the performing arts (and YOCA), at ways of creating a piece of theatre, utilising verbatim elements, which looks at the “gangs/guns/knives” issue, without producing the kind of preachy or despairing tract which people might go to see out of guilt or duty. I’m not sure that we came to any solid conclusions, but it was certainly very stimulating.

The mystery of a payment I received from BBC Radio Cymru for a broadcast from the 2008 National Eisteddfod has been solved – it turns out that Sion Ifan won the Richard Burton Memorial Prize for dramatic performance using an extract from my play “Giant Steps” (as well as one by Dafydd Huws, who filled me in). Glad to be of service.

Sad to hear of the tragic death of Natasha Richardson. She was particularly impressive in Volker Schlonforff's adaptation of Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale", and Paul Schrader's "Patty Hearst". Respect is due.


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