Blakeson - Writer

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

Thursday, September 27, 2012

"Before It Rains"

The latest play I’ve been able to get to see for free under the auspices of the British Theatre Guide was Katherine Chandler’s “Before It Rains”, at the Sherman Cymru; about a mother and son on a Cardiff council estate who get entangled with a thuggish youth. Transcending “broken Britain” clichés, it’s a visually arresting, sharply written piece, full of tension, and very well acted (by Lisa Palfrey, Craig Gazey and Harry Ferrier) – full review here. A bonus was that the programme included the full text of the rehearsal draft, which is always welcome. Another bonus was a free glass of wine in the foyer afterwards – much needed.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

"To Rome With Love"

To Rome With Love”, the latest film from Woody Allen, is all over the place, but still somehow glorious.  It consists of four stories, intertwined in the telling, but connected only by their setting amongst sumptuously photographed Roman cityscapes:-  a rural couple on honeymoon get separated and caught up in big city shenanigans; a young man contemplates an affair with his girlfriend’s best friend, watched over by an imaginary (mostly) mentor; an office-worker suddenly finds himself famous for no apparent reason; an opera-director discovers a new tenor who can only sing whilst in the shower. It comprises many familiar elements (neurotics, pseudo-intellectuals, femmes fatales, overly sensible wives, cheerful prostitutes; absurd situations, virtuoso agonising) and is populated by Allen regulars (Judy Davis, Alec Baldwin, Woody himself), newcomers (Greta Gerwig, Jesse Eisenberg, Ellen Page), and a raft of amusing Italian character actors (most notably Roberto Benigni). None of the stories stands up to logical scrutiny, and the well-worn theme seems to be that life is all about vague contentment, ideally punctuated by brief, joyful adventures (celebrity, artistic achievement, casual adultery etc.). It is consistently entertaining, however, constantly keeping the audience guessing. Probably not a work of genius, but Allen’s class is undeniable.  Plus, there’s Penelope Cruz in a tiny red dress, which can only be a good thing.

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

My e-Book Trailers on Youtube

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Noel Gallagher / Graham Coxon

North and South Korea may still be at war 60-plus years on, but the news is brighter over here, where a truce has formally been called – yes, the Brit-Pop War of 1995 is finally over, signalled by Graham Coxon’s support set on Noel Gallagher’s brief UK Autumn 2012 tour, which called in at the Cardiff Motorpoint Arena. Obviously it was a sell-out despite the hefty ticket price – never having seen either Oasis or Blur in the flesh, I figured it was a worthwhile investment.

Coxon and his five young musicians went for the lo-fi wall of noise approach, with, on occasion, a four-guitar assault going on; starting out with some more obscure material which seemingly failed to energise the crowd, by the time he got into the singles from “A+E” and the classic “Freaking Out”,  everyone seemed to have warmed up. Then, after 40 minutes, he was gone.

The reliably affable Gallagher’s approach was somewhat less low-key, his four-piece backing band (“The drummer’s a [expletive deleted] Welsh!”), augmented by a horn section and the Crouch End Festival Chorus, not to mention the artfully managed big screens and spectacular light show. The set leant heavily on the triumphant debut solo album, bringing some of the less-heralded songs to life, to the extent that one felt he might have performed extended versions without losing the sing-along element. And there were Oasis classics, though not as many as might have been expected – “Whatever”, “Half A World Away”, an acoustic “Supersonic”. Nothing by Beady Eye, though. And, predictably perhaps, it was “Don’t Look Back In Anger” which sent the boisterous crowd out into the night, still singing.

A thoroughly enjoyable evening.

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