Blakeson - Writer

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

Friday, March 29, 2013

Danny Boyle's "Trance"

I’m not one of those people who finds it easy to spot plot-holes in films; the screenplay for “Trance”, however (John Hodge working with Joe Ahearne’s original), piles implausibility upon implausibility with such a gleeful disdain for logic that even I couldn't help but notice that it makes no sense whatsoever. Danny Boyle is one of my favourite directors (although I’ve continued to avoid “127 Hours”, because of, you know, the thing that happens), his style being kinetic without straying into incoherent hyperactivity; thus, in conjunction with cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle, he delivers a visual feast, subtly but propulsively complemented by Rick Smith’s Underworld-esque score. Using an art theft as a hook on which to hang a tale of obsession and vengeance, its central characters are B-movie staples – the unreliable narrator (James McAvoy, mercifully using his own accent), the ruthless gangster (Vincent Cassel), the luscious “is-she-or-isn’t-she” femme fatale (Rosario Dawson); and the story turns on definitions of “hypnosis” and “amnesia” which owe far more to Hollywood than any medical text-book. Despite, or perhaps because of this, “Trance” is a majestically entertaining piece of work, sending the audience down several circuitous garden paths whilst serving us multiple guilty pleasures. An audacious triumph.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

"Oliviaville" - new trailer

Trailer for "Oliviaville". A novella set in the Old West.

Available here and here.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Biffy Clyro at Cardiff Motorpoint Arena

In the five months since I bought my Biffy Clyro ticket, I’d somehow forgotten how much I liked them; it was only hearing their latest single, “Biblical” on the radio in recent weeks that piqued my sense of anticipation, sending me out hopeful of an emotional lift on a cold, wet Friday night.

I arrived in time to catch a few songs from the support act, City and Colour whose name (before I’d done my preparatory on-line research) had conjured up whingeing emo-metal. In contrast, what we got from Canada’s Dallas Green and his four (one presumes) friends was epic, almost old-school rock balladry; melodic, impassioned and rather impressive.

The eventual arrival of the headliners was greeted with a whoop of uncynical delight the like of which I’ve seldom heard at a popular music concert, and one was reminded that this is a band who spent more than a decade building up a passionate following prior to the huge success of their “Puzzle” album (their masterpiece, in my opinion), and the embarrassing if lucrative patronage of Cowell (via the unfortunate Matt Cardle). Indeed, they rewarded their older fans by paying as much attention to their early material (“Justboy”, “Jaggy Snake”, “Glitter and Trauma”) as to their more crowd-pleasing recent hits which, although tending more towards the anthemic, retain Biffy’s adventurous approach to time signatures. This renders drunken swaying a tad trickier than at most gigs, but somehow we managed; there was also much singing along in Scottish accents. On a split-level stage, with creative use of evocative video back-projection, the trio (augmented by keyboards and second guitar) brought out most of the hits (a notable exception being my personal favourite, “Folding Stars” – perhaps an understandable omission, since it’s about a personal bereavement). They even chanced a “diolch yn fawr” or two, which always goes down well in these parts. 100 minutes (plus three encores) of intense, euphoric rock’n’roll on a grand, but still touchingly human scale.

A beautiful night, and one which has prompted me to re-investigate their back-catalogue.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

“The Way Of Water”

The latest in the Welsh Fargo Stage Company's series of “On The Edge” play-readings at Chapter provided a rare opportunity to sample the work of the kind of playwright whose work routinely runs off-Broadway: “The Way Of Water”, by OBIE-Award-winning Caridad Svich; a piece which has received many readings over the past few years, but apparently (and inexplicably) no full productions.

The action focusses on two couples in their thirties, former high-school friends struggling to survive, both physically and financially, in the aftermath of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. Jimmy and Yuki scratch a living from fishing, their wives Rosalie and Neva from handicrafts; all around them people are falling ill, probably (but unprovably) due to contaminated water, and now Jimmy is starting to suffer from seizures…

The writing is poetic in a naturalistic way, apart from a few lapses into monologue (some of which seemed to break the coherence of the piece); the tone is gloomy in terms of politics (lives and communities torn apart by uncaring capitalism) but optimistic re the human spirit – “The Grapes of Wrath” is explicitly referenced. The cast, as usual, is exemplary, director Bethan Morgan encouraging Nick Wayland-Evans to make the most of his imposing physicality in the pivotal role of the broken former wrestling hero Jimmy; Dick Bradnum and Polly Kilpatrick spirited and engaging as Yuki and Rosalie; Rebecca Knowles as the pregnant Neva hinting at a hidden darkness (there is a mention of rehab which is not pursued).
Not exactly a barrel of laughs, but warm, poignant and beautifully realised.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, March 18, 2013

"Native Moments" by Walt Whitman

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, March 11, 2013

"Jazz Fantasia" by Carl Sandburg

Labels: , , , , , ,

Thursday, March 07, 2013

"Mag" by Carl Sandburg

Labels: , , , , , , ,