Blakeson - Writer

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

Monday, February 24, 2014

Hijinx etc

Last week, I was invited, on behalf of the British Theatre Guide, to attend a day-long showcase of short pieces from Hijinx Theatre Company. Called “pods”, they're designed to be pieces which can be toured to venues of various kinds on a “pick’n’mix” basis – a laudably inventive approach to challenging financial circumstances. Rather fun, although seeing all five in a row was a little wearing. Perhaps the most conventionally entertaining was “Snoutology For Beginners” (an academic seminar supposedly conducted by dogs). I can’t make an objective assessment of Mr and Mrs Clark’s “The Waiting Room”, since I was one of the audience members called into the performance area to take part; quite fun, even if the memory now causes me to perspire.

That same evening, I attended a Writers’ Guild-hosted meeting of dramatists at all levels of experience, led by Tim Price, discussing the state of new theatre writing in Wales – uncertain given the lack of funding as a whole, and events at Sherman Cymru in particular. Depressing and stimulating in equal measure, providing hope that we can move forward constructively if we create a mutually supportive environment. Our “plight” was put into perspective, somewhat, when a group of exiled Turkish theatre-makers, led by Memet Ali Alabora and Meltem Arikan (coincidental invitees of Tim’s) discussed the danger they’d found themselves in, having produced a play, “Mi Minor”, which was critical of their government. 

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014


Despite the fact that Spike Jonze directed one of my favourite films of all time - the remarkable “Being John Malkovich” - I’ve been lukewarm about much of his other output (e.g. “Adaptation”), and almost didn’t bother to go and see “Her”. It turns out that this would have been highly regrettable, since it’s a fine piece of work.

Joaquin Phoenix stars as Theodore Twombly, a heart-broken divorcee, who downloads a new computer operating system, Samantha, played by a husky-voiced Scarlet Johansson, and begins a romantic relationship with her. Set in a near-future Los Angeles with all-pervasive wi-fi, a world in which everyone is constantly communicating with strangers only they can hear, it’s clever, moving, and sweetly funny, with excellent performances: Phoenix playing wounded and vulnerable, Amy Adams as his empathetic best friend, Rooney Mara as the unhappy ex-wife, Olivia Wilde as a would-be lover who takes offence at his emotional unavailability. The visuals are impressive (as might be expected from one of the great pop video-makers), and the interaction between Samantha and Twombly (and others – a scene with his young god-daughter is especially charming) is cleverly handled - apparently Samantha Morton played the heroine on-set, only to be replaced in post-production. The score, by Owen Pallet and Arcade Fire is sensitive and unintrusive.

Both main characters develop throughout the piece, Twombly reconnecting with his emotions and Samantha prompted to embark on her own journey of self-discovery. Jonze (who also wrote the screenplay) could probably have cut 20 minutes or so of picturesque musing, but “Her” is a beautiful, emotionally satisfying piece of work.

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Saturday, February 08, 2014

"Say It" - stills gallery.

The short film I wrote for the It's My Shout/Made In Wales scheme went out on BBC2 Wales last November. Cinematographer Mei Lewis has been kind enough to send out the stills from the shoot; I've taken the liberty of making a slideshow of them.

"Say It" - Image Gallery from OTHNIEL SMITH on Vimeo.

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Thursday, February 06, 2014


My latest short film, based on a piece from The Poetry Storehouse; written and narrated by Kristin LaTour. As always, the images are taken from the public domain Internet Archive; the vintage glamour model is Adele Dolman.

"Littoral" by Kristin LaTour from OTHNIEL SMITH on Vimeo.

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