Blakeson - Writer

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

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

"Under The Skin"

Jonathan Glazer’s “Under The Skin” is almost exactly like those experimental pieces from the 1970s, funded by the British Film Institute, which one reads about but no-one has ever actually seen – about an alien who assumes humanoid form in order to wander the Earth, experiencing what it is to be human. Except that the space-creature is played by a major Hollywood star, and there are some queasily eye-catching special effects.

Scarlet Johanssen is predictably magnetic as the sexy visitor, driving around Glasgow, picking up unsuspecting lone males and luring them to a bizarre fate, in what is apparently a loose adaptation of Michael Faber’s novel (see the April 2014 issue of Sight And Sound for a fascinating feature piece, which also elucidates the improvisatory nature of some of the encounters). Just when it looks as though things are starting to get predictable, the narrative (such as it is) takes a turn, we find ourselves in the Scottish countryside, and the previously self-assured alien grows steadily unhappier.

The pace is somewhat leisurely, and no context or explanation is given. The visuals are impressively murky, as is Mica Levi’s discordant orchestral score. One suspects that the whole thing will lose much of its allure on the small screen, but it’s certainly a bold, haunting, trippy adventure.

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Monday, March 24, 2014

"Telly Hunnies"

Flash fiction, available to read on Readwave. May contain nudity.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

"The Grand Budapest Hotel"

Wes Anderson’s “The Royal Tenenbaums” is one of my favourite films of recent years; I also enjoyed his “The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou”. I’m less fond, however, of “The Darjeeling Limited” and “Fantastic Mr Fox”, his playfulness as a filmmaker sometimes tending to undermine the acuteness of his focus on troubled individuals.

His latest work, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, is certainly playful, with its flashbacks within flashbacks, cartoonish interludes, McGuffin-based plot and multitude of star names in small roles. Inspired by the work of Stefan Zweig (with whose work I am unfamiliar), it plays like a picaresque Cold War-era Middle European novel as adapted into a crazy Hollywood comedy from the 1930s.

Ralph Fiennes is a comic revelation as the suave concierge of the titular establishment, and amongst those cast members who are allowed more than cameos, Willem Dafoe and Saoirse Ronan shine especially. Some reviews are suggesting that the film is little more than a clever confection, but one doesn’t have to dig too deeply to uncover a meditation on friendship, loneliness and loyalty. It’s a meticulously crafted joy.

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Sunday, March 09, 2014

"Contractions" / Moving Poems Interview

I went to see the Welsh premiere of Mike Bartlett’s brutal corporate satire “Contractions” at Chapter, reviewing it for the British Theatre Guide. Another small company successfully getting bums on seats by importing a play by a trendy writer from elsewhere in the UK, but one can’t complain about the quality of the production.

The website Moving Poems has published an e-mail interview which I gave to Nic Sebastian, of the website The Poetry Storehouse, whose contents, contemporary poems made available for creative remix, I’ve used in my filmmaking. Jolly fun.

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