Saturday, February 27, 2010

"Tales From Two Cities"

Over the past days, I've seen 2 films, both with urban settings: in Harlem, NY (the late '80's) AND in Liverpool, UK (PostWar-mid '60's).

"Time And The City" is a film about Liverpool by Terence Davies. It's his personal eulogy to his home city. He's speaking out: he's stressing things we've lost, he's stressing things that replaced them.
It's a tribute to L'pool's past (and clearly his own): to its buildings and streets, its working class men, women and children, its Dockers, its sailors, typists and shopkeepers....even its dogs, who pop constantly from doorways... linger often at derelict corners.

All appear in pictures to, colour...against a backdrop of music, almost TOO rich(?)...popsong to folk song to Bruckner...... with poems and prose read by Davies himself, in deep chocolate-brown tones...brimming with images of a Catholicism he regretted, a sexuality he questioned, a Monarchy he his loss of the sense of Family and Community...their precious place in the world....

ALL THOSE CHANGES, wrought in L'pool over sixty long years....And Davies, of course, reveals much of himself at every turn..

AND SO MUCH TO SEE: Elderly ladies: scrawniest of ankles..dark coated/hatted, whatever season..and always the shopping bag.... the beauty of so-slender street children playing (ragamuffins, my dad would say)...long-legged, sure-footed city kids ... and all that moving kindness exposed ( big sister "minding" little brother ) tatty shops and cramped houses..everywhere a surplus of decency .... amid the constant cleaning of windows, the carrying home of The Wash...the neighbourliness on the spotless step ....the support for each other....the grief, the celebrations...
A film worth every award on the screen.

ALSO saw: "Precious" based on the novel " Push" by Saphire.
It's set in Harlem ('87) home to 16year old Precious, mother of 1 (and mothertobe )...
She's abused by her father, attacked by her mother...She wishes for "a lightskinned boyfriend with real nice hair" ....
She's dark skinned, big eyed, hefty Precious...whose moral code is strong and vibrant, wise and honest (despite all she contends with)...who has friends like crazy Joann (Xosha Roquemar) whose favourite colour is " fluorescent beige"! ...
She's Precious (who says in her eerily wonderful wisdom): " Some folks have a lot of things around them that shines for other people..."
Superb acting from Gabourey Sidibe as Precious , also by BAFTA winning Mo'Nique as her mother, the wicked pathetic Mary.
And of course, there was Mariah Carey, who purposely hadn't "scrubbed up well" ...but looked very well Mrs Weiss, the bigeyed mousily clad social worker..

2 extra special films, leaving my thoughts in Harlem streets and Liverpool yards..

Sunday, February 21, 2010

" Arts And Crafts By The Cheshire Plain"

Mickerloo Arts, situated on The Sandstone Trail, is a superb new gallery, overlooking the Cheshire Plain.
Its position is perfect, as are its views, both from its terrace and from within the gallery itself.
Mickerloo ( specialises in contemporary arts/crafts: top quality goods, which will both delight and impress, displayed in its airy gallery. There are also workshops available for artists/crafts people. And visitors are welcome to watch these artists at work.
ALL THIS in the loveliest of surroundings, with friendly knowledgable chat from the workers : PLUS an onsite cafe called Mamagamas...where the carrot cake we tested was DELICIOUS!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

"Hatching In The Spring..."

Yesterday (as we were staying nearby with my brother and sister-in-law) we visited Stratford to see the renovation of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

Dame Judi Dench ( has she appeared there more than any other living actress, do you think??) says that improvements to the theatre have her full support. And Sir Christopher Bland ( Chairman) says that the best elements of the old theatre will be entwined with the new.

The theatre closed in 2007. The intention is to re-open this Spring, with an auditorium for 1000, plus a stage thrusting out into the audience. They will be seated on 3 sides ( see picture above) and this clearly brings actors/audience closer together, which will be superb for both, I imagine.

OTHER PROMISES: new theatre tower, with viewing platform ( I saw this yesterday)...a Square outside for outdoor productions, better dressing rooms, cramped backstage facilities enlarged/ improved.... also a linking Foyer to RS theatre and The Swan next door.

ALSO IMPT: Apparently many folk expressed concern re losing Art Deco elements: these, they're assured, will be retained. In fact, the fabulous Art Deco detail in the Foyer has been invisible in recent years (due to bustle of crowds) but it's promised that these will now be given prominence. And the amazing Swedish marble fountain staircase will be retained in the new.

It's an exciting project and I think we'll be back to my brother's place 'ere long!!

Monday, February 08, 2010

" A Quick Trip Back..."

We've made some theatre /film trips since Christmas.
These included: The Liverpool Playhouse for a hilarious production of John Buchan's " The 39 Steps" ( directed by Maria Aitken, sister of The More Famous Jonathan.)

A cast of 4 made countless costume changes, scene changes....which a lively audience loved....THIS was fun and games, great for an icy winter evening....when you kept fingers X, hoping your car contained spade, rug, rations....

The show is now touring....taking in places from Cheltenham to M/Ch ( incl Theatr Clwyd locally, from 22:03 to 27:03).....and it's still running meanwhile at The Criterion in the West End.
AND The 39th Step is reached ( boom! boom!) eventually, of course... in Dublin on 05:06. AND it's worth taking the Irish Ferry to see!

ALSO saw " An Education": Nick Hornby's crisp adaptation of Lynn Barber's ( "true", she says) story of her teenage love affair with her wicked Older Man in the very early '60's .

A vastly different setting from Lennon's " Nowhere Boy" ( same era) but equally moving....a tragic/comic concoction of a time now so distant... plus superb Carey Mulligan as lovely Jenny ( academic, naive) with Cara Seymour, Alfred Molina ( awesome as Father!) and a brilliant cameo of a headmistress ( OH YES, I knew one!) played for a mere few minutes by an uptight costumed/ permed/clipped voiced Emma Thompson.

And as for The Older Man ( Peter Sarsgaard)'s very scary when nowadays The Older Man looks virtually the same age as One's Youngest Son.....