30th Jul2013

Daytona – Theatre

by timbaros


Park Theatre, Clifton Terrace, Finsbury Park, London N4 3JP
To August 18

Maureen Lipman, CBE, British film, theatre and television actress; Harry Shearer, American actor, Spinal Tap member and voice actor for several characters in The Simpsons; and John Bowe, English television and theatre actor most recently seen on stage in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert – together they star in the World Premiere of Oliver Cotton’s play called Daytona in the gorgeous new Park Theatre in Finsbury Park.

Lipman plays Elli, longtime wife to Joe (Shearer). Set in 1986 Brooklyn, they both lead a simple life. Both retired, former accountant Joe still finds time to manage the taxes of one client, while at the same time pursuing his and Elli’s hobby of ballroom dancing. One day there is a knock on the door – Joe’s brother Billy (Bowe), who Joe has not seen in over 30 years. After escaping a concentration camp back in 1945, Joe and Billy found their way to America where they were about to set up a business together before Billy left at the last moment, only now returning. Billy has revelations about his new life (in Daytona, Florida), and more shocking revelations about an old man, a shadow from their shared past that he met just two days ago, and the violence that transpired. This is just the first act. The three actors put in great performances. However, the fourth big star of the show is the Park Theatre.

A stone’s throw away from Finsbury Park tube and train station, and opened in May 2013, the Park Theatre is like an oasis in an area that is still up and coming (or still up but has a long way to come). A multi-leveled glass-fronted building, with several levels including two theatres, an education suite, one bar on the ground floor and another bar upstairs, the Park Theatre also has a gallery. It still looks brand new – you can practically smell the fresh paint. The theatre in which Daytona is playing, called Park 200, is two levels and holds 200 people. The seats on the first level surround the set, making the audience feel part of the production, or at least eavesdropping on a very good and dramatic conversation. The other theatre in the building is Park 90, a smaller theatre that is currently showing Skin Tight, about an ordinary couple with an extraordinary love reliving their darkest secrets, deepest passions and heartbreaking truths.


Daytona can also be caught at the Theatre Royal, Bath (with the same cast), October 14-19.

Review originally published by The American and copyright Blue Edge Publishing Ltd. – click this link to view

29th Jul2013

Laurence Anyways – DVD

by timbaros


Now out on DVD, Laurence Anyways is an epic film that tells the story of Laurence, a writer and college professor, who wants to go from being a man to being a woman.

Set in the 1990s in Montreal, Laurence Anyways is about the struggle Laurence (Melvil Poupaud) and his girlfriend Fred (Suzanne Clement) experience in accepting Laurence’s decision and desire to change his appearance, which causes problems in their marriage.

Over the course of 10 years, we see them desperately trying to hold on to their relationship, with Fred having the hardest time dealing with the situation, even though she loves him with all her heart.

Meanwhile, Laurence slowly transitions, gradually wearing women’s clothes outside of the house. At first, Fred thinks that Laurence is gay, but that is not the case. Laurence simply feels he was born into the wrong body. Eventually, they separate, but then get back together, as Fred feels she really needs to be by his side to support him, such is the love she has for him.

She gives him makeup tips and tells him how to dress, even helping him to buy a wig. But over time she starts feeling neglected and frustrated, and her mother and sister tell her to leave him. Meanwhile, Laurence’s mother, who was never close to her son, has a hard time accepting and listening to Laurence when he breaks the news to her. Their relationship is strained at best, and it is does not help that his boring father, who is home-bound and needs constant attention from the mother, is oblivious to the family issues around him. Eventually she comes around and accepts Laurence as the daughter she never had.

At 161 minutes, Laurence Anyways is not a short film, but every scene, every shot, every word spoken is elegant. The story is extremely crisp, the cinematography very luscious, and the actors are both superb. The story is not only riveting, but the imagery of some of the scenes are in slow motion, and these scenes will take your breathe away. And the final scene, which shows how Laurence and Fred first met, will bring a tear to your eye. Their relationship, trying and tumultuous throughout, is an unforgettable journey.

This is the third film by Director Xavier Dolan, who is only 23 and a former child actor, which shows what kind of immense talent he is. His previous film, Heartbeats, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, and won the top prize of the Official Competition at the Sydney Film Festival, all at the tender age of 20. Laurence Anyways has won the Queer Palm Award and Best Actress for Clement at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, two awards it richly deserved. It also premiered at the London Film Festival in October 2012, and recently was shown at the London Gay & Lesbian Film Festival to much applause. Dolan’s next project will be an adaptation of Michel Marc Bouchard’s play Tom a’ la Ferme.

Laurence Anyways is an amazing film that you owe it to yourself to see.



Review originally posted on Pride Life website -click this link to view

22nd Jul2013

Red 2 Press Conference – Film

by timbaros


Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker and Helen Mirren at today’s press conference for Red 2 – opening on 2 August, 2013

Here are some highlights of the press conference:
Q: Which elements of being an action here that you enjoyed and did you actually drive in Paris?
Mary Louise-Parker: I am a horrible driver and I don’t drive ever and the one scene where the director asked me to drive I drove into a wall and the director put it on a loop and watched it over and over again.
I love doing any scenes with Bruce Willis – that is the best part of the movie. My character is kind of sort of hopeless with action, she fails miserably and it was fun.
Q: When you get a contract for one of these movies that you got to have a regal moment , was some of that stuff ad libbed.
Helen Mirren: I can’t remember how that came about. I think the writers have written it and thought it was very funny, of course, that I would pretend to be the queen, I suggested that it should be a bit of a performance.
Q: Did comic books play a significant part of your childhood? If you were interested in comic books, which ones and why?
Bruce Willis: I am not a comic book guy..
Q: When you do your job, how difficult is it to stay in shape and to do the stunts you need to do?
Willis: I have to think about the food that I eat. I do let the stunt men take over.
Mirren: I was over the moon the first time I got offered the role in Red. Are people giong to think that I sold out but then I thought how incredibly stupid I was and that it was an incredible opportunity to do something that I have never done before. I couldn’t wait to do the second one. All I try to do is mix it up at times. When the penny drops as far as Red concerns I thought it was a perfect opportunity to mix it up, coming off doing The Queen the first queen, brilliant just to jump in the opposite direction.
Willis: I liked to work with this group of actors – we were very fortunate to get Tony Hopkins back.
Q: Why are you thrilled to return?
Parker: I feel like I have gotten luck so many times and I’ve had more than my share.
Mirren: This movie has expanded from the first and they go to incredible locations that they didn’t write me in to. You always learn from the first that the wonderful fully realized quirky characters, and the comedy and the romance and the action. That is the very difficult part to make a film that has genuine romance, great comedy and has a lot of action in it. At the same time, all of these characters are very serious as to who they are and what they do. I think it is just faster and funnier and little more furious then the first one.
Q: Which characters would you like to move visit?
Mirren: Almost all of them I would like to revisit. It is great to play a character that can develop with time, in real time in a way that as you get old the character gets older as theworld around you changes, the character changes – you can only really do that in television There was a character I played many years ago in a film called Cow, a very old movie – a characher Iwould like to revisit now.
Parker: I would like to play this character again. I did a play 17 years ago that I would like to remount – a play called How I Learned to Drive.
Willis: Of all the many rolesyouplayed, which one qwould you return to:
My favorite part of making films is the actual day to day process of getting in front of the camera and trying to make it seem life like, trying to make it funny, trying to make it romantic, and all this i know is a big part of film – sales of it all, the explanation of how we made the move,but my favorite part is actually making the movie.

22nd Jul2013

Summer of Cinema Video – Film

by timbaros



22nd Jul2013

The Frozen Ground – Film

by timbaros



In the 1980s in Anchorage, Alaska, Robert Hansen kidnapped 30 women, then took them into the wilderness where he shot and buried them.

Hansen, who owned a bakery, was a regular family man, with a good-looking wife and two children. Regardless, he stalked the streets of Anchorage for more than 13 years, driving around the city looking for young prostitutes to kill.

The Frozen Ground concentrates on the story of detective Glenn Frothe (called Sargent Jack Halcombe in the film). About to retire, Halcombe believes he can solve the cases of the missing women with an eyewitness to Hansen’s brutality: 17-year-old Cindy Paulson, who was taken from the streets by Hansen, but managed to escape and is now the one person who can put him in jail. Paulson, however, is not the best witness. Unstable, on drugs, and emotionally a wreck, she refuses to engage with Halcombe and the investigation and continues to work as a prostitute. In the meantime, another woman goes missing, and still lurking around the city is Hansen, who spots Paulson and arranges with a local thug to kidnap her.

Will Cindy tell all to Halcombe and help in the capture of Hansen? Or will Hansen get to Paulson first and add another murder to his list?

Films based on actual events tend to get dramaticised for the big screen, so it not really clear how much of this film is the actually true. Nicolas Cage plays Halcombe, the detective with children himself, who doesn’t want to see another young woman killed. Vanessa Hudgens, in her first dramatic role in a film, is able enough to pull off Paulson, one minute speaking like the young woman she, and the next minute having a breakdown. It is John Cusak, however, who steals this movie. His Hansen is so cold, so brutal, so cunning, that we believe someone who looks like Cusak could be a serial killer. Furthermore, Cusak and the real Hansen look eerily alike. Hansen was a normal family guy living a secret life, a secret life so sordid and horrible, it is hard to believe a man like him existed.

For those curious, Robert Hansen was convicted in 1983 and is currently serving 461 years in prison. He is now 74-years-old, and will die in prison, because Alaska does not have the death penalty.

Review originally posted on Hereisthecity.com – click on this link to view

21st Jul2013

Private Lives – Theatre

by timbaros


The play Private Lives has more lives than a cat. Written by Noel Coward in the 1920s, it had its debut at London’s Phoenix Theatre in 1930 to rave reviews, and starred Coward and Laurence Olivier. The next year it opened on Broadway. 83 years later, Private Lives is still making the rounds, now at The Gielgud Theatre, and again, it is a hit.

The story is a very simple one. Newlyweds Elyot and Sibyl (Toby Stephens and Anna-Louse Plowman) are on a hotel balcony in Deauville talking about their future together, and discussing Elyot’s previous marriage. In the room next door to them are Amanda and Victor (Anna Chancellor and Anthony Calf), also newlyweds enjoying one of their first nights together. Separating both couples on the balcony is a small partition, and wouldn’t you know it: Elyot and Amanda used to be married, and in a very volatile relationship.

After arguing with their respective partners over very minor matters, Amanda spots Elyot on his balcony. Coy, shy and nervous at first, Amanda speaks to Elyot and not too long later, jumps over the partition to be with him. They share a drink, reminisce about their marriage, have a few laughs, and before you know it, they decide in a ‘will they or won’t they’ moment, to run off together to Paris where Amanda has a flat that her new husband knows nothing about.

Once in the flat, they act like honeymooners all over again, loving and laughing, and then arguing and fighting, just as they did when they were previously married. Finally, they have their biggest fight and things could not get any worse, and in walk Amanda and Victor. The fighting between Elyot and Amanda continues, and also ensues between Elyot and Sibyl and Victor and Amanda. Who is going to end up with whom? You have to wait until the end to find out.

Considering that Private Lives has played in the West End several times in the past 13 years (most recently at the Vaudeville Theatre in 2010 with Kim Cattrall and Matthew Macfadyen), this version of the play, a transfer from the Chichester, has opened to rave reviews and will be talked about for years to come.

Chancellor upstages everyone in the cast; she can tell a joke, pout when needed, give out a big laugh when necessary, and dance and flail her arms memorably. Her chemistry with Stephens is very palpable, very real, that it makes it believable that she could fall in love with him all over again. Her eyes flutter, her gowns (and robe) drape over her like she is a star, and a star she is. Stephens is able, somewhat, to keep up with her, firstly as the man whose second wife is seven years younger than him, to believably falling back in love with his ex-wife, smouldering in one moment and then vile the next. Calf and Plowman are second fiddles to the main two actors. They are able enough, but this is Chancellor’s show, and they know it.

The set design, by Anthony Ward, is luscious. The balcony in the first act is gorgeous, but when the play switches to the Paris flat, we see exactly what we expect: a flat decorated in French style, from the checkerboard floor to the paintings on the wall, very detailed and lovely to look at. The script is funny, witty, dramatic; all you could ask for in a Noel Coward play.

Given the fact that everyone who watches this play has a great time, it should be no surprise Private Lives is still going strong, some 70 years after it began.


Review originally published by The American and copyright Blue Edge Publishing Ltd. – please click on this link to view

21st Jul2013

Behind the Candelabra – Film

by timbaros


Despite featuring Hollywood heavyweights Matt Damon and Michael Douglas, Behind the Candelabra, just released in UK cinemas, was deemed ‘too much’ for release in US theatres. It premiered on pay cable channel HBO at the end of May, where it is still showing.

Director Steven Soderbergh came up with the idea for the film in 2000, which is based on Scott Thorson’s 1988 memoir, Behind the Candelabra: My Life With Liberace. Douglas and Damon signed on in 2008 as Liberace and Thorson, respectively. But as no Hollywood studio wanted to finance it, it was picked up by HBO and shot on a budget of $23 million over thirty days in 2012.

The film is not a complete biography of both of them, but focuses more on Thorson’s relationship with Liberace. It was a secret relationship, as Liberace tried to pass himself off as straight to keep up his appeal with his legion of female fans. It was not until after their relationship ended (1982) that Scott sued Liberace, filing a $113 million palimony lawsuit against him. They settled out of court for a measly $75,000.

Liberace died of AIDS in 1987 at the age of 67, after reconciling with Thorson earlier that year. Liberace’s doctor said his death was caused by heart disease, though later, the Riverside, California coroner stated there had been a deliberate attempt to hide the actual cause of death, and it was ruled that the star died due to complications of AIDS. In life and even in death, Liberace did not want to make it known that he was gay.

Michael Douglas plays Liberace to perfection, with the flamboyance and flair of the man himself. And Damon is perfect as Thorston, with blonde hair, a handsome face, a muscular body, and a touch of youthful innocence.

Behind the Candelabra starts out as we see Thorson, living with his adopted parents in California, going to see Liberace perform in Las Vegas with a mutual friend, Hollywood producer Bob Black (Scott Bakula). Going backstage after the show, Thorson is introduced to Liberace, who immediately takes a liking to the young man. Liberace invites Thorson over to his opulent and luxurious home, inhabited by a soon-to-be former live-in lover, a few maids, a few dogs, and a very effeminate male servant wearing tight white jeans, who offers Thorson pigs in a blanket while holding the tray near his crotch.

Liberace’s interest peaks even more when Thorson tells him that he likes to be around animals and wants to be a veterinarian. One of Liberace’s dogs is sick, so Thorson offers to get some medication that will cure the dog. And this kicks off their relationship. Soon enough, Liberace asks Thorson to move in with him, to become his right hand man, companion, chauffeur, stage hand, and most importantly, lover.

During their tumultuous six-year relationship (1977-1983), Liberace has Thorson undergo plastic surgery so he looks more like him, and goes under the knife himself so he looks younger. (Rob Lowe plays the plasticky plastic surgeon in a performance you will likely not forget!). He also has Thorson appearing with him on stage, as well as selling souvenirs to the fans. Being with one of the world’s leading entertainers and living the millionaire lifestyle of expensive clothes, flashy jewelry, while realizing that Liberace still has an eye for the cute, younger boys, causes Thorson to turn to drugs. His dependence on cocaine and erratic behaviour helps bring on the end of their relationship.

If it weren’t for Douglas’ and Damon’s performances, this film could have wound up as just another film for a gay audience. But they both completely pull off their roles, especially Douglas, who has experience playing a gay man (he was in an episode of Will & Grace where he played a gay cop who takes a liking to Will). Douglas is Liberace, right down to his lisp, his facial expressions, his on stage presence, and his eyes. His whole demeanor is Liberace.

And indeed, Douglas and Damon do kiss each other in this film, many times, and they have several scenes where both are in bed before and after a sex session, and they have quite a few naked hot tub sessions as well. (Luckily we don’t get to see Douglas’s arse, but are gifted with a few scenes of seeing Damon naked from behind.) A very sharp, not-too-serious, and semi-dramatic by screenplay by Richard LaGravenese, with surprise appearances by Debbie Reynolds as Liberace’s mother and Dan Ackroyd as his manager, round out an exceptionally good film.

As Liberace says in the film, “I love to give people a good time.”

Appropriately, Behind the Candelabra is a good time.