30th Sep2015

Kinky Boots (Theatre)

by timbaros

Prod_12It’s a huge hit on Broadway and it’s now finally opened in London. ‘Kinky Boots’ is in the house!

If the name rings a bell, it’s because ‘Kinky Boots’ was a 2005 film about a struggling shoe factory about to go out of business until they change their product line and start making boots that are sexy, and, literally, not worn by the everyday woman. The musical version of ‘Kinky Boots’ follows the same story, but it’s got a book by Harvey Fierstein (Torch Song Trilogy and La Cage Aux Folles – books he also wrote), music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper (‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’), and choreography by Jerry Mitchell (The Full Monty and Hairspray). That’s a lot of power and muscle behind a show, and it works, to a degree. (The show won six Tony Awards).

Killian Donnelly (the breakout star of The Commitments and co-star of Memphis) easily and comfortably plays Charlie Price, whose late father leaves him his shoe factory in Northhampton. It’s losing money, and Price might be forced to close it down, something that would make his London-bound fiancee Nicola (Amy Ross) happy. By chance, he comes to the aid of a drag queen who is being beaten up in a park. The Drag queen, Lola, played very ably and loudly by Matt Henry, is grateful to Price for saving him. But their meeting turns into a business relationship where Lola plants the idea into Price’s head to have his factory make Kinky Boots – boots for him and his fellow drag queens – boots that are big, flashy and preferably red! And eventually Lola gives up her life (and leaves her fellow drag queens) in London to go up north to help in the factory to lead in the design of some Kinky Boots. But he’s not too accepted in a town and factory where no drag queen has walked in heels before. Even though he’s dressed as a man, some of the other workers make fun of him, especially Don (Jamie Braughan), who challenges Lola to a boxing match. Of course, conflict and arguments take place between Price and Lola, and Lola decides that she’s had enough of the northerners and heads back down to London. Meanwhile, Price is being wooed by one his employees – Lauren (Amy Lennox – wonderful) But it’s bad timing as Price is about to show his latest models of shoes at a Milan fashion show – he’s got no Lola, no models, and tons of shoes that need to be worn.

And you can only guess what will happen next. To say this show is predictable is an understatement. While there are no surprises in the plot, it’s the music that raises the show up a notch or two. Lauper has injected her personality into songs that only she can write – when all the actors sing ‘Everybody Say Yeah’ – it’s a song that will stick in your head for the rest of the night – in a good way. And of course each actor has their own song moment – Donnelly sings his heart out in ‘Soul of a Man’ while Lola is given ‘Hold Me In Your Heart’ – a song that highlights his very deep baritone voice in a soulful way (it sounds a bit like the song in Dreamgirls – ‘And I am Telling you I’m not Going.’ If there’s one person who steals the show it’s Lennox – she’s hysterical in the role of Price’s colleague who pines for him while he’s focused on keeping the business afloat. Production values are fine – the set morphs from factory to the fashion show. For me it’s the drag queens that make this show good – their sparkling clothing and sass and attitude and sequins are just right – for without them ‘Kinky Boots’ wouldn’t be so Kinky at all.

30th Sep2015

Wasp (DVD)

by timbaros

Still5A gay couple and a jilted woman spend a weekend together in a house in Provence. It’s a triangle that becomes messy, in the new film ‘Wasp.’

Olivier (Simon Haycock) and James (Hugo Bolton) have been together for a year. Caroline (Elly Condron), a college friend of James, has just been dumped by her French boyfriend of 3 years. So James invites Caroline to spend the week with him and Olivier in a house that belongs to Olivier’s family. It’s a beautiful house, typical French Chateau, with an outdoor pool, a trampoline in the backyard, and amazing views of the valley. Olivier is a privileged man; he’s 30, handsome, has a great job, and comes from a well-off family. And he’s got a younger goodlooking trophy boyfriend in James. He also used to sleep with woman.

So the tension, not just sexual but all sorts, builds up as the week progresses. Caroline hears Olivier and James having sex upstairs, yet she’s vulnerable and feels a bit left out.

Olivier starts noticing Caroline more and more. He steals glances at her from across the pool, and Caroline notices. She plays it up, teases Olivier, until James realizes what is happening right in front of him. And the relationship between all three of them may never be the same again.

Director/Writer Phillippe Audi-Dor makes an auspicious debut film. His style of long shots of various places and objects (wasps being one of them) brings out the beauty of the locale, as well as helps to build up and sustain tension between the three characters. Audi-Dor begin filming ‘Wasps’ just four months after graduating from film school, and what an impressive debut it is. And while the films winds down with a very melodramatic ending, ‘Wasps’ is an impressive filmmaking debut with a just as impressive cast.

‘Wasp’ is now available on DVD.

27th Sep2015

Life (Film)

by timbaros

HZF_uexF8QrZYnDZcSa-WdNUBu8pYTVlXM5HAij5in4,VniSXrFWzOgU9j_7VfteG73hh4ITPq7KEpC0V1WykJI,qER7NTxGLmoqLqUSs4RE-Xo_xYRjRiw08xfVDNmQOJwThere’s a famous photograph of James Dean in Times Square taken by Dennis Stock. It is now a movie called ‘Life.’

The photo, taken in 1955, shows James Dean, cigarette in his mouth, head tilted towards the ground, the billboards of Times Square in the background, dark clouds overhead, made the cover of Life Magazine. It also made Stock’s career.

So ‘Life’ the movie is all about that photograph, and the events leading up to, and after, that photograph was taken. It’s also a buddy movie: one man on the cusp of celebrity, another man trying to capture him while struggling make it as a photographer and to also spend time with his young son, with an un-cooperative ex-wife. Stock (Robert Pattison) is tasked with an assignment: to do a photo essay on an unknown actor. So he’s introduced to James Dean (Dane DeHaan) at a party, where he’s also introduced to a young Natalie Wood (Lauren Gallagher). Dean in on the cusp of fame – his first film – East of Eden – was yet to be released. So Dean agrees to have Stock follow him around to get some shots. The first are rejected by his editor – who wants to see hazy shots of an unknown actor boozing it up in a club with Eartha Kitt (Kelly McCreary)? Stock thinks about taking another job, this one in Japan, but he decides to stay in New York and gets back together again with Dean, and on the spur of the moment that famous Times Square photograph is taken. Not to end there, ‘Life’ takes us with Dean and Stock to Dean’s hometown in Indiana. There is where Dean feels most at home, and comfortable; with family, aunt and uncle and Grandma and nephew (his mother died when he was nine and his father sent him to Indiana to live with them). More famous photographs are taken there; Dean with his nephew, Dean on the farm, Dean in the kitchen; these photos would become part of the Life Magazine photo essay. And that’s the movie.

As you can second guess, there’s not much of a story to build on. ‘Life’ is not only about the photographs, it’s also about the relationship between these two men and especially the trust Stock builds with Dean. But ‘Life’ is boring, with stale dialogue, and with acting that is quite lifeless. Pattison is fine as Stock, but DeHaan, even though he has hair that looks identical to Dean’s, just doesn’t bring the right energy and sparkle that we can presume Dean had. Ben Kingsley, however, is excellent as Jack Warner – the man who guided Dean’s career. And while the period details (clothes, cars, hairstyles) are fine, it’s the story that is not a very exciting one and is not enough to warrant a 110-minute film. Director Anton Corbijn just doesn’t bring any ‘Life’ to this movie.

27th Sep2015

Tracers and AWOL-72 (DVD)

by timbaros

PYH0mwrrDqLRtdkIdTqmIIyUNOm7R5ISQkkhjObrLnk,ArC4S8WDmGbqRdc7XjJeoDDcUSK_cBKHEYtkZUVByrgTwo action-packed films arrive on DVD with great action but very little on plot and acting


Twilight co-star Taylor Lautner stars in ‘Tracers,’ a film about Parkouring – the art of being able to do leaps and bounds with physical prowess.

Cam (Lautner) appears to be lost in life. His mother has passed away and his father, who left him a car – which is his only remaining family possession, left only to never come back. Cam makes a living as a bike messenger. He’s also in debt to a local Chinese gang to the tune of $15,000 – money he borrowed to help his sick mother before she passed away, now the gang wants it’s money back or else.

While on his messenger job, Nikki (Marie Avgeropoulos) falls on him, literally. She’s parkouring (also known as tracing). She feels guilty about causing him to wreck his bike so she buys him a new one. Cam is intrigued, and attracted, to her, and he locates her, and sees that she belongs to a crew of parkours. Cam, who lives with a local woman and her son and is struggling to pay his rent, joins the parkour crew in the hopes of making enough money to pay off his loan and to give his landlady his rent that is in arrears. But the crew don’t do parkouring for fun, they actually use their skill to pull off bank heists. Cam shows them that he’s able to keep up with them, and they accept him like one of their own. But Cam and Nikki start falling for each other, even though she lives with the crew’s leader Miller (Adam Rayner). This causes lots of conflict within the group, and it comes to a boil when a dangerous jewel heist puts Cam in a position that could cost him his life.

‘Tracers’ premise, parkouring, is an interesting one. The actors jump off buildings, hop from car to car, run at a quick pace, and can virtually do anything physical. Lautner, Avgeropoulos, and Rayner more than ably do their jobs. The plot is interesting, and the movie short enough to not lose your interest (94 minutes). ‘Tracers’ takes place in New York City and shots of the skyline is one of the highlights of the film. The tagline for ‘Traders’ is ‘Run for your life.’ The actors sure do run for their lives, and you might be a little bit exhausted after watching them parkouring and may realize how out of shape you are compared to them.

‘Tracers’ is now available on DVD.


Luke Goss plays a double agent who has something the Russians want in the new film AWOL-72.

It’s a computer chip that Conrad Miller (Goss) stole while he was in the U.S. Marines. Now, he’s gone AWOL (Absent without leave) with the chip and he’s got 48 hours to get it into the hands of the Russians. But things get in the way of his mission. His girlfriend Sam (Brooke Newton) is pregnant, he’s got Detective Adams (RZA) of the Los Angeles Police Department looking for him, and the military is especially keen to get their hands on him. But on the way to meet his brother to get new passports so that he and Sam can leave the country, he beats up a man at a gas station who is badly mistreating the woman he is with. Later that evening, Miller stops at a motel to sleep for the night, but the woman at the counter, whose badly bruised, tells him that the motel is full up. However, there are no cars in the parking lot, and Miller sees several women with gags around their mouth in the room behind the front desk. And the next moment Miller is hit in the face with the end of a gun and passes out.

Miller has accidentally stumbled on to a human trafficking ring. And, coincidentally, the man he beat up at the gas station is the brother of the man who owns the hotel. Miller has to use his wits to get out of the situation, and to hold on to a Bank of Maldives bank card that might hold a huge amount of money. Meanwhile Sam has packed up their house to hopefully meet Miller at their rendezvous point. But she’s got someone on her tail, a man who may or may not be linked to the military, the police, or the Russians. Will Miller get out of the situation that he’s in? Will Sam actually get to be reunited with Miller so they can go off into the sunset together? Will the Russians get what they want?

AWOL-72 is not a thinking man’s movie. It’s not even actually a movie. At 82 minutes, it plays more like an episode of a second rate crime drama television show, with the acting to match. Goss is trying to play the Jason Statham part – good looking action man who beats up all comers, but Goss is no Statham. And AWOL-72 is no film. Luckily it’s on DVD and online, and it won’t cost you too much time to watch. The soundtrack, however, is much better than the movie. Songs by KC Bandz litter the soundtrack, with the excellent song ‘Stop Playing’ played over the closing credits.

AWOL-72 on DVD + VOD 21st September 2015

22nd Sep2015

Pan press conference (Film)

by timbaros

IMG_5723Here are some quotes from today’s Pan press conference at Claridges.

Attendees were:

Hugh Jackman (Blackbeard)
Levi Miller (Peter)
Rooney Mara (Tiger Lilly)
Garrett Hedlund (Hook)
Joe Wright (Director)
Paul Webster (Producer)

“My son affectionately called me Black & White Beard” – Jackman

Jackman is called ‘the nicest guy in Hollywood’ – Jackman said that his mom calls it manners.

“One of the best experiences of being in the film was working with Levi Miller” – Mara

“Age is more about how you feel, about life rather than the chronological age and wrinkles” – Jackman – “Stay young and have that glint in your eye”

“Filming Pan was an amazing experience, a dream come true” – Miller

“I would buy the cast lottery tickets on Fridays. It’s to make sure the crew stayed after lunch” – Jackman

Miller was asked how he feels now that he’s got to go back to school – he said “I”m not very excited about it.”

On playing an enemy in the movie, Jackman said that his wife said “It was one of the sexiest characters you’ve played”

The press conference lasted 45 minutes.

Photo by Tim Baros @ Claridges Hotel

21st Sep2015

Casa Valentina (Theatre)

by timbaros

Casa Valentina by Robert Workman 2015 1There’s a house in the Catskill mountains in upstate New York where several men go to dress up in women’s clothing. It’s also a new play by Harvey Fierstein called ‘Casa Valentina’ now playing at the Southwark Playhouse.

Fierstein, whose other show in the West End is Kinky Boots, gives us a bit of a twist on Kinky Boots’ theme where there are men who dress as drag queens purely for entertainment purposes. In Casa Valentina, we get straight men who dress up as women because they have that need. These men are from all different walks of life – yet they purely enjoy dressing up in women’s clothing, and there’s nothing sexual about it.

Jonathon (Ben Deery) shows up at Casa Valentina. He’s a bit nervous because it’s his first time at the house as he’s used to dressing up on his own when his wife is away. He meets the owners of the house, Rita (Tamsin Carroll), whose married to George (Edward Wolstenholme). George’s other name is Valentina, and it was his idea to create a safe space for men to dress up. Rita has accepted his fetish and is the glue that holds the house together. Along with looking after the men, she also provide a shoulder to cry on and and ear to listen to the men’s issues. Jonathon encounters a bevy of different types of men there: one is The Judge, whose woman’s name is Amy (Robert Morgan), another one is Bessie/Albert (Matthew Rixon) who has all he best lines and could possibly be modelled on Fierstein himself, and then there’s Isadore/Charlotte (with two woman’s names) (Gareth Snook) who leads the way for Transvestites and even campaigns at the highest level for people like them. But it’s the newbie Jonathon who has a hard time fitting – his stab at dressing girly falls flat, so it’s up to the ‘girls’ to dress him up and make him look pretty. And while these men may be camp, they are not gay, but they also want to remain anonymous. It’s political activist Isadore who riles them up with her suggestion that they all go public – strength in numbers she says. It’s get even more complicated when one of the men kiss Jonathon; this shakes up their entire unit like never before and it becomes a catalyst for their future relationship with each other.

‘Casa Valetina’ is staged in the round and it works successfully as each character floats from one side to the other very gracefully, and it gives the audience a chance to stare at their costumes and makeup. While they all look like men who dress up as woman, there are feminine qualities that they all possess; holding a purse, puckering up, wearing lipstick, and more importantly wearing a dress correctly. And all the actors are quite fine in their roles. Ashely Robinson is perfect as Gloria/Michael – he’s got beautiful eyes that are accentuated when he’s wearing makeup; handsome and gorgeous at the same time. Carroll is fine as the wife who’s given up a ‘normal’ life to take care of the girls – she doesn’t seem to realize that perhaps she has ‘lost’ her husband somewhere in his dressing up. Rixon is fabulous as Albert/Bessie – very quick with his funny lines. And Deery is perfect as the newbie – timid and shy and not too sure that he belongs there. Fierstein has not lost it in his several decades of playwriting – ‘Casa Valentina’ is funny and dramatic and hilarious and everything you could ask for in a play about transvestites.

Casa Valentina is now playing until October 10, 2015. To buy tickets, go here:


18th Sep2015

Everest (Film)

by timbaros

EverestIn 1996, dozens of people tried to get to the top of Mount Everest. Some succeeded, and some died trying. The gripping and realistic ‘Everest’ recounts, in dramatic fashion, this event.

There were quite a few expeditions on Mount Everest in May 1996, and they all had one goal, to get themselves, and their clients (who paid $65,000 eacg), to the top of Mount Everest, and it was up to the expedition leaders to make this happen. Rob Hall was the leader for Adventure Consultants, and he happened to have Jon Krakauer on his team (journalist Krakauer, who was on an assignment for Outside magazine, would go on to write ‘Into Thin Air’ – a book about the disastrous events that took place on the mountain during this climb ). Hall was also responsible for 7 other clients. The Mountain Madness expedition was led by Scott Fischer, who also had 8 clients, including Sandy Hill Pittman, a very wealthy New York Socialite who was, at the time, the wife of Robert Pittman, the founder of MTV. In addition to the clients, several sherpas (local people who are hired by the expedition companies to carry supplies and food up the mountain, and to fix the ropes and ladders to make it easier and quicker for the clients to get up – practically getting everything in place for the climb) were part of the teams as well. Of course most of Hall’s and Fischer’s clients were not professional mountain climbers, they climbed mountains as more of a hobby, and expected to reach the top of Mount Everest because of the huge amount of money they paid. One of Hall’s clients was a postman (Doug Hansen). Another was a doctor from Texas (Beck Weathers). Also on Hall’s team was Yasuko Namba, a Japanese woman who had climbed six of the Seven Summits. And Hall and Fischer knew that it was good for their businesses to have their clients actually make it to the top. So along with these two expeditions groups, other groups of people trying to climb the mountain at the same time were from South Africa, France, Tibet, and 13 members of a Taiwanese team.


But the weather gods were not smiling on Hall and Fischer and their clients during this climb. And this is the story that ‘Everest’ the film successfully and gloomily brings to life. We are introduced to the teams six weeks prior to the start of their expedition. Hall (played by Jason Clarke) is from New Zealand who leaves his pregnant wife (Keira Knightley) behind to go to work. Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal) is the adventurer with a laid back attitude. Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin) says goodbye to his wife (Robin Wright) in Texas to try to accomplish the almost impossible task of getting to the top of Mount Everest. Doug Hansen (John Hawkes) meets up with the gang in Nepal, as does Sandy Hill Pittman (Vanessa Kirby), which is the starting point for all expeditions. It is in Nepal where the teams get to know each other and bond, but it’s when they get to base camp that the adventure, and danger, begins. Base Camp is already at such a high altitude (17,600 feet), that climbers need to be acclimatized so their bodies can get used to the high altitude. It’s also where the operations for the expeditions take place, led by Helen Wilton (Emily Watson). ‘Everest’ takes us with them on the journey of these teams climbing the mountain. But first they need to navigate the Khumbu ice fall, soaring ice towers and crevasses so deep that there really is no bottom. Camp I and Camp II are where the teams stop to rest, perhaps spending a few days here. But it’s the Lhotse Face that is one of the most challenging bits on the mountain. It’s a 3,600 foot wall of ice that they have to climb to reach Camp III, an altitude where most climbers need to use bottled oxygen just to breath. But it’s above 26,000 feet, right below Camp IV, which is called “The Death Zone” because it’s where humans cannot survive for long. If climbers have survived as high up as Camp IV, then it’s full throttle ahead to reach the summit, usually at midnight so that the teams can reach it before noon, that if they survive the heavy gusts of wind, and the Hillary Step, a 40-foot tower of ice and rock on an exposed part of the mountain that becomes a human traffic jam for people getting to the top, as well as coming back down. But it’s the climb back down that is hardest. The climbers are exhausted, some suffering from high altitude conditions, but it’s the lucky ones who can make it down on their own, and it’s these people who have to decide whether to save the almost dead or leave them behind to save their own lives. As recounted in ‘Everest’, Hall and Fischer’s teams encountered a major storm on their way down, but it was not the only mistake that took place on that climb. Besides too many people on the mountain, Hall took Hansen up to top way past the agreed time. And the search for them cost another climber his life. Fischer was not in the best of shape as he was climbing to the top, and had a much harder time going down. And a storm overtook the climbers, which turned out to be unexpected and deathly. And it’s reenacted in ‘Everest’ to extreme detail; high winds, blowing snow, climbers struggling just to survive, dead bodies littered here and there, and almost blacked-outconditions. ‘Everest’ also recounts Weather’s struggle for survival, Hall’s loyalty to his client, and the operations team realizing that there is nothing they can do for the people trapped on the mountain.


‘Everest’ successfully, and grippingly, tells the story of the people who survived the mountain that fateful year. And while there have been a few books and one television movie made about this event, ‘Everest’ is based on the book by Weathers ( Left for Dead: My Journey Home from Everest (2000)), recollections from some of the survivors, as well as satellite phone conversations between the climbers, their families, and base camp. And the actors who portray the real life characters are superb. Josh Brolin has his best role in years as Weathers, a man who amazingly was left for dead on the mountain but somehow survived. Jason Clarke as Rob Hall is excellent – he’s determined to get his clients to the top and at the same time determined to get back home to see the birth of his first baby. Emily Watson as Wilton, the base camp operations coordinator, is concerned, and then doomed, after she realizes that a few lives have been lost on the mountain. And John Hawkes as postman Hansen gives us a portrait of a man who wants to be there but is not experienced in any way to climb the mountain. Luckily Knightley’s role is not on the mountain (can you actually see her playing someone who is climbing Mount Everest?), she plays Hall’s wife back at home, and there’s nothing she can do to help him. Gyllenhaal’s role as Fischer is relegated to a few scenes, mostly up on the mountain – he’s far from being the star of the movie. Director Baltasar Kormakur (2 Guns, Contraband), working from a script by William Nicholson and Simon Beaufoy, takes us with the teams on their journey, and it looks all too realistic. While there are lots of characters to keep track of (the all important Sherpas are virtually ignored), especially when they are all wrapped up – it’s a bit hard to tell who is how, ‘Everest’ brings to the big screen the real life 1996 Mount Everest disaster. Eight people eventually died during this expedition. ‘Everest’ was shot at a high elevation on the trek to Everest in Nepal, in the Italian Alps and at Cinecitta Studios in Rome, and Pinewood Studios in the UK. It can be experienced in IMAX 3D as well as standard 3D and 2D. ‘Everest’ is a true epic adventure that will take your breathe away.

18th Sep2015

The Messenger / Infini (Film)

by timbaros

_MG_71227t5a6625-infini_movie-2Two films with scary themes open in cinemas on Friday, one doesn’t deliver while one will thrill, and scare, you.

The Messenger

In ‘The Messenger,’ Jack (Robert Sheehan of television’s Misfits) has problems. Not only has he experienced death at a very young age, he also sees dead people.

War correspondent Mark (Jack Fox) is murdered a few feet away from the flat he shares with his pregnant wife Sarah (Tamzin Merchant). Dead Mark asks alive Jack to visit his alive wife and to deliver a message. Well, it’s a message that takes over an hour to deliver. In between, we see alive Jack being reunited with his estranged sister alive Emma (Lily Cole – not at her best – she has a blank face throughout the film), both still struggling over the loss of their father at a young age. It’s all conflict and craziness as alive Jack can’t distinguish between fantasy from reality. It’s the audience who has to guess whether alive Jack is insane or whether he is actually able to see dead people. It’s the message, or lack of one, that ‘The Messenger’ fails to deliver to it’s audience in an excruciating 101 minutes. Joely Richardson is wasted as Jack’s alive Psychiatrist.

‘The Messenger’ is in cinemas on September 18th, 2015


One man, all alone in an off-world mining facility, is waiting to be rescued. When he is rescued, all hell breaks loose. This is ‘Infini,’ a ‘Gravity’ meets ‘Star Trek’ science fiction film.

Whit Carmichael (Daniel Macpherson), is the only survivor of a team sent into a space station facility to confront an unidentified (not human?) enemy. Eight fellow astronauts are beamed in to help bring him back alive. But the enemy still lurks within, and the eight, plus Carmichael, are trapped in the facility, with no way out. Will they survive? And who, or what, killed the other members of Carmichael’s team?

‘Infini’ is a claustrophobic film that elicits it’s drama and frights from the unknown. Writer/Director/Producer Shane Abbess gets good performances from his cast, which also includes Luke Hemsworth (of the Hemsworth brothers) and Grace Huang. ‘Infini’ is a thriller that will thrill, and especially scare, you.

‘Infini’ arrives in UK cinemas and on demand on 18 September. Own it on DVD from 21 September

17th Sep2015

The Sum of Us (Theatre)

by timbaros

GffcPytSRz50E5plbN9oLHH-ma7n4Xx4I5yg75BTlyo,Exrjx2ZQT6MSd-N2VrZTiZF6evDd3UaDtDeuSzFdFWQ,-9_GH5YYFTxekWyxmiy5jYg7XK7JnrJ-7oZojIWCGNM-1A father who loves and accepts his gay son is the theme of the new play ‘The Sum of Us.’

In 1994, a young Russell Crowe played the gay son in the movie version of ‘The Sum of Us’ which was originally staged as a play in New York City in 1990. Now a new version of the play ‘The Sum of Us,’ which has never played in the UK, has just opened at the Above the Stag Theatre in Vauxhall.

Harry (Sephen Connery-Brown) is a forty-something widower raising his twenty-something young son Jeff (Tim McFarland), who happens be gay. Harry is not bothered about his son being gay, he actually encourages Jeff to go out and meet other guys, to enjoy life while you can while you are young. And Harry doesn’t mind when Jeff brings other guys over to their home. Jeff is good-looking and athletic with a very positive look on life, but he says there’s a space in his heart that is empty, a space that could be filled by another man. When he meets someone he likes (Greg – played by Rory Hawkins), he’s immediately smitten. But it’s Harry who interrupts the two young men who are on the couch getting to know each other. Harry says a bit too much about Jeff, and their close father and son relationship makes Greg feel insecure about his own relationship with his father. Meanwhile Harry, after being a widower for a number of years, also starts dating – he feels like it’s time to get out there and meet another woman. And he does. Her name is Joyce (Annabel Pemberton), and her and Harry are getting on like wildfire. But when she learns that he has a gay son, she just can’t accept this. Firstly she’s angry that Harry didn’t tell her when they started dating, secondly she just can’t accept gay people at all. Even after Harry proposes to her, she just doesn’t want to see him anymore. So thus we have a father and a son who both yearn to be with someone yet obstacles get in their way. And as Harry tells Jeff, he is the sum of us, the sum of him and his late wife, and the sum of his grandparents and great-grandparents. Actually, we are all the sum of us, and this is the message of the play.

Above the Stag Theatre really sets the bar high on this one. Their previous shows had names such as ‘Rent Boy: The Musical’ and ‘Bathhouse: The Musical.’ However, they have now produced a play that is serious, heartwarming and very well-acted. The Sum of Us is a story that most gay men may not relate to; who can say that their fathers have whole heartedly accepted their homosexuality. But the play, written by David Stevens, who also wrote the film version and the original play version, successfully combines the son’s and father’s search for love and the close relationship they have with each other. And in the end, the message is that we all want someone to love and someone to love us, no matter whether you are gay or straight. Connery-Brown is great as Harry, as is McFarland as Jeff. They have a real rapport as father and son, and even resemble each other a bit. Hawkins and Pemberton are fine as the other halves, who may or may not wind up in the men’s lives. The set, down to the details of the1990’s script, cleverly goes from a living room to a park, in this cute theatre that is nice and cozy with a bar to match.

The Sum of Us is playing at Above the Stag Theatre until October 4th. Tickets can be bought here:


Buy tickets now – it’s selling out fast!

15th Sep2015

Barbra Streisand is coming to London (Theatre)

by timbaros

ImageBarbra Streisand is coming back to London!

Well, it’s not the real Barbra Streisand but the world’s most famous Barbra Streisand impersonator – Steven Brinberg.

Brinberg is returning to the lush surroundings of Brasserie Zedel’s Crazy Coqs cabaret room with his show titled ‘Simply Barbra celebrates Funny Lady’ to coincide with the 40th anniversary release of the film ‘Funny Lady.’

Steven has been acclaimed for his vocal performance of Barbra Streisand for over a couple decades around the world. He has also appeared in numerous concerts with the late Marvin Hamlisch, released two CD’s, appeared in films such as ‘Camp’ and ‘Boys Live,’ and has also appeared in a concert version of ‘Funny Girl’ on Broadway, with Whoopi Goldberg and Kristin Chenoweth.

Tickets for ‘Simply Barbra celebrates Funny Lady,’ which is running from Tuesday September 15 to Saturday September 19th at the Crazy Coqs Cabaret Room, which is located inside Brasserie Zedel right off Piccadilly Circus, can be bought here:


13th Sep2015

Pasolini (Film)

by timbaros

Pasolini pic 1Director Abel Ferrera brings us the few days in the life of gay Italian film director Pier Paolo Pasolini in his new film simply titled ‘Pasolini.’

Ferrera, who last year gave us the gripping, scandalous, controversial and excellent film ‘Welcome to New York’ (which was inspired by the case of Dominique Strauss-Khan (DSK), the former chairman of the IMF who was accused of raping a hotel maid), presents us a film where Ferrara imagines and then reconstructs the last days in the life of Pasolini.
Pasolini was an extremely controversial film director. His films combined themes of religion and sex, his own personal views on topics such as abortion, displaying in your face bacchanals that left little to the imagination. His last film – titled Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom – depicted children subjected to violence, sexual depravity, and horrific murder – making Pasolini an extremely hated, or genius, figure. In ‘Pasolini,’ Willem Dafoe doesn’t so much imitate or play Pasolini in the film, but he inhabits the actions and thoughts of him. And Ferrara, in putting this film together, spoke to Pasolini’s relatives and friends to gather the memories and thoughts of a man who would wind up being killed by a rent boy at the age of 53 in Italy.

‘Pasolini’ is not so much an actual biography of the last days of Pasolini’s life, it’s more of a combination of the actual events that took place coupled with scenes from an unmade Pasolini film, a film that he was actually working on when he died. So we have Ferrara inhabiting the shoes of Pasolini and bringing to life scenes from the film that Pasolini never made – Porno-Teo-Kolossai – coupled with the events from the last days of his life which included meetings to discuss his new film, in his home with his mom and assistant and various friends, and to finally, his pickup of a male rent boy that would result in his death. It’s a very realistic film. Ferrara uses the actual locations of the real life events and also uses Pasolini’s personal objects and clothes in the film. This, coupled with Dafoe’s performance, gives us a documentary style production that is rich in it’s storytelling. Dafoe gives a fantastic performance inhabiting Pasolini’s world, right down to the language (some of this film is in Italian, and not every part of it has subtitles), to the glasses that he wears, to the clothing, to the way he carries himself. Like Gerard Depardieu who perfectly inhabited the role of DSK, Dafoe convincingly inhabits the role here. Even down to the final scene in the film, where Pasolini has sex with the rent boy and ends up being badly beaten, and run over by his own car. It’s a brutal death for a man who didn’t deserve to die that way. His murder on a beach on the outskirts of Rome on November 2, 1972 is still an open case despite the conviction of the rentboy that he picked up that night. It would be bit more fascinating if a filmmaker can make a film about Pasolini’s life – that would be a much more well-deserved tribute.

13th Sep2015

Irrational Man (Film)

by timbaros

WASP_DAY_03-0228.CR2Woody Allen’s 47th film, ‘Irrational Man’, sticks to several themes he’s already explored in a few of his previous films, and is not one of his best.

An older man being pursued by a younger woman is a plot device that Allen has presented to us many times before (Magic in the Moonlight and You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger). In ‘Irrational Man,’ Joaquin Phoenix plays pot-bellied depressed middle age philosophy professor Abe Lucas (Joaquin Phoenix). He’s the newest teacher at a small town college in Rhode Island. He’s single and doesn’t seem to have much going for him. However, two women vie for his attention; unhappily married fellow teacher Rita (Parker Posey) who fantasizes them running away together to Spain, and student Jill (Emma Stone). Jill is in Abe’s philosophy class, and she is mesmerized by his teachings and his stance on life. They start to spend lots of time together outside of the classroom, much to the dismay of Jill’s perfect boyfriend Roy (Jamie Blackley). Abe tries and tries to resist the urge to sleep with Jill, though he has no trouble having sex with Rita. However, Abe’s relationship with Jill is becoming stronger and stronger, until he can no longer resist her, and they eventually sleep together. Jill is so smitten with Abe that she breaks the news to her boyfriend Roy that she wants to break up. The plot then takes a turn: one day at a diner Abe and Jill overhear a woman talking about a local judge who has ruled against her in a divorce proceeding and has awarded custody of her kids to her husband. She also tells the people she is with how the judge has destroyed her life. At this point Abe decides he’s going to do something about this woman’s problem. His decision rejuvenates him, it transforms him from someone who is aimless and depressed to someone who is full of life and energetic. And he actually does go through with his plan. Of course his actions are irrational, but to him they are rational. But does he think he’s pulled off the perfect crime?

There’s not much more to the film’s plot which is probably why it’s only 95 minutes. But Allen does get more from his actors than what the script provides. Phoenix is perfectly cast as the loner professor who struggles with his identity but is lucky enough to have two attractive women vying for his attention. Stone overdoes it a bit as Jill, the student who has a good thing going with Roy but sees something attractive in Abe that we don’t see. Stone played a similar role in Allen’s last film – ‘Magic in the Moonlight’ – falling for Colin Firth’s much older character. Posey is a delight as Rita, fantasizing about a life with Lucas in Europe. But Allen’s script doesn’t provide much magic, it’s humdrum at the very best in a film that can be categorized as not one of his best. It also won’t have much box office appeal here in the UK- in the U.S. the film has made a measly $3.7 million – a far cry from ‘Magic in the Moonlight’s’ total gross of $32 million. At age 79, we’re sure there’s lots more films in Woody Allen’s repertoire to redeem himself from this one.

11th Sep2015

Dusty (Theatre)

by timbaros

Dusty-34A new musical about Dusty Springfield arrives in the West End – with a thud.

There’s something just not right with ‘Dusty,’ which is playing at the Charing Cross Theatre. Could it be the singing? Could it be the acting? Could it be the directing and script? Could it be that it’s multi-media theme just doesn’t work? I think it’s all of the above. Let’s start with that multi-media mularcky. The producers are calling this show a ‘Fusion Musical’ which means that the show is a combination of Alison Arnopp performing as Dusty mixed in with videos of the actual Dusty Springfield singing from her various television appearances (American Bandstand – 1964, The Ed Sullivan Show – 1965 and 1968, the Dusty TV series on the BBC – 1966 and 1967, Morecambe & Wise Show – 1970, plus others). Twenty video clips are included in the show, and while a few are cleverly done as holograms, it’s unfortunate that these video clips are much better than any live singing that’s performed. And it’s quite funny because the audience claps at the video clips, like they’re actually seeing Dusty live! And it’s not fair to have Arnopp’s voice competing with Springfield’s in the videos.

And the acting and singing? Well, it’s OK. Arnopp is credible as Dusty. Sure she can sing, and sure she can dress like her, and she definitely can act, but Arnopp is a far cry from the real Dusty. And the wigs she wears? They’re a bit over the top – not her fault, but in a few scenes she looks a bit like a drag queen. A bit better is Francesca Jackson as Dusty’s friend Nancy Jones. She’s just as pretty as Dusty yet it’s Dusty who becomes rich and famous, however Jackson is a fine singer in her own right. And Whitney White owns the stage in her short bit as Martha Reeves. She’s bound to a huge star in the West End in a few years time. But Arnopp’s singing is a far cry from any other biography musical that’s currently playing in the West End (think ‘Memphis’ where Beverly Knight wows them every night at the Shaftsbury Theatre and Katie Brayben who brings Carole King to life every night in ‘Beautiful’). The rest of the ensemble are quite good, energetic and vibrant, and I also couldn’t help but notice that they are all very young.

I’ll have to pin the blame on the direction and the script. Both by Chris Cowey, who used to be a producer on Top of the Pops. It’s not what you had hoped to expect from a musical tribute show to a British legend. Yes, Dusty Springfield is considered a legend, in her heyday and even today. She scored an incredible 18 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 from 1964 to 1970 – her peak years. She was a cultural icon of the 1960’s and was one of the best-selling UK singers in that decade. She’s been inducted into the U.S. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the UK Music Hall of Fame, and was awarded on OBE. Yet, all this doesn’t seem to matter in the show ‘Dusty.’ It presents Dusty in flashbacks, with Dusty’s life story told by Nancy to a presenter for the television show ‘Talk of the Town.’ It’s a device that doesn’t quite work. And her sexuality is handled a bit clumsily on the show. She was a Lesbian, and in the show she has a minor relationship with a woman who lives in Los Angeles, but it’s a part of the show that appears to be thrown in at the last minute, and before you know it the relationship is over. It’s an acknowledgement of her sexuality but it’s too quick and not enough.

‘Dusty’ opened on 25 May 2015, and had it’s official press night this week. It took 14 weeks for the production team to get this show done as they wanted it. However, another few weeks of additional tweaking won’t really save this production. And they left out any mention of her last hit, which became one of her biggest – ‘What Have I Done to Deserve This’ – sung with the Pet Shop Boys. It’s a song that past and current generations are familiar with. Instead of ‘Dusty’ being a celebration of her and her career, it’s more like a minor tribute to a woman who deserves to be remembered in a bigger and better show.

Performance Times:- Tuesday to Saturday at 7:30pm, Wednesdays & Thursdays at 2:30pm and Saturdays at 3pm

Run time approx. 2 hours.

Mon, 25th May 2015 to Sat, 21st November 2015

09th Sep2015

Faults (Film)

by timbaros

ERPk9spg-_z8MLXz6wHsy4kVI5mIqjYlmZMmRGP48LMA down on his luck cult expert is hired by a couple to deprogram their daughter in the new online film Faults.

Ansel Roth Phd (played brilliantly by Leland Orser), is the author of a best-selling book about cults. He also had a television talk show that ran for 23 episodes. He is one of the world’s foremost authorities on cults and mind control. Actually, he was. A cult follower ended up killing herself after appearing on his television show, and this led to his downfall, not only from being rich and famous, but also causing the end of his marriage, which led him to stupidly sign the rights of his hit book over to his ex-wife. Now broke, living out of his car, he’s trying to make a comeback. He’s written a new book called ‘Follower: Inside the Mind of the Controlled.’ However, the book has not done so well. In fact, it was self-published with the money put up by Roth’s agent Terry (Jon Gries). And Roth has been relegated to giving presentations in small hotel conference rooms in the hopes that the attendees will buy his book (for $15.00) and have him autograph it (for $5.00 extra).

At one of his seminars an older couple (Chris Ellis and Beth Grant) ask him for help in trying to get their daughter back. She’s joined a cult and they feel that they are slowly losing her. They ask for his advice, and he sees this as a moneymaking opportunity. So Roth accepts the ‘job offer.’ In order to deprogram the daughter, he has to kidnap her and keep her in a hotel room for five days. The daughter, Claire (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) doesn’t put up much of a fight, she’s actually calm, cool and collected (traits that she learned from being in the cult). Roth spends the next few days getting to know her and to try to understand why she’s joined the cult – it’s a battle of two strong personalities that doesn’t play out as expected. Meanwhile, Roth has Claire’s parent in the adjoining room waiting for right moment when Roth says they can reunite, but he also has Terry”s henchman chasing him for the money that was loaned to him to publish the book. Roth’s just trying to do the only thing that he knows what to do. And he hopes that it will turn out right and that he gets paid so that Terry can back off. Oh, and of course, that Claire will come around and see that the cult she belongs to is brainwashing her.

Faults plays out like a television movie, but a very good television movie, with the performances (and direction and script) first rate. Orser couldn’t be better as Roth. Down on his luck but always getting back up, ready to use his skills (and personality) to deprogram Claire. Orser, a regular on hit television shows such as ‘Ray Donovan’ and ’24,’ is fantastic. It’s a wonder he’s not a much bigger movie star up there with Nicholas Cage and Benedict Cumberbatch. Winstead is fine as the troubled (or is she?) daughter, deeply loved by her parents, but who feels that being in the cult is the best thing for her. The direction, and especially the snappy and quick script, (by Riley Stearns, who is married to Winstead), makes ‘Faults’ fascinating, dramatic, and witty at all the right moments. It’s a must must must see.

‘Faults’ is premiering on demand in the UK on the following platforms: iTunes, Amazon instant Video, Blinkbox, Filmflex/Virgin, Wuaki, Googleplay, Sky, and Sony.