31st Jul2016

Jason Bourne (Film)

by timbaros

gallery4-5719055980b79-1Matt Damon is back and is better than ever in the new Bourne film appropriately titled ‘Jason Bourne.’

This is Damon’s fourth outing as the rogue CIA agent (Jeremy Renner stepped in to star in 2012’s The Bourne Legacy), and he comfortably steps back into Bourne’s shoes, a role Damon made his own back in the first of the series – 2002’s The Bourne Identity. In the new film, directed for a third time by Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips and Green Zone), Bourne is seen in several countries around the world, attempting to find answers about his past, while at the same time still being tracked by CIA chiefs. Among them is Tommy Lee Jones who plays CIA director Robert Dewey (Jones looks like he’d rather be elsewhere). With him is CIA Agent Heather Lea (recent Oscar Winner Alicia Vikander), who’s not given much to do except hunch over computer terminals tracking Bourne’s every move. But ignore the scenes that take place in the CIA headquarters as it’s the shots of Bourne in various parts of the world where the film really kicks ass. In Greece, Bourne is reunited with agent Nicolette Parsons (Julian Stiles) who has been in hiding but it takes a drastic turn for the worse and it takes Bourne to Berlin, Istanbul, London and lastly Las Vegas where he finally meets up with Dewey and Lea in a final scene that feels contrived and a bit ridiculous. In between Bourne’s running all over the world is a subplot involving a social media wunderkind (Riz Ahmed) who has entered into an agreement with Dewey to provide data for the CIA, a plot line that’s a bit irrelevant and unnecessary. It all makes for one head spinning action adventure movie.

Greengrass displays excellent directorial technique in the action sequences and less so in the scenes with Jones and Vikander – their performances are quite stiff. So the action that takes place in Greece (which is really Malaga), Paddington, and especially in Las Vegas are where the film excels. These action scenes are fast and frantic, involving lots of quick editing and camera work, with expertly staged car crashes and bystanders caught up in between it all. Vincent Cassel pops us as an assassin out to get Bourne, but we really don’t get to know much about him and why he’s on the CIA’s side. But poor Vikander and Jones, both Oscar winners, who take a huge back seat to Damon’s rough and ready and on the run Bourne. Could we see more of him and less, or none, of them in the next one?

31st Jul2016

Traders (Film)

by timbaros

Killian Scott waits in toiletIt’s a game of cat and mouse and the prize is money in the new thriller ‘Traders.’

When the financial company they work for goes bust with a £14 billion loss, two men are left wondering what to do next. Killian Scott is Harry Fox, the good looking alpha male with an amazing flat who is used to making tons of money. John Bradley is Vernon Stynes, overweight and bit of a schlub, but he’s the one who has lots of ideas. He creates a new website business called Traders. The website has nothing to do with financial trading – it has to do with money exchanging hands, but the catch being that one man has to kill another man in order to get the money (trade the money). At first Harry dismisses Vernon’s idea, but when he falls behind in his bills and is resorted to taking a call centre job, he decides that he’s going to give it a try. So he sets up a trade – a meetup – with another trader from the website, and easily kills him, winning the money brought in green bag that’s part of the rules of the game. Harry buries him in the grave that both he and the deceased dug, another one of the rules of the game. Harry is hooked – this is way too easy for him. He continues to set up more and more trades, winning lots more money. But things, of course, don’t go according to plan. Vernon is severely injured when him and Harry decide to trade against each other but then stop before Harry actually kills Vernon. Harry then feels sorry for Vernon so he let’s him recuperate in his flat. In the meantime, Harry gets to intimately know Vernon’s neighbor Orla (Nika McGuigan), who comes to Harry’s flat to check on Vernon. Will almost killing his best friend teach Harry a lesson or will he continue to trade until he’s had enough, or worse yet, killed?

While Harry keeps on racking up lots of kills, why doesn’t anyone notice all of these men suddenly missing? When Harry kills a man who shows him a photo of his wife and kid right before the trade, didn’t anyone notice the killing? It all boils down to a final showdown where Harry is about to kill a young man half his age and it’s at this point that ’Traders’ gets to be a bit unbelievable and silly. ‘Traders’ is a film that probably won’t do much trade at the box office.

16th Jul2016

Marguerite (DVD)

by timbaros

Marg_D23_24-3596An aristocrat who thinks she can sing but really can’t is the new French film Marguerite.

Marguerite is played by delicious French actress Catherine Frot. She’s a very wealthy woman in France in the 1920s who lives in a huge mansion with her husband and several members of her staff. She loves music and the opera, and loves to give small concerts and parties in her home. She’s a woman who has it all, except for a great singing voice.

She has always yearned to be a singer, and she takes it upon herself to sing at one of her parties, right after the performance of young woman who has the voice of an angel. Once she opens her mouth and sings, the crowd winces, holds their collective breaths, and pretends to enjoy it, then breaking out in furious applause when she’s done (at the insistence of her attentive servant Madelbos (Denis Mpunga). Of course no one would tell her to her face that she can’t sing.

A young journalist (Sylvain Dieuaide) decides to write a rave review about her (only because he’s looking for a rich benefactor), and Marguerite starts to believe that she really can sing, and so she wants to follow her dream – to perform in front of a crowd.

Her husband Georges (Andre Macon) wishes that she won’t go through with it,though he won’t tell her to her face but he does tell his mistress. Marguerite is so determined to put on a concert that she hires opera performer and singing teacher Atos Pezzini (a very good Michel Fau), along with his staff of five, to get her voice ready for the show.

But it’s them and the rest of the house staff who have to suffer, for every time Marguerite opens her mouth to sing, they cringe and put in ear plugs to drown out her awful voice. Will Marguerite ever realise that she can’t hold a tune? Will anyone in her circle tell her the truth? It all comes down to a hilarious unexpected ending.

Marguerite is an uproarious comedy about a woman’s desire to follow her passion at any cost. The film combines pretty visuals, set design and costumes, a funny script, and an electric and funny performance by Frot.

Director Xavier Giannoli has crafted a film that, while a bit too long and with a couple storylines that go nowhere, is sumptuous and funny. ‘Marguerite’ is loosely inspired by the life of amateur operatic soprano singer Florence Foster Jenkins, soon to be a movie directed by Stephen Frears and starring Meryl Streep to be released later in the year. ‘Marguerite,’ featuring music from Mozart, Bach and Vivaldi, is a true French film – dramatic, gorgeous and funny.

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13th Jul2016

Through the Mill (Theatre Review)

by timbaros

DB5S8393It’s Judy Garland times three in the new musical ‘Through The Mill’ now playing at Southwark Playhouse.

The show gives us Garland in three different stages in her life. There’s the young Judy before her Wizard of Oz role – ages 13 through 16 – brilliantly played by Lucy Penrose. Then we have the Palace Judy – the time in Garland’s life when she was performing on Broadway at the Palace Theatre, age 29 – with Belinda Wollaston in the role. Then finally we are presented with CBS Judy – the 47 year-old star (played by Helen Sheals) who was in the last year of her life during which she had her own television show on America’s CBS network.

These three eras of Judy’s life are superbly intertwined in a show that’s both fantastic and tragic. We all know that Judy died at the age of 47 in London due to an over-dosage of barbiturates. But she had such a tumultuous life, and it didn’t make matters any better in that she was an extremely insecure, and nervous, woman. Young Judy’s father (played by Joe Shefer) ran a cinema, but he also had a predilection for young boys. Her mother Ethel (Amanda Bailey) was an extremely controlling stage mother. But Palace Judy’s life isn’t much better. By this time she takes various drugs just to help her get through her day (and to get her on stage). Her life seems to be a mess, though she’s got her husband Sid Luft (Harry Anton) with her at all times. By the tim CBS Judy (who actually opens the show with a rounding version of ‘Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries’) sung brilliantly by Sheals, her life seems to be on track, she’s got a hit television show, but the network keeps on demanding more and more from her. It’s too much for a woman as fragile as Judy, and though her death is not played out on stage, we all know what’s going to happen to her.

‘Through the Mill’ is excellent. It’s all due to the three women who play Judy, they are all very good but it’s Penrose who shines a bit more because she plays a version of Judy that is young and innocent, and Penrose conveys that excellently. When Young Judy and Palace Judy duet on ‘Zing, Went the Strings of my Heart’ together in the intimate theatre, it’s an event! And when all three get together to sing the finale – ‘Over the Rainbow’ – there’s not a dry eye in the house. Director Ray Rackham, along with the rest of his crew, have staged a musical that’s larger than life in a theatre that’s as intimate as a living room. And the parallel timeframes used in this production is genius. Cleverly, the musicians also act in the show, from Carmella Brown who plays CBS Judy’s assistant, to Don Cotter who is very good as Louis B. Mayer, the head of MGM who greenlit Garland for ‘Wizard of Oz. Please go see ‘Through the Mill,’ even if you’re not a Judy Garland fan. It’s a fabulous show.

‘Through the Mill is playing until July 30th. To buy tickets, please go to:

Through the Mill

10th Jul2016

Bachelor Games (Film)

by timbaros

00351530New VOD release ‘Bachelor Games’ is this year’s ‘The Hangover’ not set in Las Vegas but set in a mountainous desert.

It’s the story of five men who go on a stag weekend to the far flung reaches of Argentina (looking like Mexico) to celebrate the upcoming nuptials of Henry (Jack Gordon). Of course things don’t go according to plan, only because the stag weekend is a setup by Henry to get back at his best mate Leon (Charlie Bewley) for sleeping with his fiancé. Along for the ride as well is military he-man Max (Obi Abili), medic Roy (Mike Noble), and tough guy and drug addict Terence (Jack Doolan).

When the men go hiking in the Andes mountains, it’s Leon who gets punked. Henry has one of the men dress up as a warrior Indian to pretend to attack the gang, and mostly to scare Leon as payback, but it all goes haywire when Leon stabs Terence in the leg during the scare, and their adventure goes from bad to worse. The local myth is that the same area has been the home to some sort of spirit who protects the mountain and is known to attack and kill intruders. And the men intruders when the spirit surfaces, so it’s no longer a revenge game, it’s a run for your life game. There’s nowhere to run and there’s nowhere to hide for these men.

‘Bachelor Games’ is an action adventure horror thriller that never once loses it’s suspense. From the onset of the film there is a feeling that something bad is going to happen to these men – it’s not going to turn into a booze and cruise and strippers sort of weekend. But suspend disbelief in the absurdity of the revenge plot and just focus on the men’s plight so survive – at any cost.

BACHELOR GAMES, arriving on digital platforms July 8, 2016 from Gravitas Ventures and Strike Films.

02nd Jul2016

1984 (Theatre)

by timbaros

Andrew Gower in 1984 Credit Manuel Harlan.jpgGeorge Orwell’s classic book 1984 was not always going to be easily transferable to the stage. But a new production of it has just opened at the Playhouse Theatre.

If you’ve ever read the book (either in school or for leisure), you will know the story. Written in 1949, when the year 1984 seemed like a long way off, Orwell wrote about a world where, simply, big brother is watching everything you do, everywhere you go. It’s like the present day North Korea where the government dictates how and where you will live your life, but it takes it to a bit more extreme in that anyone with an individual thought or who speaks bad about the government is punished, it’s a totalitarian state.

The protagonist of the show is Winston Smith (bravely acted by Andrew Gower). He knows and understands that the world he lives in is bad, cruel, harsh. And he really hates it. He has put his thoughts onto paper, an illegal act if there ever was one. But there’s lots more to this complicated story, on the surface and underneath, and to explain it would be to write a very long explanation.

But in summary, Smith has an affair with Julia (Catrin Stewart) and it all goes wrong for both of them. You see, they thought that a secret bedroom they were shown by a shopkeeper was free of surveillance, but it wasn’t. They’re rustled up and taken to prison where they are interrogated, and the shopkeeper turns out to be a spy for the government. Smith is labeled a ’thought criminal’ and is tortured, and comes face to face with his self-confessed worst nightmare – rats.

A production of 1984 was produced by Nottingham’s Headlong Theatre company before embarking on a UK tour in 2013 and then had a sell out run at the Almeida Theatre. It’s a show that’s hard to watch. The story, and characters, are a bit complicated and not very well understood; we seen them but don’t really know who they are. And perhaps that’s the point. But it takes shock theatre to all new levels with lots of blood in the torture scene (the woman next to me had her eyes closed), and the use of very bright strobe lights used intermittently during the play which is very jaring. But it’s Chloe Lamford’s sets that keep ‘1984’ in it’s time period – it’s a minimalist world where total surveillance is common. Credit goes to Directors Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan for putting together a show from a book that’s been described as complicated at best. And Gower gives an amazing performance as the literally tortured soul who is punished for his thoughts.

If you can stomach a production of 1984, then this is well worth the effort. If you’re looking for something a bit lightheated, then this show is not the show for you.