23rd Mar2017

Nocturnal Animals (DVD)

by timbaros

nocturnal_animals_375043-2Nocturnal Animals is a haunting thriller that’s dark and very troubling

Tom Ford’s highly anticipated second film, Nocturnal Animals, is both brilliant and confusing, no thanks to it’s three stories in one arc.

Amy Adams is art dealer Susan Morrow (Amy Adams) who lives high above the Hollywood Hills in a seemingly loveless marriage to her philandering husband Hutton (Armie Hammer). One day she receives a book called Nocturnal Animals written by her ex-husband Edward Sheffield (Jake Gyllenhaal, in one of his best performances in years). It’s been 19 years since they broke up, well actually Susan broke it off with him, and she hadn’t heard or seen of him since then. So it’s bit unusual for her to receive a book from him, knowing that he’s been a struggling writer all his life. While her husband is away on one of his many business trips, she settles down to read the book. It’s then that Nocturnal Animals the book becomes a whole second movie, a second movie so brilliantly written, acted, and told that it should’ve been the movie that is Nocturnal Animals.

The book is a tale of revenge, rape and murder, brutal and in your face and it’s directed wholly at Susan. While it’s obvious it’s a work of fiction, it’s brutal and horrific. The book as we see play out tells the story of fictional character Tony (Gyllenhaal) with his wife Laura (Isla Fisher) along with what could be (or not) their daughter – this plot point is not very clear, driving in Texas when they’re menaced by a gang of rednecks led by Ray Marcus (Aaron Taylor-Johnson in a performance you will never forget and for which he won a Golden Globe). The menacing turns much much worse, but only towards the women, and it’s too much to give away here to explain what happens to them. Suffice it to say you will be on the edge of your seat while this story is unravelling.

Nocturnal Animals also replays the beginning of the relationship between Susan and Edward – how they met on a New York City sidewalk, then had a loving relationship, only for Susan to drop him (it’s not clear why she leaves him).

All of this is played out in just under two hours. Nocturnal Animals is a haunting romantic thriller with tension throughout, but it’s also a bit of a letdown after the brilliant A Single Man. Adams doesn’t have much to do except read the book in which the most exciting scenes of the film play out. A couple plot points are head scratching – a phone call Susan makes to her daughter – a real daughter or it she a hallucination due to Susan’s lack of sleep – (nocturnal), and Edward’s grudge for 19 long years – really? Nocturnal Animals is a movie that is so cruel and cynical, a story so much about disloyalty and especially about revenge, and it becomes very very violent, and very very dark, and Ford dedicates it to his husband Richard and their son Zach. A bit narcissistic if you ask me.



Nocturnal Animals (DVD + Digital Download) [2016] (DVD)

Director: Tom Ford
Starring: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Armie Hammer, Michael Shannon
Rating: To Be Announced

Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal star in this thriller adapted from Austin Wright's novel. Years after leaving her first husband, Susan Morrow (Adams) receives a letter asking her to read the manuscript of his first novel. Although worried that reading the book may unearth unpleasant memories long forgotten, Susan reluctantly begins to read. His story revolves around Tony Hastings (Gyllenhaal) and his family as their summer holiday to a cottage retreat turns violent following a confrontation with a mysterious man. As Susan reads on, she becomes convinced that the book is a veiled threat from her ex-husband and is forced to confront some dark truths about her past. The cast also includes Isla Fisher, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Armie Hammer. The film was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards, winning for Best Performance By an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Taylor-Johnson), nine BAFTAs, including Best Director (Ford), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Leading Actor (Gyllenhaal) and Best Supporting Actor (Taylor-Johnson), and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor (Shannon).

New From: £4.72 GBP In Stock
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19th Mar2017

Stepping Out (Theatre)

by timbaros

The cast of Stepping Out. Photo credit Ray Burmiston‘Stepping Out’ steps into the West End again but it’s on the wrong foot and it’s not a very exciting show.

First staged in the West End in 1984 and running for three years and winning an Evening Standard Comedy Award, ‘Stepping Out’ was then made into a 1991 movie starring Liza Minnelli. It now returns to the West End in a new production starring Amanda Holden and Tracey-Ann Oberman among others playing characters from various backgrounds who attend a weekly dance and tap class. They also meddle – no surprise – into each others personal lives. Holden is Vera, a wealthy woman who seems to have nothing better to do because her whole life revolves around her husband who apparently spends lots and lots of time with their teenage daughter. Then there is Oberman who plays the brash Maxine, and who gets all the best lines in the show. Anna-Jane Casey is Mavis, the dance teacher who is a bit frustrated, not only because her students can’t dance but also because she’s got issues in her personal life (Tamzin Outhaite had to pull out of this role temporarily because of a broken foot). So ’Stepping Out’ centres around the seven women (and one man – Dominic Rowan as Geoffrey) plus the piano player (a wonderful Judith Barker) as they dance and talk but then get the opportunity (of a lifetime!!!) to perform at a charity show. Wow, how exciting! Will they be ready for the show in time? Will one of the students not drop her hat like she’s done many times in rehearsals? Will more dark secrets come out and, god forbid, will one of the woman pull down the towel where Geoffrey is changing behind to add a bit of excitement to this show because this show has no excitement at all?

It’s The Full Monty without the monty! Sure, the women do their best to get ready for the big charity show, but it’s hardly worth our time. We really don’t get to completely know, or sympathize, with the characters, and only a couple are likeable (Sandra Marvin brings a bit of sass to her role as the token black woman – Rose), and Oberman is wonderful, but there’s not really a whole lot to love in this production. Rowan is one note – not at all attractive or likeable as the lone man – he’s a widow but it would’ve been nice to put him in some sort of romance with one of the ladies. Written by Richard Harris in 1984, with this version directed by West End producer wonderwoman Maria Friedman, ‘Stepping Out,’ which will be playing at the Vaudeville Theatre until June 17, 2017, probably won’t last that long. Do yourself a favor and just step right past the theatre.

For tickets, please go to:
www.steppingoutplay.com

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18th Mar2017

BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival (Film)

by timbaros

image007Spring is in the air (almost) and with this comes gay films – and the BFI Flare London LGBT Film Festival.

Taking place from March 16th – 27th at the NFT on the South Bank in London, this year Flare, for it’s 31st year, will deliver over 50 features, more than 100 shorts, and a wide range of special events including workshops, club nights and much much more in what is one of the world’s largest LGBT Film Festivals. Here’s a taste of what is showing:

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Against the Law – the world premiere (and opening night gala) of this British film which commemorates 50 years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales. The film deals with a Daily Express journalist, Peter Wildeblood, who has an affair with a serviceman that becomes disastrous for both of them in light of the law. Starring Mark Gattis (Boys in the Band) and Daniel Mays.

 

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Signature Movie – a widowed Pakistani woman living in Chicago falls in love with a Mexican woman but it’s not acceptable behavior in her culture. Even more so in that her mother constantly nags her about about finding another man to marry.

Torrey Pines – a psychedelic stop-motion animation film about a child grappling with gender identity and a schizophrenic mother. The film will be accompanied by a live score from director Clyde Petersen’s Queercore band.

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After Louie – Alan Cumming is a troubled New York-based artist, a survivor of the AIDS epidemic, who meets a young man who turns his life around.

Different for Girls – A woman has to explain to her female partner how she became pregnant while they were on a break. Expect lots of tension and drama!

Flare continues to categorise the films in different sections: Hearts (love, romance and friendship), Bodies (sex, identity and transformation) and Minds (reflections on art, politics and community). Here’s a small sample of some of these films:
Handsome Devil, starring Andrew Scott, is about the unlikely friendship between a lonely gay teen and his hunky rugby-playing roommate; Heartland follows a young woman who has to move back home to Oklahoma following the death of her girlfriend; Being 17 is the touching story of two gay teenage boys in their last year in high school; Body Electric follows a young man and his casual encounters in Brazil; The Trans List, a documentary of where prominent transpeople, including Caitlin Jenner and Laverne Cox, tell their stories; Two Soft Things, Two Hard Things, a documentary about LGBT life in Canada’s remote Artic Intuit polulation; as well as Last Man Standing, the life of eight long-term AIDS survivors.

There’s also a chance to catch two recent gay-themed films in case you missed them. Academy Award winner Moonlight, which is the first gay-themed film to win Best Picture, and French Canadian wunderkind director Xavier Dolan’s It’s Only the End of the World will both be shown at the festival.

We highly recommend a visit to the festival at least on one of the days, but if you have the stamina, and the money, there is something for everyone every single day of the festival. To learn more about what’s going on, and to buy tickets, please visit:

www.bfi.org.uk/flare

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14th Mar2017

Southern Baptist Sissies (Theatre)

by timbaros

stag watermark sissies6There’s something in the holy water at a Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas because all of the boys there are gay. And they’re not the only ones who have a story to tell. It all unravels in Southern Baptist Sissies, the new show at Above the Stage Theatre.

Southern Baptist Sissies is actually two shows in one. Four boys live in a religious community where they spend their days praying and the rest of the time all they can think about are other boys! Then in a very hilarious, emotional and witty way, we see these boys grow up to become young men, full of passion, love and in one case, regret. Separately there are scenes set in a gay drag bar where two barflies have a conversation about their lives, their adventures and their regrets while the young men from the church segments portray other characters in the bar. It’s genius!!!

stag watermark sissies4

Southern Baptist Sissies cleverly intertwines both stories while we get to know a bit about each character. Mark (Jason Kirk) does an outstanding job as the narrator who is also in love with the very sexy and muscular TJ (Daniel Klemens), whose other character is a sexy go go boy in the gay drag bar. James Phoon is a revelation as Benny, the most feminine of the boys, yet as alter ego Miss Iona Taylor, he’s the star of the show at the drag bar. The scene where’s he’s disrobing while pouring his heart out is absolutely stunning. And last but not least there is Andrew (Hugh O’Donnell), a sensitive young man who unfortunately has a very disapproving mother (Janet Prince). Don Cotter (as Preston) and Julie Ross (as Odette) are brilliant as the couple who exchange stories at the bar; two older people looking back at the past while contemplating what’s left of their future, with Preston always ogling the young men in the bar. It’s all fantastically put together in a fab script by Del Shores and superb direction by Gene David Kirk.

After a few mediocre shows, Above the Stag has really upped their game with this show. It’s funny, relevant, emotional and at the end literally had the audience in tears. There are still tickets left for a few performances – BOOK THEM NOW – it’s a show you definitely don’t want to miss! If, and when, this show sells out, hopefully Above the Stag will be able to re-stage it when they move to a larger venue just down the road. More people really need to see this show.

For tickets, please go to:

http://www.abovethestag.com/shows/

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13th Mar2017

Nocturnal Animals (DVD)

by timbaros

nocturnal_animals_375043Nocturnal Animals is a haunting thriller that’s dark and very troubling.

Tom Ford’s highly anticipated second film, Nocturnal Animals, is both brilliant and confusing, no thanks to it’s three stories in one arc.

Amy Adams is art dealer Susan Morrow (Amy Adams) who lives high above the Hollywood Hills in a seemingly loveless marriage to her philandering husband Hutton (Armie Hammer). One day she receives a book called Nocturnal Animals written by her ex-husband Edward Sheffield (Jake Gyllenhaal, in one of his best performances in years). It’s been 19 years since they broke up, well actually Susan broke it off with him, and she hadn’t heard or seen of him since then. So it’s bit unusual for her to receive a book from him, knowing that he’s been a struggling writer all his life. While her husband is away on one of his many business trips, she settles down to read the book. It’s then that Nocturnal Animals the book becomes a whole second movie, a second movie so brilliantly written, acted, and told that it should’ve been the movie that is Nocturnal Animals.

The book is a tale of revenge, rape and murder, brutal and in your face and it’s directed wholly at Susan. While it’s obvious it’s a work of fiction, it’s brutal and horrific. The book as we see play out tells the story of fictional character Tony (Gyllenhaal) with his wife Laura (Isla Fisher) along with what could be (or not) their daughter – this plot point is not very clear, driving in Texas when they’re menaced by a gang of rednecks led by Ray Marcus (Aaron Taylor-Johnson in a performance you will never forget and for which he won a Golden Globe Award). The menacing turns much much worse, but only towards the women, and it’s too much to give away here to explain what happens to them. Suffice it to say you will be on the edge of your seat while this story is unravelling. Michael Shannon is very good as cop who is tasked with the investigation of the events (he, instead of Taylor-Johnson, was nominated for an Oscar).

Nocturnal Animals also replays the beginning of the relationship between Susan and Edward – how they met on a New York City sidewalk, then had a loving relationship, only for Susan to drop him (it’s not clear why she leaves him).

All of this is played out in just under two hours. Nocturnal Animals is a haunting romantic thriller with tension throughout, but it’s also a bit of a letdown after the brilliant A Single Man. Adams doesn’t have much to do except read the book in which the most exciting scenes of the film play out. A couple plot points are head scratching – a phone call Susan makes to her daughter – a real daughter or it she a hallucination due to Susan’s lack of sleep – (nocturnal), and Edward’s grudge for 19 long years – really? Nocturnal Animals is a movie that is so cruel and cynical, a story so much about disloyalty and especially about revenge, and it becomes very very violent, and very very dark, and Ford dedicates it to his husband Richard and their son Zach. A bit narcissistic if you ask me.

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12th Mar2017

Frankenstein (Theatre)

by timbaros

Frankenstein. George Fletcher. Photo by Philip Tull - 071A re-imagining of the classic story Frankenstein is told to amazing effect in the new show simply titled ‘Frankenstein.’

In the perfect venue that is Wilton’s Music Hall, George Fletcher is a wonder as he portrays both Frankenstein and The Creature. Fletcher lives and breathes his performance for every one of the seventy minutes he is on stage. Assisted by Rowena Lennon as the chorus and as his wife Elizabeth, Fletcher gives a very physical performance where he morphs from man to grotesque monster, right before our very eyes.

Working with a bare minimum on stage, which includes two bright lamps, a chest, and a full length mirror, Fletcher as the creature learns to talk, say his name, while an audience member engages him to repeat his name, then her name. We are witness to this, Fletcher being both man and monster, and it’s a show and performance that is riveting, raw and amazing.

Wilton’s Music Hall has just undergone a £3 million programme of restoration work to ensure the infrastructure of the building is sound, but it still might look like it did when John Wilton combined the existing properties in the 1860’s to turn it into what it is today. it looks, and feels, when you walk in, liked you’ve stepped back in time. Separate drinking areas encompass the two story venue, with two bars and a kitchen that serves a small a variety of food, including pizza. But it’s the actual Music Hall where the magic happens. And Tristan Bernays adaptation of the story of Frankenstein, with direction by Eleanor Rhode, is the perfect show for this venue. Shadows, high ceilings, and elevated sound all contribute to the eerieness of the performances and subject matter. Go see it now because Fletcher, fresh from graduating from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, is one to watch!

Frankenstein continues it’s run until March 18, 2017. To buy tickets, go to:

https://wiltons.org.uk

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04th Mar2017

Certain Women (Film)

by timbaros

18 CertainWomenThe lives of three women are told in the beautifully acted new film ‘Certain Women.’

Three women all lead totally separate lives from each other, yet their lives become slightly intertwined. First there is lawyer Laura (Laura Dern). Her client, Fuller (Jared Harris), is disgruntled because he is not able to work anymore due to an injury caused at work, and he can’t sue the company because he has already received a small settlement. So it’s up to Laura to deal with him and his reckless behaviour that eventually leads to a hostage situation and standoff with police. Laura is having an affair with Ryan (James Le Gros), who happens to be the husband of Gina (Michelle Williams). Ryan and Gina are building a new house in the countryside and they need sandstone, so they visit a local man who has a pile of it in his front yard. Yet while they are building their new home together, they don’t appear to be totally happy. In fact, Ryan always seems to undermine her in front of their daughter, while Gina is just Gina going through the motions. The best is yet to come in the third story. Jamie (Lily Gladstone) is a ranch hand who lives on a farm. She appears to be very lonely until one day she decides to walk into an adult education class taught by young lawyer Beth (Kristen Stewart). They start eating together after class but Beth always has to cut it short because she’s got a four hour drive home. Their after class get togethers are misinterpreted by Jamie because she is falling for Beth, and she’s not sure Beth feels the same. Beth, meanwhile, happens to work at Laura’s firm. Hence the intersection of the lives of these three certain women.

‘Certain Women’ is a simple, quiet film, one where the acting takes center stage. Gladstone is the standout – her Jamie is painfully alone, and all she wants is for someone to be with. Williams has a quiet yet powerful role as a woman who doesn’t appear to be totally happy in life yet soldiers on. Dern has a meaty role as the lawyer who has to deal with a volatile client. It’s Stewart who brings it all down a notch. Using her typical acting style (she always seems to be playing herself), she doesn’t add any energy or likability to her Beth. Written and directed by Kelly Reichardt, ‘Certain Women,’ based on several short stories, is particularly aimed at a female audience, an audience who can appreciate and relate to the strong female characters in this film.

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04th Mar2017

Life on the Line (DVD)

by timbaros

Travolta_Life-on-the-LineJohn Travolta stars as a lineman whose job it is everyday to risk his life while repairing electrical wires in the new film ‘Life on the Line.’.

‘Life on the Line’ follows a film formula that we’ve seen way too many times. The loss of both her parents shatters the life of a little girl and she is raised by the uncle who happens to do the same job as her father, a job that killed him. Travolta is her uncle Beau Ginner (what a name!). After her father gets electrocuted while repairing wires on a telephone line, and after her mother gets killed in a car crash on the way to the hospital – it is up to Beau to raise Bailey. Now older, Bailey (Kate Bosworth), still has to live with the fact that, like her father, Beau may never make it back home again due to the perils of his job. Throw in a subplot about a dodgy neighbor, a major storm on the horizon that could threaten Bailey’s life, and also how ridiculous Travolta looks with a beard and hair that is dyed black, and it’s a film that’s as unbelievable and anti-dramatic (and anti-climatic) as anything you’ve seen in quite a long time.

Travolta’s work tends to be very good (last year’s award winning ‘The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story’) or very very bad (2013’s ‘Killing Season’ and last year’s ‘I Am Wrath’). ‘Life on the Line’ doesn’t do him much justice. The plot is very predictable and the ending is ridiculous. ‘Life on the Line’ is having a digital and DVD release (and not theatrical) which always implies that the film was not good enough for theatrical distribution. Here is a link to the trailer so that you can decide for yourself if you want to watch it further (the trailer pretty much gives away much of the plot): https://youtu.be/L_5HrzU1S1E.

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