15th Oct2017

Young Frankenstein (Theatre)

by timbaros

Cast of Young Frankenstein. Credit Manuel HarlanThe classic comedy ‘Young Frankenstein’ has finally made it’s way to the West End, and it’s just as funny, or perhaps even funnier, than the hit 1974 film.

Mel Brooks, still kicking around at the age of 91, directed and co-wrote (along with Gene Wilder) the Oscar-nominated film. Brooks wrote the music and lyrics of the stage version which had it’s Broadway debut in 2007 to rave reviews and several Tony award nominations. It’s arrival in the West End is welcome because there is a lack of stomach-splitting comedies on offer, and ‘Young Frankenstein’ is not only stomach splitting – it’s laugh out very loud funny!

Scientist Frederick Frankenstein (Hadley Fraser), who insists his last name is pronounced Frankensteen in order to disassociate himself from his grandfather – the mad scientist Dr. Victor von Frankenstein, and which becomes a running joke throughout the show – learns that he has inherited a castle in the town of Transylvania Heights from his grandfather. He decides to check it out and boards the Queen Mary Shelley ship (Shelley is the original author of the book of Frankenstein), says goodbye to his fiancé Elizabeth (Dianne Pilkington) who at the port sings the camp song ‘Please Don’t Touch Me’ in reference to her devotion to Frederick. Once Frederick arrives in the town, he is greeted by Igor (Ross Noble), a man with a hump on his back which keeps on changing sides. Frederick also hires an assistant to help him at the castle, and this assistant is the blond, beautiful, buxomy and German Inga (a wonderful Summer Strallen – who practically steals the show with her looks, and dumbwitnedness). They ride up to the castle on a wagon to the tune of ‘Roll in the Hay’ (because they are literally on hay and during the bumpy ride where Inga practically exposes almost every part of her body – it’s too funny and needs to be seen!) Once in the castle (the production designer cleverly takes up deeper and deeper into the castle through the use of darkness and doors that continually reveal amazing new sets) we meet the fabulous housekeeper Frau Blücher (Lesley Joseph) who has an absolute scene-stealing number with the song ‘He was my Boyfriend’ in reference to Victor Frankenstein. While in the castle, Frederick and Inga find a secret entrance to the laboratory, which inspires Frederick to create a monster in memory of his grandfather. Well, Igor gets a corpse for the experiment, but it’s not exactly what Frederick had in mind, nonetheless, a monster is born, but knocking on the door are the town’s villagers, led by the one-armed and one- legged Inspector Kemp (Patrick Clancy), who says ‘it literally cost him an arm and a leg!’ Tha dump!). He and the townspeople know that something is up in the castle, that many years ago bad things happened there, and they want to find out exactly what is going on. And the rest, as they say, is history.

‘Young Frankenstein’ continues with the laughs, and laughs, and laughs, culminating in the rib breaking song ‘Puttin on the Ritz’ sung by The Monster, Frederick, Inga, Igor and company. ‘Young Frankenstein is the funniest show I’ve seen in the West End in a long time (funnier, I think, than ‘The Book of Mormon’). And all the cast are excellent, but Strallen and Joseph are lucky enough to be given show stopping songs to sing, and Noble as Igor is just too good to be true, and let’s not leave out Shuler Hensley who plays, to great effect, The Monster. This show is just about as perfect a comedy can be, and Director and choreographer Susan Stroman has created a masterpiece, while kudos should also go to set designer Beowulf Boritt. It’s a shame that this show is at the small Garrick Theatre – it needs a bigger theatre just so that more people can see and enjoy it, but nonetheless it’s one you definitely don’t want to miss!

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15th Oct2017

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) – Film

by timbaros

MeyerowitzStoriespic1-600x429A dysfunctional family deals with the illness of its patriarch in the new film ‘The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected).’

Including a cast of very famous actors, ‘The Meyerowitz Stories’ is, appropriately enough, about the Meyerowitz family, their lack of cohesiveness and irregularity in ways that gets a bit too much at times. There is constant yelling and a general unlikeability (and lots of continuity errors) in this film that could’ve been made by Woody Allen (it’s written and directed by Noah Baumbach).

Dustin Hoffman is Harold, the patriarch of a family with children who come from different mothers. The children include Adam Sandler, who is very good as Danny. With no place to live due to bad luck, he decamps back at the family home with Harold’s fourth wife Maureen (Emma Thompson). Danny has a daughter who is Eliza (Grace Van Patten), a college student studying film who makes raunchy and disturbing lesbian films, even though she’s straight. Matthew (Ben Stiller) lives in Los Angeles and is a powerful and wealthy businessman with a family of his own. Then there’s the miscast sister Jean (Elizabeth Marvel), whose awkwardness in appearance and behavior alludes to an abnormal upbringing. When Howard falls ill and is sent to the hospital, all hell breaks loose. Matthew flies in to be by his father’s side (with eyes on selling the family home for big bucks), and it’s him and Danny and Jean who practically fall apart and can’t cope, not only because their father is gravely ill, but also because of the mess their relationships, with each other, and with their father are in. Very bad shape doesn’t even come close.

‘The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)’, brought to us by master storyteller Baumbach, is one film that’s a bit hard to sit through. While all the actors are fantastic in their roles, the script is, as mentioned, a bit too much to take, and a bit unbeiveable. There’s also a scene where Sandler completely damages a car in broad daylight, in front of the hospital where his father is, but is not challenged or arrested. And it’s get very overdramatic in the hospital scenes where we know that all is going to be ok in the end. It’s worth a watch for the fine acting but that’s about all.

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15th Oct2017

Double Date (Film)

by timbaros
Double Date film written by Danny Morgan photographed by stills photographer Andrew Ogilvy Photography

Double Date film written by Danny Morgan photographed by stills photographer Andrew Ogilvy Photography

Two men get tricked by two very attractive women and it’s a ‘Double Date’ from hell!

Jim (Danny Morgan) and Alex (Michael Socha) are typical 20-something men. All they want to do is drink and get laid, however, there’s one problem. Jim, fast approaching 30, is a virgin. Yes, he’s never gotten laid. He’s not all that bad. He’s nice and all, but goodlooking Alex gets most of the attention, and the girls. But when two women coincidentally seek out Jim by making an easy play for him, not all is what it seems. You see, these two women Lulu (Georgia Groome) and Kitty (Kelly Wenham), who happen to be sisters, are looking for a male virgin as a sacrificial lamb for their sick father (boy is he sick – and skeletal!), and Jim has stupidly posted his profile on a virgin dating site. It’s not too long before the girls lure the men into their home (a huge mansion) where they reveal their dark and sinister sides, and the boys will definitely not be getting laid on this double date!

‘Double date’ is an amusing enough movie that doesn’t really take itself too seriously. The cast are all in good, scary and bloody form, and Morgan brings a bit of warmth and cuteness to his role (especially when he takes Kitty to his parents house for a brief birthday party). It’s all in good fun, and properly executed thanks to director Benjamin Barfoot. And while some of the fighting scenes forge on the unbelievable, at 90 minutes it’s not much of an investment in your time. And why yes, it’s the perfect double date movie!

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08th Oct2017

The Toxic Avenger (Theatre)

by timbaros

THE TOXIC AVENGER THE MUSICAL 1 Mark Anderson as Toxie Phorto Irina Chira

There’s a monster loose at The Arts Theatre in London; it’s toxic, it smells, and it’s completely hilarious!

It’s “The Toxic Avenger,” the show that was originally a movie (circa 1984) and just last year played at The Southwark Playhouse to rave reviews. Well, “The Toxic Avenger” is getting revenge by coming back to a much larger theatre, with a superb cast!

In a nutshell, the show takes place in New Jersey. You know the place, people only pass through there to get to the bright lights and big city of New York. Well, New Jersey is where the denizens of Manhattan dispose of all of it’s waste – not just garbage but everything and anything that they don’t want, New Jersey, unfortunately, gets.

But in a town called Tromaville, New Jersey, which gets the worst of the wasted, there is nerd and aspiring earth scientist Melvin Ferd the Third (Mark Anderson), his mom Ma Ferd (Natalie Hope), Sarah the blind librarian (Emma Salvo), and host of other characters played by Ché Francis and Oscar Conlon-Morray, named appropriately as black dude and white dude. But when Melvin decides to find out who is responsible for the vats of toxic waste in Tromaville, he plans to put a stop to it. His investigation leads to the Mayor (Hope again), but when she finds out Melvin is on her case, she gets her two goons to get rid of Melvin, and they throw him into a vat of toxic sludge. But Melvin does not get killed, he comes back bigger and better than ever – he’s been transformed into “The Toxic Avenger” (a/k/a Toxie)!

Toxie attempts to get his revenge, but in the meantime blind librarian Sarah has a thing for him because she thinks he’s French (though when Toxie was Melvin he had a huge crush on her but she rebuffed him). Meanwhile the Mayor is still up to no good and vows to kill Toxie no matter what it takes. But hilarity (and lots of physical comedy) ensue; lots of running on and off the stage by the cast, Sarah doing everything she can to get with Toxie, and the brilliant Hope has a scene with herself as both the Mayor and Ms. Ferd – and one time she’s on stage as both characters! It’s a tour de force performance! Will Sarah and Toxie find love with each other? Will the corrupt Mayor have her way and turn Tromaville into more of a toxic waste dump? Will the front row of the audience escape unscathed? You will have to find out and buy tickets to this must-see show. And did I mention that it’s a musical? Everything you want and more is this show! And the cast are brilliant! It’s hard to single out any one performer, but I’m going to. Of course Hope gets the most exercise (and laughs) as both the Mayor and Melvin’s mother, but it’s Salvo’s performance that is most memorable because she’s playing a bind woman, and it’s so believable! And she’s so funny! Kudos to the cast, and production team, including director Benji Sperring, for bringing us a show that’s one not too miss. It’s got everything a musical should have; escapism, fantasy, great story, amazing performances, and some rocking songs. Buy tickets for this show now!

From Joe DiPietro and David Bryan (original founding member and keyboardist/vocalist for Bon Jovi), the Tony Award-winning team behind the hit West End musical ‘Memphis,“ “The Toxic Avenger The Musical” is now playing at The Arts Theatre in London until December 3, 2017.
https://artstheatrewestend.co.uk/whats-on/the-toxic-avenger/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIyPyZ8Jzd1gIVB5UbCh3pcQKkEAAYAiAAEgL_GPD_BwE

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07th Oct2017

London Film Festival Press Conference for “The Meyerowitz Stories: New and Selected”

by timbaros

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As part of the The 61st BFI London Film Festival, today there was a press conference held at London’s glamorous Corinthia Hotel for the film “The Meyerowitz Stories: New and Selected.” Attending were the film’s stars Dustin Hoffman and Adam Sandler, as well as writer and director Noah Baumbach.

“The Meyerowitz Stories: New and Selected” is the gala for the Laugh strand of the festival. In the film, Dustin Hoffman plays a moody patriarch in a film about a screwed-up New York family. To suggest that sculptor Harold Meyerowitz (Hoffman) is a model father would be pushing it. His adult children, like his artistic career, have not exactly met his expectations, but he has succeeded in selling them a rather delusional version of his own achievements. His eldest son Danny (Adam Sandler) is coasting through life while Harold’s daughter Jean (Elizabeth Marvel) enjoys being in the background. Matthew (Ben Stiller), who live on the West Coast, is very successful. Meanwhile, there is Harold’s drunk bohemian fourth wife Maureen (Emma Thompson). It’s pure dysfunction all the way, more so when Harold winds up in the hospital and everyone has to decide what’s best for Harold, together.

“The Meyerowitz Stories: New and Selected” is out in UK cinemas on October 13, 2017.
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04th Oct2017

London Film Festival Opening Night Film “Breathe”

by timbaros

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The 61st BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express® launched tonight with the Opening Night Gala, the European premiere of “Breathe,” directed by Andy Serkis and starring Claire Foy and Andrew Garfield.

Joining Serkis, Foy and Garfield on the red carpet, and on stage before the screening, included co-starts Tom Hollander and Hugh Bonneville.
“Breathe” is an inspirational love story about a couple who defy the odds and try to live a normal life. When dapper and adventurous Robin Cavendish (Garfield) meets self-assured Diana (Foy) at a cricket match, a whirlwind romance ensues. Soon after their wedding, they set out for Nairobi where Robin works as a tea broker. But their new life together takes an abrupt turn when he contracts polio and is given only weeks to live. Determined that her husband’s life should not be restricted by medical and social prejudice, Diana ignores all advice and breaks him out of the hospital. With the support of her twin brothers (both played by Tom Hollander) and friend Teddy (Hugh Bonneville), an Oxford professor who invents a wheelchair with a respirator attached, Diana creates an environment in which Robin can thrive and he goes on to lead a long and full life. “Breathe” is based on the true story of producer Jonathan Cavendish’s parents. “Breathe” is released nationally in the UK on October 27, 2017.

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“Breathe” Producer John Cavendish, Claire Foy, Andrew Garfield, Director Andy Serkis, Writer William Nicholson and moderator Terri White at today’s press conference before the film premiere

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02nd Oct2017

Raindance Film Festival – Best of LGBT Films

by timbaros

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“There is a Light” (Il Padre d’Italia)

A beautifully written and told and acted story of gay man Paolo who, unusually, encounters a very pretty young pregnant woman – Mia – in a backroom gay sex bar. She’s presumably looking for her boyfriend who ditched her. Paolo befriends her and they leave together and embark on a road trip that turns into something a bit more. Luca Marinellil and Isabella Ragonese are a revelation in the leading roles, and the great soundtrack is an added bonus. Look for this film anyway you can.

“Discreet” – written and directed by Travis Mathews, who collaborated on “Interior Leather Bar” with James Franco, as well as a documentary series of gay men in several cities, brings us a film that is about a gay drifter Alex (Jonny Mars) who takes up residence in his supposed mute grandfather’s house. At the same time he pursues a local young teenage boy and spends time at the local gay cinema with a muscular Italian man. Alex is also hypnotized by some sort of strange sex website run by an oriental woman that seems to help him drive his inner ego. It all makes for a very strange and uncomfortable movie wth an awful narrative, a self-indulgent work on Mathews part. This one is a miss.

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“Anatomy of a Ballet Dancer: Marcelo Gomes”
A documentary about the life and career of one of ballet’s biggest stars, who has been with the American Ballet Theatre for 20 years. This film is not just for ballet fans as we get too see the inner workings of the mind of Gomes, who had talent at a very young age. This film also deals with how he overcame his parents divorce, as well as coming out of the closet in a big way on the cover of a magazine, and how he has become one of ballet’s biggest stars. The documentary shines a light on his relationship with his father, who for some reason does not want to go see Gomes dance on stage in his hometown of NYC. Gomes comes across as such a nice and down to earth guy, and it doesn’t hurt that he parades around in really really tight ballet clothes that leave nothing to the imagination.

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“The Joneses”
Jheri Jones is a fascinating woman, and in this excellent documentary we learn that Jheri is no ordinary woman, she used to be Jerry. But to her four male children, one of whom is gay and comes out in the documentary at the age of 37, Jheri is actually both mom and dad (their actual mother passed away years ago at the age of 59). Including Jheri’s two understanding grandchildren, “The Joneses” show how the family have accepted and embraced Jheri’s transition (which took place years ago). But it’s Jheri who is the star of this documentary- she fascinating, fun, fierce, and fabulous.

“The Misandrists”
Controversial film director Bruce LaBruce is, as always, in unusual form in this strange film about a school for girls and the powering teachers who lead them and who call themselves the Female Liberation Army. But all is not what is seems with the girls, some are hiding secrets, and one of them is hiding a male soldier in the basement dungeon. But it gets to be a bit too much when a penis is surgically cut off which leads to, at the very end, a lesbian orgy that leaves nothing to the imagination. It’s 90 minutes that’s a bit too much to take.

“Mist”
A Mexican film with English subtitles, it’s the story of a young pregnant woman, Martina, who escapes her life in Mexico City to go look for the father she never knew in Berlin. Of course while in Berlin she encounters all sorts of people, including a memorable drag queen played by the fabulous Dieter Rita Scholl. But Martina’s boyfriend comes looking for her in Berlin, and she’s got a strange habit of spontaneously stealing things. “Mist” is worth a watch for the performances.

“Apricot Groves”
Aram (Narbe Varten) has just flown back to Armenia from where he’s living in California to ask the parents of his girlfriend for her hand in marriage. He is squired around town by his confident and worldly brother Vartan (Pedram Ansari). But another purpose of Aram’s trip is for him to undergo surgery, and it’s this revelation at the end of the film (and a bit in the beginning) that makes “Apricot Groves” a real treasure.

“Boys for Sale”
Having never been to Tokyo, I didn’t realize that there was such a huge male escort scene there. In this well done documentary, we get to meet several ‘urisen’ (male sex workers) in Tokyo’s Shinjuku 2-chome gay district, where they all talk to the camera about their lives and what led them to this type of work. It’s a fascinating film by director Itako and Executive Producer Ian Thomas Ash. It also includes very clever and compelling drawings of a sexual nature that depict the urisen’s non-exciting sexual encounters. Try to find this documentary anyway you can.

While not specifically LGBT, two other films at Raindance are recommended because of their great music stores. “Trendy,” about a man who moves to London from up north to escape a bad incident, is shot almost entirely in East London and many scenes take place in Berlin-style underground clubs. “Afterparty” is just what you’d expect. It takes place in a huge nightclub in Belgrade, focusing on one of the bartender’s quest to become famous, and where the music is just as fast and furious and thumping as the main character.

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