Macbeth may not be Verdi’s greatest opera, in fact it’s hard to imagine anyone’s claiming it is, yet in a performance that is as musically inspired as the one I saw at the Royal Opera last week (the second of the run) it comes across as an inspired work, almost all the way through, and one which can be considered seriously alongside Shakespeare.
Two self-directed films this week, and that is usually a bad sign.
Two films this week, one assiduously without heart, and one which may suffer from a surfeit, so you pays your money and takes your pick or you don’t pays your money and you stays in and has a jacket potato and watches TV.
Win Win is a comedy-drama that is warm-hearted and compassionate and enjoyable without, alas, being especially remarkable or original, which is a bit of a blow but I think you’ll get over it, with bed rest and time.
As Attack the Block is being touted as ‘the new Shaun of the Dead’ I expected a light-hearted romp rather than something quite bloody and nasty, although this does, at least, come in at a highly manageable 88 minutes.
My Dog Tulip is a tender and exquisite animation about one man and his dog which gets as close to what it is to love dogs as I’ve ever encountered, and goes a considerable way to making up for what dog-lovers have had to put up with at the cinema in recent years (Hotel for Dogs, Beverly Hills Chihuahua, Marley & Me; utter tripe).
Now that we can read on Kindle and some people fear that paper-and-ink books will become extinct, one’s first impulse might be to say hurrah for this mighty production.
Two films, this week, because I spoil you — what can I say? It’s in my nature — and not much to choose between them apart from the fact that one is good (Cedar Rapids) and one is so bad (Arthur) that just thinking about it makes me want to weep for myself, for remakes, for film audiences, for the state of cinema today, for humankind and for dogs that are cruelly treated, which is not especially relevant but, if I am weeping anyway, I might as well include them.
Now, children, are you all sitting comfortably? Good, then I’ll begin.
Rio (3D) is a perfectly average kiddies’ flick, although, as it’s Easter and the kiddies are off school, anything that might amuse them and get them out of your hair should not, I suppose, be sniffed at, and this should do the trick; this is something you can park them at on the days you can’t dump them at grandma’s (grandmas love looking after their grandchildren.
I didn’t much like Oranges and Sunshine and I’ll tell you for why: it takes one of the most obscene scandals in 20th-century British politics — the mass forced deportation of British children to Australia, which began in the 1920s and continued right up until 1970 — and all but kills it off with its self-righteous stance, plodding script, mournful violins and clunky construction.
I love this film. It’s terrific. You should go see it, and go see it now. Just abandon everything and go. The children? They’ll be fine, so long as you put all sharp objects and poisons out of their reach. Don’t use that old excuse! Now, how best to sum it up? OK, if you’ve ever wished that another Gregory’s Girl would come along, but with a darker underbelly — and who hasn’t? Particularly in the early hours — then this is it although, by mentioning Gregory’s Girl, I’m not saying Submarine isn’t original, because it is. I’m just trying to give you the flavour of it. Sometimes, I do wish you could be a bit more grateful. It’s not like I don’t give you free childcare tips. What more do you want? Blood?
The long war between France and the US has its liveliest consequence in the world of film: Hollywood does movies, the French do cinema.
What the world needs now, perhaps as a matter of some urgency, is love, sweet love, but, failing that, wouldn’t a decent, warm, engaging rom-com do? It might but, alas, it isn’t Chalet Girl.
His & Hers is a film (obviously) which, by rights, should be as dull as dishwater, if dishwater is truly dull, which it sometimes is and sometimes isn’t.
Although I appreciate it is always hard to come down from the Oscars and that special, magical tingle in the air — if I hadn’t turned in after MasterChef, as I always do, I would have certainly stayed up all night to watch — it’s time to get back to business and this week’s big film The Adjustment Bureau, which could do with a significant amount of adjusting itself.
West Is West is the follow-up to the 1999 film East Is East, even though everyone should have left well alone and busied themselves elsewhere.
Slam one down on the bar, scoop in some crushed ice and finish with a slug of grenadine. Paul is straight from the cocktail school of cinema.
I didn’t go and see the Coen brothers’ remake of True Grit this week because I couldn’t get excited about it and don’t like westerns anyhow.
Although I can’t generally get too worked up about remakes, just as I can’t get too worked up about most things these days — too old; too tired; too long in what teeth I still have left (four, I think) — I suppose this Brighton Rock does have its work cut out.
Hereafter is directed by Clint Eastwood, produced by Clint Eastwood and Steven Spielberg, and written by Peter Morgan, although what would attract one of these big names to such a project, let alone three, is anyone’s guess.
I have always suspected that, if you look for the black swan within yourself, it will end in tears, and now Darren Aronofsky has proved me right.
Conviction is yet another film based on ‘an inspirational true story’ because, I’m assuming, Hollywood has now run out of made-up stories.
The film-maker John Waters specialises in weirdos. His new book, Role Models (Beautiful Books, £15.99), is a collection of interviews and anecdotes seasoned with off-beat fashion tips.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock — in which case, keep it to yourself; I’m done with rocks — you’ll have already heard about 127 Hours.