I saw a trailer for this film when I watched Potiche recently – and was surprised that I had never heard of it before. It’s a Luc Besson film after all! So I immediately put it to the top of my Blockbuster list!
Set in 1912 Paris, we first join Professor Espérandieu as purely by the power of his mind, he hatches a pterodactyl from the egg held in a museum there. However, this is just a test-run for him – the real project is to help Adèle Blanc-Sec in her quest to cure her sister.
We then meet Adèle in a tomb in Cairo where she is looking for the mummified remains of a Pharoah’s doctor to bring back to Paris.
We watched this as a family, and we all really enjoyed it. It’s a proper family ‘caper’ – but especially great for girls to watch as Adèle is a brilliant feisty, confident role-model type. Think something of a cross between The Mummy and Night at The Museum.
It’s very Luc Besson, very stylised, with some gorgeous scenery – and it is incredibly funny. The mummies are hilarious
I think it’s based on some French comics, and you could see that in soe of the scenes. There is a lot of CGI, and it’s a little hit and miss – some of it is done very well, but some is a rather less impressive.
Louise Bourgoin who plays Adèle is fantastic – beautiful, expressive and totally believable. The Girl just wanted to be her!
I am really surprised that this has only got 6.1 on IMDB. I think it deserves far higher. I know it’s not Oscar material, but it’s extremely entertaining, totally harmless and very fun.
My rating – 8/10
The film was accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted by the composer of the live score, John Scott.
One of my friends had asked me if I had seen the film before, and I said that I vaguely remembered seeing it, and the only lasting impression I remembered was that it was very ‘fast’ – speeded up, like the end of the Benny Hill show.
This certainly wasn’t like that, and so I was confused as to what I had seen, until I read the blurb in the programme.
Composer John Scott (he seemed a lovely man, and after the performance, he asked Douglas Fairbanks’ granddaughter who was in the audience, whether she thought he would have approved!) originally turned down the idea of creating a new score for the film when approached in 2006 by the City of Nottingham.
One of the reasons he gave was “I found the film unbearable, all the characters moved in a stilted way, far too fast and the whole effect was quaint and unreal.” So perhaps my memory of the film hadn’t been wrong after all. they then slowed the film down to ‘real time’ action and John Scott realised that the film was now a very different subject, and that he would be able to compose the new score.
The film was actually far more lavish than I had been expecting – it apparently cost a rumoured $1million…in 1922…and at the time was the most expensive film made.
The sets were absolutely amazing for the time, including a full-scale castle built especially for the film. The jousting scenes at the start included a huge number of extras, animals and grand costumes and sets.
The film was often suprisingly dark, often laugh-out-loud funny (sometimes even intentionally!) and literally had Robin and his merry men skipping around the forest in their tights. Yes, literally. Grown men skipping.
The athleticism of Douglas Fairbanks was also a wonder to behold. Whenever they rushed off to their horses, he literally leaped over rocks, bushes, etc and jumped straight into the saddle, while the rest of the men put on a brave show of trying to heave themselves up via their stirrups while he got a head start on them.
And the score – it was faultless. Sometimes I glanced down from the screen and was almost shocked to see a full orchestra there playing, as I had momentarily forgotten that it was live, so seamless were the action and the music.
It was a fabulous evening in gorgeous surroundings, and a film that I am glad I now have a better memory of, with a faultless live score – I loved every second!
I wonder what will be my next silent film with live score experience…
I will levae you with a non-slowed down clip…pretty gruesome, aye?
Last week, Waltham Forest council put on another concert as part of The Big 6, as a ‘celebration’ of being an official Olympic borough.
You may remember my trip to Party On The Pitch – this again was a free concert with a random ticket ballot. Unlike Party On The Pitch, I think this was absolutely fantastic.
I have to say, it probably helped in some way that the weather on the evening of July 5th was gorgeous – an unexpected occurance considering the weather this summer. The crowd was also extremely varied.
Urban Classic is a real musical mash-up – the BBC Symphony Orchestra playing with urban hip-hop artists. It had its first outing in 2006 to much acclaim and earlier this year it apparently had a very successful run at the Barbican (which somehow passed me by – shocking for a Barbican member, as this is right up my street!).
Luckily, last week it literally WAS right up my street, taking place in the Chestnuts Showground behind the iconic Walthamstow Town Hall. There were loads of food stalls and I had a gorgeous chorizo, red pepper and rocket roll No alcohol though, and no food or alcohol allowed onto the site. they even nicked my hairspray which was a brand new can and I hadn’t taken out as I’d come straight from work Boo!
There was a great atmosphere with everyone happy to be out somewhere being entertained for free in the sunshine. There was such a mix, as you can expect, with loads of kids down the front cheering and shouting, unable to contain their excitement for seeing Fazer (from N-Dubz), Skepta, Devlin and Ms Dynamite (who I had actually heard of!) and then others (the oldies, like me) who were looking forward to the 85-strong orchestra (although personally it was the whole mash-up that appeals to me personally!) and (like me) had brought along their foldy chairs
First of all there was a rather random DJ, who, although enthusiastic, unfortunately came across as a kind of local radio DJ with an over-abundance of sound effects, he was particularly fond of a breaking glass one, which after a while we found really amusing. he even houted “SHABBA!!” a couple of times. I can’t believe that he was cool even to the yoof, but bless him, he got the party started.
The orchestra kicked it all off with Jules Buckley conducting and then were joined by each of the artists in turn – I even got to sing “Ms Dynamite-ee-hee” which is the only part I actually knew from any of the tracks (I am SO old)…but it was all amazing…I loved every single second.
At one stage, Fazer was joined by Ed Drewett for their cover of Englishman In New York, which was really good, but this was totally blown away when Ed Sheeran joined Devlin (I think they’ve collaborated many times) for their cover of All Along The Watchtower that is being released as a single. I hate to say it, as the original really IS a classic, but I loved it a hell of a lot more than I should’ve done.
Here’s my vid of that part:
There was an unexpected firework show to end things, and we all went away feeling thoroughly entertained and extremely happy. this was a total success, as I said it was so much better than Party On The Pitch, and I think appealed so much more to the diverse population of the borough. I hope there’s the opportunity for more things like that – I would be willing to pay to see such a brilliant show on my doorstep!
I was just looking at something for this year’s E17 Art Trail and realised that I never got around to posting my photos from my art trail visit with The Girl to the Paekakariki Press around the corner.
I had never realised that it was there, and it is literally in the next road.
It was absolutely fascinating to see this fully-working old press, it was a really comforting (if loud) proper machinery sound, along with the smells, and the fantastic rows and rows of drawers holding all the letters in various fonts. Fantastic! If you get a chance to see it on this year’s Art Trail, do. Just beware as it wasn’t open for very long last year, so plan it in!
A friend of mine recently ordered some shoes for her daughter, and posted the photos on Facebook. I was so impressed with them that I decided to get some for The Girl.
The Girl’s absolutely favourite film ever is Spirited Away from Studio Ghibli. It is rather surreal, which completely appeals to The Girl. Chihiro’s parents eat too much food, so an eil witch turns them into pigs. Chihiro desperately tries to find help to return her parents to their usual form. She meets a boy who is also a dragon-spirit (Haku). Together they encounter the evil witch and her twin sister who is good. Another spirit they meet is No-Face who at first is a people-eating monster but his time with Chihiro and Haku has a positive effect on him!
As I said – rather surreal. A bit like The Girl.
After seeing the shoes that my friend had made up, I realised that the Spirited Away animations would be a good fit with Gemma of Gemsville designs – so after a few emails exchanged she sent me her proposed designs and rough drawings, and I happily paid my £25.
I think you can see how happy The Girl was with her surprise
I think I may have been to opening night of Antigone on Wednesday (I am not altogether sure) – and that’s something I generally try to avoid, as I always feel that the cast and crew haven’t yet had time to perfect it.
However, I didn’t book the tickets…to be honest, I had absolutely no idea what I was going to see on Wednesday. A few months ago, my mate asked me “Would you like to see a play with Christopher Ecclestone in it.” He probably said more than that, but that is as much as I heard. I really like Christopher Ecclestone – and it was months away, so I just said “Yes please!”
I actually put it in my diary as “Christopher Ecclestone thing @ Almeida”. Yes. That’s how much notice I was taking.
So, it’s pretty fair to say that I had no idea what to expect when I sat down in the Olivier Theatre at the National.
Antigone (actually pronounce ann-tig-oh-knee) is actually a Greek tragedy, written by Sophocles. The title is the name of the heroine, she is a daughter of Oedipus and Jocasta (you remember them – she was actually his mum! Ewww!).
The play starts following the death of Oedipus, and his two sons have died in combat, one defending Thebes from the other. Creon (Jocasta’s brother) has become King, and his first ruling is that a proper burial should be given to Eteocles who was defending Thebes but that the body of his brother Polynices should be left out for the scavengers and not receive a proper burial.
Antigone goes against Creon’s orders and tries to give Polynices a proper burial, even though her sister Ismene refuses to help her from fear of reprimand.
THAT basically is what the play is about. Christopher Ecclestone plays Creon, the King who is trying to assert his power and doesn’t take criticism well – even from his son Haemon, who is actually betrothed to Antigone (confused by all this incestuous activity yet?)
The set was an office – a very old fashioned (70s?) office. There were three proper glass and wood pannelled offices (the middle being the King’s office, complete with portrait) whilst outside was a jumble of desks, wheelie chairs and other assorted equipment.
Personally, I didn’t really get the set, but my mate said he was cool with it – it was very much ‘the state’.
Unfortunately neither of is were particularly convinced by the acting though. I am not sure whether it was proving my distrust of opening nights to be right, but the acting felt like…well ‘acting’. It felt like the main players were saying “Look at me, I am an actor!” – I’m not sure how to describe it, but everything felt rather emotionless – as if they were all going through the motions, a bit like a rehearsal. An emotionless tragedy isn’t a good thing, right?
And it isn’t as if the content of the play is anything to rely on – I bet if you took out the amount of times people described how Polynices hadn’t had a proper burial, then the whole play would have been reduced to an hour, rather than the one and three quarters (no interval) that it was.
And you could probably have got it down to 50 minutes if you took out all the inter-scene bits of chorus ‘office bustle’.
I might actually have thought that it was good if it had been 50 minutes, although they probably would have had to show a cartoon beforehand to pad it out a bit like the days of Saturday morning matinees at the pictures.
OK…I am being unfair now it wasn’t bad, but it definitely wasn’t good – whether that’s because the play is a bit skimpy on content, or because of the set, direction or acting, I cannot tell. But there was certainly no standing ovation. It was the shortest applause I have been part of at the theatre in the past couple of years…and I have been to see a LOT of plays!
It was an experience, it entertained me enough, Haemon, Ismene and especially the seer were pretty good and we got the seats as part of the National Theatre’s £12 deal, so it didn’t break the bank.
I expect it will get better with more performances.
You may remember that we went to see The Cabinet of Dr Caligari last month, with live score by Minima. I had never heard of Piccadilly before, and was looking forward to seeing a late 1920′s London! This time, the live score was performed by Igor Outkine, a Russian accordianist.
Piccadilly is a slightly odd film really – it follows the story of Valentine Wilmot, owner of the successful Piccadilly club in Piccadilly Circus. A lot of their success is said to be down to dancers Mabel and Vic.
On the night that we join them, a disgruntled customer causes a disruptive fuss about a dirty plate which sends Wilmot scurrying off to the kitchen and scullery in turn to find out how this happened. Whilst there, he sees a Chinese dishwasher (Shosho) dancing on the table. He fires her immediately.
Meanwhile, the disruption to his dance has vexed Vic so much, that he plans to leave Piccadilly for Hollywood, and tries to get Mabel to go with him, declaring his love. Mabel however is already in love with Wilmot, and tells him no. Vic then goes to quit, but Wilmot fires him first.
The film then follows the story of how Wilmot encourages Shosho to dance at the club, the conditions she enforces and increasing Mabel’s jealousy.
The film includes scandal, racism, dancing and eventually murder.
There are lots of close-up shots of eyebrow-raising (mainly from Valentine), sly looks (mainly from Shosho) and shock and horror (mainly from Mabel).
The whole film felt quite long, and there were parts that just seemed really random, with long shots of not very much, giving no progression to the story – in fact seeming to get in the way of it at times. I often found that I was busy giggling at some random thing that someone had done in a rather bizzarre manner.
Igor Outkine played an accordian the like I had never ssen before, and he told us right at the start that he was improvising. His accordian was an electric one (I assume), and sounded of many, many different instruments, from drums to piano to trumpet – which was very effective.
However, I am not sure that Piccadilly is a particularly easy film to improvise a soundtrack to, as it flicks through emotions and moods rather quickly and has a LOT of scene cut-aways (you will see what I mean in the clip below). It was also almost TWO HOURS long and he played admirably without a single break. Pretty amazing really.
Anyway – for £20 including a rather bloody good homemade burger, chips and coleslaw and a nice glass of wine / £9 without food & drink (or £18 / £7 for members like me!) it was a really good evening out, and we will probably be going along to the next one. The Great White Silence on Sunday 24th June.
I will leave you with this. Charles Laughton played ‘the disgruntled diner’ in the film. And if I hadn’t seen this, I never would have known that Monty Python’s Mr Creosote was actually BASED on someone already dreamed up. He was, wasn’t he?
Last night seems so long ago.
Just a distant memory.
There you were – sitting before me.
So full of promise.
So full of spirit.
A fun time, waiting to be had.
Once I got you home
There was a brief tussle when I took your top off.
And then you were open to me.
Giving yourself freely.
Filling my head with thoughts and desires.
But this morning my warm feelings for you have gone.
Replaced with mild regret.
I look down at where you lay
And I sneer.
You were by no means my first.
Many have been before you.
I am sure that there will be many more after you.
You will not stand out in my memory.
You are just one of many identical to you.
Last night was your only night.
And I am not altogether sure that you were worth it,
Oh empty vodka bottle.
And in other news…I think I may still be a little drunk.
A couple of weeks ago, me and three friends went along to Hackney Attic (top floor of the wonderful Hackney Picturehouse – where I happened to take The Girl to see the brilliant Avengers Assemble yesterday) to see a one-off showing of 1920 silent film The Cabinet of Dr Caligari.
This featured a live score by 4 man band Minima.
The film itself is often thought of as one of the most influential horror movies. It is a lesson in German expressionism – the sets are all highly stylized, with a lot of sharp, jagged buildings and furniture, disproportionate sets and backdrops that were painted on canvas.
The actors also often played their roles in a rather odd and jerky manner (think the Smirnoff Judderman advert) and I read that it is believed to have introduced the twist ending in film.
Obviously these days, watching such an old film, a lot of the melodrama and horror and over-acting seems rather amusing in places, but it doesn’t detract from a solid tale, and some truly iconic scenes and memorable moments.
This was completely enhanced by Minima’s score. i had never heard of Minima before, but I will certainly be looking out for them in the future – they were amazing. This definitely wasn’t your usual silent film score. They’re funky, and definitely more of a rock band, but the atmosphere they injected into the film was truly outstanding.
Minima consist of an electric guitar, drums, bass, and the necessary spooky cello – and you wouldn’t believe such a wide-range of moods and sounds could be emitted from such a tiny number of instruments…they were fantastic.
The film for this month is Piccadilly (which I had never heard of, let alone seen!) again at Hackney Attic on the 20th and will have a live score by Igor Outkine on the accordian. I will probably be going!
I will leave you with a clip.
It’s funny, as I said in my post about The Pitchfork Disney, I had never heard of Philip Ridley before, and suddenly I had unknowingly managed to book up to see two of his plays in less than a fortnight! this time it was to see Ridley’s latest offering - Shivered at the wonderful Southwark Playhouse.
A young couple are moving into their new home. Two boys are searching for monsters or aliens. A soldier is being held hostage. A young family are moving into a new town. A fat psychic is reliant on her young son. How do these people inter-connect? Where does the story begin and end?
The imaginary Essex new-town of Draylingstowe is the setting for the majority of the play – once a place of hope and prosperity it has declined into a misery, bringing down its resisdents with it. The story revolves around two families and covers twelve years – but NOT necessarily in chronological order.
This play was mesmerising, and really superbly acted – no mean feat considering there was no set at all! The way that it meandered across the years, slowly changing the audience’s perception of events was extremely clever.
At times the audience were laughing out loud, and at times there was a collective holding of breath – and yet never did I feel that we were being taken on this emotional roller-coaster just for the sake of it. even the shocking parts didn’t feel that they were purely for shock value – they all added to the evolution of the characters. And the characters were very rich.
I was especially taken by Joshua Williams as Jack – an energetic, endearing and slightly naive young lad who is a victim of bullying and who can’t believe that anything has actually happened unless he has seen the evidence on YouTube.
I absolutely loved it and even now, a week after I saw it, I am replaying some of the scenes in my head and wondering whether I have just thought of a different angle on something within it.
Shivered is showing until 14th April – if you get a chance to see it, I highly recommend it.