BEFORE SUNRISE

Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy create magic in BEFORE SUNRISE

Richard Linklater’s ‘Before Sunrise’, simply put, is one of my favourite films.

The film tells such a simple, lyrical story. Two young travellers, french graduate student Celine (Julie Delpy) and American Jesse (Ethan Hawke) meet on a a Budapest-Vienna train. At Jesse’s instigation they get off the train at Vienna and spend the next 14 hours together.Their time together is broken when dawn breaks and Celine has to get back on the train and continue on her travels.

Its so hard to paint a picture of a what a film is like but here goes with ‘Before Sunrise’.
It is a quiet but intensely romantic film. There is a very youthful feeling to the film.
I am sure that this feeling is so strong because of the films’ travelogue nature. As the couple journey around Vienna their time is spent meeting quirky characters, checking out local landmarks, visiting cafes and drinking places, and sharing their thoughts and philisophies of life.It’s an intoxicating ‘recipe’.

Linklater’s production is so well realised. His direction is first class. He manages to give the film such an intimate feeling.
Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy’s performances are exquisite. The quality that comes to mind are that their performances are so natural.
The film hardly feels acted or scripted at all, their relationship flows so well.
So, wrapping up, if qualities of intimacy and naturalness appeal to you in movies, then you are in for a unique, special treat with ‘Before Sunrise’.

(c) David Kary

Mr Bailey’s Minder

The Stables’s current production, Debra Oswald’s ‘Mr Bailey’s Minder’ was a journey worth the taking.
The journey starts when a young, rough as guts woman Therese (Kate Mulvany) takes on the job of being the carer of incorrigible artist, Leo Bailey (Martin Vaughan) in his dotage, after passing the scrutiny of his snobbish daughter, Margo (Victoria Longley). Journey’s end sees the passing of Bailey.
This was a strong production with good roles for all three main parts. Kate Mulvany gave a striking lead performance as Mr Bailey’s Minder, Therese. One of my favorite actresses Mulvany dominated the stage with a brash, confident performance.

She had a good meaty role to play. Therese played a young, woman from the wrong side of the tracks, who spent a lot of time before the courts. No angel, but with a good heart. And her tough kind of love with Bailey brings him out of his shell.
Veteran local actor Martin Vaughan had plenty to play for. How to describe his character?! Cantankerous old man….Enigmatic, famous, world weary, eccentric artist.
Another favorite actress Victoria Longley was kept busy although a little under-utilised as Bailey’s daughter Margo. How to describe her role? A sophisticated, well groomed career woman…A bit of a nose in the air, superior kind of person..a daughter who didn’t feel any real closeness with her father.
‘Mr Bailey’s Minder’ was well directed by Christopher Hurrell. The play had a good energy level though some of the intense scenes dragged a little. There was a good use of the stage and surrounds.
Stephen Hawker’s lighting design was effective with some good touches.
Jo Briscoe’s set design captured Leo Bailey’s world with its depiction of Bailey’s artistic living area, replete with paint stained floors.

The main theme of the night was the quality of family relationships, in particular father and daughter relationships. There is something of reconciliation between them by play’s end.
My favorite moment in the play…It was one of the turning points in the play and Kate Mulvany plays it superbly. Therese has had a jack of the way everyone, especially Lou was treating her. They don’t want to give her credit for the changes she is making. There is a scene where she decides she will backslide, and goes looking for a painting of Lou’s that she can steal and make lots of money from, and flee. She does snap out of it and realises that it would her into a lot of trouble.
Summing up, ‘Mr Bailey’s Minder’ was an entertaining night in the theatre. Nothing exceptional but a well put together well made play.

Bombshells

Caroline O’Connor received a deserved standing ovation on the opening night of her one woman show ‘Bombshells’ at the Seymour Centre.
‘Bombshells’, written by Joanna Murray-Smith, is a Melbourne Theatre Company production, directed by its Artistic Director Simon Phillips, which has brought up to Sydney by the Ensemble Theatre.
This was a special night at the theatre, combining the brilliance of a charismatic performer with some strong dramatic writing.
Caroline O’Connor played six different women ‘captured’ at very emotional times in their lives.
The strength and pleasure of this production lay in its immediacy; I had a sure handle on each character and what they were going through.

Caroline as Meryl Davenport, suburban mother of three… What a stunning portrait of a stressed out mother as she endeavors to survive the daily routine. Here was a picture of woman as puppet, whose strings were pulled in every direction. We hear her self talk unraveling at a huge rate of knots.

Caroline as Tiggy Entwhistle, abandoned wife and cactophile… Tiggy is lecturing to her gardening club about her passion for cactuses. Her slide show shows her expansive knowledge of the wide variety of cacti. It doesn’t take long to work out that Tiggy is an enormously lonely woman and that her passion for gardening is a poor substitute for good relationships.

Caroline as teenage entertainer Mary O’Donnell, preparing for her segment in a talent quest…My God this sure was a change of pace from Tiggy’s gardening show. Caroline captured Mary perfectly…the talented young entertainer living totally on adrenalin…determined to become a star and move over anyone in her way….resolved to put on the performance of her life.

Caroline as bride to be Theresa McTerry… This was a poignant vignette. Caroline portrayed the 360 degree range of feelings that Theresa was going through coming up to her momentous wedding day. There is a line which Caroline delivers that hangs permanently in the air, ‘its the dress that made me do it’.

Caroline as lonely widow, Winsome Webster…I saw this as the best written and most delicately performed of the six pieces. Winsome, a lonely middle-aged woman finds romance in the most unlikely of situations, after she has all but given up hope.

I loved this vignette’s theme, the role that chance, that mysterious element, can play in our lives.
Ironically, I found the final vignette, with Caroline playing spun-out diva Zoe Struthers, the least interesting and satisfying.

It was undoubtedly a showcase for Caroline to show off her musical rather than dramatic range, and as such it worked well. I simply felt that I have seen far too many versions of this particular story, of the drunk, doped out, has been performer, strutting the boards once too often.
Summing up, ‘Bombshells’ was a special night in the theatre, and for the next month is likely to be the hottest tickets in town.

Blasted

The late Sara Kane’s ‘Blasted’ is one of the most powerful anti war dramas that I have seen.
The scenario….Ian, a middle-aged journalist, and Cate, a friend twenty years younger, are having a torrid encounter in a hotel room where they are holed up.
They are holed up because they are living in the middle of a war zone. The war outside storms in to devastating effect when a young soldier breaks into the flat and dishes out some rough justice.

Belvoir Street theatre, care of Sheedy productions, performed this play as part of its B Sharp season.
This was a production that was relentless in its intensity.
The performances were strong with Kane’s well contrasted characters.
Terry Serio played journalist Ian, hard drinking, misogynistic, cynical as hell, with a dark, vicious streak.
Kate Mulvaney played Cate; young, naïve, childlike, immature, squealy, totally out of her depth in such a heated environment.
The anonymous soldier was played by Nichola Coghlan.

The defining scene…when the soldier spots ID that says Ian is a journalist. He tells Ian that he should tell ‘his story’ to the world, the horrifying experience of what it’s like to be a soldier in a war zone, how insane it is, how valueless human life becomes.
Paraphrasing, Ian replies that the world isn’t interested in real stories…he shuffles paperwork on the floor…the world is interested in trivia, mindlessness.

A final comment…with what’s happening presently in Iraq, it makes ‘Blasted’ more apt and relevant than even in 1995.

Mother

The British drama ‘The Mother’, directed by Roger Michell from a script by Hanif Kureishi and starring Anne Reid in the main role as May, really got to me.
‘The Mother’ had the perfect formula for drama. We have a meaty central character, a challenging journey, and some quirky and telling choices.
Talented British actress Reid must have felt over the moon when she landed the feature role. Female roles this strong don’t come up that often.
May is a woman in her sixties who finds herself suddenly widowed when her husband dies of heart failure. From the first scenes we see that May is very much her own person, willful and uncompromising.

Grandmother May chooses to get away from her marital home. May doesn’t stay at her son Bobby’s family home when she realizes that her presence is causing dislocation within his family.
She shacks up at her daughters Paula’s home and has to cope with her daughters’ decision to have it out with her over what she believes is the ill treatment she received as a child.
Paula runs a local writer’s group. It isn’t long before she is trying to match-make her mother with some of the older men in her group. What she doesn’t realise is that her mother finds these men boring and uninteresting. More to the point, she is unaware that her mum has her eye on her builder boyfriend, the phlegmatic Darren. May has felt her sexuality reawaken after being somewhat numbed by years of neglect in her marriage.

I guess that’s enough of a preview! For sure, ‘The Mother’ won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. For me it worked on an elemental level. This film was an original, gutsy survivor’s story.

Mean Girls

The scenario to the new American teen comedy, ‘Mean Girls’, directed by Mark S. Waters, is the period of transition that teenager Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan) goes through when she starts at an average American school campus.
Cady has been brought up by her folks in the wilds of Africa and she has always been home tutored. It comes as a great shock for her to have to cope with real school life, and to try to fit in.
You can put ‘Mean Girls’ down as a safely mainstream, commercial American teenage comedy. The film’s best feature was that it had a deft hand at social commentary, in particular teenage social politics.

So… at the start we have Cady entering a new, exciting and dangerous world and at the end we have her finding peace and harmony in it. In between, and this is the stuff of the film, it is quite a ride!
Cady survives the anxiety of her parents, the pressures of different peer groups each wanting to claim her as their own, a school crush, her own immaturity and power plays, to make it to hollow ground.
Summing up, ‘Mean Girls’ was an entertaining satirical romp however a few rungs down from its more famous predecessor, ‘Clueless’.

BEFORE SUNSET

The magic-one more time!

I checked what was on. I was in the mood for a love story, to be more precise, an intelligent love story.
It was an easy choice. It has to be Richard Linklater’s ‘Before Sunset’!

I had seen ‘Before Sunrise’ and it is one of my all time favorite films.
Two young travelers, brash young American Jesse and delicate Parisian Celine, played by Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, meet on a train going through Vienna. Jesse takes up the gauntlet and asks Celine if she’ll spend the night with him exploring Vienna. She takes up the offer and so starts one of the most beguiling romantic stories I’ve seen.

The pair say their tearful goodbyes around sunrise, as Celine reboards train, and agree to meet exactly one year later at he same spot.
We find out in the sequel ‘Before Sunset’ that the pair never met the following year.
It is some nine years later and Jesse is now a famous author doing a launch circuit. He is at a Paris bookstore fielding questions from the local
intelligentsia when Celine peers through the bookstore window. A local, Celine has seen a flyer featuring Jesse’s book launch around town and decided to catch up with her old flame.
The old flames spend the rest of the day together before Jesse gets his flight back to New York.

The bottom line is that ‘Before Sunset’ has the same magic recipe that graced the original. The film features deep, intimate conversations where no subject or feeling is off limits.
Little nuances of character reveal how the couple got on so well even though they are very different people.
How to describe them?! Jesse with his artistic temperament has his brooding intensity, Celine with her unpretentiousness, candid and easy going nature.

The film has a bonus seeing Julie Delpy perform her own ballad on guitar.
near the close of the film.
My verdict, this was a dreamy, very dreamy film. It was a shame that it had to end.

Bon Voyage

Jean-Paul Rappenau’s film ‘Bon Voyage’ was great entertainment. The film is about a group of French people coming to terms with the Nazi occupation of Paris in 1940.

Movie stars, spies, government ministers and jailbirds collide in a panoramic gridlock. The cast of characters include a stunning film actress (Isabella Adjani) who is trying to get out of being caught on a murder rap, a politician (Gerard Depardiu), a suspicious journalist (Peter Coyote), a pretty physics student (Virginia Ledoyan), and a young writer (Gregori Deranjere), all thrown together by the crisis.rrival of the German army and the city’s upper crust flee en masse to the Hotel Splendide in Bordeaux.

There was so much I loved about ‘Bon Voyage’. I loved its breakneck fast pace. There was never the slightest risk of being bored.
I loved the way the way that all the film elements were thrown together in a liberating, anarchic style…murder intrigue, a resistance plot, romances.
I loved the way the film was so tongue in cheek and impish. Everyone seemed to have fun being in it.

Bon Voyage’s characters were much larger than life, and made strong impressions. No-one more so than Isabella Adjani played an upper class lady with more front than the Harbour Bridge, manipulative as hell, totally charming, and full of feminine wiles. This was a classic femme fatale role and Adjani devoured it with relish

Catch ‘Bon Voyagé’. Its well worth a look.

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