UNA follows a young woman’s journey to reclaim her past. Fifteen years earlier, when she was a minor, Una ran away with an older man, Ray, a crime for which he was arrested and imprisoned.
When she comes across a photo of him in a trade magazine, Una tracks him down and turns up at his workplace. Her abrupt arrival threatens to destroy Ray’s new life and derail her stability. Unspoken secrets and buried memories surface as Una and Ray sift through the wreckage of the past.
Their confrontation raises unanswered questions and unresolved longings. It will shake them both to the core. UNA gazes into the heart of a devastating form of love and asks if redemption is possible.
The film is an adaptation of Scottish playwright David Harrower’s celebrated, Olivier Award-winning play Blackbird.
Filmed at London’s Vaudeville Theatre late last year, Oscar Wilde’s deliciously witty satire on Victorian manners was scintilattingly directed by Adrian Noble (Amadeus, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The King’s Speech). The pacing and comic timing was excellent. Of the play’s three acts, Act 3 was my favourite.
The Australian romantic comedy ALEX AND EVE has had a relatively long life for a homegrown film. Peter Andrikidis’ film opened in cinemas at the end of October and can still be caught on the big screen. The film is still screening at Palace in Norton Street.
If you are planning to make your way across to Palace’s plush Leichhardt cinema complex to see it, my advice is to go with ‘your eyes wide open’. This film charts well worn territory, and the characters are very familiar. There is, however, nothing fresh or edgy about ALEX AND EVE. It’s a kind of Smooth FM radio experience translated to a cinema experience. A plush armchair ride…if that is what you are after…
ALEX AND EVE- the film’s tagline is ‘a mismatch made in heaven’- is yet another variation on the Romeo and Juliet story.
Andrea Demetriades plays Eve, a very attractive Lebanese Muslim lawyer who meets and falls in love with Alex, played by Richard Branctisana, a handsome, charming Greek high school maths teacher. Their two families are vehemently opposed to their union. Adding further tension Eve’s family are in the midst of setting Eve up in an arranged marriage to a Muslim gentleman, Mohomad, played by Hazem Shamma.
There is little joy to be found in the ‘paint by numbers’ romantic comedy narrative. On the positive side- the film is lovely to look at. The film was shot around Sydney, and we see familiar streets in local areas such as Canterbury, Lakemba, Glebe, Haberfied, Homebush, the Rocks, Croydon, Belmore, Auburn and Leichhardt.
The performances were appealing. It was good to see a large, multi-cultural cast, with very few ‘big names’.
The dialogue- the screenplay is by Alex Lykos, adapted from his successful 2006 play (Lykos also has a small role in the film)- flowed well, and there were plenty of witty, amusing lines.
In conclusion, the phrase ‘If only’ comes up. If only the producers had chosen not to play things so safe…to make such a pleasing, commercial film, one so obviously geared to the international market with its numerous shots of Sydney harbour, then ALEX AND EVE could have been something special.
What a wonderful new innovation this is by the RSC, bringing all the atmosphere of this famous Stratford venue of Shakespeare’s productions to a whole new range of audiences who may not otherwise have the opportunity!
We start our viewing with an introduction from the director, Gregory Doran, the RSC’s current Artistic Director, setting the scene. This is the first production of Henry V he has staged and he contends that no other of the Bard’s plays has been so appropriated.
Lawrence Olivier produced his film of the play in 1944 as England prepared for the Normandy Landing, was told by Winston Churchill that it needed to lift the morale of the population. He subsequently shortened the script by 1,700 lines, taking out any negative things said about the king! Doran: “It was needed to be a piece of patriotic jingoism, if you like.”
Ever since, the play has often been presented in a time of crisis: Peter Hall’s production in the early 1960’s, while anti Vietnam War demonstrations were going on, Kenneth Branagh’s in 1984, at the height of the Falklands Crisis. It’s a barometer of the public mood towards war.
This time around, although it’s the 600th Anniversary of the actual Battle of Agincourt, there isn’t a particular war going on. So we can look at the play without feeling we have to be partisan about war itself. Doran again: “Now it’s a study of how Henry grows into his role of Warrior King. His relationship to God is very interesting. I know of no other Shakespearean character who mentions God as much.”
Henry’s quest as a warrior king does not come lightly but at the cost of many lives of ordinary men, sons of “fathers of war proof” who, as we see in the play, are not necessarily as imbued with the need to conquer as their king. Professor James Shapiro attests that Shakespeare was very attuned to current events and good at incorporating popular mores into his plays. “What’s extraordinary about this play is how he has included all the voices across society from those in power, those challenging or rebelling against this power, to those pro war or against or those just doing what they’re told.”
In 1599, at the end of Elizabeth the First’s reign when this play was written, England was in the middle of the Nine Year War with Ireland. A year earlier the Earl of Essex was dispatched to relieve the garrison at Armargh. His force was destroyed but at that time in England one in fifty men was conscripted. Shapiro: “You can feel the play resting on the tectonic plates of this fraught cultural and social moment. …it makes you feel the fear in the streets of London.”
We also hear from Alex Hassell who plays Henry, who previously performed as Hal in Henry IV Parts I & II. In his opinion the play is an account of how the young Prince Hal copes with being thrust into the awful position of power upon the death of his father; leaving behind the influence of Falstaff and the “gadding about’ and excessive lifestyle, deciding “who to trust” in taking up the legacy of regaining the lands in France lost to his forebears.
Hassell commented, “I think it’s important to allow a character to grow during the time of the play rather than see how the character ends up and play that from the beginning.”
Unfortunately, in this reviewer’s humble opinion, although I have no doubt Alex Hassell’s delivery style suited young Prince Hal, he seemed not to develop the gravitas needed as the Warrior King. “Once more unto the breach, dear friends!” I’m afraid sounded more like a fearful schoolboy trying to banish terror by giving himself a good pep talk than one of the most inspirational speeches in literature, guaranteed to “conjure up the blood”.
We also heard from Oliver Ford Davies who played a charming Chorus: “The Chorus has three characteristics: he narrates, tells the story. But at the beginning it’s a plea to the audience to forgive the inadequacies of staging. Then, third, he is the “unreliable narrator”; a device whereby Shakespeare gives us the unofficial history, contending that war is perhaps more complex than the official history books will tell you.” This Chorus is a warm, kindly, likeable figure whose plea or instructions you would be heartless to deny.
The production generally is a lot of fun. Even before the first famous line: “OH, for a muse of fire that would ascend the brightest heaven of invention!…” there is humour. As the Chorus wanders on stage and picks up the King’s crown, supposedly carelessly left on the throne, Hassell strides on and takes it from him, throws a look at the audience, then strides off – to the audience’s delight.
The production features lusty performances from the entire cast, with stand out scenes full of slapstick and wit to suit all tastes as the Bard intended, from Antony Byrne playing Auncient Pistol, Sarah Parks playing Mistress Nell Quickly, Martin Bassindale playing Robin the Luggage-Boy, (played by Christian Bale in Kenneth Branagh’s film, Robert Gilbert playing Louis the Dauphin and especially Jane Lapotaireas as Queen Isobel and Jennifer Kirby, as Princess Katherine de Valois.
After the Battle of Agincourt is fought and won, (sounds easy when you say it quickly!) the light relief we crave is very ably and enjoyably provided again with wit and nonsense involving Pistol and Captain Llewellyn. Then follows a wonderful tortured scene from Queen Isobel as she decries the loss of peace in France; “Alas, she has too long been chased.” (which turns out to be extremely apt and poignant given the events of Black Friday 13th 2015!).
Then, ironically, Mr Hassell seems more comfortable in the ‘unanswered love’ scene with Katherine, playing the fumbling King out of his comfort zone with faltering French, trying to win her love.
Everything about this production is quite delightful, notwithstanding my reservations about Mr Hassell’s performance. The staging and costumes, the live Medieval style accompanying music, (although I would have liked to hear them a little more), and the lusty performances make it a noble effort worthy of the iconic RSC, and is guaranteed to “..bend up every spirit to his full height!”
Recommended. Cinemagoers can see this Royal Shakespeare production of the Bard’s HENRY V PARTS 1 AND 2 when it screens at the Palace Verona and Norton Street cinemas. Screening times of the film for both cinemas are Saturday 21 November and Sunday 22 November at 1pm.
Director Volker Schlondorff dedicates his film version of DIPLOMACY, adapted from the French playwright Cyril Gély’s 2011 successful stage show, to the late American diplomat, Richard Holbrook. Holbrook was the man who, together with Swedish diplomat, Carl Bildt, brokered the peace in Bosnia with the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords.
DIPLOMACY is predominantly a two hander set on the evening of August 25th, 1944. The Allies have entered Paris, and shortly before dawn the German military governor of the city is preparing to dynamite the capital’s famous monuments and bridges on Hitler’s orders. Enter the Swedish Consul-General, Raoul Nordling.
Niels Arestrup plays the loyal Third Reich governor, with André Dussollier as the man who must convince him not to destroy a city.
Full of patriotism and passion, this is a tour-de-force by both lead actors, who originated the roles on stage, with parry and thrust argument about what constitutes duty, national pride, the spoils of war, and the art of negotiation.
THE LIST – FULLY. UPDATED ON 25th October 2019 – SYDNEY ARTS GUIDE presents the complete list of all available Cinema Venues within THE CITY OF SYDNEY area, and in the many SUBURBS OF SYDNEY including many of the small cinema screening room venues. The many locations where Australian and Hollywood Motion Picture Films are screened, and where many exhibitors also regularly screen World Movies:-
Darling Harbour Imax Cinema (still currently closed during 2017-2018-2019-2020 for complete demolition and then re-construction and full conversion into two IMAX cinema screens) CITY OF SYDNEY area, located at 31 Wheat Road, Darling Harbour, Sydney, NSW Tel: (02) 9281-3300 with one screen, located on the waterfront in the heart of Sydney’s Darling Harbour. The minimum size of an IMAX screen is 22 m × 16.1 m (72 ft × 53 ft), Sydney used to have the world’s largest IMAX screen which was eight storeys high and measured 35.7 m x 29.7 m (117.1 ft x 97.4 ft) and offered a vertigo inspiring experience, plus this was also the world’s largest cinema screen. (Venue Seating Capacity = 540) https://www.imax.com.au/
Sydney Event Cinemas CITY OF SYDNEY CBD, street level at 505-525 George Street, Sydney, NSW Tel: (02) 9273-7300 with seventeen screens including Vmax Cinemas and Gold Class Cinemas. Gigantic premium seating price is charged for the limited range of popular 4DX Movies that are now being offered only in their Cinema Eight. However Sydney is still waiting for a cinema venue offering the currently limited range of popular ScreenX Movies. (Venue Seating Capacity = *** ) http://www.eventcinemas.com.au/
Sydney Arts Guide has five double passes to give away to the upcoming Italian Film Festival which will play in Sydney between the 18th September and the 12th October.
The Festival will share screens across Sydney’s three Palace cinemas- the Chauvel, Verona and Norton street cinemas
The Festival’s opening night film is Stijn Coninx’s film MARINA about internationally renowned singer, songwriter and accordion player, Rocco Granata and the closing night film is Sophia Loren’s classic MARRIAGE ITALIAN STYLE.
This is a ravishing, exquisite production by the world famous Paris Opera Ballet and features some of the most jaw-droppingly, impressive dancing I have seen in ages.
Direct from the company that premiered it in 1832 , here we have a revival of the Lacotte production from 2004. In this version we have Aurelie Dupont as the Sylph and Mathieu Ganio as James in this magnificent production that looks straight out of lithographs of the originals. You can see the Bournonville influence ( leading to the other , alternative version of this work ) and how it inspired the slightly later ‘Giselle’ ,( especially in the pas de deux for James and the Sylph ) both of which are now regarded as landmarks of Romantic ballet .Are there also hints of ’La Bayadere’ in Act2 with the scarf ?
The finely detailed sets are the standard huge room with fireplace in Act1 .The costumes for this act are predominantly in red and blue. In Act 2 there is a marvellous leafy forest.
The exquisite corps de ballet of the women as sylphs in Act2 are magnificent .Precisely drilled they breathe and function as one to hypnotic effect. ( And keep a look out for the special flying effects ). In Act1 they are of this world as guests celebrating James and Effie’s wedding with wonderful exuberant dancing . There are controlled lines and lots of fast fleet fiddly footwork – a hint of the Bournonville version?
As the Sylph, Aurelie Dupont is astonishing . She appears as if straight out of a Taglioni lithograph. What was interesting to observe was the attention to detail in her costume – the pearl necklace and bracelets , the blue ribbon at her waist , the floral coronet in her hair. And peacock feathers in her wings ! Technically she was amazing , appearing lighter than a feather. Yet she had steely pointes , amazing control in her adage and a soft , lyrical rounded line in her portes des bras ( again echoing the lithographs) .It was also interesting to note that in this version she only brings James one offering of items from her world – a birds nest- not three or so as in some versions .She appears to be of alabaster and not of this world, mysterious and ethereal. Playful and flirtatious she unwittingly leads James on to the tragic denouement.
Dreamily handsome James , a young man caught between illusion and reality ( the Sylph and his real , worldly fiance Effie ) was more than superbly danced by Mathieu Ganio . He has textbook pure technique and his elevation and batterie are astonishing. His short ,explosive solos are thrilling .
Madge the witch (here simply called The Sorceress) was chillingly played by Jean-Marie Didière .It is interesting to note that in this version she has six ‘weird sisters’ who help her with the incantations and preparations of the poisoned scarf ( long filmy veil) to kill the Sylph and revenge herself on James. Didiere as Madge is tall , with a craggy , very expressive face and long , bony, dirty fingers . He has a commanding presence and is not someone you would want to cross!
Effie, James’ fiancee ,was delightfully danced by Mélanie Hurel .And Gurn,James ‘ friend who is also in love with Effie is tremendously danced by Emmanuel Hoff . They have show stopping pas de deux in Act1 .
So if you are into Romantic era ‘Ballet Blancs’ and want to see some extraordinary dancing don’t miss this.
The Paris Opera Ballet in LA SYLPHIDE screened at selected cinemas with screenings taking place on July 27, 28 and 31.
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