Saturday, 17 September 2016

Bridget Jones's Baby


It says more about me than the movie that the most annoying thing for me about 'Bridget Jones's Baby' is the superfluous 'S' that follows the apostrophe in the title. Renee Zellweger's mannered English accent in the early scenes comes a close second.

Our love's lost heroine falls pregnant but does not know which of the two possibles is the child's father. From such a slim premise the result is a predictably silly and familiar, yet quite entertaining, film.

If this is the last film in this series it will have the rare privilege of completing a movie franchise on a high note.

★★★1/2

Friday, 16 September 2016

Spin Out


I think a film about Bachelor and Spinsters Balls, an Australian rural curiosity, would be interesting especially in documentary form where the participants and activities would be a source of interest for many.

'Spin Out' is a fictional account of such a ball in which perhaps inevitably the participants and their activities have been turned into caricatures. Because the film focuses on the extreme there are humorous and gross moments but not a lot of balance.

Some funny moments but a missed opportunity.

★★1/2

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Barefoot in the Park

Ensemble Theatre

Neil Simon's play 'Barefoot in the Park' is fifty-seven years old. It depicts a young married couple setting up their first home in a tiny, walk up, New York apartment only days into their marriage. The wife's mother and an eccentric free loading Lothario of a neighbour complete the major characters.

It is very much a comedy of its time and I doubt it could sensibly be staged in a 21st Century setting without a complete reconstruction. This production keeps to its time. That's a brave thing as dated comedy can die an embarrassing death. The company and the performers are rewarded for their bravery in this Ensemble Theatre production by delivering an entertaining rendition of the work.

It won't have hurt that most of the audience at the performance we attended were of an age to remember our own experience of the times.

★★★1/2

Monday, 12 September 2016

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Sydney Theatre Company
'A Midsummer Night's Dream' is one of William Shakespeare's most popular plays and a compulsory text during my high school studies. Not that I remember it that well, apart from fairies, mechanicals, Kings and Queens and delightful character names like Puck and Bottom.

I saw the first preview of this current production by the Sydney Theatre Company and was somewhat unnerved when the Director took the stage before 'curtain up' to announce that this was the first ever full run through. If there was a need to pause the performance we were urged to talk amongst ourselves until the performance recommenced. Evidently there was no full run through during the rehearsal period. Maybe that is the usual case but I would have assumed there would usually be a complete run through at some point before presenting a work to the public.

Anyway, the night went off beautifully. A sparse set totally black apart from a white stage and white trim at the bottom of the three walls surrounding it. The performance commencing with, of all things, 'Summertime' from George Gershwin's 'Porgy and Bess'. That is probably a first for Shakespeare.

The performers were very energetic. I can't recall ever seeing as much hectic full speed running back and forth across a stage but then I suppose this is an Olympic year.

The cast drew full comedic value from the play within a play final moments.

Not a traditional presentation but very entertaining especially towards the end.

★★★1/2

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Don't Breathe


Three youths who spend their time breaking into and robbing houses they learn about from a rogue security company worker decide to target the home of vision impaired returned war veteran who is believed to be hoarding a fortune in compensation money. Thinking that the break in should be a formality the three find fierce resistance.

On the face of it, the general plot of 'Don't Breathe' sounds suspiciously similar to the 1967 hit 'Wait Until Dark' in which Audrey Hepburn was the blind victim.

What starts out as a pedestrian by-the-numbers thriller takes several unexpected turns - and aren't they best type of turns for a thriller? - to rise above the mundane.

I'm probably quibbling by suggesting that the blind veteran is perhaps a little too adept at re-securing his house in the face of repeated assaults and that Dylan Minnette displays an impressively wide range of surprised and shocked looks.

The violence level by the end was higher than I would prefer but for thriller/horror aficionados this one is better than the average.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Sully


I remember the incident of the airliner landing onto the Hudson River in New York City with all passengers and crew safely rescued.

The pilot, nicknamed 'Sully', who was responsible for this emergency landing was briefly perhaps the most famous and admired person in the world. What I have less memory of is the accompanying investigation in which the Transport Safety Board took the view that the landing was not necessary and that the plane could have been safely returned to the nearby airport.

The story of this incident and that investigation provide the subject of this film. I was lost early on with some of the technical dialogue and for a while the film seemed too intent for my liking on cheesy stereotypes; the last minute passengers, the sad story passengers, the youthful pilot taught by his grandfather etc.

Thankfully, the film really springs to life with the set piece investigations climax which I found absorbing. In the meantime the film is kept afloat (excuse the irony) by flying sequences that are very well executed.

★★★1/2