Only Lovers Left Alive

Only Lovers Left Alive

★★★★

(directed by Jim Jarmusch, 2013)

I was annoyed to miss this at the London Film Festival last autumn, but fortunately it’s been given a limited cinema release and so off we trotted to the Odeon in Covent Garden. I hadn’t read any reviews, but decided it was worth seeing if only for the cast. I’d suspected it would be arty and beautiful and perhaps slightly pretentious, but I hadn’t expected it to be so self-aware; nor was I expecting it to be so funny. With an adolescence full of Anne Rice novels under my belt, I found myself faced with a film that was both a love-letter to, and a subtle parody of the kind of world-weary vampirism that touched my teenage heart.

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Coriolanus: William Shakespeare

Coriolanus: Donmar Warehouse

★★★★

(Donmar Warehouse, 2013, directed by Josie Rourke)

During the Donmar Warehouse’s run of Coriolanus, tickets were so scarce that people camped outside in sleeping bags in the hope of getting a day ticket for the show. Interviewing the director Josie Rourke, just before a live broadcast of the play, Emma Freud asked what could account for this surge of popular interest. Somewhat disingenuously, Rourke enthused about the modern parallels to be found in this story. It’s a tale about the power of public opinion, in which a great soldier is brought down by his failure to transition to the hand-pressing, baby-kissing world of popular politics. She suggested that the play spoke to modern sensibilities. It’s about an era of austerity, about class divisions between the people and those who rule them, and about the fact that the people notionally have a voice but realistically don’t feel they have any power to change their government.

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Henry IV: Parts 1 and 2: William Shakespeare

Henry IV: Part 1

In the wake of Henry V, I ventured back to the two instalments of The Hollow Crown which I should have watched before: Henry IV Parts 1 and 2. These were entirely new to me: I had never seen them before, either on the stage or on screen, and never read them either. I’ve always felt a little daunted by the history plays in general, and I steered particularly clear of anything with multiple parts (Henry VI Parts 1, 2 and 3 remain to be tackled on a future occasion). As the two plays form two halves of the same story and have the same cast, I wanted to deal with them together – and yet to consider each separately.

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Henry V: William Shakespeare

Henry V: William Shakespeare

★★★★

Last night I finally settled down to watch the BBC’s adaptation of Henry V, screened last year, as part of The Hollow Crown series. I should have watched the two parts of Henry IV first, it’s true; but I was discussing Tom Hiddleston with Heloise yesterday (re. his being a fan-favourite to play Lymond, if that ever comes to the screen) and was curious to see how he’d fare in this lead role.

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Midnight in Paris (2011)

Midnight in Paris

★★★

(directed by Woody Allen, 2011)

Several people have told me over the last few months that I had to watch this film.  ‘You’ll really like it,’ they said, friends and colleagues alike, ‘it’s just up your street.’ Clearly my conviction that I should have been born in another age (preferably as Lucy Honeychurch) isn’t as secret as I thought. And it’s little wonder the film has been so popular.  Whimsical and light-hearted, it’s set in one of the world’s most photogenic cities and stars Owen Wilson, on mellow form, as a romantic, vulnerable and misunderstood writer.  The concept is fresh and clever, but at heart it’s  a deeply traditional fable of the kind Hollywood loves, all about finding yourself and realising that happiness is about facing up to your problems rather than running away from them.  It’s the kind of film you watch on a girls’ night in with white wine and chocolate truffles.  It was always going to be a hit.

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