Retail Therapy

Retail Therapy is a one act comedy play which tells the story of a corner shop set in Yorkshire, showcased at Ye Olde Rose and Crown in Walthamstow as part of the Undisposables ‘New Voices’ season.
Throughout the piece we are introduced to the staff members and some of their regular customers through the cleverly written script by one of the shows leading actress’, Hannah Whyman. 

The piece features a clever and innovative script using wit to aid the comedy and keep the whole performance at a watchable pace. I’m not usually a fan of sit-com style comedy but for me this was just the right amount of crude, slapstick and nonsensical to make it enjoyable for the whole audience. 

The performances were fantastic, the timing throughout was perfect and given that it was performed in an intimate setting the cast didn’t overact and the expressions on their faces and the comedic skills they were using were on point. With a cast of only 5 people and much more characters than that, they did a fantastic job of quick changes and sudden accent changes that it didn’t effect the piece at all.

I was very impressed with this production, particularly with the writing – I thought the script was perfect. 

Amazing job done by all, they should all be very proud. Looking forward to seeing what else The Undisposables have got up their talented sleeves.

Directed by: Caspian Cunningham
Written by: Hannah Whyman
Starring: Hannah Whyman, Francene Turner, Caspian Cunningham, Jamie Terry and Richard David Law. 

 

 

 

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Retail Therapy

Wildlife

London Film Festival 2018

Wildlife tells the story of a family of three who have recently moved to a remote town in a bush fire-prone area of Montana. Jerry (Jake Gyllenhaal) looses his job at a local golf club and after his supporting wife trying to help him find a replacement job he leaves his family to work for the volunteer firemen to help protect their town from the ever growing bush fires. Jerry’s wife Jeanette (Carrie Mulligan) is left at home to raise their son and find a job to provide for them both. The news of her husbands departure sends her on a downward spiral of affairs, alcohol and deceit. Whilst all of this is happening around him Joe (Ed Oxenbould) is left to fend for himself, find a job, and is forced to grow up before his time.

This story of family, lies, affairs, depression and heartache is stunningly told through Paul Dano’s creative direction. There is a dominant sense of intrusion into the family home throughout the entire piece, with the use of still camera shots which allow the actors to move on and off the screen without looking like it’s a mistake. Dano also set up a shots so that we didn’t see the conversation happening but the reaction from the character concerned. Joe plays a big role in providing a constant emotion throughout as we see the majority of the action from his perspective, as a 14 year old kid he feels it’s his duty to sit back and watch his family fall apart in front of him but as time passes he then feels the instinct to become the parental figure in this car crash situation.

Dano is one of the most intelligent filmmakers in Hollywood at the moment, as seen in this film, his use of symbolism may not be subtle (as seen with the wildfire representing the family being naturally destroyed) but they are powerful and they leave the audience completely glued to the screen.

The performances throughout were perfect. Carrie Mulligan tells the story of a woman fighting against the expectations of a 1950’s housewife and dealing with a pre-midlife crisis so elegantly that she makes it look effortless. There are parts throughout the film where you empathise with what she’s dealing with but that soon turns into hatred for her as she continues with a sordid affair. Gyllenhaal’s character can, at times, come across as pathetic but once you remind yourself of the pride of men in the 1950’s your forced to sympathise with him, his love for his son is evident throughout and the delivered performance is utterly compelling. Pretty much perfect in all the films he’s performed in, Gyllenhaal proves his incomparable acting ability yet again.

The stand out performance for me came from Oxenbould, he carried the entire production on his shoulders and did so with complete grace and prowess. He controlled Joe’s emotions perfectly without ever showing him giving in to the world that is currently crashing down around him. Flawless.

I loved this film, everything about it was effortlessly perfect. The styling was stunning, we usually see 50’s suburban America in a bright colourful light but throughout Wildlife we are shown it to be normal, not always happy and really quite drab in times. The script was calm and quiet without overpowering dialogue which allowed the cast to perform. I will be gutted if it doesn’t receive award recognition for performance and direction.

I highly recommend Wildlife to everyone, it’s an example of how great minds can make great films.

 

Wildlife

A Star is Born

***Contains minor spoilers***

A remake of the 1976 Barbra Streisand remake of the 1954 Judy Garland original, A Star is Born tells the story of a want-to-be singer rising to fame with the help of a famous country singer. Ally (Lady Gaga), a grafter who writes songs, is performing at a drag bar when Jackson (Bradley Cooper) stumbles into the bar in search of alcohol and to his surprise comes across Ally’s performance of La Vi en Rose.
Jackson takes Ally out for a drink, in a drug store’s car park, and she performs one of her songs for him. He instantly falls in love with her voice and takes it upon himself to aid her in making her a star. Thus…a star is born.

I had really high hopes for this film due to the hype that has been thrown around it, I also love country music so I thought it would be right up my street. Unfortunately it just didn’t tick all the boxes for me. I found the characters quite difficult to connect with and the storyline was too predictable.

I thought it was very well cast, Lady Gaga was brilliant in the role of Ally, however, I really didn’t like her character. At the start of the film she was head strong, tough and stood up to people who treated her badly. We see her battle with her awful manager, we see her deal with the every day stresses of living at home with her father and all his work colleagues and, for some unknown reason, we see her breakup with a boyfriend on the phone right at the start. On top of all of that we see her punch a policeman in the face so there’s no doubting she is a strong, independent female. So why when she suddenly has a burst of fame do we see her giving in to all the demands of her awful producer and getting pushed around by her drunk husband. I don’t buy that she would have changed her personality that much just because she was in love with him. That isn’t the Ally we are introduced to right at the beginning of the story.
So, although Lady Gaga was absolutely fantastic in the role (and we can’t deny she has a flawless voice) I just didn’t buy into her character. I thought she was weak willed and at times pathetic.

Bradley Cooper, as well as bringing this film to the screen in his director debut, leads this film incredibly. He was by far my favourite thing about it, although playing a stereotypically awful character, he absolutely smashed it. He performed with grace and prowess whilst making me physically cover my eyes at times because he was just so uncomfortable to watch…in a good way. Jack is a vulgar, ugly, nasty human being who’s one true love in life is his addiction to alcohol, drugs and music. We see so many sides of him throughout the film, he disregards his brother from his life, he abuses his wife and more so abuses himself. His health is declining as is his career and he blames everyone around him for this, including Ally.
Similar as with Ally, I didn’t like the character but in a different way, I believe you are supposed to empathise with Ally but I didn’t whereas Jack is just awful, he knows it, the writers know it and the audience agrees with it. He’s perfectly written.

Bradley Cooper did a stunning job at directing this film, I particularly loved the set up of the festival/concert scenes, it felt really personal and invasive with the characters on stage with the use of the backstage shots and close ups. And the live recordings of the songs worked perfectly.

My favourite part, by a long way, was the scene where he persuades Ally to join him onstage and they sing Shallows together. I love Lady Gaga’s delivery of the song, her charming querks make her really easy to watch and you truly believed that she was utterly terrified despite being seemingly confident. The chemistry between Ally and Jack is clear from the get go and this scene really was the peak for me. It all went downhill from there.

Full of clichés and a constant attempt to make the audience cry, this film just didn’t do it for me. With a huge Oscar buzz around it I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it gets nominated for Best Lead Actor and Actress as well as Direction and Original Song. I’m still not entirely sure where I stand on re-makes getting Academy Awards so I’d be disappointed if it wins Best Picture. I don’t think it deserves it.

Well done to Bradley Cooper for a good first attempt.

I’d recommend it to most, A Star is Born – now showing at pretty much every cinema in the country.

 

A Star is Born