Mamma Mia !

I’ve had a change of heart. About Mamma Mia the movie that is. It was on the TV last year and I found it toe curlingly awful, I made the youngest who was enthralled, turn over to another channel. Clever young thing that she is, she recorded the rest and today finally remembered she had done so. I was suprised to discover the second half has some integrity! Very kindly, a friend treated me to comps for the show back in (muffles mouth with hands – spits out 2002/03). It had rave reviews but it wasn’t for me, although I avoided saying so publicly after such a lovely thought and great seats. It felt wrong somehow – I couldn’t quite get how but I think the film nails it.

The story behind Mamma Mia! the Movie…well lets face it, its a concept, a brand really – doesnt belong to musical theatre pro’s it belongs to the common man and woman ergo actors who can dance a bit, put a song across without turning a crisis into a drama… which is why Pierce Brosnans characterisation worked so well for me – he was lambasted across a roasting spit for taking it on but he was so right! It’s a horribly romantic piece but what gives the audience hope is that the likes of Mr B. and Julie Walters make it real, tangible – it could be me, you, the next door neighbour and all those dour Greeks breaking out into joyful song and dance, jumping off the jetty. and so we, the doubting cynical audience think, good things can happen to the untrained voice, the untoned body, lacking in muscular definition. That’s not to say there isn’t still a lot of showbiz gloss and sparkle – it’s just all inherently earthy but with bells on. Ultimately it’s great music and a bit of fun and it was either genius to steal such a blockbuster away from the divas and musical dons queueing up for a part, or sheer foolhardy bravura.

I have decided (at this very late stage in the day), that it was very clever – to fill our screens with the beautiful young and the once beautiful middle aged who lay themselves open to ridicule by performing out of their comfort zone. The majority of shots linger on the old, being joyous, re-living the pain of youth, the mistakes of their past, the passion, the highlights, the loves, parties, adventures, embarrassments… oh you know what I’m talking about: stuff of our lives that hangs about and shapes our futures. The scenic back drops are sensational, it cries out to you! ‘Come here, swim with me, dance with me along this rocky cliff towering above the crystal seas, play like gods on this sacred isle, trip goatlike with me along this fairy lit path’. And the oldies laugh lustily at themselves whilst cavorting and crooning and that’s probably what won me over in the end because they laughed with the integrity of the older and wiser – and we laughed with them (mostly) once I’d put my disbelief and horror aside and taken the cushion out of my mouth.

So there you are, I am converted ‘catalytically’. I might even go and see the show again one day although I fancy it might have more impact on me if I travel to Hong Kong, San Francisco, Manila or Australia or some other far flung clime to do so.

Later the same day, I watched the animated version of Fantastic Mr Fox starring the voices of George Clooney and Meryl Streep and directed by Wes Anderson (it’s a Sunday, my family are all ill – what can I say!). It was weird.


For Dan, who asked so nicely

Dan doesn’t do twitter or posterous, he’s a facebook man through and through (Oh Dan!) but this is for him really.


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©JBrain, 2011

Growing out of Harry Potter

I don’t get out much, me. So imagine my excitement to finally find myself at our local cinema – all wrapped up in case they hadn’t fixed the heating yet in the intimate environs of Screen 5 which seats about 50 and has wooden panelling and feels a bit like being in your own home; you know your fantasy period castle home with suits of armour and a butler? All screen five lacks is a kettle in the corner for that much needed cup of tea whilst the interminable trailers drone on – Simon Peg if you’re reading this – you’re not funny anymore mate. Me and Mr B. were not alone, a lone father who was having a night off from his 10 month old baby was there and an American lady, we had a lovely chat about cinemas and such until just before the trailers clicked on, the obligatory group of teenagers arrived, fidgety, noisy and perfectly timing the incoming call on the mobile with the ‘switch off your phones’ advert.

We had come out to watch Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, at one point I thought I was watching Ibsen. Usually Potter films are full of action and an array of fine actors astounding us with arched eyebrows, smouldering looks and fine bone structure, this one was full of Daniel, Emma and Rupert, mostly. The story; apart from the epic scenes in a tent located in various woods and national parks of special interest for their geographic features and breathtaking vistas, was quite poignant. Potter is growing up, they all are, everything has changed, even the boundaries of their friendship. But I was left with a strong sense of what a boring and uncharismatic young man ‘Potter’ is turning out to be. A lot of time passes in this film, but their hair hardly seems to grow, or change in style, and it seems Hermione is going to flit expertly into young womanhood without any of the gnarly, hormonal body changing, mood swinging reality the rest of the human race experience, (fits of ‘pique’ at Ron, being just a nod in the right direction) – has she ever once had a real spot? 

The Deathly Hallows is beautifully directed and shot with wonderful FX. It opens with a memorable cameo performance from Bill Nighy as the Minister of Magic, but at the heart of it, as the three main characters grow up, their inhabitants in real life are starting to not live up to the hype (or the book). Emma Watson just about swings it and if only Rupert Grint would realise that ‘mugging’ the same expressions he always has, isn’t developing ones character. We grow up, we have life experiences, we adopt new ones Roop. But as for, once cute little Daniel, I’m not sure he’s growing up to be the man Harry Potter came to be, I can’t help seeing him as a future Director or someone much happier in IT. Here’s hoping Pt. Two lets the more experienced actors strut their stuff and gives them a bit more ‘screen time’. For me, Dobby the house elf out classed every one in part one.




Two people are entering the pub, there is a burst of laughter as the door opens


A tall skinny man is standing on a small stage in front of a mike stand, sat around small tables, and leaning against walls there are about thirty people listening as he performs.