Friday, February 29, 2008

The Bitterbynde Trilogy: The Battle for Evernight

Close on the heels of The Lady of the Sorrows, I have now read the last in this trilogy.

In this closing book of Imrhein/Rohain/Ashalind she has recalled her previous life and is suffering once again under the Langothe (yearning for the land of Faeran) which may eventually kill her unless she can seek relief from the High King of Faeran himself. She realizes that the unseelie forces have been marshalled under the guidance of the Crown Prince of Faeran, Morragan, and from stories knows that the High King of Faeran, Angavar, is sleeping somewhere on Erith awaiting to be called forth in a time of need.

In her confusion, she decides it is best to seek the gateway to Faeran herself so that she can advise the gatekeeper of the secret word to open the box containing the keys that have locked the doors between the worlds of Faeran and Erith. The gatekeeper can then retrieve the High King and deal with Morragan. Her maids, Viviana and Caitri accompany her on the journey from Huntingtowers, through the Khazathdur forest, watery Irallillir and partway through the orchards of Cinnarine. On their journey they are accompanied by a swan maiden, a urisk and a waterhorse who are all seelie.

The unseelie forces are on the hunt again and The Hunt itself kidnaps Viviana with her dyed golden tresses and Caitri. Rohain/Ashalind abandons her further journey north to the Faeran gateway to try and rescue her friends and so travels east to the country of Namarre and the stronghold of Morragan himself. Here she is quickly discovered and is imprisoned whilst Morragan tries to both fight the armies of the King-Emperor and find out the location of the gateway Ashalind came through. Here she finds out the true identity of Thorn.

Her mind still blocked to the gateway’s location, Morragan eventually fights Angavar and is mortally wounded although he retains some semblance of life as a Raven who is allowed to go free. Thorn and Ashalind are reunited and betrothed and plan to seek the gateway after the coronation of the new King-Emperor.

(I shall refrain from the final ending however!)

It was pleasing to see a decent map included with this book making the journeys of Ashalind easier to follow. I admit to finding myself becoming a tad frustrated with the main character’s undertaking her journey/quests almost on a whim and basically unprepared and had to continually remind myself that this character was only supposed to be a girl of 17, however given her maturity in other aspects, this really annoyed me! Given the complete concentration on Ashalind in this third book, I would have liked to have known something about what was going on in the rest of the land – perhaps the story needed to be written from two perspectives?

I must admit that I was pretty disappointed in the ending. It felt as though it was cut dramatically short, missing the detail evident in the rest of the books. Also the possibility of two alternate (and brief) endings felt rather unsatisfactory. Given the fairy tale quality of the books, I truly wanted to be ensured of a fairy tale ending. Naïve of me perhaps but it still doesn’t change such a desire!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

And the 2008 Oscar goes to...

Performance by an actor in a leading role

George Clooney in "Michael Clayton"
Daniel Day-Lewis in "There Will Be Blood" (winner)
Johnny Depp in "Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"
Tommy Lee Jones in "In the Valley of Elah"
Viggo Mortensen in "Eastern Promises"

Performance by an actor in a supporting role

Casey Affleck in "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"
Javier Bardem in "No Country for Old Men" (winner)
Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Charlie Wilson's War"
Hal Holbrook in "Into the Wild"
Tom Wilkinson in "Michael Clayton"

Performance by an actress in a leading role

Cate Blanchett in "Elizabeth: The Golden Age"
Julie Christie in "Away from Her"
Marion Cotillard in "La Vie en Rose" (winner)
Laura Linney in "The Savages"
Ellen Page in "Juno"

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Cate Blanchett in "I'm Not There"
Ruby Dee in "American Gangster"
Saoirse Ronan in "Atonement"
Amy Ryan in "Gone Baby Gone"
Tilda Swinton in "Michael Clayton" (winner)

Best animated feature film of the year

"Persepolis" : Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud
"Ratatouille" : Brad Bird (winner)
"Surf's Up" : Ash Brannon and Chris Buck

Achievement in art direction

"American Gangster"
"The Golden Compass"
"Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" (winner)
"There Will Be Blood"

Achievement in cinematography

"The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford": Roger Deakins
"Atonement": Seamus McGarvey
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly": Janusz Kaminski
"No Country for Old Men" : Roger Deakins
"There Will Be Blood" : Robert Elswit (winner)

Achievement in costume design

"Across the Universe" Albert Wolsky
"Atonement" Jacqueline Durran
"Elizabeth: The Golden Age" Alexandra Byrne (winner)
"La Vie en Rose" Marit Allen
"Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" Colleen Atwood

Achievement in directing

"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" Julian Schnabel
"Juno" Jason Reitman
"Michael Clayton" Tony Gilroy
"No Country for Old Men" Joel Coen and Ethan Coen (winner)
"There Will Be Blood" Paul Thomas Anderson

Best documentary feature

"No End in Sight"
"Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience"
"Taxi to the Dark Side" (winner)

Best documentary short subject

"Freeheld" (winner)
"La Corona (The Crown)"
"Salim Baba"
"Sari's Mother"

Achievement in film editing

"The Bourne Ultimatum": Christopher Rouse (winner)
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" : Juliette Welfling
"Into the Wild" : Jay Cassidy
"No Country for Old Men" : Roderick Jaynes
"There Will Be Blood" : Dylan Tichenor

Best foreign language film of the year

"Beaufort" Israel
"The Counterfeiters" Austria (winner)
"Katyn" Poland
"Mongol" Kazakhstan
"12" Russia

Achievement in makeup

"La Vie en Rose" : Didier Lavergne and Jan Archibald (winner)
"Norbit" : Rick Baker and Kazuhiro Tsuji
"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" : Ve Neill and Martin Samuel

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)

"Atonement" :Dario Marianelli (winner)
"The Kite Runner" : Alberto Iglesias
"Michael Clayton" : James Newton Howard
"Ratatouille" :Michael Giacchino
"3:10 to Yuma" : Marco Beltrami

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)

"Falling Slowly" from "Once" : Music and Lyric by Glen Hansard and: Marketa Irglova (winner)
"Happy Working Song" from "Enchanted" : Music by Alan Menken; Lyric by Stephen Schwartz
"Raise It Up" from "August Rush" : Music and Lyric by Jamal Joseph, Charles Mack and Tevin Thomas
"So Close" from "Enchanted" : Music by Alan Menken; Lyric by Stephen Schwartz
"That's How You Know" from "Enchanted" : Music by Alan Menken; Lyric by Stephen Schwartz

Best motion picture of the year

"Michael Clayton"
"No Country for Old Men" (Winner)
"There Will Be Blood"

Best animated short film

"I Met the Walrus"
"Madame Tutli-Putli"
"Même les Pigeons Vont au Paradis (Even Pigeons Go to Heaven)"
"My Love (Moya Lyubov)"
"Peter & the Wolf"(winner)

Best live action short film

"At Night"
"Il Supplente (The Substitute)"
"Le Mozart des Pickpockets (The Mozart of Pickpockets)" (winner)
"Tanghi Argentini"
"The Tonto Woman"

Achievement in sound editing

"The Bourne Ultimatum" (winner)
"No Country for Old Men"
"There Will Be Blood"

Achievement in sound mixing

"The Bourne Ultimatum" (winner)
No country for Old Men"
"3:10 to Yuma"

Achievement in visual effects

"The Golden Compass" (winner)
"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End"

Adapted screenplay

"Atonement" , Screenplay by Christopher Hampton
"Away from Her" , Written by Sarah Polley
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" , Screenplay by Ronald Harwood
"No Country for Old Men" , Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen (winner)
"There Will Be Blood" , Written for the screen by Paul Thomas Anderson

Original screenplay

"Juno", Written by Diablo Cody (winner)
"Lars and the Real Girl" , Written by Nancy Oliver
"Michael Clayton" , Written by Tony Gilroy
"Ratatouille" , Screenplay by Brad Bird; Story by Jan Pinkava, Jim Capobianco, Brad Bird
"The Savages" , Written by Tamara Jenkins

The Bitterbynde Trilogy: The Lady of Sorrows

After reading The Ill Made Mute I just couldn’t wait to read the subsequent novels and so I read The Lady of Sorrows as soon as I got it!

In this book, Imrhein continues on her quest to find the King and inform him of the treasure under Waterstair. Fully recovered after the healing by the Carlin Maeve One Eye, and in disguise as Lady Rohain of the Sorrow Isles, with her golden tresses dyed black, she proceeds to Caermelor Palace. She is admitted and speaks with the King’s trusted Dainnan leader, Tamlain Conmor and tells her tale of the Waterstair treasure. She helps to retrieve it with the Royal Bard, Thomas Rhymer and is rewarded handsomely for her assistance.

Having to wait upon the King’s availability to bestow her newly gained title, she learns the nuances of court life however her naivety and youth leads her to believe the best of people when they certainly don’t deserve it. Her maid, Viviana, however is true and loyal. She is thrilled when she discovers that Siandah, the Ert with whom she discovered the Waterstair treasure is still alive although imprisoned in the Palace’s dungeons. She intends to plead for his life with the King but in the meantime Siandah encourages her to visit Isse Tower where her earliest memories lie to see if more of her life can be remembered. A few fleeting memories have already started to return but she doesn’t understand them.

A fellow courtier, who has befriended Rohain (but whose motives are suspect), sees Rohain’s golden roots when she is assisting with her hair one day and shortly after discovers her identity, telling her to leave Court immediately or she will tell everyone that she is not who she says she is. She departs for Isse Tower where as Lady Rohain she learns a little – that the deformed mute was found near Huntingtowers, a few hours ride from Isse Tower. She decides to journey there however her journey is not completed before she needs to return to the tower where she finds her quarters have been attacked by unseelie forces. She is reunited with Thorn who she finds is not just a Dainnan warrior. Returning to Caermelor with Thorn she is incredibly happy but still has little knowledge of her life before Isse Tower. Thorn departs to the wars and she is left on the enchanted Isle of Tamhania till his return.

She spend time on Tamhania but eventually it is attacked and she flees along with the other inhabitants. Finding herself shipwrecked on the shore near Huntingtowers, she proceeds there along with Viviana and Caitri and regains her memory.

Once again the story is magical and very poetic. You feel wonder as her story is revealed and once again I can’t wait for the next book.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Madame Bovary (2000)

A rather lavish production with regards to costumes, scenery and details, but I do wonder at the popularity of such a story (at least as portrayed here).

The story begins with a young Emma in a convent school being visited by her father with the news that her mother has died. Overcome with grief, the nuns believe she is turning to God, however she is too full of life and her rather earthly enjoyments soon direct her back home. Her father is a gentleman farmer and shortly after her return home, he has a fall from a tree. She calls the local doctor - Charles Bovary who finds himself quite taken by the spirited young Emma. In short order she finds herself married. Charles is quiet and amiable and thrilled with his lovely new wife, but Emma finds married life not as exciting or as thrilling as she was hoping.

Although she makes attempts at enlivening her marriage with some passion, she doesn’t succeed very well and feeling rather sorry for herself and suffocated by the small town in which they live, she becomes depressed. In an effort to brighten her up, Charles manages to illicit an invitation to a nearby noble’s ball where Emma dances with a Vicomte and believes that that particular moment was the highlight of her life.

After the ball, the boring reality of her life returns and all she longs for is the glitter and excitement of big towns, bright lights and lots of glamorous people. In an effort to appease his wife’s desires, Dr. Bovary moves them to a larger (but still regional) town where he has to rebuild his business. Emma is in the early stages of pregnancy, which it seems she doesn’t really want.

Of course, the town isn’t big enough, or exciting enough for her and she finds solace in Leon, a young man studying to be a lawyer. He wants to be a poet and live in Paris and so they are relatively kindred souls. A small respite to her discontent is found with the birth of her daughter but she quickly realises she is not the maternal type. Leon and Emma meet and talk regularly but eventually he leaves as he cannot bear to be so close (and yet not close) to her.

In the meantime Emma is showing her spendthrift temperament and spends more than she has on lavish furnishings for their home. She feels an exciting glow when a handsome and rich man, Rodolphe, arrives in the neighbourhood and pays her attention. In short order she and Rodolphe are having a torrid affair. Once again her need for passion and excitement is underlined and even though Rodolphe is quite enamoured of his new mistress, he becomes wary of her unwavering devotion. Emma plans for them to run away together but he stops this foolhardy plan at the last moment.

Once again, her passion thwarted, she goes into depression. In his concern Charles seeks additional medical help for his wife and borrows money from the local moneylender who advises him of Madame Bovary’s already large bill.

Not wanting to think badly of his pretty young wife he doesn’t reprimand her spending, but arranges a night at the theatre in Rouen and there she sees her first ‘fling’, Leon, looking dapper on his way to the theatre. She is mesmerized by him and soon she manages to arrange piano lessons in Rouen where she and Leon can have their clandestine meetings. Rodolphe returns after some time to the village but neither he or she go out of their way to meet.

In the process of her affair with Leon, she manages to further inflict debt upon her unsuspecting and trusting husband and the debt becomes so large that the moneylender on-sells the debt to even larger sharks who charge a fortune in interest and threaten to repossess their house and all their belongings.

In an awakening of her situation, desperation sets in and she visits Leon attempting (by using her womanly wiles) to get him to steal money for her. He refuses. Then she sees a lawyer who is rather disgusting and wants, of course, HER, in return for paying off her debt. This time she refuses. Then onto Rodolphe who announces that he can’t help her – he is penniless himself. In shock that she can’t coerce someone to rescue her from the hole she has dug for herself, sees childishly sees that death is her only escape.

After managing to eat a handful of arsenic, she returns home but her illness is soon apparent, confirmed by the pharmacist. Nothing can be done and she dies a quite painful death. Her husband continues to see only her fragility and the good side of her nature and is crushed by her death.

Having not read the novel, I can’t say whether the characters were truly portrayed and if there was further depth to Emma, for example, than was visible from this production. Therefore my reaction to this was that I wanted to give Emma a good shaking! Her character was portrayed as one who consistently went overboard in her desires. Was the book written as a moral “beware” or was it a story of a girl who never really grew up and only wanted what she couldn’t have?

I saw the leads play the parts thus: Frances O’Conner played Emma’s character as a spoiled and rebellious child with her unquenched desire for ‘more’. Hugh Bonneville played Charles quietly, lovingly and with dignity. Hugh Dancy as Leon had a restless fire in the first part of the film, but looked a bit blank in the second half. Greg Wise played Rodolphe roguishly although sometimes flatly. Charles Bovary’s mother is played by Eileen Atkins and I think that she secretly relished her part – it is played with much gusto.

Given the frustration I felt with Emma’s character, I don’t think I could bear to watch this again!

2008 Theatregoers Choice Awards

I stumbled across the Whatsonstage Awards, announced yesterday, as voted on by the public (25,000 of them)! Obviously this is British but it is interesting to note how many of their respected actors appear in stage productions and films (and of course TV). A versatile group indeed.

The FRANCO’S Best Actress in a Play

Anne-Marie Duff – Saint Joan at the NT Olivier
Janie Dee – Shadowlands at Wyndham’s
Kate Fleetwood – Macbeth at the Gielgud
Kristin Scott Thomas – The Seagull at the Royal Court
Maggie Smith – The Lady from Dubuque at the Theatre Royal Haymarket (winner)

Tamsin Greig – Much Ado About Nothing, RSC at the Novello

Best Actor in a Play

Charles Dance – Shadowlands at Wyndham’s
Ian McKellen – King Lear, RSC at the New London (winner)

John Simm – Elling at the Bush & Trafalgar Studios
Paterson Joseph – The Emperor Jones at the NT Olivier
Patrick Stewart – Macbeth at the Gielgud, The Tempest & Antony & Cleopatra, RSC at the Novello
Robert Lindsay – The Entertainer at the Old Vic

Best Supporting Actress in a Play

Amanda Hale – The Glass Menagerie at the Apollo
Andrea Riseborough – The Pain & the Itch at the Royal Court
Diana Rigg – All About My Mother at the Old Vic (winner)
Frances de la Tour – Boeing-Boeing at the Comedy
Pam Ferris – The Entertainer at the Old Vic
Ruth Wilson – Philistines at the NT Lyttelton

Best Supporting Actor in a Play

David Haig – The Country Wife at the Theatre Royal Haymarket
Lee Evans – The Dumb Waiter at Trafalgar Studios (winner)
Mark Gatiss – All About My Mother at the Old Vic
Nigel Lindsay – Awake & Sing at the Almeida
Paul Ritter – The Hothouse at the NT Lyttelton
Rory Kinnear – The Man of Mode at the NT Olivier

Best Actress in a Musical

Denise Van Outen – Rent at the Duke of York’s
Lara Pulver – Parade at the Donmar Warehouse
Leanne Jones – Hairspray at the Shaftesbury (winner)
Sheridan Smith – Little Shop of Horrors at the Duke of York’s & Ambassadors
Summer Strallen – The Drowsy Chaperone at the Novello
Susan McFadden – Grease at the Piccadilly

The SEE TICKETS Best Actor in a Musical

Bertie Carvel – Parade at the Donmar Warehouse
Henry Goodman – Fiddler on the Roof at the Savoy
James Loye – The Lord of the Rings at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane
Lee Mead – Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Adelphi
Michael Ball – Hairspray at the Shaftesbury (winner)
Paul Keating – Little Shop of Horrors at the Duke of York’s & Ambassadors

Best Supporting Actress in a Musical

Beverley Klein – Fiddler on the Roof at the Savoy
Elaine Paige – The Drowsy Chaperone at the Novello
Laura Michelle Kelly – The Lord of the Rings at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane
Nicole Faraday – Bad Girls at the Garrick
Preeya Kalidas – Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Adelphi
Tracie Bennett – Hairspray at the Shaftesbury (winner)

Best Supporting Actor in a Musical

Ben James-Ellis – Hairspray at the Shaftesbury (winner)
Dean Collinson – Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Adelphi
Mel Smith – Hairspray at the Shaftesbury
Michael Jibson – Take Flight at the Menier Chocolate Factory
Michael Therriault – The Lord of the Rings at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane
Shaun Escoffery – Parade at the Donmar Warehouse

Best Solo Performance

Fiona Shaw – Happy Days at the NT Lyttelton (winner)
Lucy Briers – Some Kind of Bliss at Trafalgar Studios
Patrick Kielty – A Night in November at Trafalgar Studios
Ralf Little – Stacy at Trafalgar Studios
Richard Schiff – Underneath the Lintel at the Duchess
Robert Bathurst – Alex at the Arts

Best Ensemble Performance

Betrayal – at the Donmar Warehouse
Dealer’s Choice – at the Menier Chocolate Factory
Glengarry Glen Ross – at the Apollo
Philistines – at the NT Lyttelton
The Taming of the Shrew & Twelfth Night – Propeller at the Old Vic (winner)
War Horse – at the NT Olivier

Best Takeover in a Role

Dianne Pilkington – Wicked at the Apollo Victoria
Kelly Osbourne – Chicago at the Cambridge
Kerry Ellis – Wicked at the Apollo Victoria (winner)
Leila Benn Harris & Robyn North – The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s
Peter Davison – Spamalot at the Palace
Ramin Karimloo – The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s


A Disappearing Number by Complicite – at the Barbican
All About My Mother by Samuel Adamson – at the Old Vic (winner)
Joe Guy by Roy Williams – at Soho Theatre
Landscape with Weapon by Joe Penhall – at the NT Cottesloe
That Face by Polly Stenham – at the Royal Court Upstairs
War Horse by Nick Stafford – at the NT Olivier

Best New Comedy

Elling by Simon Bent – at the Bush & Trafalgar Studios (winner)
Moonlight & Magnolias by Ron Hutchinson – at the Tricycle
Rafta Rafta by Ayub Khan-Din – at the NT Lyttelton
The Pain & the Itch by Bruce Norris – at the Royal Court
Vernon God Little by Tanya Ronder – at the Young Vic
Whipping It Up by Steve Thompson – at the Bush & Ambassadors

The SUPERBREAK Best New Musical

Bad Girls The Musical by Kath Gotts, Maureen Chadwick & Ann McManus – at the Garrick
Hairspray by Marc Shaiman, Scott Whitman, Mark O’Donnell & Thomas Meehan – at the Shaftesbury (winner)
Parade by Jason Robert Brown & Alfred Uhry – at the Donmar Warehouse
Take Flight by Richard Maltby Jr, David Shire & John Weidman – at the Menier Chocolate Factory
The Drowsy Chaperone by Greg Morrison, Lisa Lambert, Don McKellar & Bob Martin – at the Novello
The Lord of the Rings by AR Rahman, Varttina, Christopher Nightingale, Shaun McKenna & Matthew Warchus – at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane

Best Play Revival

Boeing-Boeing – at the Comedy
Equus – at the Gielgud (winner)
Saint Joan – at the NT Olivier
The Country Wife – at the Theatre Royal Haymarket
The Dumb Waiter – at Trafalgar Studios
In Celebration – at the Duke of York’s

The TICKETMASTER Best Musical Revival

Buddy – at the Duchess
Fiddler on the Roof – at the Savoy
Grease – at the Piccadilly
Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat – at the Adelphi (winner)
Little Shop of Horrors – at the Duke of York’s & Ambassadors
Rent – at the Duke of York’s

Best Shakespearean Production

Antony & Cleopatra – RSC at the Novello
A Midsummer Night’s Dream – at the Roundhouse
King Lear – RSC at the New London
Macbeth – at the Gielgud (winner)
Much Ado About Nothing – RSC at the Novello
The Merchant of Venice – at Shakespeare’s Globe

Best Director

Jack O’Brien – Hairspray at the Shaftesbury (winner)
Marianne Elliott – Much Ado About Nothing, RSC at the Novello, Saint Joan & War Horse at the NT Olivier
Matthew Warchus – Boeing-Boeing at the Comedy & The Lord of the Rings at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane
Roger Michell – Landscape with Weapon at the NT Cottesloe & Betrayal at the Donmar Warehouse
Rupert Goold – The Glass Menagerie at the Apollo, The Tempest, RSC at the Novello, Rough Crossings at the Lyric Hammersmith & Macbeth at the Gielgud
Thea Sharrock – Equus at the Gielgud, The Emperor Jones at the NT Olivier & Cloud Nine at the Almeida

Best Set Designer

Anthony Ward – Glengarry Glen Ross at the Apollo, Macbeth at the Gielgud, The Arsonists & Rhinoceros at the Royal Court
Bunny Christie – Philistines & Women of Troy at the NT Lyttelton
David Rockwell – Hairspray at the Shaftesbury
Hildegard Bechtler – All About My Mother at the Old Vic & The Hothouse at the NT Lyttelton
Rae Smith & the Handspring Puppet Company – War Horse at the NT Olivier
Rob Howell – The Lord of the Rings at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane (winner)

Best Choreographer

Bill Deamer – Lady Be Good at the Open Air Theatre
Casey Nicholaw – The Drowsy Chaperone at the Novello
Jerry Mitchell – Hairspray at the Shaftesbury (winner)
Kate Flatt – Fiddler on the Roof at the Savoy
Peter Darling – The Lord of the Rings at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane
Rob Ashford – Parade at the Donmar Warehouse

The DEWYNTERS London Newcomer of the Year

Arthur Darvill – Terre Haute at Trafalgar Studios & Swimming with Sharks at the Vaudeville
Billie Piper – Treats at the Garrick
Colin Morgan – Vernon God Little at the Young Vic & All About My Mother at the Old Vic
Daniel Radcliffe – Equus at the Gielgud (winner)

Leanne Jones – Hairspray at the Shaftesbury
Orlando Bloom – In Celebration at the Duke of York’s

Best Off-West End Production

A Christmas Carol & The Magic Flute – at the Young Vic (winner)
Dealer’s Choice – at the Menier Chocolate Factory
I Love You Because – at the Landor (winner)
tHe dYsFUnCKshOnalZ! – at the Bush
The Masque of the Red Death – at Battersea Arts Centre
Vernon God Little – at the Young Vic

Best Regional Production

Angels in America – on tour
Henry V – at the Royal Exchange, Manchester
Never Forget – on tour
Pygmalion – at the Theatre Royal Bath & on tour (winner)
Sunshine on Leith – at Dundee Rep
The Big Secret Live: I Am Shakespeare – at Chichester Festival & on tour

The AKA Theatre Event of the Year

Daniel Radcliffe’s steamy publicity shots for Equus (winner)
Launch of the Theatre Royal Haymarket Company & its first season under Jonathan Kent
Nicholas Hytner’s “dead white males” comment about critics
Punchdrunk’s takeover of BAC for The Masque of the Red Death
Reopening of the Royal Festival Hall
Reality TV head-to-head between Any Dream Will Do & Grease Is the Word

Honourable mentions:

The success of the Royal Court’s Young Writers’ Programme
Will Keen’s extraordinary performances in two roles for which he was not originally cast – Kiss of the Spider Woman at the Donmar Warehouse and The Arsonists at the Royal Court
Michael Ball’s transformation as Edna Turnblad in Hairspray

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Marie Antoinette

The intensely lush scenery, costumes and details is a definite drawcard for this movie. The story was rather slight however, touching upon Marie Antoinette’s life from her marriage through to the start of French Revolution in between magnificent scenery vistas. Whilst this portrayal is light it at least gives her the benefit of being an able noble should she turn her mind to it, the French court manages to turn her into a vain, fashion and party loving woman.

It starts briefly in Austria with a childlike young woman of 15, continues to her exchange with the French representatives where she is affectionate and caring and therefore seen as unsophisticated. From there she goes to meet her bridegroom, who is shy and retiring from all but his hunting companions. Her introduction into the French court is hostile and thence off to her marriage bed, watched by all. Her bridegroom is innocent to the ways of women and their marriage is unconsummated for an embarrassingly long time. The highly critical French court is impossible to win over, apart from a brief moment or two, and always see her as an unwelcome foreigner.

The old ruler dies and Louis becomes king and Marie Antoinette queen at the tender age of 19. During this time she copes by becoming rather frivolous and eager to only have a good time (oh, and totally addicted to shoes!). Eventually the couple manage to cement their marriage and seem content with each other and their new daughter. Marie Antoinette is gifted by Louis with a country estate where she relaxes and softens and has a brief affair with a Swedish Count.

Eventually her return to Versailles is necessary but she finds she is no longer even briefly esteemed by any but her close companions. She has two sons, one of which survives before there is obvious rebellion by the population and comments are attributed to her that she doesn’t actually make (eg. ‘Let them eat cake’). She and Louis show surprising backbone by wishing to stay with their children in the palace after all the other nobility has sought refuge elsewhere. The movie concludes with their eventual carriage ride away from Versailles to probable imprisonment.

Dialogue is short and there is the odd moment of dizzying photography when the camera is supposed to be from a person’s view, bobbing up and down, making it hard to focus or enjoy. The music varies from classical to rock but it works well.

Kirsten Dunst makes a radiant Marie Antoinette and one with much joie de vivre, albeit with an American accent. Highlights include Judy Davis brilliantly playing a Countess whose job it is to ensure Marie Antoinette does all the correct things. She manages to look outraged, frantic and sublimely in control according to the role’s requirements. She is one of the rare actors that can portray a multitude of words and gestures with just her look. Steve Coogan entertainingly plays Ambassador Mercy who struggles to keep Marie Antoinette on the straight and narrow path. Rose Byrne plays a lighthearted Duchesse who although frowned upon, is immediately likeable.

A magnificent visual feast and a nice, lighter take on the ill-fated queen. You can't help but be a bit annoyed by her, whilst still feeling sorry for her!

The Bitterbynde Trilogy: The Ill-Made Mute

A sweeping fantasy novel by Cecilia Dart-Thornton. From the first page Cecilia draws you in with vivid descriptions in a well constructed world. You can tell it is going to be an interesting journey as you have immediate empathy for the poor damaged creature who has the lead role in the novel. You feel elated in its eventual escape, but worry for its safety and relief at its seeming rescue. You feel worry and thrill in accordance with the story and the end literally left me with tears streaming down my face.

It has more flesh than some of the more ‘standard’ fantasy novels that have an aim and try and get there (with as much done as possible) in a straight line. This story however, meanders along and asks you to enjoy the journey. The prose is rich and poetic and incredibly detailed, so if you like action style fantasy novels this won’t be one for you.

The lore and bestiary of the world is well thought out and draws heavily on little known Celtic lore, but the high number of unusual words make it a slight trial if you let yourself get bogged down on them. A more comprehensive phrase and word reference would have been helpful in this respect.

The basic story is that of a severely disfigured and mute foundling, reared in a remote castle by a lowly servant, where it is abhorred by all who see it. Lonely and longing for something more, the youth escapes on a Windship that is attacked by pirates and culminates in a sudden escape/rescue by a red-haired Ertish adventurer. Truths are revealed and a name bestowed upon the nameless fugitive. A magical journey ensues with the Ertishman. Learning that the disfigurement may be healed, a journey to far Caermelor to seek a famed healer is undertaken with disastrous results and a wilderness must then be crossed with two companions – a young Ertishman who feels bound to assist the mute, and a Dainnan ranger who is courteous but distant.

I am looking forward to reading the next instalment in the trilogy!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Stand By Me

A time when memories were made and where reality impinges into the lives of some twelve year old boys.

The story is about 4 friends who live in a small town c. 1950s and amuse themselves intermittently with card games, big talk, dares and cartoon characters. They are from differing backgrounds - Teddy has a father who is mentally unstable, Vern has a brother that is a local lout, Chris has an alcoholic father and Gordie has a family who is still grieving for the loss of their older son.

Vern overhears his brother talking about a dead boy they found, but they are unwilling to tell the authorities because they saw it in the process of stealing of a car. Vern sees the chance of an adventure and tells his friends who shortly set off on a mini camping trip to find the dead boy, after misleading their parents as to their whereabouts and forgetting to pack essential supplies (like food!). On their journey they have mini-adventures, some scares and some discussions about things that are important to twelve year olds. During some quieter moments they reveal some of their internal sorrows and worries. They grow up a little during the journey and some of their friendships are cemented.

Quality acting by the two leads - Wil Wheaton (Gordie) and River Pheonix (Chris) - the latter especially turns in an brilliant performance. Cory Feldman is a familiar face and enjoys the role of a slightly crazy Teddy and Gerry O'Connell plays a convincing Vern, although is hardly recognisable from the adult actor! Head of the local louts is played by Kiefer Sutherland who plays "baddie" roles so convincingly.

Even though this is an old movie, from 1986, it is well worth a watch. Showing the value of friendship it would be suitable for younger teen boys, however there is quite a bit of language so beware for younger viewers.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Having no preconceptions about this movie, I was very pleasantly surprised. It was informative, the pace was steady and the acting good.

This film is based on the life of Martin Luther, the founder of the Lutheran Church in the 16th century. Initially a law student, he become a Catholic monk after surviving a particularly terrible storm. The Father of his monastry sent him to study and he became a Professor of Theology who was bright, entertaining and had the common touch. He eventually became disillusioned with the Catholic church and held a belief that God was loving and through the Bible should be accessible to all.

Obviously written from the perspective of the Lutheran church rather than the Catholic, there are some scenarios that may not be tasteful to some. However, with an open mind, accepting of the past as past, it is a film that can be enjoyed and considered.

Joseph Fiennes (who I recognized from Shakespeare in Love) plays Martin Luther. He strongly portrays a haunted Martin and the character as written (such as having a talent for the written word but only occasional flashes or oratory brilliance) is realistic. Sir Peter Ustinov is perfect as the amiable Prince Frederick the Wise and the supporting cast overall played their parts credibly and with feeling.

Monday, February 11, 2008

BAFTAs 2008

London 10 February 2008

Best Film:
Atonement (winner)
American Gangster
Das Leben der Anderen
No Country for Old Men
There will be Blood

Outstanding British Film of the Year:
This is England (winner)
The Bourne Ultimatum
Eastern Promises

Best Actor:
Daniel Day Lewis in There will be Blood (winner)
George Clooney in Michael Clayton
James McAvoy in Atonement
Viggo Mortensen in Eastern Promises
Ulrich Muhe in Das Leben der Anderen

Best Actress:
Marion Cotillard in Le Mome/ La Vie En Rose (winner)
Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Julie Christie in Away From Her
Keira Knightly in Atonement
Ellen Page in Juno

Best Supporting Actor:
Javier Barden in No Country for Old Men (winner)
Paul Dano in There Will be Blood
Philip Seymour Hoffman in Charlie Wilsons's War
Tommy Lee Jones in No Country for Old Men
Tom Wilkinson in Michael Clayton

Best Supporting Actress:
Tilda Swinton for Michael Clayton (winner)
Cate Blanchett for I'm Not There
Kelly Macdonald for No Country for Old Men
Samantha Morton for Control
Saoirse Ronan for Atonement

Achievement in Direction:
Ethan Coen and Joel Coen for No Country for Old Men (winner)
Paul Thomas Anderson for There will be Blood
Paul Greengrass for The Bourne Ultimatum
Florian Henkel von Donnersmarck for Das Leben der Anderen
Joe Wright for Atonement

Best Screenplay (Original):

Juno (winner)
American Gangster
Das Leben der Anderen
Michael Clayton
This is England

Best Screenplay (Adapted):
Le Scaphandre et le papillon (winner)

The Kite Runner
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood

Best Cinematography:
No Country for Old Men (winner)
American Gangster
The Bourne Ultimatum
There Will Be Blood

Best Editing:
The Bourne Ultimatum (winner)
American Gangster
Michael Clayton
No Country for Old Men

Best Production Design:

Atonement (winner)
Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
There will be Blood
La Mome/ La Vie En Rose

Best Costume Design:
La Mome / La Vie En Rose (winner)
Elizabeth:The Golden Age
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Award for Film Music:
La Mome / La Vie En Rose (winner)
American Gangster
The Kite Runner
There Will Be Blood

Best Make Up/Hair
La Mome / La Vie En Rose(winner)
Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Best Sound:
The Bourne Ultimatum (winner)
No Country for Old Men
There will be Blood
La Mome / La Vie En Rose

Special Visual Effects:
The Golden Compass (winner)
The Bourne Ultimatum
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
Spiderman 3

Film not in the English Language:
Das Leben der Anderen (winner)
Le Scaphandre et le papillon
The Kite Runner
Se, jie
La Mome / La Vie En Rose

Animated Feature Film:
Ratatouille (winner)
Shrek the Third
The Simpsons Movie

Rising Star Award:
Shia LeBeouf (winner)
Sienna Miller
Ellen Page
Sam Riley
Wei Tang

Most Promising Newcomer:
Matt Greenhalgh (winner)
Chris Atkins
Mia Bays
Sarah Gavron
Andrew Piddington

Best Short Animation:
The Pearce Sisters (winner)
Head Over Heels
The Crumblegiant

Best Short Film:
Dog Altogether (winner)
The One and Only Herb McGwyer Plays Wallis Island
The Stronger

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Writers Screen Guild Awards 2008

Announced Saturday 9 February 2008 at an informal reception at the Hudson Theatre.

Original Screenplay
Juno, Diablo Cody (winner)
Knocked Up, Judd Apatow
Lars and the Real Girl, Nancy Oliver
Michael Clayton, Tony Gilroy
The Savages, Tamara Jenkins

Adapted Screenplay
Into the Wild, Sean Penn
No Country for Old Men, Joel Coen, Ethan Coen (winner)
Le Scaphandre et le Papillion, Ronald Harwood
There Will Be Blood, Paul Thomas Anderson
Zodiac, James Vanderbilt

Documentary Screenplay
The Camden 28, Anthony Giacchino
Nanking, Bill Guttentag, Dan Sturman, Elizabeth Bentley
No End in Sight, Charles Ferguson
The Rape of Europa, Richard Berge, Bonni Cohen, Nicole Newnham
Sicko, Michael Moore
Taxi to the Dark Side, Alex Gibney (winner)

Dramatic Series
Friday Night Lights
Mad Men
The Sopranos
The Wire (winner)

Comedy Series

30 Rock (winner)
Curb Your Enthusiasm
The Flight of the Conchords
The Office

New Series
The Flight of the Conchords
Mad Men (winner)
Pushing Daisies
The Sarah Silverman Program

Episodic Drama
The Closer, Michale Alaimo ‘The Round File’
Dexter, Timothy Schlattmann ‘The Dark Defender’
Lost, Damon Lidelof & Drew Goddard ‘Flashes Before Your Eyes’
Mad Men, Chris Provenzano ‘The Hobo Code’
The Sopranos, Terrence Winter ‘The Second Coming’ (winner)
The Wire, David Simon & Ed Burns ‘Final Grades’

Episodic Comedy
30 Rock, Matt Hubbard ‘Negotiations’
The Flight of the Conchords, James Bobin, Jemaine Clement & Bret McKenzie ‘Sally Returns’
The Office, Paul Lieberstein & Michael Schur ‘The Job’ (winner)
The Office, B J Novak ‘Local Ad’
The Office, Caroline Williams ‘Phyllis’ Wedding’
Pushing Daisies, Bryan Fuller ‘Pie-Lette’

Long Form – Original
Pandemic, Bryce Zabel, Jackie Zabel (winner)
The Lost Room, Laura Harkcom, Christopher Leone, Paul Workman

Long Form – Adaptation
The Company, Ken Nolan (winner)
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Daniel Giat
The Starter Wife, Josann McGibbon, Sara Parriott

The Haw-Hawed Couple (The Simpsons), Matt Selman
The Homer of Seville (The Simpsons), Carolyn Omine
Kill Gil Volumes 1&2 (The Simpsons), Jeff Westbrook (winner)
Stop or My Dog Will Shoot! (The Simpsons), John Frink
The Passion of the Dauterive (King of the Hill), Tony Gama-Lobo & Rebecca May
Lucky's Wedding Suit (King of the Hill), Jim Dauterive

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
The Colbert Report (winner)
Late Night with Conan O’Brien
Penn & Teller: Bullshit!
Real Time with Bill Maher
Saturday Night Live

Daytime Serials
All My Children
As the World Turns
General Hospital
The Young & The Restless (winner)

Children’s Episodic & Specials
Look Whose Not Talking (Flight 29 Down), D. J. MacHale (winner)
Nat is a Stand Up Guy (The Naked Brothers Band), Polly Draper

Children’s Script – Long Form or Special
R.L Stine's The Haunting Hour: Don't Think About It, Billy Brown and Dan Angel
Johnny Kapahala: Back on Board, Ann Austen, Douglas Sloan, Max Enscoe & Annie deYoung (winner)

Documentary – Current Events
The Enemy Within (Frontline), Lowell Bergman & Oriana Zill De Granados
News War Part 1: Secrets Sources and Spin (Frontline), Raney Aronson-Rath, Lowell Bergman & Seth Bomse
News War Part 3: What's Happening to the News? (Frontline), Stephen Talbot & Lowell Bergman
Return of the Taliban (Frontline), Martin Smith (winner)
Security vs. Liberty: The Other War (America at a Crossroads), Edward Gray
Spying on the Home Front (Frontline), Hendrick Smith & Rick Young

Documentary – Other than Current Events
Alexander Hamilton (American Experience), Ronald Blumer
Billy Strayhorn: Lush Life (Independent Lens), Robert Levi and Robert Seidman (winner)
Forgotten Genius (Nova), Stephen Lyons & Llewellyn M. Smith
The War, Episode Four: Pride of Our Nation, Geoffrey C. Ward

Harry Potter & The Half Blood Prince

Filming began this week in Gloucester on the 6th Harry Potter film – Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Stars were seen filming in the 11th century Gloucester Cathedral which has been used in two previous Harry Potter films. reported that Alan Rickman, Daniel Radcliffe, Dame Maggie Smith, Rupert Grint and Tom Falcon were all seen.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Lorna Doone

Lots of muskets, swords, treachery and villains. A visually opulent movie based on the original novel by R D Blackmore. Gorgeous scenery, realistic settings and a decent pace throughout, make this very easy to watch. Although rated an M in Australia, pre-teens will enjoy most of it (except the kissing!)

Please don't read the following if you want this movie to unfold and be a surprise!


The story is based around a group of rebellious family of outlaws, the Doone’s, and a farming family the Ridd’s. The patriarch of the Ridd family is killed when a motley collection of Doones ride into a town. His son John, only a boy, witnesses it and is bent on revenge. His mother prevents this course of action but the family always harbours a passionate hate against the Doone’s.

Whilst still a boy, John slips in the river, is carried through the rapids, over a waterfall and found by a young girl in a secluded vale. They make quick friends, as children do, introducing each other only by first names and he teaches her how to catch fish with her hands. On hearing someone calling for her, she urges him to go and indicates a secret way out.

John grows to be a man and after his uncle is attacked by the Doone’s, John visits the glade again and sees Lorna catching fish as he taught her many years before. She doesn’t indicate her recognition immediately, but is obviously pleased to see him as a man as he is seeing her as a young woman. Their love blossoms until she tells him she is a Doone. He leaves but returns again and their commitment to each other grows.

In the meantime the Doone heir is determined to marry Lorna as marriage to her will restore the Doone’s hereditary lands – although how this will be achieved is not immediately revealed.

Eventually Lorna’s protector and head of the Doone clan dies and Lorna is destined to be married to Carver Doone. John comes to save her and takes her to his home, where she is grudgingly accepted by most of the family. Carver and a small band pursue Lorna to the Ridd farm and a skirmish proceeds, however Carver escapes unharmed.

Lorna lives with the Ridd’s and reveals a valuable necklace that was apparently her mother’s. Tom Faggus, a highwayman turned farmer and fiancé of John’s sister, Annie, is aware of its value and takes a drawing of it to London whereupon Lorna is identified as the kidnapped daughter of the Lorne family and indeed is now the Lady Lorne with wealth and title. She is taken to London as her guardian is the King, and John and Lorna promise to write faithfully to each other.

John’s letters are returned and he loses faith that Lorna maintains her love for him. A rebel contender for the throne, the Lord of Monmouth is roaming the land and searching for supporters and the Doone’s join his army. In a moment of hot-headedness Tom Faggus joins the army and leaves Annie at home pregnant and fearful for his life. She appeals to John who rides after the army with the intention of bringing Tom home. He is captured near the battlefield though and taken to London where he faces hanging.

Promising to rid the King of the Doone’s forever with some well trained men, John is temporarily relieved of his sentence and returns home (after briefly seeing Lorna and renewing their commitment to each other) and attacks and defeats the Doone’s soundly, however Carver escapes again.

John is rewarded for his service to the King and is reunited with Lorna, but Carver makes one last fateful appearance….

John Ridd is played by Richard Coyle and he plays a solid farmer with a deep love believably. Lorna is played by Amelia Warner (of Narnia fame), she is attractive and fits the part very well. Carver Doone is played with suitable nastiness by Aiden Gillen and his rather slimy father Counsellor is played by Anton Lesser. Peter Vaughan is Lord Ensor Doone, a baddie but with a glimmer of soul left. Martin Clunes plays Jeremy Stickle and manages to bring a touch of humour. The grim Lord Chief Justice Jeffries is played wonderfully by Michael Kitchen. Highwayman Tom Faggus is played in a suitably swaggering manner by Anthony Calf. A surprise casting is that of an Australian - Jesse Spencer, playing the son of Baron Whichehalse.

I’d watch it again :)

Friday, February 8, 2008

Persuasion (1995)

This is a relatively faithful rendition of Jane Austen’s book although I found on first viewing that I really didn’t understand what was going on. I enjoyed it, but felt I would have enjoyed it more if I knew the story. So, I went off and read Persuasion again (my last read of it was well over 20 years ago so my memory had dimmed substantially on the finer points of the story!) and then rewatched this movie. I found it much better second time around – whether it was the second viewing, or because I had the details of the whole story so knew its structure and what nuances the actors were trying to make.

The story, if you haven’t read it – and I would recommend you do, it is only a slim volume and easily digested! – is thus: Anne Elliot, second daughter of widower Sir Elliot, is 28 and single (not good in the 19th century). She had a short but intense entanglement at the tender age of 19 to a naval man, Frederick Wentworth, with a hoped for marriage in the offing, however was particularly persuaded by her friend, Lady Russell, that the match wasn’t suitable. She has thus had a “disappointment” which she has never really fully recovered from.

Her eldest sister, Elizabeth has always been the favourite of their father, but is still not married. Her younger sister, Mary is married to Charles Musgrove from a wealthy country family, and she lives in nearby Uppercross. Sir Elliot is vain and has not been frugal with his family’s wealth since his wife’s death and now finds himself in a somewhat restricted state with regard to money.

The recent war is over and many naval men have returned to shore. One Admiral Croft rents the Elliot home and Anne is somewhat mortified to recall that Mrs Croft is the sister of her past love, Frederick Wentworth. Frederick in the intervening 8 ½ years is now a Captain of some fortune.

Circumstances have come together for Anne and Frederick to meet again although there are obstacles, such as younger women, an accident and amorous attentions. When the action moves to Bath things start to happen rapidly and as you expect with an Austen story a reunion is eventually arrived at in true romantic fashion.

Ciaran Hinds is the masculine Frederick Wentworth. Amanda Roots is Anne but I found she continually looked either worried or startled for the first half of the movie. Some animation appeared in her character in the last half, although she still played the character in a very timid fashion and her face was difficult to read as far as what emotion she is supposed to be feeling. Sophie Thompson as Mary (Anne’s sister) played it delightfully, obviously enjoying the almost obnoxious role!

Other players include: Susan Fleetwood as Lady Russell; Corin Redgrave as Sir Elliot, Fiona Shaw as Mrs Croft, John Woodvine as Admiral Croft, Phoebe Nicholls as Elizabeth Elliot, Samuel West at Mr. Elliot, Simon Beale as Charles Musgrove, Victoria Hamilton as Henrietta Musgrove, Emma Roberts as Louisa Musgrove and Richard McCabe as Capt. Benwick.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Box Office - Top Dozen Movies

David Dale in The Sydney Morning Herald recently listed the top grossing movies of all time in Australia, the US and the rest of the world (excluding US).

1. Titanic
2. Shrek 2
3. Return of the King
4. Crocodile Dundee
5. Fellowship of the Ring
6. Two Towers
7. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
8. Star Wars 1: The Phantom Menace
9. Pirates of the Caribbean 2
10. Finding Nemo
11. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
12. Babe

1. Titanic
2. The original Star Wars
3. Shrek 2
4. ET
5. Star Wars 1: The Phantom Menace
6. Pirates of the Caribbean 2
7. Spiderman
8. Star Wars 3: Revenge of the Sith
9. Return of the King
10. Spiderman 2
11. Passion of the Christ
12. Jurassic Park

World (excluding US):
1. Titanic
2. Return of the King
3. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
4. Pirates of the Caribbean 3
5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix
6. Pirates of the Caribbean 2
7. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
8. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
9. The Two Towers
10. Jurassic Park
11. Spiderman 3
12. Fellowship of the Ring

My conclusions: We all like our escapism and the fantasy realm. The US doesn't agree with the rest of the world's addiction to Harry Potter and they only came to the party on the Lord of the Rings with the final instalment.

I have seen all the top 12 movies in Australia, but haven't seen Passion of the Christ, Spiderman 3 or Pirates of the Caribbean 3.... but there's still plenty of time. No doubt these favourites will be around for a long time yet! How has your viewing compared?

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

2008 Producers Guild Awards

Pic: Ali Larter in hair-swinging mode at the Producers Guild Awards.

Wooopsie. This one passed without me realising it. Announced on 2 February:

The Danny Thomas Producer of the Year Award in Episodic Television - Comedy
30 Rock (winner)
The Office
Ugly Betty

The Norman Felton Producer of the Year Award in Episodic Television - Drama THE Sopranos (winner)
Grey's Anatomy

The Producer of the Year Award in Non Fiction Television
Planet Earth (winner)
60 Minutes
Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D List
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
Deadliest Catch

The Producer of the Year Award in Live Entertainment/Competition Television
The Colbert Report (winner)
The Amazing Race
Project Runway
American Idol
Real Time with Bill Maher

The Darryl F Zanuck Producer of the Year Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Michael Clayton
No Country for Old Men (winner)
There Will Be Blood

The Producer of the Year Award in Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures
Bee Movie
Ratatouille (winner)
The Simpsons Movie

The Producer of the Year Award in Documentary Theatrical Motion Pictures
Body Of War
Hear And Now
Pete Seeger: The Power Of Song
Sicko (winner)
White Light/Black Rain: The Destruction Of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

The David L Wolper Producer of the Year Award in Long-Form Television
Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee (winner)
The Bronx Is Burning
High School Musical 2
Jane Eyre
The Starter Wife

2008 PGA honorary awards and recipients:

Milestone Award
Alan Horn

David O. Selznick Achievement Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures
Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall

Norman Lear Achievement Award in Television
Dick Wolf

Visionary Award
Simon Fuller

Vanguard Award
YouTube founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen

The Stanley Kramer Award
The Great Debaters

Miss Marple – Nemesis 2007

A little light hearted TV watching in my home with the return of Miss Marple to ABC TV.

As usual, there seems to be a core of actors that repeatedly appear in British TV/film (and I KNOW there are more than these few in existence)! This show is no exception.

Miss Marple (Geraldine McEwan) is sent on a mystery bus tour on the dying wish of a good friend, to right an injustice and perhaps find the perpetrator of a crime. She is accompanied by her writer-nephew Raymond, (Richard E Grant) and finds that all the other people on the bus are connected in some tenuous way, which is slowly revealed to us. Naturally there are a couple of murders on the journey to add to the suspense and allow identification of the guilty party.

It wasn’t hard to work out roughly who had done what, but it was done so well that it was enjoyable and I still required the deductive capacities of Miss Marple for final identification of the murderer.

Well acted, as expected. Richard E. Grant got to have a number of funny moments in a very British way, which I really enjoyed. Geraldine McEwan fitted the role of Miss Marple beautifully. Ruth Wilson (recently of Jane Eyre fame) played a small part, that of Georgina the tour guide/bus driver. Once I got over thinking of her only in 19th century garb and as a governess, I was able to enjoy it. She managed to put her own stamp on the part and I hope to see her in more TV and films in the future. Lee Ingleby was DC Colin Hards and had some great interaction, particularly with Richard E. Grant, as a hopeful writer.

Also starring Anne Reid, Laura Kelly, Dan Stephens, Graeme Garden, Johnny Briggs, George Cole, Ronni Ancona, Adrian Rawlings, Emily Woof, Will Mellor, Amanda Burton.

Monday, February 4, 2008


I bought this for my son (age 10) before I realized it was had a rating of MA15+ and so thought I needed to watch it before he did and see if was suitable for his viewing. (Its not!)

The story is of course based on Hercules, the son of Zeus and Alcmene, a priestess of Hera. It starts with a bit of a warm up into the ‘time of the gods’ before seeing how Alcemene became pregnant with twins – one of which was Hercules. Alcemene hated Zeus and so hates his probable offspring, Hercules, therefore he is never shown any love or affection by her, but rather by his ‘father’ Amphitryon.

He leaves the his home in semi-exile after he thought he had killed a poet, Linus, and after many years becomes stronger - though little wiser. He has an interlude with Megara, who he has had a crush on for many years and she delivers triplet boys. After a daring fight with a monster and saving the king, he is allowed to marry Megara which he does. Megara, however is also a priestess of Hera and under Alcmene’s guidance drugs Hercules who in his drugged stupor believes he is being attacked by demons and kills his sons.

Although he tries to kill himself, Zeus does not allow it and instead Hercules serves Alcemene and her new husband, by completing six tasks set by them. Naturally they are not small tasks, but of course he succeeds and gains much wisdom in their completion. In the meantime he is surprised but pleased to learn that his friend, the nymph Deianeira, loves him and they already have a son.

Basically there is much fighting, quite a bit of maiming and killing and some broad hints in the “mature themes” department.

Quite a few of the characters are quite disagreeable eg. Alcmene (Elizabeth Perkins), King Eurystheus (Kristian Schmid) and Iphicles (Luke Ford), but they are balanced by the nicer ones eg. Linus (Sean Astin), Deianeira (Leelee Sobieski) and Amphitryon (Timothy Dalton). Balance is a theme running through this movie – male/female Zeus/Hera good/bad, belief/reality and so on.

Overall, the acting is pretty average. Timothy Dalton gives quite a good performance and is believable (in as much as you can believe a myth!). The adult Hercules (Paul Telfer) is suitably built for the part and whilst not brilliant, carries off his part well enough. By the end he seems to have embraced his part and is showing more feeling. Elizabeth Perkins seems to enjoy her role and Sean Astin plays his part agreeably. Leelee Sobieski was a little stitled, but seeing as she was a nymph and covered in bronze makeup, I'll give her the benefit of the doubt! I think a number of the actors may have been limited by the script/direction as I believe they are capable of more.

It would probably be accurate to say that I won’t watch it again – it’s mindless watching for those days when you’re unwell and lying on the couch, brain in a fog and unable to think.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

100 books times two

I went into my local library last week to see if I could borrow Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte. Would you believe there wasn’t ONE Bronte book on the shelf? Not even Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre! Now either that means they are all out being read or they just aren’t very popular so not kept. I enquired at the desk and they happily agreed to get Tenant in from another library, so it, at least, wasn’t “out”. I also looked in the local bookshop a few weeks ago and the only Bronte I could find there was Jane Eyre (which I already have). I would have thought all Bronte were “classics” and always on hand.

This led me to wonder, what exactly are people reading? After coming across the ‘100 books that all children should read’ list recently I thought there are bound to be some lists of books that people think are ‘the best’. After searching these lists and discarding those with limitations (eg. written in the 20th century or written by authors of the same nationality, etc.), I came across two lists of 100 books that were 4 years apart. They are from the same country (UK) and yet they vary quite a bit. I surmise that people’s views are to some extent affected by what they are currently reading (recent releases) and even watching (films based on the books). Are many of these your favourites?

BBC 2003 list of Top 100 books:

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkein
2. Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pulman
4. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
8. Nineteen Eighty Four, George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
19. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. Harry Potter and the Philospher’s Stone, JK Rowling
23. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, JK Rowling
24. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, JK Rowling
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkein
26. Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
30. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
31. The Story of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
33. The Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma, Jane Austen
41. Anne of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
44. The Count of Monte Chriso, Alexandre Dumas
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
48. Far from the Maddening Crowd, Thomas Hardy
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
53. The Stand, Stephen King
54. Anna Kerenina, Leo Tolstoy
55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
57. Swallows and Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
60. Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
61. Noughts and Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden
63. A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCullough
65. Mort, Terry Pratchet
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
67. The Magus, John Fowles
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
70. Lord of the Flies, William Golding
71. Perfume, Patrick Suskind
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
75. Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
77. The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins
78. Ulysses, James Joyce
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80. Double Act, Jaqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
82. I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith
83. Holes, Louis Sachar
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85. The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
88. COld Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. Magician, Raymond E Fiest
90. On the Road, Jack Kerouac
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
92. The Clan of the Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
93. The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
95. Katherine, Anya Seton
96. Kane and Abel, Jeffrey Archer
97. Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
98. Girls in Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100. Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie

The Daily Telegraph (UK) 2007 list of 100 books you can’t live without:

1. Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen
2. Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkein
3. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
4. Harry Potter series, JK Rowling
5. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
6. The Bible
7. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
8. Nineteen Eighty Four, George Orwell
9. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
10. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
11. Little Women, Louisa M Alcott
12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
13. Catch 22, Joseph Heller
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare
15. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
16. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkein
17. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
18. Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
19. The Time Traveller’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger
20. Middlemarch, George Eliot
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
23. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
26. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
27. Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
29. Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
30. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Graeme
31. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
32. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia, CS Lewis
34. Emma, Jane Austen
35. Persuasion, Jane Austen
36. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
37. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini
38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis De Bernieres
39. Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden
40. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
41. Animal Farm, Goerge Orwell
42. The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney, John Irving
45. The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins
46. Ann of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
47. Far from the Maddening Crowd, Thomas Hardy
48. The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
49. Lord of the Flies, William Golding
50. Atonement, Ian McEwan
51. Life of Pi, Yann Martel
52. Dune, Frank Herbert
53. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
54. Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen
55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57. A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
58. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night time, Mark Haddon
60. Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61. Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
62. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
63. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
64. The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold
65. Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
66. On the Road, Jack Kerouac
67. Jude the Obscure, Thomas Hardy
68. Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding
69. Midgnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie
70. Moby Dick, Herman Melville
71. Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens
72. Dracula, Bram Stoker
73. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
74. Notes from a Small Island, Bill Bryson
75. Ulysses, James Joyce
76. The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
77. Swallows and Amazons, Arthur Ransome
78. Germinal, Emile Zola
79. Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray
80. Possession, A S Byatt
81. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
82. Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell
83. The Color Purple, Alice Walker
84. The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro
85. Madame Bovary, Gustave Flabert
86. A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry
87. Charlotte’s Web, EB White
88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven, Mitch Alborn
89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90. The Faraway Tree Collection, Enid Blyton
91. Heart of Darkness , Joseph Conrad
92. The Little Prince, Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93. The Wasp Factory, Iain Banks
94. Watership Down, Richard Adams
95. A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole
96. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
97. The Three Musketeers, Alexandre Dumas
98. Hamlet, William Shakespeare
99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
100. Les Miserables, Victor Hugo.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Ever After: A Cinderella Story

A really beautiful rendition of Cinderella that is suitable for all ages (even though it is rated PG).

The movie starts with a royal female meeting the Brothers Grimm and relaying the true story of Cinderella.

Cinderella’s real name was Danielle de Barbarac (played by the wonderful Drew Barrymore) who was lovingly raised by her father, Auguste (Jeroen Krabbe). Her father marries the Baroness Rodmilla de Ghent (Angelica Houston) who arrives with her two daughters Marguerite (Megan Dodds) and Jacqueline (Melanie Lynskey). Danielle is excited at the prospect of a new mother and sisters but her luck changes when her father dies shortly after.

Grown up Danielle, who is trying to maintain her father’s estate in the best way she can, is treated as a servant by her stepmother and stepsisters (although one sister, Jacqueline feels more affinity for Danielle than her mother and sister do). Prince Henry of France (Dougray Scott), in the meantime is determined not to marry “Spain” for an alliance, and keeps trying to escape the palace and his duty. During one of his escapes he is chased by Danielle for stealing her father’s horse, but she hides her face and he doesn’t see her.

Shortly after she meets the Prince again whilst in the guise of a courtier and attracted by her passion for what is right, the romance begins. Of course, obstacles are thrown in Danielle’s path, including her real identity and status, her stepsister and stepmother’s aspirations and the desire of a local wealthy landowner. The servants of course are all on Danielle’s side.

Danielle has a heart of gold, is intelligent and beautiful so how can the Crown Prince possibly resist? A nice touch is the addition of Leonardo DaVinci (Patrick Godfrey) to the story who plays a pivotal part in ultimately uniting the two lovers.

A strong supportive cast including Timothy West (the King) and Judy Parfitt (the Queen) help make this a nice little film that you can easily watch with the children.