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FILM:August 2012

If you want to see a major action film with just a little heart but some good action as well as kicks, head to THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (cert.15 2hrs. 44mins.). Directed by Christopher Nolan as the conclusion to his Batman trilogy, it stars Christan Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman again. Nolan also co-wrote the film alongside his brother Jonathan.

This film begins 12 years after the end of The Dark Knight. Billionaire Bruce Wayne is now a virtual recluse and walks with an injured leg. He has put away his Bat-costume after the city has allegedly been cleaned of crime by Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) following the death of Harvey Dent and Batman is no longer needed to fight crime in Gotham City. Bale feels at a loose end as he does not really know what to do to replace his Batman activities.

He is drawn out of Wayne Manor, not by a terrible villain, but initially by Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) who he apprehends stealing his fingerprints as she goes about her cat burglar work. Later she moves to help Bruce and he becomes closer to her.

Bruce dons his costume and becomes Batman again, much to the distress of faithful butler Alfred (Michael Caine). But Bruce has far worse problems as he faces the threat of a horrible masked villain, called Bane (Tom Hardy), who has a master-plan that involves stirring up revolution in Gotham City. Hobbling at first and then flying, Batman is out to get the villain, help the people of Gotham and in the process he beds Miranda Tate (Marion Cottlilard) , who has invested money with Wayne's financial empire.

There is some excellent acting by all and it is good to see Michael Caine continuing with his (nowadays) somewhat strange accent! Christain Bale is a convincing hero and Tom Hardy comes across well visually but at the press show I attended the sound was so bad - partly because of the loud percussive music - that it was very difficult to make out what he was saying behind the mask. Joseph Gordon-Levitt gives an excellent performance as the cop Blake, who uncovers some truths of his own and whose story forms a major part of the film. Anne Hathaway shows that she has acquired new skills as an all-action heroine and her Catwoman is lithe as well as beautiful.

There is a terrific finale and the action and special effects during this fascinating film are really great. Although sometimes cliché ridden, the dialogue is worth hearing, and I trust that our local cinemas will reproduce the sound better than the big London one! This should suit families, except for small kids, during the summer holidays.

I'll start with the words of 11year-old Anna who accompanied me to see ICE AGE 4: CONTINENTAL DRIFT 3 D (cert.U 1 hr. 34 mins.). Here is what she thinks:

When I first heard about Ice Age 4 I thought it wouldn't be that good because people always say the third and fourth film isn't as good as the first. But I found I was wrong, it was great!

The plot was that Manny (the mammoth ), Sid (the sloth), Diego (the sabre-toothed tiger) and Sid's crazy old grandmother are stuck on an ice berg floating away from Manny's child (Peaches) and his wife (Ellie). On their journey to get back to safety (or at least just land ) they meet a crew of animal pirates whose leader is a gorilla called Gutt. In the journey they have a few bumps but it is all alright in the end and you find out that the granny isn't as crazy as you thought.

Even my 17 year old sister enjoyed it and especially liked the grand mum too. All together I think it was an amazing movie to watch for the whole family.

By Anna

The film is enjoyable for adults too! I'm glad that the children thought that the grandmother (voiced by Wanda Sykes ) was "Awesome," as she has a lot of get up-and go.

It is a pity that the film is basically another version of the other Ice Age films, which rather spoils the sense of wonder and eagerness to know what will happen. This is the fourth installment in the animated franchise about the adventures of Manny the Mammoth (Ray Romano), Diego the Sabre-tooth Tiger (Denis Leary) and Sid the Sloth (John Leguizamo), with cutaways to whatever Scrat (Chris Wege) the scene-stealing Squirrel is up to. At times the film plays out like a Tom and Jerry cartoon. The 3D effects are well done, but I am sure the film can also be enjoyed in 2D.

There is a, however, a touch of education in the environmental aspect to the film. We see the ice shelf crack, which causes Manny, Sid, Diego and Sid's sassy toothless grandmother (Wanda Sykes) to find themselves adrift on an ice floe and separated from Manny's wife Ellie (Queen Latifah) and their rebellious daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer). The voices of the characters seem to exactly fit the characters and there are many funny moments. As Anna says, this is one for the whole family.

The re-issue of CHARIOTS OF FIRE (cert.U 2hrs. 3mins.) is to be welcomed with open arms. Directed by Hugh Hudson with such memorable music by Vangelis and an intelligent script by Colin Welland it is now a classic. The story of Harold Abrahams (played by Ben Cross) the son of a Lithuanian Jew and Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson), a devout Christian, who compete in the Paris Olympics of 1924 remains exciting even when one knows the outcome. The whole cast is superb with special mention going to Nigel Havers as a fellow British competitor and Ian Holm as Harold's coach, Sam Mussabini and, of course, John Gielgud as the Master of Trinity College.






CHARIOTS OF FIRE is now playing at the Gielgud Theatre (booking until 10 November), and, as at Hampstead Theatre, is directed by Edward Hall in a lively production which depicts the characters with clarity, and uses the stage and auditorium to show great runs by the actors that leave one gasping as they whistle past your head! It is based on the original 1981 film (reviewed in FILMS above). SEE JULY THEATRE FOR FULL REVIEW http://www.toffs.org/pages/tips/july12%20theatre.htm#

Now finished its Hampstead run, the wonderful all-male Propeller Company is continuing its tour July 24 - 28

Galway Arts Festival, The Black Box Theatre

    Tue 24 Henry
    Wed 25 Winter's Tale
    Thu 26 Henry
    Fri 27 Henry / Winter's Tale
    Sat 28 Winter's Tale / Henry

If you do get the opportunity to see them now or in the future, please go as the staging and acting are well worth it.

I thought that HENRY V worked better in the all-male version as there are only a couple of female roles, whereas THE WINTER'S TALE relies on the females to further the story and they are indeed the major roles apart from the jealous King, Leontes.

HENRY V, which shows the young King triumphing in France, has some excellent performances. Dugaid Bruce-Lockhart plays Henry and has the small part of Antigonus in Winter's Tale. Robert Hands, who is the Bishop of Ely in Henry plays Leontes in Winter's Tale

Tony Bell (Mistress Quickly) and Vince Leigh (Pistol) in Henry V

Reminding its audience of jealous Othello, Leontes is jealous without being prompted by anyone else and the result of his emotion is to bring about calamity and almost the loss of everything he holds most dear.

Cast of Propeller's The Winter's Tale

Shakespeare's Globe production of THE TAMING OF THE SHREW (until 13 October) is a very lively, very funny interpretation of Shakespeare's play that doesn't leave much room for any great intellectual probing. This is a difficult play to stage in modern times as feminists baulk at the sexism portrayed in the play.

Kate (Samantha Spiro) is known as the shrew as she rebels against authority and everyone around her. This includes her younger sister, Bianca (Sarah MacRae) who is told she can't marry until her older sister has found a husband.

The Taming of the Shrew at The Globe Theatre, with Samantha Spiro as Kate & Simon Paisley Day as Petruchio

Bianca is allowed to have tutors and there is fun with various disguises as the different suitors try to get near her. When it looks as though Kate is never going to find someone to marry her, Petrucio (Simon Paisley Day, looking and moving like the young John Cleese!) turns up and attracted by the wealth on offer to a potential husband, sets about wooing and conquering the wild woman.

He succeeds with a combination of sadistic and violent behaviour, which continues after they are married. He tames Kate so that she can eventually teach the other wives how to behave!

One way to deal with the sexism on offer is to turn the whole play into a romp and this is exactly what Toby Frow offers us here. Starting with a drunk invading the stage chased by theatre staff followed by the drunk urinating against a pillar, it continues in the same vein. Samantha Spiro and Simon Paisley Day show real chemistry between them as they fight verbally as well as physically almost throughout the play. They are both older versions of the young Bianca and her gentle lover, but make their relationship the more exciting in spite of the abuse suffered by Kate. Although it had been raining throughout the day I went the theatre was full including people waiting for returns! All enjoyed the production which brought some warmth to a chilly evening weather-wise. Recommended.

1936 (Lilian Bayliss Studio, Sadler's Wells until 5th August) is, as the name suggests to us this month, the story behind the Eleventh Olympic Games held in Berlin in 1936.

Writer Tom McNab has written a powerful piece for the Attic Theatre Company. Directed by Jenny Lee, the play most effectively shows, through a number of short scenes, the events leading up to the Games as seen and narrated by American journalist William Shirer (Ryan McCluskey).

With a cast including Adolf Hitler (Tim Frances), Joseph Goebbles (John Webber) and Jesse Owens (Cornelius Macarthy), we are shown how the Games were first given to Berlin two years before Hitler rose to power.

Jessie Owens

Germany's performance at the 1932 Los Angeles Games was so poor that Hitler wanted to show Germany’s superiority and Goebbles promises him Gold medals.

John Webber and Tim Frances

The rise of Hitler saw persecution of the Jewish population including refusing to let them belong to sports' clubs. As many fled to Germany, Americans demanded a boycott of the Games. The resulting discussions around this and Jesse Owens' views are very well depicted and although there are a lot of talking heads, the play is always interesting and the cast are excellent.

Each performance of the play is followed by a discussion led by Olympic coach and best-selling author Tom McNab with eminent sports personalities on the panel after the showing of three excerpts from Leni Riefenstahl's film, Olympia.


Carlie Newman

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