IN A WORLD (cert.15 1hr 33 mins.)
is a quirky comedy directed by Lake Bell and she is the writer and
the producer. She also stars in the film, so basically the film
lives or dies by Ms Bell's contribution! Luckily she is good in
all aspects and the film is different from others on offer at the
In the film Carol (Lake Bell) lives with her father and makes
a somewhat poor living as a vocal coach while hoping for a better
job. She would really like to join the trailer voice-over artists
like her father Sam Soto (Fred Melamed), who, following the death
of real-life Don LaFontaine (who opens the movie with the words
of the title of this film) is now King. Sam, however, is more interested
in grooming Gustov (Ken Marino) to be the next star rather than
promoting his daughter's interests. Carol is finding out that the
world of movie-trailer voice-overs is very much male dominated.
Lake Bell & Demetri Martin
as Carol & Louis in IN A WORLD…
In addition she finds herself pushed out of her father's
house when he brings in his new girlfriend Jamie (Alexandra Holden)
to live with him. She moves to live with her sister, Dani (Michaela
Luckily Carol has a good friend in the cute sound engineer Louis
(Demetri Martin) and he finds her a job doing voice-over. She does
so well that she gets other jobs including beating the lothario
Gustov to a huge job using the words "In a World…" Carol later has
a one-night stand with Gustov who she meets at a party. He is unaware
that she has stolen his job and vows to get his own back when he
learns that it is Carol, without realising that she is his mentor,
All is not so good with Dani, either. She and her husband, Moe
(Rob Corddry) have marital difficulties and when she spends time
with an attractive stranger, her husband leaves her. It is then
Dani realises how much she loves him. Carol tries to mend their
relationship and also build bridges with her egotistical father.
Very much about inter-generational rivalry but also, unusually,
that between a father and his daughter, the film deals with these
issues in a mature and most amusing manner. As an actress, Bell
is excellent in her use of different voices and expresses the pain
of being rejected by her father well. As a director she has gathered
an impressive cast who work well with her and each other. There
is even a little cameo in which Geena Davis gives a speech about
advancing women in film. Bell allows the cast to gradually reveal
different aspects of their characters and all portray them well.
There is a most revealing scene at the end which throws quite a
different light on Jamie, Sam's new girlfriend.
Set in the world of the industry, all the studio scenes were filmed
at The Legendary Marc Graue Voice-Over Studios in Burbank. As a
writer Bell has given us a witty script which zings along and shows
she knows this world well and is a competent director. It is a charming
film with no loud bangs, no car crashes, just a comedy about relationships,
particularly that of a father-daughter competition. It is recommended.
Remaining a subject of interest to a huge number of people, the
People's Princess, who died at a very young age in such tragic circumstances,
is now the subject of a major film. Although it may be as much myth
as fact, DIANA (cert. 12A 1hr. 43mins.) purports
to tell the inside story of The Princess of Wales' (Naomi Watts)
last two years. In particular it tells of the relationship between
her and Dr Hasnat Khan (Narveen Andrews), the handsome British Pakistani
heart surgeon, who stole her heart while she was visiting a friend's
husband in hospital.
Between the story of the Princess' romance with the doctor, we
see something of the charitable work she undertook. Director Oliver
Hirschbiegel provides re-created scenes of her visits to Aid victims
in Africa and other good deeds in the UK and abroad. Much is made
of her efforts to bring awareness of landmines and their victims,
including one brave walk through an area which had been cleared
but was still the cause of the death of an aid worker previously.
She steps forward alone and bravely and only confesses to being
We are shown Diana preparing for her famous interview
with Martin Bashir and then parts of the actual televised interview
which, again, is re-created. It is this interview which leads to
her final divorce from Prince Charles after some years of separation.
There is a poignant moment when the princess berates the fact that
she hasn't seen her sons for five weeks.
The divorce puts her relationship with Dr Khan on a different footing.
He is now very concerned about how his parents view Diana and at
first it seems as though they are happier with their son and his
famous lady friend now she is divorced. The family welcomes her
to their home in Pakistan, where she goes alone and is greeted by
the whole extended family. So far the two have kept their love affair
secret, but once he is exposed Dr Khan finds that he can't cope
with all the publicity and the fact that he is treated differently
by his colleagues at the hospital where he works. He keeps attempting
to break up with Diana, although - as shown in this film anyway
- they love each other.
Diana has a very strange relationship with the press as a whole,
sometimes hiding her face and desperately trying to escape from
the paparazzi and at other times actually phoning journalists to
give them information on where she will be at a given time so that
they can turn up with a photographer.
Between her affairs with Dr Khan and Dodi Fayed (Cas Anvar) and,
indeed, when she is separated from Charles, Diana leads a lonely
life and this part is portrayed well.
In real life Diana was like a stick insect with long, very thin
legs and quite a long face. Naomi Watts is not particularly slim
and her legs are of normal shape. The actress has a pleasant round
face. In spite of the blond wig she wears, she does not look like
the princess. Although she walks, talks and does the side glance
looking upwards that Diana did adequately, she is not really similar
enough. To have chosen an unknown actress who had the figure and
face of the princess might have given a more realistic picture of
Douglas Hodge as Paul Burrell, Diana's butler and companion, appears
often and one presumes that Burrell gave advice on Diana's actions
around that period. Narveen Andrews makes a handsome, sensitive
doctor and Cas Anvar is pleasant enough as Dodi Fared.
The script is rather poor and the direction pedestrian but as a
light romantic tale of the life of someone who remains an iconic
figure, Diana should appeal to Royalty watchers and others in need
of fairly mindless easy viewing.
Also recommended: the new Woody Allen film, BLUE JASMINE
(cert. 12 1hr. 38mins.) shows the writer director back on top form.
Cate Blanchett is Jasmine who, finding her husband is a big fraud
and she has now lost her palatial home and everything she held dear
in the way of property and possessions, throws herself on the mercy
of her working class sister and boyfriend (Sally Hawkins and Bobby
Cannavale). Very much a modern day Blanche Du Bois, straight out
of A Streetcar Named Desire, Blanchett gives a wonderful performance
in a film full of amusing lines and fine acting all round.
A cult film that has never gone out of fashion, THE WICKER
MAN (cert. 1hr. 34mins.) is out now in a very good restoration
of the 40 year-old classic horror movie. Written by Anthony Shaffer
and directed by Robin Hardy it has an absolutely right-on performance
from Edward Woodward as the policeman who goes to a remote Scottish
island to investigate the whereabouts of a missing young girl and
finds himself in the midst of very strange pagan rites and erotic
couplings. With Britt Ekland, Christopher Lee and Diane Cilento
and a smashing folk song background. See it once, twice or more,
you will never be disappointed.
Are you interested in film? If you are, there is an exciting line-up
for the 57th BFI London Film Festival which runs from 9-20 October
2013 which is screening a total of 234 fiction and documentary features,
World, European or International Premieres as well as career interviews,
master classes and other special events. You will be able to see
the films at venues across the capital, from the West End cinemas
to the BFI Southbank, the ICA, as well as local cinemas: Ritzy Brixton,
Hackney Picture house, Renoir, Everyman Screen on the Green and
The Festival opens with Paul Greengrass' CAPTAIN PHILLIPS
a high-stakes thriller based on the true story of the 2009 hijacking
of the U.S. container ship Maersk Alabama by a crew of Somali pirates
with Tom Hanks playing the eponymous lead role. Closing the Festival
is SAVING MR. BANKS, which tells the untold story
of how Mary Poppins was brought to the big screen and stars Emma
Thompson as P.L. Travers, author of Mary Poppins and Tom Hanks as
Walt Disney. As last year the Closing Night red carpet event and
screening will be screened simultaneously to cinemas across the
UK. Other Galas include the highly anticipated Stephen Frears' film
PHILOMENA, the true story of one woman's search
for her lost son, starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan ,and Steve
McQueen's 12 YEARS A SLAVE starring Chiwetel Ejiofor,
Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch and Brad Pitt, which has
already picked up prizes at the Torento film festival.
I am looking forward to seeing the above as well as the Coen Brothers'
INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS, set in the Greenwich Village
folk scene of the early 1960's and starring Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan
and Justin Timberlake. The film took home the Grand Prix at Cannes
earlier in the year. Also Jason Reitman's literary adaptation LABOR
DAY starring Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin and Ralph Fiennes'
second directorial feature THE INVISIBLE WOMAN
staring Fiennes as Charles Dickens, Felicity Jones, Kristin Scott
Thomas and Tom Hollander. Lots of famous guests are expected including
Paul Greengrass, Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson, Stephen Frears, Judi
Dench, Steve Coogan, Steve McQueen, Chiwetel Eijofor, Alfonso Cuaron,
David Heyman, Sandra Bullock, Joel & Ethan Coen, Carey Mulligan,
THE PRIDE on at the Trafalgar Studios
(until 9 November box office: 0844 871 7627) is a study
in the treatment of homosexuality in the1950s and in today's climate.
sAlexi Kaye Cambell's play shows different scenes set in one or
other of the two time-zones. What is most interesting is to observe
how society deals with the subject in the two eras. Although prejudice
is still with us, there is a huge difference in the way the law
deals with those who are gay now and in the '50s.
Director Jamie Lloyd uses the same actors in different roles
in the two time-zones. In the 1950s we meet Philip (Harry Hadden-Paton),
who is an estate agent married to Sylvia (Hayley Atwell), but who,
when introduced to Oliver (Al Weaver), finds himself attracted.
Philip feels guilty, not only because he has a wife but also because
the writer to whom he is drawn actually works with his wife as she
is illustrating his book. In the present day scenario, although
the names are the same, the characters are completely different.
Al Weaver & Matthew Horne
in THE PRIDE
Modern-day Oliver is a freelance journalist with
a lover called Philip. However, Oliver knows that he is addicted
to casual sex with strangers. He is aware, too, that this makes
Philip extremely upset and that their relationship is in danger
because of this. He looks to his friend Sylvia for help. Although
the scenes slip from one time to another, it is always clear where
we are and who is speaking.
Very well acted by the small cast, Matthew Horne is impressive
as a rent boy in costume. He gives a lively, amusing portrayal dressed
as a gay Nazi officer. Later Horne appears, equally as effectively,
as a wide-boy editor. Hadden-Paton manages to give a hint of the
past in his present day character and Atwell brings out the difference
between her two characters. The play is brought right up to date
at the end curtain calls when the cast hold up placards declaring
"To Russia with Love".
For another excellent piece of acting, hurry along to HYSTERIA
at the Hampstead Theatre (until 12 October box office: 020 7722
9301) to see Antony Sher giving a very lively, energetic and
amusing portrayal of Sigmund Freud. Terry Johnson who directs his
own 1993 play shows us Freud meeting with Salvador Dali (Adrian
Schiller), who visits him at his home in Hampstead - just round
the corner from this theatre - in 1938. In addition to putting up
with the eccentric artist, Freud has to contend with the intrusion
of Jessica (Lydia Wilson), the daughter of one of his former patients
who challenges him on his former theory on hysteria, which Freud
originally attributed to real sexual abuse and later changed to
saying it was actually the sub-conscious desires of the children
There is also a very funny performance from David Horovitch as
Freud's physician. Lydia Wilson, who has to run around in various
stages of undress, is super as the young Jessica.
Lydia Wilson as Jessica, Antony
Sher as Freud, David Horovitch as Yahuda, Adrian Schiller as Dali
The whole play works along the lines of an old Whitehall Theatre
farce and there is much entering and leaving the main room where
the play is set. Also we have trousers falling down and much other
funny business. However, there is always a truthful sadness behind
the laughter as Freud, now in his eighties faces cancer of the jaw
and has to contend with fearing for the fate of his sisters who
are part of Hitler's Kristallnacht.
Laughter behind the sadness - Terry Johnson and his
wonderful cast provide plenty of both. Surely this would be a hit
in the West End?
There is an excellent cast in BARKING IN ESSEX
(Wyndhams Theatre until 4 January 2014 box office: 0844 482
5120), but the play itself is not magnificent.
Billed as a "new" comedy, it was actually written in 2005 by
the late Clive Exton and, now directed by Harry Burton, stars Sheila
Hancock as the mother of a criminally inclined family. As the play
starts the mother, Emmie Packer (Hancock), son Darnley (Lee Evans)
and daughter- in-law, Chrissie (Keeley Hawes) are about to welcome
home from prison Emmie's younger son, Algie.
Lee Evans, Keeley Hawes &
Sheila Hancock in Barking in Essex
The trouble is before he went into prison Algie
hid a large stash of cash from his last crime and left the key to
the safe box with his mother. She and the daughter-in- law have
now spent all the money and live in fear of Algie's return.
Darnley knew nothing of this but is very disturbed at some of the
other disclosures by his mother.
A mixture of out and out farce with a bit of a thriller element
and shootings, the play has a very average script. What makes us
laugh is the stage business performed by the good actors and, in
particular, the very physical antics of Lee Evans. I found the constant
use of 'cunt' a bit hard to take, especially from the mouth of lovely
80 year-old Sheila Hancock.
CANDIDE (RSC at the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon
until 26 October. Box Office (0844 800 1110) is described
as 'inspired by Voltaire.'
L. to R.: Matthew Needham
(Candide), Ishia Bennison (Countess), Richard Goulding (Playright)
Mark Ravenhill's Candide takes some of Voltaire's 18th century
satirical novel's ideas and puts them in a modern setting, with
scenes from the 18th century, in the age of Enlightenment. The relevance
of over enthusiastic optimism in our own age is shown in a somewhat
The play begins with a bit from the original book as a sick Candide,
who has been saved by an old Countess who is smitten with him, is
a spectator of a staging of his life by a writer who has actually
stolen Candide's journal.
The fine line between reality and fantasy becomes
blurred when Candide mistakes the actors for real-life people he
The play then moves into the 21st century, and a scene where a
girl, whose birthday party is being celebrated, turns and shoots
them all (except her mother) in protest against global warming.
And the play moves on between modern scenes and sometimes back to
the 18th century. There is one telling scene in which Candide falls
for the allure of gold while the ordinary people of El Dorado who
live there prefer their own lives and refuse the gold. At the end
the story is set in the future in a somewhat surreal laboratory
known as the Pangloss Institute.
A very strange journey, then, for Candide, but all taking place
in the excellently designed stylish sets of Soutra Gilmour. Somehow
director, Lyndsey Turner manages to keep hold of the various threads
and while it is sometimes difficult to follow, the journey undertaken
by Candide is always thrilling to watch, considerably helped by
the fine cast led by Matthew Needham's Candide, with Ian Redford
as a pedantic Dr Pangloss and Katy Stephens as the survivor of the
massacre. There is a background of live music by Michael Bruce played
authentically by a group of most competent musicians. And all this
in a welcome one hour forty five minutes with no interval.
Along with many in the audience, I really didn't know what to expect
of the new play by Anton Burge, STORM IN A FLOWER VASE
(Arts Theatre, London until 12 October. Box office: 020 7836
The play, based on Sue Shephard's biography of Spry, tells the
behind the scenes story of Constance Spry (Penny Downie) who rose
to become really the first expert on 'floral decoration' (as her
husband keeps referring to it). She had quite a sexless life, while
her husband, Shav (Christopher Ravenscroft) had affairs including
with Spry's assistant, Val Pirie (Sally George).
Penny Downie as Constance
Constance finds romance and then love at the hand
of Gluck (Carolyn Backhouse), a painter and ardent lesbian. Spry
is surprised by her own sudden attachment as are those of us who
came to the theatre knowing little about Constance other than that
she was a well-known society florist. The story is well brought
out in a number of short scenes and, as portrayed by Penny Downie,
we get a real feeling for the florist's character. Less so for her
husband who doesn't really express his emotions to his wife.
A most interesting evening at the theatre with beautiful arrangements
of flowers which are brought on and off the stage at appropriate
moments in the play.
Moving, amusing and often very relevant to many marriages, SCENES
FROM A MARRIAGE (St James Theatre until 9 November. Box
office: 0844 264 2140) is beautifully directed by Trevor
Nunn with performances so realistic by Olivia Williams and Mark
Bazeley as the couple, that it sometimes feels as though we are
eavesdropping on real people.
This is a revival of Ingmar Bergman's play which many of you
will remember from the original six part series on TV. The couple,
Marianne (Olivia Williams) and Johan (Mark Bazeley) begin by being
not only successful and wealthy with good careers and lovely children,
but also very much in love. Over many scenes we see the marriage
begin to fall apart until Mark says that he is in love with someone
else. Although Marianne can barely accept this, she somehow learns
to carry on and even has lovers of her own.
Scenes from a Marriage: Mark
Bazeley as Johan & Olivia Williams as Marianne
But Marianne and Johan's story has by no means ended and the fascinating part of the play is watching how the joining together of this couple is proving harder to separate than it first seemed.
Bergman writes so well that all the scenes ring true - even the rather ghastly one where the couple fight and actually hurt each other. The play is also acted with wonderful emotion and clarity of character with a good rapport between the couple. One can really believe in them as a pair of lovers and almost understand the disintegration of their seemingly perfect marriage.