Eavesdropping

Nicolaes Maes: Dutch Master of the Golden Age (National Gallery, London)

Tucked away on the ground floor of the National Gallery has been an exhibition devoted to Nicolaes Maes (1634-1693), an almost industrial producer of portraits – some 900, apparently – but earlier in his career better known genre pictures. In fact, such is the divide, that some critics have suggested there were two artists on the same name.

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The Hand of Dog

Alan Bennett, The Outside Dog (directed by Nadia Fall, Br/dge Theatre)
Alan Bennett, The Hand of God (directed by Jonathan Kent, Br/dge Theatre)

bridgeI’m not sure that I ever saw the second season of Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads monologues and I certainly haven’t seen The Bridge’s TV remakes. Probably, I should. Continue reading →

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Max Richter’s Sleep (Natalie Johns, 2019)

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Hop Gape

Hope Gap (William Nicholson, 2019)

Curiously, for a film set in Seaford in East Sussex, parts of this were filmed in Yorkshire. And this is just a couple of weeks after what may well be the same East Sussex cliffs stood in for East Kent. I look forward to Folkstone being the location for a remake of Wuthering Heights. Continue reading →

Hard to Beat

David Hare, Beat the Devil (directed by Nicholas Hytner, Br/dge Theatre)

beat the devilSo, here we are again, but with a piece of theatre before a piece of theatre – a specific entry time (ignored in practice), some kind of thermal imaging camera to detect The Plague, an auditorium all but stripped of chairs, a stage with a chair and a desk and little else… Continue reading →

Deception

Inception (Christopher Nolan, 2010)

Nolan is one of those directors who flatters his audiences into thinking they are intelligent — at least in the half of his output which tries to be thinky, rather than the superhero tosh which somehow gets away with have a Gotham City that is so male that Batman and one of the villains are dating the same woman.

Oh, and gotta kill those wives.

With the possible exception of The Prestige (which flattens its source material), it’s been downhill since Following and Memento. (I confess I’ve not seen Insomnia, as I suspect it is not in the same league as Erik Skjoldbjærg’s original.)

Part of me is happy to see Michael Caine in anything, but as with Bill Nighy and Tilda Swinton, sometimes I suffer for their art.

I had seen Inception before — on DVD — and, appropriately, I’d forgotten most of it, aside from the criminal underuse of Ellen Page. So, the big screen rerelease to drum up interest in Tenet seemed like a good reason to see it large. And inevitably, I have to talk about the ending. Continue reading →

And Anything But the Truth

The Truth (La verité, Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2019)

Tucked away in the credits is the detail that the film that veteran actor, Fabienne Dangeville (Catherine Deneuve), is making with starlet Manon Lenoir (Manon Clavel), Memories of my Mother, is an adaptation of a short story by Ken Liu, in which a space-travelling mother visits her daughter every seven years.

I’d quite like to see that film, which is not to dis this one.

Dangeville’s son-in-law, Hank, a struggling American actor who may have a drink issue, is played by Ethan Hawke, possibly best known for the Before … movies, made every seven years with Julie Delpy.

Well, actually, every nine years, but Juliette Binoche as his wife and Dangeville’s daughter, Lumir, is not that far from the Delpy role. Hawke, to be honest, does little, but be awkward about how much French he speaks or understands.

The two of them are visiting their mother on the occasion of the publication of her autobiography, called, natch, The Truth, although it is plainly nothing but. Noses have been put out of joint, pasts libelled, and there is a dark secret from decades ago involving a rival actress.

Deneuve is, as you’d expect, radiant, as she’s been since The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. You never quite know when her character is helpless or actually just artful.

A Fine Romance

Family Romance, LLC (Werner Herzog, 2019)

Indeed the whole effort at replacing the real father by a superior one is only an expression of the child’s longing for the happy, vanished days when his father seemed to him the noblest and strongest of men and his mother the dearest and loveliest of women. (Freud)

Here’s an oddity — a work of fiction in which some of the actors play themselves. Or a documentary in which everything is staged.

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