The DCH Blog
This Weds - The Lunchbox - a pre-screening review - Sunday 27th July 2014
Ritesh Batra’s film has been heralded by many as Bollywood finally coming of age, but its far better judged on its own merits, as a beautifully constructed short story of two lonely people finding solace in the simple act of communication. Set in Mumbai, and immersed in the culture of that noisy, chaotic city, this is a perfectly paced exploration of the sort of quiet desperation last seen in The Remains of the Day.
The two leads are excellent. We see Irrfan Khan’s indifference to life slowly melt from the warmth of Nimrat Kaur’s unhappy housewife. Although largely a two-hander, there is whimsical support from Nawazuddin Siddiqui as his hapless apprentice and Bharati Achrekar as her never seen, but often heard, auntie. This is not a comedy, (though it is funny) nor a tragedy (though it is at times utterly heartbreaking). Rather it is a small slice of life in a big city, weighed down with the baggage that tired, irascible people carry around with them.
Using the plot device of immaculately prepared meals being wrongly delivered is only the starting point for a subtle and affecting tale that has the viewer willing everything to turn out fine, without ever being untrue to the narrative.
By David Vass
Monty Python Live (Mostly) - a review - Saturday 26th July 2014
The gathering of the five surviving Pythons was as much about remembrance as humour, for audience and performers alike. With the spectral form of Graham Chapham hovering above them, Cleese, Palin, Jones, Idle and Gilliam hammed their way through some of Python’s most fondly remembered back catalogue.
Interspersed with clips from the original series, the sketches – so well worn that they were almost like sing-alongs – stood up surprisingly well. The big hitters were all there - Parrot sketch, nudge nudge, Spam (and everyone expected the Spanish Inquisition). But they also slotted in some of their less accessible tracks. It was great to see Miss Ann Elk and her dinosaur theory, the Argument Clinic, and even the camp judges. Most pleasing of all was the decision to include Carol Cleveland – though now in her seventies, she looking impossibly glamorous.
The lion’s share of the action was carved up between Idle (who also produced and directed the show) and Palin, with Cleese walking through his lines, Jones underused, and Gillian’s involvement notional. But it mattered little who got the laughs. With top scale song and dance routines, a few cheeky cameos, and a deliberately sentimental low key close, this was the perfect valedictory performance.
By David Vass
The Grand Budapest Hotel - a pre-screening review - Sunday 13th July 2014
Wes Anderson makes unique, stylised films that are as much about form as content. He really is an auteur. He also divides the room. Fans gobble up everything he does with a hunger that can be undiscriminating and partial, while gainsayers find him affected and irritating. The Grand Budapest Hotel just might be the film to bring both camps together.
Whether it’s the East European locations or Ralph Fiennes’s superbly judged lead performance or that Anderson has packed this one with heavyweight talent, somehow the whimsy really works this time. The freshness of his cast - Tom Wilkinson, Tilda Swinton, Jeff Goldblum, F Murray Abraham – really invigorates what had tended towards indulgent in the past.
The real star, however, is the Hotel itself. Sumptuously dressed, ludicrously overblown and beautifully shot, the Hotel reminds us of a time we think we know of, but probably never was. The images Anderson puts on screen alone would entertain, and that’s perhaps just as well. The film swiftly turns from a comedy of manners to an unravelling caper movie - those looking for coherent plot need look elsewhere. But for those wanted to confection as delightful as the Courtisane au Chocolat in the film, this could be the one that gets Anderson’s critics to think again.
By David Vass