The DCH Blog
The Great Gatsby - a pre-screening review - Sunday 8th December 2013
F Scott Fitzgerald’s novel is one of a handful that can be thought the greatest ever written, and that can weigh heavy on the shoulders on anyone trying to adapt it for screen. The faithful, and rather dull, Redford film of the seventies demonstrates the pitfalls of being too respectful. Step forward Baz Luhrmann, who has already pimped up Shakespeare and Verdi.
Many shuddered and more groaned when it was announced he was getting his hands on this one, but his tendency towards camp excess and grand gestures dovetails nicely with the vapid partying world that Gatsby inhabits. Luhrmann’s penchant for extraordinary set dressing and anachronistic music works surprisingly well here. The hip hop heavy soundtrack is an economical and effective reminder of both the hedonistic atmosphere of the time, and that this was not a period piece when written. Leonardo Di Caprio gives his best performance for years, perfectly inhabiting a man that is both startlingly charismatic and yet oddly hollow and unreal, while Carey Mulligan cleverly balances vulnerability with ambivalence. Tobey Maguire is perhaps less successful as the wordy, portentous narrator, but he glues the film together and is winningly gauche.
Perhaps the real star turn, however, comes from the stunning recreation of twenties New York. Brash, colourful and nightmarish, its hyper-reality is, typically for a Luhrmann film, entirely unrealistic, but for once this perfectly matches the distance Fitzgerald put between his characters and the reader/audience, giving the movie an authentic chilly atmosphere. Notwithstanding all the booze and dance and song, we are watching the horribly fixed grins of roaring boys and girls trying to put the war behind them.
By David Vass
The World's End - a pre-screening review - Monday 2nd December 2013
The World’s End is the final instalment in the Cornetto Trilogy - Simon Pegg’s and Edger Wright’s parody/celebration of genre movies. This time it’s the turn of alien body snatchers. Typically for their films, this invasion of suburban Newton Haven is a Trojan horse for a sweetly sad story of fading youth and failed dreams.
Simon Pegg has great fun playing against type as a monumental arse, and while Nick Frost is perhaps less comfortable doing a similar about face as the priggish bore, he nevertheless demonstrates a hitherto unseen range. They are complemented by the first division of British acting talent, with Paddy Considine, Eddie Marson, Martin Freeman as their drinking pals, who together with countless fun cameos give the movie more of an ensemble feel than on previous outings. As always with an Edgar Wright film, the action pelts along breathlessly, as tight editing and a top notch soundtrack barely gives the viewer the chance to exhale.
It would flatter the movie to say its plot was entirely coherent, but it’s all done with such gusto and enthusiasm, it would be churlish to pick holes. Better to notice how cleverly the film weaves sobering and adult themes of remembrances and loss into what is superficially a very silly film.
Is it as good as Shawn of the Dead? Probably not, but then how many films in the last ten years have been? It’s still a cracking example of British comedy, unrivalled in its ability to celebrate the defiantly idiotic, while being strangely very smart at the same time.
By David Vass
Corn Hall Comedy Club - a review - Saturday 30th November 2013
Kieran Boyd was the perfect host. With his agreeable patter and easy charm, he was just the man to warm up the Corn Hall on a bitter November night. At one point he threatened to destroy any hecklers – but he is surely too nice for that. I think it more likely he would invite them round for tea and biscuits than be knowingly unpleasant. No such qualms for Rob Collins, whose robust and scabrous routine had folks laughing and wincing in equal measure. Comedy nights are all about variety, and perhaps best described as the grit in the oyster, he worked well as a contrast to the rubber faced musings of headliner Alistair Barrie.
It’s an overworked expression, but Barrie really did own the stage as soon as he came on, in full command of his material and audience. A game of two halves, Barrie opened with a well observed meditation on the more intimate pitfalls of life in middle age. Funny as this was, it was when he changed gear and reflected on the state of the nation that the room truly engaged. He got the biggest laugh of the evening, and a round of applause, after launching into a full scale attack on our leaders. It was hardly the agitprop of the eighties, but perhaps a wake-up call that audiences grow weary of what Ben Elton once called knob jokes, and appreciate comedy with a little more substance. Perhaps times they are a changing back.
By David Vass