Diss Corn Hall

The DCH Blog

The Imitation Game - a pre-screening review - Thursday 21st May 2015
Much like Alan Turing’s code breaking prototype computer, The Imitation Game ticks along like a precisely engineered machine, massaging the messy, contradictory story of a self-confessed oddball into a streamlined biopic, full of quizzical understatement and British pluck.

Peculiarly old fashioned, and typically British, the movie is actually directed by a Morten Tyldum, a Norwegian. He does a surprisingly good job of getting under the skin of war time British society, and while the film is certainly not a history lesson, he manages to present Turing with affection, respect and sympathy. Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightly do their best to play introverted maths nerds, and though both are implausibly attractive for the characters they play, they produce fine, nuanced performances that are rather better than the screenplay they work with. In support is a solid roster of British acting talent – Charles Dance, Rory Kinnear and Mark Strong are all in attendance – though it’s Alex Lawther that grabs the acting honours for his sensitive portrayal of Turing as a bullied young man at school.

While Turing’s sexuality isn’t avoided, it’s certainly not dwelt on, and this is more a celebration of Turing’s achievements than a condemnation of his awful end. That said, while this is, for the most part, a rollicking good yarn, there’s a seam of quiet fury running through the movie that gives it dignity and substance.
By David Vass

Open Space - Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? - a review - Wednesday 20th May 2015
Open Space continually challenge themselves (and their audiences) with classic texts, but with their production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, they have decisively raised the bar.

Performed in the round, with the cast unnervingly close to the audience, David Green’s claustrophobic staging only serves to enhance an atmosphere of unease and danger, as a couple goes to war in service to their impotent rage. Yves Green is a familiar face on the Open Space stage, and can always be relied on to produce a solid performance, but in Martha she has found the part in which she can truly excel. Spiteful and vitriolic, yet tragic and poignant, she is the perfect foil for Peter Sowerbutts’s splenetic George. Horribly convincing as Albee’s poisonous couple, the two of them prowl and snarl like unfettered wild animals. Complementing them is Emma Martin, doing a giggly, yet pathetic, drunk very well, while Mick Davison nicely underplays Nick, cringe worthily convincing as the embarrassed guest.

Gripping from beginning to end, this is not only Open Spaces finest production to date, it must rate as one of the best productions we’ve seen at the Corn Hall for a very long time.
David Vass

National Gallery documentary - a pre-screening review - Monday 18th May 2015
Presented with director Frederick Wiseman’s customary restraint - no voiceovers, no narrative, no authorial voice – National Gallery is more akin to a witness statement than a conventional documentary. Without wasting a moment of its three hour running time, Wiseman casts his critical American eye over this most British of institutions to illuminating effect.

His roaming camera takes us into budget meetings, PR discussions, life studies and restorations – a collage of activity that makes up the village life of the museum. Furtively voyeuristic, his sometimes uncomfortably lengthy gaze appears to go by unnoticed, as folk natter and pontificate and go about their business. There’s high drama, as protestors precariously swing from the portico entrance. There is suspense, as age old varnish is levered from old masters like unwanted cataracts. Perhaps most surprisingly there is rich comedy, as a marketing consultant takes a lifetime to say nothing at all, while a well-meaning life drawing tutor damns with faint praise.

Ultimately, of course, it is all about the paintings, and all the star turns - Holbein, Turner, de Vinci - are present and correct. By juxtaposing countless masterpieces it is as if they, as well as Wiseman, are bearing witness to this secular cathedral, full of hushed grandeur and studied calm. That said, it is an unattributed 12th century altarpiece that best epitomises this iconoclastic collection and what Wiseman appears to make of it - incandescent, mysterious and ultimately unknowable.
By David Vass