Thursday, 28 March 2013

Oz - The Great and Powerful

Oz: The Great and Powerful.
‘If you believe in yourself you can achieve anything’ is the motto of this story.  Now add a heavily sugared dose of Disney and you have an idea of what you have let yourself in for.
The film starts in traditional 4:3 ratio in b/w just like The Wizard of Oz.  And of course land into Oz with Technicolor or whatever they call it these days.  Oz is truly a beautiful land and some of the effects are amazing.
James Franco is Oz. He is a charmer, charlatan and player.  Rather like some of the men I have dated! 
Those who already know and love the story of the wizard of Oz will recognise subtle leads from the original film.  Watch out for the horse of a different colour, a flying money, Glenda the good witch and of course Munchkins and the yellow brick road.
Mila Kunis (who has eyes larger than Bambi – how do Disney do it?!) plays Theodora, a witch looking after the Emerald city with her sister, Evanora played by Rachel Weiss.  When Oz arrives in Oz he is mistaken for the Wizard in the prophecy.  And knowing there is riches for a reward he pretends he is the great wizard to win the reward.
New characters for this film include the china doll, who is adorable and Water fairies that bite.  Like the original Wizard of Oz, many of the characters from Oz’s real life are transported into Oz.  The china doll is obvious as the little girl who believes in Oz but cannot walk.  His friend is Frank who is also Finley the flying monkey.  And it is Disney, so the girl he always loved back home becomes Glinda the good witch.
The film keeps a good pace and is enjoyable all the way through.  It might be scary for small children and although it is a PG, it does have a warning about a mild fantasy threat.  It’s a first for me, but I remember being scared as a child of the flying monkeys in the original Wizard of Oz!
Verdict: If you need to forget about these austere times, this is the perfect film to take you away to a magical land (for a few hours anyway).


Sunday, 24 March 2013


Siro- A

What is Siro-A? Well that is a hard question to answer.  Some say they are Japan’s answer to Blue Man Group but I do not think that is a fair analogy.  Siro-A are very unique and original and break the boundaries of normal theatre.  They are not like anything you have ever seen before.  It is a visual and audio masterpiece of art and sound.
Siro-A doesn’t need a definition.  All you need to know is this is something that will blow your mind.  This is something that combines electronic music with computer technology, dance and visual stimulation.  Think Diversity meets Kraftwerk and you are someway to getting it.  It is a feast for your eyes and ears.
The show only lasts an hour but it has an high intensity, so both audience and performers would struggle to do more than that.  The show has lots of humour in it and is suitable for all nationalities as there is hardly any speech in the whole show.  My personal favourites were the T-shirt scene and the games such as Mario and breakout (A derivative of Pong).  I also liked Abe Toshinori. 
It is just an amazing show.  Go see it while you can! (At Leicester Square Theatre until 22nd April 2013)


Monday, 18 March 2013

Only After Dark (Heaven 17 special)

Only after dark

Last night I travelled back in time.  It was to a strange distant land that I had forgotten about for over 30 years.  Last night I attended the OAD club. (For those of you who are not yet darkling’s, OAD stands for ‘Only After Dark’, a monthly club night based on the Bowie nights and the Rum Runner/Blitz Club nights of the late 70’s and early 80’s.).
It was an eclectic mix of people in my peer group made up of punks, new wave, Goths (who in my day were called alternatives), and anyone who is just not happy to conform to being described as ‘Normal’.  Style was a key factor.  To be individual and who you are.  This had been my upbringing.  And here I was back where I had started.  I had come home!

I knew this would be a very special night, not just because of how absolutely fabulous the music and people are, but this was no ordinary night.  Oh no!  This was a Heaven 17 special.  I need to thank Lucky Al for having his 50th birthday there as he started the ball rolling to give us what was an amazing and exciting night.  And boy was lucky Al lucky!  Heaven 17 gave him a few very rare records (all signed) including one white label promo copy of Penthouse and Pavement.  (I went a suitable shade of green – Oh what I would give for a copy of that?!)  A thought ran through my mind.  We all have birthdays…can’t we do this every time someone has a birthday?  I didn’t care how impractical this was, I liked this thought!
The night was special in so many ways…Firstly there was a limited edition record for sale.  A version of The Human League’s ‘Only after Dark’ covered by Heaven 17 in numbered limited editions of only 100 copies!

Then there was a meet & greet with Glenn and Martyn.  They signed anything you asked them to and had a photo taken with you by a professional photographer (which was such a blessing as my husband got in real trouble for the very blurred photo he took at the Heaven 17 Buxton gig).  There was a big queue but Heaven 17, being two of the nicest people in the music industry added an extra meet & greet after the set for those who didn’t get the chance at the first one.
Then Martyn did a DJ set.  It was fabulous.  Everyone was dancing.  Everyone was friendly. Everyone was having a good time.  Everyone was lovely to each other.  Complete strangers complemented each other on their individual style.  Here was a place where no one judged you.  And if you ever wondered why women spend time in the ladies toilets, I was told how lovely my long and curly my hair was and how skinny my legs were! 

As the midnight hour approached, Heaven 17 performed a short set.  They started with ‘Fascist Groove Thang’.  I danced and danced.  They continued with ‘Black hit of space’, ‘Crow and a baby’ and their personal favourite, ‘Let me go’.  They did a paired down version of ‘You’ve lost that lovin’ feeling’.  With no backing singers, you could really hear Martyn’s soulful voice and how it perfectly complements Glenn’s deep vocals.  A perfect combination.
And they finished the set, not with their traditional ‘Temptation’, but with the only time they will ever perform ‘Only after dark’.  It was bitter sweet.  I totally love this track and to think you will never hear it again live makes me sad, but also so happy that I was one of the lucky ones.  I was more than lucky.  I had been there on the night they had played it for the first and last time.  I honestly cannot begin to tell you how amazing this night was.  Enough adjectives do not exist to describe it.  

For someone whose normally Saturday night often consists of being in bed by 10pm I wondered how I would last til 3am.  None of us are 20 anymore…but for some reason the music kept me going and to be honest I could have danced until 5am (shoes allowing).
The music is all late 70’s and early 80’s with a heavy helping of Bowie for good measure.  There are also TV videos showing how stylish we all were then.  I danced to tracks such as Bowie’s ‘Look back in anger’ (I don’t think I had ever heard that in a club before), ‘Sex Dwarf’ by Soft Cell and ‘Dear Prudence’ by Siouxsie and the Banshees.  For me personally, I missed the omission of Bauhaus (There should always be some Bela Lugosi!!) and Joy Division, but overall I swear I had died and gone to heaven. (well Heaven 17)…this was such a unique, special and wonderful night.

If you are from the punk/post punk generation, are a non-conformist and have a sense of style not appreciated by the masses you know what you need to do!  OAD runs monthly in Birmingham and has an active Facebook group which you can join to find out when the next one is.  

For me, I had come home and now I never want to leave!  Welcome to the darkside…darklings!

More photos can be found here:



Sunday, 3 March 2013

Hansel and Gretel – witch hunters

Hansel and Gretel – witch hunters

This film is the story of Hansel and Gretel, but with a difference. They are both witch hunters!
The story has a few interesting quirks such as the inventive weapons they use to kill witches and the fact that Hansel is diabetic because he ate so much candy as a child.
It is fast moving and full of action. It even has a troll. However, it has left me with lots of un-answered questions and the script is so bad in places, it is cringe-worthy.
Of course, the twilight generation will adore this film but then if they adored twilight it says a lot about the taste of a whole generation of wannabe witches, vampires and werewolves.
I found this film had issues with how fast the action was. It was so fast in places you couldn’t tell who was hitting who. (A bit of Matrix style slo-mo could have helped here)
Yes Hansel is diabetic but we have no idea where he gets his magically full injections from. 
There is an issue that Hansel and Gretel are arrogant witch hunters who could really do with learning that stealth is a good weapon. They almost let witches get away to get beaten up and do more running.  They have a fan called Ben who they are not that civil to and really despite catching lots of witches and making a good name for themselves as witch hunters, they are hard characters to like.  (By the way, whose idea was it to call someone Ben when Hansel, Gretel, Mina, basically everyone else has old style German sounding names?!)
The effects are good but with a bit too much cgi which is becoming the norm.  This is a shame and can be distracting from the film.
The saving grace of this film is the grand witch, Muriel who is evil and who has been given one or two lines with humour in it.
Overall it is not a terrible film, but this film is made for a certain generation (of which I am probably too old) and they don’t seem to mind bad scripts and lots of cgi!

Verdict: Well what else are you gonna watch on a Sunday afternoon? Columbo?!!