Advertisements
    Advertisements
  • Following Us

  • Categories

  • Check out the Archives









  • Awards & Nominations

  • Advertisements

Non-Review Review: Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Can You Ever Forgive Me? is, at its core, a story of authenticity.

It is the tale of Lee Israel, the noted biographer who hit a bit a creative and economic snag in the early nineties. Unable to shop around her planned biography of Fanny Brice, Israel instead decided to market forgeries; type-written letters offered up in the voices of famous writers, auctioned on the collector’s circuit. Israel had a knack for capturing the voices of her subjects, from Noel Coward to Dorothy Parker. In fact, Israel’s work was often deemed indistinguishable from the real thing, at least in an abstract and narrative manner.

Forging ahead.

There is something very timely in this premise, in the blurred boundaries between the real and the fake. Of course, this has been an aspect of the American character for well over a century, with P.T. Barnum famously advertising an obvious phony as “a genuine fake.” However, Can You Ever Forgive Me? arrives at a moment in time where the real and the fake seem to have collapsed into one another, where reality is often indistinguishable from fantasy, populated by people who will often happily accept a heartwarming fake over cold reality.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? is largely an unshowy piece of awards fare. The film is never self-consciously stylised and never overly aggressive. Can You Ever Forgive Me? never seems sure how thrilling or how funny or how dramatic it should be, and so tries to split the difference between those three extremes. The result is a very broad film with a very familiar central arc. However, Can You Ever Forgive Me? very insistently avoids getting in its own way, which allows its two central leads room within which they might work their magic.

“Gee, Richard E. Grant sure plays a good drunk.”

Continue reading

Advertisements

Doctor Who: Scream of the Shalka (Review)

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the longest-running science-fiction show in the world, I’ll be taking weekly looks at some of my own personal favourite stories and arcs, from the old and new series, with a view to encapsulating the sublime, the clever and the fiendishly odd of the BBC’s Doctor Who.

Scream of the Shalka originally streamed in 2003.

Doctor Who survived its cancellation across a variety of media. There were unofficial videos starring Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy. There were audio plays. There were mountains of books. The BBC even came up with the clever idea of offering on-line content, with a series of illustrated audio plays, including the Seventh Doctor story Death Comes to Time and the Sixth Doctor adventure Real Time, as well as an adaptation of the aborted Douglas Adams serial Shada. Most of these were little more than powerpoints with sound playing over them. However, for the show’s fortieth anniversary, the BBC came up with an altogether more ambitious idea – a brand new fully animated adventure starring a new Doctor and promising a wave of new adventures, striving boldly forward into the new century.

The Doctor is in…

You can hear the serial, free, here.

Continue reading

Doctor Who: The Snowmen (Review)

Snowmen are rubbish in July. You’ll have to be better than that.

– the Doctor points out that the Great Intelligent doesn’t seem especially… intelligent

The Snowmen is a return to the sort of plot-driven Christmas Special that we occasionally saw during the Davies era. Much like The Christmas Invasion was concerned with introducing David Tennant and The End of Time, Part I was focused on wrapping up the Davies era, The Snowmen feels like it’s more concerned with setting up the fiftieth anniversary half-season ahead than it is with being a Christmas Special in its own right.

Sure, The Snowmen has all the festive trappings you might expect. There are killer snowmen, as the title implies. There’s a rich lonely old miser, as we’ve come to expect in these sorts of tales. There’s a nice Victorian setting for all the action as well. However, The Snowmen devotes a considerable amount of time to developing the mystery surrounding the Doctor’s new companion, and setting up a recurring foe for this fiftieth anniversary half-season.

The result is somewhat unsatisfying, as if The Snowmen is working harder to check the requisite boxes than it is to provide seasonal Doctor Who viewing.

What white teeth they have...

What white teeth they have…

Continue reading

Playhouse Presents: Nixon’s The One (Review)

I can’t help but feel just a little bit disappointed by Nixon’s the One. Sky Arts have been producing a series of television plays as part of Playhouse Presents bringing together a wealth of talent including Emma Thompson, Richard E. Grant, Tom Jones, David Tennant, John Hurt, Stellan Skarsgård, Stephen Fry and Olivia Williams among others. Nixon’s the One, the third in the series of ten plays, caught my eye because it was a re-enactment of various exerts from Nixon’s infamous White House tapes, brought to life by a talented cast. While the approach is fascinating and Harry Shearer makes a convincing Nixon beneath far too much make-up, the play is simply too short to capture any real portrait of America’s most controversial President. It drops some interesting insights, but doesn’t have enough room to expand or develop them beyond what we already knew of Nixon.

Just dossier-ing around…

Continue reading

Non-Review Review: The Iron Lady

Margaret Thatcher is a complex character. She’s certainly a divisive political figure, but I think that her detractors and her supporters would both admit that the woman isn’t a two-dimensional pop psychology case. The biggest problem with The Iron Ladyis the way that it attempts to offer a simplistic analysis of Thatcher, presenting her as a failure of a wife and a mother who compensated by running her cabinet and her country like a stern matriarch. While Streep gives a solid performance, and director Phyllida Lloyd tries her best to make the movie visually engaging, it feels a bit cheap and shallow. It doesn’t help that the movie trots out the familiar Oscar-baiting bio-pic clichés as if it were assembling an IKEA cabinet. Whatever you may think of Thatcher, she deserved more nuance and complexity than The Iron Lady affords her.

The Broad(bent) strokes...

Continue reading