Monthly Archives: March 2010

Walk the Line

Time flies. I thought maybe it was a couple of years since Walk the Line was in the cinemas, but it seems it’s more like five. I never had the time to catch it while it was on then, so it made for good Saturday night viewing last week. Even Daughter sat with me, despite it being ‘history’.

Walk the Line

I had thought – and hoped – that Joaquin Phoenix would be dubbed for the singing. He wasn’t. Now, he did a good job, but as we both agreed, it wasn’t Johnny Cash singing. And Johnny Cash had a very special voice. So did June Carter, and Reese Witherspoon didn’t sound like June.

But we got used to it. Singing aside, it was good. I didn’t really know the details of Johnny’s past; more like a vague idea of what happened. And he may not have sung or looked exactly like Johnny, but Joaquin moved like him.

Walk the Line

Strange to think that when I saw them live in Gothenburg, it wasn’t that many years after the film ended.

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Rolf is 80!

Rolf Harris

I’ll keep this short and to the point, seeing as I’ve waffled a bit about Rolf Harris in the past.

It’s Rolf’s 80th birthday today, so wherever you are

Happy 80th Birthday, Rolf!

Gigante

The final film for me in the Cornerhouse Spanish language film festival was the Uruguayan Gigante. For anyone thinking that Spanish speakers all over the world are noisy and never stop talking, Gigante must come as a surprise. It’s an incredibly low key film, with startlingly little talking going on.

Generously built Jara works the night shift staring at the CCTV screens in a supermarket in Montevideo. He leads a quiet life, mostly lying on the sofa at home, letting daytime television provide some background to his sleeping. Every night he watches the cleaning ladies march out onto the shop floor with their trolleys and mops and buckets, ‘looking’ the other way when some of them steal the odd item.

It’s not until the night he discovers Julia, upsetting a large display of toilet paper when she inadvertently backs into it while mopping, that Jara perks up and changes his slow life style. To begin with he takes to watching Julia on CCTV, and later follows her around Montevideo, learning what she does and where she goes.

Gigante

Watching Jara on film, we know he’s mostly harmless, or so we hope. If it weren’t for that, the film would have unpleasant overtones of stalking, which strictly speaking it is.

Will the gentle giant get his girl in the end? He certainly works hard to get her, but is intensely shy and we worry he’ll never pluck up the courage to speak to Julia. And when he does, will she rebuff his advances?

Lovely film, and very ‘un-Latin’ in temperament.

The London Eye Mystery

As I always say when children’s books are adapted for the stage; I just can’t see how it can be done. And then when I see it, it suddenly becomes very obvious. Siobhan Dowd’s The London Eye Mystery at the Unicorn Theatre is no different, and it has translated into a wonderful play.

The London Eye Mystery

Ted, the main character, is a boy who has Asperger Syndrome, and he is also the narrator of both the book and the play, unlikely though that may sound. He starts by pointing out that one bad thing about the theatre is that there are crowds, and I do so agree with him. Though the crowd on Thursday night was a lovely one, with many young children who went ‘eww’ in unison when any kissing or similarly yucky behaviour took place. The play also encouraged empathy from the audience and the children were spot on when it came to recognising what’s what.

Something the novel doesn’t have so much of is the interweaving of lines from The Tempest, but it adds just the right flavour to the play. The set is interestingly simple and monochrome, trying to look like a pile of cardboard boxes. Some of my companions thought it too simple, but I felt it worked well, and it made you see the acting rather than the set.

The London Eye Mystery

Ted’s and his sister Kat’s cousin Salim disappears after a trip on the London Eye, and nobody seems able to work out what could possibly have gone wrong. While everyone else is busy being emotional, Ted looks at all the possibilities, and works his way through his list of things that might have happened. With his unemotional way of looking at the puzzle, he works it out, eventually. He even learns how to cooperate with his sister, and he has a go at lying for the first time.

The London Eye Mystery

All parts are played by seven actors, doubling up on many parts, and with the current fashion of colour blindness in choice of actor. We met ‘Ted’ and his aunt ‘Gloria’ before the play which made for an interesting contrast between actor and part, and made Ted’s efforts so much more obvious. I also like the way the cast stopped to ask what we thought of the play as we left the auditorium. I assured Ted’s Mum Faith that I’d love to come back.

In fact, that kind of attitude of friendliness permeates the whole of the Unicorn (it was my first visit), and the ushers were probably the nicest I’ve come across. The programme was both nicely done and brief, and didn’t cost the earth, which is unusual.

For those of us who are friends or fans of Siobhan’s it was a case of sadness, too, knowing she intended to write more books about Ted and Kat. This wonderful drama made the loss feel even greater. As an ‘aspie’ drama this is more important than many neurotypicals may be able to grasp, and my wish would be for the play to go on tour around the country.

I take it all back!

A witch can be so wrong on occasion, you know. I’m about to eat my words, and possibly have a helping of humble pie somewhere, too.

I did not expect a backing band at the Dennis Locorriere concert on Monday night. When I saw on arrival at the Lowry that there would be, I was disappointed, and spent the best part of twenty minutes in my seat before the performance stating all the reasons it was a bad idea. And to be fair, I have always found it to be a mistake on other occasions.

Had never heard of Andy Fairweather Low before, which no doubt reflects badly on me. When I googled him I found he was in the Albion Band once, so our paths have probably crossed in the past after all, but I don’t remember him.

So there I was, hoping he would have half an hour at the most, so that we could get on with Dennis. After the first instrumental Andy said he’d be on stage for forty minutes and my heart sank. The first piece was good, but I still felt forty minutes was too long.

Then came the next number and he sang. It was the strangest voice I’d heard for a long time, but what a voice! I fell in love almost instantly, and settled in to enjoy those short forty minutes. There wasn’t a single song I didn’t like, and the selection was varied and absolutely perfect. If a little on the short side. (There’s nothing like the first throes of love, is there?)

I wasn’t taking notes then either, but among the songs Andy did were Bend Me Shape Me, If Paradise Is Half As Nice, and When You’re Smiling. All perfect. Sort of. Just before he forgot the lyrics at one point, Andy had been telling us about the fan who had accused him of miming. ‘I’m not bloody miming now’ he pointed out, while improvising.

As a complete Andy novice I was grateful for the quick resumé of his professional past, although if I tot up all the years playing with all those stars, Andy would have to be at least a hundred. He looks good for a man of a hundred.

The band was excellent, too. I don’t usually mind too much, one way or the other, but I could tell how talented they are. The whole thing was one of those blissful moments of perfection, which never happen when you expect it. They sneak up on you, and that makes it so much better.

Andy Fairweather Low

As the interval began, I used my advantage of being in the right spot and rushed out to be third in the signing queue. I realised at the signing that the other people there actually knew and adored Andy, which is why I hardly dared open my mouth. And having left Daughter in her seat, I had to do the photographing myself. I thought the other picture I took was better, but she says this one. Being young, she knows best.

I can’t do this, but I’d like to go up to Buxton next Tuesday to see Andy again. And I see he’s playing at the Bridgewater Hall in July…

Dennis Locorriere at the Lowry

Words will have to be eaten, but I’m not hungry this very minute so will eat them a little later. Like after I’ve slept. There is only so much blogging a witch can do after midnight.

Dennis Locorriere at the Lowry on Monday night was full of old people, as Daughter said with a shudder. Who’d have thought that I’d still be here, listening to Dennis, almost forty years on? Daughter’s presence lowered the average age considerably, and she wanted to hide when finding herself at the same concert as school staff. A girl has to have standards, and that is why I took her along. High time she was introduced properly to Dennis and his voice.

Speaking of that out-of-this-world voice, I’d like to give the following advice: Don’t shout when you sing, Dennis. Not that I’m a music expert, but that voice was meant to seduce, and not sound like its owner is under attack. Leave the shouting to those who need it.

It must be quite hard to decide who to be, when there is the very successful past with Doctor Hook, and then all the years since then, being Dennis Locorriere. He lectured us a little, on the necessity of learning to love new songs, because once even Sylvia’s Mother was brand new. (I know, but I loved it immediately.) So we got a mix of new and old songs, starting with a couple of new ones.

I liked some of the new songs, and I know I will like them better when I’ve heard them more. But I did like the old songs best, and I’m sure I wasn’t alone in that. When someone else does a cover version of an old song, there is some sense behind giving it a new interpretation. Making it yours, in some way. I’d say that Dennis doesn’t need to reinvent Doctor Hook songs. We like them as they were, and if singing softly worked OK 35 years ago, there is no need to shout because it’s 2010.

More Like the Movies is a bit of a favourite, so I loved hearing it. But no need for shouting. Queen of the Silver Dollar is fine being loud. It was a good choice for the first final song. Would have worked well as the final final song, too. The Ballad of Lucy Jordan is a great late song, and another possible candidate for final number.

I didn’t feel like taking notes, as I was enjoying listening to Dennis, so have no complete song list. Neither did I feel able to spend £5 on a programme.

The lighthearted banter with the fans is a sign of having a faithful fan base, and both sides were adept at improvising. Innuendo is fun in the right circumstances, but perhaps leave the ex-wives out of it?

Strobe lighting. Yes. I could say a lot about that. Without would be an improvement, but since it was there, I’ll just say that I was the one with a hand over my face. And that means no applause from my fair hands. Sorry. Self defence, you know. But the long strands of toilet paper was a nice touch as stage decorations!

Dennis Locorriere at The Lowry

If public transport in Manchester was decent, we could have hung around for an autograph afterwards. We were well placed to make it out first, but couldn’t make use of our advantage. I trust the photo ban didn’t carry through to the foyer. I can see that a ban is useful if people disturb others, but as it was, it was the member of staff who pushed past us to chastise a lady on my left for getting her camera out, who disturbed. Having to make way for an usher treading on people’s toes, just as Dennis came on stage, rather ruined the occasion for those of us in the firing line. And the lady on my right wasn’t told off for recording a song. It’s worth considering that a concert is something a lot of people have looked forward to for a long time.

It’s Roger Whittaker’s birthday

Roger Whittaker 2

Roger Whittaker is 74 today. And it’s now almost exactly a year since Daughter and I interviewed Roger in Köln, just before his concert at the end of the 2009 tour.

Many Happy Returns, Roger!