‘Dr Strange’ (2016) | The Films

So, ‘Dr Strange’ opened this week, and its effects-filled, jaw-dropper of an opening sequence involving Tilda Swinton, in what I can only assume to be a significantly visually-impairing hood, made me wonder whether the film had blown its load early, and I was neveretheless about to sit through another superhero movie pushed out of the usual mould. But then, Benedict Cumberbatch appeared, channelling a flashier version of Gregory House, designer watches spinning in their trays for the advertisers,  and the spectacle continued, with a pretty clear lesson not to diagnose and drive.

Rachel McAdam’s nail varnish-wearing Doctor displayed some pretty impressive face-acting, particularly in her arguments with Cumberbatch. Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton and Benedct Cumberbatch were on form and the whole thing had a rather English stagey-ness despite the american accents.

There were some pretty beautiful psychedelic sections with clever sound design, making the viewer feel like Swinton’s voice was an all-encompassing force, before hearing it flit around like a flying insect. Sequences inside the ‘mirror dimension’ were sometimes indescribably beautiful, with the fall through the looking glass drawing the physical world into fragments whilst being supposedly safer, contained places. The fragments of churches and triumphal arches, modern sometimes recognisable city buildings, created kaleidoscopic mandalas, ever moving, ever contracting and fanning out and into each other. Layer on layer of architectural features sometimes looking like an incredibly complicated hybrid of inception-esque effects and the channel four logo snippets you get between the programmes, where floating bails of hay or electricity pylons come to resemble the logo itself as the camera moves in.

There was some uncomfortable ‘go to an Eastern land of myth and wisdom and get enlightenment and power’ stuff, but I assume that may have been in the original source material (having admittedly not read the same, I can’t say how well that might have been handled in comic-book form).

However, the magical cloak worn by our hero has character in the same way as the magic carpet from Disney’s Aladdin, managing to seem alive and characterful without having any human characteristics other than sometimes forming the shape it would if it were worn, like the bandaging around the invisible man. The cloak   is used effectively for slapstick comic-relief; which, it turns out, was the most effective form of comedy in the film. Some of the one-liners and supposed comedy riffs were a little off-target, but the physical comedy was strong, particularly during a fight between astral bodies when a vending machine gets in the way.



Huge themes about bills coming due, or the darkness of the ages feeding the light, and sequences in which people move with forward momentum whilst time reverses around them,  were made breezily palatable with boat-trip-from-Charlie-and-the-Chocolate-factory-looking colours and images that resembled those close-up images of diseases in petri dishes you got in GCSE textbooks or science programmes.

All in all, better-than your average Marvel fare; don’t believe the adverts.


‘Transcendence’ (2014) | The (a few more than) One Line Synopsis

Ambitious directing début for Pfister, ‘Transcendence’ combines excellent acting from pretty much everyone involved, with a slightly hokey, clunky script and story, which aims for the stars (or the internet filled rain-clouds) and who cares if it falls slightly short of them when the intentions are so honourable? Tense, properly chilling in places, B-movie fare, with a touch of Wyndham’s ‘The Chrysalids’ (always a winner for me).

Far better than people will have told you, just don’t expect an excess of car-chases and explosions.

‘Prey’ ITV1 9pm | The Notes


Bicked and Bloody - John Simm as DC Marcus Farrow in ITV1's 'Prey'
Bicked and Bloody – John Simm as DC Marcus Farrow in ITV1’s ‘Prey’

Tonight at 9pm ITV will be airing the intermediary instalment of its watch-at-the-edge-of-your-seat-and-say-goodbye-to-your-fingernails copper drama starring the fantabulous John Simm and so, I thought it might be a good idea to whet your appetite with some chat about the previous/first episode.

Number 1 thing that should get you tuning in tonight, or re-watching the first episode on the ITVPlayer, is that the series has brought with it the best use of a Bic biro attack (a bicking if you will) since the one in ‘The Bourne Identity.’

Thing number 2: the police-woman from BBC3’s ‘Lip Service’ reappears here as the straight wife of John Simm’s character DS Marcus Farrow, and she is fab.

Number 3 X 3: John Simm, John Simm, John Simm. The man’s acting is unspeakably great.

Thing number 4, the story: DS Marcus (whose potentially dodgey best mate happens to be played by the same guy who played Dodgey Dot in BBC1’s ‘Line of Duty’), investigates the case of Omer Hassan whose body was found in a bog. Then, after a tense meeting with a witness in a grubby Manchester pub, DS Marcus’s wife and one son are murdered. Guess who gets (probably) framed? Only DS Marcus! who’d have thunk it?! (well we all did, what with seeing him in his grey prison trackies in the back of a prison van. Aaaanyway, DS Marcus got away, then got himself into another scrape or two, and we all hoped that the next episode would bring more clarity (doubtful).

So, although ‘Prey’ may not be layered with as much complexity as Line of Duty, it is shot in a far less irritating way, it doesn’t have the intense Mastermind-like persistent zooming in on things, it’s just pacey and griping and great. Watch it tonight!


‘Spellbound’ (1945)| The One Line Synopsis

Alfred Hitchcock himself referred to the film as “just another manhunt wrapped up in pseudo-psychoanalysis.” Which plays well into the OLS framework. However, I prefer to include some paraphrasing of one of the film’s own lines for my One-Line Synopsis:

A noirish Hitchcock thriller (with dream-sequence imput from Dali and his beloved paranoic-critical method) in which a love-smitten analyst plays a dream-detective intent on proving the innocence of an unstable lover who reacts to lines on white in the way that (almost ten years later) Marnie reacts to red (but with more fainting and less thievery).

Beccy Ridsdel’s Surgically Enhanced Ceramic Art/Craft

Beccy Ridsdel's Ceramics. Source: http://www.bloglovin.com/frame?post=2403134829&group=0&frame_type=l&blog=3878906&link=aHR0cDovL2ZlZWRwcm94eS5nb29nbGUuY29tL35yL2NvbG9zc2FsL34zL2ZuTDZ5a2N0bmUwLw&frame=1&click=0&user=0 This image has not been modified. 
Beccy Ridsdel’s Ceramics.  www.behance.net/gallery/ArtCraft/263988

COLOSSAL has, in this post about the ‘surgically altered ceramics’ of York artist Beccy Ridsdel, once again piqued my interest. Art, craft, ceramics, chintz, subversion: I’m up and alert, twitching pink nose sniffing the air like that of a cat who has heard a tin being opened and can just catch the scent of jellied animal bits. Continue reading “Beccy Ridsdel’s Surgically Enhanced Ceramic Art/Craft”