Monica Dolan arrives for the National Theatre's annual dinner, showcase and auction to raise funds for the Learning Department of the National Theatre. Held at Olivier Theatre, South Bank - London, United Kingdom - Tuesday 7th March 2017
Almost forensic in its approach, this smart thriller explores a drone strike from a variety of perspectives that bring the moral dilemmas sharply into focus. This includes textured performances from seriously gifted actors who add layers of political, military, legal and emotional meaning to each moment along the way. So the film is continuously gripping, putting the audience right in the middle of the action.
The target is in a suburb of Nairobi, where three of the world's most wanted Somali jihadists are gathering to prepare two young suicide bombers for a mission. British Colonel Powell (Helen Mirren) is overseeing the operation from London, with her American drone pilots (Aaron Paul and Phoebe Fox) working in Las Vegas. The hitch is that two of the targets are UK citizens, and one is American, which means that they also need to have government officials in on the discussion. So Lt General Benson (Alan Rickman) is watching with British government ministers (including Jeremy Northam and Monica Dolan). Meanwhile in Kenya, a local operative (Barkhad Abdi) is on the scene. But just as everyone agrees to fire the missile, a young girl (Aisha Takow) wanders into the danger zone.
What follows is a remarkably tense escalation of decision-making, as everyone passes the buck up the chain to avoid making the call themselves. Guy Hibbert's script orchestrates this skilfully, keeping the atmosphere taut while stirring generous doses of black comedy into the interaction between soldiers and politicians. This includes amusing scenes in which Britain's foreign secretary (Iain Glen) is dragged into the conversation while suffering food poisoning in Singapore. Yes, the film has a terrific sense of instant global connections, as its characters work together at a huge distance from each other and from the target of their operation.
Continue reading: Eye In The Sky Review
Drones are now one of the most effective weapons the military have when fighting in battle. Their surveillance abilities are incredibly high quality and make it much easier to find and target individuals who are wanted.
Colonel Katherine Powell has been given a mission to go and find and capture an ex-British citizen who's become an extremist and is meeting with some of the men on the most wanted list. Having been previously connected to a series of suicide bombings, the Colonel tracks down the woman (currently going under the new Ayesha Al-Hady) and makes contact with her superiors to let them know her progress.
Using a multitude of surveillance equipment, Powell soon becomes privy to the terrorists next plans, she discovers that the bombers are planning another imminent attack. Placed in an impossible situation, Powell and her bosses must decide how to complete the mission without the loss of civilian life.
While cinematic blockbusters tickle the eyes, this film dazzles the soul. This is a remarkably evocative drama that gets deep under the skin, challenging us to see ourselves in a rather outrageous situation that shifts from quietly disturbing drama to unsettling freakiness. It's strikingly written, directed and performed to get into our heads and stay there like few movies do.
The story is set in 1969 in a girls' school located in the lush English countryside, where 16-year-old Lydia (Maisie Williams) and her best pal Abbie (newcomer Florence Pugh) are members of the Alternative School Orchestra. They're also inseparable, carving their undying love into a tree trunk. But once Lydia has sex with a boy, their relationship begins to shift. And when Abbie faints in class, it seems to become contagious. Suddenly girls are collapsing all around the school, much to the consternation of the headmistress (Monica Dolan) and her stern deputy (Greta Scacchi). As the hysteria spreads, Lydia gets increasingly confused by the occult beliefs of her older brother (Joe Cole) and the agoraphobic behaviour of their mother (Maxine Peake). But what she really misses is her childhood connection with Abbie.
Writer-director Carol Morley (Dreams of a Life) lets this play out like a deranged fairy tale in which Lydia's voyage to self-discovery is both wondrous and terrible at the same time. In its vivid exploration of feminine adolescence, the film echoes such classics as Picnic at Hanging Rock or Heavenly Creatures, by way of David Lynch and Nicolas Roeg (whose son Luc is one of the producers here). And the bold, knowing themes are echoed in gorgeously artful cinematography by the great Agnes Godard plus a stunner of a soundtrack by Tracey Thorn. Amid this sumptuous atmosphere, Morley weaves an enigmatic story packed with mystery, revelations and yes, burgeoning sexuality. But even more than this, the film taps in to the earth-mother power girls discover as they emerge into womanhood.
Continue reading: The Falling Review
In 1969, an all girls' school in rural Britain come under attack from an unknown epidemic. Strange rashes and frequent fainting begin to affect the young girls, leading to some serious changes having to be made. The young girl seen to be at the centre of the epidemic is Lydia Lamont ('Game of Thrones' star Maisie Williams) and her best friend. When the two vow to never part from one another and carve their initials into a tree in the school, they come under fire for suppose occultist tendencies, forcing Lydia to search out and find the cause of the outbreak herself.
Continue: The Falling Trailer
During the UK miners strike between 1984 and 1985, working families are in desperate need of support. They're feeling victimised and abandoned by society as threats over their livelihood remain imminent. But they're not the only ones feeling ostracised in their own country and that's how the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners campaign was born. Homophobia is rife in the UK, with the National Union of Mineworkers even refusing help from the LGSM campaigners for fear of how people may see them. Instead, they take their support to a small town in Wales where the majority of workers there are miners. In an extraordinary show of acceptance in an unlikely era, the town allows their new supporters to raise funds for their village. The townspeople may be humorously ignorant about life as a homosexual, but they're judging no longer.
Continue: Pride Trailer
Alan Partridge is a fatuous, egocentric radio host that has been one of telly's most famous fictitious comedy icons for several years. He now makes a return to screen as his employers, North Norfolk Digital based in Norwich, are about to be taken over by rival media company, Gordale Media, and branded the new name, 'Shape'. People's jobs are now on the line but Alan and his sidekick Simon look like they'll be able to save their shows; one thing's for sure, he's certainly trying to get on the good side of new top boss Jason Tresswell. However, when one DJ is sacked, there's more conflict in the company than they could ever have imagined when they are thrown under siege and brutally held hostage.
Continue: Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa - Clips
Chris is determined to show his girlfriend Tina more of the wonderful counties of England and tear her away from her over-protective mother who she lives with. To kick off the journey he wants to take her to Crich Tramway Museum in Derbyshire before departing to Yorkshire to visit such landmarks as the Ribblehead Viaduct and the Keswick Pencil Museum. They travel the country in his Abbey Oxford Caravan - his second love - which is rather cramped but with just enough room for their needs. Soon things take a dramatic turn when noise, littering, busy caravan sites and repeated calls from Tina's mother begin to grate on Chris who turns violent towards anyone that even slightly irks him, though the couple do their best to not let it ruin their holiday.
'Sightseers' is a British black comedy directed by Ben Wheatley ('Kill List', 'Down Terrace') and written by the movie's stars Alice Lowe (actress in 'Hot Fuzz' and 'This Is Jinsy') and Steve Oram (actor in 'Kill List') with additions from Amy Jump ('Kill List'). It has been executively produced by Edgar Wright popular for his work on 'Shaun of the Dead' and 'Hot Fuzz' and has now been released in the UK in cinemas nationwide.
Director: Ben Wheatley
Continue: Sightseers Trailer
Even by Ben Wheatley's genre-busting standards, this film is a triumph, centring on comedy and romance in a road movie about two violent serial killers. After the terrific Down Terrace and Kill List, we probably should have expected as much, but this film exceeds expectations at every turn, keeping us laughing and cringing all the way to the fiendishly clever conclusion.
Tina (Lowe) defies her disapproving mother to go on a caravan holiday in northern England with her new boyfriend Chris (Oram). As they head through the picturesque Lake District and Yorkshire Dales, Tina is momentarily shocked when Chris runs down an annoying thug with their car. She decides it must be an accident, but as the body count grows she develops a taste for killing. Meanwhile, their relationship is going through the usual ups and downs as they struggle to live together in the confined quarters of their caravan while Tina's mum continues to pester them. So there are other things besides their homicidal urges that strain their romance.
Wheatley gives the film a cheerful tone that catches us off guard. It starts like a typical British black comedy, with sarcastic humour and romantic undercurrents. And the road trip takes in a series of dazzling landscapes, offbeat tourist attractions, picturesque campsites and even an adorable dog. So watching it merrily morph into something brutally murderous is both terrifying and funny. We begin to laugh nervously any time someone puts him or herself into their path, gasping at the possibilities and then staring dumfounded at where things go.
Continue reading: Sightseers Review
Andrea Dunbar wrote her first play, The Arbor, at age 15. Named after the street where she grew up in Bradford's rough Buttershaw Estate, it was a national sensation, leading to her second play Rita, Sue and Bob Too, which was adapted into an Alan Clarke film. But Andrea's life didn't get much better, with a string of rocky relationships, three children from three men and a terrible alcohol problem. And her snappy, astute writing came to an end at only age 29 when she died of an embolism.
Continue reading: The Arbor Review
'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
The two awards have made for a great 72nd birthday present for the country music icon.
Almost forensic in its approach, this smart thriller explores a drone strike from a variety...
Drones are now one of the most effective weapons the military have when fighting in...
While cinematic blockbusters tickle the eyes, this film dazzles the soul. This is a remarkably...
In 1969, an all girls' school in rural Britain come under attack from an unknown...
During the UK miners strike between 1984 and 1985, working families are in desperate need...
Alan Partridge is a fatuous, egocentric radio host that has been one of telly's most...
Chris is determined to show his girlfriend Tina more of the wonderful counties of England...
Even by Ben Wheatley's genre-busting standards, this film is a triumph, centring on comedy and...
With this bracingly original debut feature, artist Barnard creates one of the most involving and...