‘Crazy Rich Asians’​ is a delightfully fresh take on some traditional rom-com themes

Absolutely loved ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ at our local cinema this afternoon: a full-on, deliciously produced and performed rom-com in the stratospherically bitchy world of ethnically Chinese multi-billionaires with cut-glass Oxbridge accents when speaking English.

And guess what? The handsome young heir to the Singapore-based family fortune wants to marry a delightful but ordinary New York gal (well, not that ordinary – she’s a brilliant university economics teacher), but his hard-faced mother and grandmother ruthlessly try to scupper the match.

An old theme cleverly updated with some stunning over-the-top party scenes. And the moral of this story is: never try to outwit a woman who’s a genius at poker, mahjong and game theory.

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‘Crazy Rich Asians’​ is a delightfully fresh take on some traditional rom-com themes

‘The BlacKKKlansman’ is a disappointingly trivial satire of the far-right psychopaths behind Trump

I found ‘The BlacKKKlansman’ disappointing; sometimes long drawn out, often excruciatingly didactic, never quite knowing whether to be comedy or drama, always propagandistically preaching to the converted about extremist white racism.

The two lead characters (black cop and white cop pretending to be one person) are well acted, but most of the other characters, especially the local Klansmen, are ludicrous cut-out caricatures.

The Guardian loved it (well, it would have to, wouldn’t it?); but I felt I was seeing the same unsubtle sledgehammer being used repeatedly to crack the same political nut.

Still, if the intention was to make white liberals in America go home feeling smug about themselves, it probably succeeded. I have no way of telling how black Americans would have received it, but the word patronising springs to mind.

Sticking news footage on the end, of the Klan violence in Virginia last year and Trump failing to condemn it, was an awful idea; as if we’re all too stupid to understand what the film was about.

But what’s really annoying is that the message about where Trump’s America has its ideological roots, in the black-hating, Jew-hating psychopathic far right, is an extremely important one, and surely deserves more effective satirising than this mish-mash.

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‘The BlacKKKlansman’ is a disappointingly trivial satire of the far-right psychopaths behind Trump

‘Cold War’ is an engrossing tale of star-crossed lovers with a strong feel of the era and places

When I saw ‘Cold War’ there was only one other person in the cinema audience, which is sad, as it’s a brilliant film and won Best Director at Cannes this year.

The first part, in Poland, is set during the post-war-Stalinist period, while the latter part takes place mainly in 1950s Paris. To reveal anything beyond that would be a spoiler.

Having spent 2-1/2 years in communist east Europe in the 60s & 70s and later 16 months in Cuba, I picked up obvious resonances; not least the hypocrisy by which, under communism, mediocre phrase-repeaters prospered at the expense of the talented.

This is by no means the first tale of star-crossed lovers torn apart by politics and borders, then reunited to find life together isn’t as idyllic as the dream; and nor will it be the last; but it’s a damn good ‘un, and not to be missed by lovers of real films.

There Is Still Joy Among The Sadness

‘Cold War’ is an engrossing tale of star-crossed lovers with a strong feel of the era and places

The Seagull on screen is faithful to Chekhov with sensitive, believable performances.

I had doubts about going to see an American film version of The Seagull by Anton Chekhov (in which I played Sorin ten years ago). I need not have worried. This version is by far the best I have ever seen, managing to be true to the original text whilst using location and cinematography beautifully to draw more out that could ever be achieved on stage.

All the performances are sensitive and believable. If you’re a Chekhov buff and are feeling hesitant, please overcome your scruples and go to see it. And if you think Chekhov is only for arty-farty types, this is a movie to show you just how much the playwright understood about human relationships, generation gaps, unrequited love, and youthful infatuation cruelly exploited by an older lech.

I reckon that if the master himself had been in the audience, he would have stood up and applauded.

There Is Still Joy Among The Sadness

The Seagull on screen is faithful to Chekhov with sensitive, believable performances.

Here is my interview with Albert Clack

authorsinterviews

Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.

 

Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?

My name is Albert Clack and I’m 71.

Fiona: Where are you from?

I was born and grew up in Brighton, on the south coast of England. I now live in Letchworth Garden City, 40 miles north of London. In between, I’ve lived in lots of places, including Slovakia, France, Argentina, Yugoslavia, Cuba and Dubai.

Fiona: A little about yourself (ie,  your education, family life, etc.).

I had a joyful childhood. I grew up on a council estate where there were lots of other post-war baby-boom kids. It was an age when few people had cars, so we could play outside safely, although some of the things we got up to on building sites would make today’s parents’ hair stand…

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Here is my interview with Albert Clack

Tears, laughter, anger, redemption and poetry – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

At various moments I fought back tears, laughed out loud, wanted to punch a character, wanted to comfort a character, needed to repress my rage.

And it’s this last emotion which ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbings, Missouri’ is really about, although it takes a very long time for any of the screwed-up small-town individuals to understand what they are doing to each other and themselves.

What makes the script by Martin McDonagh (In Bruges) so strong is the characterisation. People we see initially as bad guys turn out to be the opposite, or eventually achieve redemption; hero characters have feet of clay, a million miles from the unsullied Hollywood stereotype.

If that sounds a bit Shakespearian, it’s because that’s the impression I was left with; suspecting that the author must be very well acquainted with the Bard’s dark plays.

There are incidents of comic absurdity, extreme violence and even poetry (especially when the protagonist talks to a deer about her raped, burned and murdered teenage daughter), which don’t quite seem real. They’re not meant to. This is drama, not documentary; which is also like Shakespeare.

McDonagh’s edgy yet empathetic writing provides the cast with some extraordinary opportunities for truthful and convincing scenes of dialogue and soliloquy, and these are powerfully executed.

It might seem pretentious to imagine the town of Ebbings as a near-psychopathic metaphor for an entire country which has lost its way behind a red mist of hatred. However, there is a reference to Iraq near the end which suggests that might not be an entirely erroneous interpretation.

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Tears, laughter, anger, redemption and poetry – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

‘All the Money in the World’ – a cracking good suspense yarn and a dark study in miserliness

I went to see ‘All the Money in the World’, feeling a bit doubtful at first.

In the event, it turned out to be a cracking good suspense yarn, full of interesting characters amid a tortuous plot based on real events which I am ancient enough to remember.

Christopher Plummer’s depiction of the ultra-miserly J. Paul Getty is masterful, demonstrating how an actor of his calibre can step into the breach at short notice and build an in-depth, truthful character.

The editing-out of Kevin Spacey was thus consigned to irrelevance. It’s a long film, but doesn’t feel too long.

Oh, and by the way, about Getty’s billionaire fortune being packaged as a charity so as to avoid paying any tax back in 1973 …. plus ça change, quoi?

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‘All the Money in the World’ – a cracking good suspense yarn and a dark study in miserliness