(Spoilers. * indicates something watched/read for the first time.)
29. Bridge of Spies
(USA/Germany, dir. Steven Spielberg, scr. Matt Charman and Joel & Ethan Coen, starring Tom Hanks, Amblin Entertainment, 2015) *
Virtual film club pick. Steven Spielberg's homage to the spy movies of the 1960s. There's some excellent direction here, especially in the opening five minutes, as FBI agents trail Mark Rylance's Soviet spy. But Spielberg lacks the cynicism as a director that characterised the '60s movies that inspired him. That is illustrated by the presentation of Tom Hanks' lawyer as an ordinary joe, who happens to get linked up with the trials of Rudolph Abel (Rylance) and the subsequent exchange for Gary Powers. The real James Donovan had been general counsel for the OSS, the wartime predecessor of the CIA. Though the movie suggests that he first met CIA director Allen Dulles when the idea of the swap for Powers came up, Donovan had actually known Dulles in the war, when the latter was head of the OSS's Swiss Directorate. The two were, if not necessarily close friends, mutual admirers, and Donovan had, in fact, talked directly with Dulles when he took the Abel case on. The CIA used Donovan in the Powers negotiations because there was a very real sense in which he was already a Company guy. But that doesn't allow for the dramatic friction between Donovan and the CIA that the movie wants.
(USA, dir. Kevin Reynolds, scr. Kevin Reynolds and Paul Aiello, starring Joseph Fiennes, LD Entertainment/Affirm Films/Columbia Pictures, 2016) *
A #ClassicsTwitterMovie; the Tweet thread is here. This was the one major entry in the 2014–2016 wave of Biblical movies that I hadn't seen (the others are Noah, Exodus: Gods and Kings, and Ben-Hur). It is undoubtedly the best of those, though that's not exactly a high bar. Essentially a variation on a theme already seen in The Robe, the movie is much more interesting in its first half, when it depicts a sceptical Roman tribune investigating reports of the Resurrection, which he hears only second or third-hand. In the second half, the audience are given clear diegetic evidence that the Resurrection has indeed taken place, and the movie becomes much less interesting. It does, of course, get most of the Roman movie clichés in; the movie's barely four minutes old when we get Roman soldiers forming the testudo, and there's plenty of the Fascist salutes that all these movies engage in. There's a nice performance by Joseph Fiennes as the military tribune in charge of the Crucifixion, and subsequently of finding out whether Jesus has in fact risen again. It's nice to see Tom Felton in a decent role, and Peter Firth, who was once young and dashing like Tom Felton, always gives good value.
31. The Prestige (UK/USA, dir. Christopher Nolan, scr. Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan, starring Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Scarlett Johansson, and Michael Caine, Warner Brothers/Touchstone Pictures/Newmarket Films, 2006)
My pick for virtual film club night, which I chose because I had just read Paul Kincaid's book on Christopher Priest (see below), whose original novel this movie is based on. Probably my favourite of the Nolan movies I've seen (I haven't seen Memento, but I have seen Inception, which isn't half as clever as it makes out it is, and deeply disliked The Dark Knight Rises). I think I had read the novel first, so one of the big reveals was not a surprise to me the first time round. The other reveal is not quite in the novel, though the movie is drawing upon what the novel has; in any case, it is interesting to watch again knowing all the reveals. It's all pretty gripping stuff, with good performances from Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman, Andy Serkis reminding us all what a great actor he is, and, astonishingly, a not-shit cameo from David Bowie as Nikolai Tesla. On the other hand, Rebecca Hall and Scarlett Johansson are a bit wasted. However, the plot all fits together nicely, and I highly enjoyed this rewatch. Last point: I have always found it interesting that the Nolan brothers didn't write the screenplay together, but, as indicated by the use of 'and' in the credit rather than '&', wrote separate drafts.
(UK, dir. Russell Mulcahy, scr. Gregory Widen and Peter Bellwood & Larry Ferguson, starring Christopher Lambert, Roxanne Hart, Clancy Brown, and Sean Connery, Cannon Group/Thorn EMI Screen Entertainment, 1986) *
Yes, I had actually never seen this movie before! And now I never have to again. I very much doubt that I shall watch a sillier movie for a while, nor one that is more '80s, in its lighting, music, and everything, really. (But what would you expect from Golan and Globus?) Lambert seems to be constantly dubbed, apparently by up to three different people, and his accent is never consistent, and certainly never Scottish. But then Sean Connery, as an Egyptian pretending to be a Spaniard, is more than enough Scotsman for this movie. Great to see James Cosmo, who always gives good value no matter how dodgy the movie, and a real surprise to see Celia Imrie, who is not the sort of actress one associates with this sort of movie at all. Police Squad! fans may find it hard to take seriously Alan North, the original Captain Ed Hocken, as a Police Lieutenant. Good use of Queen, though. I have very little intention following this up with any other entries from the franchise.
33. All Is True
(UK, dir. Kenneth Branagh, scr. Ben Elton, starring Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench, and Ian McKellen, Sony Pictures Classics/TKBC, 2018) *
AKA Upstart Crow: The Movie. Well, it is written by Ben Elton about William Shakespeare, but, whilst it has its share of amusing lines, it is less directed at being funny. Indeed, it's less directed anyway; the story rather meanders, instead of clearly having a point to it. It's all beautifully done, but it's not clear what it's trying to say. Fine performances from Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench, and Ian McKellen, but they are all a bit old for the roles they are playing–57-year-old Branagh as 49-52-year-old Shakespeare is one thing, but 83-year-old Judi Dench as 56-60-year-old Anne Hathaway, and 79-year-old Ian McKellen as the 42-year-old (i.e. younger than Shakespeare) Earl of Southampton (whom I'd just seen in Elizabeth R, played by a dashing young Peter Egan) seems a bit much. Still, a perfectly reasonable diversion.
34. Palm Springs
(USA, dir. Max Barbakow, scr. Andy Siara, starring Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, and J.K. Simmons, Limelight/Lonely Island Classics, 2020)
Virtual film club pick, selected because it is on the Hugo shortlist for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form. I quite liked this. People will, of course, compare it to Groundhog Day (that the central characters are in a time loop is in the trailer, so I don't consider that a spoiler). However, the movie it reminds me most of is 12:01 PM, a 1990 short with a similar premise but a much bleaker resolution. The sf elements in Palm Springs hang together well enough, though like most time travel movies, it doesn't do to think about it too much. The relationship between the two leads isn't too rom-com insufferable; the two aren't as obviously wrong for each other as is often the case. And I found out I quite like Demis Roussos (or at least I don't mind that I've been earwormed by him). Plus, dinosaurs!
35. Clash of the Titans (UK/USA. dir. Desmond Davis, scr. Beverley Cross, starring Harry Hamlin, Judi Bowker, Burgess Meredith, Maggie Smith, Ursula Andress, Claire Bloom, Siân Phillips, Flora Robson, and Laurence Olivier, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1981)
The 2010 remake was coming up as a #ClassicsTwitterMovie, and I thought I should watch the 1981 original, as I hadn't for a long time. A lot of people whose judgment I admire love this movie, but for me it is very much a lesser Harryhausen work, much less engaging than Jason and the Argonauts, or even the two Sinbad movies of the 1970s. Partly, this is because it looks a bit cheap, next to what George Lucas was doing in the Star Wars movies (which is ironic, because Lucas was a huge Harryhausen fan). It also does not help that a number of the cast are not really giving it their all. Laurence Olivier as Zeus is a particular offender, making no secret that he thinks little of the material (though in fairness he wasn't well for most of the last decade of his life). I get the feeling that Olivier agreed to this entirely as a favour to Maggie Smith, who was doing the movie because she was married to the screenwriter (who does give her some of the best lines). Other people (Claire Bloom in particular) then did the movie because Olivier was in it. This means it's got a starrier cast than any other Harryhausen, but I think I'd prefer people who actually cared about the material.
36. Clash of the Titans
(USA, dir. Louis Leterrier, scr. Travis Beacham and Phil Hay & Matt Manfredi, starring Sam Worthington, Legendary Pictures/The Zanuck Company/Thunder Road Pictures, 2010)
This was a #ClassicsTwitterMovie, but I have no Twitter thread, because this was the weekend I had my heart attack, so I was in hospital. I don't much like this movie. It's the first of a 2010s wave of Greek mythology done as if they're superhero movies, and while it's far from the worst of this ilk (that would probably be Immortals), it's also very far from the best. Leterrier is otherwise best known for Incredible Hulk, one of the weakest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. Here he directs for effect, and cuts just about anything that slows up the action (I mean, what is the point of employing Alexander Siddig if you're then not going to do anything with him?). It could have been a lot better (it has to be said that the deleted scenes do actually allow the story to make a touch more sense). For all its faults, the 1981 version has a charm that this simply lacks.
(USA, dir. Jules Dassin, scr. Monja Danischewsky, starring Melina Mercouri, Peter Ustinov, and Maximillian Schell, Filmways Pictures, 1964) *
Should really be Topkapı, of course. I've heard a lot about this movie, made by American director Dassin, who fled to Europe to work when he was blacklisted in the US, and then fell in love with Mercouri, whom he proceeded to cast in most of his movies. But I'd never seen it. It's very much a quinessential '60s heist movie, with big name British character actors (Robert Morley and Peter Ustinov), and a lot of sympathy for the perpetrators, even though they aren't allowed to get away with it at the end. The movie begins with some interesting use of colour filters, as Mercouri talks directly to camera, but it settles down after that, and the narrative is pretty straightforward. What is really great about the movie is the use of locations in Istanbul, which has always been a bit of an underused setting for Anglophone movies. I recommend this.
38. Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
(USA, dir. David Dobkin, scr. Will Ferrell & Andrew Steele, starring Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams, Gary Sanchez Productions, 2020) *
Virtual film club pick, selected because it too is on the Hugo shortlist for Best Dramatic Performance. I kinda wish I'd seen it before the nomination; knowing that it's got the nom means I was looking for the element of the fantastic, and that spoils a plot moment. Leaving that aside, on the good side, the pastiches of Eurovision songs and performances are perfect, and Dan Stevens is so much better here than he is in Colossal. But the movie is about 30 minutes too long, and not funny enough. It's at its best when it looks like it's going to turn into the story of McAdams' character Sigrit, but every time it then remembers that Ferrell is its star and writer, and goes back to him. The problem is that his bits don't really have any emotional weight. The movie does have its perfect deeply emotional musical moment right at the end, but somehow it feels like it hasn't quite earned it.
39. Still Crazy
(UK, dir. Brian Gibson, scr. Dick Clement & Ian Le Frenais, starring Stephen Rea, Billy Connolly, Jimmy Nail, Timothy Spall, Bill Night, Juliet Aubrey, and Bruce Robinson, Columbia Pictures, 1998)
Watching Eurovision Song Contest gave me a hankering to watch this again, an undervalued example of Clement and Le Frenais' work. It's one of my wife Kate's favourite movies, as well, so we watched it together. It's funny, of course, and it too has a big emotional song moment at the end. But in this case, the movie has absolutely earned it. All the songs are good (with lyrics written by Chris Difford of Squeeze fame) and evocative of a certain type of 1970s prog rock. And the cast all convince as aging rock stars in a way that Will Ferrell fails to convince as a 50-something Eurovision entrant. This is a movie so good it makes me like Jimmy Nail! (Also, in the silent moment at the press conference, I want someone to burst into Half Man Half Biscuit's 'Used To Be In Evil Gazebo'; if you've seen the movie and know the song, you'll understand.)
40. Wrath of the Titans
(USA/Spain, dir. Jonathan Liebesman, scr. David Leslie Johnson & Dan Mazeau, starring Sam Worthington, Rosamund Pike, Bill Nighy, Edgar Ramírez, Toby Kebbell, Danny Huston, Ralph Fiennes, and Liam Neeson, Legendary Pictures/Thunder Road Pictures/Cott Productions/Furia de Titanes II A.I.E., 2012)
Another #ClassicsTwitterMovie: my thread is here. As we all know, sequels are never as good as the originals; except this one is a marked improvement over 2010's Clash. Better casting, better characterisation, and a plot that interestingly blends the standard return of the Titans trope with the passing of the gods. Not the best mythological movie, but it does a lot better than most.
41. This Beautiful Fantastic
(UK, dir. and scr. Simon Aboud, starring Jessica Brown Findlay, Tom Wilkinson, Andrew Scott, and Jeremy Irvine, 2016) *
Virtual film club pick. Almost textbook 'quirky' London-set British romantic comedy, about a single woman of a non-conformist personality (Brown Findlay) forced to get to grips with her garden, and her relationship with her cantankerous neighbour (Wilkinson). Andrew Scott appears as the neighbour's dogsbody, and Jeremy Irvine plays the eccentric love interest. Naturally, the two neighbours come to an understanding through gardening. It's all terribly heartwarming in the way that such movies are. This is by no means a bad movie. Perfectly good script, perfectly good performances, but it doesn't quite deliver the magical realism that the opening scene suggests. Also, not enough Anna Chancellor as a grumpy librarian.
42. Scream 2
(USA, dir. Wes Craven, scr. Kevin Williamson, starring David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jamie Kennedy, Jerry O'Connell, Jada Pinkett, and Liev Schreiber, Konrad Pictures/Craven-Maddalena Films, 1997) *
#ClassicsTwitterMovie time again; my Twitter thread, such as it is, is here. Scream 2 is entirely justifiable as a #ClassicsTwitterMovie; part of the plot involves the putting on of a production of a pseudo-Greek tragedy (it's not actually Euripides' Trojan Women, but it's clearly something inspired by the events of the fall of Troy), directed by David Warner. I can recognise that this is a very good movie of its kind, but slasher movies, even meta slasher movies, are very much not my cup of tea. I don't enjoy watching as the bodies pile up, and just about every character you are introduced to will end up stabbed or worse. Still, I now never have to watch this movie again.
43. Uncut Gems
(USA, dir. Josh Safdie and Benny Safdie, scr. Ronald Bronstein & Josh Safdie & Benny Safdie, starring Adam Sandler, A24/Elara Pictures/IAC Films/Scott Rudin Productions/Sikelia Productions, 2019) *
Virtual film club pick, and another movie I can admire the technique of without actually enjoying very much. Adam Sandler puts in a terrific performance as small-time Jewish jewellery store owner and gambler Howard Ratner, of the sort that one simply doesn't expect from him, in what is very much not your typical Sandler movie. There are good supporting turns from Eric Bogosian as the loan shark who also happens to by Ratner's brother-in-law, and Judd Hirsch as his father-in-law. The problem, for me, at any rate, is that Sandler's character is utterly unlikeable, and it's hard to summon up any sympathy for the increasingly convoluted lies and deceptions that he gets himself tied up in. I came very close to quitting this movie midway through. In the end, I'm glad that I didn't, but again, I doubt I'll return to this often.
44. Always Be My Maybe
(USA, dir. Nahnatchka Khan, scr. Ali Wong & Randall Park & Michael Golamco, starring Randall Park and Ali Wong, Netflix, 2019) *
Another virtual film club pick, and one I enjoyed a lot more. It's a delight. It's basically a fairly standard rom-com of two childhood sweethearts rediscovering each other after sixteen years, but it's well done, has several very funny moment,s is not too clichéd, and it's nice to see a movie that centre the non-WASP American experience. Also, Keanu Reeves' cameo redeems him for almost everything terrible he's ever done; his commitment to sending himself up is admirable. Park and Wong didn't think they'd get him, but Reeves is a fan of Wong's, and his attitude to fitting his cameo into his busy schedule (he was filming John Wick 3) seems to have been 'We'll make the time'.
45. The Eagle
(UK/USA, dir. Kevin MacDonald, scr. Jeremy Brock, starring Channing Tatum and Jamie Bell, Universal, 2011)
You may be surprised to learn that this is another #ClassicsTwitterMovie. My Twitter thread is here. This is one of my favourite twenty-first century Roman-set movies, though it does make me feel old when I realise that it was released ten years ago. I like it because it's such a rich text; it's not just that it's well-made, but there is so much to talk about—the way it inverts the conventional paradigm by giving all the Romans American accents, and all the oppressed peoples British ones, what it does with Rosemary Sutcliff's source novel, and the interesting engagement with the master-slave relationship, how it removes all female characters from the novel (and thus intensifies homoerotic elements of the Marcus-Esca relationship). Definitely the best of the four Hadrian's Wall movies made between 2004 and 2011, and there wasn't really a better Roman movie until Horrible Histories came along in 2019. If you haven't seen this, you should.
46. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (USA, dir. and scr. Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, starring Tyne Daly, James Franco, Brendan Gleeson, Bill Heck, Grainger Hines, Zoe Kazan, Harry Melling, Liam Neeson, Tim Blake Nelson, Jonjo O'Neill, Chelcie Ross, Saul Rubinek, and Tom Waits, Netflix, 2018) *
My pick for the virtual film club. I like the Coen Brothers, and I like westerns, so I thought I would like this, and I do. It's an anthology movie, with six different stories, all linked by being supposedly tales in a book of short stories. They vary in tone a lot, from the silly title piece through to the altogether more throughtful 'The Gal who Got Rattled'. But almost all the stories end in death, and death is very much a theme that runs through them all. Still, seriously superior movie making.
2. Paul Kincaid, The Unstable Realities of Christopher Priest
(Canterbury: Gylphi, 2020) *
Read because it was on the shortlist for the BSFA Award for Non-fiction. This is an excellent piece of work; Kincaid gets to the heart of what's interesting about Priest's work, in a way that I suspect no-one else could. It certainly made me want to read more of Priest than the small smattering of novels (The Prestige, The Separation and The Islanders) that I have. My only disappointment is that there is little here about Priest's writing on other science fiction writers than himself, apart from his attack on Harlan Ellison and The Last Dangerous Visions; for instance, Kincaid makes much reference to Priest being the first to term the Moorcock-edited New Worlds and its associated writers the British 'New Wave', but makes no mention of Priest's essay on the New Wave in the 1978 Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. I suspect, however, that Kincaid would say, with some justification, that this wasn't the point of the exercise. What stands out here is the quality and perspicacity of Kincaid's writing. It reminds me of how much even the best writing on Classical Reception in science fiction often falls behind the best sf criticism in general, and how much we really need to up our game. Highly recommended.
3. Chris Beckett, The Holy Machine
(Rockville, MD: Wildside Press, 2004)
Reread because I've been revising my paper on the novel for a forthcoming volume on Classics and Artificial Intelligence. Chris Beckett has gone on to bigger and better things since, of course (e.g. winning the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Dark Eden in 2013), but this early novel, somewhat overlooked (perhaps because it took six years for a UK edition to appear), is a cracker. It is the tale of George Simling, a man living in the near-future technocratic state of Illyria, a last holdout against the religious fundamentalism of the rest of the world (the political background to the novel seems, horribly, much more relevant now than it did in 2004), and Lucy, the sexbot he falls in love with. It's an exploration of humanity, personhood, gender, and the patterns we humans impose on the world around us. And the writing is bloody good as well. Recommended.
4. Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
(2nd edn, London: Henry Colburn & Richard Bentley, 1831)
A reread for my course on science fiction and the Classics, where we were examining exactly why Shelley gave her novel the subtitle The Modern Prometheus, and what that implies. Along the way I was rude about 'that gang of arch-prats that we call the second generation of the English Romantic poets'. Frankenstein is an interesting novel. It's been placed by many as the ur-text of science fiction, and almost as many people have rejected that idea, and I can sort of see why. It belongs much more in the tradition of the Gothic novel than it looks forward to a new genre (if you want to see Shelley really heading out into the uncharted waters of science fiction, go read her later novel, The Last Man). It's also interesting to note how much of what we imagine to be in Frankenstein isn't there at all, but comes from later cinematic adaptations.
1. BSFA Awards 2020
(British Science Fiction Association, 2020) *
Every year the BSFA produces a booklet that includes the shortlisted short stories (sometimes only extracts, if the stories are quite long), the shortlisted artwork, a list of the shortlisted novels, and extracts from the shortlisted non-fiction. I try to read the short fiction and non-fiction—it's a long time since I've been able to keep up with the novels. This year, the choice of story was very difficult; all of the stories were worthy of winning, and putting them in any sort of order was quite a challenge; my vote eventually went to Tobi Ogundiran's 'Isn't Your Daughter Such A Doll'. I felt that the non-fiction was a little more clear-cut. As you might guess, I believed that Paul Kincaid's The Unstable Realities of Christopher Priest was clearly a cut above everything else. The work that actually won, Adam Roberts' It's the End of the World: But What Are We All Afraid Of?, was to me, on the basis of the extract here, the weakest of the shortlist. But, obviously, the majority of voters didn't agree with me there.
5. Elizabeth R
(UK, TV, prod. Roderick Graham, starring Glenda Jackson, BBC, 6 episodes, 1971)
Magnificent. It's a shame the BBC didn't combine this with a showing of The Six Wives of Henry VIII, for which Elizabeth R is effectively Season 2. As a result, one doesn't quite get the resonances the original audience would have from knowing who some of the people who appear in episode 1 were. But it's not a big disadvantage, and it is a delight to see a lot of iconic actors in early roles―Robert Hardy pre-All Creatures Great and Small, Robin Ellis pre-Poldark, John Shrapnel pre-baldness. And at the centre is the 34-year-old Glenda Jackson, who takes Elizabeth from fifteen to 69, and never seems to be too old or too young for the part she is playing. It's a hard part for her to play―the script, especially in later episodes, generally presents Elizabeth as unknowable, someone for her council to negotiate around in order to get what they want, and her own agency appears slight. Nevertheless, a grand sign of how ambitious BBC drama once could be; I doubt a series like this would get six 90-minute episodes now.
6. Helen of Troy
(UK/USA, TV, dir. Ronni Kern, scr. John Kent Harrison, starring Sienna Guillory, Rufus Sewell, and Matthew Marsden, Fuel Entertainment, 2 episodes, 2003) *
Another #ClassicsTwitterMovie; my Twitter thread is here. About the time that Wolfgang Petersen was making Troy, this miniseries was also being produced. Before watching, I was sure that I had seen this at the time, but evidently this isn't the case. The miniseries doesn't have a good reputation, and it is definitely true that Guillory is a bit insipid in the lead role (and has to do some utterly gratuitous nudity), and overall, it's not terribly well directed, scripted or cast (despite the presence of just pre-fame James Callis and Emilia Fox as Menelaus and Cassandra respectively). But I've seen far worse, and this series definitely has its interesting moments, and makes some interesting choices early on. With regard to my Modern Adaptation of the Trojan War Tropes, it ticks off some (e.g. Helen is blond), but misses others (e.g. we get the sacrifice of Iphigenia). It even finds room for Theseus and Pirithous (played by Stellan Skarsgård and Jim Carter, who deserved their own show).
8. Jesus Christ Superstar
, by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, directed by Laurence Connor, starring Ben Forster and Tim Minchin, 2012 *
Watched with the virtual theatre crew for Easter. I'd never seen any production of this, or listened to it all the way through. The Guardian hated this production, only really liking Chris Moyles as Herod Antipas (who is basically in it to be Chris Moyles, and if you don't like Moyles anyway, you won't like him here), But there is plenty to like about this production; Melanie Chisholm shows once again that she always was the Spice Girl with the best voice, and Tim Minchin as Judas is pretty good. But the end is horrible; all bright lights and scantily-clad angels, which one feels undermines the message of the Crucifixion.
, after Euripides, directed by Marcus Bell and Alison Middleton, starring Anwār Omeish, Zakkai Goriely, Ailbhe Sweeney, Abi Watkinson, Grace Akatsu, Syren Singh, Ollie Khurshid, Shreya Dua, Philippa Lang, Oxford Playhouse, 2021 *
This was this year's Oxford Greek Play, produced in a time of COVID, and so assembled in bedrooms and broadcast to the world. This is a highly innovative version of the play, and you can feel the queer energy that the creators brought to it. Which makes me a little sad that it all left me a bit cold. Best bit was Helen talking to Electra, speaking lines of Greek in a deliberately posh British accent. But you shouldn't take my word for it, you should watch it yourself.
10. Orpheus in the Record Shop
, by Testament, directed by Aletta Collins, starring Testament, Leeds Playhouse/Opera North, 2021 *
Virtual theatre club pick; part of the BBC's Lights Up series. A fun one-man retelling of the Orpheus myth, relocating the character to a record shop. Rapper Testament gives a remarkable performance, accompanied only by two other actors in small roles, and a small number of musicians. I like the way that the story does not consider itself bound by the myth as generally understood. Still available on iPlayer.
11. Pale Sister
, by Colm Tóibín, directed by Trevor Nunn, starring Lis Dwan, Angleica Films/Nevision, 2021 *
Another virtual theatre club pick from Lights Out. In this one-woman play, the Antigone story is retold from the point of view of her sister Ismene. That's an interesting idea, but this production never seems to do anything much with it. What in Sophocles' text is a tale of the conflict between loyalty to the state and loyalty to the family and between sacred and profane laws, is reduced here to a family saga.
I have more to write up, but this post is already very long, so I shall save the rest for another time.