Sunday, December 27, 2009

Film and Cinema Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo at the Picturehouse Cinema, Kaiapoi, New Zealand

It's a frustrating truth that having devoured the Millennium Trilogy by Steig Larsson, Cloud and I were desperate to see the film version(s) once we realised that the Swedes had quickly gotten films made of the hit books.

We scoured the net, watched the trailers and groaned in disbelief that UK/US screenings were being delayed because English language versions were being developed.

We lost track of the release dates a bit then, but when we arrived in New Zealand we were delighted to discover that Boxing Day saw the release of the first film in NZ. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo would be out in New Zealand during our stay - and screening at local cinemas!

So today (27 December) Cloud and I drove out to the Kaiapoi Picturehouse Cinema to see the movie.

This has to qualify as one of the most LOVELY cinema going experiences of our life: plush comfy sofa seats, no stinky popcorn smells, a welcome from the owners and a lovely fair-trade cafe-bar to relax in before and after the show.

The film stays true to a lot of the book's violence and horror, which some may find gratuitous, but overall the tone is both fair and honest to the depictions of the text. Sure, Rapace isn't quite gawky enough to convey the full vulnerability and strength of Salander, but it is hard to imagine how anyone could capture her physique as written in film terms. The sort of short-cuts one would expect appear in the film, but nothing so glaring as to detract from the narrative, and those not as familiar with the book(s) won't be left too baffled.

It's ultimately an efficient thriller, which is exactly what the book is, but with a central figure in Salander who captures the imagination.

Strange and weird we had to travel half the world to see it!! But what a fabulous cinema experience it allowed us.

If anyone is in the South Island area of NZ, make a visit to the lovely Kaiapoi Picturehouse Cinema and relax into your film.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Xmas Eve in New Zealand - sunshine and warmth!

Rullsenberg in the sea at Woodend Beach, South Island New Zealand - Xmas Eve 2009
Rullsenberg paddling in the sea at Woodend Beach New Zealand on Christmas Eve, 2009

Rullsenberg in the dunes at Woodend Beach Xmas Eve 2009Rullsenberg on Woodend Beach dunes Christmas Eve 2009

Rata Street - garden and cloudsThe restful view - Rata Street's best garden and NZ clouds

It really is hard to complain when you are sat in temperatures of approx 23-28 degrees on Xmas Eve. Lashings of lemon ale and plenty of rest.

I'll be in touch, but avoiding Doctor Who news over the coming days til we return to the UK is likely to mean a fairly enforced absence online.

See you in 2010!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Arrived in NZ

Heaven knows what time it is in the UK (1.30am ish? 11.30am ish? - I get lost on the forward and back of time crossing the date line!)

Still, we are here and the sun is out and the neice and nephew have welcomed us and we're generally acclimatising to the sunlight and summer.

Life is good.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

In San Francisco

My word - that Hotwire deal we got was a BARGAIN.

We're staying at the Intercontinental on Howard Street in SF and it is brilliant. Views are spectacular and the food is awesome.

Almost a shame we are here for such a short time.

Been to City Lights and are now off to Golden Gate Bridge and to Amoeba records in Haight.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Xmas greetings

Follow this link for reindeer fun -

I tried to mail it and made a COMPLETE muck of it.

I am tired.

I am going to collapse tonight and watch Buzzcocks and then fall in bed and stop caring if everything is packed.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Hamlet Preview screening BFI Monday 14 December 2009 (RSC/BBC/Illuminations)

Wow! I mean, WOW.

It has to be said that the RSC/BBC/Illuminations production of Hamlet, due to air on Boxing Day 2009 in the UK, is a total treat: it is a stunning rendition of the stage play performed in Stratford in 2008 (and in London with Ed Bennett/David Tennant in the lead role over December 2008-January 2009). The delight of seeing it broadcast on a big screen was breathtaking.

I'll try to review the production without spoiling it too much, though I suspect if you are here, a goodly number of you have already seen it. Some of you several times (Helen, I am looking at you as supreme leader of the LBP*)

Mostly this will be a review of the day as well as the experience of the screening (with its Q&A). But with some background as well.

Sunday 13 December 2009
In the midst of packing for the holidays, I also had to juggle packing for this short break. My brain is almost fried by the time I get to London to meet Helen Lisette who had just ensured her mum is safely home following a visit to see Spacey/Troughton doing 'Inherit the Wind'. I would have loved to have seen that production: by all accounts it's awesome.

A quiet evening, especially as I had had to break it to Helen earlier that day that David Tennant was unlikely to be at the Q&A** (I'd never banked on his appearance being more than a long shot but I'm nothing if not empathetic to the idea of living in hope). Personally, given I will miss the TV airing in the UK at Xmas, I was just glad to have the communal watching experience of the BFI screening. If I'd been at home, I know the even would have been preceded, interluded and follow-up with innumerable texts!

Monday 14 December 2009
Up at a reasonable hour from our beds in the Novotel on Euston Road. Since breakfast on Tuesday would be too difficult to schedule before our train, Helen hasn't booked anything which means I can take her to Brunos! Hurrah! Following long traffic snarled journey by bus we have breakfast about 10.45am/11am.

Off to the BFI via the RV1 bus at the Novello theatre: enjoyed the scenery to the Tower and back again (on the same bus). Meet Helen's contact, the lovely V, outside the BFI. Have a VERY leisurely lunch discussing proof-reading and punctuation: Neil would have been proud of us!

Decide to head back to hotel to 'rest and change'. Oh dear. As we walk in, the lifts are all out of action. We sit down to wait and then the alarms go off. Evacuate the building! Over in Starbucks, we watch the fire engines arrive and people in High Vis jackets coralling staff/guests etc. No hope of returning even if we wanted so it's the bus back to the BFI. I'm now starting to get texts from attendees -- Poly will be there eating, Anna is struggling to get away from work.

Once there, we snack in the Riverside bar section only to find Poly is in the other bar (where HLW, myself and V had dined at lunch). Rosby - formerly wild and wandering but now twittering from Lancaster - texts to say she's on her way. I'm getting excited but know I haven't been able to check mail since Sunday around 3.45pm so there may be problems with meeting everyone. As it works out, poor Marie is ill so despite keeping a careful watch towards where I knew she would be sat, we were unable to meet her. Sniff.

It is really lovely though to finally - albeit very briefly meet with Anna and with Rosby and Tara. Big hugs and me being totally gushy. Thankfully I was wearing stripes so I think I was visible enough!

The screening was full-ish, but I suspect that winter weather and awareness that David Tennant is filming in Los Angeles*** scale back a few attendees. There's a nice introduction and from our seats we can see all the extra guests attending: Greg Doran is there is Sir Anthony Sher, Sam Alexander is present, Michael Boyd and obviously Patrick Stewart.

Once the screening starts you're straight in: and you can already tell it will be a clever and visual treat. Lots of nifty camera stuff happening; wonderful use of the spaces used to stand in for the stage. The first of the audience questions at the end praised the way it still managed to 'involve' the audience (in the way the proscenium stage at Stratford had especially done), and it is true that you do feel a sense of spying and being in the space with them.

There are a few cuts - the graveyard scene loses a few bits, and since Doran finds Fortinbras boring anyway it's not a shock that his presence suffers yet more cuts in the transition from stage to screen. But mostly it is odd lines, and afficiandos aside, I think we cope with it. As the Q&A contextualised, any version is inevitably editorialised: even Branagh's use of all the versions is in itself an editorial decision. On which note, Doran seemed genuinely thrilled by what filming especially enabled him to do which was editing: focusing the audience's gaze in a particular location and in particular ways.

Let's just say that I doubt there'll be much dispute with his choices: there will be plenty of screen caps doing the rounds. (Does Tennant laying on his back, legs up on a chair count as sitting? Of course it does...)

The Q&A was also nice for showing what a superbly nice blocke Patrick Stewart is: not only is he self-effacing and charming but he could also put down Mark Lawson (a thing of beauty to behold was Stewart's emphatic 'No' in response to one of Lawson's uninsightful questions). Stewart also made an impassioned call to expand on the oft-cliched comment that 'if Shakespeare were alive today he would be writing for Eastenders' (guess who first bought that up? *cough* Mark Lawson *cough*). Stewart declaimed that Shakespeare may well write for Eastenders, but only because Play for Today, the Wednesday Play etc no longer existed. Quite QUITE true and well put.

It was also nice to hear at least one of our number have courage enough to ask a question: I hope she doesn't feel too bad about it because it was a well put question about awareness and influences and how directors respond to them. And she didn't lose focus unlike one poor gentleman at the front who on first attempt just blanked out and had to have a second attempt later when he had written out his question!

Overall, it was a great experience: the bum-numbing 3 hour screening was worthwhile and the Q&A a delight (like missing DT due to back injury last Xmas, I suspect it would have been just too squee-tastic had he been able to attend so it 'took the pressure off' one may say!)

Afterwards, we had wine and chat - just missing Patrick Stewart leaving, well wrapped up against the cold - and then got the tube back to the hotel. At which point - well after midnight we find the lifts still not working, no proper guidance to the service lifts, a smell of smoke, water outside the service lift, and then water on the carpet in our room (the sprinklers must have gone off - thankfully H's bag was not drenched). the room hadn't been serviced. bah. Stern email from the H I think, because the lack of information was worse than the experience and at after midnight we were in no state to press for a room change (tho the reception next day seemed convinced we had been moved: not if you don't tell us we ain't!)

It was a shame to have the hotel put the (literal) dampers on things. But it was a great experience and I now won't feel QUITE so bad missing the Boxing Day screening. And the DVD comes out before I get home! Hurrah!!!

* LBP - Lucky Bitch Party. Yes, I am still seething at the half time text I had last January declaring "SQUEEE! DT back! Aren't we lucky?" [answer from me "You have to be fucking kidding me!" - it was David first performance after his back treatment]

** In light of David having been unable to attend the BFI screening, perhaps Helen has let her membership of the LBP lapse. Then again, we both felt extremely privileged to have been enabled to attend the BFI event.

*** From Patrick Stewart's gracious praise for David - reported all over the net ("heart, centre and soul" was I think the phrase he used) - I suspect that at some point it may have been hoped that David could make the Q&A but the schedule for filming Rex put the kibbosh on this. The way that pilots usually work, and are filmed, and are usually taken up in the USA, certainly seems to be functioning differently for Rex.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Blogging and not blogging: plans for the New year

Looking at my Blog Archive figures, this has been a truly rubbish year for blogging on my part. I mean, look at the decline!

► 2009 (166)
► 2008 (245)
► 2007 (478)
► 2006 (824)
► 2005 (762)
► 2004 (47)

What does this tell me/us? Am I less committed to blogging? I don't feel I am, but clearly something has changed. I'm certainly getting less time mornings, lunchtimes and evenings for blogging (some of this reflects a positive change in circumstances in that Cloud is more likely to leave work on time and collect me not long after 5pm - whereas certainly pre-2008 I was very likely to be still in the office after 6pm). I used to be good about using up odds and ends of time to jot in a quick blog thought - now it seems to drift in and past my brain and the moment is lost. Things are generally MUCH busier and I'm getting more tired.

So if I'm to continue with this blog I need to have a change in tactic.

I'm going to put my thinking cap on over the Xmas break (away from technology for a while!) and see what I think can/should be done.

But in the meantime, let me know what you have liked/disliked about Rullsenberg over the time you've been reading. Is there something you want more or less of, or any topics you'd like to see return?


Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Wardrobe heaven and brocade

Rullsenberg and Cloud's wardrobe set
New wardrobe set

Rullsenberg in brocade

Rullsenberg in brocade (still looking poorly from dreaded cough)

Meh. Still fighting cough. Fed up beyond belief now. Still, we have new wardrobes. Hurrah!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Television Without Pity - an open letter/review of Season 4 of Doctor Who and the wonderful Donna Noble

Just spent a late lunch reading Jacob's 'review' of the Donna Noble season of Doctor Who written for Television Without Pity. (It's written TO Donna.)

These are just stories. I'm sitting here in my army man pajama pants wondering if you're even going to read this, or if you'll even care, or understand what I'm trying to tell you with these stories. Because I love you, and I know that wherever you are, you could be doing better. You could leave the Library. You could be living.

I just wanted you to imagine that you met a man, the most wonderful man in the world, and that he showed you the stars, wonders and terrible things, all the majesty our world can muster. All the kindness and the brilliance and the bravery that lies in you. That he, among all of us, was capable of teaching you how wonderful you are, every second of the day. That you have a better choice than to turn right, or left. Look up at the stars, or laugh. Or jump.

I want you to imagine that you were chosen, of all the women and men in the world, to go on a wonderful adventure. Because of who you are, and what you can become.

And then I want you to forget that he never existed. In story school they teach you a very simple thing. First there are facts: "The King Died." Then, there are plots: "The King Died, The Queen Died." And then there are stories: "The King Died, The Queen Died Of Grief." But this isn't a story, it's your life. That's not how it works in the real world.

Dear Donna, the real world sucks. The world is wrong. So fix it. The Queen Lived.

So live.
Worth reading in full --- it's somewhat elliptical in tone at times and I don't always agree with the opinions about episodes, but it has to qualify as one of the best paeans to a series and character I've read in a while. There is also a lot said about Rose and Martha, which also give an interesting take on the changing dynamics of the Companion role.

Worth investing some time on reading.