Billy Elliot

Billy Elliot
Director: Stephen Daldry
Writer: Lee Hall (book and lyrics), Elton John (music)
Based on: their film
Cast: Brodie Donoguher, Thomas Hazelby, Euan Garrett, Nat Sweeney, Ruthie Henshall, Deka Walmsley, Matthew Seadon-Young, Gillian Elisa, Howard Crossley, Phil Snowden
Seen on: 26.10.2015

Plot:
Billy (either Brodie Donoguher, Thomas Hazelby, Euan Garrett or Nat Sweeney) lives with his father (Deka Walmsley), his brother (Matthew Seadon-Young) and his grandmother (Gillian Elisa) in a small mining town in northern England. While the miners are on prolongued strike, people try and keep up some kind of routine. For Billy this includes going to boxing training every week. But one day Billy stays behind after class and gets caught up in the ballet training. He discovers that dancing is much more to his liking than boxing anyway.

I’m a huge fan of the film that this play was based on and I had heard only good things about the play in advance. Plus, it was my third attempt to catch it in London and I had even missed the transmission in Austrian cinemas earlier this year. So when it finally worked out this time, you can imagine that my anticipation was strong and my expectations were high. Happily the play has no problems fulfilling those expectations.

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Skylight

Skylight
Director: Stephen Daldry
Writer: David Hare
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Bill Nighy, Matthew Beard

Plot:
Kyra (Carey Mulligan) works as a teacher and lives in a small, pretty crappy apartment – but she likes it. She is surprisingly visited by Edward (Matthew Beard) whose nanny she used to be. Edward feels lonely and abandoned by Kyra, especially since his mother died, but mostly he struggles with his father Tom (Bill Nighy) and hopes for help from Kyra which she can’t really give. After Edward leaves, Tom shows up himself, wanting answers, reconciliation, a fresh start. After all, Kyra left the family when Tom’s wife discovered that Tom and Kyra had an affair. But a lot of time has passed and it is unclear whether such a fresh start is possible – or even desirable.

Skylight is an excellent play and the production we saw is fantastic. It was absolutely captivating.

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Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011)

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Director: Stephen Daldry
Writer: Eric Roth
Based on: Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel
Cast: Thomas Horn, Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Max von Sydow, Zoe Caldwell, John Goodman, Viola Davis, Jeffrey Wright

Plot:
Oskar’s (Thomas Horn) father (Tom Hanks) recently died in the 9/11 attack. Oskar has a hard time coping with it, when he stumbles upon a mysterious key in an envelope with the name “Black” on it in his father’s closet. Oskar decides that he has to find out more and the only logical way to go about it is to talk to every person called Black in New York. So he takes the phone book and starts to visit all of them.

The film is one of the most emotionally manipulative movies I have ever seen. Ever. And I still would have liked it a whole lot, if I hadn’t read the book. But in comparison, the film just leaves a small taste of disappointment.

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The Reader (2008)

The Reader is the Oscar winning movie based on Bernhard Schlink‘s novel, directed by Stephen Daldry, written by David Hare and starring Kate Winslet, David Kross, Ralph Fiennes and Lena Olin.

Plot:
Michael Berg (David Kross/Ralph Fiennes) is fifteen, when he meets Hanna (Kate Winslet), who is about 20 years his senior. They start having an affair and Hanna insists more and more that Michael reads to her. Their affair lasts for a summer, then Hannah disappears.
Michael goes on to study the law. When one of his teachers (Bruno Ganz) brings him to a trial of concentration camp guards, Michael recognises Hanna as one of the accused.
What ensues is a look at responsibility and guilt, pride and choices.

The movie is very well done, but it’s missing one essential thing: the personal connection. You don’t feel with the characters, you don’t care too much about them. All of the important things speak to your head – and that’s not enough to make for a really compelling film.

the-reader

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