The Little Stranger

The Neglected grandeur of Hundreds Hall is the setting for Lenny Abrahamson’s latest offering The Little Stranger, Lucinda Coxin’s screenplay having been adapted from the surprisingly recent novel of the same name from 2009.

Domhnall Gleeson plays Faraday, a country doctor who is called out to the once grand Hundreds Hall to tend to the house’s sick maid. Upon visiting the house, which he had previously visited as a boy, Faraday finds things aren’t how they used to be; or perhaps not how they should be. 

The daughter of the estate Caroline Ayres, (played by the brilliant Ruth Wilson) together with the house’s young maid are trying to hold things together, and barely managing. Meanwhile Caroline’s brother, bearing both the physical and emotional scars left from fighting in the great war is finding it difficult to live a normal life again, stuck in an increasingly decaying body and a mind as unstable as the four walls around him. Meanwhile, the matriarch of the family, (played by Charlotte Rampling) is haunted by the loss of a child many years before.

It is Faraday’s shared memory’s with the family which draw him even closer to the crumbling dwelling and the people contained within. However the closer he gets the more dangerous events become to all involved.

It is refreshing, in the midst of shock horror cinema events to have the pleasure of observing a well ployed, atmospheric and tense ghost story which uses the power of suggestion to grab the audience’s attention rather than sensational cheap scares. The Little Stranger is a must see.

Advertisements

Ireland’s newest film festival holds second edition this weekend.

Ballyliffin might normally be better known for golf as a pastime however this weekend sees the second installment of its film festival.

The Disappear Here Ballyliffin Film Festival takes place on the Donegal coast between 28-30th September. Among the highlights at the festival, which is being held at a number of venues throughout Ballyliffin are screenings of films such as Black 47 and Michael Inside as well as a series of both Irish and International shorts. Also to whet your appetite are a series of animations and documentaries (both homegrown and global) as well as the unique category of music video.

With a wide variety of genre and venues throughout Ballyliffin ready to welcome people there is sure to be something for everyone to enjoy.

So this weekend get yourself to Ballyliffin for the Disappear Here Ballyliffin Film Festival. Full details are available at http://www.disappearfilmfest.com or contact local outlets for further details.

Don Quixote by Ulster Orchestra

Venezuelan conductor Rafael Payare, like a matador in the bullring, lead and tamed the Ulster Orchestra, accompanied by cellist Alisa Weilerstein during their performance of Richard Strauss’ Don Quixote at a packed Guildhall on Derry on Thursday night.

The performance was the start of a season of performances by the Ulster Orchestra which will take it to various venues and audiences throughout Northern Ireland in order to extend its reach.

The orchestral piece is no less dramatic than it’s literary equivalent as wind and brass and string sections of the orchestra are brought together with flair and passion; each one visually appreciated by Weilerstein before she has to play her part. When she does there’s a bullishness and yet a style and grace that pulls the audience in and draws their attention to every note. This leading up to a dramatic climax of the piece.

In the second half of the concert, Shostakovich’s tenth symphony was given up as an offering, a piece often argued to be about Stalin himself given that Shostakovich was often hampered by Stalin’s censorship laws. However, given that both of them died on exactly the same day we will never know.

If this is only the beginning of the Ulster Orchestra’s season then there certainly is a lot of promise in what is offered ahead. However, given that among the audience were a sizeable amount of the elderly and disabled, if the Ulster Orchestra really does want to create as diverse an audience as possible, then perhaps it could be suggested that they review their ticket pricing structure. The only concession that seemed to be available was for under 16 and their attendance was sparse at best!

Black Klansman serves as a wake-up call to modern America and the world at large

Opening with an unusually low key appearance from Alec Baldwin as Dr. Kennebrew Beauregard, a white supremacist taking to the airwaves to warn of the dangers of an integrated society in the United States, or anywhere else for that matter.

This sets the tone for what is a hard-hitting film with splashes of dark humour and homages to the blaxploitation genre by a groundbreaking director who gave audiences the likes of Do The Right Thing, Mo Better Blues, and Malcolm X, films which defined a generation and arguably confidence to the community he grew up in.

This latest offering, complete with over the top Afro’s and lots of flairs and bling, tells the true story of Ron Stallworth, a rooky cop with the Colorado Police Department.

Bored with his job in the records department, Stallworth is eventually given the chance to make a name for himself as a detective.

He is sent undercover to a black panther movement meeting where he meets and falls for an activist by the name of Patrice Dumace.

By chance he comes across s contact number for the local Ku Klux Klan, chancing his arm and totally winging it he phones them up making inquiries on joining up. Slowly but surely Stallworth wins their confidence – the only problem being that he has agreed to meet them – he being a black man.

In steps Flip Zimmerman who takes on the role as the public face of Stallworth.

What ensues is a tale of farce (in the true sense of the world) where on the one hand Stallworth is playing the part of a black power activist while at the same time infiltrating, (along with Zimmerman), the higher reaching of the KKK. What Lee as a director manages to do in this case is juxtapositioning the actions of extremists on both sides.

The film paces along until the resolution of the story. Then, just as you think that everything has been nice and neatly resolved the film concludes with a dose of reality, making the audience perhaps realise that we are all responsible for the causes and the solutions of the to problem being perpetuated by society today, not just in the United States but the world.

Rossini’s Hidden Extras by Northern Ireland Opera delights audience

The ornate surroundings of the Londonderry Arms Hotel in Carnlough on the Antrim coast was the setting for some afternoon opera on Saturday.

Rossini’s Hidden Extras otherwise known as La Cambiale Di Matrimonio) was performed by Northern Ireland Opera as part of the Festival of Voice which took place in various venues throughout the Glenarm area. Hidden Extras is a one-act operatic farce written by Rossini when he was eighteen. It first came to the attention of audiences in 1810 when it was performed during the carnival season in Venice.

Although the events revolve around the well-rehearsed theme of love, the plot was updated to situate events around the world of business and commerce.

Tobias Mill receives a mail order for a bride from a business colleague named Slook. Seizing the opportunity to make some personal gain from the transaction he proposes that Slook marry his daughter Fanny. Unbeknownst to Tobias Mill, Fanny has already promised herself to the love of her life Eduardo. What ensues is a plot of comical disaster and chaos surrounding the conflicting interests of each of the characters.

Tobias Mill, performed ably by Brian McAlea is a straight down the line businessman, who conducts all the affairs of his life; even that of love and the future happiness of his daughter, as a business arrangement. Slook, performed with wit as dry as a bone by Malachy Frame, essentially the buyer, see’s no problems with returning the product he has purchased back to where he got it from in order to get his money back.

Stuck in the middle of this transaction, namely Fanny herself, is a young modern woman who can’t quite believe what is happening to her. Jessica Hackett brings a wit and wisdom and the attitude of the modern woman to the part making it one of the undoubted highlights of the production. At one stage Fanny, in a moment of frustration “flips the bird” to gasps of astonishment and nervous laughter among the audience. At first it seems questionable why this is needed, but upon reflection is entirely in keeping with the character and is part of the refreshing approach brought to the part.

In supporting roles Dawn Burns and Nathan Morrison who allowed the narrative to flow around them and stayed involved throughout even when not called upon. It can be often difficult when you are on stage but not participating as such not to look out of place, however, they managed to play a part throughout the piece, even acting within their characters when not required to have any singing parts.

On the whole, this was an entertaining production and brought a new and refreshing take on a piece which was first performed over two hundred years ago.

Hidden Extras by Northern Ireland Opera in conjunction with Tinderbox theatre company will be shown in a number of venues soon, check local listings for details.