Archive | Featured articles

Some of the best articles on the blog. Typically, these have a picture. It's a low entrance requirement, I know.


January 10, 2014

Series review: Vikings (season 1)

Posted on January 10, 2014 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Vikings

In the US: The History Channel. New season begins at the end of February
In the UK: Lovefilm. New series begins at the end of February

The Vikings are a very under-appreciated bunch. Without them England, Ireland and indeed much of northern Europe would be very different places. Even at a very trivial level, the English language would probably be considerably harder and more like German, and might not have got such a purchase on world culture.

Although their importance as been glossed over and largely ignored, despite the debt we owe them, more and more they’re being acknowledged: I’d recommend going to the British Museum’s forthcoming Vikings exhibition, which will include a 37m long Viking longboat, for starters.

Also helping is the US’s History Channel, which broke the habit of a lifetime to produce its first scripted TV series last year. Now, I was on holiday when this first aired, so it completely passed me by. Fortunately, I’ve now got Lovefilm access, and was able to catch up with the show, having an idle moment or two to fill.

And I’ve very glad I did, because it’s actually a really interesting piece of work. A Canadian-Irish co-production written by historical drama go-to guy Michael "Tudors” Hirst, it’s part-educational, part-drama, telling the story of the semi-legendary, semi-historic Ragnarr Loðbrók (aka Ragnar Hairy Breeches), the man who pointed the Vikings in the direction of England (maybe) and whose sons launched the Great Heathen Army that was eventually to settle and rule most of the north and east of the country. It’s gripping, fun, thrilling, bloody, defies expectations and gives you a lot of insight into Viking culture and religion.

Ish.

Continue reading "Series review: Vikings (season 1)"

Read other posts about:

January 10, 2014

Mini-review: Coriolanus (Donmar Warehouse)

Posted on January 10, 2014 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Tom Hiddleston as Coriolanus

Where: Donmar Warehouse, 41 Earlham Street, Seven Dials, London, WC2H 9LX
When: 6 December 2013-8 February 2014. Broadcast to cinemas on 30 January
How long: 2h30 with 15 minute interval
Tickets from: £10 (you’ll be lucky, though)
Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Mark Gatiss, Birgitte Hjort Sørensen

Birgitte Hjort Sørensen as Virgilia and Tom Hiddleston as Caius Martius Coriolanus Photo by Johan PerssonCoriolanus is one of my favourite Shakespeare plays, Ralph Fiennes’ Coriolanus one of my favourite Shakespeare films/productions, and Tom Hiddleston’s one of my favourite current actors, so the Donmar Warehouse production of Coriolanus was something I was looking forward to considerably. The story of a Roman general whose love of Rome is matched only by his hatred of the average Roman, it looks at the nature of democracy, how much we rely on people who might not have our best interests at heart but without whom we couldn’t survive, and the nature of politics and loyalty.

It’s also one of Shakespeare’s war plays. This is an important point because the Donmar is an intimate venue and having armies clash on stage isn’t really within its purview. Indeed, bar a couple of fight scenes employing some reasonably good stage jiu jitsu and swordfighting, the Donmar production is a resultantly somewhat talky affair, something that the director goes to considerable lengths to obscure, perhaps with one eye on the fact this will be beamed into cinemas at the end of the month. There’s all manner of things dropped from the ceiling, when the cast aren’t sat on chairs at the back of a scene watching proceedings they’re marching up and down stage to rearrange on them and stand on them, Tom Hiddleston gets his top off and has a shower, there’s climbing up and down ladders and walls - the list goes on.

Hiddleston is the headliner and although he’s very good, he’s slightly miscast for the role: Coriolanus is a cold, imperious eagle of a man, whom no one but another soldier could love; Hiddleston, despite his best efforts, is effortlessly charming and even amusing, light because of his age, rather than a venomous ball of entitlement. It doesn’t help that the director, Josie Rourke, aims for comedy whenever possible, which detracts from the play’s hard edge, or that Coriolanus' arch-enemy, Hadley Fraser’s Tullus Aufidius, is equally young and not especially threatening. Indeed, with his Saxon/Viking outfit and his army of Northerners ranked against Hiddleston’s Southerners, it sometimes feels like an episode of Game of Thrones, except Hiddleston is the Rob Stark of the piece, Fraser the Theon Greyjoy.

Also in the cast is TV’s Mark Gatiss (Doctor Who and Sherlock writer and actor, but let us not forget The League of Gentlemen), whose Menenius is perhaps more lounge lizard than need be, but he deals with both comedy and drama well. Birgitte Hjort Sørensen (Borgen) plays Hiddleston’s wife, but gets roughly five lines so you wonder why she bothered coming over from Denmark at all, other than for the experience. In fact, it’s Deborah Findlay, who plays Volumnia, Coriolanus’ wife, who comes out of the play best, effortlessly dominating every scene she’s in, in part thanks to a generous performance by Hiddleston.

It’s a good production, imaginative in many ways, but perhaps one that thinks its audience will balk at its relative bleakness and over-compensates.

Read other posts about: ,

December 13, 2013

Review: Superman/Wonder Woman #3

Posted on December 13, 2013 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Superman/Wonder Woman #3

After the slightly bumpier issue #2, Superman/Wonder Woman is back on track with issue #3, which features not only a bevy of guest superheroes, including Batman and the Justice League of America, but also classic Superman villain General Zod, Harrods, a Christmas present, an ex-boyfriend and a USB flash drive.

Guess which one is going to give our hero and heroine the biggest problem?

Continue reading "Review: Superman/Wonder Woman #3"

Read other posts about:

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 208 209 210 211 212 213 214 215 216 217 218 219 220 221 222 223 224 225 226 227 228 229 230 231 232 233 234 235 236 237 238 239 240 241 242 243 244 245 246 247 248 249 250 251 252 253 254 255 256 257 258 259 260 261 262 263 264 265 266 267 268 269 270 271 272 273 274 275 276 277 278 279 280 281 282 283 284 285 286 287 288 289 290 291 292 293 294 295 296 297 298 299 300 301 302 303 304 305 306 307 308 309 310 311 312 313 314 315 316 317 318 319 320 321 322 323 324 325 326 327 328 329 330 331 332 333 334 335 336 337 338 339 340 341 342 343 344 345 346 347 348 349 350 351 352 353 354 355 356 357 358 359 360 361 362 363 364 365 366 367 368 369 370 371 372 373 374 375 376 377 378 379 380 381 382 383 384 385 386 387 388 389 390 391 392 393 394 395 396 397  

Featured Articles

Snatch

Not properly pukka