Tag Archives: Benedict Cumberbatch

It’s A Small World

15 May

I was looking at my blog statistics this morning and my attention was drawn to the fact that someone from Tunisia has been reading my blog today.  Hello to my Tunisian reader.  I hope you enjoyed what you read and will return again. 🙂

I was inspired to go and look at the statistical breakdown of where my readers come from.  I was blown away by what I read.

Seeing as WordPress is an American site, it is no surprise that my largest readership of 2,223 views is from the United States.  My next four: United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand also make sense, as they are also countries where English is the principle language.  Yes, I realise Canada is officially bilingual.  Don’t be picky.

It was after this that I got truly mind blown.  It is humbling to think that people in countries like Kazakhstan, Nepal, Honduras, Moldova, and Iceland are reading my blog and enjoying it.  Mind you, maybe not enjoying it so much, as many of them have only visited once.  However, thank you all for coming, even the once.  It is a pleasure and an honour to get to talk to you from Australia.

I do wonder why people read my blog sometimes.  I know I have a lot of readership from Sherlock fans, and Sherlock fans are damn near a universal constant these days.  Not to mention Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman fans.  Oh, and Graham Norton fans, because not a day goes past when someone doesn’t arrive at my blog whilst searching for the elusive Graham.

But a lot of my blogs are on books I’ve read, typically Aussie things, and thoughts I’ve had.  It really does amaze me that people seem to find the meanderings of my mind both interesting and entertaining.

What I am trying to say is, thank you for reading, and for letting me reach out to you from my small part of the world to yours.

My Cup of Shakepearean Goodness Over-runneth.

6 Apr

Right now, as a Shakepearean fan girl of long standing, my cup not only over-runneth, it is in distinct danger of flooding every damn thing within reach.

A couple of weeks ago the news came out that Benedict Cumberbatch would be playing Hamlet at the Barbican in London next year.  When I saw the start date I damn near hyperventilated.  I WILL BE IN LONDON WHEN THE PLAY STARTS.  I will be busting my butt to get a ticket.  Hamlet is one of my favourite tragedies.  I try to see most productions I can access, be it live or on dvd.  I am jealously guarding a dvd of David Tennant’s performance that I managed to obtain a few months ago.  The idea of Benedict Cumberbatch in the role of the doomed Danish prince makes me drool.  I am sure he will be fantastic.  He has the brooding looks I associate with Hamlet, and frankly, the thought of that dulcet baritone delivering Shakespeare’s most famous monologue is almost enough to make me declare Benedict my most favourite Hamlet without even seeing the show.  However, I am not a critic from a dodgy newspaper, so I will wait until I have seen the production to make such a pronouncement.  Besides, Benedict has big fish to chase down and beat.  Sir Derek Jacobi for example.  The aforementioned David Tennant.  I even have a soft spot for Mel Gibson’s Hamlet.  The Oedipal angst of his performance, with Glen Close as Gertude, was mesmerizing.

Then came the news last Friday that Martin Freeman will be playing Richard III this summer in the West End.  No chance of seeing that, but a small, faint hope that maybe, just maybe, they might film that production for dvd release, as was done with David Tennant’s Hamlet.  I can see Martin making an awesome Richard III.  Though the Daily Mail could have been a little more respectful in it’s headline announcing the news – “From Hobbit to Hunchback” struck me as a little demeaning to a wonderful actor.

And what do I find when I come online this morning?  I find that Benedict Cumberbatch is also playing Richard III.  This time it’s for BBC2’s “Shakespeare’s Histories” series.  Pretty sure they heard me screaming three suburbs away.

To have my favourite actors playing major roles in plays by my favourite playwright, is a pleasure I am not sure I can properly describe.  Shakepeare is magic.  The plays have delighted and captivated me since I was first introduced to them by my English teacher when I was 13.  He encouraged me to read them for pleasure, not just because I had to study them.  Mr Clarihew taught me to appreciate the language, the rhythm, and unfolded the treasures of the Bard before my delighted eyes.  George Clarihew gave me a jewel beyond price. 

A Fan Fiction Writer’s Opinion

16 Dec

I am about to shove in my two cents worth on the debacle at the BFI screening of Sherlock “The Empty Hearse”.

It is my considered opinion that springing explicit Johnlock fan fiction on Benedict and Martin, and expecting them to read it was pretty disgusting behaviour on the part of Caitlin Moran.  This is not the professional behaviour you expect from a journalist of Moran’s calibre.  It’s also a low, nasty trick to play on someone who is a friend.  Not funny.  In fact to pinch the Sherlock fandom’s favourite phrase, it’s a bit not good!

Of course Twitter and Tumblr reacted in their usual manner.  Firstly whining about the fan fic writer’s work being used without permission, then bashing Martin and Benedict for not wanting to read it!

Let’s look at the first one, shall we?  All fan fiction writers break copyright ever single damn time we post a story.  So don’t whine to me about stories being used without permission.  If Mark Gatiss, Steve Moffat and the BBC really wanted to, they could make life extremely miserable for fan fiction writers.  Oh and those “disclaimers” so beloved of fan fiction writers actually mean diddly squat if BBC seriously decided to sue.

Many fan fiction writers seem to think that they are above the law and that the shows owe them!  Excuse me, has it occurred to you lot that you are actually stealing the character’s created by the hard work of others and then playing holy hell with them?  So many stories are so far removed from the characters that they are barely recognizable.  I try to keep the characters in character – which is why my stories can take a month to write.  Until I can hear every word being delivered in character by the actor in my mind, then to my way of thinking, it’s not proper fan fiction, it’s simply new characters dressed in old clothes.

And Johnlock is about as far removed from the true characters as is possible.  Neither Sherlock or John are gay.  Yes the show has homoerotic overtones, which are mostly used for comic leaven.  Not to be taken seriously.  Yes, I have written a little light Johnlock myself, though nothing explicit.  And this has only happened when the story I’ve been working on works best with that outcome.  I prefer the strong friendship that glows throughout all the episodes of the show.  The friendship that is the essence of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original works.

The second complaint about Martin and Benedict not being happy to read Johnlock fan fiction.  How the hell would you like it if you were an actor and you’d invested so much time and effort into bringing a character to life, to find people are happily bastardizing the character for their own amusement?  Think how Martin and Benedict must have felt.  Martin at least has read some Johnlock, I understand, Benedict I don’t think has.  Suddenly, you’re confronted with some pretty explicit writing that you’re expected to read out loud.  I’m actually surprised they didn’t just get up and walk off.  It says much for the grace and kindness of both men that they didn’t take their anger out on the audience.

Remember this when you write fan fiction or draw fan art.  We are privileged.  We are using the images of two REAL men who just happen to play characters, and they are mostly happy to allow us to do so.  Remember that the next time you feel the urge to whine about lack of respect to fans, be it writers or artists, or just the average fan.

Respect is earned not given as a right.  If you don’t respect the actors with your work and your attitude, why the hell do you expect anyone to respect you?

National Theatre 50th Anniversary

8 Dec

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to catch the National Theatre’s 50th Anniversary production at a cinema.

The production was awesome.  It was like a sampler of plays.  I have decided I need to see Tom Stoppard’s “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” and “Arcadia”, and Harold Pinter’s “No Man’s Land” the first time there are revivals.  The excerpts I saw just made me want to see more.

The production was a mixture of live performances of snippets from plays, and archival footage.  It was a delight to see Maggie Smith and Robert Stephens in a scene from “The Recruiting Officer”.  We need revivals of Restoration comedy.  Sheridan and his contemporaries are vastly under-rated today.

Benedict Cumberbatch was brilliant in the excerpt from “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead”.  I am unsure which character he played, as I am not familiar with the play.  He was delightfully nutty.  Almost sweetly simple.  The other actor, whose name I forget, didn’t have many lines, but said so much with a look.  A look that mostly said “Stop thinking, you’ll hurt yourself!”.  I would really love to see Benedict in a production of this play.  I think it would be an incredibly memorable experience.

Another Sherlock alumni, Andrew Scott, performed in an excerpt from the AIDS play “Angels in America”.  I think he had THE best line in the entire production. “If I hadn’t been fellating you for four years, I’d think you were straight”.  Delivered as only Andrew Scott can manage.  This is another play I want to see some day, preferably with Andrew Scott.

Derek Jacobi and Michael Gambon did a fairly long excerpt from Harold Pinter’s play “No Man’s Land”. It was obvious within seconds that Harold Pinter not only marched to the beat of a different drum, he marched to an entirely different brass band!  And the word shit coming out of Derek Jacobi’s mouth just seems so wrong.  It’s like hearing a nun swear!

Roger Allam was fantastic in a monologue from a play set in Hitler’s Germany at the end of World War II.  I missed the name of the play and the playwright, I’m afraid.  His voice and his presence are awe inspiring.  I could listen to Roger Allam all day.  This man needs to do some talking books.

I think, however, the thing that moved me the most was Joan Plowright, Lady Olivier, recreating her role of St Joan from George Bernard Shaw’s play of the same name.  She gave Joan’s speech to the judges when she renounces her previous testimony.  I sat there with tears in my eyes, moved almost beyond measure.  Even at her advanced age, and in obvious ill health, Lady Olivier’s talent is a shining beacon.

The National Theatre’s 50th Anniversary was a fantastic experience.  I hope to see something at the National when I visit London in 2015.

National Theatre Live – Frankenstein

27 Nov

This last weekend I was lucky enough to see both performances of the National Theatre’s 2011 production of Frankenstein with Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller alternating the two main roles.

I am going to work on the assumption that you are all familiar with Mary Shelley’s classic novel, so no explanations of plot will be forthcoming.

Nick Dear’s play is brilliantly written.  It stays true to the power and story of the novel, whilst adding touches that make it more than a mere gothic novel conceived on a dark and stormy night as a way to pass the time.  His handling of the subject matter is deft and sure. making sure to leaven the darkness with a gentle sprinkling of humour.

Danny Boyle’s direction is out of this world.  It’s clear he had a vision for this play and that it coincided with that of the playwright.  The play is a visual feast.  The womb from which the Creature emerges is fantastically done, and the drums mimicking a heartbeat makes it all the more powerful.

The Creature.  Where to start?  Benedict and Jonny came at the role from two totally different directions.  Benedict’s Creature is a wounded thing.  A fully grown human learning again how to walk, talk and think.  His body movements at “birth” were much like someone with severe cerebral palsy.  All twitches and spasms as the nerves go out of control.  Jonny Lee Miller’s Creature was much more childlike.  Sliding and crawling across the floor, giggling with joy as he discovers he can do something new.  I think the most endearing sight was Jonny Lee’s Creature discovering his foot… by biting it like a toddler would!  These differences made the rejection of the Creature by his creator, Victor Frankenstein, very different in each version of the play.  When Jonny Lee Miller’s Victor runs from Benedict Cumberbatch’s Creature, you can almost understand his fear.  When Benedict’s Victor runs from Jonny Lee’s Creature, it’s almost heartbreaking, as if he is abandoning a child.

Victor Frankenstein.  Again, both men turned in two very different performances.  Benedict Cumberbatch’s Victor is the more subtle performance.  His Victor is quite gentle, so that when the madness comes, and the outbursts of anger, it is more shocking.  Jonny Lee Miller’s Victor Frankenstein is basically a grumpy bugger all the way through.  It’s a slow realisation that the character has basically gone insane. The shock value isn’t there.  Benedict also added slight touches to the character that rounded him out more.  Like when Victor’s fiancee Elizabeth is trying to persuade him to remain with her, and not go to Scotland.  You can see Victor actually sizing her up as possible parts for the mate is his going to make for his Creature.

There are three scenes with the Creature and Victor Frankenstein that are brilliant beyond measure.  The first is in Scotland where Victor first creates a mate for his Creature, then destroys her, breaking his word to the Creature, and setting in motion the tragedy that follows.  Of the two performances, that of Jonny Lee Miller as the Creature and Benedict Cumberbatch as Victor Frankenstein is the better one.  The Creature’s anguish is offset by Victor’s complete mental breakdown. 

The second scene is the aftermath of the rape and murder of Victor’s bride Elizabeth by the Creature.  In this one, I felt Benedict’s Creature worked better.  His Creature was filled with pain, whilst Jonny Lee’s Creature was filled with hate.  That shifted the dynamic of the scene enormously. The rape and murder was less graphic with Benedict than with Jonny Lee, which may have affected my opinion on the matter.

In the same scene when Jonny Lee’s Victor is saying he can bring Elizabeth back, you don’t get the full realisation of what has actually happened.  With Benedict’s Victor there is the horrified realisation that he used Elizabeth as bait to bring the Creature to him, and that he is finally and irrevocably insane!

The last scene is the final one in the arctic as Victor pursues his Creature to the ends of the earth.  By this time it has become obvious that both creator and created are completely insane and are destroying each other. 

A few comments on other characters and the actors who played them.  Special mention is due to Ella Smith who played the Frankenstein’s maid, Clarice.  A small role, but a good one.  The character reminded me a little of the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet.  A privileged servant with the right to say what she thinks.

George Harris was interesting as Victor’s father.  The chemistry with Jonny Lee wasn’t as good as the chemistry with Benedict, and this affected the performance quite a lot.  I could believe he cared about Benedict’s Victor, but got the feeling that Jonny Lee’s Victor just annoyed the crap out of him.

Finally, Mark Armstrong who played the young crofter, Rab.  This character was a nice little piece of comic relief in a particularly dark part of the play.  Mark Armstrong played Rab to perfection.

Having watched and enjoyed both performances I have to say that, in my opinion, Benedict Cumberbatch was the better Creature, but, the performance that worked best was the one with Jonny Lee Miller as the Creature and Benedict Cumberbatch as Victor Frankenstein.  In this performance they balance each other, making it more obvious that each man is the alter ego of the other.

Fifth Estate Flops

21 Oct

Disconcerting news on the movie “The Fifth Estate”.  According to an entertainment website, the movie has belly flopped from the main deck of the Titanic.  It’s a unintentional disaster movie.  ( http://insidemovies.ew.com/2013/10/20/box-office-disaster-benedict-cumberbatch-the-fifth-estate/?hpt=hp_t3 ).

According to the website the movie, which took around US$26 million to make, took only $1.7 million in its opening weekend across 1,769 cinemas.

I feel bad for Benedict Cumberbatch.  He put his heart and soul into “The Fifth Estate”.  I have only seen a trailer for it on The Graham Norton Show, but he has captured Julian Assange perfectly.

There in, I think, lies one of the problems.  Hardly anyone in America either knows or cares who Julian Assange is.

I think Dreamworks made a major error in believing that they could fashion a movie out of Julian Assange’s ‘exploits’, such as they are.  Julian Assange is not the stuff great movies are made of.  Where is the romance?  The thrills?  Not there.  Julian Assange is an ordinary man who did some quite extraordinary things, but not enough to fashion a movie around him.

A point an American friend made too, has a lot of validity in my book.  She pointed out that releasing what is basically a political movie on the back of the government shutdown was an extremely stupid idea.  People are fed up with anything they can even vaguely construe as political.

My main fear is that Dreamworks ineptitude will end up reflecting badly on Benedict Cumberbatch and besmirching his career.  This would be extremely unfair, as from what I have seen, his performance is brilliant. 

Unfortunately, in Hollywood you are only as good as your last movie, and the great American public seems to think “The Fifth Estate” is crap.

 

Benedict Cumberbatch and Harrison Ford on the Graham Norton Show

13 Oct

We got to see this in Australia last night, fast-tracked from the UK.  A note to Channel 10… it would help if you mentioned all the guests in the advertising.  Getting a little tired of your ignoring Benedict Cumberbatch as if he isn’t interesting.  World’s hottest man and you don’t think he’s a draw card?  Fire your promotional people, they suck!

Firstly, I have got to say that this was one of the best Graham Norton shows I have ever watched.  Graham is such a wonderfully funny man.  His wit is quite acidic and absolutely evil.  I loved his description of his guests as “Fresh meat for my sofa”.  I half expect the sofa to swallow Harrison, Benedict and James Whitehall whole!

Harrison Ford seemed a little confused by both Graham and the show, until he realised that he could say what he liked.  No-one would get upset if he swore.  He seemed to settle in and enjoy himself.  Harrison Ford has quite a dry, droll sense of humour, and his delivery is dryer than the Sahara Desert.  When Graham asked him is his kids got school cred for having Han Solo and Indiana Jones as their father, his reply was a dry “Frankly my kid’s could give a shit.”

Benedict was late, due to filming “The Imitation Game” about Alan Turing.  He told his rather embarrassing story about fan boying over Harrison Ford, where what he intended to say came out all wrong. 

It turned into a mutual admiration society when Harrison Ford admitted he was a fan of Benedict’s, particularly Sherlock Holmes.

Graham showed a clip from “The Fifth Estate”.  Now, I had no intention of seeing the movie.  As much as I love Benedict, I wasn’t sure I wanted to watch a movie about Julian Assange, who, to be honest, I don’t have much interest in.  However, the clip blew me away.  The Australian accent is hard to master, and Julian Assange’s accent is not pure Australian.  Like so many Aussies who have lived overseas for extended periods of time, he’s picked up accent overlays.  Benedict nailed it perfectly.  He also nailed Julian’s speech patterns.   

On a slight tangent from the subject of accents and speech patterns, Benedict also does an awesome Chewbacca impression.

Graham provoked much amusement with Benedict Cumberbatch/Otter memes.  It was a pleasure to discover I’m not the only person who buggers up the word ‘memes’.  Neither Graham or Benedict could work out how it was supposed to be pronounced either.

Another amusing part of the show was comedian James Whitehall trying desperately to get Benedict to tell him how Sherlock survived the fall.

Fantastic show with fantastic guests. 

Note to Graham: we really need Benedict on the show once a month, if that is at all possible.  Thanks.

Second Trailer For The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug

1 Oct

Came online this morning to find a friend had posted a link to the second trailer for the second Hobbit movie: The Desolation of Smaug.

Hello two minutes of meltdown.  And I mean meltdown.  It’s either extremely cute or extremely pathetic that a movie trailer can reduce a woman over forty to a squealing mess.

Martin Freeman is the perfect Bilbo Baggins.  He looks like how I mentally pictured Bilbo when I first read the Hobbit when I was 10 years old.  He looks fantastic in the trailer, and I am really looking forward to seeing this movie.  Mostly for the interactions between Bilbo and Smaug.  Having watched Martin and Benedict work together in Sherlock, I am keen to see how they interact as different characters.  Will the chemistry be as keen between them?  I think it will.  If you remember the book, the scene between Bilbo and Smaug is one of the most captivating in the entire book.  The trailer gave delicious hints of what this scene will be like.

The last few moments of the trailer, which gave us those delicious hints, reduced me to a quivering heap of jelly.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug.  His voice.  It’s like there was an earthquake in his vocal chords.  He sounds like nothing I have heard him do before.  It’s been tagged the CumberRumble on the internet and I have to agree. 

I thought Benedict’s voice couldn’t get any deeper, growlier, or sexier than the Angel Islington.  I was wrong.  By all the Gods of Love was I wrong!  Benedict’s Smaug voice, at close range, would cause complete underwear destruction.  Mostly likely by spontaneous combustion.

Excuse me, I need to go extinguish my knickers.

Murder and Mendelssohn

29 Sep

Picked up (ie snatched from the display stand and raced to the counter in a high state of excitement) the brand new Kerry Greenwood novel “Murder and Mendelssohn” on Saturday.  This book is the 20th novel starring the Hon. Phryne Fisher, fashion plate and private detective, set in 1920s Melbourne.

In “Murder and Mendelssohn” the conductor of a choir about to perform Mendelssohn’s “Elijah” is found murdered.  Detective Inspector Jack Robinson is uncomfortable with the world of music and songsters, and asks Phryne to investigate.

Meanwhile, Phryne’s old friend Dr John Wilson is in town with his dear friend, Rupert Sheffield, who is presenting a lantern lecture on “The Science of Deduction”.  Someone wants Rupert dead, and John turns to Phryne for help to keep the love of his life alive. 

If the topic of the lecture sounds familiar to “Sherlock” fans, you would be correct.  John Wilson and Rupert Sheffield are partly based on Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch’s John and Sherlock.  I say partly, as they are not merely John and Sherlock renamed and transported back to the 1920s.  They are distinctly different characters, with interesting and quite horrific back stories.  And Rupert is a bigger arse than Sherlock has ever been.

I really hope that John and Rupert return in future books.  I would love it too, if Kerry would write them a book of their own.  John and Rupert are too good to only have in one book.  They deserve a series of their own.

Kudos to anyone who spots the throw away “Man from U.N.C.L.E.” reference.  It had me giggling.

“Murder and Mendelssohn” also has THE weirdest bedroom scene I have ever read in any book EVER.

I only had one small niggle.  I wasn’t happy with Detective Inspector Jack Robinson, he seemed to be out of character quite a bit in the story.  It jarred.  Especially when he appeared to be flirting with Phryne, which is something our pillar of rectitude detective just would not do.

Make sure you read the Author’s Notes at the end.  Kerry’s notes are often worth the price of the book alone.  Her comments on BBC “Sherlock” are enough to warm the heart of any fan of Benedict and Martin.

“Murder and Mendelssohn” is a wonderful addition to the Phryne Fisher canon.  It is a treat for the dedicated Phryne fan, but because it touches on a lot of the back story from other books, it is also a suitable introduction for anyone who wants to explore the world of Phryne Fisher.

F is for Fanatic

11 Sep

Excuse me, but I am in a bit of a grumpy mood this morning.  I came online to discover two things.  The first one is a fantastic interview with Benedict Cumberbatch ( http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/benedict-cumberbatch-confessions-fifth-estate-625408 ), the other was whiny fan reactions to the interview.

I’ll say right now that I love the interview.  It is probably one of the more interesting interviews with Benedict that I have read.  It is obvious that the man has real depth and intelligence and I would sell my soul to have a long existential conversation with him.

And what does a section of the fandom focus on?  The fact that he doesn’t keep all the gifts sent to him.  Excuse me, be bloody grateful they reach him at all!  In most cases gifts to stars are scrutinized very carefully before they get anywhere near their intended recipient.  This is to prevent horribly unsuitable or downright unpleasant gifts getting through.  I have heard stories from people I know in the industry about the things that get sent.  One US television star regularly got sent used knickers through the mail.  Naturally they went straight into the hazardous waste.

Think about it for one moment.  If every gift was accepted and kept by the stars we would soon be seeing a new reality television series – “Hollywood Hoarders”.  Not a pretty sight – piles of women’s knickers, stuffed toys, uneaten boxes of chocolates, and the occasional plaster cast of someone’s breasts, as far as the eye can see.

The other thing that another section of the fandom is focusing on is the “fact” that the reporter didn’t like Benedict.  I hate to point it out to people, but it isn’t a law that everyone has to fall down and worship at the altar of Benedict Cumberbatch.  In fact I suspect that it embarrasses the hell out of the poor guy.  I know it would embarrass the hell out of me.  I admire Benedict’s talent as an actor and I find him incredibly attractive.  I DO NOT worship the ground he walks on.

It is only a matter of time before someone advocates tarring, feathering and then burning the poor reporter at the stake.

It’s not just some of Benedict Cumberbatch’s fans.  The delusional section of the  Cote de Pablo fandom is STILL whining about Cote leaving NCIS. 

Keep this up, my lovelies, and soon there won’t be a bloody actor left on the planet who will want anything to do with their fans.  And you will only have yourselves to blame.

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