Tag Archives: Roger Allam

Mr Holmes

27 Aug

A few of you may remember that I read and reviewed Mitch Cullin’s book “A Slight Trick of the Mind” last year (https://margysmusings.wordpress.com/2014/08/10/a-slight-trick-of-the-mind/).

When I was in London I had the opportunity to see the film adaptation starring Sir Ian McKellen as Sherlock Holmes.  I admit to being privately doubtful as to whether I would enjoy it, but it was an evening out with a good friend, so I was happy to go.

I am so very glad I did.  “Mr Holmes” is a brilliant movie.  It makes a book that is virtually incomprehensible into something magical.  I am usually anti books being adapted into movies because, in my opinion, the book is usually buggered beyond all recognition.  However, “Mr Holmes” is that extremely rare creature, a movie that is better than the book that spawned it.

Sir Ian McKellen is delightful as the 93 year old Sherlock Holmes trying to recall the case that drove him into retirement.  Sir Ian’s talents as an actor are incredible.  He quite literally had me in tears as Holmes struggled with the dementia and the frailty of extreme old age.

Two actors whose roles were little more than cameos do deserve special mention.

Nicholas Rowe plays an actor playing Sherlock Holmes in a movie about Holmes’ final case.  Full of pomp and dignity, he was delightful as an almost caricature of the character.  Given the time period that that part of the movie is set in, Nicholas Rowe was basically playing Basil Rathbone playing Sherlock Holmes.  He did an excellent job, making the small scene memorable.  Sherlockians who see the film will have a quiet chuckle to themselves.  Nicholas played the teenage Sherlock Holmes in the movie “The Young Sherlock Holmes” back in the 1980s.

The special mention goes to Roger Allam as Holmes’ doctor, Dr Barrie.  The character is a soft-hearted curmudgeon that really deserved more screen time.  Roger Allam had what was probably the only truly humourous lines in the movie, but as they rely on the context of the scene, I can’t quote them here.  You’ll have to watch the movie for yourself.

I hesitate to recommend the movie to the casual movie goer.  I think you really do need to have at least a passing familiarity with Sherlock Holmes and his world to really enjoy the film.  But for the dedicated Sherlockian, I have no hesitation in giving the movie 5 stars and suggesting you hurry along the the cinema to see it, or get the dvd when it becomes available.

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.

Cabin Pressure – Season 1 – CD 1

30 Apr

My season 1 “Cabin Pressure” CDs arrived yesterday.  I’d been waiting for these since I first heard about the series. 

I curled up with great anticipation to listen to the first CD with the episodes “Abu Dhabi” and “Boston” on it.  Within moments I was nearly hysterical with laughter.

“Cabin Pressure” is brilliantly written by John Finnemore, who also plays the sweetly simple steward, Arthur.

The true jewels of the show are Benedict Cumberbatch as Captain Martin Crieff and Roger Allam as First Officer Douglas Richardson.  Martin is rather sweet, scared, obstinate, and way out of his depth.  Douglas is older, devious, conniving and sarcastic. 

The combination of Benedict and Roger is pure comedic gold.  The complimentary blending of Benedict’s voice and Douglas’ also gives a wonderful edge.  Both men have perfect radio voices.  Warm, deep, smooth, sexy, with the ability to demonstrate massive emotional ranges.

“Abu Dhabi” delighted me.  Poor Martin making a command decision and getting roasted for it by MJN Air’s owner, Caroline.  Caroline treats all her staff as though they are six years old.  Though given her pilots’ penchant for playing games like “Simon Says” on the flight deck you can certainly understand why she does so. 

Douglas saves the day (and the freezing cat in the hold) in “Abu Dhabi”.

“Boston” gave up one of the the best lines I have ever heard, when a passenger bullying Martin refers to his “Fisher Price When-I-Grow-Up-I-Want-To-Be-A-Pilot uniform”.   Every time I travel on a plane from now on, I can see myself snickering at every terribly young looking pilot I see.

Of course, only Martin could manage to be arrested by the TSA over a pair of nose hair clippers.

I have become a devoted fan of “Cabin Pressure” after listening to only two episodes.  I will have to listen to them again and again.  Mostly because I missed so much because I was laughing.  Not light laughter.  The sort of laughter that has you curled in a ball, no noise coming out because all air has been squeezed out of your lungs and you can’t draw any more in, and stomach muscles aching from the strain.  The very best sort of laughter.



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