Review: Flesh & Bone


Starz’s ballet miniseries reaches opening night


Flesh and Bone was originally conceived as a regular series, before Starz decided they wanted a miniseries instead. That explains the various hanging threads and storylines that feel like they barely got going, even as the final credit rolled. Alas, we’ll never know what came of the child sex slaves on Sergei’s yacht, or why Paul periodically throws eggs at a tombstone, or whether Jessica’s embezzling will catch up with her.

That the cast can really dance has never been in doubt, but what the finale did give us was our first full-scale performance. They’ve been killing themselves over the choreography all season, and the end results were suitably impressive. (Having said that, I’m not at all convinced I’d be able to spot the difference between an excellent ballet dancer and an average one; or an edgy, modern piece and a classical one, but there you go.)

Carell: Suck it, Gosling


The Big Short star reacts to his nomination


The Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced the nominees for the 73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards yesterday, Thursday 10 December.

The Big Short confirmed its position as a major contender in the awards race with four nominations, including two of the five nominees for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, for stars Christian Bale and Steve Carell. The film also features Brad Pitt and Ryan Gosling.

Uniquely Sorkin


The curious case of the writer who outshines his directors


Sorkin-esque. It’s become a recognisable identifier; a style of writing distinct enough to justify an Amy Schumer parody. It’s the walk and talk, the mile-a-minute dialogue, the behind the scenes look at a world of which we normally only see the polished surface.

But it’s more than that. Take Steve Jobs. Danny Boyle’s name is certainly on the poster. He’s an Oscar-winning director. Michael Fassbender’s face is there too. He’s an Oscar-nominated actor. Kate Winslet won one. Yet the narrative around the film is all Sorkin. Steve Jobs the film belongs to Aaron Sorkin far more than it belongs to Danny Boyle, or any of the cast.

A lesson in second chances


The Leftovers ascends to greatness


For those watching HBO’s The Leftovers, and that number, at least in same day viewers, appears to be disappointingly small, Sunday’s finale was the culmination of one of the great second seasons in television history. In fact, screw that. Viewers were just witness to one of the greatest seasons of TV ever made.

Damon Lindelof, the most unnecessarily self-flagellating showrunner in all of Hollywood, has managed something remarkable. He’s taken an ambitious but divisive show, added and altered a host of elements (a change of location; the introduction of an entirely new family; Liv Tyler appearing once in the first eight episodes) any one of which would count as a potentially-ruinous gamble, doubled down on the mystery, conceded not a step to those who felt the show was too bleak or depressing, and emerged on the other side, like Kevin Garvey from a shallow grave, better and more focused than ever.

Turn off the damn lights


Cinema-going is an experience. Theatres should treat it like one


Fading up the lights before the first credit touches the screen. It’s the cinema equivalent of a restaurant delivering the bill with your main. The message is subtle but clear: chow down and clear off. You are cattle to be herded through. The next customer is waiting, so digest on the way to the door.

And lest ye thought this was only an end-of-film occurrence, be assured it is not. No, the lights must also remain on until the last possible moment before the film starts. The result of which is as infuriating as it is predictable: a significant chunk of the audience now doesn’t bother showing up until the feature presentation begins. And why not? The lights are on, after all.

Drama has found its true home


The definitive Fargo is now a TV show. Hannibal, too


For decades, television was the poorer, younger sibling to film. There were lines that simply weren’t crossed: a film actor slumming it on CBS? One would surely hope one’s career never reached that kind of shame-inducing nadir. TV was, on a good day, B-movie territory. Film was the real work; the serious storytelling.

And for a long while it would have been difficult to argue that this wasn’t self-evident. 50 million people may be tuning in every week, but that was just television. It was just a distraction that ran in the background while the family ate dinner. It wasn’t The Godfather.