Tag Archives: laughs

16 out of 24 not too bad?

16/24

Two thirds correct is better than half.

I did ok in my Oscar picks better than last year.

Congratulations to all this years Academy Award winners.

As predicted The Artist won Best Picture and another 4 awards, Martin Scorcese’s 3D Hugo took home 5 – all technical.

The big surprise (for me) was Meryl Streep winning Best Actress for The Iron Lady after a 30 year absence – her 3rd Oscar (she gave a terrific speech – a class act). Not her greatest performance but a good caricature of Margaret Thatcher – sad that Viola Davis missed out, glad that Octavia Spencer grabbed gold for supporting actress in The Help. 

Golden lady of the night – Meryl Streep in a Lanvin gown.

Thrilled that Aussie lad Kirk Baxter won his 2nd oscar for co-editing The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – he must love his boss David Fincher after winning last year for The Social Network.

Aussie golden boy Kirk Baxter with his co-winner Angus Wall.

Glenn Close joins the record books (most actress losses – 6) and so does Christopher Plummer now the oldest Oscar winner (well deserved).

I enjoyed Billy Crystal and his banter, the jokes worked for me even if a tad tired. Loved the Wizard Of Oz target audience send-up from Chirstopher Guest’s gang.

The outrage for me was the late costume designer Eiko Ishioka not being in the “in memoriam” section – she has won an Oscar (for Bram Stoker’s Dracula), yet was forgotten – how did Steve Jobs make the cut??? I predict Eiko will be up for an award next year for the upcoming Mirror Mirror, and win!

Julia Roberts in an Eiko creation for the new film “Mirror Mirror”

Talking about next years Oscars – expect a post soon on Bab’s super early predictions!!!

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Don’t speak….Bullets headed for Broadway

I am very pleased with the news that Woody Allen’s brilliant comedy “Bullets Over Broadway” is coming to, where else?

Broadway.

Woody is adapting his 1994 movie as a musical, aiming for a New York opening in 2013.  The musical is being co-written with Douglas McGrath, from their original screenplay, and will feature period music from the Depression era.

It tells the story of a struggling writer David Shayne who agrees to cast a gangster’s girlfriend – Olive, in his new play in exchange for financing.

I think this is one of Woody’s best films and certainly one of his funniest. It features a superb cast (John Cusack, Jennifer Tilly, Jim Broadbent, Tracey Ullman amongst others) and it gave the divine Diane Wiest her second Oscar for her portrayal of stage diva Helen Sinclair, who utters the famous words “don’t speak” in moments of ecstasy! A true laugh out loud moment.

Dianne Wiest (Helen) and John Cusack (David) in a moment of pure art direction and stunning costume design from the film.

 

Here are a few bits of the very funny dialogue from the film, hopefully to remain intact for the stage version, why would one change a word?

*The coloured maid Venus and the gangsters moll Olive (Jennifer Tilly – hysterical in her Oscar nominated role) have an interaction over cocktails…..

Olive: Hey, didn’t I tell you to make “horse durves”?
Venus: I don’t make nothin’ out of horses, especially “horse durves”, ’cause I don’t know what they are, and neither do you.
Olive: Oh, aren’t you the big mouth since you hit your number!
[raising her voice]
Olive: And I said the imported stuff!
Venus: The imported stuff ate through the bottle! It’s gone!
Olive: A likely story!
[composing herself – to David]
Olive: It’s very hard to get good help these days.

Jennifer Tilly as Olive.

*Sid Loomis, Helen’s agent (Harvey Fierstein) accuses her of being a drunk….

Sid: You’re a star because you’re great and you are a great star, but let me tell you something, Helen. In the last couple of years you’re better known as an adulteress and a drunk. And I say this in all due respect.
Helen: Look, I haven’t had a drink since New Year’s Eve.
Sid: You’re talking Chinese New Year’s.
Helen: Naturally. Still, that’s two days, Sid! You know how long that is for me?

*When Helen has a drink at the bar with David….

Helen: Two martinis please, very dry.
David: How’d you know what I drank?
Helen: Oh, you want one too? Three.

*And of course Helen’s most famous line, as David asks her for a kiss…..

Helen: No, no, don’t speak. Don’t speak. Please don’t speak. Please don’t speak. No. No. No. Go. Go, gentle Scorpio, go. Your Pisces wishes you every happy return.
David: Just one…
Helen: Don’t speak.

I can’t wait to see who gets the role of Helen Sinclair, sure to be filled by a true Broadway diva. (Patti Lupone anyone?)


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An Oscar feast for 2012

It’s exactly one week away to the Academy Award ceremony. Babs usually plans an Oscar night party  with friends, this year he is going to an industry live event, very excited as nothing beats watching the awards live, and no media block out required.

I had been planning my annual Oscar menu so I will still share it with you even though I won’t actually be doing food this year. As usual I like to tie in theme related treats that correspond to the best picture nominees.

THE ARTIST

The Artist is set in the golden days of Hollywood silent movies full of glamourous film premieres and such, as the movie has been made by the French I thought French champagne should flow.

THE DESCENDANTS

The unique setting of Hawaii has influenced my menu choices – Prawn Cocktail to eat  and a Blue Hawaiian cocktail to drink. (a cocktail soon to appear in the new Australian film “The Sapphires”).

EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE.

I have yet to see the film (it opens in a few days) so I don’t know if there is any significant food items appropriate. As the film is a post 9/11 story  I thought I would make something from the “Windows Of The World” menu – the famed restaurant was atop the twin towers.

THE HELP

Its a no brainer – southern fried chicken – yum yum.

HUGO

A French railway station setting and a cafe  run by Frances de la Tour helped with this choice – macaroons!

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS

Another French set movie, this time the sophisticated drawing rooms of the artistic and literati – Duck Liver Pate to go with the champagne I think

MONEYBALL

Set in the world of baseball it’s an easy choice – gourmet mini hot dogs!

THE TREE OF LIFE

I disliked this movie so much that I can’t even bother to include an inspired dish to tie in, but if I was to include some food related to it I would say corn as in corny duh!

WAR HORSE

Well as the story goes old nags end up as mince meat – so yummy meatballs are in order with a tomato sugo to represent the blood of war (I know it’s a stretch)

So if you are thinking of having your own Oscar night do then include some of these delicious treats and party away.

 

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It’s A Wrap – Part Two

MY THEATRICAL YEAR.

Sadly my year at the theatre was meagre. If only I could have  squeezed in a trip to New York which had a bumper year, alas I did not.

But I did manage to see a few live presentations, musicals dominated, a couple of comedy gems and even a puppet show abroad!

Here they are.

SPRING AWAKENING.

Presented by The Young Australia Broadway Chorus at St Kilda’s National Theatre. An amateur production yes but this was a chance for me to see the Tony award winning Broadway musical live. Performed by a young cast exact of age to the characters they represent on stage – teenagers coming of age both mentally and most importantly sexually. Based on the play by German author Frank Wedekind which premiered to great controversy in 1906. A musical dealing with teen sexual awakening and with a rock score by Duncan Sheik and Steven Slater. A fine cast performed with all the energy and dedication to the piece that I am sure was witnessed on the great white way. A lot of young talent to be admired, I loved the piece and enjoyed this production – was glad to finally catch up.

MARY POPPINS.

This Cameron Mackintosh hit production featuring a fine hand picked Australian cast was a real delight. Everything worked! – the dancing, the scenery, the singing and the songs. Professional theatre at its best. Highlights being Verity Hunt-Ballard as the famous Nanny – bossy but with a heart of gold, and Debra Byrne as the bird lady who sang the famous “Feed The Birds” so moving and sublime of voice. A treat for kids and adults. I really enjoyed every moment, musical theatre doesn’t get much better than this.

XANADU.

The stage musical version of the infamous flop movie musical starring Olivia Newton John was a surprise hit on Broadway but a dismal failure down under. Presented under a Big Top tent at Melbourne’s Docklands it had horrendous sound problems and I suppose did look rather cheap. It was not a total write off thats for sure. I for one loved the book by Douglas Carter Beane and the energy of the hard working cast. I enjoyed it far more than many I guess? (it failed to tour round the country as planned) and I can tell you the reason why – Christie Whelan in the leading role of Kira – daughter of Greek god Zeus, all Aussie accent, leg warmers and roller skates. She is such a fine comedienne (her timing is exquisite) and has a rip roaring Broadway belting type voice. A standout in the MTC production of “The Drowsy Chaperone” and I am told the best thing in the recent revival of  “The Important Of being Earnest”, upstaging Geoffrey Rush is no mean feat. Surely she will be cast in the new planned Australian production of the musical “Legally Blonde” but her talents deserve so much more than that. For me Xanadu presented to me a star what more do you need?

HAIRSPRAY.

A local production of the Broadway hit. What a disappointment. Under the direction of David Atkins and choreography from Jason Coleman it was promoted as a state of the art production with never seen before staging. I was appalled! The set consisting of computer lighting that conjured up animation that was both lame and horribly unoriginal. Fortunately for me I did see a production of the Broadway original in London and it was brilliant fun. Sadly the over the top hammy performances and unsubtle direction made this night in the theatre unbearable for me. I could go on and point out all the faults from both cast and creatives but I can’t be bothered – enough time spent on this turkey.

ROCK OF AGES.

A total reproduction of the Broadway hit musical that is a real guilty pleasure. Slick direction, slick design, choreography that excites and songs from the 80’s rock music cannon – yes it is another jukebox musical. I saw a final preview and it was rocking. The cast were clearly having a rip roaring time and the audience hooting and hollering were too. A silly storyline about the redevelopment of the famous Sunset Strip in Hollywood doesn’t have much chop, but the enthusiasm and clever direction worked a treat. Sadly it also failed to tour around the country as planned but a film version is due out mid year directed by Adam Shanckman (Hairspray) and featuring Tom Cruise in the scene stealing role of rocker Stacee Jaxx.

NEXT TO NORMAL.

This local production of the Broadway musical was presented by the Melbourne Theatre Company. It lacked the pathos and excitement that I experienced in the Broadway production of which I blogged about a while back . The set was over active and a total distraction and the cast led by Kay Kendall lacked the talent required to pull off this fantastic musical. Oh well we can’t always get it right.

PARADE.

I went along to see this high school production of another Broadway musical because it gave me the chance of seeing it live and complete. I have long been a fan of the Tony winning score by Jason Robert Brown so it was good to see it performed. An unusually grim choice for a school musical it tells the story of Leo Frank wrongfully accused and convicted of raping and murdering a young schoolgirl back in 1913 in America’s south. Frank was a successful Jewish businessman and the show deals with anti-semiticism and media sensationalism – still going on today! It was a flop when it was presented on Broadway back in 1998. With its grim subject matter it is hardly Broadway feel good fodder but its score is still highly regarded as one of Broadway’s finest. The schoolkids involved in this production did very well, some voices not up to scratch but others (particularly the lead boy) were quite impressive. Hats off to St Michael’s Grammar.

LOVE NEVER DIES.

This overhyped and underwhelming dud of a musical is only worth mentioning for the fine set and costume design by Gabriela Tylesova. Dull and boring even with so much movement going on. To distract one of all the shortcomings of the production perhaps?  You can catch it on DVD soon as it was filmed during its Melbourne run.

GREY GARDENS.

Fantastic casting and performances made this local production of the Broadway show based on the acclaimed documentary a real highlight of my theatrical year. I expect Pamela Rabe to win a few awards for her heartbreaking performance as Little Edie Beale. Nancye Hayes as Big Edie held her own too and is eagerly anticipated for her upcoming role as Miss Hannigan in the new revival of “Annie”.

LILY TOMLIN.

This is the second time I have managed to see Lily Tomlin in her live comedy act and she didn’t disappoint. A marvel at face manipulation and full of endless energy she had me laughing out loud and riveted as she took on all her favourite creations with their unique take on the modern world. I love Lily!

EDDIE IZZARD – STRIPPED.

My first time seeing Eddie Izzard live was a last minute decision and I am glad I made the right one. I laughed in wonder at his observations regarding the creation of the world. It really impresses me when performers of this calibre manage to entertain for almost 3 hours (including interval) on stage solo. It must be so exhausting. Izzard is a master at it.

SMOKE AND MIRRORS.

“Smoke And Mirrors” was another first for me. It was the first time I was to see the acclaimed performer iOTA perform live. After performances in “Hedwig And The Angry Inch” and as Frank-n-Furter in a revival of “The Rocky Horror Show” this was the show I caught up with his talents. Performed in the famed Spiegeltent at the Arts Centre. Part vaudeville, part fantasy, part circus act iOTA led a troupe of performers on a musical journey fantastical and funny, moving and magical. He didn’t disappoint, I’d check him out again sometime.

THANG LONG WATER PUPPET THEATRE –  HANOI

I went to see this water puppet show when I was holidaying in Hanoi, Vietnam. It was very touristy and a little tacky but it did have live performers, thankfully it was quite short too. I am glad I saw it as it is always good to soak up some local culture while abroad.

NT Live – FRANKENSTEIN

Filmmaker Danny Boyle’s production of Mary Shelley’s classic novel was very disappointing. I am sure that seeing it live may have been more electric but the ever imposing cameras of the NT Live presentations didn’t capture it. The performance I saw featured Benedict Cumberbatch as the monster and Johnny Lee Miller as his creator Victor Frankenstein. (they alternated the roles in the shows run) I felt that Cumberbatch gave way too much of a ‘gimp’ style performance that seemed so overblown in the confines of a cinema with close up camerawork. The rest of the cast had nothing much to offer and I must say I was bored by the banality of this particular adaptation.

NT Live – THE KITCHEN

I enjoyed this production much more than “Frankenstein”. The play by Arnold Wesker was first performed at the Royal Court in 1959 and is set in the kitchen of a very busy London restaurant. It tells of the trials and tribulations of its workers – the chefs, kitchen hands, waitresses et al. It had moments of great theatricality and choreography that was very creative. The miming of the cooking and the sequence in which full service was occurring was a highlight. Once again the imposing camerawork from the NT Live presentation hampered some of the better moments and didn’t help with some of the theatrical hammy performances (close-ups are not kind on a theatre actor reaching out to the back row). I do enjoy seeing these NT Live events but I wish they would hold back on the ‘clever’ camerwork and let us watch the show as if we were there in the front row, not riding on top the lens of the camera.

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It’s A Wrap – Part One.

Wrapping up the box.

MY TELEVISION YEAR.

It has been a very busy year for Babs so there were far and few television programmes watched with regularity. Thankfully I have a DVR and with boxed set DVDs and friends abroad it has allowed me to catch up on some great TV viewing. Here are my faves and the reasons why I stay glued to the flat screen.

1. The new kid on the block – AMERICAN HORROR STORY.

The wondrous creators of ‘Glee’ and ‘Nip/Tuck’ – Brad Falchuck and Ryan Murphy are responsible for this campy take on the haunted house theme. A young family movie into a house in Los Angeles to repair some damage done due to daddy’s infidelity. Full of naughty housekeepers in garters or with glass eyes, a rubber gimp suit, creepy neighbours, ghosts past and present, a homo couple and references to the pitfalls of childbirth and children to boot! It is a real treat, crafty and creepy, a guilty pleasure – minus the guilt! Jessica Lange in her SAG and Golden Globe nominated role as southern neighbour Constance is the shows highlight amongst many. Renewed for a second season, this time with a different family, house and ghosts I can’t wait to be horrorfied again.

2. The silliest  stalwart – TRUE BLOOD Season 4.

Sooky (Anna Paquin) and her sexy suitors returned for more murderous mayhem and plenty of blood spilling. This time the foe was a coven of witches led by the formidable Fiona Shaw as the leader Marni. One highlight was when the superb Nelsan Ellis as, arguably the best character in the treasured show – Lafayette channels the spirit of Marni therefore imitating Fiona Shaw,  it was a hoot . Kristen Bauer van Straten as vampiress Pam had lines of dialogue to rival Sue Slyvester in ‘Glee”. It was sillier and bloodier then previous seasons but it still works for me. Bring on season 5 which will feature Christopher Meloni (Law & Order SVU, Oz) as a sexy superior vampire. What more beefcake?  🙂

3. Never a pain – NURSE JACKIE Season 3.

Edie Falco, warts and all, returned as the most flawed character I can recall on the small screen. This season a new nurse entered the frame and he was right on Jackie’s case. She managed to dodge the bullets of last seasons revelation that she is indeed a pill popping addict using prescription drugs to avoid the pains of life in a big city hospital – juggling a dual life at home and at work, the final episode in which she pulled the two- faced whammy and asked her husband to get out of the house was a whopper. Falco leads this great ensemble with a riveting performance, Eve Best as the best friend continued to delight as do the rest of the staff of All Saints hospital in NYC all helping to make this series one of the best shows on TV right now. It shows no sign of losing its appeal making me want for another hit – am I an addict?

4. Medievil Mafiosa – GAME OF THRONES.

HBO – well those 3 capital letters they do make you stand up and take notice. New to the quality stable of series comes a show that is a real treat. It has been tagged  as a ‘The Sopranos” in Middle Earth but it is far more than that.

Filmed in Ireland and Malta the scenery is glorious and production values are of the highest order making this show flawless and allowing  you to immerse yourself  into the fantasy world that simply makes you believe. Fine acting from a mostly British/European cast and an Emmy winning performance by the little man of the moment Peter Dinklage (The Station Agent) this series follows many clans across many kingdoms who covet the throne to rule all. It took me a while to work out who was who and what the hell was going on at times, but it has individual scenes that were riveting and as a whole was entirely engrossing. Once I found my way around the clans of the Starks, the Lannisters, the Targaryens, and so on I was hooked.

Production design and costumes should be singled out along with seamless CGI that has you seeing and believing in this wondrous other world. The title sequence is superb as well.

Mention must be made of the final scene, I was absolutely stunned, it came from nowhere but once revealed I cannot recall a single image like it in recent times, it shook my world and will surely shake up the next eagerly awaited sophomore season of this great show.

5. Musical Mayhem – GLEE Season 2 and 3 (pt 1)

The musical maniacs of McKinley high school returned and whilst the episodes were very patchy and uneven, when it soared it was well worth the effort of persevering with this pioneering show. The episode in which virginity was lost between a heterosexual and homosexual couple of kids was a highlight, though not as controversial as they say, it cleverly used  the staging of the musical of West Side Story to great effect. Sue Sylvester had her usual quotas of clingers –  always a delight. I am looking forward to the new series ‘Smash” that follows in the musical footsteps of this favourite of mine.

6. Homegrown quality at last – THE SLAP

Perhaps setting a long overdue benchmark for quality television out of  Australia this controversial suburban soap opera had everyones tongues wagging. ‘Who’s side are you on?’ was the tagline – following the aftermath of a family BBQ in which a child was slapped by another adult, not his parents. Based on the acclaimed popular novel by Christos Tsiolkas each episode concentrated on a separate character as the saga continued. Covering many hot topic issues and featuring a multicultural cast the performances were first class, the writing gratefully accomplished and the production values at the top end of the scale. It was a welcome change on the local television scene. Kudos to cinematographer Andy Commis who created a cinematic canvas that is unusual for Aussie drama.

Please don’t die on us – THE BIG C season 2.

Laura Linney returned as Cathy with terminal cancer – at times she can be very self righteous and selfish but then she is dying so I guess all can be forgiven. This dramedy had some fine moments and some terrific guest stars – Hugh Dancy & Parker Posey. It was good to see the character of Andrea played by Oscar nominee Gabourey Sidibe (Precious) fully fleshed out this time. Unfortunately I missed a couple of eps midway but the final episode packed a sentimental but very powerful wallop, making me feel I had run an emotional marathon myself.

Honorable mentions to

MODERN FAMILY  – a great cast of characters both the adults and the kids, constantly funny, I don’t watch religiously but I am always pleased when I catch eps every now and again.

THE LOVE BOAT (reruns on 11) – I love catching up on the retro guest stars often Hollywood icons long dead and TV has beens.  Silly storlylines that keep me interested even though oh so cliched.

THE GOLDEN GIRLS (reruns on Gem) – A TV comedy classic with a great cast of elder actresses. Betty White is the last dame standing as sadly the other 3 cast members Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty are no longer with us. Perfect comic timing and wonderful retro references tickle my funny bone a plenty.

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well hello Dolly!

A very obscure continuation of my doll posts……

Another dolly, this time Dolly Levi.

Well actually a really bad mural with a depiction of Carol Channing  in the musical “Hello Dolly”.

I chanced upon the mural when on an a(muse)ing holiday road trip last Christmas. It was the backdrop for an outdoor stage. I think it was located in Rosebud, in Victoria.

Dolly is not alone on the mural, if you look on her shoulders, it is Jane Russell & Marilyn Monroe in “Gentleman Prefer Blondes” (in silhouette)!!!

Weird!

Trivia Alert:

The original stage version of the musical “Gentleman Prefer Blondes” introduced Carol Channing in the role of Lorelei, the role Marilyn Monroe played in the film. Perhaps the “artist” who painted the mural was a big fan. 🙂

Carol Channing won the Tony back in 1964 for “Hello Dolly”, winning over Barbra Striesand in “Funny Girl”. Therefore Babs (the other one), is unable to be being a 100% EGOT recipient. Funnily enough, Babs (the other one),  went on to play Dolly Levi in the film version.

But wait right there.

Dolly has even more friends in the mural.

Click to enlarge.

including Madge!

and a new friend, JMB.

Just for a bit of fun, here are some reference points to share.

Carol Channing as Dolly Levi.

Marilyn Monroe & Jane Russell

Carol Channing as Lorelei

Babs (the other one) as cinema’s Dolly.

Look! a Dolly doll, I want one.

There is even a chatty Carol doll.  HEAVEN!

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theatre? cinema? theatre? cinema? Who cares, it’s a hit!

This Saturday I had two very different theatre experiences, and both involving cinema. I love the fact that one can now sit in a theatre, or a cinema, and feel you have been to both…….at the same time.

Confused?

Let me explain.

Doris & Wanda, knowing I had post NYC blues, invited me to go and see the National Theatre’s live broadcast of “London Assurance”. We had previously immersed ourselves in the same kind of presentation a few months earlier. Back then we saw “The Habit Of Art” by Alan Bennett, and we loved it.

It is basically a filmed performance of a play,  simulcast throughout the world (I doubt the simulcast aspect after checking out the website). It is a great opportunity to see some wonderful productions with fantastic perfomances, all first rate.

London Assurance didn’t disappoint. A play written way back in 1841 by Dion Boucicault, a prolific playwrite of his time. I guess the equivalent of Alan Akybourn today?

It is an old fashioned comedy, and director Nicholas Hyntner has given us a very  entertaining production, full of over the top performances from a brilliant cast. Standing out in particular was Simon Russell Beale, playing an aging society fop full of airs and graces, not to mention a healthy libido! It is a masterful performance, just his standing pose alone is hysterical. I love these kind of performances, nothing but pure delight. Not to shabby alongside him was the wonderful Fiona Shaw, as Lady Gay Spanker (the name alone makes you laugh), full of energy and horsy guffaws. She too just has to do simple things, like lounging on the sofa, and you were guffawing along with her. Richard Briars as her aging senile husband was a delight as well. All the cast were fabulous and each had their moments to shine.

It really does feel like you have been to the theatre, but with the best seats in the house. At $25 it’s a steal. Wanda has told me that the Opera presentations are well worth checking out too.  I will make sure I do.

Simon Russell Beale & Fiona Shaw

The magnificent Simon Russell Beale strikes a very funny pose.


Another dear friend of mine, Gary, invited me to see a special screening of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller Psycho. Gary is a cinephile and had secured seats because he had witten the program notes on the classic film. The theatrical twist this time was that the film’s magnificent score was to be played by a live orchestra at the Regent theatre. Bernard Herrmann’s score is arguably one of the most famous in cinema history. Boy does it sound good live! At first you notice the orchestra playing beneath the cinema screen, but eventually, to the merit of Mr Hitchcock, the film itself grabs hold and you find yourself immersed in the creepy story flickering above. Of course the screeching strings that accompany the infamous shower scene were a highlight. In the corner of your eye you could see the bows of the orchestra strings thrusting away, whilst on screen the kitchen knife stabs away at poor unfortunate Janet Leigh. I haven’t seen Psycho in years, and never at a cinema or theatre. It holds up as a true classic, even with it’s silly ending and long winded explanation of the sad Norman Bate’s psychotic state. And speaking of Norman Bates, I think Anthony Perkin’s is wonderful in this role. It is a great film, and with the live orchestra playing alongside, it was a great experience.

So I saw a play in a cinema, and a film in a theatre. Either way I was greatly entertained. Entertainment comes in all shapes it seems.

I look forward to being entertained again soon.

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