aficinado

Henry VI Part II Review

England is at war. The King is at war with the house of York as the two factions fight brutally for the throne in the War of the Roses. Henry VI, despairing of the turmoil makes a pact with Richard, Duke of York, agreeing that he be allowed to reign for his lifetime and that the crown will revert to the House of York upon his death. Richard agrees but Henry’s queen, Margaret, is incensed at Henry’s actions which disinherit his own son. Margaret musters her own troops and wreaks bloody vengeance on the House of York. As the years pass and casualties mount on both sides can there ever be a real winner?

I confess that of all of Shakespeare’s plays I am perhaps the least familiar with Henry VI Parts I-III (here condensed into two parts) and as such I’m the perfect audience for this slick, superlatively acted offering from director Dominic Cooke and Neal Street productions. It condenses a cast of thousands into a snappily paced, utterly compelling 2 hours. Beautifully lit and scored this is hugely impressive television.  Much has been made of the Game of Thrones style action sequences and even a hardened horror aficinado like me winced at the sheer brutality on display throughout as several well loved British character actors were savagely slaughtered. The fight scenes stand up against any mega budgeted Hollywood action movie.

The acting is of course extraordinary. Tom Sturridge is gently affecting as Henry, utterly distraught at the sheer carnage surrounding him. Never has the crown weighed heavier than during a particularly distressing scene where he witnesses the aftermath of a son realising he has inadvertently slain his own father. The consistently brilliant (and hugely underrated) Kyle Soller is superb here as Clifford, consumed with rage and grief over the murder of his father. I could barely watch his brutal undignified end at the hands of Benedict’s truly psychotic Richard III. Sophie Okonedo whaltzes off with the whole thing as Queen Margaret. Strong, proud and fierce she is a force to be reckoned with - Boudica, Joan of Arc and hell Xena Warrior Princess in one. Infuriated at Henry’s move to disinherit her child she cuts a bloody, completely merciless swathe through her opponents. Yet by the end of the piece she is heartbreakingly affecting as she is forced to witness the death of her child at the hands of the House of York. Noone escapes this war unscathed.

From the leads to the minor players everyone here is perfectly cast. Even Andrew Scott appears for a jaunty cameo (looking fabulously resplendant in his crown) as the King of France.

Benedict has a small role in Henry VI Part II but he is utterly mesmerising. The man turns 40 in a couple of months yet at the beginning of the piece he very convincingly portrays Richard as a teenage boy. There’s no magical Marvel style de-aging CGI here of the type which made Michael Douglas look early 30’s in Ant Man and turned Robert Downey Junior into a teen in Captain America Civil War. Using nothing more than his voice and changing the way he stands Benedict manages to come across as a young, awkward teen boy, full of fire and dismayed at his father’s easy acceptance of Henry’s deal. When his brother is brutally murdered while he hides, distraught and terrified, we emphasise with his distress. It doesn’t seem cowardly, he’s just a young boy caught up in the maelstrom of a brutal power grab. Of course by the end of the piece Richard has blossomed into a brutal psychotic. His dispatching of Kyle Soller’s Clifford is excruciating to watch. Cold, psychotic, hardened by brutality and circumstance Richard is a truly unsettling character. 

But it’s in the final 10 minutes of the piece that Henry VI Part II really soars. Richard III, alone in a boat rowing towards the Tower of London turns to the camera and starts to soliloquise. You can feel the hairs on the back of your neck stand up as Benedict turns and starts to directly address (you) the camera. Powerful and full of foreboding it leaves you desperate to see what happens next (hint it doesn’t work out terribly well for anyone). Richard III airs next week and I for one simply cannot wait to see what Benedict does with the role.

The Saddest Landscape @ The Green Door Store, Brighton, January 10th 2012

Tonight was a night for those of an eclectic taste. From acoustic to passionate screamo, tonight had everything to offer. As six great acts made their way into a tiny room in Brighton, it definitely had the makings to be a night to remember.

As the crowd started to move into the venue expecting to see Kerouac, they were instead greeted by a larger than life Swede by the name of Old Kerry Mckee. The one man band was a pleasant surprise to everyone, using everything at his disposal to make a noise to add to his sound. To understand what the sound of this man was, it was like witnessing a one man modest mouse.

Finally it was time for Kerouac to take centre stage. The only English band on the bill had a lot to live up to. Not to be out done by their international counterparts, Kerouac gave a full blooded performance. I have been fortunate to catch Kerouac several times and each time they just get tighter as a unit and more inspirational as musicians. Their gritty hard guitar riffs just sound huge, which are complimented by a thunderous scream which really shows how well UK music has developed.

As tonight was the story of two different tours crossing paths, it was the first of the touring bands to come up. Playing a modern brand of pop punk which seems to be pushed to the forefront was Aficionado. Using a great blend of two sets of vocals, male and female, to make a very catchy sound. As well as feeding off each other, the whole band played with a great energy which meant the band gaining a lot of new fans tonight. People were walking away comparing them to Tigers Jaw and Lemuria to name a few.

Next was the first of the screamo crew. Three piece, We Were Skeletons, launched into their set at a ridiculous pace with intense screams to match the ferocity of their music.  Despite the fact the bands bassist was very ill the band powered through to produce an incredible set. The band also gave a sneak preview of some new material which is on the horizon for this incredibly intense band.

With time constraints now becoming a bit of an issue, Self Defence Family jumped on stage to play a very brief set.  It really was a shame that they didn’t have longer as they were completely mesmerizing. Like Aficionado they played a more chilled approach compared to Kerouac and We Were Skeletons, yet was just as incredible. Watching Self Defence Family you couldn’t take your eyes off their front man. Watching him was like watching someone who was fighting off their demons. It really was an incredible experience and one I would recommend anyone to go see if they had the chance.

Finally to close the night were the ever so humble The Saddest Landscape. Once again with time being a factor the band apologised that they would have to keep it brief and proceeded to power through their set. It wasn’t until the very last act that members of the crowd finally started to show some life, but they couldn’t have waited for a better band. You could tell that the band have put their heart and soul into the music, as it really comes across in their live performance.

After seeing so many great acts people walked away with a look of awe taking over their faces. If this is how 2012 is going to start it is definitely going to be a great year.   

singing-swan-deactivated2016021  asked:

Since you wanting to write au prompts is too good an opportunity to pass up (been reading your fics lately and they're phenomenal!)... CS + ‘someone starts a rumor that we’re dating so let’s turn the tables’ or ‘we’re both teachers and all our students ship us’ please? Whichever inspire you most :)

(semi sort of a followup to the professors au)

Professor Emma Swan had been aware for quite a while, on a vague and unimportant level, of an apparent conspiracy in the history department to get her to work with Killian Jones entirely too often. Maybe it was just another of St. Andrews’ weird traditions; aside from their unique terminology, distinctive academic dress, Raisin Weekend, and custom of running sleep-deprived into the North Sea on May Day while the university choir sang madrigals, they  decided to find every single faculty member a perfect match, who knew? It had taken her long enough to cotton onto the fact that she seemed to be paired with him every time something or anything of the sort required it. Not that she had come to Scotland from Boston University looking for anything like this, no matter how often her roommate, Mary Margaret, had advised her to marry a UK man and get dual citizenship. In Emma’s experience to date, UK men were severely overhyped. All of them seemed to be named Nigel or William, have an overbite and a soccer – excuse her, football – team to which they were devoted to beyond all reason, and a bad smoking habit. The accent was not enough to compensate. As for Mary Margaret’s absurd conviction that since this was the place where Prince William met Kate, true love was sure to follow for her as well – Emma hadn’t even wasted time contemplating it.

Except for Killian. He was… well, different was one word for it, Emma thought sourly. Admittedly gorgeous enough that his continuing state of bachelorhood was apparently one of St. Andrews’ favorite campus mysteries, and had only a moderate smoking habit that she had observed. Tended to disappear like a ghost whenever he wasn’t teaching class, though she’d caught him late in the library more than once. Everybody seemed to want to know more about him, but actual facts were in short supply. As for the fact that the entire university appeared to have decided that they would make a cute couple… she’d deal with it.

That at least was the plan until now, early in January of the second semester, and hence the occasion of Robert Burns Night. This rather mystifying cultural tradition involved a formal dinner, a haggis which was marched into the Great Hall to the sound of bagpipes and then addressed with a specific poem, and a lot of whisky, not to mention just as many kilts and “Will Ye No Come Home Again”-style patriotic reminiscing. Emma had found an invitation in her box that morning, signed with an elegant calligraphic K. Jones, and debated refusing, but she couldn’t spend a year in Scotland and not go. She took out her phone, texted a brief affirmation, and then fled forthwith to the High Street shops in search of something in suitable plaid.

She finally settled on a skirt and shawl, went home and got dressed, and paced back and forth, much more nervous than the occasion seemed to require, until there was a smart knock on her door at seven PM sharp and upon opening it, she was treated to the sight which really should have come with a warning label: Killian Jones in full Highland regalia, kilt, sark, sporran, sgian dhu, stockings, and plaid fastened over his shoulder with a running-stag brooch – not to mention the apparently authentic broadsword belted around his waist, the entire ensemble topped off with a feathered bonnet. As she was still staring, he made her a courtly leg and a crooked grin. “My lady. May I have the honor?”

“Ah… of course,” Emma managed, blinking. “Do you just have that in storage for the fun of it?”

He shrugged. “You don’t think I’m wearing jeans and grubby trainers to a Rabbie Burns Supper, do you?”

“I guess not,” Emma said idiotically, although she of course had only the barest notion of what said suppers entailed. She took his arm and let him lead her out to his car, where he gallantly fetched the door for her – poise not at all dampened by the wind that briefly threatened to reveal whether he was, in fact, wearing the kilt in the traditional manner (not that she cared what was under it). He went around and swung behind the wheel, and they pulled out, covering the short distance from her flat to the University in a few minutes. As they turned into the car park, which was producing a steady stream of likewise kilted Burns aficinados making for the glowing, gothic Great Hall, Emma found herself saying, “They’ll probably be delighted that we’re going together.”

Killian shot her a confused look. “Who?”

“Ah, the – students.” Emma waved a hand, feeling instantly stupid. “I have a feeling they’ve been trying to set us up for a while.”

“Have they? I haven’t noticed.” Killian took rather more attention than necessary setting the handbrake, and climbed out. “Not that I would object, but – no. That’s not why I asked you.”

“Why did you?” Emma shut the car door behind her, and they started across the lawn. Scotland in January was as cold as hell frozen over, and she began to rub at her fingers, already going numb from the short time outside, until he unexpectedly caught them with his. She tensed, but didn’t pull away.

“Maybe I wanted to go with you,” he said mildly. “What would you think of that?”

She did her best attempt at a dismissive shrug. “Fine. It doesn’t mean anything, right?”

He glanced at her, seemed about to answer, then paused. In fact, was completely silent as they continued up the walk, swept up in the rush of people. Until at last he spoke, and she wondered if she’d even been meant to hear his reply, almost under his breath, as if it was too much for him to utter aloud.

“Of course not.”