Monthly Archives: August 2013

What did Maisie know? Parents are idiots

Popped along to the local ‘World of My Front Room’ to watch ‘What Maisie Knew’, courtesy of Curzon’s terrific Home Cinema on demand service. While not the same as a full on theatrical experience, this intimate drama worked superbly well on the small screen.

As Maisie’s hopeless parents, Julianne Moore is fabulous as fading rock chick Susanna, while Steve Coogan moves effortlessly from a Partridge in Norwich to the vain, and rather pathetic Beale in New York. Alexander Skarsgård  and Joanna Vanderham are also on point as Lincoln and Margo, the surrogates upon whom Maisie’s parents rely. In the centre of the emotional maelstrom of a family life disintegrating is the utterly captivating Onata Aprile as Maisie, through whose eyes and around whom we see events unfold. Hers is an emotionally charged but completely natural performance that thankfully betrays not a trace of Hollywood schmaltz. I am staggered that a child so young can deliver such a fearsome piece of work; she really is breathtakingly good. I had high hopes for ‘What Maisie Knew’ and I was not disappointed. This is independent film making of the highest quality that rewards infinitely more than much of the major box office release fodder.

Sightseers…don’t share a field in England with this pair!

Have you ever fancied caravanning? No, me neither and after watching Ben Wheatley’s superb third feature, Sightseers, I know why! Sightseers tells the ‘sweet and affecting’ story of Chris (Steve Oram) and Tina (Alice Lowe), two nerdy love birds who embark on their first holiday together. Chris is a keen caravanner and a man who enjoys a holiday schedule to such English delights as Crich Tramway Village and the Keswick Pencil Museum. From the outset there is a sense of foreboding about this pair and things start to come apart at the seams after Chris witnesses a spot of casual littering by a fellow holidaymaker.

What follows is a blackly satirical take on the English staycation and the world of the caravan holidaymaker, laced with gallows humour and a rapidly increasing bodycount. Drawing inspiration from the likes of Mike Leigh’s ‘Nuts in May’, Sightseers proves once again that Ben Wheatley is probably the most exciting British independent filmmaker of the moment. He gets superb performances from Oram and Lowe, who also wrote the script (with some additional material from Wheatley’s wife and long time collaborator Amy Jump), the supporting cast (particularly Richard Glover as Cara-pod designer Martin) and as always, the cinematography and score are spot on. If you haven’t already taken the plunge into Wheatley’s twisted vision of the great British holiday, then you really should. Sightseers will do for caravanning what Titanic did for cruising in the icebergs of the North Atlantic – and that cannot be a bad thing!