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Empire StatesScreen To Stage: The Hobbit Stars

Posted on Friday September 5, 2014, 17:55 by Helen O'Hara in Empire States
Screen To Stage: The Hobbit Stars

Usually when I've written these Screen To Stage blogs, I've been trying to compare a film to its stage adaptation. This time, I'm doing something a little different. This summer sees Martin Freeman play Richard III at the Trafalgar Studios, and Richard Armitage star in The Crucible at the Old Vic. So how did the Hobbit stars fare in their roles, and compared to one another?...

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Empire StatesScreen To Stage: Shakespeare In Love

Posted on Friday July 18, 2014, 13:12 by Helen O'Hara in Empire States
Screen To Stage: Shakespeare In Love

Putting Shakespeare In Love onstage feels like a no-brainer. It's a film that often sounds like a play, with all those throwaway Shakespearean lines surrounding the actually Shakespearean lines, and of course it's a film about putting on a play. It's a film that has a lot to say about the importance and strength of drama, and the vital necessity of having a bit with a dog. And in fact here the truth of Henslowe's maxim that "comedy, love and a bit with a dog; that's what they want" is amply demonstrated. The stage show delivers all three in spades, and judged purely on its own considerable merits it succeeds. The only problem is that it proves hard to outdo the film, so people familiar with the original may find this a little less satisfying than those who come to it fresh.

The story is virtually unchanged: William Shakespeare (Tom Bateman), sometime actor and relatively succesful playwright, is struggling for inspiration and under monetary pressur...

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Empire StatesWhy Do People Think Captain America Is Boring?

Posted on Wednesday April 9, 2014, 10:48 by Helen O'Hara in Empire States
Why Do People Think Captain America Is Boring?

This week Vulture published an article arguing that Captain America is “only interesting if he’s a prick”. It echoes quite a few conversations I’ve heard where people complain that Cap is “boring” or “vanilla” or whatever, like the only heroes they want to see are the ones who reflect the worst in themselves. And frankly, I’m beginning to wonder what the hell is wrong with everyone.

Batman broods. We get it. Like Angel in Buffy and Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, it’s part of his essence. Many superheroes, action heroes and sci-fi stars have troubled pasts that they sometimes like to reflect upon while staring handsomely into the distance. But does it feel to anyone else like maybe we have a few too many troubled heroes these days? And that maybe this whole dark, brooding, troubled, tortured thing h...

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Empire StatesScreen To Stage: Let The Right One In

Posted on Friday April 4, 2014, 14:59 by Helen O'Hara in Empire States
Screen To Stage: Let The Right One In

Let The Right One In has just opened at the London Apollo, following successful runs at the Royal Court and National Theatre Scotland, which is good news for vampire fans who are looking for a theatrical fix. After all, while our stages groan with doomed princes, '20s playboys and Mormon missionaries, there are relatively few literal bloodsuckers. And this is a strong adaptation of the book / film / whatever, but it hews close to what made Tomas Alfredson's 2008 film work and so its strengths become, for some, also weaknesses. This gives you much of the same impact but also retreads the same snow and blood into the same ground.

As in John Ajvide Lindqvist's book, bullied young Oscar meets a mysterious girl, Eli, who turns out to have an aversion to sunlight and a thing for blood. The setting - or at least the accents - are Scottish this time, but it's still a slow-burning story about a desperate need for connection as much as it is a horror or a thriller. The book has already ...

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Empire StatesThe Case For The Wolf Of Wall Street, Surprisingly Feminist Film

Posted on Friday January 17, 2014, 12:18 by Helen O'Hara in Empire States
The Case For The Wolf Of Wall Street, Surprisingly Feminist Film

*This blog contains spoilers for The Wolf Of Wall Street. Frankly, I doubt they'll actually spoil your enjoyment of the film, because it's great, but please take that into account.*

There's been criticism of The Wolf Of Wall Street for its depiction of women, and it's easy to see why. Numerically speaking, the majority of women in the film are prostitutes, and the film's male characters uniformly grope and harrass them - when they're not engaged in frequently demeaning sex. I can't think of a single scene where these prostitutes were not partially or entirely naked. Besides the call girls, there are a number of female employees glimpsed on the brokerage floor, one of whom volunteers to have her head shaved in return for $10,000, which she reportedly plans to use on breast implants. Another has public sex with a colleague. The two leads are both married to women they cheat upon frequently, and the film's most importan...

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Empire StatesThe Movie Drinking Games Too Dangerous To Attempt

Posted on Thursday January 16, 2014, 16:05 by Helen O'Hara in Empire States
The Movie Drinking Games Too Dangerous To Attempt

Titanic was on TV recently, and one thing leapt out: the number of times that the names "Jack" and "Rose" are said. I joked that you could build a drinking game around it, but then I watched a little further. In total, there are something like 130 mentions of both - particularly concentrated during the sinking, as you'd expect - and it seems like even the barest sip per mention would soon see you completely stocious (particularly if, as suggested by one Tweeter, you drank Jack Daniels when his name was mentioned and rosé for her). So please, please, do not try this at home*. But in a spirit of public awareness, the Empire team and I then brainstormed the other film drinking games that you should definitely not attempt.

We can't stress this enough. We're listing these as a joke. ON NO ACCOUNT attempt these.

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Empire StatesScreen To Stage: From Here To Eternity

Posted on Thursday November 7, 2013, 09:24 by Helen O'Hara in Empire States
Screen To Stage: From Here To Eternity

From Here To Eternity is not the easiest sell in the world, as musicals go. After all, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory: The Musical seems like a natural fit for the stage, with all the bright colours and general insanity. But a World War II movie about GIs butting heads before the war is even joined, falling for married women or prostitutes and getting thrown in the stockade? It's a little harder to see immediately where you fit in the high kicks and the sequins. What's more, we're talking about a story by the famously somber author James Jones, also responsible for The Thin Red Line, who was there in Hawaii during the attack on Pearl Harbor and who then fought his way across the Pacific. To make light of that legacy would be to lose your audience before you even begin. Luckily, the show treats its characters with respect, and turns out better than we had any right to expect.

The thing to remember is that Les Miserables isn't exactly an obvious source for a musical either, and the dying...

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Empire StatesThere's No Pixar Film In 2014. Here Are 7 Steps To Help You Survive The Wait

Posted on Thursday September 19, 2013, 16:01 by Helen O'Hara in Empire States
There's No Pixar Film In 2014. Here Are 7 Steps To Help You Survive The Wait

Today Pixar announced that they are moving the planned release date of The Good Dinosaur from 2014 to 2015, to allow more time to rejig the movie following the removal of Bob Peterson as director. Originally due in May next year, the film will now be out in late 2015, after the summer release of Inside Out. Finding Dory, originally down for 2015 as well, has been shunted to 2016. This all means that 2014, for the first time since 2005, will be A Year Without A Pixar Film. How will you cope? Well, we have a few suggestions.

1. Cultivate zen
Realise, deep within your soul, that it's a better idea to change a film's planned release date to have the time to get it right, than to rush something out before it's ready. Contemplate a nearby tortoise or snail or something, sniff some incense and breathe deeply through your nose. Everything ...

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Empire StatesThere's No Excuse For Misogyny In Space

Posted on Monday September 2, 2013, 17:40 by Helen O'Hara in Empire States
There's No Excuse For Misogyny In Space

It is a truism and a truth that science-fiction reflects the norms of the time in which it is written more than it accurately predicts the future. For every Arthur C. Clarke or Isaac Asimov story that correctly envisaged some future piece of technology, there are ten that feature antediluvian attitudes to women and patronising (at best) sexism. The original series of Star Trek, justifiably lauded for its multiracial cast and forward-thinking parables, still couldn’t quite stomach a female First Officer (she was jettisoned after the pilot) and put its women in secondary roles as nurses and communication officers. But that was then. It’s 50 years later, and here we are, still struggling with science-fiction that envisages a future where women just aren’t good enough to lead men....

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Empire StatesAre The Studios Trying To Kill Blu-Ray?

Posted on Monday September 2, 2013, 15:00 by Helen O'Hara in Empire States
Are The Studios Trying To Kill Blu-Ray?

The standard-issue Star Trek Into Darkness Blu-ray comes with a mere seven featurettes in the US. But there’s much more content out there! Buy the movie from iTunes and you get the director’s commentary; buy it from BestBuy (or Sainsburys, in the UK) and you get another selection of exclusive extras; buy it from Target and you get a few more. If you’re a US completist, in other words, you’re going to need quite a few copies. Here in the UK, it appears that we get six featurettes, and if you want the commentary there's a code for you to download it free from iTunes. People are riled, and on some level one has to wonder: are the studios intentionally throwing Blu-ray under a bus? Have they given up on the format?...

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