Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy New Year

Hello, you faithful few.

Sharman Prince would like to wish you a 'happy new year'!

May 2012 bring you much happiness in all its manifestations.

Fare thee well, 2011


Thursday, 29 December 2011

Whatever Happened To Christmas?

Having journeyed back to my hometown to spend the festive period with my family I have got to thinking as to the state of Christmas in present day. I talk not of the religious aspect of the holiday (the actual birth date of Christ has been much discussed) but of the human aspect; the feelings that the holiday engenders.
I’m sure we are all aware that the holiday has been vastly over-commercialised with the lead up to the day itself beginning as soon as the first of September but  I don’t know about you but this certainly is a major overdose and by the time Christmas week hits I am virtually Christmas-ed out.
This year, for the first time in a long age, I actually felt ‘festive’ and was greatly looking forward to December 25th. By the time it came around, however, it felt as though my mind had already moved forward in time to beyond Christmas.
Over the years, as ever, I have hoped for that same feeling that I experienced in my youth when Christmas was a time to be cherished and savoured, a time when the extended family, neighbours and friends would visit to celebrate with the inevitable parties and I still recall the food and drink that would be available. The spirit of Christmas was in attendance. Not so in recent years: Whilst I still enjoy the time with the family that sense of celebration and joviality is lacking and the closeness enjoyed by the family and friends is somewhat shattered. No doubt this is inevitable for as time passes people move away, new people enter our lives and death claims some of those close to us. What once was can never be again but surely we can recapture the essence of what we once had?
Or is it too late? Has society, and its attitude to Christmas, altered so much that those halcyon days longed for are simply a dream that can only ever be fondly remembered?
Beyond the day itself we are also seeing it become a precursor to the commercial sales which have moved, throughout my lifetime, from starting in January to Boxing Day. How quickly Christmas is forgotten once the day has arrived. Such realisation get me to thinking about the proposed return of the messiah; that the return would be at a time when the important lessons once learned and re-taught have once more been forgotten or abandoned. For a believer is this not the time? Certainly the ‘season of good will’ is dead. After all, a day cannot be called a ‘season’ now, can it?
But never mind my own personal experience and desire - social media reflects the modern attitude; one where ungrateful children tweet about their lack of an I-phone as a present and where the thought behind a gift is not the important thing. Is this not as far from the ‘meaning of Christmas’ as we have yet gotten? It saddens me that material gain has become so prevalent in our western culture that it overrides any sense of selflessness and charity at the one time of the year when they should be most prevalent. But there are European cultures that still treasure Christmas in a more traditional way, retaining the long held meanings. I can only hope that the future sees a return to the best of Christmas and what it can bring out in my fellow man. I also hope that when, eventually, I am settled I am able to go about celebrating Christmas in a way that reflects my memories with someone with whom I can build new memories and traditions whilst sharing those of old.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Seasonal Greetings and Merry Christmas to all!

As I write this I am packing and preparing to journey down south for the festive holiday: I am loathe to travel but it's a necessity when visiting family back home.

As I'm sure you are, gentle reader, I am hoping for an enjoyable Christmas whilst at the same time I'll be thinking of those who have reason not to be so merry. I hope that they can find peace and contentment, at least.
Let's hope it's a good one for all!

So I just want to wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

'Priscilla Queen Of The Desert - The Musical', Palace Theatre, London, 15/12/11

For the second time I saw 'Priscilla' at the Palace Theatre in London which reinforced my feelings for this show: Once again I could not stop smiling from the overture through to the jubilant curtain call.

I finally got to see Richard Grieve as 'Tick' and was struck at how tall and handsome he is (he also has rather large feet!). He gave the role an elegant, assured voice and played the role with a sincerity and effortlessness that was something of a revelation. In short I fell in love with him from the get go.
Don Gallagher, Ray Meagher et al were as wonderful as before and Callum Nicol as 'Felica' was very good although Oliver Thornton who normally plays the role was missed; where Thornton has clearly perfected the role over time, Nicol has had less stage time in the role although the role is clearly an enjoyable one. Nicol's singing was top notch whilst his characterisation was clearly echoing that of Thornton (though no doubt this is how the character is written and directed) and the few individual touches that Nicol brought were enjoyable to behold.
Newley Aucett, who I'd previously seen as 'Tick' was excellent as 'Miss Understanding' setting the standard from the outset. Likewise Liz Ewing was brilliant as rough neck 'Shirley'.

The concept and the score work perfectly together and the book still comes across as sharp and succinct as before whilst the set and costume designs still remain something to be seen. 
It is still a shame that this joyous show is closing and will not be seen again (at least in this incarnation) as it has to be the most exuberant theatrical experience I've seen. I certainly can't recall any other show that makes me ache with smiling so much.

Friday, 2 December 2011

'The Thing', Cineworld, 2/12/11

The prequel (not a remake!) to the John Carpenter film is an interesting, if somewhat pointless, journey through familiar territory. It’s certainly enjoyable (and loud) and it’s not just a mere rehash of the Carpenter film (well, not all the time, at least) throwing in some new and surprising aspects to the story of an extra-terrestrial visitor.
It’s quite obvious that director Matthijs Van Heijningen and writer Eric Heisserer have taken care to ensure that the details tie in with that of the Carpenter film (also called ‘The Thing’) and, for the most part, succeed. They are guilty of creating new plot holes which remain unresolved, however.
The cast including Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Joel Edgerton are very good even if they are filling in some familiar roles of the sci-fi genre. Likewise the plot is largely familiar (but, after all, what exactly can ‘the Thing’ itself do that’s totally new and that doesn’t break consistency with the Carpenter film? The same question can be asked of the human actions) though there are times when they take a new angle where you thought they were merely going to copy details from Carpenter’s plot. Sad to say it’s quite easy to lose track of all the characters in the confusion of events only for them to reappear to the viewer’s surprise. The claustrophobia, atmosphere and tension that Carpenter created so well is not so effective here although a little time is taken to get into the plot and acquainted with the (primary) characters (something almost totally alien in today’s cinematic world). Likewise the musical score is adequate though never matches that of Carpenter’s film. Indeed the music pays homage to the 1982 score at times, especially at the finale which leads into ‘The Thing’ of 1982.

‘The Thing’ itself begins as a barely seen silhouette, with brief glimpses once it comes to life. As the film progresses, however, more and more of the creature and its manifestations are seen and they do not have as much impact as that of the 1982 film. The creature’s forms are also almost run-of-the-mill by today’s standards and are reminiscent of a few other creatures from several other movies. Its final quasi-human form does look a trifle atypical Hollywood monster but serves to tie in with the Carpenter creature. The effects also have lost the viscous, horrific quality of those of the original (which still stand up today) and I wonder if this is perhaps because we are so used to seeing such things in numerous movies.

One of the more original aspects of this film is that we see the interior of the alien craft, usually something that never fails to disappoint. Whilst some of the design details of the interior are familiar to sci-fi fans the situation in which we find ourselves inside the ship it is also a nod to the original story and my main complaint with the film, and this goes for the alien craft, the Norwegian base etc. is that it’s too well lit: We see far too much and not just of the creature. Perhaps on Blu-ray and DVD we can alter the brightness and contrast to create a more atmospheric movie?

This is by no means a bad film, and certainly better than much of the pulp that Hollywood disgorges, but it cannot really match Carpenter’s 1982 film. That said it's an enjoyable horror/sci-fi flick and a person could see a lot worse at their local cinema (*ahem* Twilight).