March 9th, 2012

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Wreckers, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, out on DVD on Monday

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Wreckers, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, is out on DVD on Monday (12 March).

Cut and pasted from the Artificial Eye website:

A married couple (Benedict Cumberbatch, Claire Foy) move back to his childhood village to start a family but a surprise visit from the husband's brother (Shaun Evans) ignites sibling rivalry and exposes the lies embedded in the couple's relationship.

WRECKERS is an evocative, beautifully shot drama that examines the fragile relationship between truth, intimacy and betrayal. It is the debut film from Director D R Hood.

“Featuring compelling performances from an exceptional cast of young actors, and evocatively filmed in lush fields, eerie churchyards and desolate rural houses, the debut feature from D R Hood is a haunting tale of secrets and lies in the English countryside.”
- Michael Hayden – London Film Festival programmer.

For all the details on the film, follow the link:

Raks's Review

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I saw Wreckers as part of the London Film Festival. To cut to the chase, I fell in love with the film. The title credits rolled and I immediately wanted to see the film again to take in all the subtleties and the nuances in the acting, the direction, and the film-making generally. It was a truly beautiful and deeply moving film.

This film, like all great films, will obviously mean different things to different people and speak to different people on different levels. For me personally, the focus of the film was the marriage between Dawn (Claire Foy) and David (Benedict Cumberbatch), and the relationship between the two brothers, David (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Nick (Shaun Evans). I also loved a couple of the underyling themes of the film which questioned how much you can ever truly know another person, even if that person is your partner/spouse, and hidden family secrets (skeletons in the closet always interest me!).

I thought that the portrayal of the marriage by both Claire and Benedict was very convincing. The film is a very intimate portrayal of a marriage, up close and personal, told from the point of view of both the people involved in the relationship. You completely identify with both Dawn and David, you feel for them and you care about them, and you get to know their motivations, their aspirations and their associated insecurities. The infidelity in the film is treated very sympathetically and the film also shows the pain that infidelity causes not just to the person being betrayed but also to the person committing the betrayal.

The relationship between the brothers is shown in all its complexity, and the film leaves many questions ambiguous, in that you are never entirely sure whose version of events is the correct one, if there is a "correct" version at all. I loved the way that David was so protective of, and caring towards, his brother Nick, and I loved the realistic and believable manner in which Shaun conveyed post-traumatic stress syndrome for a soldier and mental health issues generally. His pain and trauma was 100% believable, as was David's care, concern and support.

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The emotion that Benedict manages to convey in this piece through his eyes and his face, especially his pain in certain situations, is mind blowing. I loved it!

One strong message that I took away from the film, a message that I really believe in, and a message that is very positive and speaks to my heart, is that if you really and truly love someone, you will want to make them happy and you will do anything to make them happy, regardless of the personal cost to yourself and your ego. David does something truly unselfish in this film (very unusual in a man!) to try and ensure that his wife Dawn is happy and fulfilled.

What I will say, off the back of Third Star and Wreckers, is that I much prefer to see Benedict in small independent British films with a real heart and soul, often with a first time Director whose passion is their first film and telling that particular story, rather than in star-studded big budget Hollywood fare.

Highly highly highly recommended.

You can buy the DVD here:

And finally, there are upcoming screenings of "Wreckers" at:

Phoenix Cinema Oxford, 23rd April (with director Q&A)

Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge , 24th April (with director Q&A), 25th April

Tyneside Cinema – May/June dates TBC
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Searching for Shakespeare’s House - a Time Team Special, C4, Sunday 11 March

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I don't normally cover TV programmes that are not airing on the BBC. I have made an exception for this one because it pertains to Shakespeare!

Cut and pasted from an email from The Telegraph:

A newly discovered document has shown that the location of William Shakespeare’s house isn’t quite where Victorian archaeologists thought, and that it was in fact the town’s grandest Tudor residence. Follow the link to read Michael Hogan’s full preview of the Time Team special, which unearths crucial historical evidence about the Bard’s life:

'Searching for Shakespeare’s House: a Time Team Special' is on Channel 4 on Sunday 11 March at 8.00pm.
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Stuart, A Life Backwards

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I have been doing a lot of work on both homelessness and mental health and mental illness this week and I have been reflecting back on Stuart, A Life Backwards.

Stuart is one of my favourite pieces of drama of all time - I adore it and I love it to pieces and it will always have a very special place in my heart. It is a BBC film featuring Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hardy. They are the leading actors of their generation and both deliver outstanding performances in this film.

Stuart is a hard-hitting social commentary and covers tough issues such as homelessness, drugs, alcohol and mental illness. It is powerful, moving, touching and, ultimately, heartbreaking. Both Benedict and Tom give the performance of their lives and the chemistry between them is tangible. What is at the heart of the piece is the growing and deepening friendship between Alexander and Stuart, which is one of the most unlikely pairings and friendships you are ever going to encounter! You can both sense and feel the affection and the love that the two characters have for eachother. The extras on the DVD are brilliant - there are incredibly long interviews with both Benedict and Tom.

Photo courtesy

Again, this is the BBC at its best. I have watched this film again and again, so many times over the years. As with Third Star, I do not find the film depressing in any way - I find it uplifting. It is, of course, all the more powerful for being a true story.

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Cut and pasted from Amazon:
The award-winning drama Stuart A Life Backwards details the remarkable friendship between a reclusive writer and illustrator (Alexander played by Benedict Cumberbatch) and a chaotic homeless man (Stuart played by BAFTA Award nominated Tom Hardy), whom he gets to know during a campaign to release two charity workers from prison.

As Alexander learns more about Stuart's complicated life and traumatic childhood, he asks if he can write his story and Stuart advises him to write the story backwards, so that it is more exciting like a Tom Clancy murder-mystery . As their remarkable alliance develops, Stuart gradually recounts his life story in reverse, his resilient personality and dry sense of humour giving the story an almost tragi-comic edge. Through post-office heists, attempts at suicide and spells inside various institutions, Alexander is given a glimpse into a totally alien world and begins to understand how Stuart's life spiralled so badly out of control.

You can buy Stuart here:

Highly highly highly recommended.
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Greater Shakespeare Map

And so onto one of my favourite ranges of RSC merchandising ... the Greater Shakespeare Map range.

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Cut and pasted from the RSC Website:
Poster of the design based on the Greater London Tube Map delineates the important personality types that recur from play to play and shows the intricate connections between the characters.

Follow the link to see the full range of branded products:

PS. I have decided to ditch my "ethnic" custom userhead (we should not be defined or limited by our ethnicity!) for a Sherlockian one.
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This photo has just come through on the email. I love tigers; I am obsessed with them; and so this just had to go on the com.

Bengal Tiger
Photographer Chris Milne
Photo courtesy of Explore

Zero finances have put a permanent stop to my travelling days, but I used to have at least one foreign holiday a year, mainly in the Middle East, and I always used to travel with Explore, who are here:

They specialise in small group adventures and I would highly recommend them. I have travelled with them all over the Middle East, and they, their tour leaders, and my fellow travellers were always excellent company. I made many friends over the years travelling with them.

So here's to me and my fellow Explorers!

My proper feature on tigers can be found here: