Red Road and Pirates

Watched two completely contrasting - and equally enthralling - films over the weekend, both of them because I was lazily channel flicking late at night and discovered them quite by chance. The first was Red Road which I knew about but had never seen. It was late, I had had a hard day and I was tired but it drew me in, relentlessly and I simply couldn't stop watching it. It finished at one o'clock in the morning and I staggered up to bed, marvelling how what could have been a trite story had been turned into this epic and brilliant tale of redemption by the sheer quality of the writing and the direction - both by Andrea Arnold. I suppose as I playwright, I couldn't stop myself from thinking about how easy it would have been to ruin it, to tell too much, to say too much, to explain too much. Instead, the pace of it allowed a tragic mystery to unfold before our eyes, much as the CCTV pictures - and the main character's response to them - unfolded. She seems to have a gift for showing that peculiar, claustrophobic, bleary eyed atmosphere of night in the city - a sense of alienation that is palpable.

The following night, I was doing a little late channel flicking again when I came upon an Australian version of The Pirates of Penzance, being broadcast on Sky Arts, an increasingly interesting channel. It was enchanting - this sexy combination of singing, dancing, burlesque, and raw energy and that was just the Pirate King. Seriously, best night's entertainment I've had in some time. The purists probably hated it, but I suspect it comes pretty close to the intentions of the original. Sadly, I've been googling for the DVD but it only seems to be available in the American version. Hope Sky repeats it soon!

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