Clara: One-woman show

Clara_ElenaMazzonWhen hearing the name Schumann, many will first think of Robert. But what about the other Schumann whose music can transport us just as much? In Clara, we get to know the woman who tried to pursue her prolific music career after marrying Robert Schumann and despite getting increasingly lost behind her husband’s shadow – and name.

Elena Mazzon presents her one-woman show which has just premiered in London at From the Forest Festival. In the play, she plays Clara Schumann (1819-1896) who is preparing for a date with Johannes Brahms while sharing her memories about what led her to this date in the first place.

She married Robert right before her 21st birthday against her father’s will, who would have preferred her to become an independent musician. This relationship between father and daughter is described movingly by Mazzon, certainly touching soft spots of many in the audience. In addition, one can’t help but note the importance of putting a woman in the spotlight who had to fight to be respected by the many men in her field, starting with her husband who gave her ultimatums and worried about being overshadowed by his wife’s talent.

Directed by Catriona Kerridge, Mazzon supports her speech with piano music, composed either by Clara herself, Robert or Brahms. It is amusing to notice how when she leans on her piano, Clara feels secure. However, as soon as she walks away from her piano, she starts panicking, losing some her control. Music was everything for Clara, and always in first place, even in front of her many children.

This is a show that I hope will tour the world, giving a new voice to this maestro who herself visited and graced many cities with her music in the Romantic era. I also hope that with time it will contain even more played piano, as it adds such a beautiful element to the play. Stay tuned by following https://www.elenamazzon.com/clara-a-show-for-an-actress-and-a-piano/

 

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Tully (2018)

Mom, what’s wrong with your body?

Tully filmThis month, I discovered what dry brushing is. Don’t you find that sometimes you read about something, and soon enough, it enters your life in some other way too? The film Tully by Jason Reitman, the acclaimed director of Juno, Up in the Air and Young Adult, opens with Marlo (Charlize Theron) brushing her son Jonah’s body (Asher Miles Fallica). She does this every night before bed time, as it helps him release anxiety.

When we meet her, Marlo is nine months pregnant, about to give birth any day. She has two children and lives with her husband Drew (Ron Livingston), who has a complicated auditing job, in upstate New York. One could confidently say that Marlo’s home life and life situation in general are a cause for depression: she can’t be bothered to cook for her children and heats up frozen food for them every day, she watches a pornographic reality show called “Gigolo” every night and can’t seem to find joy in anything. One evening, her brother Craig (Mark Duplass) recommends she hire a night nanny to prevent her from collapsing after the new baby comes. While she is cynical about a stranger taking care of her baby at first, after one of Jonah’s many tantrums, she takes the plunge and calls the nanny called Tully (Mackenzie Davis).

Tully becomes the guardian angel that Marlo needed, cleaning the house and most importantly taking care of newly born Mia. As the nights progress, Marlo catches up on her much-missed sleep, starts enjoying her new daughter’s presence and reconnects with her family and community. Furthermore, she bonds with Tully and finds a new friend in this carefree, charming and spontaneous person.

However, this spontaneity will prove dangerous on the night Tully pushes Marlo to leave her house and party in New York City.

I will not give too much away here, but writer Diablo Cody and director Reitman show us a unique view of motherhood and honour the difficulties mothers face without admitting to them. Like in many of his previous films, Reitman observes what happens behind closed doors, honouring family and respecting those who lurk in the shadows. Tully ultimately represents a nostalgia for Marlo’s carefree past, but is also a reminder of what she’s achieved and how proud she can be of that.

Charlize Theron excels as a principled yet messy woman who has been burying her feelings for too long. Her motherhood of three children has ripped her of her sleep and of any desires outside of it. A lethargic quality overwhelms the actress’s whole body which means she just needs to fully be in that state to form her character. It’s wonderful to watch Theron with Duplass. Brother-sister relationships on screen are special, and here, few words create an entire backstory for the two of them.

Livingston is a strong supporting character as Marlo’s husband, realising quite late how much he’s been taking her for granted. Finally, Davis is an intriguing, slightly alien-like presence who keeps surprising us but also quickly smells of danger.

I highly recommend this film for the twists in the story and the delightful central performances.

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2017: film review (old and new)

Everyone’s story is worth telling. Some stories are grand and meant to spark a conversation, as Ava DuVernay beautifully showed us this week with Jay Z’s latest “Family Feud”. Others are quieter, take place behind closed doors and insist on what is extraordinary within the ordinary (“Certain Women”). Thank you for looking back at this year in film with me, as I go into my personal highlights, which will include discoveries from previous years as well. 

Miss_Sloane_Moonlight

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London Film Festival: I am not a witch

I am not a witch by Rungano Nyoni.

I am not a witch.

Part of the First Feature Competition, I am not a witch is a moving, funny and vivid film that will hopefully be spoken about for a long time after its release. It is the kind of film that should be shown to viewers of all ages in all countries, as its themes resonate with people everywhere despite a story that is very local.

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London Film Festival: The Shape of Water

Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water.

Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water.

Sometimes, a bit of fantasy is just what you need. When it is brought to you by the visionary Guillermo del Toro, the after feeling is delicious.

What truly stayed with me in The Shape of Water is that whatever you teach young people will shape what they become and how they treat the world around them. Fear engenders fear, and love engenders love.

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London Film Festival: Wajib

Wajib by Annemarie Jacir.

Wajib by Annemarie Jacir.

If you are looking for a family drama tackling the meaning of home and tradition versus leaving the nest, look no further than Wajib! Palestinian writer and director Annemarie Jacir delivers a highly enjoyable road movie through the streets of Nazareth, where Abu Shadi drives around with his son Shadi (played by real-life father and son Mohammad and Saleh Bakri) in order to hand deliver invitations to his daughter Amal’s wedding.

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London Film Festival: Racer and the Jailbird

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Racer and Jailbird by Michaël R. Roskam.

Gigi L’amoroso…

Racer and the Jailbird, directed by Belgian Michaël R. Roskam, opens with young Gino escaping his guardians’ home and angry dogs through wire and running through a Belgian trailer park. The animal has left the cage.

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