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daisychainblogs·17 days agoText

Before Sunrise (1995) dir. Richard Linklater

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‘I met a guy on a train, and I got off with him in Vienna…’ - if you ask any romantically-inclined-spontaneous-traveller-wannabe what line they have forever been dying to deliver - this might  just be it. 

Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise - a synopsis: boy meets girl, girl meets boy. Boy and girl realise they have a *connection* - fireworks, champagne, jazz hands - boy asks girl if she might consider hopping off the train with him at Vienna, so as to spend an evening pottering the cobbles as one before heading their separate ways at dawn. Shock,horror,gasp - ‘are you crazy?!’ - girl says yes: and off they go.

There’s really not much more to it - Jesse and Celine roam the streets of a hot and hazy Vienna, clad in T shirts and sneakers, ‘greasy haired’ and flushed with the promise of a city at dusk. They flirt, they talk about love; they tease, they consider ‘pain and happiness’; they bob between poets and actors, bars, graveyards and churches, the crowded and the empty  - and it’s just the loveliest. 

Prepare to have any expectations of your next romantic sojourn raised to entirely unrealistic heights. Capturing as it does that strange, breathless wonder of immediate intimacy; that glorious lack of reservation we have in conversation with the one that we somehow just know will come to matter more than any of the rest -  Before Sunrise is the romance to end all romances.

Midnight in Paris (2011) dir. Woody Allen 

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‘This is unbelievable - there’s no city like this in the world!’ : another late-night-wander of a movie, Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris pays homage to the magic of the French Capital and the summertime small hours.

This time around, our wanderer-in-residence is screenwriter Gil - ‘wow’…it’s Owen Wilson! - on vacation with glitz and glam fiance, Inez - a Malibu-ified Rachel McAdams. Following Inez’s unlikely reunion with ‘friend’ - cough*watch-this-space*cough - Paul, a pseudo-intellectual wine geek and all-round insufferable prat, Gil takes to pacing the streets of a moonlit Paris in search of some ‘fresh air’.  

But as the clock strikes midnight, and a beetle-black-cab rolls into view - Gil is taken a little further afield than he anticipated. 

Midnight in Paris is romantic, stylish - and just a really, really good time. 

*Top Tip - got square eyes from isolation-movie-no.568595? Spotify has the soundtrack; whack it on and grab a coffee, a cigarette, a book - and voila - Parisian cafe a la living room!*

The Darjeeling Limited (2007) dir. Wez Anderson 

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‘He says the train’s lost.’

‘How can a train be lost? It’s on rails!’ 

I’m sorry - what’s that? You think I have a vaguely-unhealthy-thing for late night cities, the humdrum of a traveller stuffed train and that ever-amusing-lunatic Owen Wilson? Well - you’re not wrong. Next up, we’re in India with Wez Anderson, for his golden-rail-road-movie, The Darjeeling Limited. 

Three brothers - Owen Wilson, Adrian Brody, Jason Schwazmann - yeah, I know - reunite after a year of radio silence to embark on a ‘spiritual journey’, and make sibling amends. When it transpires that Francis has a seperate agenda - for the trio to visit their mother at her convent in the Himalayas - things get a little trickier. 

Darjeeling is hot, dusy tuk tuk rides and cramped trains lost in deserts, and it’s slow motion three-brothers-abreast power strides and kick-and-punch-sibling-tussles - but in classic Anderson style, it’s a bit more than just some impressively-symmetrical-fun: it’s also delightfully sentimental. 

‘I wonder if the three of us could have been friends in real life - not as brothers, but as people’, Jack asks his forever-bickering siblings. The Darjeeling Limited is a gentle meditation on the lengths we travel for the people we love the most. 

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daisychainblogs·a month agoText

*spotlight on brilliance, no.2*

‘he says that when you love someone, all your saved up wishes start coming out’

Elizabeth Bowen, The Death of the Heart

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daisychainblogs·a month agoText

The One Where I Leave At The Interval: and it is entirely, 100%, no-I’m-not-kidding-ly unintentional

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As light dips on the Weston stage – I feel a little anxious.  
 

I am at the Bristol Old Vic to see Moises Kaufman and the Tectonic Theatre Company’s The Laramie Project: performed by the graduating students of the Old Vic’s theatre school, directed by Nancy Medina. The specifics of the play are a little hazy - I know it will tell the true story of Matthew Shepard’s murder: the twenty-one-year-old victim of a gay-hate crime which took place in the small town of Laramie, Wyoming, in 1998. And I know that the script is a scrap-book-type-medley of interviews – eyewitness courtroom accounts, newspaper reports, doctors’ notes – but that’s it. Everything else sits quietly in the dark.  

 So - I’m nervous. Performances of any autobiographical leaning – especially one as unsettling as Kaufman’s – make me decidedly queasy. This will be sharp and heavy, I think. I’m a little afraid to pick it up.  

  As the lights start to dim, I take a long, deep breath. Brace, brace - here we go.  

 And it goes; and the story is told, and I have my opinions, but it’s fine, and I’m fine, and then – well, then - then suddenly it’s not going anymore, and it’s ….over?!  

 It’s a very odd ‘over’. We get a boisterously loaded line about ‘hope’ – ‘H.O.P.E’, each letter separated from the next - how Matthew’s story is filled with it, how Laramie rallied and marched for it - and then this larger than life thunderbolt sound and accompanying projection crack across stage and then that’s – that. Lights up, end of.  

 I turn to my friend – eyebrows a-scrunch.  

 ‘Weird’ I say.  

 ‘Mmmm’ she mmmm-s.  

 ‘I mean - is that it? Is that an interval? What’s up?’ 

 ‘No, no’, she assures me - ‘I think that’s it. Finito. Over and out’.  

 Curious – but I’m reaching for my discarded-earlier-here-somewhere jumper, so - not overly curious, I suppose.    

 ‘Bows?’ 

 ‘Oh – well, it’s the Old Vic students’ final show-case-of-talent type performance– I guess they don’t need them?’  

 Makes perfect sense to me. It seems sensible - admirable, even – that our ensemble doesn’t expect a clap and a whoop for the telling of such a story. It is real after all - not ‘entertainment’ in its most straightforward of senses. It’s Avant Garde – it’s drama school! It’s no bows!  

 So. We shrug on coats, grab bags - cast those final, habitual looks back at the house-lit stage – and potter out of the auditorium. 

 One bus ride and on front-door-push later, and I’m flicking on the kettle, reaching for the caffeine – preparing to burn the midnight oil. Pen poised; coffee sipped – let’s go. First up - what, when, who, why – Google’s got me. And so I’m skimming and skimming and I’m gathering the  various necessaries and I -  

 ‘Over two and a half hours, its audience is made to pay witness to - ’ 

 Skimming scuffs to a halt.  

 Two and a half hours. Two and a half hours… two and a half hours?! Surely, I wasn’t in there for two and a half hours, I think.  

 *tick,tick,tick* 

 …that slightly odd finish…no bows… 

 Oh NO. No, no, No  

 ‘It’s long, FIRST HALF feels particularly tough’    

 *it was at this moment, she knew…*  

 It wasn’t finished. 

 We left at the interval.  

 So here’s the point in the story where I hold both hands up and state, for the record - Brownie’s code, Scout’s honour – that I, Daisy Game, am a twit.  

 ‘How?- *bash* ‘HOW’ *bash* ‘did I manage’ *bash* ‘to do *bash* that?!’ (*bash*) 

 After an extended period of whacking my head against the laptop keyboard to the rhythm of my own embarrassment - I pick up the phone and call my partner in the crime.  

And yes, she is embarrassed – ‘yeees? …yes…What?!’ – but once she’s through that initial period of All-consuming English Shame (‘I feel awful! ‘) - she is a little less inclined to pull a keyboard head bang manoeuvre.   

 ‘No – but – it was over?! We would have known, surely? It just felt over – I mean you know when it’s over, right?! You can kind of just feel it and - and - I – I just – well, what else was there left to tell?!’ 

And yet – over it most objectively was not. 

 But here’s the thing. I know it seems ludicrous - but let’s pretend for a second, just for fun, that I have a leg to stand on. Because then maybe (emphasis on the ‘may’ and on the ‘be’) — I can defend myself?  

 I might not be a fully fluent, tour guide worthy local in the land of theatre - but I’m certainly not a map-carrying tourist. It’s always been a quiet love of mine - (Brava to the village hall and its stellar pantomime, circa 2007-2010). I go to shows regularly, and I tend to know the format of the thing. So given that I have never before done something so plainly idiotic (in the context of an theatre, at least) … might there be something in the suggestion that - somewhere, somehow - this play led us to believe that it was over? 

Because as I sit at my kitchen table – pondering on the knowledge that, at that very moment the Weston stage was most likely crowded with enthusiastically bowing final year theatre students – I am not sorry that I am here, and they are there. 

 I know it was unfair, set-yourself-up-to-lose kind of expectation - but I think I expected to be more shaken by it all; to walk out and carry it with me for days – or at least hours – to come. But when it came to it, I was simply struck by the strangeness of The Laramie Project.   

 Yes, it pulls out all the theatrical bells and whistles – the fourth wall is shattered, we get multi-rolling, we get synchronised speech – but it all somehow seems to lack intent, or purpose, beyond the stage.  

 Should we really need to our actors to hop skip and jump – changing role, changing costume, talking to us – oh what larks! – to stay with this story from start to end? Should we need to be ‘entertained’ in such a hyper, frantic manner? Because it is not an entertaining story. It is a deeply, deeply disturbing story, and the way this play tells it seems a bit bolshy and overly stimulating. The ensemble element – the actors skipping and leaping across the stage – is just a little self-conscious. As each actor shrugs into their next role, a temporary chorus member leaps to said shape-shifters side – thrusting a fist-and-thumb point in their direction and announcing the name of the character we have just witnessed the entrance of in the middle of the stage. the best way to put it? It’s loud, and it’s a little attention seeking.   

 I know I’m being harsh. These techniques I bash with such abandon do ‘work’: the strange ‘everyone plays everyone’ thing is pretty fitting for this story. Doctor – shopkeeper – priest: as members of the Laramie community, one and all are oddly complicit; the multi-roll skips and jumps seem to suggest. The shop keeper is the doctor, and the doctor is the priest: and all three are Laramie. It’s all one great mess of a community. ‘It’s not the town – things like this don’t happen in Laramie’, we are told time and time again. But, as one town member quietly admits – it did happen: and so, things like this do happen in Laramie – and so Laramie cannot get off scot free by pointing the finger and isolating the blame at its most obvious perpetrators.  

 I think I get it – but like it? Appreciate it?  That’s another matter. And Did we really need to hear a car horn toot across stage at the mention of said vehicle? And that thunder… 

 So - going back to discussion of my earlier-than-intended rendezvous with pyjamas and notebook– and please know that I really don’t mean to sound overly literal, or pig headed, or ignorant (although I realise that I very likely might) but - what else was there left to tell? We’d heard about Matthew. We’d been told about his deeply disturbing encounter. His time in hospital, and his passing. We’d seen the trial, and the verdict. And we’d been left with a pretty heavy ‘closing’ line (‘H-O-P-E’ … there’s always hope’). I really don’t feel that any more was needed. And the approach to the play didn’t leave me wishing for more where that came from.  

 I think it’s important to reiterate at this stage that I do know full well that, thanks to my premature exit, I forfeit the right to comment with integrity. Maybe in that all-mysterious second half, it starts to make sense. ‘Oh, no’, the play might perhaps have gone on to chortle – ‘No - we WANTED you to feel that way. We wanted you to feel it was a little contrived, and loud. We had you fooled’, and maybe it then proceeds to prove exactly why such fooling was necessary. And I’m not saying that the performances themselves weren’t accomplished. The Old Vic theatre school consistently nudges out star after star – Erin Doherty, Josh O Connor – and the quality of acting was stellar. Strong, confident, professional. Hats off.  

The more apologetic, more cringingly embarrassed half of me wants to clarify once and for all that – true, it might not have been my all-time favourite production - but I would never, under any circumstances, have left the show early. It’s rude, it’s unfair – and I swear: it was an accident. I can only apologise to the cast and crew. 

 But the less apologetic half of me? Well – that part of me is colder. Because that part of me thinks that even if it this was the case – even if that second half explained the whole thing - isn’t the whole of act one an awfully long time to make your audience wait for the ‘ahaaaa’ moment – a long time to wait before pointing your audience toward the light switch?  

 So – I leave you with two lessons learned. Take from them what you will. 

Lesson number one: solid performances can’t save iffy technical and strange scripts.   

Lesson number two: Always, always wait for the blasted bows. 

 Signing off, a (still) very embarrassed, chaotic student.   

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daisychainblogs·a month agoText

*coming soon*

‘the one where I leave a play at the interval - and it is entirely, 100%, no-I’m-not-kidding accidental’

A Think Piece : ‘on the importance of an ending’
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daisychainblogs·a month agoText


So? Is it all as gorgeous as we might expect? Well - Autumn De Wilde can heave a sigh of relief over that one: everything looks pretty darn fabulous.

All peachy blush and lace trim, creamy marble busts and lavish silken screens: the auditorium chatters with appreciative oooh-s and aaah-s as mansion doors are held aloft, gardens are preened and primped. It is Austen, after all – and what’s an Austen without a late afternoon sojourn around the estate, darling? Before supper is served? Well indeed. 

So - grandiose visuals? Check. But what about our actors? How do they fair with that pithy, sharp tongued wit of England’s best Romantic Comedy novelist? Well - it’s a mixed bag.

Let’s start from the top : Anna Taylor-Joy’s ever-interfering eponymous heroine - our own Emma is a tricky one. Yes, Taylor-Joy is an expert at the haughty-bottom-lip-pout which – granted – is pretty apt and pretty amusing for our infamously haughty Emma :she’s aappropriately showy and ever-so-determined for things to go precisely her way, and those pursed lips do a good job in getting the stroppy side of our match-maker across; and Taylor-Joy’s Emma is fabulously stroppy - making sure to  flick an outraged head of shivering ringlets this way or that  - 18th century foot stamp equivalent - every other scene or so. 

It just feels as though the pout - the strange stiffness with which Joy plays - might have sagged a little more often? Or a little sooner? It’s tricky to put any kind of decided finger on. Perhaps it is simply that, all too often, Emma seems to resemble the statuesque idols littered up and down her many (many) staircases than she does a living, breathing young woman.

But then again - might this be De Wilde’s slip up? She is after all, a photographer known by the many for her wild and wonderful portrait shots. So maybe it’s worth considering whether this statuesque creature of an Emma we get - picturesque beauty that she is - may have been the product of a momentarily confused director? ‘Oh! Yes! This one’s supposed to move!’ one imagines a shocked De Winter exclaiming. 

Because - to give the director her due - we do eventually get the sense that she is, perhaps, more aware of her slightly-too-still lead than we might initially appreciate. In one rather brilliantly conceived moment, Taylor-Joy loses her porcelain composure thanks to an untimely – and rather fantastic  - nosebleed incident. Torn between allegiance to her adopted-pet-turned-real-life-pal Harriet, and confession of her love forJohnny Flynn’s dashing Mr Knightley, Emma finally loses her cool - a frantic red streak erupting from her nose and feathering down her lip. Man of your dreams about to reveal his undying love? A stream of blood from nostril to lip might not be look to opt for! It’s a really sharp few minutes, and almost convinced me that De Winter was fully aware of her almost too carefully crafted Emma all along.

‘Oh! Yes! This one’s supposed to move!’ one imagines a shocked De Winter exclaiming.

While Emma herself might not sparkle with quite as much zing as we might have liked - pair her up with Flynn’s charming grump Knightey, and well - it’s a bit of a game changer. 

There are some who don’t prescribe to that age old  ‘chemistry’ argument – ‘I don’t know if I believe in chemistry’, Carrie Mulligan once told the never-not-in-hysterics Lynn Hirschberg - and  to those I say: ha! Just you watch – juuust you look at Anna Taylor Joy and Johnny Flynn as they lock eyes across the village inn-come-high-society-ball-floor. Fingers glance, cheek bones sharpen and lips pout as our star-crossed-lover’s-light bulb is ceremoniously lit … could we …. is it possible …. might we have been …. in love?! This whole time?! Oh! But we thought we hated each other so! It’s an utterly fabulous scene, and truly earns the film its ‘worth-a-watch’ badge. 

And De Wilde’s lesson in chemistry doesn’t stop there. It’s all a little more sexed up than usual. Long gone are the prim and proper Gwyneth Paltrows – the blushing-BBC Roma Garai-s   : Joy takes command of her womanly wiles in a pretty refreshing manner. In one slightly naughy moment, Emma pops a bright, ripe red berry to her lips, catching Knightley’s eye as she does so (accidentally on purpose flirting tactic nailed): and sending him into a very amusing musn’t-make-further-eye-contact flat spin. This onscreen repartee is a thing of wonder.

fingers glance, cheek bones sharpen, lips pout - our star-crossed-lover’s-light bulb is ceremoniously lit … could we …. is it possible …. might we have been …. in love?! This whole time?! Oh! But we thought we hated each other so!

It’s fun – flirty – frothy. A little sexier than usual. It’s still Austen – many a gasp over inappropriate romantic and or social conquests, many a stroll through the husband-to-be’s rolling estate grounds, darling – but then – I’m a sucker for that, and I always will be. Bring on the next adaptation I say – before I start bashing the cutlery on the table cloth - and risk receiving some very disapproving looks from Miss Emma herself.

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daisychainblogs·2 months agoText

*youtubers of the moment* 

for the peace seeker, the nostalgic, and the fashionista - I’ve got you covered. 

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daisychainblogs·2 months agoText
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Greta Gerwig’s films never fail to showcase visual attitude of formidably groovy personality: Frances Halladay skipped down a gloriously monochrome New York sidewalk, Lady Bird (Christine) McPhearson sauntered between the poplars of a golden and glittering Sacramento neighborhood - but Little Women ramps up the glory that is The Gerwig Aesthetic to a whole … new … level …

First up: let’s talk costume, designed by Jaqueline Durran - the mastermind behind the wardrobes of other period flicks Pride & Prejudice (2005), Atonement (2007), and 2020’s triumphant 1917. Our ensemble of sisters ramble through their shifting landscape clad in a muddle of skirts and trousers; tam o’shanter hats and all engulfing scarves. Jo kicks about the hills and city boarding houses in handsome heavy-velvet waistcoats and berry-red capes; bloomers-for-trousers and stomping-leather-boots for shoe. Durran’s ability to show us character-in-cloth is a truly remarkable thing - we see Jo’s tomboyish inclinations in and through her stubborn, aptly askew jackets; we see Amy in her fur collars and extreme-circumference skirts, and the love-sick-Laurie in his mess of just-who-am-I-playing-today layers.

Jess Gonchor’s production design comes-up-roses on the set side of things also. The March house - chocka block with wooden floorboards, softly cushioned chairs and perfectly cluttered surfaces - is a bohemian jumble of complete wonder; of sibling squabbles and artistic pursuit, costume-stuffed-chests and rafter flung flower garlands.

And yet - despite all of its warmth and happy chatter and generally gorgeous guise - an elephant surveys Gerwig’s adaptation from the corner of the room. Lifting a tentative trunk, Nelly quietly ponders -  but why tell the tale of the March sisters again? ‘Aren’t there new stories to be told?’, a friend quipped post viewing. Yes, she had liked it. No, she urged, there was nothing wrong with it. Still, she hesitated to fall flat at the feet of the Gerwig-Alcott colab. But for me, there has never been a better time for the March family to re-open their doors - and it is all about Alcott’s championing of choice.

The 21st century seems to worship almost exclusively at the cult of the extrovert, and to revel in the rungs of the career ladder far more than those of the ladder one might find in the garden of a family home. ‘To be successful is to be dedicated to one’s career motives’; 'To be likeable is to be cool, calm, and outgoing-ly collected’, the modern world preaches.

It’s not that Alcott doesn’t praise the value of such attributes. She does, after all, give us the wonderful Jo - gloriously feisty, fiercely independent and reluctant to commit to a life of domesticity. But the genius of Alcott’s story - and the importance of its retelling - lies in the affection it shows for alternative choices.

“Just because my dreams are different from yours doesn’t make them any less important”, Meg informs her panicked-at-the-prospect-of-matrimony younger sister.

'To be successful is to be dedicated to one’s career motives’; 'To be likeable is to be cool, calm, and outgoing- ly collected’, the modern world preaches

Little Women reminds us that it’s okay to be shy like Beth, or romantic like Meg. Amy’s social butterfly-ing is fantastic, as is Jo’s diametric opposition to 'elegant society’. It is fabulous to be quiet - and fabulous to be loud - and fabulous to be somewhere in the middle. The March sisters choose and pursue their own, individual definitions of joy. For Meg, it’s a life alongside the man with whom she is in love; for Jo, joy is a piece of paper and an ink bottle perched on the desk of a New York city boarding house; Beth chooses the staves and an empty room, whilst Amy swirls her path through the ballrooms of high society. Marriage or career; socialite or social recluse: Gerwig trains a tender spotlight on Meg, Amy, Beth, and Jo,celebrating their own personal passions and desires with level enthusiasm.

In retelling Alcott’s story, Gerwig reminds us to celebrate choice; if men and women waking up to an 1800’s morning can show love to all the paths down which we might choose to travel - then so can we.

Gerwig’s Little Women is a world of gleefully bickering sisters and gently reprimanding mothers; returning fathers and surrogate brothers; it is comfort and heartbreak, art and family, fighting and loving. It is the celebration of choice.

If only we could all stay there - tucked among the papers and paintings and pianos - for just a little while longer.

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daisychainblogs·4 months agoText

Royal flop or crowning glory? Four episodes in, and it’s all still-a-bit-iffy for The Crown series three.

okay, ladies and gents - leeeet’s get into our starting positions: it’s the one we’ve all been waiting for - it’s the elephant in the ballroom - …. it’s Olivia Coleman (!) -  and it’s complicated.

Heading up the series in place of the truly-pretty-stellar Claire Foy, Coleman’s performance was always going to have to hit it way, way, waaay out of the park to begin to even hope to even nudge at her predecessor’s success. And to give her due credit - the 2019 Oscar winner is resoundingly appropriate. She frowns with an effective stiff-lipped-seriousness; hits the nasal ‘wan’ of one and ‘yis’ of yes with pitch perfect precision and strolls into shot with a consistently solid, sovereign grace – and yet.

Might it all feel a little too royal? A little too ‘I’m playing the queen, and this is how we all think she frowns and this how we all think she talks and walks so this is what I’m going to do’ . The wonder of Claire Foy’s performance lay in its rejection of Elizabeth as simply the sum of her title; hers was a monarch whose stumbles and stutters made for a figure of oddly touching humanity. Coleman, on the other hand, is tough as old boots. No stuttering here – no rosy cheeked floundering. This new queen is tough, practised, and emotionally unavailable.

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Of course it is quite possible - rather likely, in fact - that I’ve missed the point entirely: perhaps this newly settled sovereign is just the right amount of flinty. To be royal is to perform a duty, after all - and ‘there is nothing one can do about it - one just has to get on with it’, as a well-rehearsed Elizabeth recites over morning duties.

This new queen is tough, practised, and emotionally unavailable

Maybe the fact that we do indeed feel such anguish – such frustration -  in response to Coleman’s steely sovereign, might just be a testament to the triumph of her performance. Things have changed since last we all met : it’s the 1960’s, and England is starting to get a little hot under the collar. Winston Churchill, and all that once sat firm between parliament and the royal family, has passed; a Conservative government has been replaced by Labour.

Slowly, eyes have started to turn towards the throne - brows scrunched in a newfound claim to confusion - and wonder: why exactly is it that you sit there, whilst we struggle here? Who are you to us? The royal family have become that bit more remote; that little bit less familiar than they seemed before. So - Coleman’s hard, resigned, resolutely distant Elizabeth? It may very well be that she’s more brilliant than ever.

Helena Bonham Carter’s Margaret is more definitively lacking. Bent double by a desire to snap the strings of her role as ‘second fiddle’ to big sister Liz - she just doesn’t quite convince. Yes, she’s appealingly naughty and glamorous – concocting rude limericks with the President of the United States - eyes flicked, lips glossed - dancing on pianos and stumbling home in a silk-and-diamond-mess: it’s all rather tempting, certainly.

But where has our legitimately discontent Margaret gone? The woman barred from marrying the man she loved on account of a previous dalliance with betrothal. The woman left to watch her sister from create her own brood, and head up a country, whilst Margaret is left to wonder what exactly her place in it all this is? Carter’s princess just seems to lack dimension, somehow: we have the pout, certainly – but what about that emotional bite?

Might it all feel a little too royal? A little too ‘I’m playing the queen, and this is how we all think she frowns and this how we all think she talks and walks so this is what I’m going to do’

It is Tobias Menzies to whom shout-out-of-the-recast should go – his is an utterly fabulous regeneration of tenderly gruff-and-grumpy Philip. Huffing and spitting with crabby conviction, Menzies’s crusty Philip is at first delightfully bemusing, and then rather genuinely affecting - ‘eyes left!’, Phillip commands, before leaning in to plant a remarkably unremarkable kiss on his wife’s waiting lips. Matt Smith’s previously knockout performance has been studied and replicated with exact precision – and it’s a homework session that paid off.

Despite casting which has yet to sing-for-its-supper, the series’ impeccable aesthetic vision is back in full force. Costume is glorious – Margaret sashaying onto screen draped in golden robes and clod in be-glittered heals as Elizabeth sits in practical woollen jackets - sensible pearl earrings; cinematography is equally tasty – honey-rich and sugar-crisp.

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It’s a wonder just how the series does it: paints a city and a country so far from the one to which we are accustomed with such tender familiarity. We recognise England in every street – in every Kodak-camera-high-street-sign and in every cobbled road playing host to crowds of ever-more-everyday cars.

We’re creeping ever closer to the scratch of a 21st century London – and the series has navigated its gentle shift forward with impressive direction, whilst still continuing to boast history with infectious conviction. England, London, the monarchy. Ours is a country with a big, bolshy past, The Crown announces with glee. War and espionage, politics and scandal: we might not get off scot free in terms of The Criteria of Un-problematic Cinema– but we sure were exciting.

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