Tuesday 28 January 2014

I’ve been trying to make my mind up about things, specifically films/TV/theatre, less immediately than I am used to.

Mark Kermode’s most recent book, Hatchet Job, is all about criticism. He talks about giving films a shocking review and, occasionally, later realising he was wrong about them when he revisits them. He is specifically regretful about dismissing Spielberg’s Kubrick memoriam A.I. (which I really liked immediately and after time – so there).

Clearly I am not a critic but I think it is more helpful to see how something has affected you after some time has elapsed. You don’t have to not have immediate views. You don’t have to do anything: I am not the boss of you. However, your immediate views can be influenced by all kinds of things (sugar high, winning game of I Spy, comfy chairs etc) but surely your real view of something is the one after all the other things have died down.

I do find, also, that you can say – and even think – you really like something because you are supposed to. It is hyped, it has an actor who you like, it was written by an owl and you think it is such an achievement that you forget that it was mainly dull and about emitting pellets. There are many reasons.

So after I saw Blindsided on Saturday at The Royal Exchange I tried not to decide that I didn’t think it was great. I thought it wasn’t great but I didn’t decide it. What if it’s still with me in a couple of days? Let’s see how it goes.

Coincidentally enough one of the things I liked a great deal was the performance of Andrew Sheridan. His play Winterlong last year (I think) was something I was very…I was hit by it. In a good way. And I was sure that I had liked it. But it turned out that it was still changing in my mind days later – at which point I realised that I hadn’t liked it. I had thought it was brilliant.

Was it the fault of having very high hopes for Blindsided? Whereas some people do think things are better because they build them up I tend to go a bit the other way. But I wasn’t excited for this play like I was for The Wolf of Wall Street, for example. Just pleasantly confident it would be a good play.

It is worth saying at this juncture that I didn’t dislike it or think it was bad. I just didn’t feel it was great. The cast were mainly very good.

But, at the risk of having an opinion on someone you can’t question, I didn’t think Julie Hesmondhalgh was anything special. Cue the majority of Britain hunting me with a stick. You seem to have to say everything she does is amazing. Her performance in Coronation Street was, her performance in Black Roses was as well. In this she portrayed the only character I didn’t really feel anything for. Maybe the character wasn’t three-dimensional. And as for the last 15 minutes..

[I made the mistake of looking up what people were saying on Twitter on Sunday. As well as allowing myself some time to see what I think of things I also need to try and remember other people have different opinions. I mean what is that last paragraph? Why am I criticising someone I really like because I saw people on Twitter say she was amazing but describing her as Hayley from Coronation Street?]

Anyway. As I said Andy Sheridan’s John Connolly and Katie West’s Cathy Heyer are the centre of this tale. At least for the first half. It’s an unconventional love story. It reminded me of something from Mike Leigh’s 8os/early 90s films. I liked it. The dialogue and interplay is quick and sizzles. As do the two leads.

I didn’t even mind the direction it went in – or the dark events. It just felt odd to me. Like people began to react differently to the characters that had been established. I also thought the last fifteen minutes was wank and I probably would have a much more positive view on the whole thing if it hadn’t have happened.

Oh and Rebecca Callard and Isaac Berg were great as the other supporting roles. I really like Callard on stage. I think I used to dislike her because her character annoyed me in Sunburn. Quite ridiculous.

Anyway. I can only have my opinion. Rather than trust it I’d prefer you go and see it because it’s better than not seeing it. It’s on for another couple of weeks. Do it.

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