Tags: the frumious cumberbatch


Hard Quiz - fandom diversion

So there's this quiz show on the ABC (Australia's national broadcaster) that I rather enjoy called Hard Quiz. It's hosted by an entertainingly prickly comedian (Tom Gleeson) and starts with four contestants per show, the schtick being that they each have an "expert subject" to be quizzed on. The first round features each contestant being given five fairly easy questions about their expert subject to answer, while other contestants can buzz in to "steal" that answer for double points. Then there's a round of specialist questions on a random subject (say dinosaurs, or Australian Prime Ministers), after which one contestant is sent home. Then there's a round of "people's" questions (current affairs/pop culture/basic knowledge) followed by another exit. The remaining two contestants then go "head to head" with harder questions on their expert subjects. I've often thought if I were to go on this show I would obviously want to choose Sherlock. So far there have been experts in Buffy, The Simpsons and Modern Family, but I haven't seen Sherlock yet *g*

Anyway, while I'm several weeks behind on shows, I watched one yesterday and was highly amused when one contestant (Dave, from the Australian Bureau of Statistics) had chosen "Benedict Cumberbatch" as his expert subject. Even though I've fallen out of the Cumberbatch fandom for the most part I got all of his easy questions, plus two harder ones he didn't get. So I thought I'd share, for you would-be experts.

Easy round
1. Cumberbatch earned his first BAFTA nomination in 2005 for his portrayal of which theoretical physicist?
2. In which Benedict Cumberbatch show are his character's parents played by his actual parents in recurring roles? (LOL - I think there are an exceedingly limited number of BC "shows" to pick from!)
3. Cumberbatch has expressed concerns that the cause of feminism was being set back by which collective name used by his fans?
(During the ensuing discussion, Dave mentioned he'd also heard "CumberOtters" as an alternative but could not - or possibly would not - explain why this might be a collective noun, saying only that it probably referred to "cute" fans because otters are cute :P)
4. In 2013, Cumberbatch played two roles in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and also played two roles in which long-running animated sitcom?
5. In 2015, the Queen appointed Cumberbatch as a Commander of what?

Head to head
1. Early in his career, Cumberbatch experimented with a change of name. What professional name did he take?
2. In a stage version of Frankenstein at the Royal National Theatre, Cumberbatch alternated the lead roles with which actor?
3. For scenes in Sherlock, where Holmes plays the violin, Cumberbatch was coached by a member of which best-selling band? (I would not have got this one, or even known her name, although I do know she wrote about it, lol.)
4. In a prank while filming Star Trek: Into Darkness, Cumberbatch was convinced he had to wear protective cream on a laboratory set. What was the protective cream called?
5. According to his high school drama teacher, a teenage Cumberbatch was strikingly mature as a saucy French maid in which farce? (Nope, although I recognised the title once I'd heard it.)

How did you go? For the record, Dave got all five of the first round but only one of the second round correct (2). He lost to the expert on Led Zeppelin *g*


Doctor Strange!

It seems like we've been waiting for this movie forever, and that's the problem, I guess. I was enthusiastic but trying to have no expectations whatsoever - given Marvel superheroes aren't my thing - but I probably built up some anyway.

As far as non-spoilery things go, I will say that the visuals are amazing^3 and far and away the most impressive thing about the movie. Think Inception on LSD. So I did very much ooh and ahh at all the spinny-sparkly-pretty, and the international locations, and the gorgeous costume design and fabrics, but at other times almost nodded off from the clunky dialogue. Honestly, some scenes were like someone had done a Burroughs cut-up on the Big Book of Cliches, and called it a script. There were moments of "humour", but I'm putting it in quotes for a reason. I think I may have laughed once. Maybe twice. Oh, and Doctor Strange was officially brought to you by Jaeger-LeCoultre, Adidas, and Yakult *eyeroll*.

Anyway, the best things about the movie were:

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I'm really trying to think of something more substantial to say than "wow, pretty", but coming up blank. There were certainly story elements, but it was mostly run, fight, run, jump, talk, run, fight some more, with some obligatory quasi-romance and quasi-philosophical musing on the side. It was worth seeing, I guess, but a movie clearly not designed for my personal enjoyment, and I never emotionally engaged with most of the characters. As such, it really only left me with a whole host of vivid sensory impressions, and the vague memory of dialogue that contributed very little, and was funniest when it was trying to be profound. How about you?

Oh, and for anyone who hasn't seen it, evila_elf very kindly pointed me to Doctor Strange's appearance on Jimmy Kimmel, which I did quite enjoy :)


Media update

Just popping to say hi - where has the time gone? I haven't even been seeing that much, but here's what I have been:

* Saw Pennsylvania Avenue at the Opera House starring Bernadette Robinson. I've been a casual fan of hers for a long time - she's an Australian cabaret-style singer who has a knack for accents and impersonations, which I enjoy very much. In this one-woman show she plays an assistant at the White House on the brink of retirement who looks back at the Presidents she's served under, and the celebrities she's seen passing through. The show opened with her amazing Marilyn Monroe (vocal only) impersonation, "Happy Birthday, Mr President" and went on to tell the story of her character's life, intermingled with glimpses into each Presidency, ending with Clinton. Along the way, she performed songs in the style of singers like Eartha Kitt, Bob Dylan (accurate and hilarious), Peggy Lee, Sammy Davis Jnr, Maria Callas (amazing), and a few more. Really enjoyable just for the sheer talent on display - she also used a variety of American accents to emulate her various supervisors and successive Presidents - but at the same time, as an Australian, I was somewhat bemused by the entire concept. I don't know whether other countries use the term "cultural cringe", but as Australians, we often automatically think other countries are somehow "better" - more interesting, more important - and this felt like another iteration of that. I do think, however, that if she were to take it to the US, it'd go down very well.

* Oooh, speaking of Australian things, I stumbled across this ultra-low-budget locally-made web series that I found hilarious, and which may appeal to some of you. Now, I'm not a big fan of superheroes, but the thought of Superman, Batman, Aquaman and Bruce Banner (yes, he knows it's the wrong franchise) sharing a house just makes me laugh in general. That's the premise of The Justice Lease. Superman does the ironing, Batman is obsessed with his tragic past (and his various movie portrayals), Aquaman is trident-happy, and nobody can stand Banner unless he's angry. And they're all apparently and inexplicably Australian. Just go with it. Oh, I remember how I found it now - Philip Quast has a cameo in the second series as Commissioner Gordon *g*

* Then I saw the remnants (their words *g*) of the Doug Anthony Allstars at the Enmore Theatre, which if I'm honest was lovely on one hand, but also an odd, bittersweet experience on the other. As many of you might know, my username is a tribute to them, and Tim, Paul and Richard were a defining influence on my late teens and early twenties. DAAS split up in the mid-90s for reasons which were not disclosed at the time, and although all three of them went on to subsequent TV and radio work, for a long time there seemed to be bad blood between Paul+Richard and Tim. As it turned out years later, Tim left the group because he'd been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and it had become simply too exhausting for him to perform at the level required for the shows. Of course, he didn't TELL anyone about this (dare I say, typical male) - he just quit.

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I still love what's left of them, and I'm glad I went, but it was a vivid reminder that time moves on.

* Made time to watch Margin Call at last, which was quite gripping. I think if you're already financially inclined, it's much more enjoyable than The Big Short, but then it's really a different genre. The global financial crisis as tense thriller rather black comedy.

* Oh, and today I went out to see The First Monday in May, which is a documentary covering the 2015 Met Gala (China: Through the Looking Glass), that big fashion do put on by Vogue and Anna Wintour. I... don't really have much interest in fashion, but it seemed the best thing that happened to be on at the movies that I hadn't already seen. I think if you're into fashion you'd really enjoy it, though. This is probably blatantly obvious to most of you, but when they were going on about fashion being "art" rather than, well, clothes, that was seriously a minor revelation to me (oh, do shut up *g*). I really had never quite understood why people would design outrageous clothes that couldn't actually be worn under normal circumstances. But okay, as art it makes perfect sense. Which I think shows you how much of a non-fashionista I am. I like to look presentable, and I do like a bit of style and colour, but am relentlessly practical above all else *g*. As an art display, the clothes were, admittedly, gorgeous. I felt like I'd gone on a museum tour, except in this case the museum had come to me. And I also belatedly realised that Zoolander is a satire of the fashion world in the same way Dilbert is a satire of large corporations - that is, not at all. OMG. These people cannot be real. Must read The Devil Wears Prada now *g*

* Lastly, saw last week's The Hollow Crown (Henry VI, part II), which was surprisingly great. I'm not a big fan of the Histories, and began half-watching it while net surfing, but it ended up drawing my whole attention. I do feel they must have cut quite a bit - I was pleased that I had no problem understanding what was going on even without ever having read the play, but Collapse ) What on earth happened there? Anyway, I enjoyed seeing BC, obviously, but I wasn't entirely convinced by his performance. I thought he was great in the ensemble work, but tended towards being OTT in the soliloquies... which was weirdly the opposite of how I found him in Hamlet! Huh. Queen Margaret (Sophie Okenedo), on the other hand, was cool. Looking forward to Richard III tomorrow (for me).

So, what did you all think?

(no subject)

Quick run down of stuff I've been seeing, just in case anyone would like to chat about it :D

- Arcadia (by Tom Stoppard) at the Opera House - it featured one of the lead actors from Holding the Man (Ryan Corr), and I wanted to see whether he could actually do stage. Turns out that he can, as could everyone else up there, which was nice. I'm not even going to bother trying to explain Arcadia - you either know it, or you don't. It's about love and chaos theory and history and gardens and uncertainty, and involves flipping back and forth across time, the modern replacing the traditional, and talk of the butterfly effect and recursive algorithms and their application not only to mathematics, but to relationships, and history. Plus the usual entertaining banter. Exactly my cup of tea; possibly not everybody's. I can't think why *g*

- 10 Cloverfield Lane - never saw Cloverfield, but I just liked the feel of the trailer and was intrigued by John Goodman, who I thought was pretty amazing, actually. Collapse )

- Zootopia, mainly thanks to a highly positive review by shadowfireflame. I'm glad I saw it, and I did enjoy it a lot more than I would have expected from the trailer, but it just didn't make a huge impression on me - possibly because the message aspect was so blatant? It was worthy, and a lot of fun, and I don't really have anything bad to say about (even that bloody song was catchy) but I wasn't captivated by it the way I was by Inside Out. Maybe because I'm not really an "animal" person to begin with, idk. I did particularly enjoy Chief Bogo (Idris Elba) and Gazelle (Shakira) in relatively minor roles.

- Clone - mainly for the sake of Mark Gatiss, but I do like Jonathan Pryce very much as well. I'd seen the Gatiss sections on Youtube before, but never watched the entire series. I loved it, actually. Pretty much your typical cheesy British comedy, but there's nothing wrong with that. Jonathan Pryce plays Dr Victor Blenkinsop, a scientist who has managed to create the ultimate super-soldier. In future all soldiers can be cloned from this perfect prototype and be sent into battle, sparing the rest of the populace. But in the best British comedic tradition, it's an utter disaster - the Clone is sweet, childlike, and a complete and utter klutz. Victor and the Clone are forced to go on the run while Victor struggles to find the right "trigger" to turn him into the super-soldier he was always meant to be. In the meantime, the delightfully psychopathic Colonel Black (Mark Gatiss) is doing his best to find and destroy them so his superiors never find out. Colonel Black kills a lot of people, threatens to kill many more, and occasionally talks about his erection. It's that kind of show.

- The Devil of Winterbourne, written by and featuring Mark Gatiss. I'll just cut and paste from my tumblr review.

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Haven't yet finished The Night Manager, which improved a little from the first episode, but which I still find a bit silly. Tom Hiddleston is immensely pretty, but unconvincing to me as Mr SuperSpy. Hugh Laurie is basically playing English evil!House, which is delightful. His accent is so upper class you could cut yourself on the edges. Elizabeth Debicki is gorgeous - apparently her entire purpose - and Olivia Colman is engaging as a role that was originally written for a man, apparently. Why am I not surprised?

I think that's all of note. And so much other goodness as well - Doctor Strange pics, Mark Gatiss winning an Olivier and new setlock coming up, yay!


Jane Eyre and... Zoolander 2

Saw the NT Live screening of Jane Eyre yesterday - I would normally have given this a miss, but have a friend who loves the book, so I saw an opportunity to get some more theatre in *g*. I have a vague memory of reading it many years ago, but, much like Wuthering Heights, have never understood its wide appeal. I remember thinking Rochester was a dick and that Jane was severe and cold and a bit dull (sorry). So I went more for the sake of "seeing what it was like", but I have to say I enjoyed the production and now have a bit more enthusiasm for the underlying story. I think the play brought out Jane's resilience and struggle for self-sufficiency more clearly for me than reading the book did, or perhaps those qualities mean more to me now? But I can see her appeal a lot better after having seen it.

It was much longer than I'd realised when I booked - 3.5 hours including interval, and what is it with these incredibly long productions? Is it that they're determined to give you value for money, or that having trapped you in the theatre, they're not letting you go until they've thrashed the thing out thoroughly? But having said that, it moved very quickly and didn't drag at all - the play was accompanied by live music played onstage, which really worked to join the scenes together and just keep the general energy of the production up. Most of the musical accompaniment was only a few lines sung here or a snippet of instrumental music there, not entire songs/pieces, so that wasn't a trial either. Much of it was vaguely operatic or traditional folk in style, which mostly worked, but I found the rendition of Mad About the Boy(!) to show Jane's feelings towards Rochester jarring. The slowed-down version of Gnarls Barkley's Crazy actually did work, though, surprisingly.

It was a tiny cast - 10 performers in all, including the musicians and soloist, and they were all outstanding, not a weak link in the whole lot. A lot of the roles were doubled, so men with beards played fellow girls at Lowood, while the woman playing Helen Burns, Jane's childhood friend, later played the Minister who wants to marry Jane and become a missionary. I think for once, though, the women had all the best roles, except perhaps for Rochester and the guy playing the dog, Pilot (really) who attempted to steal the show. Absolutely loved the use of the cast as a "chorus" who reflect Jane's thought processes as she debates with herself over various issues. And everyone sounded great and moved well on stage, fantastic performances all around. I would single people out, but I'd have to list almost everyone in the cast for some brilliant moment or another - I think it's the first NT Live screening where I actually wanted to applaud at the end. So, a great staging, and probably even better if you like the book *g*

Then saw Zoolander 2, bizarrely, as a Valentine's Day movie because L actually wanted to see it with me. I was somewhat surprised by this, but not about to say no *g*. I only watched the first Zoolander movie because I heard BC was in this one, and although it was better than I expected, I can't say it actually did a lot for me. Add in the abysmal reviews for this one, and expectations were low. However, perhaps because I'm not the target audience for this, or was just in a good mood, I have to say I really quite enjoyed it - much more than the first one, anyway! I suspect that's partly because the celebrity cameos were a lot "fresher", given that the original was way out of date by the time I saw it, but also because there seemed to be less emphasis on Zoolander himself, who was the character that grated most from the first movie. He was possibly marginally less annoying this time around - in an approximation of maturity, perhaps - but I think there was also less of him. Also, I admit that familiarity with the first movie added to the appeal of this one, and that somehow things I didn't find particularly amusing in the original worked better as passing references in the sequel.

There were admittedly some very tone-deaf jokes, that imo started off with millennials who "couldn't name a Caucasian president" (uh-huh) and kind of went on from there, although at least the script wasn't overwhelmed with them. I liked the plot, which was ridiculous and yet made enough internal sense to hang together, and the visual aspects (the thing I liked most about the first movie) continued to be fabulous (as well as faaabulous). I also enjoyed all the people who weren't Ben Stiller, basically - Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell, Kirsten Wiig and Penelope Cruz were all fun and funny. Other more spoilery things I liked:

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So while the internet decrees I should hate it, I'm afraid I thought it was thoroughly entertaining - like, it's tacky mass market comedy, but it's solid, visually appealing tacky mass market comedy plus some great cameos that made the movie for me. It wasn't funny ha-ha, but then I never expected it to be - more gently amusing action/adventure/drama, I'd say. Subtract points for the leaden "jokes", but add a few back because I was pleasantly engaged with the characters and the storyline almost all the way through, and that's rare for me even in "quality" movies.

Hamlet - coda

Back from seeing the filmed production of Hamlet, and some final observations:

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Sherlock: The Abominable Bride at the cinema: not yet booked, but want to go. How about you?

Doctor Strange filming pics - strangely attractive. He's totally channelling Christian Bale in Batman Begins and I love it *g*

Black Mass

Went to see Black Mass on the weekend, because apparently that's what fangirls do! Given that I usually give "gangster" dramas a wide berth, it was quite well done, and I appreciated it intellectually, but I still couldn't work up massive enthusiasm for it. Depp was pretty bloody impressive in the role of Jimmy Bulger, though. He terrified me at times - not just because of the violence, but because his eyes were often so blank, and his face so still, and that's quite unlike my past experience of him as an actor. BC was fine as Billy Bulger, actually much better than I thought he'd be in this kind of role, which I don't think intrinsically suits him, physically or otherwise. The accent really changes his voice, which helped. In general the accents sounded great to me, but then I have no idea what a genuine Boston accent sounds like *g*. And Kevin Bacon made me happy, as he generally does.

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I don't seem to have heard much about it, even though I think it's been out in the US for a while? Maybe there just wasn't all that much to get excited about, not from a BC point of view anyway. If you've seen it, would love to know what you thought :)

Media update

I just wanted to post this, because see how beautiful it looks on film (including BC)? I spent part of August researching this phenomenom of live theatre on film, and one interesting thing was the way that NT Live camera rehearsals are done in tandem with stage rehearsals, so it's essentially being directed for film at the same time that it's being directed for theatre. [And - on third viewing - hey, there's that hard cut between Hamlet with his dagger and Claudius I predicted!] As I've said, I think this play was primarily designed to look good on film, and perhaps all the close-ups and tight shots will really tie it all together and make it as awesome to watch as Frankenstein was. I really am irrationally optimistic about this *g*

Seeing more movies than I should, but part of my brain is still on holiday. Saw London Road on the weekend, which had an interesting concept - it's based on the true story of the Ipswich murders, in which five prostitutes were murdered, throwing the town (and particularly London Road) into turmoil. The "gimmick" of this musical is that all the lyrics were drawn verbatim - including "ums" and pauses - from interviews with the townsfolk (including some of the sex workers), and recordings of actual scenes at the courthouse, news broadcasts, etc. Collapse ) The actors were uniformly brilliant and effective though, and there was bonus surprise!Tom Hardy, as a taxi driver obsessed with serial killers ("but it doesn't mean that I am one!").

Then saw Pixels yesterday. This is probably the stupidest movie I've seen in a long time (and I saw Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2), but I loved it. No, really. I did start out mentally nitpicking its lack of logic and sense, but by half an hour in I was having such a good time I just gave in and went with it. LOL. The year is 1982, and Brenner (later played by Adam Sandler) and Cooper (Kevin James) are best mates who spend their time in arcades playing video games. Brenner is a natural, and enters the world gaming championships, where they befriend Ludlow (Josh Gad), who has no friends and secretly fantasises about a girl video game character. Brenner does very well in the tournament, but is beaten at the last in Donkey Kong by Eddie, "the Fireblaster" (Peter Dinklage). The footage is sent into outer space by NASA along with a collection of other examples of pop culture. Years later, the Earth is attacked by aliens who have interpreted the NASA data as a declaration of war, and respond in kind by sending versions of Pacman, Centipede, etc. to wreak havoc around the globe. The gamers have grown up and mostly gone their separate ways, but now must reunite to save the planet. Oh, come on. What could be more awesome than that? Except for the requisite romance, which was dull and overdone. But everything else *g*

Things I loved about this movie:
- 1980s nostalgia. Not only the arcade games, but the improbably amusing way video footage of people such as Ronald Reagan, Madonna, Mr. Roarke and so on was edited to make them appear to be issuing alien ultimatums
- Normally I'm meh about special effects, but it was delightful to see, say, Pacman zooming through the streets of New York, and the animated "trophies" won by the gamers
- The fact that Brenner becomes a tech installer, Ludlow lives in his mother's basement, Eddie winds up in jail for hacking, but Cooper Collapse )
- Josh Gad! I spent half the movie thinking how much he reminded me of Elder Cunningham (The Book of Mormon) and thinking, no, musical theatre actors don't usually cross over into Hollywood films. But by halfway through I realised it really WAS him, and it just made me intensely happy. I would almost watch the entire movie again just for Ludlow *g*

Pengwings and Hobbitses

Saw Pengwings of Madagascar on New Year's Day - there was a delightful moment of déjà vu (even though it was a completely different cinema) when session time came and went with no sign of onscreen movement, and then a guy popped in to say it would be another 5-10 minutes because they were "rebooting the projector" (and there's something you wouldn't have heard 20 years ago). But I had faith, because I was gonna see animated penguins, dammit! And this time, it actually worked as promised.

I thoroughly enjoyed BC as Classified - he was a great character, and just incredibly fun to watch, in that stuffy-and-superior-but-with-a-heart-of-gold sense. But I'm afraid listening to him mispronounce "penguins" most of the time also added immeasurably to how entertaining I found the film. I'm cheap that way. I also love John Malkovich, so that was a big plus, and the penguins were charming. The movie was... frenetic. In the hope, I suspect, of keeping people with short attention spans entertained, which it did. However, overall I found it fun, but all a bit... hollow?  Lacking that extra spark that would make me want to see it again?

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Just got back from The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (take two) and... I survived. Yay? I'm sure that that last battle went on for, like, 10 hours or so, which is an amazing achievement for a 2.5 hour movie. I will say I enjoyed the Hobbit movies much more than the LoTR movies in that I got far *less* bored, but it was still touch and go. I did enjoy every scene that Smaug and/or Bilbo were in - I'm not actually a huge fan of Martin Freeman, but I do find him extremely engaging and appealing to watch.

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