Thursday, 29 March 2012

The Island President

THE ISLAND PRESIDENT (Jon Shenk/US-Germany/2011)
Jon Shenk's faithful and intelligent documentary is about Mohamed Nasheed, the first democratically elected President of the Maldives in 2008, this documentary follows him for the first 18 months of his Presidency culminating in the 2009 Copenhagen Conference on climate change.
The Maldives whilst an image of paradise and a font of luxury tourism, is sadly gripped by the rising water levels due to global warming.  Its main island is at risk from rising sea levels, sitting only 1 metre above sea level.  As he expertly tells a New York radio presenter who attempts to shout him down stating that climate change is a developing world problem - Nasheed states that Manhattan is in the same position as Male (the Maldives capital) sitting just 1 metre above sea level.
Nasheed is an articulate gentleman, at times outspoken but a good orator and delegate, a politician who mixes the personal beliefs with those of the people who elected him with grace and humour; his smile is one that can light up a room.
Sadly, since this documentary was completed, on 7th February 2012 there has been a military coup against Nasheed by the same supporters of his dictator predecssor, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, a warlord who was the only leader for whole generations of the Maldives. 
Nasheed was a figure for a small island, inserted as a symbol of hope and change (not unlike his American counterpart, Barack Obama), the black cloud though of climate change and global warming has been shunted and forgotten from the world consciousness due to the grip of the poor economic global climate. 
The story about how he came into power against the might of Gayoom is quite gripping, yet Nasheed's past as an investigative journalist where he exposed corruption was going to be the same reason he was usurped by the military coup.
Money makes the world go round it seems, yet Nasheed will not be forgotten about, as he speaks directly to the camera, 'We just can't disappear. We just can't'.  This timely and well produced documentary which has unprecedented access to the workings of a government's interior and cabinet is insightful and deeply assertive of the climate change situation in the world, may end on the worry of disappearance yet warrants to be seen by the masses - at least before paradise is lost.
The Island President is available now on DVD.


Based upon the award-winning cult novella of the same name by Alejandro Zambra, fellow countryman Chilean Cristian Jimenez has described his second feature, Bonsai, as a tribute to the art of lying.
The film centres on Julio (Diego Noguera) an introvert who wants to be a writer, however when he is turned dow by Gazmuri - an established novelist - to transcribe his latest oeuvre, Julio decides to write his own to impress his next door neighbour Bianca (Trinidad Gonzalez), however Julio is easily distracted and he ends up entangled with his memories of the past illicit affair he shared with Emilia (Natalia Galgani) some eight years previously.
Jimenez uses this device of looking back at one affair in order to kick start a new one with a simple flashback/flash forward device - whilst Julio is an unreliant narrator he nevertheless is unable to decipher the difference between the two source material, and so becomes the subject of his own book. 
The profoundity of the situation should not be lost on Julio who we meet first reading Proust, after initially saying he had already done so.  This existentialsim will also be lost on Julio ultimately, as he loses sight of the present by focusing too much on the past.  There are two funny jokes about Proust at the film's beginning - Julio lies about reading it, gets a copy, goes to a beach to read it and falls asleep in doing so after three pages and then endures a suntan on his chest of the books outline having fallen asleep.
Bonsai is a film about memory and how the past intrudes upon your present and inevitable future.  Jimenez cleverly gives the two women - Emilia and Bianca - different tones when we see their stories when with Julio.  Emilia is dark, morbid and full of shadow harking her emotional fragility, whilst Bianca's world is bright, sunny and full of optimism and promise for Julio, the tone is helped by the work of cinematographer Inti Briones.
There are few surprises though when it comes to it, as in the opening sequence the film's narrator states, 'Emilia dies and Julio will remain alone.  The rest is fiction', and Jimenez joyfully has fun with his free adaptation of Zambra's novella with the arrangement of the film in chapters to make this an objective love story for a besotted soul, who takes his eye of the ball to focus on unrequited love.  Not to say that Julio  is a fool, Jimenez does adore him and the doe-eyed performance of Diego Noguera is key to winning our affection and sympathy.
Bonsai is out on Friday 30th March on limited release from Network Releasing.

Tiny Furniture

Heralded as the future of American comedy, Lena Dunham is somewhat of an internet phenomenon who is being granted the opportunity to be the voice for a generation.  Tiny Furniture is her first feature-length film, and is very much an autobiographical piece where she plays a version of herself with family and friends surrounding her.
Dunham plays Aura, a recently graduated student from an art college in Ohio, who has split up with her 'feminist boyfriend' of two years.  Aura returns to her mother's home, Siri (played by Laurie Simmons, a famous New York photographer - and Dunham's real life mother).
When we first encounter Siri she is busy photographing miniature furniture/props (which gives the movie its title) with a model who is her sister Nadine (Grace Dunham - real life sister), who is immediately competitive with her elder sibling, 'So how long are you going to be living in our house?'  This line spoken from a low angle shot, with Nadine towering over Aura symbolises the dynamic of the two.  Whilst Aura is talented, Nadine is even more so in terms of going to a more celebrated college, and word is mentioned of her winning a prestigious poetry prize (as Grace did in real-life).
They say to young writers, write what you know. Dunham has taken this to the nth degree, without it being over-celebratory or self-important.  Dunham's skill is writing believable dialogue for the situation, not prompting histrionics or hyperbole from her well acted characters, albeit with a SoHo edge to it of self-reflexion, 'I just got off a plane from Ohio - I'm in a post-graduate delirium'
Dunham's skill in the future will be the reliance of this dialogue and writing.  Like a fellow New York writer, Woody Allen, she will not raise the bar in terms of film language.  Her positioning of the camera at medium shot allows the actors to inhabit the screen and move as they would in real-life, there are no fawning close ups which intrude upon a moment of reflection.
Another plus for Dunham is that she portrays a woman (albeit a version of herself) that is one rarely seen on screen in American cinema.  From the outset, she is not afraid to walk around her home in knickers and a t-shirt, depicting her pudgy frame for all to see with no shame; oddly it does not put you off her as a person, you reward her bravery and lack of shyness by empathising her character and the predicaments she comes across.
It is a small piece, should she get a job or not bother, should she date this guy or the other guy, I felt by the end it became a love letter to her mother - who has remained successful and raised two children brilliantly.  Dunham's hero is her mother and in a lovely conclusion, she tells her Mum, that she wants to be as successful as her, her mother responds in kind stating she will be more so.
Dunham is helped by the sheenness of the cinematography, photographed by Jody Lee Lipes who went on to shoot Martha Marcy May Marlene this year and a typically bohemian soundtrack by Teddy Blanks.
All in all, this is an accessible piece of cinema for people who want to see a platform for a new comedy voice; unlike say Tina Fey or Kirsten Wiig, which embraces the looniness of Saturday Night Live sketch comedy, Dunham's voice is the eye for detail and behavioural patterns, and a kitch in the normal - the nice guy turns out to be a creep. 
Dunham is currently working on a HBO series called Girls produced by Judd Apatow, as for her next foray into mainstream cinema, hopefully she will be given a larger canvas to work upon away from her comfort zone.
Tiny Furniture is released on Friday 30th March from Independent Pictures

Monday, 26 March 2012

In Praise of....Peter Crouch

In a footballing career, there are those players who will never give up.  There are those players who will always try to be better than they are expected to be; either due to physical attributes, perceived expectations, or people think of them as weaker than they are.

Scott Parker has overcome a veritable lack of pace to be a marshall of recent midfields he has played in leading to the captaincy of England in his possession; based upon being the most consistent player of the last two seasons and a genuine respect by his peers.

Grant Holt was thought of as a plodder from the lower leagues whose Championship prolifigacy would not translate to the upper echelons of the Premier League - he has now scored 12 goals, is the spearhead of his club side Norwich City and is now realistically being considered for the England squad this summer at the European Championships.

Peter Crouch is one of those players who is always considered to be a laughing stock, always cast away from a side as an expendable commodity, or a scapegoat if a side comes up short.  If he is such a scapegoat why do teams keep writing big cheques for him.

What other player at 6' 7'' would be able to translate such a lanky frame into a winning role for each side - having struggled to gain a regular first-team place at Aston Villa, Rafa Benitez took a punt on him in the transfer window after their glorious Champions League triumph of 2005 as an additional piece to the puzzle as they attempted to win the domestic league. 

He never the less scored goals in the league, and Champions League including a spectacular overhead volley at home to Beskitas.  Sadly he only won an FA Cup at Anfield before being sold to Portsmouth, and scored 11 league goals that season.  Pompey's financial dilemma led to another sale to Tottenham Hotspur, his boyhood club and the side that was the first to cast him off back in 1998 for no fee.  To get him back it cost £10million,

Yet Crouch more than made up for that fee, when his crucial goal in the 1-0 victory away to Manchester City guaranteed Spurs their first taste of Champions League football and all the purse money along with it.

He scored vital goals again in Europe's premier competition including the winner away at AC Milan when he converted Aaron Lennon's square ball, his composure and assuredness gave Spurs the one goal advantage that they held onto at White Hart Lane.

Sadly, he fell out of favour as Spurs failed to breach the Top four and avoided the Champions League at the expense of Manchester City.  Seeking a new club, Stoke City forked out £10m for the big man and he is fitting in well into the Stoke system of long ball set pieces, and his close control is being helped by scoring vital goals, already 12 this season including the spectacular long-range volley that evaded England team-mate Joe Hart's grasp, a special goal from a rarely praised player.

Whilst many pine for Andy Carroll to grow up and out of his funk and join the England ranks, thier seems little reason for England and Stuart Pearce to ignore the good work ethic and purple patch of Crouch. Don't forget he has scored 22 goals in 42 appearances for his country, a stupendous return for a man who is thought of as plan B. 

And come a major championship, a tournament where Wayne Rooney is absent for the first two games due to his suspension, Crouch can be a pain for European defences with his height and he always proves a good link-up with quicker teammates such as Darren Bent or Danny Welbeck.

Crouch is a man who always seems to come up with the goods when it is needed, vital goals on big occasions, and always able to answer the critics with a piece of outstanding ability that bucks the trend that a big man cannot do flexible things.

Credit to him.

The Doom Generation

Released today on DVD is Gregg Araki's 1995 teenage road movie The Doom Generation starring Rose McGowan, James Duval and Jonathon Schaech.

Following in the footsteps of Natural Born Killers and Kalifornia, the film follows would be femme fatale Amy Blue (McGowan) with her doe-eyed boyfriend Jordan White (Duval), who get wound up with a psychopath Xavier Red (Schaech), who kills people and end up as accomplices on a road trip from hell across the Californian state highways.

Araki, is a huge film fan, but a director who in spite of his ability has never had the huge crossover hit, and watching this film you can see why.  Araki sometimes has too many ideas going on at one time, or he has too many influences running through his head and the wish to embrace and appraise said influences sometimes does a disservice to the film as a whole.

Not to say it is bad for end of the millenium directors to have influences, yet Araki does join Tarantino and Eli Roth as directors who cut and paste films based on their film viewing without having a distinctive authorial voice.  Whilst Tarantino has the uncanny ability to whip out five pages of memorable dialogue, this foregoes the lack of visual flair; and Roth falls back on the ability of shock and awe to enhance his failure to write good dialogue.

Araki has the ability to have his finger on the pulse of an ever-changing youth culture; when we first encounter Jordan and Amy it is whilst Jordan is in a moshpit and Amy is telling some guy to f off who asks her for some drugs. 

Yet you never get the impression that these drifters are apparently drifting, or they will eventually drift back to normality once Xavier is out of their lives.  Araki's penchant for a mixture of sexual exploration for the characters, combined with a healthy dose of gore does go hand in hand - in recent films post-Millenium, Araki has explored the notion of sexual politics in the youth culture from both hetero- and homosexual stances, as he did in Kaboom (2010).

This does not make the film Doom Generation, a bad one there are enough to keep you interested and it does have some great set pieces of violence in the vein of Stone's masterpiece, Natural Born Killers, yet it is very much a case of a director trying to do too much in a very short space of time.  Whereas those killers were very violent and knew that they were inherently evil, these ones are a little too reflexive and unaware of their actions.

The Doom Generation is out today from Second Sight Films courtesy of Aim Publicity

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Justice (DVD review)

Starring Nicolas Cage, January Jones and Guy Pearce, Justice is released on DVD by PremierPR on Monday 26th March

Directed by Roger Donaldson (No Way Out, Thirteen Days), Justice tells the story of Will Gerrard (Cage), an inner city high school teacher who is married to a beautiful musician wife, Laura (Jones), they live the perfect life until their world is shattered when Laura is violently attacked and left for dead.

Searching for answers and vengeance, Will is approached by a mysterious man, Simon (Pearce) who promises him justice without the need for an unwanted trial.  Simon says they can do away with the killer, and all Will has to do is do a favour for this vigilante group in return at some point in the future.

Whilst Will agrees to the proposal, he soon realises that even justice must come at a price.

This is Cage's umpteenth movie in less than two years and whilst he still has that silver screen allure and magnetism you can see that part of him is definitely phoning it in - which is a shame as the possibility of doing a decent thriller with this solid supporting cast and director who has covered this ground previously has been missed.

At times the tension is never cranked up, and some of the set pieces have not been handled effectively. Tellingly, a producer of the film was Tobey Maguire, you can maybe see Maguire playing opposite Jones and being manipulated by someone older than him like Pearce - but here you have to get over the fact of Cage being married to Mrs. Don Draper from Mad Men (a big leap in itself), and Cage sporting another silly piece of facial hair to distract you from his receding hairline.

Justice is out on 26th March on DVD (£17.99) and Blu-Ray (£19.99) from Momentum Pictures.

Wild Bill

Dexter Fletcher has been a staple of British acting for the past 30 years starring in Grange Hill and reaching a zenith in terms of exposure when starring in Guy Ritchie's seminal Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.  Fletcher has always given the impression of an articulate and intelligent man, and therefore one for whom will not be put off by the director's chair.

Fletcher makes his directorial debut with Wild Bill, a film set in the East End of London in the shadow of the Olympic Village sprouting up around its characters.  It tells the story of Bill (Charlie Creed-Miles), a convict just out of prison who returns home on parole after an 8 year sentence, who returns home to find his two boys Dean (Will Poulter) and Jimmy (Sammy Williams) alone after being abandoned by their Mother and fending for themselves.

Dean is the 15 year old who has had to grow up fast, working on the Olympic site to earn some money ('Go on then, go build me a velodrome!') whilst Jimmy is easily distracted from school.  Bill learns that Social Services are on to the boys, so he acts up as the caring parent to make sure the boys are not kicked out of their home.

Bill's return leads to heads turning as drug dealers new in town get wind of him being back, the head of the gang Glen is played by Andy Serkis.  A lot of the characters tell Bill things have changed, but so has Bill from the tearaway lunatic who would knock a man out sparko for even looking at him the wrong way - he seems a reformed character who yearns for the stability of a nuclear family and domestic household.

Fletcher should be applauded for getting the tone right on this movie.  When you hear that an actor from gangster movies is doing a movie set in the East End of London, you fear for a kinetic, visceral spectacle.  Far from it, here Fletcher has created a movie that has a lead character that grows in front of your eyes, the casting of Creed-Miles is key as his lack of pre-conceived notions means the audience can warm to him easier than say a Jason Statham/Nick Moran sole.

At times the film is very funny; there is a brilliant running joke with the boys fear of cleaning the toilet in the house and Fletcher is helped by the impressive ensemble cast which is what you would expect from an actor in the director's chair.

The title may allude to the notion of a western, and Fletcher does lend a certain few generic conventions of the the Western film - the stand off, the whore Roxy (Liz White) with a heart of gold, the boys who need a permanent father.  Films that he doths his cap to are Unforgiven, Pale Rider and Shane.

The film ends somewhat ambivalently, yet it has such a great final shot which fixates on Creed-Miles who does nothing but look ahead at the horizon and his eyes tell the story.

The pleasure sustained from this film is that it is an amazing surprise which far exceeds any of the low expectations there may have been - people going to see a gangster film, will be surprised by seeing a very human piece told with great clarity and accuracy.

Wild Bill is released on Friday 23rd March nationwide and hopefully will receive a huge wealth of acclaim and box office fortune.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Once Upon A Time in Anatolia

The 7th feature film from Turkish auteur Nuri Bilge Ceylan tells the long process of small, provincial policeman who are looking for the body disposed of in the Anatolian countryside, with the murder suspect in tow to help point out the location.  The local police force are escorted by a DA and doctor from the city - these souls are seemingly the only people alive in the provincial night.

Whilst on paper the scenario may make it look like a police thriller, it is actually a film about the way life shapes you into being, the difference between rural and urban life.  If this film were set in the bustling metropolis of Istanbul or Ankara, it would be disturbed by a city that does not sleep.

The film is slow and long, but in a methodical way.  There is a lot of talking, but the dialogue does not always reflect upon the murder and the suspect - two characters indulge in a political diatribe about the possibility of Turkey joining the EU and the relevant pros and cons of such a political move.  This makes you thing perhaps this is a film with a dark satire at the center of its premise, yet in the second half it focuses upon the work of the doctor and the ensuing autopsy.

The honesty and openness of death as an essential part of life - the use of a long night's journey into daytime transfigures this a vital component of life itself.

The film is a beautiful work, shot by Gokhan Tiryaki, with some striking cinematography such as an apple swimming down a stream, the wind in the trees being captured as a character contemplates the next step.  This marks the film out as a work of art.

As for Ceylan, he has clearly taken a big step in his career.  Famous for small contemplative works such as Three Monkeys (2008) and Uzak (2002), he has expanded his ambition to fit this larger landscape in terms of scope and depth, without losing his characteristic traits of deftly depicting masculinity with insight in terms of their behaviour and psychology.  This broad and universal appeal has helped mark him out from the crowd, and as a festival and cineaste favourite.

People often mention how Ceylan uses Chekov-ian moments of comedy as people argue over who left a body bag somewhere else; this is a form of naturalism and symptomatic of Ceylan's ear for the rhythm of dialogue - during serious moments people can easily get distracted by mundane and trivial things.

Fittingly, the film has been released shortly after the death of fellow Mediterranean director, Theo Angelopoulos - a director who followed a similar career path from minimalist beginnings into grander masterworks such as Ulysses Gaze (1995) and Eternity and a Day (1998); these works of huge ambition were matched by political comment.  Whilst Ceylan has not matched the Greek director as yet, he remains a fearless auteur whose solo vision will never be disrupted.

Once Upon A Time in Anatolia is released by New Wave Films on Friday 16th March on limited release.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Adrift in Tokyo

Leading a lazy life, Fumiya has been a university student for 8 years and owes money to loan sharks. 
One day, a man named Fukuhara comes to collect the loan, which Fumiya cannot pay. So Fukuhara 
makes a proposition: He will cancel the debt as long as Fumiya agrees to walk with him across Tokyo 
to the police station of Kasumigaseki, where he intends to turn himself in for a crime he deeply regrets. 
Not having much choice, Fumiya accepts the deal.
Thus begins their journey which will lead them to various unusual
encounters, most of all with themselves. Based on the original novel by
Naoki Prize winner Yoshinaga Fujita comes a fascinating, humorous and wildly
clever film.

The film directed by Miki Satoshi cleverly blends the offbeat humour and wild premise together to 
create a wonderful somnabulist world in which these two men find themselves in.  Indebted to the 
Linklater double-bill of Before Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset (2005) - here is an opportunity to 
watch two fine actors showcase both their comedy and dramatic chops.
Jo Odagiri plays Fumiya as a loveable rogue who is slowly becoming a man-child, someone who 
cannot leave the happiness of college as he has found his place in life at that instance. Tomokazu 
Miura plays the older, debt collector - Fukuharu - with a bit of sterness yet you know from the 
outset that a heart of gold will slowly appear to us and Fumiya.
Whilst the scenes between the two leads are expertly handled and played, the people they 
meet on their long journey unfortunately do not receive the same tenderness from the director. 
Too many of the oddballs and characters are depicted as one-dimensional, this may not be 
helped by the premise as they are only fleeting glances of any one character, yet no cameo can 
be deemed memorable.
Like most things in life however, you will indelibly find something worthwhile on this journey, 
much like the protagonists do.
Adrift in Tokyo is out now on DVD from Third Window Films

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Hunky Dory

Hunky Dory is director Marc Evans most mainstream film to date following such cult horror film My Little Eye and 2010's Welsh language film, Patagonia more renowned for the acting debut of singer, Duffy.

This film is a nostalgic piece set in the summer of 1976 as Ms. Vivenne May (Minnie Driver) attempts to put on a production of The Tempest which in her words will be something that both William Shakespeare and David Bowie will be proud of.  This attempt to diversify and alter audience anticipation by integrating contemporary hits by Bowie and ELO leads to an uprising from within the teacher ranks; who believe musicals start and end with Oliver!

I originally saw the film at the London Film Festival last year, and even then the stand out scenes are the song sequences especially 'The Man Who Sold the World'; where the film falls flat on occasion is the vast number of interesting characters.  As each character has a story, they all struggle to be seen and heard above the bluster of the songscapes; and for that reason the film's characterisation descends into stereotypes and caricatures. 

This is a shame as Driver is game in her role as are some of the youngsters, especially stand out Aneurin Barnard as Davey, the dreamy lead of the piece who threatens to liaise with Ms.May outside of school hours.

In spite of this though I feel the script cannot elevate it above Sunday afternoon cinema and a future DVD you will put on a rainy afternoon much like you do when you want your heart to be lifted by a musical.  

Ironcially the film is set during the heatwave of 1976 when all of Britain was in the grips of stifling temperatures, and Evans' production team do a great job of making it look sizzling on screen (even though it rained most of the time during production), the next year 1977 saw the dawn of disco and the height of punk rock in that summer - the music of ELO fell by the wayside and Bowie had to re-invent himself.  However, both their music exists today and if you cannot watch the last scene set at nightfall as the whole cast re-unite for a triumphant sing-a-long to Jeff Lynne's 'A Living Thing' then there is no soul to beat your heart, I dare you not to smile at this film's conclusion.

Hunky Dory is released by Entertainment One on Friday 2nd March, 

A trailer can be viewed here

All New People

Zach Braff (star of TV sitcom Scrubs) transfers his self-penned debut theatrical play to the London West End after a brief run on Broadway in early Autumn of last year.  Only this time, Braff is taking the lead role of Charlie, previously performed by Justin Bartha (The Hangover).

When we first encounter Charlie, he is smoking a cigarette whilst standing on a chair with a noose around his neck.  Charlie is at his lowest ebb, he is about to commit suicide.  And then there is a knock at the door, and Charlie's plans to a turn for the better.

Emma (Eve Myles -Torchwood) is a British girl attempting to sell the beach house for the summer, the beach house Charlie says belongs to his parents.  Emma initially wants to ask Charlie why he wants to kill himself, yet he is reluctant to be close to anyone.

Emma calls in reinforcements, Myron (Paul Hilton) a fireman who is also the local drug dealer who joins the slowly growing party.  The third knock at the door presents a prostitute, Kim (Susannah Fielding) who is a gift to Charlie from an old friend in Manhattan.

Set in the bleak midwinter of Long Island, the cold and bitterness of the outside elements try to exact upon the people inside this one set play.  Braff has written a play that is at times laugh out loud funny and at times quite gripping with the emotional pull nearer the end of the conclusion.

Braff's play revolves around the fear of something to the central character (in the same vein of Neil Simon or Woody Allen, those other Jewish doyen writers), in this respect it is about Charlie's fear of growing older as he has hit the 35 year old milestone.  He has a stressful job as an air-traffic controller and his lapse into philosophical thinking at the desk led to the death of six people due to his mistake.

Charlie also has a fear of being alone, yet he is quick to shun away any attention he receives from his three visitors (they can be considered ghostly; the prostitute represents his past, Myron his here and now and Emma the possibility of future - a debt to Dickens perhaps).  The vigour and unexpectedness of the three guests leads to a wave of profanity in a plea for privacy, yet only once does he calm down does the comedy come out of the character's themselves, once we get over the initial set up of preventing Charlie's suicide.  The play morphs from a situation comedy to that of one driven by character.

The ending although slightly ambigious, can be deemed to be relatively happy for all concerned considering the real-time events that have taken place previously.

Braff is having fun with the format, and you can see the time he spent watching each performance in New York has paid dividends - Charlie whilst being the reason we are here, is the straight man of the piece - the best lines are reserved for Hilton and Fielding, in characters that could have been one-dimensional yet projected into something else.  Braff also delights in destroying the set - cornflakes, broken glasses, a broken art display lay strewn over the stage by the end; he also has a good ear for a joke, such as the running gag of him booby-trapping the apartment like Home Alone.  That joke works, because Braff is writing as a man who remembers how big that film was and the cultural significance of the work on the audience he is writing for.  The audience is mostly all 20-40 year old white anglo-saxons who are enjoying the fact they are seeing a famous sitcom character in the flesh.

However, if you expect anything resembling the manic frenzy of a Scrubs episode, you shall be severely disappointed.

Braff has a real presence on stage, never over-reaching for our attachment to his character; yet his work as writer is the star here. For acting plaudits, you need to look at the supporters - all have a dark secret and they all act their socks off.  Myles shows she has bones for comedy, Fielding gives her bimbo blonde a neat twist but Hilton, a RSC veteran, is amazing in his role as the cyncial Myron; he is having fun with Braff's words giving different connotations to the words on the page with real panache.

All New People is a debut theatrical work by a special talent; go see it for an engaging night out in the West End that is not a musical and is not a farce.

It runs at the Duke of York's Theatre on St. Martins Lane, for a strict 10 week run from 22nd February.