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Dao's film and television blog focuses on portrayals of disability in the media with discussion of contemporary films and the occasional bit of television. Sarah Ismail is a freelance journalist. She blogs about disability issues at Alison Wilde has a PhD from the Centre for Disability Studies.

Victoria Wright gives a resounding thumbs up to TV's Coronation Street for casting disabled actor Liam Bairstow

21 September 2015


portrait photo of actor Liam Bairstow

It is an unwritten rule in soapland that you can have as many gangsters, thugs, serial killers and baby snatchers as you like but only one disabled character at a time, otherwise it might look a tad creepy and unrealistic.  Actually, I say ‘unwritten’ but it wouldn't surprise me it this was written down on a big yellow post-it note in every soap producer’s office, along with the words ‘Diversity refresh due circa 2018!’  This might sound a bit cynical...

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Sarah Ismail reviews 'The Theory of Everything': loosely based on Jane Hawking’s memoir 'Music to Move the Stars: A Life With Stephen'

16 January 2015


still of ddie Redmayne & Felicity Jones as young lovers whirling each other around outside university walls

James Marsh’s 'The Theory of Everything' is a story of two great minds who meet at Cambridge University, where they experience and enjoy a great love. Stephen Hawking, at the start, is a student. Like any other young man, he avoids doing his homework to the point where he accidentally spills tea on the worksheet and has to write his work on the back of a train timetable! Like any other young man, he attends a university party. There, like countless other young men have...

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Sarah Ismail reviews Margarita, With A Straw: a film by Shonali Bose

17 December 2014


Released last October Margarita, With A Straw is the title of a Hindi movie about disability, which follows the life and loves of Laila, a university student with cerebral palsy. Laila lives in Delhi with her loving family and attends Delhi University where she gets the chance to broaden her horizons. She has a close male friend who, just like her, is a wheelchair user. He is in love with her, but she breaks his heart when she meets a non-disabled musician- who later breaks her...

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Alison Wilde on Disability in Coronation Street: Izzy Armstrong ITV1, July 2011

2 August 2011


Gary and Izzy from Coronation Street

Now, I’m a big fan of Coronation Street  (the only soap I make time to watch) and I’m certainly not going to complain about its increasingly rainbow-coloured community – I love the idea of Audrey falling in love with Mark/Marcia and coveting his feminine clothes. I would like to think that many of us will be living such pleasurable lives at 70, rather than eking out our days on memories, waiting for an over-worked care attendant to get us out of bed. And I’m not...

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Alison Wilde reviews Love and Other Drugs

3 February 2011


Love and Other Drugs film poster

Love and Other Drugs Directed by Edward Zwick and written by Edward Zwick, Charles Randolph and Marshall Herskovitz, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway. It went on general release in November 2010 and is coming to DVD and Blu-ray on 1 March, 2011.   It looks like its disability season again! Over the past three weeks there has been a spate of disability/illness related films at cinemas including Uncle Boonmee can remember his past lives, The King’s Speech and Love and Other...

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Alison Wilde gives some in-depth focus on the representation of mental health issues in film

14 July 2010


movie poster

Greenberg was directed by Noah Baumbach and stars Ben Stiller, Greta Gerwig and Rhys Ifans. It was released on 11th June 2010. Exhibit A was directed by Dom Rotheroe and stars Bradley Cole, Brittany Ashworth Angela Forrest and Oliver Lee. It was released in 2007 There has been a considerable amount of disability on screen this month. Faced with a variety of options, I have chosen to review the two ‘disability’ films, which I've enjoyed the most. In my opinion, tangentially linked to...

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Alison Wilde questions definitions of disability in her review of the Greek film Dogtooth

23 May 2010


photo of two young women standing in a room

Dogtooth (Kynodontas) was directed by Giorgos Lanthimos, starring Christos Stergioglou, Michelle Valley, Aggeliki Papoulia (Greek with English subtitles) It went on general release on 23 April 2010. This film does not contain any characters with impairments. Nor does it hint at any disability themes. And yet, despite its evasion of direct questions, answers or moral messages - its bizarre story is replete with truly disabling events, often mundane, and increasingly alarming, which echo the...

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Alison Wilde reviews Tim Burton's recent interpretation of Alice in Wonderland

30 March 2010


Directed by Tim Burton, screenplay by Linda Woolverton and starring Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham-Carter, Mia Wasikowska and Anne Hathaway. UK release date: 5 March 2010. For me, film adaptations of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There are akin to covers of The Carpenters’ music. It just shouldn’t be done because it cannot come close to the beauty of the original. For those who haven’t read these books, Alice’s...

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Alison Wilde reviews Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll - a biopic about the life of the disabled rock star Ian Dury

26 January 2010


Photo of a man wearing a red fez. He's got sunglasses on too. It is Andy Serkis's face.

Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll went on general release on 8 January, 2010. It was directed by Mat Whitecross and written by Paul Viragh. It stars Andy Serkis, Bill Milner, Olivia Williams, Naomie Harris and Ray Winstone. I fell in love with Ian Dury and the Blockheads the minute I heard ‘Hit me with your rhythm stick.’ I still think ‘Wake Up’ is one of the best love songs I ever heard. Buying New Boots and Panties in 1977, I began to listen intently to the lyrics,...

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Alison Wilde reviews Avatar - the most expensive film yet made

14 January 2010


film poster showing face of a blue figure

Dearie dearie me... A disabled character as the central protagonist, beautiful animation, Sigourney Weaver, a critical perspective on (inter-planetary) colonialism and anti environment values - what could possibly go wrong? Okay, I admit it - I was seduced by the art of this film and the immersive experience, the 3D effects were subtle and added to its wonder (though it was sometimes a little difficult for the eyes). For the first day after seeing Avatar, I was ambivalent but less than critical...

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Alison Wilde reviews all six episodes of Cast Offs being shown on Tuesday and Wednesday nights on Channel 4 at 11.05pm for the next three weeks

25 November 2009


A group of men and women with a range of impairments stand on a beach.

I was quite worried when I heard about Cast Offs. After waiting so long for better disability representations, Channels 4’s aim to challenge tedious old stereotypes by featuring real disabled actors in new types of roles seemed very ambitious. There are so many issues to overcome. Is it possible to provide entertaining drama which appeals to both disabled and non-disabled viewers? How would Channel 4 represent a diverse group of people and reach a wide audience? And could this be done...

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Alison Wilde reviews the latest Terry Gilliam film - The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus

12 November 2009


Actor Christopher Plummer plays Dr Parnassus

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus went on general release in October 2009. It was directed by Terry Gilliam and written by Terry Gilliam and Charles McKeown. It stars Christopher Plummer, Heath Ledger, Verne Troyer, Lily Cole, Andrew Garfield and Tom Waits, with Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell. For me, the imperfections of this film add to its pleasures. It is not the easiest story to follow. I had to watch it twice to appreciate the many tales that were being told within a complex...

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Alison Wilde takes a look at Snow Cake - starring Alan Rickman, Sigourney Weaver and Carrie Ann Moss.

20 October 2009


photo of a woman with dark curly hair wearing a green top

Snow Cake went on general release in September 2006. It was directed by Marc Evans, written by Angela Pell and stars Alan Rickman, Sigourney Weaver and Carrie Ann Moss. "I know all about autism, I’ve seen that movie" is the most memorable and ironic line in Snow Cake. With inevitable similarities to Rainman and other schmaltz ridden or ‘worthy’ tales, this story centres on Linda Freeman (Sigourney Weaver), a woman who has autism. However, the main emphasis is put upon Alex...

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