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A TRIP TO THE CINEMA: May/June 2004

The big one! TROY (cert.15 2 hrs. 40 mins.) is, apparently, based on Homer's Illiad. Ah, so that would account for the Greek costumes. Silly me, I thought it was devised to show off Brad Pitt's beautiful body! And very lovely he looks, too, with muscular thighs, burnished by the sun - or number 44 in the stage make-up range. Actually the whole film is good to look at; computer generated armies, well-choreographed fights between the main characters and huge set pieces including the enormous horse built by the Greeks to enter the city of Troy and destroy it using the soldiers hidden in it. It all starts with the Trojan Prince Paris (Orlando Bloom) stealing the lovely Helen (Diane Kruger) from her husband, the Spartan King (Brendan Gleeson), who then enlists his brother, Agamemnon (Brian Cox) the King of the Greeks to help get her back.

Bradd Pitt Troy

Glad of the excuse in his quest for power Agamemnon launches a war against Troy using Achilles (Brad Pitt) as his champion. Paris has help from brother Hector (Eric Bana) who eventually fights with Achilles and is slain.

I was somewhat taken aback to see Julie Christie playing the aged mother of Pitt.I suppose we are all growing older!

Suspend your disbelief, forget your history and enjoy!

A much quieter film in every way, RADIO (cert. PG 1 hr. 49 mins.) is based on real events. A mentally challenged man (the real one makes an appearance at the end) is a loner living in a small town in South Carolina in 1976. He is later given the nickname "Radio" because of his love of music and radios. He speaks to no one and has no friends until one day the coach of the popular local High School football team befriends him. Coach Harold Jones (Ed Harris) encourages the team members and later the townsfolk to not only treat Radio (Cuba Gooding Jr.) compassionately, but also to realise that they can learn as much from his loving ways as they can give him.

Radio image

Ed Harris gives a very convincing performance as the coach and Gooding shows that he can do much more as an actor than shout loudly! There is a sympathetic portrayal of Harold's wife by Debra Winger and newcomer Sarah Drew is impressive as the teenage daughter who is neglected as Harold concentrates on helping Radio. The small part of the High school principal is also well acted by Alfre Woodard. Go further afield to find this film: I think you will find the experience worthwhile.


THEATRE TRIP: May 2004

Some goodies on offer, and then there's the painful (to watch) BEAUTIFUL AND DAMNED at the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Ave. Big cast, big musical, big flop!

The revival of OLEANNA at the Garrick Theatre, with its feminist and anti-feminist arguments, is well worth a visit as is the new play by Edward Albee at the Apollo Theatre. THE GOAT stars Jonathan Price as a formerly normal husband who suddenly finds he's in love with a.well, goat.! A seemingly impossible subject is here dealt with, in a production by Anthony Paige, in a sympathetic and all-engrossing manner.

Oleanna image

Transferred to the often overlooked Playhouse Theatre, JOURNEY'S END, R.C. Sherriff's classic play, set in a dug out during the First World War, is revived in a moving, evocative production. In fact the play is set in St. Quentin, France, which is one of the places visited by one of our groups of older people a few years ago. I still remember the hushed silence in which we walked around the museum commemorating the events and it is the silence that the newest recruit, Raleigh, remarks on. Although about the war, the play really shows the effect on the various personnel who find themselves on or near the front line. Consistently well-acted, it would be invidious to pick out one of the actors in what - like the actual war - is obviously a team effort. All the actors stand in a straight, silent line facing the audience at the conclusion. The audience, too, sat on in silent reverence after the curtain came down.

Journeys End at the Playhouse Theatre

And then we have Trevor Nunn's updated HAMLET with a very young Ben Whishaw as the Prince and an even younger Samantha Whittaker, as Ophelia. It makes sense, though a brutish reminder of time passing, to see Imogen Stubbs as Hamlet's mum. Nunn and his very professional group of actors triumph and it's well worth a visit to the Old Vic, especially all you south Londoners! Finally back to this month's Greek theme: director Luc Bond's take on Sophocles. Genuine emotion, great acting and a comment on war and what it does to its perpetrators as well as its victims. Back at the Young Vic in June.

Carlie Newman


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