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FILM: June 2006

TIME TO LEAVE (Le Temps Qui Reste) (cert. 18 1hr.25mins.) was first shown at the 2005 London Film Festival. Directed by Francois Ozon, it tells the story of a handsome, young, gay man (played well by Melvil Poupaud) who finds that he has a cancerous tumour and 3 months to live. There is an unusual twist to the film in the middle, which I am still not sure about, but it kind of leads us into the future so is relevant.

Time to leave

Alongside the young man is his grandmother who is nearing death herself and is the only person in whom he confides. I found the aged Jeanne Moreau almost unrecognisable as the old lady, but it is a most moving performance. This film gives us an insight into a French view of life and death and coming to terms with both.

Once in a lifetime

My husband Steve, the family's football fanatic, writes: "ONCE IN A LIFETIME" (cert. 15 1hr. 40mins.) is the documentary story of the soccer team, the New York Cosmos, put together by the founder and president of Warner Communications Corporation, Steve Ross, who on a whim started a football franchise before he had ever seen a game of football!

He started off with a collection of semi-pro and ex-college players and then, with a stroke of genius, wooed Pele, the Santos and Brazil hero who starred in his first World Cup at the age of 17 (for the football fans among you: if Theo Walcott does half as well for England we'll all be 'over the moon'). With Pele on board, and later other European and Brazilian players, the Cosmos win most things for the three years of Pele's stay. The Cosmos becomes fashionable, attracting a big name following from the worlds of sport, entertainment and politics. Their success is bought at a very expensive price and Ross has to give it up before it brings down the rest of his empire. The film provides an interesting commentary on the history of soccer in the USA"

WAL-MART: THE HIGH COST OF LOW PRICE (cert. PG 1hr. 35mins) gives a terrifying view of what has happened to small community businesses in areas in the USA where huge Wal-Marts have been built. Whole communities have been virtually destroyed as small shops and specialist firms have been forced out of business, resulting in a large number of unemployed people. The refusal of Wal-Mart to supply affordable health-care to its low paid employees has meant the burden falls on the American taxpayer. Here in the UK we are beginning to see a rise in huge hypermarkets to the detriment of small shops. The message from this documentary is: watch out!


And now straight from what is probably the best known of the film festivals, Cannes, where it premiered, comes the highly-anticipated big screen adaptation of Dan Brown's novel, THE DA VINCI CODE (12A 2hrs 30mins). There has been so much publicity around the film that it is sure of a large audience whatever I write! The story starts with a murder in the Louvre and clues in Da Vinci paintings lead to the discovery of a religious mystery protected by a secret society for two thousand years; a discovery that could shake the foundations of Christianity.

Da Vinci code

The film, therefore, is basically a chase round Paris, London and finally Scotland following up clues.

People who have read the book say that there are changes, but as I couldn't struggle through it, I can't comment. There has been much controversy about the message, but we should all remember that this is fiction and, as such, is no more worthy of learned discussion than the X-Men! Tom Hanks shows no great emotion as the symbologist called in to look at the clues and help Sophie - a carefully spoken Audrey Tautou, who also shows little emotion, perhaps she is concentrating on her English - find out who murdered her grandfather. In fact, the only really interesting character, from an acting viewpoint, is played by the estimable Ian McKellen. Although there is flagellation, it is not nearly as gruesome as the awful Mel Gibson film about Christ.

I expect it is worth seeing for those who have read the book, and, indeed it is always interesting to watch.

Xmen 3: The last stand

And talking of the X-Men, we have X-MEN: THE LAST STAND, which has also just been shown in Cannes. This is supposed to be the last but those involved in the film hint at a future if this one brings in the money and .wait till after the credits at the end!

The story continues in this third part of the trilogy, but with some differences. It centres on the battle between the mutant leader Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), who preaches tolerance and Magneto (Ian McKellen), who believes in the survival of the fittest. When a 'cure' is found for mutancy, the leaders and their followers are put to the test.

With virtually the same cast as the previous film and lots of special effects, I am sure that it will appeal to those who enjoyed the first two.


THEATRE TIP: JUNE 2006

Now I know summer has arrived - Shakespeare's Globe this week and the Open Air Theatre Regent's Park next week (more next month)!

CORIOLANUS (Globe Theatre), with its story of a man, with too much pride in his own achievements, who is brought down by the citizens, is an apt choice for this open-to-the-skies venue with a large number of 'groundlings.' Actors playing citizens intermingle with the standing crowd and when he is stabbed at the end Coriolanus falls dramatically into the arms of the actors in the crowd of onlookers - it is most effective. This is not my favourite Shakespeare play by a long chalk, but it is well-performed and was well-received.Seats, however, remain uncomfortable and, although standing is really cheap at 5, you have to be prepared to stand for 3 hours with an interval break as sitting on the ground is not allowed while the performance is on. The audience is full of young people enjoying Shakespeare, many for the first time, and to see this re-constructed theatre in action is a sight not to be missed.


Coriolanus

It is a long time since I have laughed out loud during a play, in fact probably not since "Noises Off" written by Michael Frayn who has penned the wonderfully witty DONKEYS' YEARS (Comedy Theatre).

Donkeys years

Director Jeremy Sams has turned this into a farce, but one with bite and so expertly acted. The ensemble cast at a re-union of 'Old Members' of an Oxbridge college some 30 years after graduating is well-differentiated. It seems invidious to pick out any particular actor but David Haig is truly excellent as the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Education who spends the whole of the second act with his trousers literally around his ankles as he tries to keep the Master's wife hidden as he doesn't want any scandal in the newspapers (sounds familiar?). Samantha Bond, with a voice sounding like the young Judi Dench, looks good and has a lovely light comedic touch. I am sure it is worth pushing the theatre into giving concessions to seniors as laughter is very good for our health!

Hardly amusing at all, the production of JANE EYRE (Trafalgar Studios, Whitehall) by the Shared Experience company, adapted from Charlotte Bronte's novel and directed by Polly Teale, is very moving and truly dramatic. The play covers the whole story and Monica Dolan as Jane manages to portray her as a 10 year old as effectively as a young and then more mature adult. There is one set throughout with a backcloth of a sky which changes colour behind a staircase leading to the attic where Mr Rochester's insane first wife, Bertha, is locked up.

At the beginning and the end of the play Bertha almost becomes one with Jane as Jane voices her words and moves according to Bertha's movements. Each of the actors, except Dolan, plays a number of parts: James Clyde is particularly good as John Reed and Rochester and John Lightbody excels as Brocklehurst, Lord Ingram, St.John Rivers and.Pilot the Dog! This is a very physical production with lots of movement: it is always absorbing and particularly recommended to those interested in the works of the Brontes.

     

Carlie Newman

   
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