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FILM: March 2006

What makes one man honest and upright and another devious and unjust? GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK (cert. PG 1hr.33mins.) attempts to answer this. George Clooney's film, which is in a luminous black and white, is about the confrontation between Ed Morrow - played with wonderful verisimilitude by David Straithairn - and Senator Joe McCarthy (film of the real man speaking) during the anti-communist purges in America in the 1950s and it is clear and concise.

Good night and Good luck

The film shows a time when media outlets were limited and people watched TV or read newspapers and then discussed major issues with their friends.

Clooney's own comments about his film sum up the film's power, "there's an opportunity that one in a hundred young kids might now know who Murrow is and have some discussion and some understanding of what and how dangerous a democracy can be if fear (i.e.of terrorism) is used as a weapon." Murrow's famous conflict with McCarthy and exposes on such topics as segregation would go on to influence future generations.


As in a different way would Truman Capote's 'non-fiction' novel "In Cold Blood." Now Philip Seymour Hoffman stars in Bennett Miller's story of how he came to write it. Hoffman gives the most wonderful performance as the fey author in CAPOTE (cert. 15 1hr.50mins). It's certainly harrowing, particularly when we see the murders and subsequent interviews with the two young perpetrators. Capote wrote in the 60s and his work has influenced non-fiction writing ever since.

Keep your eyes open for THE PROPOSITION (cert. 18 1hr.44mins.), a powerful story set in Australia in the 1880s. The police and the outlaws led by Charlie Burns (Guy Pearce) and his simpleton brother, Mikey (Richard Wilson) are engaged in conflict, which ends with the outlaws in chains, captured by Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone).Stanley has a proposition for Charlie: if he finds and kills his elder brother, Arthur (Danny Huston) who has committed terrible atrocities, he and Mikey will be spared.

The Proposition

If Charlie fails Mikey will hang. Filmed in the outback there is much blood and guts around. There is also some great acting on show including Emily Wtson as Stanley's wife as well as the always worthy Winstone and good-looking Pearce. The film sports a great script and the director, John Hillcoat, tells a good story.


Another brief word on the RSC's A MIDSUMMER'S NIGHT'S DREAM at the Novello. This is a grand production, full of wit and bringing out points that I have never seen before such as the difference between the various mechanicals (workmen) who perform the Pyramus and Thisbe play to the group of newly weds at the end. The setting is very good, with a magical fairyland and the direction by Gregory Doran is most inventive. The audience at the matinee I attended were roaring with laughter. Not on for long but it deserves and must surely find a new home.

A harrowing play, by David Harrower (!) is BLACKBIRD (Albery) with Jodhi May as a young woman confronting the older man who sexually abused her when she was 12. That puts it very baldly because as we listen to them we hear much more about the relationship and how it wasn't just the man (Roger Allam) pursuing her but in what is virtually a two-way affair. It raises almost as many questions as it answers about the nature of sexual desire, loneliness and the need for love.

Diana Rigg in Honour
Diana Rigg in Honour

In a lovely fluid production by the German director, Peter Stein, there are two great performances, although Jodhi May is sometimes difficult to hear.

Nowhere near the same class is HONOUR (Wyndhams) starring Diana Rigg whose husband (Martin Jarvis) leaves her after 32 years of marriage for a younger woman (Natascha McElhone). There is much talk about the longevity of marriage and the thrill of a new passion. We can only admire Diana Rigg who has grown old most attractively and gives an especially good performance.


Carlie Newman

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