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FILM: May 2006

Have you ever been to GLASTONBURY (cert 15. 2 hrs.16mins.) ? No, nor have I , but my adult children have and this film gives one a real sense of what it is like as it shows footage made by a variety of amateurs and professional over the years including interviews with Michael Eavis, the promoter of the festival and owner of the land where it is held. The director is Julien Temple. Oh, yes, there are lots of appropriate excerpts of music throughout, including David Bowie, Bjork, Scissor Sisters et al.

Glastonbury the movie
Glastonbury the Movie

One that began its life as a small film and is gaining in popularity as it gathers awards at festivals including Sundance (for Amy Adams) is JUNEBUG (cert. 15.1hr.47mins).


I liked this movie a lot - it is amusing, tender, intriguing and very well performed, particularly Amy Adams as the other daughter-in-law of the family. Following an artist she wants for her gallery, Madeleine (Embeth Davidtz) comes to visit the family of her new, younger husband for the first time.

She meets younger brother and his garrulous and preganant wife (Adams), his taciturn father and none too approving mother. The interaction between Madeleine, the outsider and her husband's family and their relationship with each other provides the drama. Simple but full of hidden depths. Do go and see it.

AMERICAN DREAMZ (cert. tbc.1hr. 47mins.) will, I believe, cause some controversy. A satire on shows like Pop Idol in the UK and American Idol in the USA, a jaded Martin Tweed (played by Hugh Grant in sardonic mode) finds 3 new stars to keep his reality show at the top. Sally (singer and actress Mandy Moore), Sholem, a religious ex Israeli and Omer ( Sam Golzari) a would be middle eastern terrorist. It is the character of Omer with his plot to assassinate the President (echoes of Bush in Dennis Quaid's performance) that may well be looked on suspiciously.

American dreamz
Mandy Moore in American Dreamz

It is still hard for us to look with humour on any potential suicide bomber, I would suggest. However it is one of Grant's best performances and, with its references to current TV reality shows and the attitude and antics of the American politicians, it will provide an interesting visit to the cinema.

One flew over the cuckoo's nest
Christian Slater in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

Another month.. another revival and another musical. First the revival: a very worthy one in ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST (Garrick). Written by Dale Wasserman and based on the novel by Ken Kesey, this is a strong play about the treatment of patients in a psychiatric hospital, in particular the use of ECT. Christian Slater returns to the part of Randle who confronts the staff and has a running battle - literally at one point - with Nurse Ratched who is in charge of his ward.

Under Terry Johnson's direction, each character is well differentiated, so that we come to understand a little of the problems of the inmates. I sometimes felt a little awkward as the audience appears to laugh at mental health disabilities.

As for the musical, MACK AND MABEL (Criterion) is a jolly - well actually it tells a somewhat sad story but with happy music, which contributes to the overall effect of making it not quite successful in its aims. Jerry Herman's music is often really tuneful and very well sung, and indeed acted, by Janie Dee as Mabel Normand, the girl who became a star and later descended into a mist of alcohol and drugs. David Soul plays Mack Sennett, who made Mabel a star, loved her but was unable to give her his full attention. The mature Soul acts well but lacks a real singing voice. The very accomplished cast do it all - play instruments, sing, dance and act - all in character.

Mack and Mabel
Mack and Mabel
The Crucible
The Crucible

Good writing can make a play a work of art and THE CRUCIBLE (RSC at the Gielgud) is certainly well-written. Each time Arthur Miller's play is performed, those seeing it say it is relevant to the time in which we live and there are certainly resonances as we watch it today, in particular with reference to religious extremism, which along with greed are strongly in evidence in the play. Written with the Joe McCarthy witch hunt of the 1950s in mind, it tells of a group of young girls who make accusations of witchcraft in Salem in the late 1600s. This is a really splendid production by Dominic Cooke. There are some excellent stage pictures, such as the group listening to the visiting Rev.Hale. The set is simple and effective and the lighting reflects both the mood and the settings. Not only is Iain Glen superb as John Procter but the whole cast works as a strong ensemble.


Carlie Newman

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