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    October's Pick of the Flicks and Theatre


You might remember The Italian Job with Michael Caine. Well, the new film, THE ITALIAN JOB (12A 1 hr. 50 mins.) has only the slightest resemblance to it! The Minis are there and it begins with a gold bullion heist in Venice. The rest is completely different. Having said that, it is a good caper, quite stylish and amusing with some good scenic photography. Having been double-crossed in the Venice robbery, the gang set out to avenge the death of their leader (Donald Sutherland, in all too brief an appearance). Enlisting the help of their dead leader's daughter the gang set out in search of the backstabber (Edward Norton), following him and the (twice) stolen gold bullion to Los Angeles.

The Italian Job 2003 image

There's an exciting chase using a helicopter as well as the souped-up Minis. An unglamorised Charlize Theron is the new super safecracker and the film, while not as memorable as the original, provides an enjoyable cinema visit.

A better quality of film altogether is MATCHSTICK MEN (1 hr. 55 mins.). Apparently this is another name for con-men - or con-artists as our 'hero' insists they are. Roy (Nicholas Cage) and Frank (Sam Rockwell) are a couple of pros at the small time con. While successful in this line of work, Roy suffers from other problems: he is an obsessive-compulsive agoraphobic, and chain smoker with no personal life. Drawn to seek out the teenage daughter (Alison Lohman) he has never seen after contacting a psychiatrist for help in order to get some pills, his life is forever changed as she joins him in some cons. Cage is excellent as the tic ridden neurotic and the rest of the cast back him up in a stylish, intelligent film.

Matchstick men movie poster

Two super events for all film lovers and students of films: I hope that covers many of you! You can take advantage of both if you are within easy reach of London. The 2003 London Film Festival is almost on top of us with, once again, some excellent films on offer. It's a real opportunity to see films that will have a commercial showing now or in the near future as well as some unusual ones that will have to wait awhile before finding a cinema. It runs from 22 October to 6 November 2003

This year there is also something called Education Events giving senior citizens a chance to go to free screenings and workshops connected with the film Summer Madness. Free screenings include, on 21 October, a new restoration of David Lean's poignant film of a middle-aged secretary (Katherine Hepburn) on a visit to Venice and the very new Dogville, directed by Lars von Trier, starring Nicole Kidman, on 27 October. Telephone 020 7815 1434 to pre-book.

In the main programme and on general release in November is THE MOTHER (cert.15. 1 hr. 51 mins.), a moving story written by Hanif Kureishi, which looks closely at families who can't communicate. It says important things about mothers and grandmothers in particular and features an outstandingly realistic portrayal by Anne Reid of the mother who is left alone - but remains sexually charged - when her husband dies on a visit to their children in London.

A new Canadian-French film, THE BARBARIAN INVASIONS (99 mins.), directed by Denys Arcand, is well-worth seeing, too. Dealing with death and reconciliation, it has a much more optimistic tone than the subject suggests. It's won many awards and had me in tears!

The other event is KILL BILL (cert. 18. 1 hr. 50 mins.), the latest Quentin Tarantino opus. Showing an outstanding knowledge and demonstration of a whole range of film genres, it's like being on a wild roller coaster as image upon image and sound upon sound rain down. I took Stephen with me as I thought it would be so violent that I would have to cover my eyes for the gory parts of it - if I had, then I would have seen about five minutes! It was, indeed, violent, but in an unrealistic, visionary manner. Hard to describe, it MUST be seen (on a large screen) to appreciate it.

Theatre Trip

And stylish, too, is one of the many new plays on offer. A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket has a cast to die for and a Director, Adrian Noble, who knows how to bring out the wit , charm, and, indeed, pathos, in one of Oscar Wilde's later works.

Wilde portrays the mother of an illegitimate son and her confrontation with the father in a manner wholly sympathetic to the female. Samantha Bond, in the role of the woman of the title, shows that she is a fine actress and just plays a fun role in the Bond films. A lovely Rupert Graves is a cadish Lord and Rachel Stirling (Diana Rigg's daughter), Julian Ovendon and others are all most competent The only disappointment is Prunella Scales, who seems at a loss with lines from time to time and underplays her role.

woman importance poster

If you live or can get to north London, then the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn is the place to visit. A fine production of JOHN BULL'S OTHER ISLAND is on now. One of Bernard Shaw's less well-known plays - to me, anyway - it follows Tom Broadbent (Charles Edwards), a well-meaning Englishman in love with his own romantic view of rural Ireland, as he pursues his business partner Gerrard McArthur), who hasn't been back home for 18 years to help him develop a hotel and golf course in the heart of the somewhat backward community of Rosscullen.

john bulll's other island

It's not only a satire on English and Irish attitudes to each other but also has some pertinent things to say about politicians which apply as much today as in 1904 when it was written.

Stephen Newman
Read Previous Toff Tips: Aug/Sept 2003  

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