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FILM: October 2006

Whether you are a Royalist or a Republican I am sure you will enjoy THE QUEEN (cert. 12A 1hr.44mins.). Looking just like Queen Elizabeth 11 from the side, Helen Mirren gives a marvellous portrayal of our present monarch.

As directed by Stephen Frears the story of the Queen and the rest of the royal family's immediate reaction and public response in the immediate aftermath of Princess Diana's death is both amusing and enlightening, although, of course, most of it is imagined by Peter Morgan who wrote it. As almost an aside the film is also illuminating on the early days of Tony Blair's premiership.

Helen Mirren as the Queen

With Alastair Campbell initially feeding him lines, such as "the people's Princess," Blair soon realises that the people expect a different kind of behaviour dealing with someone who becomes more of an icon in death than she was in life. Some of the portrayals are not as realistic as others. Michael Sheen's Blair has the right touch of the eager Bambi of his early days and Helen McCrory's Cherie is suitably floppy. However, I didn't feel that Alex Jennings caught the look of Charles although his voice was a good attempt at the Prince's sensitivity. But Sylvia Syms was a delightful Queen Mother. Finally we see that Elizabeth and Philip share a double bed although he can use another when she is still up. We also learn that Philip calls his wife "cabbage" and it is pronounced 'Ma'am' as in farm not as in ham!

Also recommended: THE BLACK DAHLIA (cert.15 2hrs.). Based on a novel by James Elroy the film is well acted by a great cast (apart from an over the top performance by Fiona Shaw) and the photography evokes the period of 1946/47 excellently. While the story sometimes becomes muddled, it is worth concentrating on.

While AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH (cert.U 1 hr.40 mins.) will not teach most of you anything new, Al Gore presents the horrific facts about the growing threat of global warming in an instructive and entertaining way.

children of men
Clive Owen in Children of Men

Good - that is for anyone interested in the future Olympics to be held in England - to see the hero, Clive Owen, sporting an old sweat shirt with the London 2012 logo on it in CHILDREN OF MEN, which is a science fiction account of a society without children set in 2027.

And WORLD TRADE CENTER deals with a massive subject in a simple way by concentrating on the story of two policemen who are buried in the rubble and how they are rescued.

It is very moving with a particularly good cast. Nicholas Cage shows that he can manage to be restrained but still effective.

If you can possibly manage to get to the 50th LONDON FILM FESTIVAL which runs from 18 October to 2 November 2006 you will find it well worth the effort. It is on at many venues all around London and there are lots of goodies on offer including the opening gala ALL THE KING'S MEN,

The times London film festival

and closing one BABEL and MISCHIEF NIGHT, (which I have seen) written and directed by Penny Woolcock, which is amusing and also deals more seriously with the Asian/English divided communities in Yorkshire. ROMANZO CRIMINALE (also seen), from Italy, is a rather dour film, well-shot and acted, and there are some great "Treasures from the Archives" including Terence Davies' DISTANT VOICES, STILL LIVES; OLIVER TWIST and OF MICE AND MEN. The programme is available by phoning 020 7928 3232


THEATRE TIP: OCTOBER 2006

Daddy Cool

Do you remember the music of Boney M in the late 70s? If yes, book now for DADDY COOL (Shaftesbury Theatre). Directed by Andy Goldberg, it has a story which is illustrated by the music of Boney M and other Frank Farian artists including Milli Vanilli and No Mercy. Starring Michelle Collins, Harvey (from So Solid Crew) and Jarvine - these latter two are new to me - it tells the story of Sunny, a young man from the Caribbean who lives for his music. Caught up in local rivalry between East and West London gangs, he meets and falls in love with Rose, daughter of notorious East End club owner Ma Baker (Collins). The lovers' relationship fuels hostility between the rival gangs and this makes the two families face the secrets of their past. Actually the story seems better on paper than in the actual show where it was the music which was of prime importance.

The set was very basic early on with bright colours. In the later part of the show the set developed into a very gaudy staging of a carnival scene. While the singing was good, the acting apart from Collins was no great shakes. But the show did what was intended and was exuberant and very jolly so that by the end the audience was on its feet stamping, swaying and joining in the singing. "By the rivers of Babylon" will reverberate in your ears for many a day!

There is another one of the spectacular musicals that come to the West End stage from time to time and WICKED is certainly amazing to watch with a dragon breathing smoke up high and witches flying, and other special effects and elaborate costumes and staging. BUT this story of the two witches who feature in The Wizard of Oz - the "good" witch Glinda and "wicked" witch, Elphaba is really like a glorified pantomime and, I would suggest, more likely to appeal to children and young people than mature adults.

Wicked

Among the array of stars who were mainly unknown to me, Nigel Planer appears as the Wizard of Oz and shows once again that, although he has no singing voice, he can present a song effectively, and Miriam Margolis gives a good characterisation of an evil intentioned assistant to Planer's Wizard. It might make a good Christmas (or even half-term) outing

Carlie Newman

   
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