Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Page 8 / Everything old is new again ....

A new JANE EYRE? and getting good reviews too, but do we need it? I didn't even want to see the last JANE, the Zeffirelli one from a decade or so ago, even though I knew it would look good, let alone a 2006 tv version (with Toby Stephens). Also, a new WUTHERING HEIGHTS, as well as that Tom Hardy television version. There was also that 1970 JANE with Susannah York, far too pretty. The only for me is the perfect Fox version in 1944, even though is streamlines and simplifies the story, but it has that required Victorian Gothic black and white quality with perfect casting: Fontaine, Welles (it is almost an Orson Welles Film), Agnes Moorhead, Henry Daniell and the child Elizabeth Taylor. Likewise did we need - or even see? - that recent OLIVER TWIST even if by Roman Polanski (whose films I catch usually) which seemed another redundant remake - any Dickens pales in comparison to Lean's '40s definitive versions. Charlotte Bronte's other great novel VILLETTE has only had one outing, by the BBC in 1970, a fondly remembered production with the esteemed Judy Parfitt. Instead of more JANEs why not a film of VILLETTE ?

I also liked that recent good-looking televsion version of SENSE AND SENSABILITY with Dan Stevens, Donimic Cooper, Neil Morrissey ideal as the men, and Janet McTeer ideal as the mother, and of course that last version of PERSUASION - subject of a feature here last year, costume drama label.

Now to come is a new version of the classic BBC series TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY, that big hit with Alec Guinness leading the cast. At least this new version has another solid line-up including Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Mark Strong, John Hurt etc. Bring it on ... and then there was that new prestige BBC drama, PAGE EIGHT.

PAGE EIGHT, 2011. A new political drama from the BBC, written and directed by David Hare, so it has attracted a top calibre cast. The convoluted plot features a secret service intelligence analyst Bill Nighy who finds himself privy to information that could bring down the government. His superior, Michael Gambon (who has married Nighy’s ex wife Alice Krige, and feels rightly that he is dying) gives him a top secret file which he wants made public. This incriminates the Prime Minister (Ralph Fiennes) - on page 8 - as knowing about secret American torture sites and not telling anyone else, thus compromising the safety of others. Nighy soon finds himself being leaned on by Downing Street in the shape of ballbreaker Judy Davis. He is also unsure of the motives of Rachel Weisz, his neighbour across the hall whose brother has been murdered, and the mysterious young man watching them and who knows his now-pregnant daughter. So, lots to clear up in 100 minutes then as Nighy has to go on the run, selling a valuable painting to finance his search for the truth. The dealer he sells the painting to turns out to be Marthe Keller in a rather pointless rare appearance from her ‘70s heyday. It keeps the interest but is all rather thriller-by-numbers as Nighy outwits his pursuers. Fiennes puts in a cracking appearance in his showdown with Nighy.

And now of course we are agog for the new series of DOWNTON ABBEY, costume drama at it's best, and original stuff too, from Lord Fellowes, so not another Jane Austen or Bronte retread then, with Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Dan Stevens and all the others...

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