23 August 2006

Ladies in Lavender (starring Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Daniel Brühl)

This film was recommended to us by various friends. I always like Judi Dench as an actress, so it went on my wishlist.

'Ladies in Lavender' is a lovely film about two elderly sisters - brilliantly portrayed by Judi Dench and Maggie Smith. Set in Cornwall in the 1930s, they live alone until a man - who speaks no English - is washed onto the shore near their home, nearly drowned.

There's not a great deal of plot; the film is an exercise in characterisation, and the changes that inevitably take place when two gentle old ladies take an unusual young man into their care. Relationships develop in different ways, powerfully portrayed.

Ideal for a relaxing evening's viewing. Rated 12 (PG-13 in the US) but the only reason we could find for this was a single instance of 'strong language'. However, with little action and plot, it probably would not be of much interest to anyone under the age of twelve or thirteen anyway.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

17 August 2006

Quantum Leap series 1 (starring Scott Bakula and Dean Stockwell)

Many years ago, in the days when I sometimes watched television in the evenings, I came across a science fiction programme called 'Quantum Leap'. Sci-fi isn't really my thing, but I caught it at a good moment, with the interaction of two guys - I forget which episode it was - and the idea of a time traveller, going back to 'put right what once went wrong'. I like it, and made sure I watched it again the following week. I was quickly hooked.

Over the years I caught various episodes of 'Quantum Leap', including the final season in 1993 when we lived for a couple of years in America. After it was taken off the air, I stopped watching television altogether. So I was absolutely delighted when I learned that the first season is now available on DVD, with the others coming out soon. I don't often buy full-priced DVDs, but at around twelve pounds for nine 45-minute episodes, it seemed like good value.

We've been watching about one per week for the past few months, and have enjoyed them very much. We both remembered the first episode - the pilot, I guess, where with clever word play Sam (Scott Bakula) finds himself as an Air Force pilot - and no idea how to fly the dangerous mission he is must undertake. Al (Dean Stockwell) appears to him as a hologram, advising and helping, and keeping him in touch with the Quantum Leap project which Sam has forgotten about entirely when being transported back in time.

The second episode is theoretically the second part of the pilot, but pretty much stands alone - this time Sam leaps into the body of a basketball player. The rest of the first DVD contains extras - thoughts from the actors, and commentary, but these first two episodes set the scene for the entire five-season show which followed over several years.

The other two DVDs contain a further seven episodes from the first season of 'Quantum Leap', and are a nice mixture, from a rather awkward teenager to a black chauffeur to a mafia hit-man. Scott Bakula adapts brilliantly to each; despite knowing that he is bound to manage whatever he is supposed to do in his different 'leaps', they are exciting, sometimes tense, and often tinged with humour in Sam and Al's exchanges. There's actually very little science fiction beyond references to the project, and I thoroughly enjoyed this series.

Definitely recommended.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews