29 January 2007

Houseboat (starring Cary Grant and Sophia Loren)

'Houseboat' is one of those films I picked up on special offer, probably a 'three for ten pounds' kind of thing, where it looked interesting enough to go with two other DVDs that we actually wanted. It's not something I would necessarily have chosen, although even I have heard of Cary Grant and Sophia Loren, and it was billed as a light family comedy.

The story is about a widower (Cary Grant) with three rather riotous children, who is having a string of bad luck. It's also about a rich young lady (Sophia Loren) who runs away from home and takes a job as nanny to the children, without revealing her identity.

Most of the film takes place while the family are on holiday in a houseboat... which is not quite as expected, so various predictable disasters ensue. And, of course, there's a romantic element...

We thought it was a reasonable film; not bad, exactly, but a bit dull. I don't know why it was considered so brilliant, but then there weren't so many films made in 1958. It's in colour, but feels very dated, and despite the stars a lot of it seemed rather over-acted. Still, it makes a pleasant enough story in the end - certainly innocuous family viewing, hence the U rating for the UK.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

Quantum Leap series 2 (starring Scott Bakula and Dean Stockwell)

Having finished - and very much enjoyed - the DVD of the first season of Quantum Leap, a TV series which I watched avidly in the early 1990s, I was delighted to learn that the second and subsequent seasons were now also available in DVD format. We've now seen all the episodes of the second season (22 of them in all).

Some of these episodes were extremely moving, particularly the last one; some were frightening, some were thought-provoking, and most had plenty of low-key humour in the banter between Sam, the quantum physicist (Scott Bakula) and his holographic assistant Al (Dean Stockwell).

We learn more about Sam's background in this series, too, as he begins to discover things about himself - such as particular talents that he had originally, but had forgotten about when his time travel experiments turned his brain into what is graphically described as 'swiss cheese'. The script is well done, so that as Sam's memory apparently begins to fill in the holes, so we learn more about him, and he begins to seem more well-rounded.

My respect for Scott Bakula as an actor increased enormously while watching him take on a wide variety of different personalities in this season - from a trapeze artist to a kidnapper; he also plays a theatre actor, a lawyer, a rabbi, a blind pianist... and even a teenage with serious learning difficulties.

All in all, this was an excellent series and we look forward to seeing the third! Rated 12 in the UK, probably due to some bad language and violence as part of some of the storylines.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

13 January 2007

84 Charing Cross Road (starring Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins)

This film, the unusually titled '84 Charing Cross Road', was recommended to me by Amazon, probably because I so like films with Dame Judi Dench in them. It went on my wishlist, and I was very pleased to be given it for Christmas.

It's a twenty-year-old nostalgic film, based on a true story: the correspondence between Frank, clerk working at a bookshop in London (Anthony Hopkins) and Helene, script editor (Anne Bancroft) in New York. The story begins in the late 1940s and continues over many years.

We thought that there were some lovely contrasts between American exuberance and British austerity, although they were done tastefully without exaggeration. The common factor between these two very different people is their shared love of good books.

There's no fast action, nor any high drama; yet we were drawn right into the story, which is beautifully done. The casting is excellent, and the film very well made. It was lovely and gentle film, suitable for all the family, with a touch of sadness. The UK rating is U, reflecting this, although the more cautious US rating is PG. I doubt if it would be of much interest to young children, but there's nothing inappropriate - at least, not that we noticed.


Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews