26 October 2007

Father of the Bride (starring Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor)

Flying on a plane with individual choice of films to watch, the only one that appealed to me was the 1950s black-and-white version of 'Father of the Bride'. I knew that there was a 1990s remake starting Steve Martin, but knew little about the plot other than assuming that there was a wedding involved somewhere.

The movie begins with the respectable and slightly grumpy Stanley (superbly played by Spencer Tracy) sighing over the cost and mess produced by his daughter Kay (Elizabeth Taylor) having been married.

The rest of the film looks back over the circumstances leading up to the wedding, from the time when Kay mentioned her young man for the first time, progressing through all the rituals that were common in 1950s America - inviting him to dinner, meeting his parents, and so on.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this film. Parts of it were very moving, perhaps all the more so since we had just said goodbye to our son who was working at the other side of the world. I scarcely noticed the lack of colour after the first five minutes or so, and was drawn right into the story, smiling in places, and even shedding a little tear in others.

Definitely recommended, if this kind of film appeals to you.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

25 October 2007

Northanger Abbey (starring Katharine Schlesinger and Peter Firth)

On a long flight, with personal choice of video to watch, I opted for an adaptation of one of my favourite Jane Austen books, 'Northanger Abbey'. It was made for TV by the BBC, who are usually very good at period dramas of this kind, so I had high hopes for it.

Katharine Schlesinger plays the hapless Catherine Morland who stars in this story as a young girl longing for adventure, imagining all kinds of dreadful deeds taking place amongst even the pleasantest of homes.

Unfortunately, I did not much enjoy the movie. While much of the text was (to my memory, anyway) fairly true to the book, none of the characters was particularly appealing. Catherine is supposed to be rather annoyingly silly, but none of the others were a great deal better.

In addition, the director appear to have missed the point of the book, which was ironic, poking fun at the plethora of 'gothic' novels which were so popular with teenage girls at the time. So, instead of warmth and humour, this film seemed to glory in the gothic horror, producing some scenes that I couldn't quite bear to watch, as part of Catherine's nightmares.

The rest of it was, I suppose, pleasant enough, and told the Austen story, albeit from a perspective entirely lacking in humour. But I don't think I'll be watching this again.

Note: later on we acquired the ITV adaptation of Northanger Abbey, which, to my surprise, I liked a great deal better.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

22 October 2007

The Vicar of Dibley complete series (starring Dawn French)

While we're not really television watchers in general, there are some sitcom series from previous years where we caught a few episodes and very much liked them. 'The Vicar of Dibley' is one such series, made mostly in the 1990s. And when, visiting our son abroad, he was given this series - most of which he had not seen previously - we watched it together over a couple of weeks.

The story is well-known. Dawn French stars as the lively Geraldine, appointed as Vicar in a small parish. The series starts at the beginning when she must face prejudice against her gender, and moves through typical (or stereo-typical) situations in the life of a parish church.

There's lots of humour in the characterisation and circumstances, but what we particularly like about this series is that it doesn't poke fun at the church as such, nor at Christian ministers. Geraldine is portrayed as a lively, caring and - in the end - faithful and responsible lady, for whom problems arise. But, in the end, God is usually the winner in a gentle kind of way.

This series is rated 12 in the UK, probably due to some sexual implications and innuendoes, which sometimes border on the vulgar. However, there is nothing explicit, and no violence to speak of. The US does not have a rating for this series.

Definitely recommended for adults and teenagers, if you don't mind the strange mixture of humour, which does sometimes border on the adolescent.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews