29 November 2008

The Browning Version (starring Michael Redgrave)

'The Browing Version' is one of many films we acquired from someone who collected it from a free give-away with a weekend newspaper. It's not one I am ever likely to have chosen myself - although I quite enjoyed it.

The story is an unusual one, featuring the last day of term in a British boys’ public school in the 1950s. The unpopular classics master Andrew Crocker-Harris (brilliantly played by Michael Redgrave) is leaving. His colleagues and students see him as unemotional, almost ‘dead’ emotionally, and have no regrets about his leaving.

However, during the day, Crocker-Harris's real self starts to show itself in various ways.

We meet his unbelievably ghastly wife (Jean Kent), and we also get to know a boy in his class who’s fairly empathic and who quite likes classics. We see the master through their eyes, and new facets emerge.

We meet, too, a colleague who has been conducting an affair with his wife.. and many more. There's not much plot, but the gradual unfolding of a complex and rather sad personality.

The acting is good, in a 1950s kind of way (once we got past the pseudo-BBC accents) and the directing is good too. I felt that the people were believable and the flow of the story works well. On the other hand, it was rather depressing overall, with no clear conclusion.

Black and white, rate U in the UK, but probably not of much interest to anyone under the age of about 12 or 13.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

03 November 2008

Pride and Prejudice (starring Keira Knightley, Talulah Riley, and Matthew Macfadyen)

I was a little reluctant to watch the 2005 version of 'Pride and Prejudice'. It's not that I dislike movie versions of books; indeed, Jane Austen's novels seem to translate particularly well to the screen. But I had so much enjoyed the BBC mini-series that I was fairly sure that this shorter version would be disappointing.

However, sufficient people recommended this to me that I eventually put it on my wishlist; and we finally got around to watching it last night.

Being so much shorter than the BBC version, it was inevitably rather cut down as far as the various sub-plots go, but I thought that it was still true to the book. There was some excellent casting, other than Mr Bingley who we thought very weak.

It was evidently given a much higher budget for extras than the BBC version had; the balls were particularly lavish, and the sound track added to the atmosphere in a positive way.

All in all, I thought this version of the classic book very enjoyable. Particularly recommended if you don't know the book, or want to introduce someone else to it without spending house in front of the screen.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews