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4 items from 2011


Dickens on screen: the highs and the lows

23 December 2011 4:05 PM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

There have been more than 400 film and TV adaptations so far, and counting, some brilliant, some memorably awful

The opening credits of BBC1's new three-part adaptation of Great Expectations (27-29 December) show a chrysalis cracking open to reveal a pair of trembling wings. A few seconds later this delicate emergence is replaced on screen by the escaped convict Magwitch (Ray Winstone) erupting from the stagnant waters of the Essex marshes. Covered in blood and slime, he is at once the monster of nightmares and a huge misshapen baby gasping its first breath.

In a single sequence, the director Brian Kirk gets to the heart of Dickens's novel as a fable of rebirth and renewal. Together with Sarah Phelps, the screenwriter, he has created a world in which characters are forever seeking to transform themselves – or each other. A spookily young Miss Havisham (Gillian Anderson), still cocooned in her tatty wedding dress, »

- Robert Douglas-Fairhurst

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Peter Yates obituary

10 January 2011 4:00 PM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Versatile British film director known for Bullitt, The Deep and Breaking Away

The director Peter Yates, who has died aged 81, helped Steve McQueen achieve iconic status with the cop movie Bullitt (1968), enjoyed a massive box-office success with The Deep (1977) and made one of the most beguiling of all youth movies in Breaking Away (1979). He maintained a steady career throughout five decades, initially in the theatre and then in mainstream cinema, but he suffered the critical neglect so often accorded those who tackle a variety of subjects and genres and become known, somewhat disparagingly, as journeyman directors.

Pauline Kael described him as a competent director "with a good serviceable technique for integrating staged movie action into documentary city locations". David Thomson suggested that, in America, Yates had "done nothing more profound than send hubcaps careering around corners". Bullitt's famous San Francisco car chase (later revived by Ford as part of »

- Brian Baxter

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Living in a television time warp | Peter Preston

2 January 2011 11:00 PM, PST | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

To be young in front of a TV is to be suddenly old, in a world where the past eternally survives

It was a child's straightforward question: "Are they dead, grandpa?" And yes, indeed, they are. Georgina and I were watching Kiss Me Kate on its umpteenth TV outing: with Howard Keel (Rip 2004, aged 85), Ann Miller (2004, aged 81) and Kathryn Grayson (who died only 11 months ago , aged 88). But Georgina, just 10, knew none of that, of course. She loved Miller's tap-dancing and Keel's barrel-chested booming. She just wanted to know whether these particular stars of the great Christmas/New Year movie banquet were still around.

And the answer, inevitably, counted them out. Along with John Wayne, Dean Martin, Katharine Hepburn, Alec Guinness and dozens more. Say goodbye to Eric and Ernie, one more time? No: this New Year they jig and joke again via a drama-cum-biog, after Christmas, and Ronnie Barker returns from beyond the grave. »

- Peter Preston

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Living in a television time warp | Peter Preston

2 January 2011 11:00 PM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

To be young in front of a TV is to be suddenly old, in a world where the past eternally survives

It was a child's straightforward question: "Are they dead, grandpa?" And yes, indeed, they are. Georgina and I were watching Kiss Me Kate on its umpteenth TV outing: with Howard Keel (Rip 2004, aged 85), Ann Miller (2004, aged 81) and Kathryn Grayson (who died only 11 months ago , aged 88). But Georgina, just 10, knew none of that, of course. She loved Miller's tap-dancing and Keel's barrel-chested booming. She just wanted to know whether these particular stars of the great Christmas/New Year movie banquet were still around.

And the answer, inevitably, counted them out. Along with John Wayne, Dean Martin, Katharine Hepburn, Alec Guinness and dozens more. Say goodbye to Eric and Ernie, one more time? No: this New Year they jig and joke again via a drama-cum-biog, after Christmas, and Ronnie Barker returns from beyond the grave. »

- Peter Preston

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4 items from 2011


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