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The Passing Bells (2014)
Saccharine-sweet sentimental stool-water...
This is just awful-I appreciate that the time slot will constrain exactly what the film-makers can show, with the gore, the filth, the disease, and the horror all being toned down (although they don't seem to have the same qualms about showing sex), but the production is riddled with inaccuracies and inconsistencies-modern language (the term 'girlfriend' was unknown) and modern accents (I've yet to meet a German who speaks with an Estuarine accent, especially one from rural Germany), a complete glossing-over of both sides' arguments (whether right or wrong) for going to war, apart from a rather trite comment about the Belgians being 'our' friends, no general explanation of the real time situations in which the two volunteers find themselves (this may be a way of illustrating the common soldier's frustration with lack of information, but as a device for stimulating empathy and interest in younger viewers, it fails abysmally), and a maudlin obsession with sugar-coating even the bitterest pill... This is not supposed to be a Barbara Cartland novel, but an interpretation of the brutal realities of early 20th century warfare, and it's effect on its participants.
The BBC has concentrated on it's PC agenda, showing the mêlée from both sides, and deliberately avoiding any specific finger-pointing, but in doing so, it has completely obliterated any chance of showing real human emotion and partisanship. Nationalism may be unfashionable today, but it was one of the major motivational factors used by both sides in recruiting to their cause. If this is supposed to be a vaguely factual account of the events from 1914-1918 (and as has been pointed out elsewhere, why does the strap-line talk about "spanning the five years of the First World War"), it shouldn't be prejudiced by modern sensibilities. My forbears fought on both sides of the Great War-this simplistic, dumbed-down soap opera is an insult to all of them. I shall keep watching until the end of the week, if only to see how much worse it can get, and shall append further brickbats as and when necessary-this was yet another waste of licence-payers' money!..
Lazy mediocrity- a tragic waste of A1 material!..
I speculated earlier that it would be difficult for the BBC to plumb the depths of degradation any further than they had managed with the first season of 'Blandings' last year... How wrong I was...If the first series was ham-fisted and amateur, this second outing can only be described as a gruesome travesty. I find it hard to believe that the production team and commissioning editor looked upon this finished article with anything other than loathing and despair. The principal characters have descended to low parodies of their former selves, which were, in turn, no more than bargain-basement burlesques, when compared with the exquisitely detailed, and perfectly pitched personalities that Plum created. I really can't be bothered to treat each character's assassination in turn, but shall pick out some of the more awful gumboils: If Harry Enfield (Alaric, Duke of Dunstable) believes that simply shouting 'Potty' at his fellows will endear him to his public, he is sadly mistaken, but I suppose the blame for this lies with his direction. He's too young, too thin, not hirsute enough, and incapable of speaking properly-wrong accent, wrong lines!.. Here is an extract from 'Service with a Smile', one of Plum's later, and by no means better books, giving a description of the Duke. This shows the quality of his prose before the BBC started mauling it about: "He was a large, stout, bald-headed man with a jutting nose, prominent eyes and a bushy white moustache of the type favoured by regimental sergeant majors and walruses. In Wiltshire, where he resided when not inviting himself for long visits to the homes of others, he was far from popular, his standing among his neighbours being roughly that of a shark at a bathing resort-something, that is to say, to be avoided on all occasions as nimbly as possible. A peremptory manner and an autocratic disposition combined to prevent him winning friends and influencing people"... Despite starting with the works of (probably) the best comic writer of the 20th century, the BBC have somehow managed to produce this bumbling, blundering, boorish dog's breakfast... Jack Farthing (the Hon. Freddie Threepwood) has obviously spent his year watching Monty Python's 'Upper Class Twit of the Year' competition-I thought last year that he showed promise-I now rescind that view. Jennifer Saunders (Lady Constance Keeble) seems to be walking around with something inserted up her fundament, in the vain belief that this gives her character poise and gravitas-she is sadly deluded. Tim Vine (Beach)-I've yet to make my mind up. I'm assuming that Mark Williams headed for the hills after last year's debacle, in a last-ditch attempt to salvage some of his reputation-I sympathize perfectly, as he was grievously miscast. Vine has greater gravity, but still lacks presence-the jury remains undecided... Another reviewer elsewhere advised readers not to waste their time watching this hogwash, but to employ it more constructively by actually reading one of Plum's masterpieces (the first episode of series 2 is very loosely based on 'A Pelican at Blandings', with Gally (the Hon. Galahad Threepwood, our hero and the pelican alluded to)'s masterful machinations expunged, and understudied by Freddie Threepwood-I concur completely, you can even download a Wodehouse sampler for free,at http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/8190 Enjoy!..
The Lady Vanishes (2013)
My God this was so awful, I barely know where to start!..This was a period piece, and yet some of the dialogue was pure 21st century 'smart-speak'. People did not feel 'empathy' in pre-war Britain (and would certainly never had admitted feeling such to strangers if they had). The scriptwriters seem to have forgotten the separate meanings and contextual uses of 'will' and 'shall', and the accents were Estuarine in the extreme. There was far too much breathless 'gushing' by our heroine (who ever thought to cast Middleton in this role anyway?.. She hasn't the screen presence nor the ability to convey any sort of emotion other than a rather hollow & supercilious haughtiness), and Tom Hughes (Max Hare) simply carried on where he left off in 'Dancing on the Edge'...The only characters with any sort of screen credulity were the Reverend and his wife, and even they had to be given a paper-thin sideplot to flesh out their presence...Rhind-Tutt was completely wasted, and even Stephanie Cole's attempts at caustic wit were cheap and shallow...Where was the menacing threat of Hitchcock's original?..The whole thing reeked of hurried, seedy amateurism...I thought the 1979 remake with Gould and Shepherd was bad, but even that production had some saving graces (remember Arthur Lowe & Ian Carmichael as the two cricket-mad Englishmen). The main question is why bother making it at all?.. A shabby remake, poorly thrown together, with a second-no, make that a third-rate cast.
Round Ireland with a Fridge (2010)
Preaching to the unconverted...
Tripe, drivel, rubbish, crap, dross, whatever you call it, it's still the same thing. This film missed the genuine sparkle contained within the book, which was a silly story about a silly person doing something silly. I've (obviously) read the book, and loved it! This tries much too hard to be funny, and as a result, falls flat. Tony Hawks' comedy is minutely observational, and can be cripplingly funny (see his website), so you would imagine he'd be a gifted scriptwriter. This steaming pile, however, is didacticism at its worst. Pity he didn't get his pal, Arthur Smith involved!.. I managed a whole hour, but it felt much longer. It started slow (not a bad thing), and slowed down! TH's career has stalled recently, so I guess this was a way to pay the mortgage!..Turn over, and watch the weather channel instead, it would certainly be more instructive, and may even be funnier!..Better still, read the book!..Here's hoping his next project, an adaptation of another of his books, 'Playing the Moldovans' at Tennis is better...
Regimental Stories (2011)
Nothing too taxing...But great fun all the same...
Fantastic series enthusiastically narrated by Sean Pertwee (you can tell he's a fan), which reminds us why the British Army is still something to be proud of (and to fear). As an ex-serviceman myself, I have slight issues with the regiments that were chosen (with 350 years of history, I felt more time should have been allocated to more senior regiments-this is a programme focusing on traditions, after all-and who makes a series of only 5 episodes?) and a cynic would say that it was made with more than an eye on the foreign market, with the result that we ended up with a form of BBC 'Lite', but all in all a most entertaining 30 minute filler. It isn't a patch on another BBC offering from many years ago, however, covering the same material in far more forensic detail. In the Highest Tradition aired in 1989, and as far as I can tell, was never repeated! Some of the regiments mentioned, are, alas no more...Check it out on BBCiplayer!..Enjoy!..
White Van Man (2010)
At last!..A decent comedy from BBCThree, and worth the wait!..
I couldn't stand Two Pints..., and unfortunately thought of Mellor as a one trick pony. how wrong was I!..This was funny, light-hearted, and not afraid to laugh at itself, but above all, it was well written (take note, budding scriptwriters, and those idiots responsible for Lunch Monkeys. If you start with good material, it makes everything work that little bit better)! I thought Mellor did a wonderful job, remaining the focal point while all around him descended into chaos-we've all met a Darren in our time (I don't know Joel Fry, but shall watch out for him in the future). Nice to see Clive Mantle back on the beeb as well! I especially loved the music...Somebody was obviously a big Ska fan...So I finally have something for which to thank the producers of Two pints......Bringing Will Mellor to our attention! Set your TiVo for next week!..
Time to regroup and reassess...We're nearly through the second series, and where's the sparkle gone?..Someone else on this board has speculated that the writers have changed, but I'm not sure I can be bothered to find out!..It's now degenerated into a series of too-carefully contrived overly silly situations, too much screen time given to Joel Fry (I love him, but less is more), and sexual tension played off between Liz & Emma...Nothing new here, we've seen it all before...Pity, it showed great promise...
Mona Lisa (1986)
A cleverer film than most think it is...
I feel, having read the other comments, that you are all missing the point of this film...Yes, it condemns the perfidious, materialist and shallow society that existed then...And believe me, life in London's West End was a lot worse than it is portrayed (George is charged £40-but he could have had a shag for £4..) but it's more than all of these things...In all our dark, dingy, sweaty, grimy lives, there is always something beautiful, pure, unsullied and wonderful to aspire to, even if this is entwined between the thighs of a 'tall, thin black tart', a fruit, that George suspects (and eventually discovers) cannot ever be eaten...A poisoned chalice...This is truly a wonderful film, and, I think, one of Maurice Micklewhite's best performances.