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7 reviews in total 
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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
The best of the National Theatre live telecasts., 22 May 2010

'The Habit of Art' is the fourth in the current National Theatre live broadcast series, allowing those of us not in London to see the performances direct from the theatre. This is the third and the best I have seen. Apart from the unfortunate replacement of Michael Gambon (through illness, I understand) with Richard Griffiths, who was excellent but Gambon would have been better, there is absolutely nothing to quibble about. The play itself is brilliant: a multi-layered postmodern masterpiece, centred on a meeting between poet WH Auden and composer Benjamin Britten (Alex Jennings) in 1972, some 30 years after the failure of the opera they wrote together. But the play is not just about this meeting; it is a rehearsal of the play, so includes the stage manager - a brilliant Frances de la Tour - who steps in occasionally to read the part for an absent actor, the writer, who must field complaints about his play, and even a casual walk on from another play being performed elsewhere in the theatre complex.

Because of the intimate nature of the production, it is easily accommodated to the cameras filming the stage - much better than the earlier productions - and indeed, much thought and work have clearly gone into the filming so it is seamless and unobtrusive.

This is a play about art - the art of poetry, the art of music, the art of theatre and playwriting, and of acting. It is incredibly funny and always engrossing. If these broadcasts are ever made available on DVD, don't hesitate.

It is truly marvellous. A triumph.

8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
an excellent and comprehensive series, 1 January 2007

This is an excellent series, covering the main art movements of Europe; it begins with the Greeks and Romans, moves through the medieval development and on to the Renaissance. The material on the modern movements is just as authoritative. Michael Wood is an enthusiastic and engaging host, and there is a good selection of experts presenting material in their areas of expertise.

The material is both accurate and comprehensive. Highly recommended. It is useful both as an introduction to the various periods and for more serious students; when I was teaching Art History, I used several episodes in the classroom.

Although there is no substitute for seeing the actual works of art, documentary series like this can be both useful and stimulating. It is available on VHS (try Amazon) but as far as I am aware not on DVD yet.

3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Fatal flaw is lack of charm of the central character, 18 November 2006

In spite of sterling work by the supporting actors, and an intelligent script by Alan Plater, this film suffers from a fatal flaw - the lack of charm of the central character/actor. One of the characters describes Richard E Grant's character as "a whining little turd" and unfortunately this sums him up perfectly. There is nothing about him or his performance to make it credible that his girlfriend and upper-class publisher/friend would spend so much time and emotional effort on him. He is rude, arrogant, selfish, self-destructive and thoroughly annoying. The part called for an actor who can make you love him even when he is being a prate - a Ewan McGregor, for example.

All of the witty satire on the class system etc was wasted, thanks to this irritating and thoroughly unlikeable performance. All I wanted to do was shake him and tell him to get over himself.

34 out of 34 people found the following review useful:
A comedy thriller of charm and humour., 26 December 2004

Charters and Caldicott are characters who first appeared in Alfred Hitchcock's 1938 film "The Lady Vanishes'. Now retired, by Jove, from "doing something at the Foreign Office" for 40 years, they share a passion for cricket - and then they find themselves caught up in mystery, murder and mayhem. After discovering the body of a young woman in Caldicott's London flat, they blithely bungle their way through intrigue and more murder until they end up - inevitably - at a cricket match.

This is a total delight, from start to finish, not least because of the wonderful performances of all involved, and because of the absurd juxtaposition of two elderly and always courteous gentlemen and the world of corruption and violence they blunder into. Highly recommended.

5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
A truly wonderful and enjoyable production., 6 December 2004

Not only is this a wonderful and accessible production of Puccini's great opera, it also suggests the origins of much that Baz Luhrmann has done since, especially in "Moulin Rouge."

Luhrmann has set it in a more modern time than is usual, with many of his later trademarks in evidence, such as the 'L'amour' sign. It is a fresh, vigorous and youthful production, as Puccini no doubt intended it to be.

The leads are not only great singers, but are young and good looking, giving a visual credibility and beauty to match the sound.

I cannot recommend this film too highly to opera lovers. I love it.

11 out of 20 people found the following review useful:
Abhorrent, repellent, gratuitously violent, this is neither Christianity nor truth., 17 April 2004

I am unsure of the motivation behind the making of this film - if is to promote Christianity, then it does a very poor job. The opposite, I think. If it is to tell the "truth", then it fails.

I have serious concerns about the mental health of someone who can take half a dozen words - "when he had scourged him" (St Mark) and turn it into a 20-minute blood and violence fest. And again: "he was taken to the place of execution" - another 20 minutes of vicious brutality.

I thought the whole point of Christianity is that Christ was a man - and no man, no matter how stoic, could have survived a fraction of this.

Do not go and see this film - it is abhorrent in its gratuitous violence.

5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Brilliant and imaginative, with outstanding performances, this is TV at its best., 7 January 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Anyone who thinks television is only for the brain-dead should see this drama. Written by Dennis Potter,the most exciting writer to ever work for television, it is a multi-layered story of a writer hospitalised with a disabling skin disease, who retells the story of his most famous book (which is coincidentally being read by another patient,)relives incidents from his childhood, imagines contemporary events and the people around him bursting into song. It is hard to describe, but it is sharp, funny, superbly intelligent and challenging - among the best six hours ever made for television.