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The Secret (2008)
A must-see for fans of short films.
School can be a fairly isolating place at the best of times - we've all been there, but in The Secret, things just aren't panning out the way an average school day should.
David (Steven Coward, right) arrives a bit late for school, just after the bus has drawn up and classes have begun, and as he takes his seat he's ignored by his teacher, played by Nicola Haldane, when attempting to answer questions despite clearly wanting to impart the information. Other children sneer at him, while at the back, Rosie (Emily Batchford, below-right), asks the teacher to go easy on David because he doesn't know yet... about the secret..., and adds with a chilling air, "but he will do soon." Little by little, the realisation kicks in and when you think you've sussed it out, it's really not quite what you think. But what is it? Well, that would be telling :) The Secret features excellent performances from the two leads, Steven (age 14), who took the lead role in Jon Rosling's earlier feature, Waterfall, and Emily (age 11) who makes her debut in this film.
As well as the haunting soundtrack, which was atmospheric in all the right places, the camera angles also complemented the look of the film, including when David first walks up to the school with the camera low-down making the school looking even more daunting, and the overcast weather all fitted in together to echo that feeling of a school day when you're not in the mood for one. There was also an element in there that reminded me of The Eye (the original, that is. I haven't entertained the thought of seeing the Hollywood remake).
I went to see The Secret at the premiere on July 17th 2008 and there was a fantastic atmosphere about the whole screening. I've known Jon for many years, ever since we were both at Keele University. I was so looking forward to this film and it didn't disappoint at all.
More sentimental dirge from Richard Curtis
There was always a way to make an episode with Vincent Van Gogh and have it necessary to the whole story arc but this wasn't it, it just ticked two regular boxes of 'famous historical figure' and 'monster of the week'. Nothing else. For me, Amy's Choice had an interesting premise but then that failed to materialise which was disappointing on a different scale.
Overall, I couldn't see a story. It was obvious VVG was fighting his own demons because we know he's a complete mental. The fact the Doctor could see it in his gadget was odd but it's sci-fi so I'll let that go. And when the monster was gone they still had 10-15 minutes to fill, which is where Curtis threw away the whole point of Doctor Who. Certain things in history are meant to remain the same - and that does not include taking famous suicidal figures and showing them they have loads to live for, and even if he did that then it would have an effect on them - but here, it couldn't. So we knew what the outcome would be - i.e. no more paintings, and especially the dedication in the sunflowers picture to Amy, as that was Curtis' typical trademark of turning the schmaltz up a notch.
Love Actually managed to get away with being similarly crap a lot of the time as it carried you along with it, even if it threw you aside like a cheap cast-off at the end of it, but here.... I couldn't see any point to the episode. They could've changed the writer, changed the historical figure, made THEM fall in love with Amy just so she can trot in the line of "I'm not the marrying kind" to fit in with the story arc.
Next week's Doctor Who comes from the writer of Planet of the Dead, Unicorn & Wasp, and Shakespeare Code. This is such a disappointment. I thought this would be a golden year for Who after getting rid of RTD, but no.