In this week's programme presented by Martha Kearney:
John Carey |
Jonathan Freedland |
Julie Myerson |
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The Good German
Steven Soderbergh directs The Good German, based on the novel by Joseph Kanon.
It holds all the qualities of a classic film noir, it's a mystery, a romance and a thriller.
Cleverly crafted in the filmmaking techniques of 1945, this black and white film is set in Berlin at the time when the allies began dividing it into zones of military occupation. Soderbergh employed vintage camera lenses and simulated rear-projection for background shots.
Only filming limited local sites; he supplemented the rest with archival footage shot just after the war by legendary directors Billy Wilder and William Wyler which helped set the tone of authentic bleakness.
Everything has a 1940s feel, but the subject matter and the language is very contemporary and the story itself is peppered with ideas too provocative to have been approached during that period.
George Clooney plays Jacob Geismer a military journalist who has come back to Berlin to cover the peace conference.
However after discovering his former lover Lena Brandt (Cate Blanchett) irrevocably changed by the war, he finds himself plunged into a murder mystery wrapped up in a much larger historical event.
Every step of the way he's duped, he's lied to, he's beaten up; but he still perseveres in trying to uncover a truth that he may be unable to handle. Was it all worth it?
THE GOOD GERMAN IS RELEASED IN LONDON ON 9 MARCH AND NATIONWIDE ON 30 MARCH
ITV's Jane Austen season
Bosoms and breeches are back as ITV screens a season of three new adaptations of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion.
Adapted by Maggie Wadey, Mansfield Park kicks off the set with the much talked about Billie Piper as Fanny Price. Fanny is taken out of childhood poverty to the palatial surroundings of Mansfield Park, the home of her four cousins - Tom (James D'Arcy), Edmund (Blake Ritson), Maria (Michelle Ryan) and Julia (Catherine Steadman) - the Bertrams. The arrival of the glamorous Henry (Joseph Beattie) and Mary Crawford (Hayley Atwell) from London throws the household into chaos as the Bertrams fall under the Crawford siblings' spell. Edmund is bewitched by Mary but will he come to his senses in the end and realise Fanny is the one for him?
Austen's gothic romance, Northanger Abbey, has been adapted by the king of TV screenwriters Andrew Davies fresh from last year's Bleak House triumph on BBC One. Catherine Moreland (Felicity Jones) is the heroine - a spirited beauty with a passion for romantic novels. As Catherine enters 18th century Bath society she finds herself the object of two men's affection - the predatory John Thorpe (William Beck) and the gentle clergyman Henry Tilney (JJ Field). After she accepts an invitation to Tilney's family home - Northanger Abbey - her fevered imagination takes hold and Catherine begins to confuse real life with the world of gothic romances.
The final adaptation is Persuasion, with Sally Hawkins as Anne Elliot and Rupert Penry-Jones as the dashing Captain Frederick Wentworth. Anne is persuaded by her snobbish family to break off her engagement to the man she loves, the penniless Wentworth. But years later he returns having made his fortune. Anne realises how much she loves him but will she get a second chance at a happy life?
There is also a repeat of ITV's 1996 adaptation of Emma starring Kate Beckinsale as the eponymous heroine and Mark Strong as Mr Knightley.
The adaptations have all star casts but will they be overkill in a year when Becoming Jane - the story of Austen's life - also comes to the silver screen with Anne Hathaway as the novelist? Or will these classic love stories prove to be winners again and capture the nation as Pride and Prejudice did back in 1995?
MANSFIELD PARK STARTS THE SEASON ON SUNDAY 18 MARCH AT 9PM ON ITV WITH NORTHANGER ABBEY ON SUNDAY 25 MARCH AND PERSUASION ON SUNDAY 1 APRIL.
It's 50 years since Laurence Olivier played Archie Rice on stage before reprising the role in the 1960 film directed by Tony Richardson. To mark the anniversary, Robert Lindsay takes on the role of the struggling vaudeville comedian and end-of-pier act in this new production of The Entertainer at The Old Vic.
John Osborne followed the 1956 success of his debut play Look Back In Anger by writing The Entertainer the following year. He again took up the theme of the state of country but this time using the decline of the music hall as a metaphor for how Britain was going downhill.
Archie Rice is driven by dreams of stardom and a desire to equal his father's success as a music hall act. The booze-soaked Rice household is in chaos while waiting for news of the youngest son Mick who's been taken prisoner of war in Egypt but Archie's more concerned about tricking his father into financing one last show to prove he's a success.
Sean Holmes directs Pam Ferris as Phoebe Rice, the wife Archie shamelessly cheats on and who is about to be left for a younger model. John Normington is Billy Rice, Archie's father and genuine music hall great who Archie is trying to emulate every time he takes the stage.
The cast also includes David Dawson as Frank, Archie and Phoebe's son and the third generation of entertainers in the Rice family. Emma Cunniffe is Jean Rice, Archie's daughter by his first marriage and an angry young woman protesting about British soldiers going off to fight in the Suez Crisis.
Objecting to wars in other countries has resonances for many people today but has the play dated in other respects since its premiere in 1957? Or will the panel decide it has stood the test of time?
THE ENTERTAINER CONTINUES AT THE OLD VIC, LONDON UNTIL 19 MAY 2007
A Golden Age
by Tahmima Anam
Tahmima Anam's debut novel A Golden Age is the remarkable story of a woman's struggle for independence set against the backdrop of an even greater struggle as East Pakistan tried to fight for its own independence.
Tahmima was born in Bangladesh; but grew up very much an outsider as she lived in Paris, New York and London. The 1971 War of Bangladesh was a period of history that fascinated her and also affected her family.
Set in Dhaka, the main protagonist is young widow Rehana who loses a battle with her brother in law over the custody of her children. From that moment she vows to get her children back and never lose them again.
However, back with their mother and grown up, her children join the liberation movement and Rehana struggles to cope with the prospect of losing them once war to a much bigger battle.
A Golden Age is so titled to reflect this time in the history of Bangladesh that felt golden, that felt full of protean possibility where people where idealistic and hopeful about the future of their country.
Will our panellists be equally hopeful about this young writer's future?
A GOLDEN AGE IS PUBLISHED BY JOHN MURRAY
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