In this week's programme presented by
Sleuth and The Magic Flute
Tom Paulin |
Tony Parsons |
Kenneth Branagh has been a fixture in the British acting establishment ever since his small part in Chariots of Fire in 1981. He has starred in films such as Celebrity, Rabbit-Proof Fence and more recently Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, but Branagh is not content to keep his talents in front of the camera.
In 1989 he began his directing career with Henry V and has since made four further Shakespearean adaptations. His latest two films aren't based on the Bard but present equal directorial challenges.
Sleuth is a remake of the 1972 film which starred Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine as an ageing writer Andrew Wyke (Olivier) who invites his wife's lover, Milo Tindle (Caine) to meet him, setting up a battle of wits with dangerous consequences.
In Branagh's film which is scripted by Harold Pinter, Caine appears again but this time taking the role of Wyke with Jude Law as Tindle.
In his second film Branagh has teamed up with an old friend, Stephen Fry who has written the libretto, to bring Mozart's opera The Magic Flute to the screen.
Again, this isn't the first time it's been done. Ingmar Bergman made Trollfl÷jten in 1975, but Branagh has given the story a very contemporary theme.
Tamino (Joseph Kaiser) is a soldier in the First World War trenches and the three ladies who save him and send him on a quest are three nurses who rescue him from the battlefield. The Queen of the Night (Lyubov Petrova) enters the story on a tank and offers her daughter Pamina (Amy Carson) to Tamino if he defeats her father Sarastro (RenÚ Pape). She gives him a magic flute to help him on his way and he teams up with bird man Papageno (Benjamin Jay Davis) who also wants a wife.
But does the film's realistic setting capture the enchantment of the story adequately? And has Branagh's revisiting of Sleuth along with Pinter's dialogue, added anything to the story? The panel discuss if Branagh has risen to the tough directorial challenges both films present.
Newsnight Culture Correspondent Steve Smith talks to Harold Pinter and Michael Caine about Sleuth.
Read his article and watch the film here.
SLEUTH CERTIFICATE 15 IS IN CINEMAS NOW
THE MAGIC FLUTE CERTIFICATE PG OPENS ON FRIDAY 30 NOVEMBER
Pontoon by Garrison Keillor
Lake Wobegon has existed in Garrison Keillor's radio broadcasts for over thirty years, and his fourth novel set in the archetypal mid-Western town, Pontoon, is published next month.
Keillor has said that Lake Wobegon exists, in parts, across America, and is based on his own upbringing in the 1950s. It is a place, he writes in the book, where 'You can just be who you are.' Who his characters are and how they interact is the meat of the book. Keillor steers clear of grand ideas in the same way his protagonists do, instead painting portraits of people coping with aging, bereavement, and just getting along with their lives.
It is a formula that has stood him well in his long and lauded career. Robert Altman based his final film, A Prairie Home Companion, on Keillor's weekly radio show of the same name - but his detractors have suggested such homespun yarns are simply conservative and reactionary tales, comfort for those who feel threatened by the idea of progress. How will the panel react?
PONTOON IS PUBLISHED BY FABER ON 13 DECEMBER
Jonathan Trigell's award winning novel, Boy A, tells the story of a notorious child killer who┐s been given a second chance. Directed by John Crowley, and written Mark O┐Rowe it┐s been adapted into a feature length film for Channel 4.
Boy A, the nominal label given to one of 2 child killers, is now Jack Burridge (played by Andrew Garfield). The story begins on his release day. He┐s 24 and the only person who knows his true identity, and the monstrosity of the murder he committed in his youth, is his case worker Terry (Peter Mullan).
Despite his progress, integrating himself into a society of which he has no adult experience, Jack struggles with the duplicity of his new life. He┐s troubled by having to lie to new friends, but tabloid headlines and photo fit images serve as a constant reminder of the looming mob.
John Crowley uses a series of insightful flashbacks to re tell the crime. In doing so we fall for Jack┐s charm and vulnerability before being slowly informed of what he, and his young companion, did in the past.
Boy A benefits from powerful performances and attempts to explore some important questions about the morals of our times. Does it succeed? Our panel discuss.
BOY A IS ON MONDAY 26 NOVEMBER AT 9PM ON CHANNEL 4
The Led Zeppelin Phenomenon
Ever since their eponymous 1969 debut album, Led Zeppelin have been among the world's greatest rock acts and their place in music's hall of fame is assured.
Despite never releasing a single in the UK, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham have sold over 300 million albums worldwide. It was perhaps no surprise then that over a million fans registered for the 20,000 tickets which went on sale for their one off reunion gig which was announced this September. The gig on 10 December at the O2 arena in London is in memory of Ahmet Ertegun, founder of Atlantic Records, and will feature Jason Bonham filling in on drums for his father, John, who died in 1980.
Jimmy Page whose fractured finger had caused the show to be postponed from 26 November, has hinted that it would be a waste for the band to get together for just one night so the 880,000 disappointed fans may well find themselves able to get a ticket for a Led Zeppelin concert after all. But if not, they can console themselves with a copy of Mothership, the comprehensive two CD collection of their greatest hits which is being simultaneously released with The Song Remains The Same, the DVD of the famous 1973 Madison Square Garden concerts.
There is no doubt that Led Zeppelin are a cultural and marketing phenomenon but are they one reserved solely for middle aged men or will a whole new generation of teenagers be switched onto their charms? The panel discuss.
MOTHERSHIP IS OUT NOW ON THE ATLANTIC RECORDS/RHINO ENTERTAINMENT LABELS
THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME SPECIAL EDITION DVD IS OUT ON WARNER HOME VIDEO
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