Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Film bits and tips

Helena Bonham-Carter's well-known love of crazy get-ups has found its perfect expression in her upcoming film role as Miss Havisham in the latest remake of Great Expectations.
 One of Dickens' most eccentric characters (and that's saying something!) Miss H wore a tattered wedding dress, kept a decaying feast on her table, and surrounded herself with clocks stopped at 20 minutes to nine. As a young woman, she was jilted by her fiancĂ© minutes before her wedding, and now she nurses a vendetta against all men.
Paramount made the first film  of Dickens' 1861 novel in 1917; and since the 1934 version (in which Florence Reed played Miss H), a film treatment of his most popular novel was released in each decade.

David Lean's great version of 1946 cast Sir John Mills as Pip, Valerie Hobson as Estella, Alec Guinness as Herbert Pocket, and Martita Hunt as Miss Havisham (above left). Other treatments with admirable scripts and actors include the 1999 three-part Masterpiece Theater mini-series with Charlotte Rampling. Let's hope this one measures up!

Among our current DVD offerings, I would highlight Strangers on a Train as a film adaptation of a novel that completely hits the mark. In terms of director (Hitchcock), cast, and script, it fires on all cylinders and delivers that queasy unease that was author Patricia Highsmith's specialty.
I also enjoyed Va Savoir, a consummately French film about convoluted relationships that smooth themselves out in a delightful manner, reminiscent of Cosi fan tutte. (It's also a great way to brush up on your colloquial French!) For some of us, foreign films are where we go for authentic and complex characters and themes. We have a varied list of them at the moment (Bergman, Almodavar, et al.) with the enthralling A Very Long Engagement being just one of many that are worthy of home library status.

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