PORTRAIT OF A LADY
Film of the Henry James novel. A free-thinking young woman travels the world in a luxurious lifestyle insulated from the everyday worries and concerns of ordinary people, collecting beautiful objets d’art and mixing with brilliant artists, witty conversationalists, members of the House of Lords and cold scheming amoral diabolical seducers. Also, a few property developers wanting to build shopping centres in south east England. How does she manage it? Well, it turns out she auctions off autographed government reports into the apparent suicide of civil servants, that’s how.
Starring: Nicole Kidman as the deluded, out-of-touch central character who’s lost her sense of moral judgment.
CH verdict: All right-thinking people will be appalled by the behaviour of the woman at the centre of this drama, and we have to question the taste and values of the producers in wanting to present this spectacle to the public. This is one of the extremely rare occasions where we are calling not just for a boycott but for an outright ban. Have your own say here.
NUMBER 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU
A film about laughable adolescent behaviour. The Cabinet go off on a team-bonding exercise.
Starring: a bunch of kids who aren’t going anywhere fast.
CH verdict: This was a bold attempt to modernise Shakespearean drama – but whilst the cast think they’re doing "The Taming Of The Shrew" the audience know it’s turning into "Hamlet".
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE IIIrd TERM
Blockbuster thriller. A super-spy who conceals the truth about himself
is forced to survive numerous attempts to eliminate him: explosions,
gadgets, roof-top chases, visits to the Vatican, incomprehensible
plots, the usual run-of-the-mill stuff for a Whitehall Monday morning.
Can he protect the woman he loves from the gangsters trying to gun down
both of them on their way to taking over the world?
Starring: Tom Cruise as the man with the big smile nearing the end of
his career; Philip Seymour Hoffman as the amoral sadistic villain who
wants to conquer the planet, and has got a dodgy eye but is pretty good
CH verdict: The quality of this series of films has deteriorated
markedly since it was first launched in 1997. Judging from the
evidence (although that’s really a matter for Inspector Yates) our view
is that this franchise will be wound up shortly.
THE TALENTED MR PRESCOTT
Film of the Patricia Highsmith novel. A young underachiever uses his
suavely seductive charms, persuasive eloquence and intellectual cunning
to steal someone else’s identity. He then proceeds to enjoy the gilded
high life of a rich and spoiled multi-millionaire playboy. He has it
all: his pick of the world’s finest country homes, Jaguar cars, diary
secretaries etc etc. without having to do anything discernible to earn
a living. But suspicions begin to mount: can Mr Prescott keep one step
ahead of the forces of justice trying to expose him?
Starring: Matt Damon as the ruthless charmer; Jude Law as the other
ruthless charmer; Gwyneth Paltrow as the ruthless charmless woman
married to the other ruthless charmer; Philip Seymour Hoffman as the
ruthless charmless man who lives next door to the other ruthless
charmer (etc etc)
CH verdict: How far would you go to become someone else? Probably not very far to become John Prescott.
A powerful and provocative war drama retelling the final days of a mad,
power-crazed dictator trapped in a bunker and cut off from reality,
surviving plots to assassinate him and arguing with sycophantic
acolytes as the enemy close in and… You get the idea.