Robert Tanitch review the latest DVDs
STILL ALICE (Curzon). A linguist professor discovers she is suffering from early onset of Alzheimer disease. She is only 50 and has passed on the disease to her three grown-up children. Directors and screenwriters Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmarshland watch a beautiful and intelligent woman becoming more and more disorientated and forgetful. Her family are observed coping and not coping. Julianne Moore, one of America’s finest actresses, won an Oscar and BAFTA award for her performance. The film is sincere, heartfelt, and distressing to watch; it may be too close to home for many viewers. There are 850,000 people with dementia in the UK.
SECOND COMING (Kaleidoscope), scripted and directed by Debbie Tucker Green, is the story of a virgin pregnancy. Or so the middle-aged mother (Nadine Marshall) believes and she doesn’t tell her husband (Idris Elba) because she knows he isn’t the father. Is she in need of psychiatric care? There are no answers. The situation is taken as given. The husband loses his temper. Much of the elusive and laboured action is seen through the eyes of their 11-year-old son (Jai Francis-Lewis). The actors are good. But the Afro-Caribbean London slang either needs a much sharper microphone.
WIDE BOY (StudioCanal) is a 1952 British crime film. Sydney Tafler, a character actor, cornered the market as the ultimate flashy, Jewish, working-class spiv. If a British film needed a spiv in the 1940’s and 1950’s Sydney Tafler was first on the list for the role. Here is playing the lead, a petty criminal, selling stolen nylons on the black market, who turns blackmailer. His victim is a distinguished surgeon, who is about to get a knighthood and who is having an affair whilst his wife is dying. Ken Hughes directed. It was his first feature film.
UNCLE (StudioCanal) is a somewhat simplistic and naive British film and deliberately so. It was directed by Desmond Davis and shot in Plymouth in 1965. It’s about growing up and facing up to bullying, death and worrying where babies come from. The primary schoolchildren no doubt had fun pretending to be children and playing Cowboys and Indians. Uncle is a 7-year-old boy (Robert Duncan) called Gus who is teased mercilessly by the other kids because he is an uncle. The film, which observes everything from his point of view, is notable for Manny Wyn’s photography.
NIGHT ALONE (StudioCanal) is a dire British film from 1938. Smug husband, married for seven years, has never spent a night away from his wife and has never been on the tiles – until now. He wakes from a drunken stupor to find himself arrested for being a crook. The script is terribly unfunny and Emlyn Williams, who is embarrassingly miscast, can’t make it work. Williams was the author and star of the most popular stage thriller of the 1930’s, Night Must Fall.