Robert Tanitch reviews the latest DVDs
The Windsors Complete Series One & Two + Christmas Special (Acorn). The Royal Family have been fair game for the caricaturists ever since James Gilray and George Cruikshank in the 18th century. The present series is nearer to Spitting Image than Mike Bartlett’s King Charles III. Charles (Harry Enfield) is an old duffer. William (Hugh Skinner, very earnest) is the first to champion a referendum to abolish the monarchy. Kate (Louise Ford) is naive. Harry (Richard Goulding) is brainless and illiterate. Camilla (Haydn Gwynne) and Pippa Middleton (Morgana Robinson) are the villains and really vicious. Beatrice and Eugenie are silly girls. The script is broad, crude, rude, nasty, silly, ridiculous, very funny and often not funny at all. The writing is at its best the more it is directly inspired by real events.
Tout Va Bien (Arrow). It’s France in 1972 and no, everything is not all right. This political film by Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin is strictly for political lefties. A factory is on strike and there is a power trouble between workers, management and union. The manager is a caricature. The other major scene takes place in a supermarket with looting, rioting and police. The factory offices are on two floors and are cross-sectioned to look like an enormous doll’s house. The extraordinary tracking shot in the supermarket, tracking back and forth sideways, takes its view from behind the long row of cash tills. Yves Montand and Jane Fonda are cast because of their box office clout and because they are political activists in real life. They have so little to do they might as well not be in the film.
The Other Side of Hope (Artificial Eye). Helsinki shirt salesman (Sakari Kuosmanen) gives up his job, leaves his alcoholic wife, wins a fortune in a poker game and buys a failing restaurant. Meanwhile a Syrian refugee (Sherwan Haji), whose family and fiancé have been killed by a missile in Aleppo, enters Finland illegally and seeks asylum. Finland is not the first place, he admits freely to the Finnish authorities, he would have chosen. Neo-Nazi thugs beat him up. He is befriended by an Iraqi refugee and the novice restaurant owner. Directed by acclaimed Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki, the film is disappointing, being neither satirically sharp enough nor poignant enough; and the happy ending is a complete cop out.
Entertaining Mr Sloane (SudioCanal). This 1970 film version of Joe Orton’s most autobiographical play is released to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Orton’s death. Watching it, nobody will be surprised that the 33-year-old playwright should have ended up murdered by his lover, Kenneth Halliwell. Sloane (Peter McEnery) is a rapacious, egotistical, amoral thug who kicks an old man (Alan Webb) to death and then finds he is blackmailed by the man’s middle-aged son (Harry Andrews) and daughter (Beryl Reid), who promise not to tell the police if they can both continue to employ his services. Orton’s black comedy, a street-wise combination of sexual innuendo, suburban affectation and gratuitous violence, does not make a good film.
Loot (StudioCanal) is a gaudy 1971 film version of Joe Orton’s best play and offers an outrageous Ortonesque mixture of Roman Catholicism, bank robbery, police corruption, funerals and bad taste. Orton’s wit is much diminished. Opened out, nothing is made of the bank robbery in the nude. The cash is hidden in a coffin – once the dead body has been removed and shoved in a cipboard. Richard Attenborough is the bent copper (once brilliantly played by Leonard Rossiter). Lee Remick is the murderous nurse. Hywel Bennett and Ray Holder are the lads. Milo O’Shea is the widower. The farce is singularly unfunny except for the sight a funeral cortege racing down streets as if the cars were in a gangster movie.
Loot, the actual play, can be seen at the Park Theatre in London now and at the Watermill Theatre in Newbury in October