There was a time not so very long ago when child actors in movies were nauseating and that includes Shirley Temple. They invariably over-acted, over emphasised or were alarmingly cute. Today the kids give every appearance of being not only totally natural and to the manner born but quite brilliant with it. What brought this to mind is that the other night I watched “Nanny McPhee” in which there are seven children all of whom could knock the socks off many an adult actor, in particular two of the young boys whose every glance, every inflection, every nuance was simply spot on. No other way to describe it. Boy, did they have it taped! Down to good direction? I don’t think so. I think the natural talent is just there. I go back to “Finding Neverland” and the boys in that, also brilliant, and a while further back the television drama “The Lost Boys” on the same subject. In that there is a scene with one of the boys playing checkers with Barrie and, if you want to see a superb scene of subtle flirtation and seductiveness just watch that boy’s performance. The kids in the Greek production of “The Island” are equally as amazing.
The night before that I watched Kenneth Branagh’s film “Sleuth.” I noted Mister Branagh’s has also taken to that ego trip of maintaining the film is his entire creation – A Kenneth Branagh Film. I really don’t know what to think about Kenneth. Is he as talented as one supposes or does he just have a lot of chutzpah? I remember thinking, when I saw it some time ago, that his “Frankenstein” was a mess and now what do I say about his “Sleuth”? Well, in the first place, apart from the title, it bears as much resemblance to Mister Schaffer’s play as “No Sex Please We’re British” does to “Hamlet.” It must have been a fairly inexpensive enterprise: one set and two actors. The set was meant to look hugely impressive but in my opinion was, like the interiors in Frankenstein, totally out of synch. As for the performances never have I seen that remarkable actor Michael Caine give a more stilted performance and Jude Law was giving his ‘isn’t this a lot of fun, aren’t I the cleverclogs RADA bit. The whole gay relationship in the original play was hinted at in the most bizarre fashion and shied away from. I give it half a star.
Agatha Christie might have been one of the most prolific and popular of authors but I’m not too sure about the quality of her actual writing. I have just finished reading her “Murder Is Easy” a fairly early work I think. I must confess I have never before read an Agatha Christie novel. I have been in a couple of her plays which, for actors, aren’t exactly a doddle. If you’re playing the inspector you’re quite liable to come in with a line from act three when you are still in act two and a lot of knitting has to go on to get back on track. Many years ago I was offered an audition for “The Mousetrap” the play that has run for a hundred years and need never come off as every five or six years there is a new generation of playgoers, in particular I believe the Japanese, so I trolled along to the Ambassadors to see the play and decided I didn’t think I wanted it. One summer I was offered three Agony plays in a row in North Wales and was very quick to turn that one down. Not only would I possibly not know what act I was in, but what play! The only reason I have just read this novel is that Douglas bought it on one of his boring journeys. I find nothing out of the ordinary in Miss Christie’s prose and some of her dialogue is excruciating – though true to the period I suppose. She seems to often include “an effeminate young man” in her books. Was he there as a red herring? Did she have a thing about it or was she merely one of the world’s innocents? As I mentioned above, hinted at and shied away from.
Oyez Oyez Oyez…There are going to be two cakes, one will be the traditional tiered number and the other William’s favourite chocolate confection. Now isn’t that just the most exciting news? Are you not thrilled to the marrow? Not one cake but two, golly gosh and forsooth!