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nite jane x

MASTERCLASS in screen acting last night from Helen Mirren, in a thankfully back-on-form Final Act of PRIME SUSPECT. Every doe-eyed rubbery-lipped drama queen Hollywood actress should be sat down and made to watch some of these scenes (the opening five minutes of post-blackout waking up, e.g.), where Mirren barely seems to do a thing, but conveys immensities.

The first meeting with TOM BELL (as her old chauvinistic nemesis), was almost too much to take.

And this may be the first adult drama in which learning how to TEXT becomes a bulwark against the encroaching night of age & death ...

TOM BELL 1933 - 2006, R.I.P.

posted by Ian 10/16/2006 09:42:00 AM

I thought Mirren's was an astonishing and brave performance (the dancing-to-Dusty-on-the-Dansette sequence chilled me with icicles of recognition; trying to summon ghosts back to life etc.). Sad to see Tom Bell looking very gaunt and obviously very ill, but still superb (remember how great he was in Potter's Son Of Man?). Can't wait for next week's wrap up; let's hope they don't go for the easy-way-out ending.
Agreed. I have to say I found the trailer for next week's wrap up a bit worrying - it looked a bit over-dramatic and OTT. I'm tempted to NOT tune in, and jsut keep the prfect memory of last night's cut-glass and properly adult meditation on loss, death, ageing and redemption ...
Yeah, me too...

I have to say, as I watched, I asked myself 'I wonder what Ian thinks of this?' And then, 'I wonder what Marcello thinks?'

A shout for the portrayal of teenagers, too. It's so rare to see teenagers depicted in anything like a convincing way on TV...
a weird piece of symmetry: Ian, I normally have titles for my posts, you normally don't... I probably couldn't think of one for my post because you had snatched the perfect one out of the ether...
Tom Bell! According to the obit, he lost out because of heckling Prince Philip at the BAFTAS.
My favourite Bell moment was the classic TV series 'Out', Get Carter meets The Count of Monte Christo with a lot of allusions to the rise of Thatcher and the decline of Working class unity - one of the key British gangster 'movies' I reckon.
Bell was quintessential and under-valued screen actor; the sort I like - like an English Harry Dean Stanton - as opposed to egotistic dickwads like Richard Burton, who get the kudos and South Bank Shows while theyre alive - just because they've (over) done a bit of Shakespeare.

BTW, Mark - I agree with your post. Those closing minutes of Prime Suspect in the hospital car park were chilling, wonderful. There was one moment when the director switched to CCTV that was devastating - I did that cliche thing of sitting bolt upright in my seat! Best Single Cut on British TV for an age...
But it was packed with good stuff. And all the better (i.e., darker, and more hurting and affecting) for being allowed to *simmer* ...
I often find that I have difficulty following what you´re discussing in these threads, seeing as there is so much english television that just passes me right by, living in Sweden and all. So this is good, finally getting around to discussing stuff we like, rather than going on, endlessly at times, about stuff we hate.

I loved Prime Suspect when it showed on Swedish television! It was always aired during the christmas holidays, and I remember people talking about cancelling dinner plans to watch. Not that anyone ever did... This was more than ten years ago, and the show still burns in my mind as some of the most devastating television ever produced. And I say this AFTER devouring Deadwood 1 & 2, AND a lengthy addiction to Sopranos, AND, it almost seems tho I can´t be sure, every minute of Oz (endless rerun loop on one of the Swedish cables). Was Tom Bell the one Helen Mirren threw her wine all over on that big police ball? Goosebumps... I have to get it on DVD, it seems.

On the subject of good TV and great, underrated actors, I have to ask: does anyone have an opinion on Edge of Darkness? The 80s eco/Thatcher/nuclear/political thriller? This hit me out of the blue some time back, when a friend sat me down to watch it. I was just astounded: Bob Peck, Joe Don Baker, Ian McNeice, Charles Kay, and that scary, spooky, bautiful Willie Nelson song Time of the Preacher, or whatever it was called. Fucking amazing.

Be good!

Talking about great actors
Funny you mentioned 'Edge of Darkness' - re-watched that series a few weeks ago, and it hasn't really dated at all; which is rare in a lot of old Brit Tv.
Forgot how funny it is, too - a very black comedy about incestuous longing, grief, corporate corruption, and environmental apocalypse. Rich characterisation, too. Pitched somewhere between Le Carre and Dennis Potter. They really don't make 'em like that anymore...
... and whatever happened to Bob Peck?
First time I've ever watched Prime Suspect, and then only because a friend insisted. HM's performance was astonishing: the struggle to maintain external dignity in the midst of internal collapse was brilliantly portrayed, and the dancing-to-Dusty-in-her-old-room scene was almost too painful to watch.

Has it always been this good? Damn!
The first 'Prime Suspect' was excellent. Up there with 'Edge of Darkness' and 'Singing Detective'.
Helen Mirren's always been great even in the most ropey material ('Caligula', anyone?). She would have been great in Dennis Potter - but I suppose his obsession with youthful 'sexpots' put paid to that..
Well, as I said in my post, I wasn't at all enamoured with Prime Suspect when it started, though I am willing to reconsider. But Edge of Darkness, yes, wonderful.. and also made great use of London locations ... a fantastic chase scene through the Barbican...
That chase scene was really good, you´re right. I take it that you mean the one where Bob Peck ends up next to Zoe Wanamaker, and they go to the theatre? And hearing Ian McNeice tell Joe Don Baker that he and his friend receive funding from the GLC as a "lesbian cooperative" is REALLY funny...
S'funny: all I can really remember re EoD is Joe Don Baker; that, and the vague recall that, in the monthly TV column I had at the time, I gave it something of a sniffy review...; not completely thumbs down, I don't think, but in the nature of it was being overrated and over-promoted as Quality TV...
I'd like to see it again.

Has anyone else been following the BRIDESHEAD REVISITED repeats on ITV 3, Sunday evenings?

Any/all personal responses aside, the immediately notable thing about it - in comparison to todays TV - is how staggeringly mind-bendingly unbelievably SLOW it is, in every way. I don't mean that as criticism, per se - just in objective terms of its pace, flow, technique. It almost becomes like opiate time-suspended hallucination: two WHOLE snail-crawl episodes devoted to Sebastian getting a bit drunk! No coke-jittery edits. Long Visconti corridor prowl shots at 16rpm; avowedly obtuse & unhurried conversations anent the minutiae of Catholic dogma; the slow realisation that you can judge characters simply by *their different ways of walking or strolling * ...

I went back to Waugh; and the book is actually more economical than the adaptation! I certainly found the book surprisingly moving. (I'd never been able to get all the way through it before.)

I wonder if one could (re)cast Sebastian as a latterday Tony Montana? 'Is this *it*, old boy? Country estates, fox hunting, the diplomatic service?"

Picks up Teddy Bear: "Say chin-chin to my furry little friend..."
another showing one's age comment, Out, starring Tom Bell as a cool criminal just out of jail, trying to track down who betrayed him
there was great police-procedural stuff in the earlier prime suspects, in particular the gender dynamics of office politics, but they were undercut a bit by the crime being "serial killings" -- which make for reliable Gothic thrills, and nice forensix drama, but were/are a really bad locus for "social significance"

what's so strong here is that -- with all this material already laid out and established -- the story can take it as read and push on somewhere quite else

edge of darkness was -- along with everything else -- one of those very rare occasions when you get to say "great music -- by eric clapton"!! also: it climaxed with such an awesome ultrahippy capper -- the flowers turning black as gaia's revenge -- which in the sequence of tremendous comedy stunts (the dusty phone in the bunker ringing; "ge-e-et me-e-e pendleton!!"; joe don baker's plutonium event irradiating the elite of the military-industrial complex) was perfectly judged as a haha-what-the-FUCK ending

(i interviewed james "gaia's pointman" lovelock a little while after this, and he observed that -- scientifically speaking -- the flowers should be WHITE, which doesn't quite work as well as drama)

sadly what happened to bob peck is he died :(
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