Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Brideshead Revisited: A blissful potpourri of popery


Sebastian (left) and Charles model this autumn's lovely knits

I saw the movie Brideshead Revisited yesterday (out in the UK this week) – it’s really quite excellent. You can tell the critics want to bash it mainly because it’s gayer and more overtly Catholic than the ‘80s TV series. Most critics are cocky-cunty types who share the faith of atheism. The Large Hadron Collider is their present church which will be turned into a large nightclub when that novelty wears off. Also, what’s missing is a good explosive scene. If only “troubled” Sebastian Flyte could be induced to run through Brideshead house with an M60 E4 machine gun and rake all those Virgin Mother ‘n’ Baby paintings, then your average 28-year-old cocky-cunty bejeaned, fashionably godless Empire gawper would be most entranced.

Matthew Goode is suitably dull as Charles Ryder with a voice almost as dreary as Jeremy Irons’, who played the part in the TV series. It’s important he’s drony to signal his interest in Julia’s cunt and not in Seb’s cock. A gay Charles would be all animated and rapid-talking, wouldn’t he? Cock-cunters are solid types as we all know. Ben Whishaw has embraced hardcore camp for Sebastian – facially and as a body type he’s the spitting image of my late friend Robert Tewdwr Moss – so that he holds his cigarette like a lower class tart in Coronation Street, hand and lower arm perpendicular to the upper, smoke wafting; elbow cradled in the other hand. In Waugh-land cock-cocking is a spiritual pathology in response to bad parenting and Marrakesh is the best place for it

Even Emma Thompson is lovely as Lady Marchmain – I say “even” because she’s quite the most patronising person I have ever encountered outside the world of the national newspaper gossip diarist. She is of course far too young to be playing the old devout Catholic cow but perhaps they couldn’t get the insurance for a genuinely old actress like Jean Simmons.

The phrase to look out for in all national film reviews is: “This film is a limp lettuce to the crisp cos of the TV series, scripted as it was by the incomparable John Mortimer who used to return home to his first wife, novelist Penelope Mortimer, with semen stains on his trousers, as she reported in her memoirs”; or something like that.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

Since Ben Wishaw is gay could he not have been more original? As he cupped his elbow, did he bend one knee as well?

Madame Arcati said...

Is he gay? There's a made-up headline supposedly from a Times interview. But in the piece there's this: "Whishaw won’t be pressed on his love life. Is he single? Is he straight? 'I don’t really understand why it’s interesting for people,' he says, politely grinning and bearing the question. But who is he going to take to the UK premiere? 'My mum wants to come with me,' he says, 'but I probably won’t take anyone. I’d rather be alone and just do my job.'"

Vincent said...

Your admirable piece has the unintended consequence of persuading me to watch the TV series, as advised by the atheist Christopher Hitchens, and not this new thing.

Your well-crafted review clip about the limp lettuce vs. crisp Cos has clinched it for me - though I would always tend to prefer old to new anyhow.

Madame Arcati said...

Oh do the see the film, it will take up less of your time and it is very good, though I'm probably out on a limb.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Ben's gay. These 'why is it interesting?' get-outs are so embarrassingly twentieth century. The sort of thing Boy George would once have said to journalists.

A doctor writes said...

I have just spat out my coffee on my keyboard reading this. You are completely and utterly mad.

Anonymous said...

I think your remark about John Mortimer is deplorable and disgraceful, you muckraker. Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

Not one word of John Mortimer's appeared in the televised Brideshead. Not one word.

Duralex said...

Mmmm, sounds like Ben Wishaw is becoming famous enough to be "suspected" of being gay. And then, the GLBT community and the homophobic gutter press are in a bad need of fresh meat, aren't they? :-)

Madame Arcati said...

Re Mortimer, this is correct. He is credited as scriptwriter and receives royalties but in the unauthorised bio The Devil's Advocate it emerged that hardly any of his script was used: the dialogue was cobbled together by the producer and director with a little help from Evelyn Waugh (through a medium?).

However this will not stop reviewers harking back to 1981 and crediting Mortimer all over again, hence my little review-ette.

Anonymous said...

Your finest piece to date "Madame"

Anonymous said...

I find it bizarre that Brideahead was first released in the US - it would have made more sense to open in Britain. Same with Ricky Gervais' Ghost Town. Why did the US get first dibs - I hear it is a disaster.

Yogi Bear said...

Is Aloysius in the movie? I love that teddy.

Madame Arcati said...

Yes.

Anonymous said...

Is it really necessary to reduce everything to genitals, Madame? I understand it's a running joke of yours but I find your preoccupations peculiar and ultimately impersonal. You are undoubtedly a gifted writer but I think you damage yourself with a one-dimensional view of life. I notice the novelist Susan Hill used to contribute to this blog, now she doesn't. Think about it.

Duralex said...

< These 'why is it interesting?' get-outs are so embarrassingly twentieth century. >

I don't think so. It's just that nowadays, given that incredible gossip culture spreading exponentially on the internet, a public person (gay, bi or straight) can't answer sincerely that sort of question. If someone wants to protect their private life, they've got no other choice than this kind of response. Anyway, it's a "damned if you do and damned if you don't" situation. And then don't underestimate the fact that the hacks have an agenda to spice up their articles...

Anonymous said...

Duralex, there's no suspicion or funny business or fresh meat nonsense going on here. Ben is gay - and he has black hair- and he's in Brideshead. Life can be simple. Goddit?

a gossip columnist said...

Duralex is wrong. The approach he advocates is the one which stimulates gossip. A useful illustration is the case of Amanda Lear. Her denial of being transsexual is what keeps the reporters on her tail. The moment she admits having had the op, everyone folds their notebook and goes home.

Madame Arcati said...

What we call gossip is in fact just the result of normal curiosity about the workings of another person. Celebrity or infamy or in-for-me puts a premium on this information, but the starting point is natal nosiness, a throwback to tribal instincts which required knowledge of strength and weaknesses in a given pack. At another level the lure of mystique paradoxically invites more robust inquiry coupled with the desire both for it to be preserved and for it to be destroyed. In this way people are reduced to lollypops with their own flavours and melt point. Fortunately there are so many other lollypops to move onto.

Duralex said...

<< Duralex is wrong. The approach he advocates is the one which stimulates gossip. A useful illustration is the case of Amanda Lear. Her denial of being transsexual is what keeps the reporters on her tail. The moment she admits having had the op, everyone folds their notebook and goes home. >>

What a fascinating statement ! And what if the rumors are false, mmmm ? Will their victims be reduced to acknowledging them in order to be left alone at last ?

Anonymous said...

A leading question - a rumour - is always checkmated by an honest answer.

Duralex said...

<< Duralex, there's no suspicion or funny business or fresh meat nonsense going on here. Ben is gay - and he has black hair- and he's in Brideshead. Life can be simple. Goddit? >>

Gotcha. :-)
However, I can't help but think that life might be even more simple if the media and the GLBT community could just avoid making an issue of homosexuality by pointlessly speculating about who's gay or not in the public sphere. It's uninteresting and it fuels homophobia in its ugliest forms.

Anonymous said...

Who is sleeping with whom will always be the basis of human curiosity and interaction. Nothing to be prissy about, Duralex

Madame Arcati said...

Yes, Duralex. Who are you sleeping with?

Duralex said...

<< A leading question - a rumour - is always checkmated by an honest answer. >>

Can a dishonest question ever get an honest answer ?

<< Yes, Duralex. Who are you sleeping with? >>

You should know I never sleep, chéri. Now I'm looking forward to that "Duralex is gay" rumor... ;-)))

Madame Arcati said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Madame Arcati said...

A criminal lawyer might say that a dishonest question may elicit an honest answer depending on the intentions of questioner and answerer. It's all so subjective, innit?

Now, as to Duralex's sexuality, I am happy to report that he has declared himself elsewhere over the life of this blog thereby terminating any need for invasive rumour-mongering. He cleverly removed all mystique and so we move on.

Duralex said...

Ah, Arcati, I love you ! Will you allow me to sweep your chimney tonight? ;->>>

Madame Arcati said...

I have central heating and my flue (s) are blocked but for ventilation.

Anonymous said...

Very odd blog. Hardly any of these comments have anything to do with the posting.

Anonymous said...

Max Irons should have played Sebastian Flyte, not Ben Wishaw.

Duralex said...

<< Very odd blog. Hardly any of these comments have anything to do with the posting. >>

Because insisde jokes are the local rule.