V TV REVIEW
What is it about Wimbledon (BBCI and 2)? The annual tournament of ticket touts, corporate hospitality, rain, ludicrous protocol and boring, serve-dominated tennis seems to exert an hypnotic inﬂuence on TV viewers and TV presenters alike. The latter try to convince us that this is a Great British Occasion deserving of our reverence. We were supposed to acclaim the fact that the authorities saw fit to play on the middle Sunday and charge ‘real tennis fans‘ a mere tenner to get in. The poor suckers who‘d paid considerably more to watch the deluge on earlier days were quietly forgotten.
‘Dur players are such great losers, driven by the inbred
knowledge that the quicker they get the match overwith, the sooner they can get back to sipping Pimms with the gels in the clubhouse.’
In common with racing and cricket, tennis in Britain is still appallingly class-ridden, which might explain why all our players are such great losers, driven by the inbred knowledge that the quicker they get the match over with, the sooner they can get back to sipping Pimms with the gels in the clubhouse. The temptation is to see the BBC’s own decent chap Dan Maskell as one of the symptoms of the malaise. That would be to do him a considerable discredit. Looking beyond the ‘I say, that was a megnificent volleh’ element, the 82-year-old Maskell is a knowledgeable and sensitive observer ofthe game. His only fault is that he has a tendency to be overcharitable. In the men‘s (sorry ‘gentlemen‘s‘) final, brattish Becker stomped around after every point and swore away in Teutonic like some grounded Luftwaffe pilot. Maskell intoned, rather regretfully, ‘extraordinary to see this sort of behaviour from the former
champion. normally such a charming
young man.‘ The director illustrated the commentary with a gruesome
close-up of said charmer rooting away in his left nostril, and making a
Leareful inspection ofthe results.
70The List 12— 25 July 1991
Maskell is certainly above the knee-jerk chauvinism that the legendary David Coleman dredged up after the European Cup Athletics (BBCl). The Russians had won the trophy because our glory-seekers had cocked-up the relay changeover. ‘I hope this doesn’t sound nationalistic,’ droned Dave, ‘but the feeling in the stadium is that the best team finished second.‘ Then the Russkies were disqualified, Dave
‘The whole thing is reminiscent of a lesser Hammer movie, with the emphasis on the ham.’
informed us ‘justice is done’. but
before you could say ‘hooray for us‘,
they got the disqualification
overturned on appeal. ‘Oh those
Russians,‘ as Boney M used to say. The first episode of Chimera
3 (Scottish) was possibly the most
' inept thing seen on the small screen
since Josie Lawrence‘s show ended. Emer Gillespie was semi-decent (albeit over-inclined to twist herself into awkward poses) as the main character, a nurse taking a job in a fertility clinic, somewhere picturesque-up-north. The clinic (run by David Calder. who showed in Sleepers that he can do better than this) is also involved in some sort of shady genetic experiments. The dialogue could be used for kindling and the characters were developed to about the depth of an average Enid Blyton baddie. The whole thing is reminiscent ofa lesser Hammer movie, with the emphasis on the ham. At the end, one ofthe genetic mutations escaped and murdered everybody rather gorily, before burning down the clinic. Since there‘s three more parts of the chiller to come, this would seem a somewhat problematic event as far as the plot is concerned, but from the viewer‘s perspective, it was definitely the first reasonable idea the writer had come up with in one of the feeblest hours ofprime-time drama for many a month.
On my return from holiday, I was lucky enough to watch three episodes of Coronation Street (Scottish) back to back. Before I left, Mike Baldwin (played by the underrated Johnny Briggs) had been at his smug best, ﬂashing the Cockney molars at the camera at every opportunity in the run-up to his wedding. After 90 minutes of riveting social comedy (like all the funniest bits of GBH kneaded together and leavened with Lancashire homilies) old Mike was looking distinctly down-in-the- mouth at the prospect of an investigation into some of his dubious dealings. The Street, with its excellent ensemble playing, exemplary scripts and wry humour is still beating the competition out of sight. Deirdre Barlow’s wedding outfit looked like a cafeteria waitress's overalls topped offwith an electric-blue but obviously pinched from Emily Bishop‘s charity shop. ‘You look a picture,‘ simpered slimy Phil Jennings. And she did. (Tom Lappin)
The List guide to what‘s on release at your rental store. and on the sell-through shelves, this lortnight.
Way back in 1982 when the ﬂedgeling Palace Pictures were merely a rather enterprising video and theatrical distribution outfit, Werner llerzog‘s visionary Amazonian epic Fitzcarraldo was one of theirinitial successes. It‘s pleasingly appropriate then that the film should be included in the welcome video release of The Herzog Collection on the Palace Classics label. a total of eight films which together offer a substantial picture ofthe director who vies with Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Wim Wenders as the New German (‘inema's most distinctive and enigmatic creative personality.
The banality ofhuman ambitions in the face ofa magnificent, indifferent universe is a recurrent theme in much of Herzog‘s films. most obvious in his disturbingly intense series of collaborations with wild—eyed leading man Klaus Kinski. 1972’s Aguirre, Wrath ofGod. typically shot under daunting conditions on the Amazon, chronicles the folly of a doomed conquistador‘s vain quest for the mythical El Dorado. an outline that was more or less reprised ten years later as Kinski's Fitzcarraldo launched an ill-fated scheme to build an opera house for the natives ofthe South American interior.
While the current video set also includes the llerzog/Kinski 1979 adaptation of Buchncr‘s tragic military saga Woyzek. the Ilcrzog Collection also offers a glimpse of the filmmaker‘s fascination with the grotesque and the outcast. The Enigma ofKaspar Hauser ( 1974) and Stoszek (1977) both feature a Herzog discovery in the mysterious Bruno S. in both cases virtually playing himselfas a too-innocent holy fool bewildered by the society around him. Yet more extraord'nary however. are the earlier Even Dwarfs Started Small (1970), an allegorical tale of a group of dwarfs who rebel against the regime on a remote island penal colony. and the stunning exercise in gloomy German Gothic. 1976's story of an artisan‘s lost secret. Heart of Glass.
where Herzog hypnotised the cast to achieve a quite remarkable texture of performances. A brave. passionate. eccentric voice in world cinema. He rzog's oblique, quasi-mystical vision may not be to all tastes but offers a unique viewpoint on mankind‘s ongoing vanny.
'I‘he Werner Herzog Collection is available on Palace Video. priced [14. 99 each film.
I AirAmerica ( 15) Mel Gibson and Robert Downey junior are the hard-bitten chopper pilot and his rookie mate. doing covert operations somewhere out Iiast. And that's about it really. Despite plenty of action sequences. and tacked-on morality. the plot is conspicuous by its absence. Strictly for those of you who find ogling Mel (iibson sufficient entertainment. (Guild) I Home Alone (PG)
I lollywood wild child Macauley (‘ulkin set himself up for life with this incredibly (as in difficult-to-belieye) popular comedy directed by pulp expert John Hughes. (‘ulkin playsa brattish kid left behind accidentally when his parents head offon holiday to Paris. He hasa whale ofa time seeingoff two burglars (Joe l’esci has had better roles). Iinjoyable. ifsomewhat sadistic. nonsense. (Fox) I Miracle Mile ( 15)'I‘his one never made it on to the big screen in Scotland. lt's an uneasy mish-mash of suspense. comedy and drama. about a couple trying to escape World War III after intercepting a panicked warning message from a soldier. Their subsequent ﬂight and adventures veer from genuine suspense to bathos. It's a bold topic (the film took nine years to get made because ofthe subject matter) but the impact is slightly dulled by a tendency towards schmaltz. (RCA/Columbia).
I Reversal 0t Fortune( 15) Jeremy Irons earned an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Klaus Von Bulow. convicted of murdering his super-rich wife. but beating the rap on appeal. Ron Silver is excellent as over-thc-top defence attorney Alan Dershovitz (whose book was the basis for the film). and lrons is nicely cold and detached. Ultimately though. the courtroom intrigue palls when you realise the film can never really tell you what you want to know, who actually dunnit. (20:21) Vision)
I Pertectly Normal ( 15) Swift transfer to video for Yves Simoncau‘s low-key but over-ambitious piece set in a small Canadian brewingtown. Robbie Coltrane plays the eccentric. operatic chef Alonzo blowing into town and changing the life of shy local Renzo (Michael Riley). It‘s an originaland appealing idea, but suffers badly from an inability to make up its mind whether it wants to be comedy or drama. (‘oltranc cruises through in neutral. but does get to dress up for the finalc.(l’alacc)
I Fear ( 18) (First Independent)
I Breakin‘ The Rules ( 15) (MC‘EG Virgin)
I The Great LA Earthquake (15) (Guild)
I Tom And Jerry (U) (Warner £7.99) I The Delinquents ( 15) (Warner £9.99) I Millennium (PU) (Warner £9.99) I Beetleiuice Cartoons Volume 1 (U) (Warner £7.99) I Death Wish 4 (18) Which is what you'll have ifyou were to purchase the full selection of (‘harlcs Bronson reissues marked below with the CB warning mark.(Warner £7.99) I Murphy‘s Law ( 18) CB (Warner £7.99) I Assassination ( 15) CB (Warner £7.99) I Kinjite(18)(‘B(Warner £7.99) I Britannica Tales From around The World: Hansel And Gretel G Cinderella. (U) (Abbey £7.99) I Nellie The Elephant (U) (Abbey £7.99) I The OriginalAdventures Dl Superted (U) (Abbey £7.99) I Huxley Pig: Six adventures (U) (Abbey £7.99) I Dennis: Five Adventures ([1) (Abbey £7.99) I The Original Paddington Bear: Twelve Adventures (U) (Abbey £7.99) I Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles: Green With Jealousy (U) (Abbey £7.99)