You’ve seen the bus-shelter hoardings, now watch the show. The overwhelming feeling evoked by The Camomlle Lawn (Channel 4) was one of nostalgia for another series from the distant past. Remember Love In A Cold Climate, Nancy Mitford’s tale of bright young upper-class things before the war, indulging in love-affairs, laughing at the older generation and ﬂirting with politics? The superficial similarities are obvious, although The Camomile Lawn, judging by the first episode, lacks the wit and poignancy of its predecessor.
What it has instead is sex, and lots ofit. Despite the pre-publicity, it was particularly disconcerting to hear soldier Oliver (returned from the Spanish war with a rather fetching head bandage) drawl to the divine Calypso ‘May I fuck you now?‘, especially as all we‘d had up to then was a lot of beautifully-shot pastoral bliss and childish banter. If nothing else, the series looks set to shatter our innocent illusions about the 30s being asexual. In the first programme there was more naked ﬂesh than in all three episodes ofA Time To Dance, young Polly got a contraceptive device fitted, and Felicity Kendall proved she was still very much the outdoor type, indulging in a spot ofenthusiastic coupling with an Austrian refugee violinist (‘Max loved everybody‘).
The focal point of all this libidinous activity was the brittle Calypso,
‘Felicity Kendall proved she was still very much the outdoor type, indulging in a spot at enthusiastic coupling with an Austrian relugee violinist (‘Max loved everybody').’
played with a mixture of knowing camp and frostiness by Jennifer Ehle, very two-dimensional, but with those sort of dimensions you only really need two. ‘I will marry a rich man,’ she told us inside the first twenty minutes. Half an hour later she kept her promise. Unfortunately her husband was called Hector which meant she kept having to say things like ‘I'm going back to Hector‘s house‘. Playing Kiki to Calypso‘s Zaza was Polly (Tara Fitzgerald) the quiet one who turned out to be a very practical nymphomaniac. Calypso
L was the ice-queen, but Polly was
V TV REVIEW
having all the fun. The director (Peter Hall for you theatrical types) thoughtlessly chose to undermine the sexy bits by ﬂashing forward to
1 show us the 905 version of Polly. By
some perverse quirk of nature she had developed into the distinctly anaphrodisiac Virginia McKenna (you know, the actress everyone thought had been eaten by a lion).
For puritans. it should be pointed out that the sex in The Camomile Lawn is a vital part ofthe production, because the characters are mostly shallow and difficult to like. and the plot vapid, so the viewers have to have something to look forward to during the tasteful Iongueurs. Felicity Kendall and Paul Eddington are hammily English, like the thespian equivalent ofvillage cricketers, but the young cast are surprisingly good at conveying a sort of listless confidence and temporality. Flesh aside, it‘s an unremarkable piece ofdrama, but strangely watchable. In the meantime how about a repeat showing for Love In A Cold Climate?
Without Walls: Serge Gainsbourg (Channel 4) presented the late singer/writer as something of a cross between Rab C. Nesbitt and Roman Polanski. In his later years, debauchery dripped from every enlarged pore, and ifyou sat too close to the screen you could get a whiff of the Gitanes he smoked at the rate ofabout 100 a day.
This seemed no bar to the string of blonde film stars queuing up to sing his songs and smooch with him. Once again the ﬂash-forward technique proved a letdown. Jane Birkin, she of the gasps and heavy breathing on Je T‘Aime (Moi Non Plus) had matured into a polite and rather proper middle-class Home Counties lady, reminiscent of the nicest sort of primary-school teacher.
The songs lose something in the translation (or more likely were pretty poor to begin with — the French are a nation singularly devoid of talent in the musical sphere), but Gainsbourg seemed to get by on shock value. He appeared on a chat show to tell a suitably bemused Whitney Houston ‘I want to feuuuck you‘ and more sinisterly made a disturbing soft-focus video with his 14-year-old daughter, of a song called Lemon Incest. The French thought it a capital joke. Is it too late to block up the Channel Tunnel? (Tom Lappin)
Your guide to what‘s new. what’s worth catching and what to avoid on the VHS tront this fortnight.
I Dying Young ( 15) Julia Roberts gropes desperately for a serious vehicle in this Love Story rewrite. She plays the live-in nurse of a young leukaemia victim. Campbell Scott. and naturally lurve materialises as he begins to peg out. There's a class difference angle thrown in for added spice. but there‘s little involvingin the characters and Scott‘s imminent demise is an irritatingly manipulative trick. Most of you will be switching offthis one‘s life-support by halfway. (Fox)
I Rocketeer(PG) A strangely old-fashioned adventure yarn starring Bill Campbell asa clean-living hero who discovers a stolen experimental rocket pack. After that. as they say. hair-raising and hilarious adventures ensue, with our hero fighting offNazis and mobsters and inevitably getting the girl. Actually it‘s all rather laboured. although Timothy Dalton does have a nicely hammy part as a Nazi agent. (Buena Vista)
I Chattahoochee (18) Gary Oldman plays Emmett Foley. a shy. Iikeablc Korean War veteran who is sent to the Chattahoochee State
Mental Hospital after running amok in his hometown with a gun. Conditions in the hospital are archaic and brutal. and Foley begins a fight against injustice on his own behalfand for the other inmates. One ofthe patients. Walker (played by Dennis Hopper) finds himself in the institution with no hope of release. Not exactly One Flew Over The Cuckoo 's Nest but a powerful piece of social drama all the same. (RCA/Columbia)
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I Prool ( 15) Jocelyn Moorhousc‘s first feature won rave reviews from the international critics and won six Australian awards. It‘s the sad/comic story of Martin (Hugo Weaving) a photographer who has been blind from birth. coping with his disability by attempting to prove through photography that his imagined reality is the same as that seen by sighted people. Ilis young housekeeper Celia (Genevieve Picot) is obsessed by him but reacts viciously when he rejects her. and instead befriends a younger man, Andy (Russell Crowe). The drama revolves around the links and conflicts between the three characters. An original and entertaining drama that just avoids being too quirky for its own good. (Artificial Eye)
I Navy Seals ( 15) The US elite corps troops are equally at home on sea. air or land. but they ain‘t too happy on celluloid. This gung-ho action adventure was a ﬂopperoonic in the cinemas and has little to recommend it in cassette format either. (MCEO Virgin)
ITerrnlnal Dliss ( 18) (Warner)
I Sweet 15 (U) (Warner)
I Jan Svanltmajer Volumes 1 and 2 (PG) Collections of strange. original and disturbing animations from the acclaimed Czech master. Released to coincide with the
International Animation Festival taking place in Cardiffduring March. (Connoisseur £12.99)
I David Anderson-Works On Film (U) One ofthe UK‘s leading animators.(Connoisseur £12.99)
I La Regle Du Jeu (PG) The finest work ofJean Renoir (son ofthe Impressionist painter) is a painstaking dissection of French society featuring Dali-esque scenes that are both bizarre and grotesque. (Connoisseur £12.99)
I Ra - Path 01 The Sun God (U) A complex. five years in the making, animation of the Creation. or at least the Egyptian mythological version. A strange and intriguing mixture of ancient symbols with state-of—the-art technology. (Connoisseur £12.99)
I Deux Du Trois Choses Due Je Sais D'Elle ( 15) Jean-Luc Godard‘s ‘social documentary‘ follows the life of a suburban housewife. Marianne. as she embarks on a part-time career as a prostitute. I-ler reactions and Godard‘s voice-over serve as a poignant commentary on the consumer society of the 60s and 70s. (Connoisseur £12.99)
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I Ring Dl Bright Water(U) Does for otters what The Bear did for, er. bears. The film version ofGavin Maxwell‘s story rounds up the regular animal movie specialists (Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna) for the usual heartrending fur-and-whiskers-driven drama. set on the west coast of Scotland (no. not Largs). (Odyssey £5.99) I Hulkamanla Forever Daft wrestling. (Silver Vision£l4.99)
I Wrestlernanla VI More daft wrestling. (Silver Vision £14.99)
I Thlrd Survlvor Series You‘ve guessed it haven't you? (Silver Vision £14.99)
50 The List 13 - 26 March 1992