You know I haven't seen that many good films of late. I don't know whether that's because there aren't so many good ones coming out, or just that we've been really bad at selecting what to watch.
In the last week, though, I've seen two that were worth commenting on.
First, Brideshead Revisited. Why bother making a film when the 1981 TV series was just about perfect? I wasn't going to watch it as a point of principle, but curiosity got the better of me. And I'm delighted to report that this condensed version - which by necessity has to leave a lot out - is beautifully constructed and brilliantly acted. The story flows well, with the narrative theme coherent, and this makes the film work. Matthew Goode does a very Jeremy Irons-like performance as Charles, although in this film Charles comes across as more confident - his pursuit of Julia is moved to a more central position in the story - and Sebastian is a weaker, more vulnerable character here than he is the TV adaptation.
Then Australia. It's a funny old film. It begins like a cross between Crocodile Dundee and George of the Jungle, with Nicole Kidman as an unconvincingly prim English lady thrown into the sweaty surrounds of the Northern Territory. Then it turns into a good old-fashioned western, before morphing into a war story at the end. It's flawed, ponderous and clumsy, but there's something magical about the epic tale that it tells (think Nevil Shute) and the almost stylized, fantasy-like filming that captures the imagination enough to make this over-long film worth the effort.