Alan Bennett At The BBC
Richard Burton stars as successful novelist John Morlar who believes he has 'a gift for disaster' - the power to cause death and destruction through unconscious telekinesis. When Morlar is viciously assaulted and left for dead the night of the Moon Mission disaster and a jet crash police investigating the attack quickly turn to Morlar's mysterious therapist Zonfeld (Lee Remick) in the belief that there is a link between the assault and Morlar's disturbing complex...
Norman Jewison's dystopian Rollerball portrays a near-future in the aftermath of the Corporate Wars, in which nations have crumbled and conglomerates rule. In place of freedom the people are given bread and circuses: material comfort and rollerball itself. Played on a circular, slanted track by men on skates and motorbikes, this extreme sport is the ultimate extrapolation of the primitive blood lust implicit in many team sports. James Caan is outstanding as Jonathan E, star player with the Houston team. In the elegant detachment of Jewison's direction, emphasised by the stark, alienating use of classical music, there are echoes of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Notwithstanding the brilliantly staged arena sequences, Rollerball is essentially about freedom versus conformity and the corruption of unfettered capitalism, with Caan leading an existential rebellion in the tradition of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 which leads to a chilling, apocalyptic finale. Certainly the most prophetic film of the 1970s, Rollerball has an intelligence and power overlooked by those who simply denounce its brutal violence. On the DVD: Rollerball arrives on DVD with clear three-channel Dolby Digital sound, although obviously it lacks the impact of a more modern 5.1 soundtrack. The 1.77:1 transfer is anamorphically enhanced and is generally very sharp and detailed with excellent colour. Some scenes show a lot of grain, but this is presumably a consequence of having to shoot with very fast lenses to capture the swift and dramatic action under indoor lighting conditions. "Return to the Arena--The Making of Rollerball" is a new 25-minute documentary (4:3 with letterboxed film clips) that features Jewison, Harrison and various other personnel reminiscing about the making of the film. The highlight of the extras are commentary tacks from the Jewison and Harrison, and while there is inevitably some overlap of information, and some quite lengthy gaps in Harrison's track, there is also much to interest the serious film buff. Also included is an original seven-minute promotional featurette "From Rome to Rollerball: The Full Circle", the chilling original trailer, the teaser trailer and a trailer for the remake.--Gary S Dalkin
The story's setting is 1947 England where hard-hit Brits won't let mandatory food rationing keep them from celebrating the wedding of the future queen to Lt. Phillip Mountbatten. But there may be no public banquet for citizens in a Yorkshire town. The contraband guest of honour they've pampered and fattened has been pignapped!
In the year 2018, violence and crime have been totally eliminated from society and given outlet in the brutal blood sport of rollerball, a high-velocity blend of football, hockey, and motor-cross racing sponsored by the multinational corporations that now control the world following the collapse of traditional politics. James Caan plays Jonathan ., the reigning superstar of rollerball, whose corporate controllers fear that Jonathan's popularity has endowed him with too much power. They begin to pressure him according to their own ruthless set of rules, but Jonathan has rules of his own--ones for a man determined to retain his soul in a world gone mad. As directed by Norman Jewison (who was enjoying a peak of success during the early and mid-1970s), Rollerball creates a believable society that's been rendered passive and compliant by the homogenisation of corporate dictatorships, where the control and flow of information is the only currency of any importance. It's a world in which natural human aggressions have been sublimated and vented through the religious fervour toward rollerball and its players. Rollerball now looks like one of those 1970s science fiction films (another example being Logan's Run) that seems a bit dated and quaint, but its ideas are still provocative and fascinating, and the production is visually impressive. --Jeff Shannon, Amazon.com
Written by Rumpole of the Bailey creator John Mortimer this six-part television dramatisation is based on the sixteen years that William Shakespeare is known to have spent in London remains one of the most impressive biographical portraits to date. With each episode built around the creation of a single play a skilful interweaving of known events and contemporary interpretation show how key experiences may have inspired some of Shakespeare's greatest works - the death of his young son and his love for the famous 'dark lady' of the sonnets for example. The bustling taverns and theatres of Elizabethan London are lavishly recreated while Shakespeare himself is played with tremendous sensitivity and breadth by Tim Curry. Originally screened in 1978 Will Shakespeare is a brilliantly imagined and very human portrait in which the flaws and frailties as well as the immense strengths of one of the world's greatest dramatists are brought vividly to life.
A Private Function is a hysterically funny tale of social climbing and a stolen pig starring Monty Python legend and famous world traveller Michael Palin (A Fish Called Wanda; Brazil; Time Bandits; The Missionary).
Based on the hilarious novel by Tom Sharpe and starring Grif Rhys-Jones and Mel Smith, "Wilt" is a story of a disappearance, mistaken identity and a blow-up doll.
Nothing is as it seems behind the well-trimmed hedges of the picturesque cottages in the idyllic English county of Midsomer. Beneath the tranquil surface of sleepy village life exist dark secrets scandals and downright evil. John Nettles stars as the humorous thoughtful and methodical Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby.
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