Friday, April 30, 2004

Plans for the weekend: see some kind of movie, check out Bob Dylan's 1964 disc, return overdue DVDs to the library, buy clothes, pay bills, clean the house. Something like that. And write more, write more, write more -- especially about movies, which I have been horrendously lazy about doing. Last week I saw one DVD about which I could have said much and certainly planned to -- Peter Medak's 1972 The Ruling Class -- and another, The Kid Stays in the Picture, of which I could have at least eked out a bloody paragraph.

The Medak film, adapted by Peter Barnes from his own play, attacks two reliable old targets, the English class system and religion, and in ways it is dated and stagy; or perhaps I should say "rather datedly stagy," as it was a hardly the only non-musical film of its time where characters suddenly burst into song or which use music in a conventionally unconventional way (Loot! and O Lucky Man! also come to mind.) Despite that, and despite the fact that it sags a bit in the last hour (it runs 153 minutes), it has a biter sense of conviction and still retains a ferocious amount of bite; it's begins as a farce and then turns into a deadly serious black comedy, perfectly anchored in both regards by the powerhouse performance of Peter O'Toole.

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