Secret Diary of a Call Girl, Swing Vote, and Brideshead Revisited |

Secret Diary of a Call Girl, Swing Vote, and Brideshead Revisited

2007 Miramax Films. All Rights Reserved.
Photo Credit: Nicola Dove |

Pop in one of these recently released flicks on DVD and enjoy. Our film critic Lisa Miller reviews ‘Brideshead Revisited,’ ‘SECRET DIARY OF A CALL GIRL: Season 1,’ and ‘SWING VOTE’Movie: BRIDESHEAD REVISITEDGrade: BDirector: Julian Jarrold Starring: Matthew Goode, Ben Wishaw, Hayley Atwell, Emma Thompson, Greta ScacchiRated: PG-13Genre: DramaLength: 133 minutesDuring an included DVD special feature, one of “Brideshead’s” producers frets, “I’m afraid we won’t do justice to the last great English novel.” Though falling short of greatness, this adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s 1945 drama, grabs your attention with fabulous settings and attractive characters. Led by devoutly Roman Catholic Lady Marchmain (Emma Thompson), the family retires to their private chapel after dinner to sing Latin hymns. It’s 1925 and the Marchmains, a wealthy clan of historical importance, reside at opulent Brideshead mansion. The “Mommie Dearest” of Britain’s aristocracy, Lady Marchmain corrals her sinning offspring with reverent lectures and the opening and closing of her purse strings. Charles Ryder arrives at Brideshead on the arm of Marchmain’s homosexual son Sebastian (Ben Wishaw). Ryder, an aspiring painter enthralled by the classical mansion and its works of art, allows Sebastian to hope for their love affair while secretly maneuvering for a rendezvous with Sebastian’s beautiful sister (Hayley Atwell). Following his honeymoon period as the new family pet, Ryder finds himself at the center of a whirlwind. A gorgeous period piece, “Brideshead Revisited” provides much and many that are lovely, but none to love. Movie: SECRET DIARY OF A CALL GIRL: Season 1Grade: CCreator: Lucy PrebbleStarring: Billie Piper, Iddo Goldberg, Cherie Lunghi Rated: NRGenre: ComedyLength: 189 minutesThe purported confessions of an actual high-class London call girl, “Secret Diary” feels more manufactured than genuine. Hannah, professionally known as Belle, claims to spend half her time grooming, though her plentiful supply of lingerie, suits and cocktail dresses seem to indicate lots of shopping time. Downtime leaves Belle at loose ends unless she’s hanging out with her best mate, Ben. Her superficial character never draws us in though the show’s 22-minute format leaves little room for more than lighthearted cliches such as Belle’s reason for entering the world’s oldest profession. She claims loving sex is the secret to her success, however it’s clear she succeeds due to putting her client’s needs first. Belle is most compelling when noting her shortcomings while speaking directly to the camera. Less titillating than its frequent nudity suggests, Belle’s anxieties and the show’s comic setups are hit and miss. Movie: SWING VOTEGrade: BDirector: Joshua Michael Stern Starring: Kevin Costner, Madeline Carroll, Paula Patton, Kelsey Grammar, Dennis Hopper, Stanley Tucci, Nathan Lane, Mare WinninghamRated: PG-13Genre: ComedyLength: 120 minutesBud Johnson (Costner), is granted an extra 10 days to cast his vote for president, because of a mechanical glitch. His vote takes on new meaning when Bud, a beer-chugging layabout, learns that a national tie means he will decide the election. Having never cared for politics or much of anything other than his young daughter, Bud is overwhelmed by media attention and both candidates (Grammar and Hopper) who arrive in his New Mexico hometown pandering for his vote. Prodded by his daughter (Carroll), Bud grapples with letters containing the desperate stories of those hoping to influence his decision. Though complex issues are oversimplified, the film nearly overcomes its clumsy premise to stress a citizen’s civic responsibility within a democracy. It gets my vote.

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