While wishing no ill on the dead, it has to be said that Robin Williams’s early demise spared us his much-mooted remake of Kind Hearts And Coronets. Alas, another Ealing classic, Whisky Galore!, hasn’t been so lucky.
Alexander Mackendrick’s 1949 original was a whimsical comedy of manners, in which the locals came together to best the bureaucrats. In that age of rationing, this was a story that spoke to the public. But how to make it connect with today’s pampered cynics? On the evidence of Gillies MacKinnon’s remake (15) ★★★ , the answer is, don’t bother trying.
Oh, yes, the movie looks a treat. And MacKinnon gets some nice turns from the likes of James Cosmo, Ellie Kendrick and the late Tim Pigott-Smith. But Eddie Izzard is badly miscast as Captain Waggett (he’s simply too intelligent to play for pompous Mainwaring-inspired laughs), while Ealing’s conflict-free class-consciousness has zero purchase.
What’s not to like about Riviera (15) ★★ ? Seven hours of thrills and spills on the Côte d’Azur with Julia Stiles (pictured top) and Anthony LaPaglia. Bring it on!
Well, take it off actually. You’d have more fun watching your hair grow. Julia and Anthony play Georgina and Constantine Clios, an uberrich couple surrounded by a knockout art collection. But it’s not knockout enough. Georgina is dispatched to Manhattan to bid for a painting, while Constantine parties on the yacht of a Russian oligarch (Matthew Marsh, having great fun vid his ark-cent). Then the yacht blows up.
And that’s it. Julia then spends nine episodes discovering what the rest of us knew as soon as we saw her hubby: he was a wrong ’un. But he was also the only halfway interesting character in the show.
For genuine glitter, get the new Blu-ray of A Fish Called Wanda (15)
★★★★★ . Yes, we’ve all seen John Cleese’s (above, inset) masterpiece a zillion times. But this reissue is stuffed with extras – among them 24 alternate or deleted scenes, all good enough to have made the final cut. A gem.