Love in a Cold Climate -- In 1980, an eight-part adaptation of two novels by Nancy Mitford, "The Pursuit of Love" and "Love in a Cold Climate," was made for television under the second title. This 405-minute production of "Love in a Cold Climate" is now out in a boxed set of three Acorn Media DVDs.
Basically a tale of two generations of the Radlett family from 1924 to 1940, it also deals with two other families, their interactions, their disputes and especially the revolt of one of the Radlett children, Linda (Lucy Gutteridge). As played in this film -- I cannot vouch for the original novel -- Linda is (to me) pretty much a spoiled brat who brings about her own sorrows. Judi Dench has a relatively small role as the Radlett mother, while Michael Aldridge is a little cartoonish as the xenophobic father. Whatever or whomever he dislikes is a "sewer" of the underground type.
Vivian Pickles plays to perfection the unstoppable giver of advice, Lady Montdore. John Moffatt plays the Oscar Wildean Lord Merlin; but he is quite overshadowed by the over-the-top Wildean Cedric (Michael Cochrane), who takes utter control of Lady Montdore. The narrator and participant, Fanny (Isabelle Amyes), is plain-looking, not very unhappy with her life and the voice of reason.
There are lots of other characters that I cannot possibly find room to mention. Some will find it all charming, some somewhat slow moving, and all will have
Masterworks 4 -- Yes, still more entries in the German television series "1000 Masterworks." These 10-minute views of art and artists have been concentrating on eras and movements, such as Renaissance portraiture or Dada. Some concentrate on specific museum collections, such as those found at MOMA. This series is being released on the ArtHaus Musik label, each DVD holding five chapters.
Among the more recent arrivals are "German Expressionism" (Emil Nolder, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Franz Marc, Gabriele Munter and Max Bechmann), "Early Netherlander Painting" (Hugo van der Goes, Geertgen tot Sint Jans, Hans Memling, Joachim Patinier, and Rogier van der Weyden), and "Mannerism" [meaning Style] (Parmigianino, Jan Massys, Giulo Romano, PaoloVeronese, and Giuseppi Arciboldo).
Most of these names, I am sure, are meaningless to any viewer, including me, not versed in the history of art. But that is exactly the target audience of these programs. The narration is dry, but the content is fascinating. As I said in past reviews of this series, understanding the difficult must precede appreciating and enjoying it.
A fourth set contains analyses of works found at the National Gallery Berlin. However, I find that three of the chapters are duplicated in other DVD sets. Let the buyer beware.
Trial & Retribution 5 -- Acorn Media, the source of so many old and recent British crimes series, has just issued "Trial & Retribution, Set 5." The three episodes of 90 minutes each give us nothing new by way of police plots, but the fine acting of David Hayman as DCS Mike Walker and Victoria Smurfit as DCI Roisin Connor more than make up for the lack of originality. The Brits have been watching it avidly for about 10 years, so what can I say?
The first three episodes have the same structure, which I cannot reveal here except to say the first parts end in exactly the same way. Episode 4 comes near to doing so but breaks the pattern somewhat. In general, all is murky in settings and characterizations in the usual manner of author and series co-creator Lynda LaPlante.
Strangely, Smurfit disappears half way through the first half of the third episode and all through the fourth. I am told that her pregnancy made a sudden demand, and they needed a plot device to cover her absence. So it goes in Mini-series Land.
The picture is in 16:9 widescreen and there are subtitles.
Frank Behrens reports on classical and Broadway music as well as recordings of books and plays for the Arts & Entertainment section.