‘The Danish Girl’ distilled

The Danish Girl, set in Copenhagen and Paris in the 1920s and based on a true story, relates the travails of a married painter who decides he is a woman, and undergoes a sex change operation. Beautifully shot, wrenching. The universal in the particular.

Director: Tom Hooper. Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander

Verdict: Strong stuff. Excellent. Double whisky

‘Youth’ distilled

Set in a Swiss spa, ‘Youth’ focuses, if that is the word, on the philosophizing and reminiscences of two elderly creatives, one a composer, played by Michael Caine, the other a film director, played by Harvey Keitel.

Director: Paolo Sorrentino

Verdict: Artifice not art. Pretentious; lacks sparkle. Tap water.

‘Mr Turner’ distilled

The past is another country, and Mike Leigh shows us this is about more than differences in costume and manners. The world that JMW Turner, in this terrific portrayal, inhabits and paints is different from ours – none of our cold scientific rationalism, or post- post-modernism here. But then – this is not history, or biography, or art documentary, but drama, and a fine drama it is too. Beautifully, even lavishly filmed, there is nary a false brush-stroke to be found.

Director: Mike Leigh. Timothy Spall

Verdict: It’s a Mike Leigh film, right? A fine red wine – Rhone? Bordeaux?

A call from Mr Bell

In the immortal words of Alexander Graham Bell – ‘Mr Watson – come here – I want to see you.’

Continuing his experiments in Brantford, says Wikipedia, “Bell brought home a working model of his telephone. On August 3, 1876, from the telegraph office in Mount Pleasant five miles (eight km) away from Brantford, Bell sent a tentative telegram indicating that he was ready. With curious onlookers packed into the office as witnesses, faint voices were heard replying. The following night, he amazed guests as well as his family when a message was received at the Bell home from Brantford, four miles (six km) distant, along an improvised wire strung up along telegraph lines and fences, and laid through a tunnel. This time, guests at the household distinctly heard people in Brantford reading and singing. These experiments clearly proved that the telephone could work over long distances.”

Brantford, for those of my friends who are not Canadian, is a town in Ontario, not far from here. And Bell’s telephone call is a fitting analogy (being also quaint and historical) for my use of this new-fangled blog, to speak to – millions? well, to one or two of you, at least…