I went to see "The History Boys" the other day; the film, that is, not the play. I saw the play three times - the first time for a fiver, standing up at the back of the circle in the Lyttleton Theatre; by the end my knee had siezed up and on my way downstairs afterwards I nearly fell on Stephen Campbell-Moore, the "nearly" meaning I sadly missed the opportunity to say "hey I've been writing a screenplay with you in mind as the lead male". But I laughed so much, I thought "I have to see this again in more comfortable circumstances", so in due course V and I got seats in the stalls - and it was just as funny. You could tell where the teachers were sitting and more especially where the northerners were sitting, by the size of the laughs. It was a very funny play that had important things to say about the way we educate children these days - to think, or to get through exams? And so I saw it a third time, this time with A who was then 16, on tour, different cast, edited script, not nearly as good. We enjoyed it but the magic had gone.
So, I was hoping that the magic would be back for the film, given that it was the original cast. It's a good film, and I enjoyed it, but it isn't the same as the play. What worked on stage, and got laughs, falls flat on screen. The comedy isn't as broad as on stage. And yet the intimacy on screen is much more intense. Stephen Campbell Moore's Irwin is a much more endearing character on film - instead of a withdrawn cold fish on stage, on film we see a man terrified of acknowledging his very raw feelings, and struggling to come to terms with who he is.
Yet still, it's a good film. Dominic Cooper and Samuel Barnett have had much of the limelight, and rightly so as their performances have been stellar, but my particular favourite all along has been Scripps, played by Jamie Parker. He observes, he comments, he is witty and dry and knowing. He's overlooked, and he's great.
But one of the notable and unusual things about The History Boys was that of the trailers screened, I wanted to see all of the films. "A Good Year", despite Russell Crowe's dodgy English accent; "The Holiday", a romcom with Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslett, with the romantic interests being Jack Black (yeah, it caused a few laughs in the cinema too) and Jude Law; "The Last Kiss" which I would see just for Tom Wilkinson who is a fabulous Brit actor at last getting the plaudits he has long deserved; "Starter for Ten", a sweet Britflick starring James McAvoy that I enjoyed in Cannes; and "Casino Royale" - oh those doubters should just take one look at Daniel Craig emerging from the sea in his trunks and apologise - this man is so Bond. He's fit, cool, sexy - at last we seem to have a Bond who exudes that same kind of wicked charm that Sean Connery had. I love Bond movies and I am so looking forward to Casino Royale.
But the other thing that interests me about going to the pictures is who they think is watching the films, as determined by the ads. Usually they think you want to buy at least 5 cars - I can't decide which car ad I hate the most, the one where they pretend the car is a dog (family should be locked up as a bunch of morons) or the one where the car surfs to a song about railways (ad agency should be locked up as a bunch of morons).
People who went to see Devil Wears Prada are shallow idiots only interested in straight hair and crap magazines, as opposed to caring about their fellow humans or their children, according to the advertisers; the other advert I hate at the moment is the Virgin/Red Indian one. Generally, an ad functions to tell me what to avoid - I hate the ad, I avoid the product.
BTW just saw the new Sony Bravia ad - the multi-coloured flats one - one of our Echoes crew knows a guy who worked on it - apparently it took nine full film crews to make that "colour changing block of flats" shot. And for an ad I like - the Bravia one with bouncing coloured balls, I absolutely loved. Didn't buy a new TV, but I did buy the Jose Gonzalez CD with the song on it.
So I guess we are all media tarts one way or another.