Saturday, April 29, 2006

TV Heaven: All Time Top Ten [ #1 ]

So here it is. My favourite ever TV show. First a reminder of the other mentions:

  • Honourable Mentions - Dad's Army, Desperate Housewives, Pop Idol
  • #10 - ER
  • #9 - Only Fools and Horses
  • #8 - Coronation Street
  • #7 - Bad Girls
  • #6 - Shameless
  • #5 - Murder, She Wrote
  • #4 - Big Brother
  • #3 - Absoloutely Fabulous
  • #2 - Friends

You might expect that, being British, I would choose a British TV programme. Not. The. Case.

# 1 - Ally McBeal (1997-2002)
Starring: Calista Flockhart, Peter MacNicol, Greg Germann, Portia De Rossi, Lucy Liu, Courtney Thorne-Smith, Robert Downey Jr, Lisa Nicole Carson, Gil Bellows, Christina Ricci, Jane Krakowski, Vonda Sheppard, Taye Diggs

"I think I'll miss you most of all, scarecrow" is one of the last lines of dialogue from the final episode of TV's Ally McBeal, a show about a law firm like no other. Of course this is borrowed from the magnificent Wizard of Oz, but what it signifies doesn't differ a great deal. Throughout the five series' of A Mac, the title character, neurotic romantic lawyer Ally McBeal searches for something to fill the black hole in her life, usually in the form of a man. The fact that the show leaves Ally without the presence of a man in her life (allbeit with a daughter) makes the line all the more fitting in the sense that it likens her to Garland's iconic Dorothy, both striving so desperately for happiness that they're clouded by how happy they were in the first place.

Ally McBeal as a character is given such depth by both the writers and its star Calista Flockhart, who, along with the other members of the cast, has perfect comic timing. Her often hysterical and self-obsessed outbursts are constantly entertaining and frequently emotive. This is a character that endures so much in her five years in Boston, a character that subtly changes with alterations to her workplace, her life, as if the cast members were part of her family. She gives Ally an identity, a character with quirks, but ultimately one that grabs you right to the core.

Of course she hardly does this alone, backed up by a fantastic ensemble, especially skilled in comedic acting. They work together in often wacky situations with natural, almost effortless utterances, possessing a togetherness that is both brilliant and touching. From Portia De Rossi's cold, bitchy Nell Porter, to Peter MacNicol's genius oddball John Cage. The writing too is a revelation, with such a dry, sarcastic, almost brutal humour that permeates with an energetic kick.

Because its setting is a law firm, the show confronts issues of morality, often co-inciding with seminal decisions in the lives of the lawyers, sometimes in the trials themselves. This is where the cast get to flaunt their acting chops dramatically, with frequent success, especially in one particular episode where a main character dies. It's rare that a show can bring out both the funny and wrenching elements of life so vividly. Ally McBeal is a programme that has and will echo more loudly than any other in my mind, whether it be the echo of laughter, or the echo of tears.

Get Together

On her Official Site , it has just been announced that Madonna's (Queen of the Universe) next single will be 'Get Together', from her marvellous Confessions album.

A rather odd choice actually but nevertheless a decent one. Most of the songs are good anyway but I would preferred 'Jump' or 'Future Lover'.

On a side note (connected with Madonna) : I can get tickets for her Confessions tour at Cardiff but no one will go with me :( Any takers? :P

Friday, April 28, 2006

TV Heaven: All Time Top Ten [ #4 - #2 ]

#4 - Big Brother (2000-Present)
Starring: Davina McCall, Marcus Bentley, Helen Adams, Brian Dowling, Nadia Almada, Nicholas Bateman, Jade Goody, Kate Lawler, Shell Jubin, Anthony Hutton

This reality TV show, which began in 2000, puts twelve "everyday" people in a house for two and a half months and lets them live together largely in the way they see fit, which is altogether fairly restlessly in truth. Full of an absurd variety of people, from very different backgrounds, the inhabitants are undoubtedly set up to feud, but no more than theoretically, and things are rarely that simple. Whether it be about food, hygeine, or bad habits, the way in which people "deal" with a situation (or not so in some cases) can be both revealing and gloriously entertaining.
Throughout the years the winners of this show have been a scowse builder, a gay Irishman, a blonde party girl, a 30-Something Virgin, a Portugese transvestite, and a Geordie lad. That tells you something.

What's truly great though about Big Brother is that it divid
es a nation of people. It provides a topic of conversation and area of debate. There are always people you root for, and whoever that may be usually tells you something about the type of person that you are. There may be people saying this is not reality, but if that is indeed the case, then I would ask: what is?

#3 - Absoloutely Fabulous
Starring: Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Julia Sawalha, June Whitfield, Jane Horrocks

Ridiculing the obsessive world of PR and fashion, writer and Actress Jennifer Saunders created Absoloutely Fabulous when I was just 5 years old. Still, this show appeals to my humour, my interests, it's one-liners a treat, its family dynamic outrageously funny. The programme arrived at a time where much of its satirical subject begins, and materialism that is denounced even today, evident in things such as Pink's 'Stupid Girls' video.

The insensitivity of the characters and constant desire to be at the height of social status is consistently hilarious, with actions that exaggerate these tendencies. The show has characters that are played to perfection by its stars to the extent where I can barely choose between Saunders' Edina, Lumley's Patsy, Sawalha's Saffy, or Horrock's unique Bubble. There will always be a place in my heart for this programme, and its unrelenting assault on modern culture.

#2 - Friends
Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry, Matt Le Blanc, David Schwimmer

What more do I need to say? Consistency. Consistency. Consistency. Throughout the ten series of this brilliant show, the jokes are always of a considerably high standard, the actors have great chemistry, the stories are as inspired, and it continues to flourish as one of the most iconic shows to have ever graced a small screen.

Possibly the most believable element in Friends is the bond between the six, and how comfortable they are around each other. It is a credit to this incredible ensemble that it feels continually natural despite being frequently wacky. The writers also deserve tremendous credit for creating characters that are humanly flawed, and that are explored to the depth that they are. In the final episode, I felt like it was the end of an era. There was a tear in my eye. Honest.

Number 1 Coming Soon. Any Ideas? =)

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Lyric of the Day

"There are explosive kegs between my legs"

Everybody go out and buy Morrissey's new album. Now. If you haven't already.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

TV Heaven: All Time Top Ten [ #7 - #5 ]

#7 - Bad Girls (1999-Present)
Starring: Jack Ellis, Debra Stephenson, Claire King, Danielle Brent, Helen Fraser, Victoria Alcock, Kika Mirylees, Tracey Wilkinson, Kerry Norton, Kate O’Mara, Alicia Eyo

Set in a prison, Bad Girls is about the dynamic within, and particularly the relationship between the "Screws" and the "Cons". Think of Bad Girls as a boxing ring, where the weak perish and only the toughest survive. You can rest assured that every person who breaches those iron bars will be tested one way or another, in time. Even with its sometimes vile temperament (though not a patch on reality I'm sure), watching these women scheme, lie, and stab each others backs (sometimes literally) is incredibly entertaining. There's nothing better than a catfight, right?

#6 - Shameless
Starring: Ann-Marie Duff, David Threlfall, James McAvoy, Maggie O’Neill, Jody Latham, Gerard Kearns, Dean Lennox Kelly, Maxine Peake, Jack Deam, Rebecca Ryan

The most recent of my choices, and therefore the least amount of episodes I've watched of the entire ten. However, I instantly fell in love with its appeal. Based on a Manchester Council Estate, it follows the trials and tribulations of the Gallagher's, a working class family.

Entitled Shameless, (a perfect title because it sums up the extremes of working class life) the programme uses a mix of drama and comedy to illustrate the dilemnas (not necessarily lesser, but different) that affect different types of people. Led by clever writing, and genius comic timing from a promisingly young cast, Shameless is a riot.

#5 - Murder, She Wrote
Starring: Angela Lansbury, Tom Bosley, Ron Masak, William Windom

Perhaps an odd choice on paper but I don't care. From a very early age I became obsessed with murder mystery - Agatha Christie, Cluedo etc. But from the moment I was first introduced to that catchy melody, my infatuation reached new levels.

I guess what interests me is how an ordinary person can be driven to commit murder, and the intricacy with which the crime is solved. Angela Lansbury really makes the show, giving Jessica Fletcher the personality and presence of a hawk. A delight.

Numbers 4 to 2 coming. Nearly there :)

URGENT NEWS: New Marie-Antoinette Trailer

Oh. My. God.

The new Marie-Antoinette trailer is out and it's even more amazing than the first one. Again it's New Order, and I actually love how they're making no attempt to speak in a French accent whatsoever. Did I mention I love Sofia Coppola?

See it in all its tremendous glory here . It really is mouth-watering. The even greater thing, its UK release date has been set to September 9th.

Woooohoooo! I don't know the last time I was this excited about a film. Hurry up 2006.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

TV Heaven: All Time Top Ten [ #10 - #8 ]

#10 - ER (1994-Present)
Starring: Maura Tierney, Goran Visnjic, Mekhi Phifer, Parminder Nagra, Linda Cardellini, George Clooney, Noah Wyle, Anthony Edwards, Laura Innes, Sally Field, Scott Grimes, Sheri Stringfield

ER is one of those programmes that gets by on its frenetic pace, both in terms of internal medical analysis, and quickly accelerating plotlines. There is always something to discuss, whether it be a doctor's dilemna, a patient's dilemna, or how good George Clooney looks in his uniform. Regardless of a sense of plotline familiarity from time to time (what other TV show doesn't have that), there have been some superbly memorable episodes throughout its several series. T
hey also know how to mix things up. Episodes have ranged from jaunts to the Congo, to flood rescues, to the real-time final hour of liver patient Ray Liotta's tired life. It is a credit to the writers that its characters and plot strands feel as fresh as they do after such a long time.

The ensemble have been of a dramatic high standard throughout, with mentions to Noah Wyle, Laura Innes, Linda Cardellini, and particularly Maura Tierney, who has mastered her very difficult arc throughout many series'. Her fractured mind outside of work is indicative of ER's continual message that things can't be taken at face value.

#9 - Only Fools and Horses
Starring: David Jason, Nicholas Lyndhurst, Lennard Pearce, Buster Merryfield, Roger Lloyd-Pack, John Challis, Sue Holderness, Gwyneth Strong, Tessa Peake-Jones

Perhaps lower on my list than I expected is the long-running sitcom Only Fools and Horses. This sitcom is one of the finest, telling the story of down-on-their-luck family in Peckham, who get by by trading stolen junk and selling it down the market.

The family dynamic within Fools is perfect, with Del Boy (Jason) the head of the household, living with younger brother Rodney and their Grandad, in a council flat. Although the actor who played Grandad, Lennard Pearce, died after a couple of series' the dynamic remains the same with navy war veteran Uncle Albert (Buster Merryfield). The great thing about their relationship is that although Del holds the cards in both the financial and manipulation stakes (their mother died when Del was a boy), he is dependent upon the others in a way that is true of families to this day.

Watching these two pretenders is great value, with David Jason a particular standout as the ambitious Del Boy, bringing all of his charisma and spice to a role that, while generous, needed to be grabbed hold of. Nicholas Lyndhurst is also very good throughout, and when called upon for more dramatic acting, delivers in earnest. Of course the comedy value plays the most major part, and there has been a fair few hilarious madcap moments that will always be etched in my memory. Whether it be through their belonging, trust, or faith, Del Boy and Rodney find themselves in these situations because they want to better themselves, something we can all relate to.

#8 -
Coronation Street (1960-Present)
Starring: William Roache, Elizabeth Dawn, Helen Worth, Jean Alexander, Barbara Knox, Anthony Cotton, Vicky Entwistle, Beverley Callard, Johnny Briggs, Amanda Barrie, Ian McKellen, Anne Kirkbride, Tina O’Brien, Julie Goodyear, Suranne Jones

This is the only soap opera in my Top Ten, and in any case no other soap opera could ever touch it. This is the pinnacle in drama, comedy, longevity and reality. For 46 years now (can any other show say that?) Coronation Street has wowed, touched, demanded the utmost attention, garnering consistently high ratings throughout its five decades. Still with original cast members, it stands alone as a lofty benchmark for others to reach.

Most recently, while rival shows launched a no-holds-barred onslaught of drama, Coronation Street has mixed it up a little, balancing its darker elements with a light humour. This works wonders, taking little away from the harsher realities but imprinting its own style that is evidently missing in the work of its competition. Recent storylines including the serial killer Richard Hillman's massacre, and Maya's psychotic jealous revenge against her ex-husband Dev have been inspired. I am convinced that the Street will be here for another 45 years, and who knows? Maybe even longer.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Freaky Hills

What is it with big-budget horror and missing children? Every other film these days seems to chart a mothers struggle to retrieve her missing son or daughter. Whether it be Naomi Watts, Jennifer Connelly, Julianne Moore, Jodie Foster, or indeed, this time out, Radha Mitchell, caught in the large-scale game of hide and seek, the outcome hardly varies a great deal.

It's a similar kind of idea with Silent Hill, one of the increasing number of movies adapted from a computer game.
Rose Da Silva (Radha Mitchell) travels to ghost town Silent Hill in search of a cure for daughter Sharon (Jodelle Ferland), who suffers from seizures and repeatedly mentions the place in her sleep. But when Rose crashes her car on the way, she awakes to find daughter Sharon nowhere to be seen, and so makes her way on foot into Silent Hill in search.

This small to big-screen adaptation is considerably more successful than that of previous attempts such as 'Resident Evil' and last year's 'Doom'. It is a credit to director Christophe Gans that Silent Hill never feels anything other than fresh, with a visual definition that almost effortlessly draws your attention. With the visceral nakedness of a soul stripped bare, Silent Hill is a solitary vacuum of severity, that uses its astonishing atmosphereric harshness to great effect.

When comparing the story of Silent Hill to that of its video game counterparts, it does have that familiar supernatural quest concept, but it's the boldness and vastness of its narrative puzzle that truly distinguishes it from many in the horror genre. Provoking questions with its intricate, somewhat unexpected plot turns, it does sacrifice a significant amount of clarity. Not having played the game, I'm unsure as to whether the story is less muddled whilst playing. Regardless of that, the film's sudden bursts of speed do tend to be more distracting than involving.

Radha Mitchell's attempts at manoeuvring her familiar desperate mother role are more than respectable, although she offers little more than the women before her. Her role is most certainly more confrontational and fantastical, but she gets much more help from her director than any of the other actresses received. The real stand-out of the film is Jodelle Ferland as the damaged daughter. Her shift in emotion and indeed personas is pitched clearly, with an immaculate precision that diverts the film's tone and focus with a single glance.

Silent Hill
, while not the easiest of films to comprehend, works well simply because it's made well. Everything from the balance and tone, to the editing, is composed exactly as intended, and consequently, it's a brave, authentic and exciting piece of cinema.

As creepy as Silent Hill looks and feels, it doesn't have what Alexandre Aja's hills have - eyes. Yet another horror remake, this one from Wes Craven's 1977 film of the same name, The Hills Have Eyes is the story of a family on holiday in the West of America. When they're advised to take a short cut, their camper van goes off the road, leaving them stranded in deserted valleys, at the prey of cannibal nuclear victims.

Sitting alone (that's right, alone) in the cinema watching The Hills Have Eyes is a terrifying experience. In fact, it might just border on traumatic. Aja shoots the film as if we were still in the 70's, (and for a horror film, that's a compliment) with lots of traditional sequences and symphonies, giving the film an eeriness that, had it been modernised, probably would have been absent. Aja imprints his own slant on the film, while not fiddling too much with Craven's methodology.

It is perhaps the harsh reality within the story that makes The Hills Have Eyes particularly effective though. There is a scene in the middle of the film in which several characters die that I find difficult recounting as it repulsed and touched me to such a degree. While emotively convincing and rather brutal, the dynamic of the family is perhaps the most worrying aspect of the film. Horror films rarely take such time over their characters but when Hills attempts to, it does so in a shallow and ironically pedestrian fashion. The sense of political compromise between the republican father and democrat son-in-law being a particular indication that character studies should perhaps be left to films with a more profound purpose. Nevertheless, they are believeable as a unit.

Emilie De Ravin, of TV show 'Lost' fame, puts in a good performance, and has the more showier trauma scenes. It is Dan Byrd though, as son Bobby, that really shines, etching alone the sense of loss and desperation at the helplessness of the entire situation. The Hills Have Eyes is difficult to sit through, and for that it really must be sat through. It is a horror in every sense of the word, and is unashamedly heavy, weighing down everyone around it with an unrivalled onslaught. Relentless.

Silent Hill - Grade: B
The Hills Have Eyes - Grade: B-

Sunday, April 23, 2006

TV Heaven: The Cream of the Crop

With the return of intriguing castaway drama 'Lost' a matter of days away, it's got me thinking about programmes I watch/have watched religiously. As an avid fan of lists, I've therefore taken it upon myself to reflect on TV programmes, old and new, in order to create an all-time Top Ten favourite list.

Before the Top Ten (which by the way is brilliantly inspired), I'll take this moment to mourn the shows that didn't quite manage a placing:

Honourable Mention #1
Dad's Army (1968-1977)
Starring: Arthur Lowe, John Le Mesurier, Ian Lavender, Clive Dunn, John Laurie, James Beck, Arnold Ridley, Bill Pertwee, Frank Williams, Edward Sinclair

From the moment Arthur Lowe's absurdly bumbling Captain Mainwaring occupies the screen, armed with a lack of dynamism and wishy-washy Toff English eccentricity, Dad's Army is a delight. Satirising the traditionalism of Britain; it's naive, over-thought, one-dimensional attitudes and methods, Dad's Army represents, in part, an era in which much was achieved. Watching these men exercise their 'Britishness' in such a way is thoroughly engaging, led by an ensemble that largely understates when cliché could easily have been descended upon.

Honourable Mention #2
Desperate Housewives (2004-Present)
Starring: Teri Hatcher, Marcia Cross, Felicity Huffman, Eva Longoria, Nicolette Sheridan, James Denton, Alfre Woodward, Ricardo Chavira, Mark Moses, Andrea Bowen, Doug Savant, Cody Kasch, Jesse Metcalfe

In similar style to DA, recently acclaimed show Desperate Housewives uses satire as its main instrument. With an artificiality that spreads from the characters, to the set design, to the many sub-plots, Housewives weaves a web of deceit and manipulation, while remaining an essentially comic piece. What really makes this show worth watching though, is the performance of its four leading ladies. Cross, Huffman, Hatcher, and Longoria accentuate their characters flaws to similarly lengthy degrees, delving into their strengths and weaknesses in keeping with the frank and fluffy tone that we have come to know and love.

Honourable Mention #3
Pop Idol (2001-2003)
Starring: Simon Cowell, Pete Waterman, Nicki Chapman, Neil Fox, Will Young, Gareth Gates, Darius Danesh, Zoe Birkett, Rosie Ribbons, Michelle McManus

Let me make this perfectly clear. I mean 'Pop Idol'. Not 'Popstars'. Not 'The X Factor'. Pop Idol.

When Pop Idol first burst onto our screens in 2001, there had only previously been one reality talent show of this ilk, 2000's Popstars, which gave birth to the short lived band Hear'Say, but let's not get into that. Armed with a set of judges that had everything: Dr Fox had personality, Nicki Chapman had appeal, Pete Waterman had eccentricity, and Simon Cowell had.. well.. what Simon Cowell has. No imitation of this talent show will ever eclipse the feeling of jubilation at the end of Series 1, when Will Young emerged from massive underdog to beat teen hearthrob Gareth Gates in a vote that totalled just under 10 Million in all. Please bring it back. Its copycat cousins just aren't quite the same.

Ok. That's the honourable mentions done. Stay tuned for the Top Ten, which will begin later on.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

And So It Begins...

Woohoo! And we're off again. My First Oscar Predictions of 2006 can be located here . Here's to a better year this time around. (Especially for Kirsten and Sofia)

Monday, April 17, 2006

Oscar in Retrospect: 1988 - Best Actress In A Leading Role

Inspired by StinkyLulu's Supporting Actress Sundays, an Oscar category that has had plenty to query in the last few years (Rachel and Catherine excluded), I've decided to look back on random oscar categories from the past that I've found particularly interesting. First up is 1988's quality line-up in the 'Actress In a Leading Role' category. If you don't have a photographic Oscar memory, here were the contenders and their awards, listed in my order of preference:

Glenn Close (Dangerous Liaisons)

- The Devious Marquise de Merteuil, who schemes with her ex-lover to seduce and destroy various victims in 18th Century France.
Other Awards - BAFTA (Nominee)
Performance - Superbly cunning. Gloriously bitchy. Adds so much underlying history and intention to the character, and uses the mood of the piece to her own benefit.
Result - Lost

Meryl Streep (A Cry In the Dark)

Role -
Lindy Chamberlain, accused of the murder of her own baby after claiming it was taken by a dingo in the Australian outback.
Other Awards - AFI, Cannes, NYFCC (Winner), Globe (Nominee)
Performance - Very close to Close ;) Streep's genius is in creating this cold and distant character, while remaining distinctly acknowledgeable as a mother.
Result - Lost

Jodie Foster (The Accused)

Role -
A rape victim, who takes on her attackers in the courtroom, with the help of a female prosecutor.
Other Awards - Globe, NBR, KCFCC (Winner), BAFTA (Nominee)
Performance - Excellent as a strong and desperate woman. A baity role that has become familiar (I'm thinking Theron in North Country here), but this is the finest attempt, and the most original. Even though she's not my favourite, this is a very good Best Actress winner.
Result - Won

Melanie Griffith (Working Girl)

- An ambitious secretary who sets her sights on big business after her dynamic boss has to go into hospital for two weeks.
Other Awards - Globe (Winner), BAFTA (Nominee)
Performance - Drives the film with her excellent tone and timing. A convincing ditzy blonde that knows her place in life, much like La Witherspoon's divine example in Legally Blonde.
Result - Lost

Sigourney Weaver (Gorillas in the Mist)

Role -
Dian Fossey, a scientist visiting Africa to study mountain gorillas, develops a bond with them, and later fights for their protection.
Other Awards - Globe (Nominee)
Performance - Very good for a fifth spot. A touching performance, but just lacks the range and punch of the other four. She should have won the supporting category.
Result - Lost

Other Contenders I've Seen:

Susan Sarandon (Bull Durham)

Role -
A baseball groupie, whose affair with two minor-league players creates a comic love triangle.
Other Awards - Globe (Nominee)
Performance - Excellent and worthy of a nomination. A charming and infectious example in comedy acting.

Jamie Lee Curtis (A Fish Called Wanda)

Role -
A devious thief who will stop at nothing to get what she wants.
Other Awards - BAFTA, Globe (Nominee)
Performance - Hilarious. Does the ultimate best with her role, but perhaps gets outshone by other actors, particularly Kevin Kline.

OK. So that's 1988 done. What a great year. Let me know if you agree, or vehemently don't.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Originality, Where For Art Thou?

On Friday, I saw 'She's the Man', a teen movie adaptation of William Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night'. It's been a while since I first read 'Twelfth Night' at school and (as Keira Knightley might put it) swore to loathe it for all eternity. I was intolerant to its incessant meandering romance and infuriating flakiness. Since then I've warmed to it, thanks largely to 1998's Oscar-winning Shakespeare In Love , which uses many of WS' fine works and remains one of the most intelligent and insightful screenplays in recent memory. It's rare that a film and its ensemble can be so totally in control of its mood and tone in a way that's involving rather than mercilessly repellent.

Most certainly the finest example of a Shakespeare-based teen movie that I have seen, is 1999 version of 'The Taming of the Shrew', Gil Junger's Ten Things I Hate About You . As well as being very entertaining, it contains an emotionally packed and utterly tireless turn from the revelatory Julia Stiles as the shrew, Catarina Stratford. Perhaps the adoration that I have for this film was always going to put 'She's the Man' at a comparative disadvantage. Nevertheless, I do maintain that this most recent of adapted offerings instigates rather more concerning results.

If anybody isn't quite familiar with the plot of 'Twelfth Night' it's too complicated for me to explain right now. But basically, Viola, played by teen TV star, Amanda Bynes, impersonates her twin brother Sebastian (sideburns, the full works) after her school soccer team is cut. But in a bid to get close to her beloved sport she ends up picking up another passion in life, Duke Orsino, the captain of the team.

Bynes, a breakout performer from sketch show 'All That', is hardly my favourite of the recent teen phenomenon (Duff, Lohan etc.) and is an actress I found detestable in truth. What a pleasant surprise it was then to find Bynes incredibly suited to her gender-balancing role. Using all of her goofy and blatant humour, she absorbs the transparent naivety of Shakespeare's love triangle, feeding on her character's variety in a way that contrasts those before her, such as Paltrow and the aforementioned Stiles. Although her task is perhaps easier, in the sense that it allows her the freedom to be particularly intentional, she drives the film as best she can under the circumstances.

When attempting to adapt the massively read play into a modern-day marvel, as Junger did in '99, is where this particular stab fails to pierce beyond even the flimsiest of surfaces. Where 10 Things embraced teen culture and its shallow, black-and-white mirage, 'She's the Man' flounders under its soccer semantics, so obsessed with delivering its mechanical outline so satisfyingly. It wastes opportunities to capitalise on gender-based flaws, and fails to generate any real concern for the goals of the characters. A real shame.

What can be said for this particular Shakespeare imitation is that it at least attempts to reference the original, although sometimes perhaps too faithfully. Still, there's something admirable about its careful mirroring of the play. The matching twists and plot turns involved in the creation of the romantic comedy patent. Regardless of this, 'She's the Man' is most definitely an unsuccessful attempt to modernise this particular love triangle. Shakespeare won't be turning in his grave just yet, but he's probably beginning to wonder if people will ever tire of his work. It's not looking likely.

Grade: C-