I have been thoroughly enjoying BBC4's The Century That Made Us season. Lot's of good documentaries, an enjoyable re-run of a Tom Jones serialization and last night's Beau Brummel: This Charming Man.
It's certainly been a refreshing change from the twin plagues of Big Brother and The World Cup.
The Tom Jones serial is excellent fun with Brian Blessed blustering around yelling a lot and loads of illicit rumpy going on in barns and fields. From the looks of things these 18th century folk really knew how to have a good time.
I can never quite explain it, there's just something about watching Brian Blessed that always makes me unreasonably happy. Although the less said about his role in Star Wars-The Phantom Menace the better. It could be the wonderful sonorous voice. Or maybe my love of him stems from the wonderful story of how they repeatedly had to stop filming of his role for Flash Gordon as he kept on making pow pow noises everytime he was supposed to be firing his gun. No matter how many times they explained the sound effects would be added later he just kept on going. There is just a joyous glee in his work which I adore and translates across the screen to the viewer, I think anyway.
I digress, So the Beau Brummel film/drama was on last night. It was very good, although at times it felt simultaneously a bit too rushed and far too slow. I'm not denying that James Purefoy (in the titular role) is an attractive man but I could have done with about 10 minutes less of him getting dressed in slow motion and about 10 minutes more of plot.
The gentleman playing Byron seemed to be an idiosyncratic piece of casting to me. Byron I've always thought was supposed to be powerfully sexy and intriguing, whereas the actor looked more like a misplaced Hobbit.* Yet again there was lot's of rumpy ( when the sex depicted happened over 200 years ago it gets called rumpy) booze and general debautchery. Even a little incest dropped in the mix for good measure.
Hats off to Brummel though, he certainly invented a good look for men. The hormonal flutterings of watching gentlemen in period costume are undeniable, and certainly far easier to comprehend when they aren't in powdered wigs and blusher. At which point, contemplating men in make-up you inevitably end up questioning your own sexuality.
The thing that spoiled the film for me though was some bright spark's decision to end it with a Smith's song over the end credits.
Yes it was a song with a reference to clothing which could be seen to neatly tie in with the story of Brummel, but surely there are other better songs out there that could have done the job just as well? ZZ Top's Sharp Dressed Man perhaps? Please, if you have any better suggestions let me know.
The 'wonder of the Smiths' has long been an anathema to me. I often feel when talking to a group of Smiths fans as though I have stumbled upon some sort of cult meeting; they all keep offering me the coolade but I'm having none of it.
Do not for one second think that I haven't tried to like the Smiths, I once sat in the relative captivity of a friends flat while she played 4 hours worth of their music at me, and at the end I still hated them. It's Morissey's voice. It's like a cheese grater on my soul. I feel slightly nauseous even thinking about him. I do think I'd quite like to punch him, even though I normally abhor violence of any sort, but in Morissey's case I think it could, just, be justified.
*Although his acting was very good. Oh why am I trying to make excuses? Sorry hobbit man, you just weren't right for the role.