THE WEEK IN REVIEW

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The Independent Culture
THE FILM RESTORATION

OVERVIEW: Michael Hoffman turns Rose Tremain's Booker-shortlisted novel of a physician in the court of Charles II into a film starring Robert Downey Jnr, Meg Ryan, wigs, plumes and beauty spots.

CRITICAL VIEW:

Sheila Johnston was slightly disappointed: "While by no means a disaster, the story has a baggy, patched-together feel." "Rattles along at a good pace and doesn't overstay its welcome," smiled the Guardian. "Engaging," agreed Time Out. "Agreeably decorative and utterly flimsy," sniffed the FT. "You begin the film gaping in awe. Then the story grows dumb..." shrugged the Times.

ON VIEW:

At the Odeon West End (0171-930 7615) and across the country from 15 March.

OUR VIEW:

Stunning Oscar-nominated visuals which look considerably more expensive than the $15m budget.

THE MUSICAL: TOMMY

OVER VIEW:

Dating from the era when rock took itself terrifyingly seriously, the Who's rock opera resurfaces as a special-effects extravaganza directed by Des McAnuff to tumultuous success on Broadway.

CRITICAL VIEW:

Ryan Gilbey applauded "invigorating entertainment without the undertow of bombast". "Disingenuous wetness... McAnuff's production has the drive, skill and bustling inventiveness to disguise every weakness," observed the Times. "Definitive," cheered the FT. "One of the greatest and most disturbing collections of songs in the history of rock," spluttered the Telegraph.

ON VIEW:

At the Shaftesbury Theatre (0171-379 5399).

OUR VIEW

The high-tech staging and Chris Parry's lighting dwarf everything else. Like watching a dazzling but portentous pop video on stage.

THE ANNOUNCEMENT: TREVOR NUNN GOES NATIONAL

OVER VIEW:

Former RSC artistic director Trevor Nunn (56) will succeed Richard Eyre as the director of the National Theatre despite the press championing of young Turks Stephen Daldry and Sam Mendes.

CRITICAL VIEW:

"Nunn but the best," quipped John McKie. "Age does have its advantages. For one thing, there's experience," commented the Guardian. "I still wish the job had gone to the brilliant young Sam Mendes. The theatre needs a bit of excitement after all," wailed the Telegraph. "Mr Nunn is the best choice both to succeed Eyre and to succeed for the National," averred the Times.

ON VIEW:

Nunn now begins 18 months of preparation and planning before formally taking up the post in October 1997.

OUR VIEW

Nunn has little new writing experience but he's a great text man - and neither Daldry and Mendes seriously wanted the job.

THE ALBUM: MERCURY FALLING

OVER VIEW:

The latest album from Gordon Sumner aka Sting ranges from soul to Gospel to Motown to country and even shanty and includes the hit single "Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot".

CRITICAL VIEW:

Andy Gill was dismayed. "What there isn't is heart, fire, or a single track that sounds like it needed to exist." "It is hard to work up enthusiasm for an album of such limited cheer" said the Times. NME awarded it "1 out of 10". "Hosannas, bouquets and Faberge eggs all round," exclaimed Q. "The winner of most of next year's Grammys has just arrived", trumpeted the Guardian.

ON VIEW:

In vast quantities in your local record shop. Also on a forthcoming South Bank Show.

OUR VIEW:

Unlike his previous album, the marvellous Ten Summoners Tales, this has good pop technique but precious little spontaneity.

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