Arts and Entertainment Emma Thompson arriving for the National Board of Review Awards in New York

The actor Emma Thompson has spoken out this week in favour of gender-blind casting, admitting her particular desire to play the role of Sherlock Holmes.

Letter: Ayckbourn's base

Sir: I was dismayed to see your reporter Sandra Barwick writing about the absolute decline of Scarborough ('Scarborough: postcards from the edge', 12 June) with no reference to the extraordinary contribution made there for many years by Alan Ayckbourn at his Stephen Joseph Theatre-in-the-Round.

INEMA / Some giggles, but no guts: Death Becomes Her (PG); Slacker (15)

HOW MUCH fun is Meryl Streep? In Plenty and Sophie's Choice she was no more approachable than liquid nitrogen, but recently there have been signs that the ice-queen might care to melt. And so it proves in Death Becomes Her, directed by Robert Zemeckis. Streep plays Madeline Ashton, a star beginning to lose her glare. We first see her slinking down a stairway under purple lights, in a Broadway version of Sweet Bird of Youth. Zemeckis pitches this just where it belongs, right at the bottom of the heap: a fake Streisand warble, lyrics based almost solely on the phrase 'That's me]', and feathers moulting off Madeline's boa. What's more, the year is 1978, which means that half-way through the rhythm accelerates to disco and everyone starts to behave like a train - random whoop-whistles and mad signals at the ceiling. This is fast work: a whole decade damned to hell, and we still haven't got past the credits.

FILM / The dead zone

BOGGLING EYES are a bad sign on a film poster, and the advertisement for Death Becomes Her (PG) shows three sets - the shocked orbs of Goldie Hawn, Bruce Willis and Meryl Streep. There hasn't been so much eye-white on a poster for a good long time.

FILM / The Last Detail: The incredible adventures of morph

HOW strange, in a way, that Robert Zemeckis's new movie, a movie of a rare euphoric grossness, of a positively glutinous bad taste, should bear as elegant and tragic a title as Death Becomes Her - reminiscent as it is of the title which has always seemed to me the most beautiful in the entire history of the language, O'Neill's Mourning Becomes Electra.

FILM / We have ways of making you talk: Chris Peachment on the unspeakable things stars do with accents

NEXT FRIDAY you will be able to listen to Tom Cruise attempting an accent for the first time in his career, and his wife Nicole Kidman for the second. Who can forget her good ol' gal American doctor in Days of Thunder; a woman who opened her vowels each morning in ripe Australian? Sneak previews of Far and Away suggest that, alas, Tom and Nic are on a hiding to nothing with the intricacies of the Irish accent, too. It wouldn't be the first time.
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