Arts and Entertainment

There’s a bit in the middle of Mad About the Boy when the agent for Bridget’s screenplay – a modern interpretation of Hedda Gabler set in Queen’s Park – sends her a strange email. “We have a couple of responses on your script,” he writes. “They are passing. The themes are fascinating but they’re wanting more of a romcom feel. I’ll keep trying.” It could be a coincidence, but by this point it reads like a coded SOS from the author. The book is at its best when it is a poignant comic novel about a 51-year-old woman struggling to bring up children after the sudden death of her husband. It is hit-and-miss when it’s about a 51-year-old Bridget Jones who struggles with all the TV remotes and counts nits instead of Chardonnays. But on occasion it becomes a parody of a Richard Curtis film, or even worse an American sitcom, and that of course is v v bad.

Leading articles:No cure for the seven-year itch

It's official. Testosterone patches won't cure a male mid-life crisis. Oestrogen patches - also known as HRT - help many women sail through and past the menopause unencumbered by the mood swings, exhaustion and ill-health that lack of oestrogen can cause.

Clueless in Selfridges

She hasn't got a walk-in wardrobe. She has to borrow her dad's mobile. But she sure can shop. Anna Maxted meets Britain's label babes

Theatre / Seven Year Itch

First there was Some Like it Hot, then came Sunset Boulevard. It can only be a matter of time before someone decides to turn Double Indemnity into a play. Or Stalag 17. There appears to be an unwritten law that "If Billy Wilder filmed it, thou shouldst stage it". I beg to differ. The only point at which Sunset really takes off is when it most clearly reproduces the well-nigh-perfect film, so why bother? Some Like it Hot has had not one but two musical versions but no one could seriously suggest that either was an improvement on one of the most sublime screen comedies ever made.

THEATRE / NEW STAGES: Of divers and divas

Leocadia - New End Theatre, London NW3 / Quelques Fleurs - Old Red Lion , London EC1

Box office record

FOUR Weddings and a Funeral, released in May and starring Hugh Grant, is the first British film to break the pounds 20m barrier at the UK box office.

What's more

Working Title, the producers of Four Weddings and a Funeral (dollars 80m and counting) are throwing a party. The invitations read: RSVP - just say 'I do'. On the back comes the instruction: Dress: Elizabeth Hurley . . .

FILM / Box-Office Charts

New in the US this week: the Nick Nolte / Julia Roberts (right) romantic comedy I Love Trouble; the much-slated thriller Blown Away with Jeff Bridges and Tommy Lee Jones, and John Hughes's latest, Baby's Day Out, described as a junior Home Alone. The biggest new entry, The Shadow, couldn't deny Disney's The Lion King a second week at the top.

FILM / Reviews: Something old, something new: Sheila Johnston on Four Weddings and a Funeral, the Britcom that had America rolling down the aisles; plus round-up

Overhyped and over-praised over there? Four Weddings and a Funeral (15) opens here garlanded with praise from America, and it has been going great guns for a low-budget British picture. The production team has conjured up impressive quantities of flowers on straitened means (US critics single out the hats for special distinction) and, while the film is simply shot - lots of tight close-ups - the director, Mike Newell, also makes a virtue out of the necessity: the first wedding, at which the leading players are introduced, is filmed as a series of loosely connected brief impressions and pratfalls, a little like a high-class clip from You've Been Framed. Most of all, it is a diverting, crowd-pleasing romantic comedy, and, as last year's thin track record in this department shows, this is not an achievement to sniff at.

FILM / The comfort of strangers: Adam Mars-Jones on Manhattan Murder Mystery, Woody Allen's return to a familiar form and, in Diane Keaton, a familiar leading lady

It's light, it's droll and it's pretty much guaranteed not to feature on any newspaper pages except the ones devoted to the arts. From Woody Allen's point of view, Manhattan Murder Mystery must count as a total success, and audiences needn't feel short- changed either. The presence of a book called Romantic Comedy by the hero's bed is an ominous early signal, but what follows isn't excessively weighed down by knowingness or by movie references.

FILM / Some kind of wonderful: Anthony Minghella would like you to forget Sleepless in Seattle. He tells Sheila Johnston why

YOU'D think it was enough to make a highly regarded film, one which won awards and proved its commercial mettle on both sides of the Atlantic. It should be enough, too, to be a respected writer in a range of media, for theatre (Made in Bangkok), television (What If It's Raining?; Inspector Morse) and radio (Hang Up; Coffee and Cigarettes). But no: none of the above sufficed for the wonderful world of movie promotion, and when Anthony Minghella's first film, Truly, Madly, Deeply, began to attract attention, it was pitched, almost inevitably, as the thinking person's Ghost.

CINEMA / Can't see Woody for the tricks

AS Woody Allen's life grows trickier, his art gets tricksier. In Husbands and Wives, his camera juddered about like a nervous tic. In Shadows and Fog, he borrows the full paraphernalia of German Expressionism. The film is set in an unnamed middle-European town (Prague?) at an unspecified time (the 1920s?): a tracing-paper world of slate greys and charcoals, looming shadows and lamps guttering into the gloom. Carlo Di Palma's photography is so murky you could choke on it. The plot is cadged from Fritz Lang's M: a killer on the loose; both law and outlaws anxious to restore the status quo. We see the strangler, in shadow, at the start of the film. With his knee-length cloak, pointy ears, and spatulate fingers, he's a ringer for Murnau's Nosferatu.

CINEMA / Mid-life Woody goes crabby

IN HIS new movie, Husbands and Wives, Woody Allen plays a content and courageous naval officer with a large family and a varied sporting life, who one day . . . sorry, my mistake. I was daydreaming. Correction: in his new movie, Woody Allen plays a New York Jewish writer with a marriage past its sell-by date and a salad of mixed troubles. In short, the usual.
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