Sunday, July 01, 2012


The 1934 version of The Painted Veil, starring Greta Garbo, will be shown on Turner Classic Movies on July 29, if anyone would like to compare the various versions of this essentially strong story.........News reports say that the real-estate market is heating up in several areas, and friends who are in the business in suburban Boston attest to this. Around here there is an absolute building frenzy. People are tearing down respectable houses to make way for bigger and fancier houses, and the tradesmen's pickup trucks are parked down the street, 10 to 15 in a row, month after month, as the latest building bubble inflates.........I have watched three episodes of the highly praised new BBC series, Twenty Twelve, and I must say the praise is overdone. This is a comedy about the tribulations of the Olympics Deliverance Commission, a group of civil servants charged with getting London ready for its closeup in 2012. It is done mockumentary-style, with the ODC's leader, Hugh Bonneville (the Earl of Downton Abbey) surrounded by hopeless incompetents. (One wonders what the London Olympics establishment thinks of this series.) The British are masters of the miniseries, but Christopher Guest is still master of the mockumentary, and Twenty Twelve, despite moments of hilarity, is only so-so.........One day Wall Street is sure that Europe's financial crisis is terminal, the next day the market is sure that it was all a bad dream. Trading on headlines is always risky, but these days it is madness. Best bet is still to buy solid utilities, many of which yield 4 or 5 percent.........A pollster reports that, among young people, one-third are uneasy if they haven't checked Facebook for two hours, and another sizeable slice constantly feel their pockets to be sure they have their smart phones. Good or bad, society is changing............Back to the BBC, which has produced a wonderful series on the cosmos, tracing man's "knowledge" of the universe back to the ancient Greeks, through Copernicus, Kepler, Gallileo, Newton, and Hubble. No one does sort of thing better than the Beeb, which constantly proves that television can be more than Newton Minnow's "vast wasteland." Of course, one also must credit Public Television, which brings us so many of the Beeb's goodies...........I am told, reliably, that the production of South Pacific at the Ogunquit Playhouse is superb. Even though I have seen this show often, I will try to catch this one before it leaves..........And a must is the Biddeford production of Chess, due in a few eeeks.