It's not often that I get to talk arty-farty stuff with my arty-farty friend, Stense—which is a pity, because, as it turns out, I can be rather profound when it comes to that sort of crap. The following is an extract from an email I sent to Stense this morning (with minor typos corrected, and hyperlinks added):
The weather was so awful yesterday that the two Jens and I decided to go to Hebden Bridge Picture House to see the latest Harry Potter: 'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azerbaijan', or something like that. Don't get me wrong, we wanted to see the film anyway; the weather was just an excuse. I enjoyed it a lot, but not perhaps as much as the previous two (even though I've heard critics saying it is the best so far - but what do they know?). I think Farmer Jen hit the nail on the head when she described it as "a bit bitty", but it all came together in the end with a complex time-travel twist that joined up all the loose ends. Have you seen the film yet, Stense? If not, sorry about mentioning the time-travel twist, but, in my defence, I heard JK Rowling mention it on the radio once, so if she's allowed to give out spoilers, I don't see why I can't.
Anyway, the reason I launched straight into Harry Potter without so much as a howya-diddlin' is that I thought I saw Julie Christie in it. "Bloody hell, is that Julie Christie?" I wondered to myself. "I haven't seen her for years. Is it really her?" And according to the credits at the end, it was. But the thing that was really weird about seeing Julie Christie on the big screen (even weirder, in fact, than seeing her in a Harry Potter film) was the fact that we hardly got to see her face - in her first scene, she was a fair way from the camera and moving about a lot, and in the second we saw her from Harry Potter's point of view as he hid behind his cloak of invisibility, meaning she was all blurred. In fact, so uncertain was I that I was seeing Julie Christie that I began to wonder whether she might actually be Billie Whitelaw (which, according to the credits, she wasn't).
All of which goes to show that just about anyone who is anyone in British acting is queuing up to be in the latest Harry Potter. Get this, I even thought I saw Freddy 'Parrot Face' Davies playing a talking picture, but then decided I was pretty sure he is dead, so it must have been someone else. Unless he's not dead, of course, in which case very well done him! (Actually, come to think of it, I think it might be Bernie Winters out of 'Mike and Bernie Winters' who is dead; not Freddy 'Parrot Face' Davies - but I could be wrong.)
And then it hit me: all these classic British stars' queuing up to be in a film: it was like 'Gosford Park' all over again! Exactly. It even didn't have the same stars in it that 'Gosford Park' didn't have: where were Dame Judi, Sir Gandalf the Gay, and the delightfully buxom Kate Winslet? Nowhere to be seen. Mark my words, Stense, each of them will be in a Harry Potter before the end, it stands to reason: the delightfully buxom Kate has a young child (or is it more now?), so she's *bound* to want to be in one, and how can Dame Dudi and Sir Gandalf turn down the opportunity to out-Dame, out-Sir and out-pantomime Dame Maggie and Sir Michael? Impossible. But they don't stand a chance of out-pantoing Alan Rickman, who resurrects his Sheriff of Nottingham character to great effect. CAN ANYONE SMELL HAM? (Actually, I think Sir Gandalf would make rather a good wizard.)
Which leaves just one question: can you imagine a Harry Potter role for that other 'Gosford Park' stalwart and Jeremy Clarkson pin-up, Kristin Scott-Thomas? Too posh, do you reckon? Actually, that's two questions. And here's another: I can't remember, has Richard E Grant been in a Harry Potter yet? He's made for it. And so is Alan Bennett, but I suppose he's a bit above that sort of thing. HOLY SHIT! I'VE JUST REALISED: I DON'T THINK STEPHEN FRY HAS BEEN IN ONE YET! WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?!
For the record, since I sent the email quoted above, I have done some research and ascertained the following facts:
- Freddie 'Parrot Face' Davies is still very much alive, and did indeed play a talking painting in the latest Harry Potter film
- Bernie Winters, on the other hand, is very much dead, so it probably was him I was thinking about after all
- Bernie Winters appeared in the critically acclaimed 1981 film, Mary Millington's World Striptease Extravaganza (starring porn queen, Mary Millington, who, despite having committed suicide two years earlier, was apparently still seen as a big box office draw)
- Kirstin Scott Thomas does not have a hyphen
- Richard E Grant has not been in any of the Harry Potter films (yet)
- Stephen Fry has narrated some Harry Potter audiobooks