What must actors do to provide the goods for a period piece? Pride & Prejudice has three essential mechanics that make it work so well. An adaptably strong piece of literature, a keen eye for costume and drama, and Keira Knightley. The claxon of the period piece rings out once more, and, honour-bound by some ancient writing or law, Knightley is once more part of the Georgian era. Like jury service, but permanently. Mandated by law to appear in Joe Wright’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel. Still, she has served the genre exceptionally well, and her strenuous efforts to bring this immense credibility to Pride & Prejudice has worked incredibly well.
Collaborating minds in the directing chair, two greats of the industry coming together, knocking heads and building something powerful. That should happen more, but the outcome is often less than stellar. Joe Johnston and Lasse Hallström learn the hard way with The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, a feature that wishes to inspire some of that Disney magic. All it can do is scrape the paste of Christmas cheer from the underbelly of projects past. Surely the men that brought us Jumanji and Hachi can mean us no harm. They are polite, reasonable, nice. They would never betray the qualities of Christmas for, say, cash, or the chance to work with Matthew Macfadyen.
The liberties of clumsy storytelling and fictitious recounts of true events are defended instantly by the black and white placard of “Some incidents and characters have been changed for dramatic purposes,” and while Quiz does change a hefty amount of both incident and character, its changes are remarkably odd and ineffective. Allegedly cheating his way to a £1 million win on gameshow Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, the story of Charles Ingram is a simple one, but the right level of cannon fodder for a miniseries. All three were found guilty of cheating and conspiring to con the show, and it was typical tabloid fascination for the brief time the Chris Tarrant-hosted show was at the height of its popularity.