Bard at the movies

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 September, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 22 September, 1997, 12:00am

Film adaptions of William Shakespeare's works always seem to be hit or miss affairs. Although it takes a brave director to tackle the works of the great Bard, the challenge has deterred few and new adaptions continue to be produced nearly every year.

Actor-director Kenneth Branagh continues to ravage Shakespeare's works in his adaptions of Much Ado About Nothing, Othello and Henry V while the late great Laurence Olivier will always be remembered for his faithful portrayals of Hamlet, Henry V, King Lear and Richard III.

Earlier this year, talented young actor Leonardo DiCaprio tackled Shakespeare's classic Romeo and Juliet and while he did a good job, the film suffered from its MTV-style jump cuts producing a triumph of style over substance. Consequently, the film's soundtrack sold millions.

A much better Romeo and Juliet was Franco Zeffirelli's 1968 version using actual teenagers with Olivier narrating or the 1961 musical West Side Story which places the couple in a New York neighbourhood caught in the middle of a gang war. The film won 10 Academy Awards including best picture and features an outstanding Leonard Bernstein-Stephen Sondheim musical score.

For completely ridiculous version of Shakespeare adaptions check out 1983's Strange Brew about two beer-guzzling Canadian brothers loosely based on Hamlet or My Own Private Idaho about two gay hustlers adapted from Henry IV, Part I.

In As You Like It (World, 9.30pm), the Bard's famous love story is revamped into a romantic comedy in modern-day Britain. The main character Rosalind escapes the plottings of the Duke to the urban wasteland's of the forest of Arden to test her boyfriend Orlando's love.

The adaption is not completely removed from the original play as the dialogue contains some of the most famous lines ever written. British comedian Griff Rhys Jones and James Fox co-star.

College sweethearts now married couple Richard and Priscilla Parker (Kevin Kline and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) are shaken from their suburban coma when new neighbours Eddy and Kay Otis (Kevin Spacey and Rebecca Miller) move next door to spice up their lives in Consenting Adults (Pearl, 9.30pm).

The two couples get cosy leading to wife swapping and murder leaving Kline framed for the crime.

Mandy Patinkin returns in a guest role as Dr Geiger in Chicago Hope (World, 8.30pm) as he attempts an unorthodox heart operation with Dr Austin (Christine Lahti). Also Dr Kronk (Peter Berg) wrestles his emotions on how to deal with his father's Alzheimers disease. At the recent Emmy Awards, Hector Elizondo (Dr Phillip Watters) won best supporting actor in a drama series while rival drama ER was shut out in the main categories.

Thailand has experienced many problems of late with the devaluation of the baht, over-extended banks and a soft property market. On Inside Story (World, 8.05pm), reporter Craig Leeson finds out the problems go deeper than economic reform. The country's finance minister believes the only way to solve the crisis is to restructure Thailand's constitution. The International Monetary Fund's managing director Michel Camdessus gives his thoughts on the situation and whether the currency of Hong Kong and China can remain stable.

In live sporting action, ESPN has NFL coverage at 8am as Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-0) host cross-state rivals Miami Dolphins (2-1). At 2.55am Tuesday morning, Liverpool host Aston Villa in English Premier League football.