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Index: The Fortnightly Review of Films and Video

Labyrinth of artifice.

Simon Collings: ‘Some of the invention in Simó’s film perhaps derives from Buñuel himself. Always cagey about his Communist affiliations, the director would for many years deny he’d ever been a party member. In 1939 he wrote a short ‘autobiography’, a curriculum vitae intended to support his search for work in the USA where he had fled at the outbreak of the Second World War.’

An ‘Iron Lady’ turns to rust.

Drew Moore: In Streep’s Thatcher we see a ball-busting leader well equipped with warmongering and anti-socialist rhetoric, as well as a schoolmarm rapidly alienating her cowering Cabinet. Most affecting, we see a feeble woman trying to preserve her dignity surrounded by guardians who have already consigned her to senility. One of the most enjoyable scenes is one in which the utterly lucid patient, with acerbic wit, puts her patronizing doctor in his place.

· Talent’s got Britain. Cowell’s got the world.

Michele Wandor: Cowell reminded us that, along with the £100,000 and a spot at the Royal Variety Performance, the winner’s career is assured. We know this from other talent shows, but the performing dog is now well out of the bag after Susan Boyle.

Elizabeth Taylor, a Welsh Cleopatra in ‘Under Milk Wood’.

Andrew Sinclair: I put down a costly gold Egyptian serpent bracelet as a peace offering from my pocket. Unfortunately, she was making herself up as Cleopatra, all kohl and rouge and peacock eyelids. “That won’t do,” I heard myself daring to say. “You’re a Welsh sailor’s whore of the ‘fifties. You can’t look like that.”

“I always look like Cleopatra,” she said, and dismissed me.

Radio signals and royal symbols.

Stan Carey: Albert’s sympathetic listeners needed a reassuring and articulate voice from a figure of moral authority – a “symbol of national resistance”, as the end credits assure us he became. Indeed, the film can be read as a study of our relationships with symbols. We are what Terrence Deacon called the symbolic species, and our symbols can inspire fear as naturally as confidence.