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MOVIE REVIEWS : Weekend Entries in British Film Festival : Reviews of the American Film Institute's BritFest. : : SUNDAY : "HANDEL: HONOUR, PROFIT AND PLEASURE"

February 11, 1988|MICHAEL WILMINGTON

Monicas, Noon and 6 p.m.

Writer-director Anna Ambrose's first, and only, feature--she died of cancer, after completing it--is a delightful mixture of pretty theatricality, witty exposes of London's 18th-Century musical politics, and Handel's glorious music. With Handel's crony, actor James Quin (Alan Devlin) narrating us through the Byzantine twists, we see a composer (Simon Callow) whose inspirations are constantly subject to court intrigues, economics and petty malice, but whose music vanquishes all. Here, it's liberally selected and played--with authentic scores and instruments--by Nicholas Kraemer and the Raglan Baroque Players; Jean Rigby, beautifully, plays and sings Susannah Cibber, the "Messiah's" original soloist. RECOMMENDED.

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