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RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 4/8/2010 2:25:39 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54589
Joined: 1/10/2005
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Dead of Night (Cavalcanti/Crichton/Deardean/Hamer,1945)

 
This classic from Ealing, has a strong claim for the title of the greatest horror film ever made. It certainly contains one of the most frightening sections ever put on film. It's an anthology horror film with each section directed by one of Ealing's greatest talents. There's a wrap-around story of an architect being invited to a country house. He has dreamed of the house many times and he has a vague anxiety over something bad happening during his stay. When he informs his hosts of his worries, their attempts to calm him starts a cycle of ghost stories that culminate in the nightmarish Dummy story. The earlier segments, with tales of ghostly golfers, a prophetic dream, a cursed mirror and a children's party gone wrong, are all strong stories, but it's Redgrave's segment that made the film a legend. He plays a ventriloquist in a cabaret act. He develops a dual personality and believes his dummy Hugo is alive and planning to leave him to team up with a rival ventriloquist. Michael Redgrave's performance is powerful and distressing, perfectly capturing a man on the edge of a paranoid breakdown.
Rawlinson
 
 

Howards End (Ivory, 1992)
 
A rewatch can change your opinions on a film in quite suprising ways. I'd always considered Howards End to be a lesser Merchant Ivory film, not living up to the beautiful E.M. Forster novel and mostly hanging on the charms and talent of Emma Thompson and Vanessa Redgrave. When I saw the film again, my opinion on many other aspects of it improved. It's a beautiful film to look at, but it's Merchant Ivory so you'd expect nothing else. But what I'd missed before is how deeply touching a film it is. Howards End follows the relationships between the Schlegel and Wilcox families. When Helen Schlegel (Helena Bonham Carter) has a brief engagement with one of the sons of the Wilcox family, a friendship is started between her elder sister Margaret (Emma Thompson, in a performance that took home a well-deserved Oscar) and the matriarch of the Wilcox family (a dignified Vanessa Redgrave) Redgrave is ill and through the course of the friendship she decides she wants Thompson to inherit Howards End, a house that's been in her family for generations. Following her death, her family (including husband Anthony Hopkins) conspire to cheat Thompson out of her inheritance. Margaret never discovers this deception and as the years pass she grows closer to Hopkins.

Howards End is about human relationships and the way time and our interactions with each other can change us. Like most Merchant Ivory films, it's not about endlessly blathering on about the character's feelings, it's about quiet reserve, dignity, and the turmoil of emotion that can rage beneath the calmest surface. There are social issues dealt with here, the problems with rigid class structures and the way that the wealthy can dismiss the needs of the poor, but they become of secondary concern to the characters and their lives. There are problems that hurt the film, some of the Wilcox family are too one-note both in the writing and the playing, and Hopkins is never really up to the job, at times sinking into the kind of hammery that has plagued far too much of his career. But in general it's a rewarding and moving film. 

Rawlinson
 
 

 
I'm All Right Jack (Boulting, 1959)

I'm All Right Jack is constructed with a number of very deliberate caricatures. Taking many of the characters from Boulting's earlier film Private's Progress, the film takes a wry look at industrial relations, lampooning the management, the workers and anyone else who happens to get in the way. It was a massive hit in the UK and did extremely well in the US as well.

Young fopp Stanley Windrush decides that he wants to go into industry. After failing completely at all the interviews his tutor sends him to, he ends up embroiled in a plot contructed by his uncle and his former army chum to steal an arms contract from weapons firm Missiles.

The script works in 2 really quite wonderful double-handers. The first is the aristocrat Margaret Rutherford's perfectly composed visit to the Kites' house to see Stanley and her initially awkward chat with Mother (Irene Handl), moving towards a discussion of their shared view (the older generation united across class) of the problems with modern youth and the state of the country. In the second the works manager Hitchcock (Terry-Thomas), visits Kite at home. Mother Kite has walked out because of the way Stanley has been treated so Fred is surrounded by domestic set-up falling apart and trying to darn his own socks. The scene presents the key theme - management and union united are the the problem with industrial Britain, both out for their own ends and not the good of the country or the worker. Conspiring to deal with Stanley, Hitchcock ends up doing the darning himself after a few drinks.

The film showcases, arguably, Peter Sellers best performance. Fred Kit is more than just a caricature. He's a bottom-up construction pyhsically – the build, the way he holds himself, the very deliberate speech (clearly homaged by the way Dr Blohole says pen-gyu-ins). A forceful mix of bombast and, more importantly, uncertainty. His home relationship develops a wonderfully textured character and generates a really brilliant performance from Sellers – just watch Kite and the camera cutting to his wedding photo as Mother slams out the door.
It isn't just Sellers, though. The film stars some of the most able comic actors in cinema, many of them all the more effective for going for low-key satire rather than broader humour. Ian Carmichael as the hard-worker Stanley gets most of the focus and does particularly well when he loses it on TV. There is a lovely restrained turn from Dennis Price, a very twitchy one from nervous time-and-motion man John Le Mesurier and an upstart made good from Attenborough (losing all polish when the inevitable happens at his own works). And, of course, the great Margaret Rutherford as Stanley's Aunt.

The film is grounded in reality, it just doesn't need reality to tell the tale and satirise its subject. Industrial relations were a mess in late 50s Britain and this superb satire punctures all parties equally from the explanation of why there are two unions (so they can play off against each other for pay deals), the politicians (always ready to support the principle that will be defined at some future point), the crooked and dismissive management and the workshy workers who spend more time out on strike than in work. It even has Malcolm Muggeridge playing himself.

A British masterpiece

Elab49
 
 

Seance on a Wet Afternoon (Forbes, 1964)
 
Two extraordinary performances power this low-key classic. Kim Stanley gives an Oscar-worthy performance as a delusional medium who, along with her submissive husband (Richard Attenborough), kidnaps a child in order to help the police find her and collect the ransom money. They keep her hidden in a room in their home, disguised as a hospital ward and tell the child she's ill, but Stanley's rapidly deteriorating mental health threatens to destroy her plans. Richard Attenborough's name is most often associated with worthy but dreary fare like Gandhi, so newcomers to his work as an actor could be startled by how talented he actually was. Whether it's the ferociousness of Brighton Rock, the chilling 10 Rillington Place or here, as a man who knows he's doing wrong but is so devoted to his wife that he swallows his morals and ethics. Stanley gives one of the finest performances of the sixties, creating a complex and chilling figure where there could have just been a pantomime villain. This material had the potential to either be melodramatic or so subdued that it lost any sense of tension. Director Bryan Forbes had a knack for taking ordinary locations and making them haunting and evocative, and like his work on The Whisperers a few years later, he manages to take what could have been run-of-the-mill and create a masterpiece. Attenborough and Forbes took home a Bafta and a writer's guild award for their work. Stanley was nominated for an Oscar, she lost to Mary Poppins. 
Rawlinson


< Message edited by elab49 -- 4/8/2010 2:29:46 PM >


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 31
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 4/8/2010 2:27:44 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54589
Joined: 1/10/2005
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Screen One – A Question of Attribution (Schlesinger, 1991)
 
A Question of Attribution is partly about Sir Antony Blunt – keeper of the Queen's Pictures and a Russian spy, exposed in 1979. The story of the Cambridge Spies seems to hold a special interest for writers and conspiracy theorists alike and it is one the Bennett has visited on more than one occasion.  It is unsurprising that for Bennett, author of The Uncommon Reader, the gestation of this play began by imagining what conversations might have taken place between Blunt and the Queen.
Bennett hits upon the rather brilliant device of using a painting, originally attributed to Titian, as a key metaphor for the unfolding story, providing a source of fascination for Blunt and in describing it to the secret serviceman Chubb he is more honest about the situation than at any time during the more formal questioning. The allegory is obvious – beginning with two clear figures, although now a 'fake', examination produces a 3rd, then a 4th and then an X-Ray shows a stronger figure behind them all – an unknown '5th man'.
 
The idea of what a fake or a forgery is, and whether it makes it any less real or important – whether it still retains value is core to the theme of the piece. Blunt's defence that forgeries are part of their time in discussion with the Queen takes on an added poignancy as we see picture after picture of misjudged youth. This conflux of ideas and twisting of words 'would you like to see my x-rays' produces one of Bennett's greatest works.
 
Bennett is often seen as somewhat cosy now he is considered a national treasure, but that is to fail to appreciate the incisive, cutting nature of his work, the clarity of the characters he draws and the genuine consideration of ideas. He's superbly served here by possibly James Fox's greatest performance as the elusive Blunt whose clearest show of emotion is the gradual dawning that, perhaps, the Queen is asking something entirely different than she might appear to be. The shock and the finely controlled pain are quite beautifully down. Now performed theatrically, surely you can't see that level of response? On the other side he has two challengers – the Queen herself, Prunella Scales, giving us a brisk intelligent performance and, again, this is clearly the same person Bennett returns to in Reader. And David Calder as the abrasive Chubb, gradually seduced by the art while having to take an increasingly hard-line stance with Blunt's seeming obfuscation.
 
Attribution is a joy to watch with dialogue that sings in a way few other playwrights can manage. Now released on BBC DVD, I urge everyone to look it out.
Elab49
 
 

 
 
Eden Lake (Watkins, 2008)

You know the type? The ones that hang about in packs outside shops in your town centre, shout obscenities, vandalize things etc and there is nothing you can do about it apart from walk past and try not to aggravate them. Say hello (or in this case ignore) the chav/ the ned, the growing trend in youth of today.  Toleration is the power the law abiding citizen in the UK has against the plague that has been allowed to fester in every village, town and city in our country over a number of years. You might decide that more can be done at schools to support/ change the minority that fail to conform and adapt to normal social standards in the classroom, with neighbours etc, or, (like me) that we should use heavier handed techniques to punish (financially etc) the lack of family core or ethic that uninterested  parents are failing to develop.
But what if none of these so-called solutions work? The heavy handed technique just drives the wedge further between troubled kids,  their families and society, while the softly-softly approach encourages the kids to behave even worse as they know they will get more attention invested on them and get away with it as 'they don't know any better'.
We live in a society where kids are paid to show up at school, where a criminal that has inflicted unspeakable acts on law abiding citizens sits in a cosy cell in conditions better than most retirement homes and where someone is prosecuted trying to defend their property against 'god know's who' that has broken into their property.................................................... Welcome to Britain.
Having probably been the last person to see Eden Lake (2008) let me very briefly say that I found this harder to sit through than any other horror movie that I have ever seen - period. Nothing is scarier than the uncontrollable threat that is closest to you. The violence in this film is sickening, heartbreaking and devastating. Every act of violence is followed by dire consequences, nothing is glamorized here. The acting is first rate, the likeable, middle class leads (Reilly and Fassbender) and especially the sadistic gang leader, Brett (O'Connell).  Director, James Watkins even evokes some sympathy and reasoning for the awful actions of Brett when you meet the horrendous brute of a father that has created this monster. Group Cohesion is explored by the movie's most agonizing scene (of which there are many) where Steve is tortured by the youngsters and Brett pressures each of the gang members into inflicting wounds on the man while the female of the pack films it all with her mobile phone.
This is a modern classic but overwhelmingly grim.
David Gillespie

 
 

 
Last Resort (Pawlikowski, 2000)
 
Polish born Pawel Pawlikoswki didn't arrive in the UK until his teens. Two of his films make my personal top 100 British films – My Summer of Love, which didn't quite make the final list, and this tale of a Russian woman and her son who are sent to an off-season seaside town until a decision can be made on their asylum claim, after being let down by her fiancι.
 
There are so many strands to what we're seeing on screen. The most obvious is the plight of the asylum seekers themselves, shown without hysteria. Broadly sympathetic, particularly with the central pair, they are used and abused and, even worse, for the most part ignored. A spark of hope in the person of local Paddy Considine is one of the few things that mitigate the bleakness of the film, but the perpetual feeling of being trapped – both in the system and physically in a town they try repeatedly to escape – is pervasive.
 
As well as this the film also presents the story of the dying seaside town of Stonehaven (Margate in real-life). After all, if this is the prison that the asylum seekers are sent to be trapped in, what about the people who have to live their all year round. While some prey on the visitors and others help, there is a good deal of sympathy shown for the town itself, not just those unfortunate enough to be trapped there.
Elab49


< Message edited by elab49 -- 4/8/2010 2:28:19 PM >


_____________________________

Lips Together and Blow - blogtasticness and Glasgow Film Festival GFF13!

quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


Annual Poll 2013 - All Lists Welcome

(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 32
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 6/8/2010 8:45:33 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54589
Joined: 1/10/2005
168 =
 
 

Mona Lisa (Jordan, 1986)
 
Mona Lisa is a fantastic piece of work: a quiet, touching love story framed against a sordid, squalid London underworld full of underage prostitutes, drug addicts and pitiless gangsters. Bob Hoskins is magnificent as a former mob driver and Nat 'King' Cole fan who gets out after seven years in stir and seeks a helping hand from his old bosses. What he gets is a job ferrying around high class call girl Cathy Tyson, with whom he falls in love. So perhaps he's not thinking straight when he agrees to track down a friend "the tall black tart" promised to look out for years before, taking him deep into the sordid, squalid underbelly of the capital. Jordan establishes many of the concerns he'd conclusively nail in The Crying Game - unlikely friendships, game-playing and moral courage awoken within a lost soul by undaunted love - but his view is bleaker, even nihilistic, as the unconventional, sweet-hearted hero struggles to breathe in an appalling, stifling universe that's impossible for him to comprehend. Then gets royally screwed.

The acting is universally superb, though Hoskins is unquestionably the stand-out, trading on his great gift: the ability to transmit his very thoughts through that intelligently expressive fizzog. Tyson is also terrific, while Caine is stunningly utilised in what's essentially a glorified cameo as a colourful, rabbit-loving crime lord. Jordan's script, co-written with future
Wish You Were Here director David Leland is exceptional: poetic, funny, quotable and frequently profane, while his direction is laced with idiosyncratic, left-field touches. The film also casts its net a little wider than you might expect, dealing with the artificiality of the '80s and the rise of consumerism through Robbie Coltrane's comic foil. He peddles fake spaghetti that goes "like hot cakes" and winds up apologising for his friend's language to a glow-in-the-dark statue of the Virgin Mary that he thinks could be the next big thing. It's a nice, offbeat subplot that offers solace from the grime, though Mona Lisa's calling card remains the unforgettable love story at its centre, which has a nod to film noir and carries a devastating sucker punch.
Rick 7
 
 


Wind That Shakes the Barley (Loach, 2006)
 
Cillian Murphy plays Damien, a young Irish doctor in the 1920s. He's about to leave Ireland to work in an English hospital, but after he witnesses the Black & Tans beating a friend to death, followed by the savage beating of a train guard, he decides to stay in Ireland and join his brother's IRA unit. The film follows Damien's rise through the rank of the IRA during the group's early years. The film proved just how controversial it can be to offer anything other than a government approved history lesson as some people even went as far as accusing Loach of treason for making this film. Understanding the roots of the IRA and the role the British government played in creating them is in no way the same thing as supporting any terrorist acts on their part. Far from being a recruitment aid, the film shows how the IRA tore apart communities and even families. It's a call for a peaceful solution, not more war, and it's yet another brilliant drama from the great director.
Rawlinson 
 
 


Women in Love (Russell, 1969)
Alan Bates and Oliver Reed play Rupert Birkin and Gerald Crich, two affluent professionals living in Britain's industrial Midlands in the 1960s. Glenda Jackson and Jennie Linden are Gudrun and Ursula Brangwen, their female counterparts who are interested in art as well as their social status. The film plays out as they date, fall in love, and then question whether they ever did love each other in the first place. As much as anything else, the film is about the nature of love, whether it exists, and whether the hopeless romantics of the world are able (or, rather, inclined) to invent it just so they can claim to have felt its grasp. It also questions friendship, and whether the love that comes with that is possibly stronger, purer, and more enduring than the love between a romantic or sexual couple. Also, it's a frank exposition of the ridiculousness and the frivolity of the so-called British upper class at this point in time; most of them either exploit the workers, ignore them, patronise them or all three of the above. The events of the film are played out like an extravagant series of ridiculous, baroque, fantastical expositions of the frivolous and often pretentious nature of the people involved, brilliantly bringing to life one of the finest condemnations of the British bourgeoisie put on film. It also features a fine central scene, which is probably the most famous of the film, where Bates and Reed strip down and wrestle in front of an open fire; not only brilliant for its homosexual undertones which are at once explicit and implicit, but as a clunky but brave metaphor for the film's central themes. And then there's the performance, which each have moments of great sincerity and tenderness as well as ridiculously overblown moments of gravitas, which goes too for Russell's ranged and vibrant direction. I very much look forward to seeing more of his films.

Piles


< Message edited by elab49 -- 6/8/2010 8:54:58 PM >


_____________________________

Lips Together and Blow - blogtasticness and Glasgow Film Festival GFF13!

quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


Annual Poll 2013 - All Lists Welcome

(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 33
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 6/8/2010 8:45:37 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54589
Joined: 1/10/2005
167
 
 

Millions (Boyle, 2004)

Just before a fictional changeover to the Euro, a bag of 'old' money falls out of the sky onto the den of young angel obsessive Damian. He and his brother try to use the money before the deadline and without their widowed father finding out (James Nesbitt – a man with dead wives strewn throughout the bulk of his acting career!).

Perhaps surprisingly this turns up to be a contender for my favourite Danny Boyle film. Boyle working with a wonderful script from Frank Cottrell Boyce gives us his most low key, quirky and emotional work. We know he can do dark humour but here it often tends more to whimsy with a strong fantasy edge as young Damian has regular chats with angels of various stripes to ask about his mother. It is sweet in a reassuring non-treacly manner, grounded in the fantastic performance of young Alex Etel as Damian, backed up by his more knowing and cocky brother Lewis McGibbon whose plans for the money is a tad less philanthropic and tends to require bodyguards. In the background there is a low key romance for dad Nesbitt, who again handles grief with aplomb as well as the confusion of handling two sons clearly running rings round him.

Millions is a delightful film and seems to sit as the odd one out in Boyle's repertoire with only Slumdog Millionaire having something of a similar mood. The key is Boyce's script, a man who more regularly works with Michael Winterbottom but now also writes children's fiction , with Millions being his debut (from the screenplay). Watch it, but don't expect Trainspotting – it is really far more magical than that.
Elab49


< Message edited by elab49 -- 6/8/2010 8:55:03 PM >


_____________________________

Lips Together and Blow - blogtasticness and Glasgow Film Festival GFF13!

quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


Annual Poll 2013 - All Lists Welcome

(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 34
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 6/8/2010 8:45:42 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54589
Joined: 1/10/2005
163 =
 
 


A NIght to Remember (Baker, 1958)
 
In the wake of James Cameron's 1997 behemoth of a film (please, don't let that be on this list) you'd be forgiven for thinking that there's nothing else in the world of TV and film about the Titanic. Of course, that isn't the case. Two short films cropped up within months of the sinking, a nazi propaganda film about the Titanic appeared in the 40s, Barbara Stanwyck and Clifton Webb were an estranged couple onboard the liner in 1953's effort, there have been a few TV movies and even an animated film. The best version though is 1958's A Night To Remember based on the book of the same name by Walter Lord. Lord interviewed over 60 survivors from the Titanic and his account of the night is still one of the best available. The film version has the ship's fourth officer Joseph Boxhall on hand for technical advice and the sets were created using blueprints from the day. The ever-reliable Kenneth More as Second Officer Charles Lightoller, in reality the most senior officer to survive the sinking. Giving a typically stiff upper-lipped performance, he's a focal point amongst all the chaos. Sean Connery, Desmond Llewelyn and Bernard Fox can all be found if you look hard enough. As with other films, it features various little anecdotes and personal tales that help to create a bigger picture from. Similarly, as with films made before the discovery of the wreck in 1986, it shows the Titanic sinking in one piece rather than breaking into two. It's a small flaw overall though. What sets this apart from other versions is that it's really just a good story being told well with no unnecessary embellishments. No Heart Of The Ocean. No steamed up car windows. No gun-toting Billy Zane. And for that we can only be thankful.
Gimli the Dwarf.
 
 

 
Lion in Winter (Harvey, 1968)
 
An incredible pair of lead performances and a superb screenplay power this historical classic. The film is set during the reign of Henry II. Henry wants to choose a heir before he dies, he decides to choose between his three sons and even lets his wife out of the tower for the day. Henry and Eleanor both have different ideas on who should become King. King Philip of France is visiting and wants his sister to be married to the heir, unaware that she's become Henry's lover. A series of double-crosses leads to a family rift that could threaten the lives of everyone involved. The film is fictional, but it feels so lived in that you could believe it was based on a discovered historical document. O'Toole and Hepburn are exceptional in the lead roles (How on earth did O'Toole lose the Oscar?) and they're backed by a top of their form supporting cast including Anthony Hopkins, Timothy Dalton and Nigel Terry.
Rawlinson
 
 

 
Play for Today - Nuts in May (Leigh, 1976)

Roger Sloman is a face that will be easily recognised by anyone who has watched TV over the last 3 decades. Regularly playing jobsworths and busybodies and officials he was never what you would call a star. But I think part of the reason he tended to get cast in those roles was this play from Mike Leigh where he and Sloman create one of the most monstrous characters to grace the small screen. A self-righteous jobsworth who lacks any self-awareness whatsoever he is tested to his limit while on a camping holiday with his rather infantile girlfriend Candice Marie (Steadman). Rattled by neighbours who make too much noise and break the rules and fail to listen to 'reason' he reaches the end of his tether.

The character they create isn't an extreme - the build-up is incremental. This is a normal person - officious and overbearing. But at no times does it touch caricature. You even empathise with some of his initial frustration with the noise being made when you want peace, even if you cringe inside at this attempt to deal with it. He presents himself as a liberal but this is a very thin veneer on a severly conservative undercoat. He is a know-it-all but also more than a hint of insecurity and uncertainty, particularly when Candice Marie shows some interest in the initial interloper in their holiday ideal.

Personally, I prefer Nuts in May to the excellent Abigail's Party, another one of Leigh's Plays for Today. Partly because the latter is an almost unbearable watch, granted! Recommend watch and I'd also try to catch the fascinating interview he gave to Mark Lawson on how he works, that was shown with it.

Elab49
 
 

 
The Spy Who Came In From the Cold (Ritt, 1965)
 
Richard Burton gives one of his finest performances in this adaptation of the John le Carre classic. Burton is recalled from his West Germany branch of The Circus, German Intelligence see this as a demotion and a potential opportunity to turn him into a defector. Le Carre adaptations are best approached knowing as little as possible of the narrative and to say any more would be to risk spoiling an excellent little film. While it's not on the level of the television adaptations of Le Carre, especially the two BBC mini-series, it's an intelligent and well-crafted film with a wonderful supporting cast and a dark and shabby feel that perfectly suits the material. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold is a world apart from the glossy sex, violence and one-liners offered by the Bond films and it's all the better for it.
Rawlinson


< Message edited by elab49 -- 6/8/2010 8:55:15 PM >


_____________________________

Lips Together and Blow - blogtasticness and Glasgow Film Festival GFF13!

quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


Annual Poll 2013 - All Lists Welcome

(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 35
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 6/8/2010 8:45:48 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54589
Joined: 1/10/2005
162
 

 
 
Oliver! (Reed, 1968)

Like it or loathe it (and after it being dragged to the depths of tedious reality TV by Lloyd-Webber it may well be the latter) you can't deny that the musical version of Charles Dickens's Oliver Twist has gotten under the cultural spin. If nothing else, there will be few people who won't be trying to mentally recall what goes with custard after the words 'food, glorious, food'.

After premiering in the West End in 1960 and a successful trip to Broadway, Bart's reimagining finally reached the big screen. Reed's film made relatively few changes to the main story, a few songs were inevitably cut for length, e.g., but there were some, mainly round Sykes and Nancy. The stage version is a big-budget musical so the violence surrounding Sykes character can be problematic. On film Reed and his writer brought that back, dropping Sykes songs so the character remained harsh and having Oliver witness the crime giving the whole a stronger punch.

Oliver! seemed to be a byword for the problematic career of child actors, which is a pity as both Lester and, particularly, Wild, are both very good here. The star, though, is Ron Moody reprising his stage Fagin to great acclaim.

Another Oscar winner on our list in a decade where the Academy celebrated the musical like no other.
Elab49


< Message edited by elab49 -- 6/8/2010 8:55:22 PM >


_____________________________

Lips Together and Blow - blogtasticness and Glasgow Film Festival GFF13!

quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


Annual Poll 2013 - All Lists Welcome

(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 36
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 6/8/2010 8:45:53 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54589
Joined: 1/10/2005
161
 

 
Hunger (McQueen, 2008)
 
Well, one of the strongest, most harrowing films I've seen recently, with some great performances especially by Fassbender, a great setting (the shit stained walls and the piss covered floors get the mood well), direction and cinematography. Shows either side with some humanity and does a good job showing the radical politics. One of the most impressive sequences has to be the one shot discussion between Bobby Sands and the priest, superbly acted by both actors and a good use of smoke, seemingly separating the two and their politics. Narration is the most interesting point of the film. it doesn't seem to have actual characters, at least in the first half, jumping from one person to another, focusing on one and then the other, Sands' himself takes some time to appear. They don't seem to be characters, rather just poeple caught in an event, and their emotions, be it anger and defiance or sadness, pain and misery. A very very good debut by McQueen who for one stupid reason I mixed up with being the actor.
Deviation.


< Message edited by elab49 -- 6/8/2010 8:55:28 PM >


_____________________________

Lips Together and Blow - blogtasticness and Glasgow Film Festival GFF13!

quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


Annual Poll 2013 - All Lists Welcome

(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 37
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 6/8/2010 8:45:58 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54589
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Poor Cow (Loach, 1967)

To make his first feature film Ken Loach returned to the writing of Nell Dunn whose Up the Junction he had made for the BBC's Wednesday Play strand, bringing the star of that and Cathy Come Home, Carol White, into the lead role as Joy.

Running away from home as a teenager, Joy ends up with a young baby and an abusive husband. Freed from him when he finally ends up in prison, her life becomes arguably worse as she ends up as a prostitute

This can be a difficult one to watch these days, if not then. White is very good (and after her work with Loach it always seems surprising that her career never really went anywhere afterwards),  but her basic view is she is fine if she has a man to look after her, happy at home with her child. Loach, in his typically realist style with a couple of unusual non-realist touches (like interitles), is obviously completely on her side and presents the film as an exoneration of her responsibility for the choices she is supposed to make, even down to a supportive theme song for Donovan. Society shouldn't look down on people and the choices that their place at the bottom of the rung force them to make. But it is difficult to forget that she made the first choice and ran away.

The film may have gotten a second life thanks to it being used for the flashback scenes for Terence Stamp's character in the LA set The Limey.
Elab49
 


< Message edited by elab49 -- 6/8/2010 8:56:34 PM >


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Post #: 38
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 6/8/2010 8:47:05 PM   
elab49


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The Hill (Lumet, 1965)
 
Remember when Sean Connery used to actually be an actor? It seems like a hell of a long time ago now but once upon a time watching him act was an actual pleasure. The Hill is up there with The Offence as his finest work, here he plays a British soldier thrown into a military prison in the African desert for assaulting an officer. A sadistic new prison guard takes delight in forcing the soldiers to repeatedly climb a man-made hill, in full kit, under the blazing sun. When a tragedy occurs, the prisoners rebel against their guards. Connery is magnificent, relying on more than his accent and his charisma and actually creating a memorable and believable character. He's ably matched by a supporting cast that includes Ossie Davis, Ian Hendry, Ian Bannen, Michael Redgrave and Harry Andrews. Lumet was at his best when directing tense and claustrophobic dramas and The Hill ranks among his finest work. 
Rawlinson
 
 
 
In the Name of the Father (Sheridan, 1993)
 
Blurb to come


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 39
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 6/8/2010 8:48:24 PM   
elab49


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Pygmalian (Asquith/Howard, 1938)
 
Bernard Shaw provided most of the script for Pygmalian so we can take it as read that he was OK with the changes made to the ending – and this film was what was carried forward into the stage musical, later filmed by Cukor.

It is inevitable when watching both that you compare the individual performances. For me, Pygmalian is by far the superior work although the musical is energetically filmed and has a fantastic score by Lerner and Loewe (On the Street Where You Live is one of my all-time favourite musical theatre songs, up there with What Kind of Fool Am I?).

I like Harrison's curmudgeon – but the take on the role is wrong and he's too old for it. If it had kept to the original non-romantic tone of the play that would have been fine – but as a love interest for Eliza he's absurd. Apparently Peter O'Toole was the main choice for the role, and a fine one he would have been. Particularly if he had played it more like Howard's wonderfully eccentric misanthrope (as opposed to misogynist). Heavily involved in the adaptation this is easily Howard's best acting performance – he inhabits the twitchy, dismissive, arrogant Higgins absolutely perfectly. He is a wonderful counterpart to the superior Hiller – even taking into account the lightness of touch required by the musical, Hepburn was never more than an adequate actress. Hiller on the other hand is an excellent one – leaving aside the broad humour of the draggle tailed guttersnipe her reaction and movement on screen in her second screen outing is amazingly good. She is an exceptionally good actress. And the play needed that sensitivity in showing the changes wrought in Eliza.

2 roles are harder to call. I like Wilfred Hyde-White but the lesser known Scott Sunderland also gives a gracious performance as the gentlemanly Colonel Pickering. But the real battle of equals is between Stanley Holloway – wonderful man, perfect comic timing and a grand swagger for the broader role in the musical – and Wilfred Lawson who bring Alfred Doolittle perfectly to screen as with an evangelical tone to his speeches of differing morality and his befuddlement at his elevation. Too tough a call I think.

The only role the musical wins through on is Freddy – upper-class twit is exactly what you get in Pygmalian and that is probably best for the role. But you get Jeremy Brett in the musical – a better actor who gives you a stronger character. You think Eliza might be better off with him than the original.

But if you've just seen the musical don't write off the play – the joy it takes in the battle of language and sex is a wonderful watch with towering performances. 

Elab49.
 


< Message edited by elab49 -- 6/8/2010 8:56:27 PM >


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ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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Post #: 40
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 6/8/2010 8:51:04 PM   
elab49


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A Private Function (Mowbray, 1984)
 
This charming, Ealing-esque, comedy takes place during the late 1940s, when food rationing was still in place. A pig is being raised, illegally, by some businessmen, to be slaughtered for a party. Henpecked Gilbert (Michael Palin) is ordered by his wife (Maggie Smith) to steal the pig as part of her plan to raise their social standing. The film may sound slight, but it's an absolute joy to watch. Smith & Palin bounce off each other perfectly and a fine supporting cast (with the great Denholm Elliott the obvious standout) help to keep the energy high. The script was written by Alan Bennett and his talent for dialogue and creating great drama and comedy out of small situations shines through. This isn't all light and fluffy, Bennett exposes the hypocrisy and cruel streaks in both those who exist at the top of the social pecking order and those who are attempting to join them. 
Rawlinson


< Message edited by elab49 -- 6/8/2010 8:56:13 PM >


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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Post #: 41
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 6/8/2010 8:51:42 PM   
elab49


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The Full Monty (Cattaneo, 1997)

The Full Monty followed in the spirit of Brassed Off, centring on a depressed community dealing with both the pain of unemployment and its effects on the family, while also providing an uplifting and comic tale of the way one particular group of mainly former steelworkers decide to earn a bit of money – by proving they could do anything as well as the Chippendales can and providing the titular finishing flourish.

I sometimes wonder if the US, where the film was also successful, possibly didn't get the real darkness of some of the humour on show here. They seem to think this and the likes of Calendar Girls are the same kind of thing which is plainly absurd. There is an edge to the treatment of unemployment, a desperation – you can see it in some of the auditionees, the attempted suicide of one of the group and the absolute determination of Tom Wilkinson's character to continue to fool and reassure his wife into believing he is still employed. But the concentration always seems to be on the film's most famous scene, the brilliant, initially unconscious expansion of the dance routine in the unemployment line, a tinge of absurdity that raised the film up the quality scale apparently to the notice of the Royal family.

It's nice to see Mark Addy back to proper acting again – after an extremely good performance opposite the superb Lesley Sharp he drifted into bad US sitcoms and films. Here he plays Dave, the most body conscious of the group and whose route to the stage is the bravest. Both Wilkinson (sacked from management and the one who finds it most difficult to handle his identity on the dole) and Carlyle as the wastrel father and leader of the group are equally excellent.

The Full Monty is an excellent comedy full of very good performances and with a darkness to its humour all of which make it a deserving entry into the list
Elab49
 

 
Spy Who Loved Me (Gilbert, 1977)
 
"Nobody Does It Better" sighs Carly Simon on the title song of the very best James Bond movie. It couldn't be more appropriate if it tried.

The Spy Who Loved Me was the tenth entry in the Bond franchise, and in celebration absolutely everything is thrown at the screen. We get the best Bond girl to date (future Mrs Ringo Starr, Barbara Bach as the Russian agent who never really trusts 007), The best henchman in the Series (Jaws), some of the best stuntwork put to the screen (an incredible pre-credits title sequence in which James Bond skies off a cliff, causing millions, including Alan Partridge to think "James Bond is going to die! He's going to die!") An amazing car chase (the series sexiest car, the Lotus Esprit takes on a motorbike, another car, and a helicopter. And wins) and of course, the might of Roger Moore at the peak of his powers.

The Bond films have a tendancy to have a lot of good and a lot of bad in them, but every minute of The Spy Who Loved Me is thrilling entertainment. Not a bum note is hit in its running time, and its incredible to think how fresh it feels for a franchise, which at this point is widely thought of as being tired, boring and "Carry-On". It really, really wasn't. 

Rhubarb.


< Message edited by elab49 -- 6/8/2010 8:57:43 PM >


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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Post #: 42
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 6/8/2010 8:52:26 PM   
elab49


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Joined: 1/10/2005
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Educating Rita (Gilbert, 1983)
 
Michael Caine gives one of his finest performances as Frank, a jaded, alcoholic college professor. His love of English literature has died long ago, but it's revived by the presence of Rita (Julie Walters) a working-class Scouser who's determined to better herself through an OU course. Rita loves literature but is restrained by her education and she sees the course as a way of discovering herself. Through the film she becomes torn between the know your place atmosphere of her home life and the more attractive, but just as troubled, world of academia. It's a poignant film with a compelling turn from Caine, but I feel it falls short of greatness. The problem lies with Walters in that I feel she puts more effort into her accent and mannerisms than she does into capturing the soul of the character. Walters can be a great performer when she cuts back on the affectations, something she doesn't quite manage with Rita.   
Rawlinson 


< Message edited by elab49 -- 8/8/2010 11:15:37 PM >


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ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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Post #: 43
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 6/8/2010 8:52:58 PM   
elab49


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Four Feathers (Korda, 1939)
 
On the eve of the Madhist War, British officer Faversham decides army life is not for him. His companions on the other hand consider him a coward and each send white feathers, a common symbol of cowardice (as those rabid woman who handed them out to seemingly able-bodied men at rosters were fond of saying). Faversham also snatches a white feather from his soon to be former fiancι's fan when he decides she hasn't been sufficiently supportive so must feel the same way. Later deciding that he might be just a wee bit of a coward, he heads off to help out the campaign. In disguise, he saves each of his former friends.
 
A 'lavish Technicolor epic', Four Feathers is a much filmed classic adventure story from a novel that didn't quite have the verve of a Kipling, but was even heavier on the idea of duty and honour. And even if it isn't your kind of story, it isn't difficult to see that the 1939 film is easily the best of the attempts to put it on screen. It's also interesting because, even though Faversham heads off to be the hero, I'd say the real repository of the values being touted lie in Ralph Richardson's excellent performance as former friend John Durrance, who puts himself at risk to avoid unnerving his men and continues to sacrifice in the name of honour after he returns home blind (in between there is a rather creepy sequence as he wanders blind across a field of dead men as Harry pretends not to be able to speak – the squawking of birds clearly eating the remains still makes me feel queasy).  
 
The Korda's loved their films celebrating the British Empire – Sabu in Elephant Boy and later in The Drum (also written by Feather's author Mason), the later Jungle Book etc. But this attempt to quell the Sudan is, in my opinion, superior to their tales of the Raj.
Elab49


< Message edited by elab49 -- 6/8/2010 8:58:24 PM >


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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Post #: 44
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 6/8/2010 8:54:11 PM   
elab49


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151
 

 
A Cock and Bull Story (Winterbottom, 2005)
 
Michael Winterbottom found a unique approach to filming Tristram Shandy, a work of genius long held to be an unfilmable novel, he didn't actual film it. Instead he made a film about an attempt to film Tristram Shandy. Steve Coogan plays himself as an egotistical wretch cast in the role of Shandy. Coogan's longtime friend and collaborator, Rob Brydon, also plays himself, and Uncle Toby. Brydon is seen as just as egotistical as Coogan, but with a desperation for his character to be seen as of equal importance to the story. Much of the joy of the film comes from the verbal sparring between Coogan & Brydon, it has the feel of improvised banter between two old friends, and it makes the story more convincing and adds layers to what could otherwise have been a simple pair of bickering actors. The film loses its way a little with the relationship between Coogan and Naomie Harris (she's never as interesting or as alluring as she's meant to be) but that's a minor complaint in what is otherwise a witty and entertaining film.   
Rawlinson


< Message edited by elab49 -- 8/8/2010 11:16:11 PM >


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ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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Post #: 45
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 9/8/2010 10:26:32 PM   
elab49


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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Newell, 2005)
 
Our first Potter! – will it be our only one?
 
Mike Newell took the helm of the series for Cuaron, but only for one outing. Goblet of Fire tells the tale of the Triwizard tournament, a competition between schools of wizards – the girls of Beauxbatons, the boys of Durmstrang and the unisex good guys of Hogwarts. With Voldemorts former cohorts becoming increasingly bold, shenanigans add Harry Potter to the list of contestants and yet again put the young wizard in grave danger.
 
The 3 tasks aside, the main enjoyment in the film is the increasingly tendency to act as a repository for some of the most interesting actors on this side of the pond. David Tennant has a rather mad cameo as Voldemorts most loyal and Miranda Richardson exercises some comic muscles as irritating gossip-monger Rita Skeeter. The real joy, though, is Brendan Glesson clearly enjoying the heck out of his role as MadEye Moody. Suspecting all and sundry of being evil and changing Draco into a bouncing rodent, it's a gloriously energetic performance and suffers only by not being on screen for nearly long enough.
 
Gleeson aside, the dragons are rather good and it also, sadly, provided the breakthrough role for one RPatz, who appears to have disappeared into obscurity after appearing in some American dross.
Elab49
 
 
 

 
Henry V (Olivier, 1944)
 
And because Olivier was being just a wee bit arty – the full title, The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fifth with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France.
 
Henry V was released as a form of wartime propaganda – on the eve of D-Day and with a dedication to the British forces, it was to act as a morale booster as the end began to draw near (and was the reason for some adjustments to the original play).
 
Olivier's take on bringing theatre to screen was quite interesting. The film actually begins in the theatre – the globe – before leaving the enclosed stage and becoming, properly a film. Nearing the end, however, we return, gradually, the stage setting and close in the theatre with the audience's applause. It acknowledges both the strictures the form of language can bring but also allows the grand battles to take place and provide a stirring location for the play's great call to the band of brothers fighting together in war, breathing life into the energy of the play, backed up by Walton's famous score. Adapting theatre to the screen is a perennial problem for filmmakers. Many don't succeed in breathing life into theatre, and many gave up and simply stage it in enclosed settings, but it's rare to see a successful attempt to live in both worlds and Olivier does reasonably well in this.
Elab49
 
 
 
 
On Her Majesty's Secret Service (Hunt, 1969)
Connery has gone! How is Bond going to continue? With On her Majesty's Secret Service we have a curiosity for Bond. Only one of three Bond films to have an instrumental only title sequence, and only one of three in which the title of the film is not mentioned in a song (Dr No, From Russia With Love make up the others in the first category, Dr No and Quantum of Solace make up the others in the second). These trivial facts are nothing compared to the fact that one of the series' most valuable assets had gone, to be replaced by model and inexperienced actor George Lazenby. In early scenes his chirpy, wise-cracking Bond is at odds with the ice-cool of Connery's Bond. His inexperience shows through and at times he is the weakest link in this film. Nevertheless there is a definite appeal to his Bond which grows on you. One considers that, had he been given a couple more films, there may have been more substance. Alas, Connery would be lured back for one more role before saying never again, and then the pretender would take the throne.

We start with Bond following another car in an unspecified locale. Peter Hunt's direction betrays his editing skills, as we have quick, sharp cuts between the road and close-ups of Bond, playing up the fact that it's not Connery, and allowing Lazenby a similar style of build-up to the reveal of his face. Indeed Hunt's direction is very much editing-centred, and this skill shows most keenly in the action scenes, as rapid-cuts and under-cranked shots ramp up the thrills. Bond sees the driver of the other car get out and she (for it is a lady, literally) - wearing a gown that makes her look almost angelic - walks calmly into the sea, one presumes to kill herself. Bond saves her, but is attacked by nameless goons, before delivering the killer pre-credits line, 'this never happened to the other guy'.

The story meanders into a plot - the first half is more about Bond working out who this mysterious Comtesse is, his removal from the Blofeld case, and a holiday (Miss Moneypenny intervening from Bond's hotheaded resignation). Through a neat montage we see Bond and Tracy's relationship blossom, before Bond makes a key discovery about Blofeld and is reassigned. Here the story switches to the Alps where Bond, undercover as a heraldry expert (geek note: the motto of the Bond family is 'orbis non sufficit', or 'The world is not enough') is well-placed to observe Blofeld's latest machinations. The fact that Blofeld met Bond face to face in You Only Live Twice is ignored here, and almost goes unnoticed since both characters are portrayed by new actors, but the dodgy chronology of Bond started here. Still, this is not to detract from the plot since arguably Bond was in disguise in YOLT, and he is in disguise here - the efficacy of the disguise is not ours to question!

That Bond lands in a mountain top building filled with young, beautiful, women is pure Bond -movie genius. (Geek note2: look out for a young Joanna Lumley as 'English', one of said girls.) We get more of an insight into Bond's animalistic girl-bedding instincts, tag-teaming the girls. (Given he is supposedly in love with Tracy, clearly fidelity only applies after marriage for Bond.) Lazenby excels here, balancing his charm with an edge for the action scenes. Skiing would become a classic Bond look, but it was born here.

It is with that skiing that we get the best use of Barry's theme. Simple, gutteral, brash, the theme is perfect for the film. Certainly there are no words to the main theme, but we get that with Louis Armstrong's unforgettable rendition of We Have All The Time In The World. This theme, with its relentless four-note downward-scale bass, brings a beat to the action, and a sense of adventure to the genuinely thrilling scenes as Blofeld sets off an avalanche, capturing Tracy.

Of course, one cannot mentione OHMSS without talking about the ending. If you haven't seen the film, then don't read any more. I mentioned Louis Armstrong's tune before - it has often been associated with a melancholy tone. Indeed, his other well-known tune 'What A Wonderful World' is also often used ironically (see Twelve Monkeys). However, it is here that the bittersweet becomes bitter. Bond finds happiness, gets married. A touching moment between Bond and Moneypenny is played well, and if nothing else serves as a proleptic touch for what is to come. It is in the final scene that Lazenby reveals his trump card - Bond has emotion. Certainly Craig showed emotion in Casino Royale, but here the simple way in which Lazenby reacts is startling. To end the film in this way was a brave move, especially for what is essentially a might-hearted spy caper series with girls and gadgets. OHMSS remains one of my firm favourites; oft overlooked, but worthy of another chance of you've previously rejected it.

HomerSimpsonEsq


< Message edited by elab49 -- 9/8/2010 10:40:20 PM >


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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Post #: 46
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 9/8/2010 10:26:37 PM   
elab49


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147
 

 
Room at the Top (Clayton, 1959)
 
Along with Look Back in Anger as the start of the British New Wave, Room at the Top was a classic British certificate X to reflect the unusually strong, for the day, love scenes. That said, it is less New Wave than most. Although it is certainly 'northern' it is hardly realist – the story is bolted onto a standard melodrama with a man on the make with the rich man's daughter.
 
Joe Lampton has a chip as big as Dufftown(!) on his shoulder – resentful of the officer class (and relieved he ended up as a POW), he sets straight aim for Susan Brown, daughter of the most powerful man around, on arrival in the big town,. He's distracted though by the sensual and downtrodden wife of a local philanderer – a French woman who came to the town to teach and is beginning to drown in drink.
 
You can see a clear difference in the treatment of adult relationships in this film and you have to think a lot of that is down to Signoret's brilliant Oscar-winning performance. An older woman, deeply sad but offered a slight bit of hope and a possible way out she's just so damn grown up and brings a sensuality to the screen that most British actresses of the time simply didn't have a hope of imitating. Even when Harvey wobbles her strength carries the scene, although that isn't to imply Harvey is bad. Even with a deeply variable accent, he does a lot of very good work in this film in a very unusual character. In this type of melodrama we normally are meant to be behind the innocent girl, the target. But there is a very complex set-up that swings between sympathising with Joe (his bombed out home, his fondness for his aunt and uncle, the genuine snobbery he's made to suffer – and his genuine feelings for Alice) and recognising that Susan is the victim. That said, she's made increasingly less sympathetic as the film heads to the end putting us more clearly in the trapped Joe's corner.
 
The film kind of shares a link to Shakespeare in Love – although excellent, Hermione Baddeley's Oscar nominated support turn still only clocks in under 3 minutes, even shorter than Judi Dench's equally odd nod. There's also a small role for the wonderful Darren Nesbitt as thug who just makes Joe's worst day even fouler.
 
Clayton's film is a combination of street shots oop north with tours of still bombed out England and intimate shots of personal interactions and some of the work round Signoret, whom the camera clearly adores, is absolutely gorgeous, deep glossy shadows setting off the strong face and lighting up the uncertainty in her eyes.
 
Room at the Top gets some stick these days because it can be a bit northern stereotype (although I think the upper classes in the form of Susan's beau and her mother get the worst of that), but there is still an awful lot to admire here.
Elab49


< Message edited by elab49 -- 9/8/2010 10:39:17 PM >


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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Post #: 47
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 9/8/2010 10:26:43 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54589
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145 = 
 
 

 
Hamlet (Olivier, 1948)

Blurb to come.  


 
Orlando (Potter, 1992)
 
This excellent adaptation of Virginia Woolf's classic novel stars a career best Tilda Swinton as the titular Orlando. Beginning in the Elizabethan age, Elizabeth 1 gives land to a young man named Orlando, making him promise to never grow old. Orlando is good to his word as he not only lives through the centuries without growing old, he also changes sex while taking us in leaps and bounds through various points in history. While Orlando may seem baffling to many, the obvious ode to bisexuality (something that extends to having Quentin Crisp playing Elizabeth) is an entrancing film if you're on its wavelength. Swinton should have been challenging for all the top awards for her daring and bewitching work here, but as with so many other great performances, she was largely overlooked. Director Sally Potter also makes a few jabs at obsessions with the ruling class and its obsession with social status, gender and sexuality. Orlando is a rather brilliant film that deserves a wider audience. 
Rawlinson 


< Message edited by elab49 -- 15/8/2010 4:22:34 PM >


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ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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Post #: 48
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 9/8/2010 10:28:43 PM   
elab49


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Bill Douglas Trilogy - My Childhood (1972), My Ain Folk (1973), My Way Home (1978)
 
As Terence Davies did, Douglas seems to be trying to locate his youth and development through these 3 inter-connected films – My Childhood, My Ain Folk and My Way Home.

Two young boys are living with their gran in an impoverished mining village near the end of WWII. The children live in quite hard-breaking poverty with the younger (Jamie) rooting through heaps outside the mine for bits of coal for the fire. Jamie, not in school for some reason, has as his only friend a German POW working in fields round the village, to whom he is teaching English. Their mother is in an asylum and it is clear that their gran blames the elder's father for it – his visit to the boys, claiming it is the elder's birthday, is not welcomed. We later discover a local man is Jamie's father.

The films follow Jamie through his maternal grandmother's death, a short stay with his father's family (with his paternal grandmother providing one of screen's great monsters, no matter how pitifully she ends up), before a respite in a home under the care of what seems to be a genuinely good man. With some toing and froing back to the village and old patterns of behaviour (and one heartbreaking dream of a normal domestic life, with his own little house), Jamie ends up in Egypt on National Service and finally meets someone who starts to convince him that his existence might not be so pointless, and death not be such a desired release.

While one might think Lindsay Anderson must throw the phrase around, having tagged it on Humphrey Jennings, he also called Douglas a screen poet, and deservedly so. His skill behind the camera, locating and repeating images and symbols, and connecting them throughout the 3 films is tremendously impressive, and the black and white images of the world round the village are often quite stunning. We see the ambulance coming down the hill, matched to the hearse going back up it. The repetition of pearls and apples, the birds and planes escaping and that solitary hunched stance in the corner, cringing away from the world, with a child unable to engage.

From young Stephen Archibald (who ages from 12-19 in real life during the filming, was almost as damaged as his character and who looks so painfully young as an adult – Douglas apparently cast both young actors when they tried to cadge cigarettes off him at a bus-stop), Douglas has coached arguably the greatest child performance on screen, and leaves you with the frightening thought that much might not be performance – that this morose young actor with the pinched face was acting out his passage in life as much as Douglas's. Like 400 Blows, both young children constantly run to escape, well, pretty much everything – both brothers race the train and stand circling on the bridge as the steam surrounds them, with Jamie going further and finally jumping. But the train, with its brief moment into the sun, seems only to be going in a circle as well.

Douglas's trilogy is sometimes difficult to watch (you want little more than to hug these children, let them see some kind of human compassion to that little boy sneaking in and out at the back of the ongoing lives with no-one giving a damn about him). The black and white shots of city and village, and the final trip to Egypt, are crafted by a master, in films that are so clearly personal it makes the nearly 3 hour length a painful, intense and absolutely necessary watch. Possibly the greatest Scottish film ever made.
Elab49.


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RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 9/8/2010 10:30:13 PM   
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10 Rillington Place (Fleischer, 1971)
 
Richard Attenborough gives a terrifying performance as John Reginald Christie, the notorious serial killer who lived at 10 Rillington Place. Christie was in many ways the Fred West of the 1940s, he raped and murdered several women and buried them around his property. Attenborough's performance is like a cold shiver made flesh. In a role that would have been all too tempting to ham up, Attenborough manages to create a subtle figure who can evoke sheer terror in the viewer. The story focuses on the case of a young couple, Timothy and Beryl Evans (John Hurt and Judy Geeson) who rented a room from Christie. When Beryl becomes pregnant and the couple seek Christie's help with an abortion, Christie's murderous attentions focus on Beryl. One of the bleakest films of its era, 10 Rillington Place is one of the best true-crime films ever made.
Rawlinson  
 
 

 
Company of Wolves (Jordan, 1984)
 
Neil Jordan has done some of his best work when dealing with the fantastical, whether it's here, Interview with a Vampire, or even the darker fantasy of The Butcher Boy. Company... is based on the short story collection by Angela Carter, which was itself an adult update of various classic fairy tales, bringing out the darker sexual undercurrents from the original tales. Carter wrote the screenplay herself, basing it on the wolf tales from her collection. A young girl in modern day dreams that she lives in a forest in a fairytale world, within that world she lives out a variation on the Little Red Riding Hood tale, as a werewolf stalks her village and she is sent to visit her grandmother. The young lead actress does a fine job and she's supported by a talented cast, including Graham Crowden and David Warner. The Company of Wolves is a dark and visually astonishing tale of developing sexuality and one that more than does justice to Carter's original stories.   
Rawlinson


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RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 9/8/2010 10:32:23 PM   
elab49


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The War Game (Watkins, 1965)
 
The War Game was an amazingly controversial piece of drama-documentary.  Commissioned as part of The Wednesday Play strand the BBC refused to show it. It went on to win an Oscar, however, and was finally allowed on TV 2 decades later when, worryingly, many of the concerns it raised were still current.
 
Back in the 60s, the supposed Golden Age of TV, a Canadian, who'd trained at Grierson's NFB, came to the BBC to run drama. Sidney Newman had created the Armchair Theatre strand for ITV and was fervently pro-single drama (as opposed to most of the BBC establishment at the time it seems whose preference was for popularity and serials). Newman espoused something called agitational contemporaineity – spurning the classic tradition of British theatre; he was interested in bringing the spirit of the British New Wave to TV, real drama with real people. To counteract this seeming need for controversy (with the still usual suspects in the press on the attack and programmes occasionally turning up on Parliamentary agendas), the BBC ensured they had a stockpile of works to put out if they decided to pull a play that was just one too many problem ones in a row, or if, in their view, it went too far. The War Game, in their view, went too far.
 
Using details of the effect on the populace after Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Dresden Watkins co-opts chunks of Kent to play out what would happen if the bomb dropped, applying the advice currently issued by the authorities. Brilliantly structured it builds up to a crescendo as the bomb drops and then almost silence in the aftermath replicating the shock being felt. And then, as things fall apart, drawing back to watch in horror. Some images will stay with you for life. For me it is shortly after the bomb – a little boy, hands over his burnt eyes screaming.
 
Threads was finally shown officially in 1985 after shows like Threads and Brigg's When the Wind Blows had already made clear little had changed – the useless shelters and the useless advice built in both are exactly the same as the advice given in Watkins's film. It isn't as if it wasn't shown though – as an Oscar winner there were copies out there, shown in university clubs and disseminated on tape. And Watkins work has clearly influenced nearly every other post-apocalyptic scenario ever since, even the recent alternative world in when Donna didn't "Turn Left" in Doctor Who.
 
His experiences with TV have clearly soured Watkins – in a rather snotty extra on La Commune 1871 he explains that TV has nothing to do with quality and he made the film in France where they don't give a toss about TV and are therefore the better for it. Extreme, perhaps, but there is no doubt that this great director was ill-served by TV in this country. And on the evidence of work like this, the relevant word is very definitely 'great'.
Elab49


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RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 9/8/2010 10:33:32 PM   
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A Cottage on Dartmoor (Asquith, 1929)
 
This dazzling and innovative silent is a dark and brooding thriller that deals with the dangers of obsessive love. A young barber, Joe, falls for the manicurist, Sally, who works with him. They go out on a date but she ends up rejecting him for a client, a young farmer named Harry. When the couple become engaged, an angry confrontation between Joe and Harry leads to Harry being cut by Joe's razor, and Joe being sentenced to Dartmoor Prison for attempted murder. Years later, Joe escapes and makes his way towards the isolated cottage where Sally lives. Told with some of the most poetic and haunting imagery in British cinema, A Cottage on Dartmoor deserves to be rediscovered and recognised as a classic of early cinema.  
Rawlinson


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RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 9/8/2010 10:36:37 PM   
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The Wednesday Play - Cathy Come Home (Loach, 1966)
 
Unlike Watkins's War Game, Loach's Cathy Come Home – a searing indictment of the housing situation in the UK and a painful evocation of the perils of homelessness and what takes people there – survived the BBC's timidity and was broadcast (although Garnett (producer) and Sandford(writer) initially concealing the production as a knockabout family comedy may have helped – Sandford had seen the story rejected several times before Garnett found it). The country was up in arms and the play became the very definition of 'seminal' television.
 
Told in Loach's documentary style it is as much significant for being a keystone in expanding TV drama out of the studio as it was politically. From this juncture it might be hard to separate the significance from the play itself but in complete isolation it is still a work worthy of entry to this list.
 
Following the story of a young family, Cathy and Reg, through job loss and separation, onto a downward spiral leading to homelessness and ultimately to the scene which may deservedly have generated the most anger, the removal of Cathy's children and that absolute dismissal of Cathy by the authorities who no longer care about her, tagging her useless and on the scrapheap, so they'll take the kids to give them a chance.
 
To a great extent the lines between fact and fiction are deliberately blurred by Loach's filming approach and the natural performances of the stars, whose initial hopeful life together makes the fall all the steeper, just makes the presentation of the situation more powerful, particularly as the film moves from White's calm voiceover to the screaming mother losing her children. It's an impressive production all round. And, as hoped, also an important one, still regularly referenced in debates on homelessness.
Elab49
 
 

 
Elizabeth (Kapur, 1998)
 
It should be acknowledged up front that one doesn't watch Elizabeth for anything remotely akin to historical accuracy. Kapur and writer Michael Hirst take the basic facts and play wildly with them to create a conspiracy story with a final dealing with the bad guys on mass that more resembles The Godfather than historical drama.
 
Leaving that aside however? There's a great deal of fun to be had watching the film. Cate Blanchett
is wonderful in the title role, taking her character from somewhat callow but very politically aware girl to a convincingly regal queen. Although Attenborough plays Cecil as a bit of an old duffer, Blanchett's fellow Antipodean Geoffrey Rush gives the films second great performance as Elizabeth's spymaster Walsingham.
 
Kapur provides plenty of action to balance the talkier side of the politics and the film is gloriously coloured and costumed, although it lost out in Oscar terms to the other Elizabethan era film Shakespeare in Love. In particular, the idea of Blanchett losing to Paltrow's weedy turn is particularly offensive and even though Dench should never have taken the gong for her passing through the screen, it is rather a pity we didn't have Elizabeth taking up both acting awards that year.
Elab49
 
 

 
Licence to Kill (Glen, 1989)
 
After establishing him as Bond in The Living Daylights, Licence To Kill takes Bond to a new level. He has threatened to resign before (in, as it happens, one of my other favourite Bonds, On Her Majesty's Secret Service) but here he goes through with his threat, and has his licence to kill revoked. (The original title was Licence Revoked, a change that may or may not be due to a certain mass audience's inability to know what 'revoked' meant.) The reason? Felix Leiter (David Hedison, the only person to have returned to the role other than Jeffrey Wright, having also played him in Live and Let Die) and his newly wed wife are brutally attacked by a group of drug smugglers he was tracking. His wife is left for dead while Felix just has his legs eaten off by a shark... Bond goes off-mission to find the men responsible after realising the local police would do nothing.

This is as astonishing a start as you can get, with real suspense as Leiter is captured and tortured. It gives resonance to Bond sdetermination to find his friend's attackers, and his friend's wife's killers. He hooks up with an informant friend of Leiter's, Pam Bouvier (Carey Lowell) and goes on the trail, meeting up with Sanchez's (Robert Davi) mistress Lupe (Talisa Soto) and Q, dispatched by Moneypenny to help Bond, unofficially.

Licence To Kill trades quips for ballsy action and exciting action. The quips stop when Bond reads the note attached to Leiter, 'he disagreed with something that ate him'. From then on it's all or nothing for Bond, although he does find time to bed both beauties. In a way Licence to Kill can really be seen as an attempt, 20 years ago, to take the Bond series where they are taking it now. Two films in, and clearly the public disagreed with this attempt, leaving a 6 year gap - the longest without a Bond film since the series started in 1962. When it eventually returned it was like they took the best bits of the other Bonds- Moore's quips, Connery's culture, Dalton's no-nonsense - and rolled them into one. Of course, the series would once more return to flights of fancy unbecoming to modern audiences.

Something else occurred to me while watching this, of the fundamental difference in the way that the different Bonds play the character. James Bond must have charm for the ladies, culture for the way of life, and a steeliness for the killing. Connery played the character as if he was naturally cultured, acquired the steeliness, and affected the charm. Lazenby's Bond was naturally charming, acquired the culture and the steeliness, and affected nothing. Moore's Bond was naturally charming, and affected the culture and steeliness. Dalton's was naturally steely and charming, and acquired the culture. I'll update this with the last two when I get to them. A Bond actor needs all three facets to 'be Bond, but the way in which they come across gives us the different Bond characters.

HomerSimpson Esq
 
 
 

 
London to Brighton (Williams, 2006)
 
Blurb to come.
 
 

 
 
Peter and the Wolf (Templeton, 2006)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=od03kxDBnq4&feature=channel
 
Peter and the Wolf as a recording has a pretty amazing pedigree – some of the best actors and best voices from film and TV have narrated versions including Ustinov, Guinness – Boris Karloff, John Gielgud and even David Attenborough (it's also the reason Bill Clinton and Mikhail Gorbachev have Grammys!). It's turned up on Muppet Babies
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkqqtdIx6CA, it was one of the last things Chuck Jones did with a short in 1996 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQfgxDVbopo. It's a pretty popular work. And, IMO, this short is the best representation of it of any I've seen or heard, and amongst the darkest takes on the tale.

Suzie Templeton's adaptation of Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf is probably what started me looking out short films. I mean, I saw cartoons aplenty, and Wallace and Gromit, etc. But other shorts – the ones nominated for Oscars, the live-action – were either too difficult to find or you didn't know where to start. I'd loved catching Six-Shooter on Channel 4 a couple of years before but it was this, also a Channel 4 transmission that had me absolutely transfixed.

Young Peter defies his grandfather and gets through a locked gate into the forest, to help a damaged crow fly, accompanied by his friend the duck. The wolf his grandfather warned him about appears, being tracked by local hunters. But Peter tries to catch it by himself.

The story has changed some from the original, particularly in deepening some of the connections and expanding Peter's life – we see him bullied in town by the hunters who turn up later and, as a result, we see the close bond between him and his only friend, the duck, creating a stronger emotional connection to make what follows more difficult (this is not the Disneyfied version!). This combines to make the world the other side of the fence some kind of special place, all the more for it being denied him – glimpsing through the fence the light shines on the pond at the edge of the forest, brightening it like an icy wonderland, and being denied it just turns it into forbidden fruit. The crow, with its anthropomorphic mannerisms brings a great deal of unexpected humour to the story, and the cat nearly loses out deservedly through hubris. But what we really get a feel for with Templeton's very expressive stop-motion animation is the feeling Peter has for capturing this wild creature after the shock of his loss, a sense of Peter's own wildness and empathy with this outsider creature particularly when the bully pulls the same tricks on the captured animal. So when Templeton's film departs completely from the original ending it is wholly in keeping with the distinct world she has created. 

The film is chock full of wonderful moments – the crow's desperation to get back in the air; the cat pretending its jump didn't happen, stalking nonchalantly off the ice, nose in air. And the face-offs between Peter and the wolf. This is amazingly powerful filmmaking – the character of Peter is just so well put together, and his motivations, fears and hopes, his moment of fun and coming alive are so beautifully drawn that it draws you in to watch again and again, each viewing even more satisfying than the last. A particular nod to the superb lighting in the film – like Doggy Poo earlier, it is brilliantly and realistically shot.

Even though it is relatively dark for the story being told, Templeton's other work has ploughed an even blacker line – I'd also very much recommend looking out

Dog -
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtETK2beufA
Stanley -
http://www.veoh.com/collection/SuzieTempleton/watch/v903321NptGya9B
Elab49


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RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 9/8/2010 10:37:22 PM   
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The Dresser (Yates, 1983)
 
This intense film gives leads Albert Finney and Tom Courtenay two of the best roles of their careers. Finney plays a legendary actor, touring England with a season of Shakespeare plays during World War II. Finney is constantly on the verge of a nervous breakdown, the strain of the tour and his alcohol intake leading to his slow crumble during the film. Courtenay plays his loyal dresser, Norman. Norman is responsible for running every aspect of 'Sir's' life, even down to reminding him what play he's starring in that night. The Dresser presents us with a difficult relationship and doesn't shy away from addressing the complexity of this bizarre, co-dependent bond. It's in part a love-letter to the people behind the scenes in these theatres, the men and women who are responsible for making so much of a play work, even if it's just because they need to sober up the lead actor and push him onto the stage, but never get any of the credit for doing so.   
Rawlinson


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RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 9/8/2010 10:37:57 PM   
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Blow-Up (Antonioni, 1966)
 
David Hemmings plays a fashion photographer, inspired by David Bailey, while taking photographs in a nearby park, he stumbles into what might be a murder plot. It's rather ironic for a film that's written and directed by an Italian and loosely adapted from a story written by someone from Argentina, but Blow-up is an iconic piece of British cinema. Antonioni's film is a mystery in the giallo territory, but is possibly best appreciated as a time capsule of the swinging sixties. From the footage of London at the height of the real 'cool Britannia to the array of iconic figures from Hemmings to Vanessa Redgrave and The Yardbirds, the film is British in spite of its roots. It's a film I admire more than I like. Hemmings would come back to similar territory and do it better with the likes of Deep Red and Fragment of Fear, and Antonioni would make far better films throughout this career, but a list of the greatest British films would seem oddly lacking without Blow-up and I'm glad it's here.  
Rawlinson


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RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 11/8/2010 2:08:05 PM   
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Life is Sweet (Leigh, 1990)
 
Jim Broadbent heads a top-flight British cast as Andy, a chef who plans to start a mobile fast-food business. Alison Steadman plays Wendy, his good natured wife. Andy and Wendy have twin daughters, Natalie and Nicola (Claire Skinner and Jane Horrocks) Natalie is a tomboy plumber who supports her father, while Nicola is selfish and more bitter, she's also bulimic. Wendy holds the family together through major and minor incidents, including an attempt to work in the garish restaurant of a family friend. Life Is Sweet is a series of comic vignettes, with each segment serving to build up the tensions that run through this eccentric family.  It may seem like Leigh is merciless towards his characters, but I think there's also a great tenderness and love there. He loves them for who they are, flaws and all, and it's because he loves them that he's comfortable exposing them the way he does. It's difficult to pick out a stand-out performance from such a talented cast (that also includes Timothy Spall and Stephen Rea) but Steadman, as always, does flawless work as the long-suffering mother.   
Rawlinson
 
 



Touching the Void (MacDonald, 2003)

In the mid 80s, two good friends, Joe Simpson and Simon Yates, were on a climbing expedition together in the Andes. An accident occurred when Simpson fell off an ice cliff and broke his leg. While attempting to make a swift descent to deal with the injury, another accident meant that Simpson was lowered over a cliff and hanging like dead weight on the rope that connected him and Yates. Yates had to make a decision, risk both of them dying, or cut the rope and let Simpson fall. He cut the rope. Simpson survived the fall but landed in a crevasse. Simpson was then left to try to find his own way back down the mountain, with no food, no water and a broken leg.  Interviews with Yates and Simpson are mixed in with re-enactments of the event in this thrilling documentary that brings to us a remarkable tale of human endurance and the will to survive against unimaginable odds. 

Rawlinson


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RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 11/8/2010 2:08:11 PM   
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Play for Today - Blue Remembered Hills  (Gibson, 1979)

Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.

A.E. Houseman

My choice for the greatest television single play takes its title from that sentimental but wistful and gorgeous bit of verse by Houseman. It may seem unnecessary to quote it here, but it really is a beautiful summation of the tone of Blue Remembered Hills, that of childhood innocence becoming lost forever. Blue Remembered Hills is quite possibly Potter's simplest play, a group of children play together in The Forest Of Dean during WW2. It could easily be a silly bit of nostalgic nonsense, except that it's written by Potter, so you know it's going to have an edge.

The play does have an experimental side, all the children are played by adult actors. So in Blue Remembered Hills you get to see Janine Duvitski, John Bird, Robin Ellis, Michael Elphick, Colin Jeavins and future Oscar winners Helen Mirren and Colin Welland running and jumping around a field in the West Country, perfectly capturing the mannerisms and attitudes of children.

At times the play brings to mind Lord Of The Flies, especially in the way the children form allegiances and set about bullying the weakest in their group. An unsettling air hangs over the play from its opening moments and you know that tragedy is coming, you're just left wondering what form that tragedy will take.

Many will prefer other Potter plays and as possibly the finest writer to ever work for television, he has a lot of great shows to choose from. But the whimsical yet disturbing Blue Remembered Hills has always had a place in my heart and the number one slot on my single play list.

Rawlinson
 
 

 
Scum (Clarke, 1979)
 
Alan Clarke originally directed Scum as an episode of Play for Today, when the BBC rejected it for broadcast, he set about remaking it as a cinema film. Set in a borstal, Scum exposed the brutal system that young offenders were being thrown into. The film focuses on Carlin (Ray Winstone) a new inmate who quickly sets about establishing himself as the 'daddy', the head of all the prisoners. Scum shows how the system strips the humanity from the guards as well as the prisoners, and how everyone involved is left with very little hope. Ray Winstone gives an astonishing performance as Carlin and he's supported by a brilliant young cast, including Phil Daniels and Mick Ford (David Threlfall in the original play) The film makes some changes from the play, a gay relationship between Carlin and another prisoner is dropped, while a disturbing rape sequence is added. Both versions are must-see films, both for what they have to say about British society at the time, and for the intelligence and anger of the writing, directing and acting.
Rawlinson


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RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 11/8/2010 2:09:20 PM   
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 Diary for Timothy (Humphrey Jennings, 1945)
 
is the highest of the three Jennings entries in the Top 100 - something like a summation of his wartime films, albeit with a bit more commentary than usual. Scripted by E.M. Forster and narrated by Michael Redgrave, it's a portrait of Britain in 1944-5, made for a newborn child. It explains the world he has been brought into and challenges his generation to forge a better one. The country is as you've never seen: suffering and hardening, bogged down in a seemingly endless war of attrition as its people struggle to maintain business as usual for a fifth, ravaged year. As he would in his 1949 classic, The Dim Little Island, Jennings focuses on four diverse Britons: in this case a miner, a farmer, a train driver and a wounded pilot undergoing rehabilitation. Theoretically, anyway. In typical fashion, his scope encompasses not just normal propagandist fodder, but also culture (Shakespeare, Beethoven), homelife and the contrast between the industrial heartlands and the tranquil countryside a stone's throw away. It's at once realistic and poetic. The fellow who edited the chaptering on the film's first DVD release said it was impossible to do it satisfactorily, because its themes are so interlocked. But while you could study it for weeks and still draw more from its immaculate construction, Diary for Timothy really works because it speaks not to the head but to the heart, and the part of all of us that will remain forever England.

Favourite bit: Pilot Peter returns to his feet on cumbersome crutches, his plight and his stoicism made all the more affecting by the footage of dancing servicemen and home front girls that surrounds it.

Rick_7
 
Just about the last of the productions from the Crown Film Unit, released in the year the war ended. It is structured around a voiceover putting together a diary for a newborn whose father is overseas on active service. Michael Redgrave provides the voiceover, EM Forster wrote the script.

If you've never seen Jennings before think someone like Adam Curtis who has always seemed strongly influenced by him to me. The choice of documentary footage (and following the storyline of an injured miner and airman) as well as music is to create a montage of society as it stood. It is noteworthy because 'propaganda' had moved on to a more meditative view - at one point the film shows footage of a pianist. The music is German notes the script - "a beautiful piece from a country of culture. We'll have to think about that after the war". So this film is considering how the peace will work - Timothy's world - as much as getting people through the time of the war that is left.

Quite fascinatingly this may be about the only footage that exists of Gielgud's Hamlet -part of the film showing Britain of the day has a few minutes of his take on the role. Astonishing stuff.
Elab49.


< Message edited by elab49 -- 11/8/2010 2:25:02 PM >


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ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 58
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 11/8/2010 2:10:07 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54589
Joined: 1/10/2005
127
 

 
Odd Man Out (Reed, 1947)
 
A year before Harry Lime there was Johnny McQueen, I can not say which film I prefer, this or The Third Man. I know that The Third Man is the better film but Odd Man Out has an unusual power with me. It's apparent sympathies with such a leading figure may still be controversial but I cannot help but almost will McQueen (James Mason, superb) to live, to escape not only the police but the city too, all despite knowing what he has done (even before the start of the film) and would probably go on to do, much like with Harry Lime. I am constantly gripped by the actions of the film, moving away from would be conventional thriller to the exploration of a man's personal purgatory and by McQueen's ever increasing passivity until the snow dappled ending before the docks.
Impqueen.
 
Carl Reed, director of one of the greatest films of all-time in "the Third Man”, made several very good films in the 1940s. One of such films is "Odd Man Out”, which stars James Mason as a IRA (although the terrorist organization remains unnamed in the film) soldier who becomes disorientated, alienated, and alone on a dark Irish night. The film, which proudly tells us at the start that it wishes to speak to us about character and plot rather than politics, is one of real heart and emotion. It's a tragedy, and one that works very well, especially within the context of the setting. What's more, some of its scenes can be very intense, particularly those which follow Mason as he wanders the Irish streets at night, failing to rid himself of anxiety, paranoia, and the ever present looming police. The choices of shot are reminiscent of Reed's masterpiece "the Third Man”, using skewed camera angles to represent the skewed nature of the protagonist's perspective. The score is wonderful, amplifying the emotion, the tragedy, and the paranoia, and the writing is spot on. The true success of the film, though, is Mason's performance, tinged with his trademark deviancy but brought to life with honour and tragedy (I know I keep saying that word, but it fits). Mason himself said that he never expected to be in one of his top ten favourite films, but "Odd Man Out” makes the cut. And that's a lot from a man who was in "the Reckless Moment” and "North by Northwest"
Piles


< Message edited by elab49 -- 11/8/2010 2:24:58 PM >


_____________________________

Lips Together and Blow - blogtasticness and Glasgow Film Festival GFF13!

quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


Annual Poll 2013 - All Lists Welcome

(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 59
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 11/8/2010 2:10:44 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54589
Joined: 1/10/2005
126
 
 
Persuasion (MIchell, 1995)
 
Pride and Prejudice was a massive hit for the BBC at home and abroad. A skilled and energetic reworking of the Austen classic that retained an admirable level of faith in the characters Austen created. It made stars out the lead actors. And it wasn't even the best Austen adaptation that year.
 
Nick Dear (next doing a stage adaptation of Frankenstein for Danny Boyle), took great care in the adaptation of Austen's quietest novel – a tale of love and loss that asks how long these feelings can persist. For dutiful Anne they never go away but it seems her former lover has moved on more easily, impressing her younger in-laws and becoming engaged to one of them. It's also a story that features more pride than its companion – the extreme vanity and pride of Anne's family leading to disappointment for one sister and an unhappy marriage for another, and in Anne's best friend contributed to the initial break-up of her relationship.
 
The casting director might be deserving of most of the kudos here. The strength of the central couple could overshadow the rest of the cast, but the quality in depth is impressive – Simon Russell Beale appears as Anne's brother-in-law and Corin Redgrave (whose TV work as he got old was immensely impressive, tending to the venal, corrupt and just plain evil) as Anne's father. But it is in the hands of the main pairing – Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds – that the story really rests. Undiminished passion rests behind quiet facades as they burn up the screen making an even more impressive screen couple than their Austen compatriots.
 
Like Boy A and other single dramas, Persuasion also had a theatrical release outside the UK.
Elab49


< Message edited by elab49 -- 11/8/2010 2:24:47 PM >


_____________________________

Lips Together and Blow - blogtasticness and Glasgow Film Festival GFF13!

quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


Annual Poll 2013 - All Lists Welcome

(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 60
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