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RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 15/8/2010 4:56:31 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54674
Joined: 1/10/2005
91=
 

 
Alfie (Gilbert, 1966)
 
The epitome of the swinging 60s as Michael Caine in his starmaking role of Alfie swans round London free as a bird, not tied down by any woman. Merrily breaking the 4th wall, Caine dominates the screen and your opinion of the film really stands or falls on how you find his character. Irrespective, however – you can't fault the performance.
 
Based on a rather more controversial play a couple of years earlier (which the relevant censorship office had had several shades of conniptions about), the BBFC gave the film a much easier time. Where the abortion scene was ripped to pieces on stage it survives pretty much intact onto the screen.  It seemed at times that every other New Wave film had the abortion scene – the impact of the 'real' world seemed to be a desperate need to repeatedly present unwanted pregnancies. This is kind of the case with Alfie as he gets involved with a married woman, but the scenes surrounding the termination are actually very well done – you don't get the overdone grotesque of Up the Junction, or the comedy aunt helping out in Saturday Night Sunday Morning. You get someone coming in to do the job and go – leaving a quiet devastation behind and a game-changer for hard-bitten Alfie as he gets rid of the remains but, even then, his final choice, his decision to try something different, blows up in his face. So 'what's it all about'?
 
And another one to ignore the remake of!
Elab49
 
 

 
Walkabout (Roeg, 1971)
 
Walkabout seared itself into the minds of a generation of teenage males thanks to one scene - Jenny Agutter's naked swim. It may seem shallow to bring it down to that scene but you mention Walkabout to most heterosexual males and their first words will be something to do with Agutter's swim. The lovely miss Agutter appears to have brought an entire generation of teenage boys into puberty and the role rightly turned her into an icon of British cinema. So let's get that out of the way and on to the film itself.

Jenny Agutter and Luc Roeg play a young English brother and sister living in Sydney. The film opens with their father taking them for a drive into the outback. Once there, he attempts to kill them before setting fire to the car and then killing himself. The children are stranded in the desert, they have no transport back to civilisation, with no food and no idea how to survive in the desert heat, things look bad for them. Then they meet a young Aboriginal boy, played by David Gulpilil. Unable to communicate with the words, the three become friends and join together as a group. The boy is on his walkabout, a rite-of-passage where a boy goes off into the outback. Both Gulpilil and Agutter are undergoing sexual awakenings, but Gulpilil's inability to communicate his interest, and Agutter's fear of the unknown lead to tragedy.

In the early days of his career, Roeg was a great director of place. His early work (Walkabout, Performance, Don't Look Now) all manage to capture a unique environment. They share something in common in that the ideas of freedom associated with these locations is matched by a sense of confinement. They become oppressive and they change the characters in ways they may neither expect or want. Walkabout is an extraordinary film, a film that understands the brutality and sensuality of nature as well as it's great beauty.

Rawlinson


< Message edited by elab49 -- 15/8/2010 5:06:55 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 #: 91
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 15/8/2010 5:03:26 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54674
Joined: 1/10/2005
88=
 

 
The Crying Game (Neil Jordan, 1992)
 
You probably know the twist, but don't let that put you off. After all, the big reveal is at the midway point – there are plenty of surprises still to come. I just thought we'd get that out of the way. From the opening blast of Percy Sledge's 'When A Man Loves a Woman' – the camera panning round to reveal a funfair in full swing – The Crying Game does things differently. It's a film with an other-worldly atmosphere, where frequent jolts in mood and tempo make perfect sense and love transcends all. It's filled with characters who are troubled, duplicitous and constantly playing games. But for a film that constantly yanks at the rug beneath our feet, it never feels gimmicky or shallow, with twists for twists' sake. Stephen Rea is an IRA activist who helps kidnap British soldier Forest Whitaker (judging from his accent, if he is from London, he went there from Johannesburg). Forced to babysit his adversary in a woodland hideout, Rea strikes up an unlikely friendship with the talkative quarry. The Crying Game is a consistently excellent film with a singular atmosphere that makes every sequence something special, but these early scenes are particularly powerful. Rea's dishevelled gunman displays a tenderness and humanism that's unexpected and heart-rending, whether chiding himself ("I'm not good for much", he says resignedly at one point) or quoting St Paul to the man he's been chosen to kill ("When I was a child, I thought as a child...") Later, he travels to London to seek out Whitaker's lover (Jaye Davidson), a cabaret singer with a secret. With the change in location comes a shift in tone, as action sequences and comic interludes are thrown into the mix, but that's great too. One memorably pithy exchange between Rea and his boss sticks in the mind. "She's not a tart," Rea says angrily. "No, I suppose she's a lady," his effete manager barks back. The film is uncategorisable and all the better for it: a glossily-shot masterpiece that bucks convention at every turn. And in Stephen Rea's subtle turn it possesses arguably the best performance of the '90s. Davidson and Miranda Richardson (as Rea's former lover) are also strong, while Neil Jordan excels not only as a director, but also as a writer of dialogue. All that and a cover of the '60s theme song by Boy George over the end credits. It's so much more than just a fantastic twist.

Favourite bit: Rea draws on the book of Corinthians, as he wrestles with his mission.

See also:
The Butcher Boy, director Jordan's terrific adaptation of Patrick McCabe's novel about a likeable, cheeky, mentally ill Irish lad. It's light on top, fittingly dark underneath, with a wonderful performance by 14-year-old Eamonn Owens.
Rick 7
 
 

 
The Day the Earth Caught Fire (Guest, 1961)

After both America and Russia detonate nuclear bombs, the world is knocked off its normal orbit and is spiralling towards the sun. Told from the point of view of some newspaper men, most notably Peter Stenning (Edward Judd) and Bill Maguire (Leo MacKern), as they report the story to the public who – if it was left to the appropriate authorities – would be none the wiser. "The Day the Earth Stood Still” is a pacey and grounded sci-fi film that never seems out of touch with reality despite its outlandish and quite ridiculous premise. Played out as a serious drama, Guest's film does a number of things very well. The banter between the newspaper reporters is excellent, and it's very well written (by Guest and Wolf Mankowitz). There are definitely problems with the performances, particularly Edward Judd who – in the lead role – only seems to have one style of delivery. He deadpans every single line, and his voice gets incredibly monotonous by about half way through. Leo MacKern fairs better in an obvious stereotype as the old, wise veteran with a head for science and wisdom to share. The star, though, is Janet Munro as Jeannie Craig. As Stenning's love interest, Munro is incredibly fetching yet strangely accessible, and also manages to propel the plot forward thanks to her insider information. For once, this isn't a pointless romantic subplot, and it's actually quite sweet to see it played out. I don't really know if I'd call this a sci-fi film, though, because it's so grounded in reality and, thanks to the fantastic writing, actually quite believable. It's more of a drama in exceptional circumstances. There are certainly problems with the film. Its obvious theme of nuclear disarmament is a little too obvious for my liking, and you often wonder why these people aren't panicking a little more than they actually are, but these little flaws can be forgiven if you just throw yourself into the drama and let it take you to its ambiguous climax.
Piles
 
 

 
Of Time and the City (Terence Davies, 2008)
 
 The fifth feature from Britain's greatest living director, Terence Davies, was shot for just £250,000 as part of Liverpool's European Capital of Culture celebrations. His first movie since 2000, it followed years of failed, thwarted projects. Anyone familiar with Davies' work will recognise his pet concerns here, as he uses the city as a canvas on which to paint memories of childhood and lost innocence. He no longer recognises the city; barely recognises himself. Davies delivers an intensely personal voiceover that's tragic, verbose (he has a nice turn of phrase) and ripe for parody, offering one part incomprehensible wordiness to every dose of pithy poetry.

Some have hailed this as the director's greatest achievement, but it is only when Davies stops yapping and dedicates himself to those unparalleled fusions of music and nostalgic visuals - passages of lyricism, irony and sorrow - that the film really approaches the brilliance of his earlier work. The sequence set to Peggy Lee's The Folks Who Live on the Hill, charting the move from terraced housing to the false dawn of high-rise blocks, is one of the best things he has ever done. Oddly, though, the continuation of that thread, which seems to stress the terrible human cost of such schemes as young children return to the hellish towers, is interrupted by Davies going on about municipal architecture being a bit of an eyesore, comprehensively undercutting the effect. On second viewing, Of Time and the City looks the same as first time around - only more so. It's erratic, lurching from truth to redundant repetition, though when it works, it's glorious.

Rick_7


< Message edited by elab49 -- 15/8/2010 5:06:53 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.


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(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 92
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 15/8/2010 5:03:30 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54674
Joined: 1/10/2005
87
 

 
Night and the City (Dassin, 1950)
 
Made while under blacklist in Hollywood, Jules Dassin's Night and the City is often overlooked, but it's one of the finest film noirs made anywhere in the world. Like most good film noir, our anti-hero is a small-time loser who finds himself in over his head while aiming for glory. Richard Widmark plays Harry Fabian, an American hustler living in London. He tries to set himself up as a wrestling promoter by muscling in on the territory of a big-time gangster. Dassin's anger at the American system shines through here as the desperation to make a profit leads to bleak consequences. British noir is an underexplored sub-genre, Dassin creates one of the bleakest looks at London of the period. It's a shadowy nightmare world, still recovering from the war and eating up those who aren't powerful enough to survive its traps. Fabian is an unpleasant character, but we want him to win and want him to survive, because in similar circumstances, he could easily be any of us.
Rawlinson


< Message edited by elab49 -- 15/8/2010 5:07:10 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.


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(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 93
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 15/8/2010 5:03:37 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54674
Joined: 1/10/2005
86
 


Hamlet (Branagh, 1996)

This version of Hamlet is unique for film and rare for the stage, it is the full version of the play. Not a single line has been cut, though Branagh does change locations to open the film up a bit; indeed many of his location switches enhance the story. Branagh's first masterstroke was resetting the tale to the 1800s. Gone is the dark, oppressive visualization of nearly every Hamlet thus made and incomes a wonderfully opulent visualization. Branagh's Denmark is a beautiful, potentially prosperous country on the verge of an external military coup and threatened to be ripped apart from within by crime and corruption most foul. The halls of Hamlet's palace becomes to the film what the desert was to Lawrence of Arabia - a place of limitless potential and freedom but also of oppression and doom.

The cast is spectacular. Branagh himself is awesome in the title role displaying an abundance of youthful energy and zest. He portrays all the facets of Hamlet's complex character perfectly. He's funny, charismatic and cultured, yet overcome with grief, melancholy and thirst for vengeance. Branagh is wonderfully supported by experienced Shakespearean thespians Derek Jacobi, Richard Briers and Nicholas Farrell and cameos from John Gielgud and John Mills. Shakespeare newcomers Kate Winslet and Julie Christie also deliver wonderful performances and even actors you would have thought were not suited to Shakespeare such as Billy Crystal, Robin Williams, Charlton Heston and Jack Lemmon deliver excellent performances appropriate to their roles.

Anyone suspicious of Shakespeare's relevance on a modern audience need look no further than this film. Branagh did a tremendous job of making the story accessible to modern audiences while not changing a word of Shakespeare's text. There is no need to understand every word spoken; the actors do such a wonderful job at conveying what their character is saying. It's absorbing, thrilling and as moving as any modern story. It's the definitive telling of one of the greatest stories ever told and it's the shortest 240 minute films I've ever seen.
Directorscut.


< Message edited by elab49 -- 15/8/2010 5:07:04 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.


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(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 94
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 15/8/2010 5:03:40 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54674
Joined: 1/10/2005
85
 
 
Look Back in Anger (Richardson, 1959)

Tony Richardson really had an incredible half a decade in the late 50s and early 60s. Awards success may have come with 1963's "Tom Jones” (for which Richardson won Best Director and Best Picture), but the five years directly prior to that saw Richardson direct three really quite excellent films. "A Taste of Honey” may be flawed with its over-density of social commentary, but other than that it's a fabulous film, and I just can't fault "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner”. Amazing, then, that "Look Back In Anger' is just as good as the Tom Courtenay film of 1962. Starring Richard Burton as a university graduate who has settled in a one-room council flat in the Midlands with his wife, Alison (Mary Ure), and a lodger, Cliff (Gary Raymond), "Look Back in Anger” tells the story of a dangerous love triangle between Jimmy (Burton), Alison, and her friend, Helena (Claire Bloom). The story itself isn't exactly groundbreaking, but the dialogue and social commentary is. Our 'angry young man' in this kitchen sink social realism film is Jimmy, a boy who has become scornful of life and everything in it because of his own shortcomings. He is doubtlessly intelligent, but his cynicism and his borderline violent nature keep him back, and the only outlet he has for his brimming anger is his witty but biting dialogue. Based on the play by John Osborne and adapted by Nigel Kneale, the film uses a three-act structure to translate this love triangle onto screen with excellent results, but relies heavily on the success of its incredible dialogue. Jimmy's monologues about the injustices of life are brutally honest, as is Richardson's direction, which is just as good here as it was in his other two classics of the same period. And then there are the performances, from Burton's powerhouse turn as the cynical lead to Ure and Bloom's different but similar supporting ladies to Raymond's amiable man-in-thhe-middle, the cast is universally excellent. Its commentary on the injustices surrounding the class system (the differences between Alison and Jimmy are highlighted early and often, most notably their social status and class) and such varied topics as racism are brilliantly drawn, and its ending is incredibly emotionally involving. One of my biggest regrets in watching films is that I didn't go to see this when it was showing at my local cinema last year.
Piles


< Message edited by elab49 -- 15/8/2010 5:07:17 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.


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(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 95
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 15/8/2010 5:03:43 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54674
Joined: 1/10/2005
84
 

 
Tunes of Glory (Neame, 1960)
 
When people think of British films about class clashes they generally think of social realism but to my mind two of our best presentations of class conflict are the Boulting satires with the characters from I'm All Right Jack and Ronald Neame's tale of the conflict that ensues when an English officer and gentleman, and ex-POW, turns up to take charge of a Scottish regiment under the nose of Jock Sinclair. It's not just class though – it's a clash of countries and styles, the stiff martinet Barrow v's former piper 'man of the people' Sinclair symbolised rather aptly by their different attitudes to Scottish dancing.
 
Although there are sub-plots galore (including the useful plot-driver of Jock's daughter in love with a lowly piper), it's the tension in the officers' quarters – the games room, the dining room – that is the core of the film. Biting civility and stabs in the back as Jock denigrates the psychologically damaged Barrow with every oh so helpful aside inevitably result in the officers taking sides behind Jock or Barrow with only a few trying to do the decent thing in the middle – good men like Gordon Jackson's adjutant or Dennis Price's brilliantly played take on Iago. The resulting tragedy seems almost inevitable and the manner of its playing and the nature of Jock's collapse are highly effective, as the room gradually empties and the sound of Jock's distraction gets louder.
 
The roles in this were originally allocated the other way – Mills to play Jock and Guinness to play Barrow, a character not a million miles from his role in Kwai. It was an act of genius to realise the reverse was clearly the right choice – not only is the bluff, drunken Jock one of Guinness's best performances, but John Mills has rarely been better on screen with the quieter more desperate role as he tries to fit in.
Elab49


< Message edited by elab49 -- 7/2/2012 11:24:05 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.


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(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 96
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 15/8/2010 5:04:20 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54674
Joined: 1/10/2005
83 

Barry Lyndon (Kubrick, 1975)
 
Stanley Kubrick was a genius. Barry Lyndon was one of his finest films. Anyone who tells you otherwise is just plain wrong. The film features narration by Michael Hordern, if you're not already convinced of its genius then you're beyond all hope. As for plot, it tells the life and adventures of Barry Lyndon, a young Irishman in the 18th Century. We follow him through duels, army life, gambling and noble marriage. Ryan O'Neal plays Lyndon, and that's the film's biggest problem. It would have been nice if Kubrick had hired someone at least remotely capable of expressing emotions. He simply doesn't have the chops that Lyndon requires. It's been remarked in the past how much of an improvement it would have been if Leonard Rossiter had been cast as Lyndon instead of as the duelling rival, Captain Quin, and I'd tend to agree. The film is a masterpiece in every other way, the rest of the cast (especially Rossiter and Marisa Berenson) are excellent and it's one of the most visually beautiful films you could ever hope to see. There's a painterly elegance to the cinematography and it deservedly won the Oscar for John Alcott. It's glacial pace may put off many, but for those willing to try it with an open mind, Lyndon gives endless rewards.
Rawlinson


< Message edited by elab49 -- 15/8/2010 5:07:33 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 #: 97
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 15/8/2010 5:05:15 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54674
Joined: 1/10/2005
82
 

 
O Lucky Man! (Anderson, 1973)

"O Lucky Man!” is the second part of Lindsay Anderson's Mick Travis trilogy, coming after "if….” but before "Britania Hospital”. Not so much a sequel or even a continuation of the character, Anderson's film simply takes the Travis character and moulds it into whatever is necessary to fit both the story and the themes. The story here surrounds a young coffee salesman, Travis (played again by Malcolm MacDowell), whose travels around Europe make up an allegory for the pitfalls of capitalism. The film doesn't really have a conventional narrative in that it simply follows Travis around as he meets a bunch of people in a bunch of countries in a bunch of quite odd situations. Surreal (but obviously symbolic from start to end) and strange, "O Lucky Man!” takes the oddness of "if….” and takes it to the next level, shunning conventions and narrative to become something more, something new, and something better. It is a series of events that, by happenstance, lead fluently onto the next in an almost stream of consciousness manner, leading to an incredible, bizarre, yet imposing finale. Malcolm MacDowell's central performance owes very little to his star-making turn in "if….”, instead turning the character of Mick Travis into a grinning, happy, respectful young man who is slowly but surely dragged down as his corporate dream is turned into a nightmarish series of unfortunate events. That these events are enough to change this hopeful, sympathetic character is the film's point: it's not who we are that defines us, but rather the oppressive and brutal surroundings that sweep us up and mould us. All accompanied by a great score provided by Alan Price, who appears on screen to perform all of his songs which act as a kind of running commentary on the events of the film, "O Lucky Man!” is a winning film that is as witty as it is scathing. .
Piles

 


< Message edited by elab49 -- 15/8/2010 5:06:43 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 #: 98
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 17/8/2010 6:18:45 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54674
Joined: 1/10/2005
81
 

 
My Name Is Joe (1998; Ken Loach)

Spoilers

One of the great things about cinema is when you revisit a film that you'd previously respected but not love and then find yourself seeing the magic in it. I already held Peter Mullan's performance here to be one of the best of the 90s, but rewatching the film has made me see that it's a brilliant performance in a film that's an absolute masterpiece. Mullan stars as Joe Kavanagh, an alcoholic trying to turn himself into a man he can respect. He's been sober nearly a year and he's trying to help those around him, he manages a local football team along with his best friend and AA sponsor Shanks (a superb Gary Lewis) and he makes a special effort to try and rescue a young couple, Liam and Sabine, from drug addiction and debt. He starts a relationship with their health worker, Sarah (Louise Goodall, easily the equal of Lewis) and for once luck seems to be on his side, until he finds out just how desperate a situation Liam and Sabine are actually in. Joe is forced into a course of action that could endanger his sobriety, his relationship and even his life. My Name Is Joe alternates between being hilariously funny and heart-breakingly bleak with Mullan giving possibly the best male lead performance of the 1990s.

Rawlinson


< Message edited by elab49 -- 17/8/2010 7:03:40 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 #: 99
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 17/8/2010 6:18:49 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54674
Joined: 1/10/2005
80
 

 
Whistle Down the Wind (Forbes, 1961)
 
Children seem to like finding people in barns and constructing worlds around them – over a decade before young Ana goes to see Frankenstein in Spirit of the Beehive, Hayley Mills starred in this film based on a book written by her mother Mary Hayley Bell.
 
Whistle down the Wind is a tale based on christian allegory and childish innocence, as a group of children find a murderer on the run in a barn in Lancashire and decide that he is Jesus, denying him and being beaten for believing it.
 
Whistle seems an odd choice for Forbes directorial debut, but it did seem to bring together a lot of friends with Richard Attenborough producing. Mills casting isn't quite the nepotism it seems though – after her initial acting forays in Tiger Bay, The Parent Trap and Pollyanna, it'd be difficult to name a better known child actor in the country at the time. The film remains so popular today Andrew Lloyd Webber even came up with a terrible musical based upon it.
Elab49


< Message edited by elab49 -- 17/8/2010 7:02:52 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 #: 100
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 17/8/2010 6:18:55 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54674
Joined: 1/10/2005
79
 

 
Passport to Pimlico (Cornelius, 1949)
 
The first two Ealing comedies proper (this and Hue and Cry) came from the pen of TEB Clarke, a great British writer who would go on to write Lavender Hill Mob, The Titfield Thunderbolt and also the Blue Lamp. This particular gem is, IMO, the best of his Ealing scripts – a bomb reveals a cache of papers that include proof that Pimlico was once signed over to Burgundy and the secession had never been revoked. Which meant that the government had no authority over this little patch of London – in particular it meant no more rationing! Flooded with jack the lads and outright crooks, the plucky little borough has to deal with a rather annoyed government, the loss of utilities and the loss of their food supply. With twists and capers afoot, the independents come to realise that, difficult though life currently is in Britain, they are better off there than anywhere else.
 
Passport is an amazingly apt entry for the current times – a film born out of the last 'austerity Britain' under Clement Attlee with Chancellor Stafford Cripps a symbol of a country where the weekly ration looked more like the average modern breakfast and voices were being raised louder against a need for rationing made more extreme after the war than during. Because Passport is more than just light comedy – fantasy it may be but it's a film that captures the political and economic times as perfectly as any piece of social realism. Think it's imagination? Just look at them joyously ripping up their ration books or the anti-Cripps placard outside the border. Or the food thrown over the walls replicating the contemporary support given to squatters appropriating property of their own during the shortages – an organised squatters revolt in Kensington under the auspices of the Communist Party saw the kind of support and food parcels in real life that Clarke later wrote into his script.
 
Passport is a brilliantly written and played comedy – Stanley Holloway, Margaret Rutherford are joys to watch. But it is also an acutely observed piece of social politics.
Elab49


< Message edited by elab49 -- 17/8/2010 7:02:36 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 #: 101
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 17/8/2010 6:18:58 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54674
Joined: 1/10/2005
78
 

 
From Russia with Love (Young, 1963)
 
 
The gun barrel is in place, Bond is replete with hat, guitar theme is playing, blood drips down the scene, white circle bounces around the screen for a bit. Yes, we have the classic opening in place, and as a die-hard fan, it feels right. It leads directly into a cat and mouse game between an enemy agent Red Grant (Robert Shaw, on fine form) and Bond (Connery). Only, not all is as it seems, and we have the horror-joy of seeing Bond die at the start of the second film! The credit sequence is more traditional, having as it does an original tune written by Lionel Bart (and one of my favourite). Interestingly the instrumental-only version plays over the title sequence (the lyrics are heard later on when the song plays on an on-screen radio). That scene also brings a nice element of continuity - albeit in the slightly laughable guise of Bond having some sort of steady girl between missions, who is either amazingly tolerant, or unbelievably naive.

We are quickly introduced to Bond's new nemesis, another shadowy SPECTRE figure, who is seen only by his hand and his cat. I don't think he is even named here, but Blofeld wouldn't be seen for another few films. A neat McGuffin gets Bond into the thick of things in Istanbul, personally overseeing - on request of a defecting double agent - the exchange of a Russian decoding machine. Bond's contact in Istanbul, Kerim Bey (Pedro Armendariz) shows him the local delights of gypsy ways which is as quaint as it is endearing. Naturally, an argument between two girls over the chief's son is ultimately solved by Bond in his own inimitable way. I'm sure it did, as he suspects, 'take a while'.

Daniella Bianchi, as Russian defector Tatiana Romanova, typifies those two disparate traits often separated into two Bond girls - the headstrong wily Bond girl, and the swooning, loved-up Bond girl. Depending on the scene, Romanova is both these things, although how much is initially an act that becomes genuine is up to viewer's interpretation.

What I find particularly satisfying about From Russia With Love is the pacing. It's not 100% action, but the slower scenes are handled well, and inform the more rapidly paced scenes. The slow burn scenes on the train lead to that devastating revelation of uncultured villainy - the choosing of red wine with fish! - and a subsequent carriage-bound fistfight which will be repeated some ten years later in Live and Let Die (to hell with no future references!). Robert Shaw, with the exception of Connery, owns this film. He takes what could easily have been a simple, heavy-set muscle character into a nuanced one who admires Bond as much as he despises him: Not for nothing does he save him during the gypsy chaos.

As far as successful sequels go, and considering at this stage there had just been the two, From Russia With Love is one of those 'better than the original' sequels. It takes all the elements which made Dr No great, and tweaked, fine-tuned, fine-lined, and improved most aspects of it. Plus it had an exploding briefcase with money, a screw-together rifle, and a knife in it. Which as far as gadgets go, is pretty cool.

HomerSimpsonEsq


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Post #: 102
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 17/8/2010 6:19:01 PM   
elab49


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Happy-Go-Lucky (Leigh, 2008)
 
is the first Mike Leigh film I have seen starring a fantastic Sally Hawkins as a symbol of almost annoying levels of happiness and carefree attitude and a great Eddie Marsan as a miserable, contemptible and hateful driver instructor. They are two opposites, and both represent ways of how people may perceive life. It is quite miraculous how none of these characters are annoying as fuck. Poppy and Scott themselves had the potential of being unbearable to watch on screen, yet Leigh, somehow, makes them endearing. Poppy wants to make the best out of life and really wants to help people while Scott sees evil and fear wherever he goes. it's mostly a pleasant affair if only rarely laugh out loud funny.
Deviation


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RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 17/8/2010 6:19:31 PM   
elab49


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Sexy Beast (Glazer, 2000)
 
Living the good life on the Costa del Crime, ex-hardman Gal Dove receives a visit from Don Logan – a manipulative, evil recruiter for the latest heist of crime boss Bass, back in London. Logan's presence disturbs the status quo at the villa – Dove's refusal to go with him, an interestingly odd reaction from and interplay with Dove's wife Deedee and an attempt to reconnect with the wife of Dove's friend lead, inevitably, to violence. Trying to cover up Gal heads to London to take part in a rather creative bank heist working for the suspicious and just as tricky Bass.
 
Gangster movies have become increasingly common in British cinema of late, and, sadly, remarkably few of them have much creative merit – they trot out the same set of clichés and mockney stereotypes as lazy directors pretend they have a clue. Sexy Beast is not one of those films. The casting clearly helps. I don't think it's much of a coincidence that McShane starred in this not that long before being cast in Deadwood, e.g. and James Fox and Amanda Redman do well as the indiscreet banker and Dove's former porn-star wife respectively. Ray Winstone gets arguably his best role since Scum – a hard man but clearly worried and having very odd dreams as Logan crashes into his life like the metaphorical boulder. Using all the words but 'no' but that is still the answer, his scenes with both Kingsley and McShane give us a character far more understated than the norm – a confident man who knows his abilities. But it's Ben Kingsley who gets most of the plaudits – a performance that you can clearly see echoed in Ralph Fiennes character in In Bruges a few years later. Don Logan is a skilfully constructed fruitbat played perfectly in his quiet manipulation and his rants by Kingsley, a genuinely great performance. Playing on the rising fear at the villa before becoming the person you least want to sit next to on a plane – even if the film had been a dud, Logan would have been unforgettable. So much so he even did inserts for the last Live Aid – Don Logan does food crises. Priceless!
 
Glazer almost effortlessly produces the kind of film the likes of Ritchie would kill for – complex characters, brilliant central performances and visually interesting. It almost makes you wish there were more gangster films – but only if they are as good as this.
Elab49
 


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RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 17/8/2010 6:20:09 PM   
elab49


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Man in the White Suit (Mackendrick, 1951)
 
As promised, another film from one of the writers of Went the Day Well – John Dighton (also creator of The Happiest Days of Your Life. This one a tale of a thwarted dream – a new invention, suppressed by vested interests.
 
A case of mistaken identity gives research scientist Sidney Stratton an in to the experimental section at a textile mill, after the cost of his work causes him to lose his previous job (and after a lovely scene when the lab staff realise one by one that they haven't a clue who built the bubbling test tubes in the corner). Determined to develop a new material – everlasting and dirt-proof – he doesn't consider the consequences to the fat cats or the workers. It doesn't occur to boss Cecil Parker either until word gets out – and then, with the prices of shares falling and the workers revolting, Sidney escapes and the chase is on.
 
Sidney is a wonderful character – absolutely oblivious to everything but his obsessive pursuit of his invention. There's a wonderful reaction to the first explosion when he looks on the smouldering remains 'that shouldn't have happened' – as if disappointed at a recalcitrant child. He should be far less sympathetic than he is, but Guinness plays him as an innocent with a hint of physical comedy that puts as firmly in his corner from the start. The girl in the film as so often with Ealing is the Joan Greenwood, she of the wonderfully husky voice, as Birnley's rebellious daughter who swots up on chemistry after taking an interest in Sidney and sees the altruistic possibilities for his work.
 
There are some glorious scenes in the film – the escape itself, the gradual build-up of sandbags in the exploding factory and my favourite, a wonderful procession of fat cat cars at the top of the hill in the Milltown with the factory in the background, Mackendrick's best shot in the film.
 
Man in the White Suit follows Ealing's normal pattern of supporting the little man but this one is a little different in mood to most of the comedies, particularly in the final scenes. Shot like a noir round the streets of the town Sidney first encounters a young girl (Frankenstein's monster anyone?), and the voice of the common people reminds us that maybe the mob might be in the right in this one but that makes the beautifully pitched final scene of the chase no less heartbreaking for Sidney.
Elab49
 


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RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 17/8/2010 6:20:34 PM   
elab49


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Sweet Sixteen (Loach, 2002)
 
The plot could have come straight out of a Warner Bros gangster film from the 30s. A hot-headed and stubborn young man spends his days running small-time criminal schemes, he's a nobody who dreams of being a somebody and he wants nothing more than to take care of his beloved mother. He comes up with a plan that could either be the making of him or his downfall, he and his boyhood best pal are going to muscle in on the territory of a more established criminal. He has a run-in with the local crime kingpin, who likes his cocky attitude and takes him under his wing, slowly he rises up the criminal empire, but can he withstand both his increasingly jealous best friend and his own self-destructive ways? The only difference is that the young man, Liam, is just 15 years old and he lives on a Scottish council estate. Reuniting with the writer of My Name Is Joe, Sweet Sixteen sees Ken Loach deliver another remarkable film on working-class life. It's raw, gritty and real. It also can move between heartbreaking and hilarious in an instant. Martin Compston gives an extraordinary performance as Liam, showing the bravado of a young man mixed with the interests of a boy. It's telling that we get brief glimpses of his fascination with the planets and when we meet him he's charging younger children 25p to look at Saturn through his telescope. His family life is brutal, there's an unfeeling jailbird mother. A brutal father figure and a cowardly and mouthy grandfather who refuses to do anything to help or protect Liam. The film doesn't judge its characters, it's doesn't celebrate them either, yet it still makes you care about them and wish they could break out of the life that's dragging them all down.
Rawlinson
 


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RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 17/8/2010 6:21:07 PM   
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Day of the Jackal (Zinnemann, 1973)

Based on Frederick Forsyth's book, Zinnemann turns the story into a surprisingly pacy trail across Europe as Fox's Jackal uses people from place to place, picking up equipment and closing off his trail. Separately, Michael Lonsdale leads detectives in Paris and London trying to pick it up again. One of those films that I end up watching through to the end every time it is on. Good fun. And apparently you can still pull that passport trick which I find quite scary!

Elab49


< Message edited by elab49 -- 17/8/2010 7:02:57 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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RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 17/8/2010 6:30:51 PM   
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The Servant (Losey, 1963)
 
And the Oscar for Best Actor, 1963, goes to... Sidney Poitier?!?! I'm sorry, I know how much of a vital moment that was in terms of the Oscars showing that they can be progressive, but Poitier in '63? Really? Two years earlier he'd given an Oscar-worthy performance in A Raisin in the Sun, so I guess this was very much a 'make-up' award. But Poitier over Newman, Harris and Finney that year was a joke. Even more of a joke was the fact that Dirk Bogarde's frightening performance as the manipulative Barrett didn't even get nominated. He should have walked it.

Bogarde's Hugo Barrett is a duplicitous and manipulative manservant to Tony (Fox), a wealthy fop who's just bought a new townhouse. Looking for help, he hires Barrett to be his general dogsbody, and initially he appears to be the perfect Jeeves and both men bond, while still maintaining the distance required by their social positions. After some time, Barrett begins to make subtle changes to the relationship, manipulating Tony and beginning to blur the boundary between master and servant. Susan (Craig), Tony's girlfriend despises Barrett, sensing something about him she doesn't trust. Realising that Susan can ruin his new set-up, Barrett seeks to push her away by introducing Vera to the mix. Vera (Miles) is Barrett's lover, she pretends to be his sister to find employment in the house. The sexually open Vera is the complete opposite of the more reserved Susan, and she begins a plan to seduce Tony. The film turns into a battle of wills between Barrett and Tony until eventually the stronger will prevails.

The Servant could easily have become contrived, game-playing nonsense. Luckily it has a wonderful script by Harold Pinter. The Servant was the first of Pinter's collaborations with Losey and he uses the film to launch a savage attack on what remained of the class system in 60s Britain. Even though the class system was already very much in decline, The Servant wants to tear apart whatever may be left. Both Barrett and Tony are bored with their social status, and the film seeks to argue that the strong and sharp minds of the working class can easily beat down the indolent upper classes. The drama also takes on gender roles, and the rather daring hint of repressed homosexuality in the power battles between Tony and Barrett is never far from the surface of the film.

The Servant is the kind of film that could have felt very stage-bound, most of the action takes place within the townhouse and the four leads dominate the drama. If it had taken a stagey feel it could have killed the film. Instead Losey makes great use of the location (Surely one of cinema's great houses) to make the film feel claustrophobic and place emphasis on Tony's isolation. The Servant is ultimately a psychological drama that focuses on the relationships between the lead quartet. Much like another recent entry on my list, Funeral Parade of Roses, The Servant is concerned with the question of finding an identity in a period of great change. Like Matsumoto, Losey makes great uses of mirrors to help reflect this, and the blurring identity between Barrett and Tony is very much the heart of the film.

The Servant is a very difficult film to like, mainly because it's difficult to find any great sympathy for the leads. But The Servant has some of the finest writing and acting of its decade, it has great social importance, and it's one of the most sublimely twisted films of its era.

Rawlinson


< Message edited by elab49 -- 17/8/2010 7:03:05 PM >


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Post #: 108
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 17/8/2010 6:34:48 PM   
elab49


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Went the Day Well (Cavalcanti, 1942)
 
Welcome to the Battle of Bramley End, the film John Patterson refers to as the 'homegrown version of Red Dawn'!
 
Directed by the gifted Brazilian, Went the Day Well is one of my favourite films of WWII. Cavalcanti wasn't just a great director though. He's the man who taught directors how to direct at Grierson's GPO (Humphrey Jennings amongst others owed him a great debt, and possibly more directly as this film is clearly an influence on Jenning's later Silent Village with some scenes of senseless slaughter). Moving to Ealing he not only made films for the studio, he worked with Balcon to develop what Ealing films actually became. So as well as a gifted director in his own right, Cavalcanti is one of the most important figures in British film history and it's only right that his own best film should be placed so well in this list, although not nearly high enough!
 
Harking back to the phoney war, the film gives us another - based on a Graham Greene short story, Went the Day Well is a fantasy that considers how a normal English village would actually handle an initially covert Nazi invasion. Scripted by two writers with entries in the last update, John Dighton and Angus MacPhail (and, indeed, further up in this), with the help of Diane Morgan, it perfectly balances thriller elements with human drama as the unlikeliest of people show their mettle and, intriguingly for a film released in 1942, some very harsh outcomes. Demonising the Nazis, there is a good deal more violence in the film than you'd expect, some quite ruthless and shockingly so. Children are fair game, woman and priests. Annoying old fusspots plot with condiments and wield axes. There is a genuinely weird and wonderful quality to the film. But it is also a stirring and very effective story of sacrifice and bravery and the audience would be expected to leave the cinema that bit more steadfast at a difficult time before the war turned.
 
Michael Caine's enjoyable The Eagle Has Landed owes more than a little to this film too.
Elab49
 


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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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RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 17/8/2010 6:35:16 PM   
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Don't Look Now (Roeg, 1973)
 
Don't Look Now is a chilling supernatural thriller crossed with a intense psychological portrait of loss and the way grief affects us. A young couple, Laura and John Baxter (Christie and Sutherland) lose their young daughter Christine when she accidently drowns in a pond in their garden. He and Laura travel to Venice in order to recover, holiday and for John to work on a restoration of an old church. They meet a pair of eccentric English sisters, one of them is blind and a psychic and she tells them of a message from their dead child warning of danger in Venice. While Laura wants to believe, John is deeply sceptical until he begins to be haunted by visions of his little girl wandering the streets of Venice in the red coat she drowned in.

It's a surprisingly restrained film, there are few moments of overt horror and considering that the film is powered by grief, the depictions of that grief, while intense in emotional power, are also restrained. Christine casts a shadow over everything in the story and you can feel the weight of the tragedy crushing the characters, even as they struggle to express it. While the film remains one of the spookiest and most enigmatic of all horror films, the horror doesn't come from sudden scares. Instead it stems from the hypnotic quality of the film and of the power that memories can hold. The horror comes from associations for the characters, triggered by water, shattered glass, the colour of a raincoat, anything that links back to the loss of Christine.

There's a dark sense of foreboding about the film, especially in Roeg's depiction of Venice. Through his eyes Venice feels like a portal to another world, the perfect place for a little girl to resurrect. It's notable that after their daughter drowns, they seek solace in a city covered with water. Venice is one of the most important characters in the film. It's a world of dark canals, crumbling scenery, imposing churches, and a labyrinth of alleyways. It's also a world where all the colour seems to have disappeared, except for the bright red of the raincoat.

Easily the most successful adaptation of a du Maurier story, Don't Look Now worms its way under your skin, lingering in your subconscious and bringing itself back to your attention at odd moments. It's a startlingly effective film, with career best turns from Sutherland and Christie, and it deserves special praise for turning the romantic Venice in a city of nightmares and lost hope.

Rawlinson.


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RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 17/8/2010 6:35:45 PM   
elab49


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A Hard Day's Night (Lester, 1964)

The first Beatles film I've managed to see, and supposedly their best screen accomplishment, is "A Hard Day's Night”, made in 1964 at the height of Beatlemania. More than actually telling us a story, "A Hard Day's Night” shows us what happens in a supposedly typical day for the band, and includes performances of songs from the soundtrack album and some of their earlier classics too. At its heart, this film is a comedy, with a bunch of great one liners ("How did you find America?” "I turned left at Greenland” and some brilliantly orchestrated comic sequences. The highlight is Ringo's attempt to go out and have some fun, which goes from misunderstanding to misunderstanding, the drummer continually pissing off any local that he should meet. The musical sequences are also a treat, particularly the finale. It's a real joy to see the Beatles perform live, and this snippet of a show where they give us a three-song set is genuine movie magic. It helps that the four are so at ease with each other, and have fantastic chemistry with one another. They play off'f each other like comic professionals, and there are times when you forget that they're musicians at all. That is until the knock off another tune, and their genius is confirmed in several fields. The film's only flaw is that, well, there isn't really much point to it, and there's no story to be found here whatsoever. Still, it's an enjoyable one hundred minute romp, and I'll certainly be looking out for more Beatles films in the future.
Piles


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RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 17/8/2010 6:36:16 PM   
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Hobson's Choice (Lean, 1954)
 
Look down David Lean's resume and it would be hard to credit he directed one of the funniest films on this list. Sure, you got moments of wry humour and well-written and delivered lines in the likes of Lawrence. But Lean was not a director of comedy – what he did, though, was handle competently an adaptation of a play that was very difficult to get wrong, featuring a strong cast with one of Laughton's greatest roles in the lead. Although the set-pieces clearly betray the script's origins, Lean really brings the camerawork of his Dickens's films to bear – here we get a dark and glossy opening, moving down a rainy, cobbled street to the swinging sign of the shop (right to Hobson's arrival home and Maggie's putting him to bed, a skilled and efficient introduction to both characters), Hobson's plot driving plummet into the basement after a night down the Moonraker's Arms is memorable both for the camerawork and Laughton's own excellent take on a drunk, and the later use of external locations, taking full advantage of the few changes in architecture in some of these old mill towns, with location work done in Salford itself..

This is, I think, the only one of my list I've also seen on stage – and the quality of the writing is so strong, it's age and any cast just can't not make it funny (hell, it's even been turned up in ballet form)  – but a good one, and Lean's cast is a bloody good one, gives you a sublime take on family relations as the almost grotesque overbearing Lancastrian Henry Horatio Hobson, father of 3 daughters, takes on the equally strong-willed Maggie (Brenda de Banzie) when she decides to confound the received wisdom that she is too old to marry and leaves the shop taking the highly skilled and exceptionally weak-willed Will Mossop (John Mills) with her.

Laughton's mulish yet monstrous performance is phenomenal. Immature, selfish, and as prone to the vapours as any old-fashioned female character, it might yet have been for nothing if Maggie was cast too weak so the real genius was in the casting of Brenda da Banzie. Her first major role, she might best be remembered for The Entertainer, but not by me. Sadly I completely typecast her from this, one of the strongest female roles of the period – so much so I was half expecting the turn in Too Many Crooks long before it happened. Toe to toe with Laughton she stops his complete domination of the screen and he revels in it, pushing himself to match her, such a rare need with his co-stars, and it all works to brilliant effect. I've seen other versions, I've seen it on stage and it is still funny – but this pairing has never been remotely surpassed. Mills gives a good account of himself as well as the painfully shy and withdrawn Mossop, dragged unwillingly into the limelight and marriage before trying to grow a backbone.

Brighouse's play is as funny now as when it was written nearly a century ago. But to see it polished up and as good as it is ever going to be, dig this out and enjoy.  
Elab49 .

 
 


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RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 17/8/2010 6:36:37 PM   
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A Taste of Honey (Richardson, 1961)
 
I enjoyed "a Taste of Honey”, one of two supposed masterpieces from British director Tony Richardson, which tells the story of a young school girl (Rita Tushingham) who falls pregnant after a romantic rendezvous with a black sailor. She moves out of her home, which is filled to the brim with neglect thanks to her mother (Dora Bryan) and step father (Robert Stephens), and sets up sticks with her unborn foetus and an openly gay man named Geoffrey (Murray Melvin). More than anything else, "A Taste of Honey” is a deeply affecting and devastating social drama, that – when focused on tackling one subject, teenage pregnancy – is very effective in its goal. Bearing in mind that this was made in 1961, before 'hard-hitting gritty social dramas' were ten a penny, it's certainly applaudable for Tony Richardson to tackle such a controversial subject with such a deft hand. Pointing out just how clueless Jo is, implying that she was unwise to get herself in this situation in the first place, but never quite condemning her, Richardson instead decides to show her journey from a girl to a woman, charting her ascent with grace and emotion. The film only really fails when it gets too cluttered with themes and messages. I've heard this complaint around the Empire forums before, and I can't help but agree with them. At one point, Richardson finds himself snowed under, with open threads invested in teenage pregnancy (obviously), homosexuality, racism, domestic neglect, alcoholism, and possibly politics as well. It seems like he wants to tackle too many subjects, and as a result these busier segments of the film kind of let it down. Still, it holds up surprisingly well considering the strain of these multi-faceted themes, and it's a lot better – and a lot less of a mess - than I'd expect it to be.
Piles


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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 #: 113
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 17/8/2010 6:36:59 PM   
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Joined: 1/10/2005
 
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The Long Day Closes (Terence Davies, 1992)
 
is Terence Davies' autobiographical masterwork, an informal sequel to our #55 movie. The film chronicles the end of the period in Davies' life, aged seven to 11, when he was "just ecstatically happy". That blissful parade of family get-togethers, daydreams and trips to the pictures in '50s Liverpool was punctured by the intrusion of adulthood and shame at his sexual awakening. "The Long Day Closes was about the emergence of my sexuality, which was frightening and mysterious,” he said, when I interviewed him a couple of years back. "I think the film largely succeeds in capturing the feelings that I had then.” Like Distant Voices, Still Lives, it has the logic of memory, while its meshing of head-in-the-clouds fantasy and nose-in-the-dirt realism, infused with a reverence for old Hollywood, typifies Davies' work. His films are peppered with passages of sweet lyricism, but driven by pain and torment. "I see life as a struggle and I see moments of happiness,” he said. "But the reality is that my years of ecstasy between seven and 11 – that will never return. It can't come back.” In the film's most arresting sequence, Davies' 11-year-old alter ego, Bud, wrestling with guilt and tormented by loneliness, walks along his grey, deserted street. Leaning over a stairwell, he lifts his arms and begins to swing from a bar. The lush strings of Debbie Reynolds' 'Tammy' start to soar, as the camera moves slowly, majestically, over the boy and, next, the rooms that rule his life: school, church and cinema. "The idea was very, very simple,” Davies said. "I wanted to encapsulate his entire world – which was my entire world – the house, the street, the movies, the school and the church. I thought: 'If I do it that way, then I can bring them all together.' It just seemed right – binding that whole world in what is essentially an incredibly romantic song, in a Liverpool that was anything but romantic. You remember things and then you combine them, because you feel instinctively that they go together. They complement by their contradiction.” The song also represents a last hurrah of happiness, one – Davies said – stained with the realisation that Bud can never understand or experience the emotions that Reynolds' heroine is singing about. "It's about the impossibility and the strangeness of romantic love – certainly because I've never found it,” he said. "When you're a child, you don't understand what love is. Even if you are attracted to someone and you feel very profoundly towards them - in this case, my love for my family - it's something you still don't understand.” Another of The Long Day Closes' unforgettable passages has a daydreaming Bud drenched by waves as he listens in his classroom to 'Blow the Wind Southerly', the signature song of tragic British contralto Kathleen Ferrier. "Her voice has got a very special place in British music,” says Davies. "It's one of the very, very great voices. As a child, occasionally we were allowed at primary school to hear radio from the BBC. I can see it being switched on and we would be sitting at our desks and the announcer would say, 'Miss Kathleen Ferrier singing 'Blow the Wind Southerly',' and it's just very potent, very, very potent. The salt sea and imagining seeing the ship, and all that, is my invention. But that – that song, that voice, oh goodness.” When it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, this unique, remarkable film received a ten-minute standing ovation. As with The Last Picture Show: the action may be upsetting, but the treatment is exalting.

Favourite bit: "I feel the cotton woods whisp'rin' above, Tammy, Tammy, Tammy's in love..."
Rick_7


< Message edited by elab49 -- 17/8/2010 7:03:34 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 #: 114
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 17/8/2010 6:37:13 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54674
Joined: 1/10/2005
65
 

 
This Sporting Life (Anderson, 1963)

"This Sporting Life” is Lindsay Anderson's directional debut (well, fictional feature film debut), adapted from the novel of the same name by David Storey. It tells the story of a bitter Yorkshire coal miner Frank Machin (Richard Harris), who beats up the captain of the local rugby league team in a nightclub altercation. The team's manager sees profit in this ruthless aggressive streak, and scouts and later recruits him for the squad. Machin, who lodges and is probably in love with Mrs Hammond (Rachel Roberts), is unable to reach her because of his angry and impulsive streak, and is quickly consumed by his own celebrity soon after signing for the rugby league team. I didn't quite enjoy "This Sporting Life” as much as I have done with the majority of the kitchen-sink films I've seen so far, and I think I'm going to struggle to put my finger on why exactly that is. I think it probably has something down to the fact that it struggles under the weight of its near two and a half hour runtime, it becomes a little unwieldy in the midsection, and because the rugby scenes are slightly unrealistic (they're intense, yes, but I've never seen a rugby match like them). I don't want to appear overly negative on the film, because there was a lot I loved about this film, and to be honest it's almost overwhelmingly positive. The central relationship between Harris' Machin and Roberts' Hammond is wonderful, as the one gets increasingly frustrated with the other spurning his advances. This gives rise to a wonderfully brooding central performance from Harris, as his successes in the one side of his life lead to failures in the other, with all of it heading towards a dramatically satisfying finale. Roberts is good in support, but the other star of the film is probably Anderson, who does a good job of keeping this intense film under wraps, and keeps both the drama and the tension running high throughout.
Piles
 
 


< Message edited by elab49 -- 18/8/2010 5:40:04 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 #: 115
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 18/8/2010 5:31:31 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54674
Joined: 1/10/2005
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Elephant Man (Lynch, 1980)
 
I consider the ability to extract emotion from an audience to be the greatest of any film's assets, and few films, if any at all, have extracted more emotions from me than watching The Elephant Man. By eluding the strangeness of Eraserhead and concentrating on a thoroughly written human story, David Lynch crafted his own breakthrough with this classic and with it, cleared the road for one of the most prolific careers in Hollywood. The movie garnered a whopping 7 Oscar-nominations, but as history will remind us, 1981 was not a good year in the favor of the Academy, who ignored this and Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull and settled for Robert Redford's Ordinary People instead. One might wonder: where is that film now? Oscar-snub aside, both The Elephant Man and Raging Bull has stood the test of time well (for entirely different reasons).

At a short visit to a carnival, dr. Frederick Treves (Anthony Hopkins) discovers John Merrick (John Hurt), a gravely disfigured man whose only natural home seems to be in the front of a baffled audience whose only purpose, it seems, is to see the darkest corners of the human world. Treves brings Merrick to his hospital to study him, but the experiment proves futile, as Merrick is neither capable of speaking or making any sort of communication with other human beings. During this section of the film, Lynch shows Merrick's face only in the shadows or in the startled reflections of the many persons who meet him. Like the magician he is, he is busy building up to the denouement like a full-fledged professional. But Lynch's skills in hide-and-seek are no mere gimmicks, and this technique gives the audience an opportunity to consider how desperate we are to discover Merrick's disfigured face for ourselves, as if it was our right as citizens of the world. Because we are incapable of knowing Merrick as a person, we have no other way to make an opinion of him other than through his looks. Not the best of first impressions, in other words.

However, after some careful consideration, Treves travels back to Merrick and buys him from his owner for additional treatment. Their relationship is something of a rarity in movies, as it allowed the time to grow and flourish, much like a real relationship. Although the audience never directly participates in their conversations, we do feel like an unnamed third party. Many movies lack the skill to involve its viewers in the moment, but The Elephant Man does not belong in that group. Somewhat unexpectedly, Merrick proves to be a more beautiful person on the inside than on the outside, and with that in mind, it becomes clear that film is breathing some real life into the age-old expression "it is what is on the inside that counts". As spoken by Miss World, such a saying may be somewhat ridiculous, but as I watch this masterpiece, I can't help but realize what truth the words truly carry. Unfortunately for Merrick (and for any audience who long for a happy ending), his illness proves incurable. In fact, his life hangs in such a thread that should sleep in any way but sitting, he will die. Late in the movie Merrick tells Treves that his highest wish is to sleep lying down, like a human being, an act that seems to have more to do with belonging than sleeping comfortably.

The Elephant Man doesn't so much pull the heartstrings of the audience as ripping them out. The scene where Treves tries to get Merrick to speak and the resolution that follows is so engaging that you completely lose yourself in the act. If Raging Bull saw one of the movie world's most unsympathetic characters take center-stage, The Elephant Man travels in the other direction, because anyone who doesn't shed a single tear for Merrick is without hope altogether. Despite being hidden under ridiculous amounts of make-up, John Hurt never lets the feelings of his character go ignored, and had he not competed against Robert De Niro, he might as well have walked away with the film's sole Oscar win. Anthony Hopkins is equally astonishing, disapproving the notion that he has no other talent than to utilize Hannibal Lecter to get an outburst for his cannibalistic tendencies (truth exaggerated for effect).

* * spoilers * *

The film's final scene, which sees Merrick tucking in the bed after a successful visit to a theatre (a place he loved but had never been to) and then choosing to sleep like a human being, brings as many questions as emotions. Did he not know of the consequences of his actions? Or was it a suicide, brought to fruition because he was closing in on death, or because he had finally received the satisfaction of life that he had sought for so long? In the heart of the movie, I strongly believe it is latter option. Preceding Platoon by 6 years, the soundtrack is filled with the notes of Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings", which must surely rank as the saddest piece of music ever written and performed. The scene, and the film it belongs to, should be seen by anyone with a beating heart, a gift most people doesn't seem to fully appreciate.

Dantes Inferno.


< Message edited by elab49 -- 18/8/2010 5:39:48 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.


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Post #: 116
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 18/8/2010 5:31:34 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54674
Joined: 1/10/2005
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A Fish Called Wanda (Crichton, 1988)
 
John Cleese and Charles Crichton come together to create this comedy classic that manages to captures some of the more inspired moments of lunacy from Python with the character driven comedy of Ealing. An inept criminal gang pull off a diamond robbery but things go wrong in the aftermath. They're spotted by a witness and the gang's leader, George (Tom Georgeson), is arrested after he's betrayed by two other gang members - Otto (Kevin Kline) and Wanda (Jamie Lee Curtis), American lovers pretending to be brother and sister. His only ally left is Ken (Michael Palin) a stuttering animal lover who he entrusts with the job of killing the witness. Wanda decides to try and get the diamonds back by seducing the location out of George's lawyer, Archie Leach (John Cleese) while trying to stop the jealous and insane Otto from murdering him. A Fish Called Wanda is a true ensemble piece, despite Cleese writing the script he's not afraid to let the rest of the cast have the majority of the comic moments, he also turns in possibly his finest piece of acting as the beleaguered lawyer. Jamie Lee Curtis shows she's more than just a sex symbol and scream queen, turning in a fine comedic performance. Palin, always the most talented performer in Python, is superb in his role, edging closer and closer to a nervous breakdown as the film goes on. The show is stolen by Kline's manic idiot, Otto. It's a masterful creation and one of the few deserving Oscar winners of the 1980s. A Fish Called Wanda is one of the best comedy films of the 80s and a highpoint in the careers of all involved, what a shame they had to go and make Fierce Creatures.
Rawlinson


< Message edited by elab49 -- 18/8/2010 5:39:54 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.


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Post #: 117
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 18/8/2010 5:31:37 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54674
Joined: 1/10/2005
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Control (Corbijn, 2007)

I'm a short term fan of Joy Division, mainly due to Rob's (that's Rhubarb for you EMPIRE folk) influence, but I've listened to both "Closer” and the incredible "Unknown Pleasures” a hell of a lot over the last few months. However, I couldn't claim to be anything close to an expert on the life and times of one Ian Curtis, past the fact that he was an undoubted genius and an immensely troubled soul. "Control”, made by a man who knew the band personally in Anton Corbijn, recounts the short and stunted history of a band who – for all the hypothetical ifs – could have been huge. The true success of "Control” is that it puts half the emphasis on the band's music and half the emphasis on Curtis' home life. It does a good job at the former and a great job at the latter, and the best moments in the film come when Corbijn is interested in Curtis' marriage (which, the film concludes, happened far too early in his life), his affair, and his downward spiral towards suicide. Anybody even half-way knowledgeable about Joy Division, the 1980s, or music in general will know that Curtis eventually hanged himself after watching Herzog's "Stroszek” and listening to Iggy Pop, and so Corbijn has to go slightly off-centre in order to gain thematic and dramatic tension. He does well, though, because the scenes leading up to, and the ones that continue on afterwards, are expertly orchestrated. Firstly it feels like we are going through the motions when it gets to the night of the event that would fire "Love Will Tear Us Apart” towards the top of the UK singles charts (watching Herzog's film, listening to Iggy, the final meeting between Curtis and his wife), but it's just because of this familiarity with the story that it's so perfect; the tension is lifted exponentially and the drama becomes so tangible. The death itself is handled with the utmost care and respect, and I don't think any of the remaining members of Joy Division (or, rather, New Order) would object to the film itself. Indeed, Stephen Morris and Peter Hook both praised the film, but Morris's claim that "none of it's true, really” kind of throws the film's legitimacy into disrepute. Still, it's a cracking narrative film, with real insight into the man's life, and some interesting anecdotes from his career.
Piles


< Message edited by elab49 -- 18/8/2010 5:39:32 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.


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Post #: 118
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 18/8/2010 5:31:40 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54674
Joined: 1/10/2005
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Nil by Mouth (Oldman, 1997)
 
While Gary Oldman's career in front of the camera has always struck me as a little miss, veering between performances of great intelligence and insight and over-the-top grotesques, his one directorial effort is a true masterpiece. Based on memories of his own childhood and the East London area of his youth. The film follows a dysfunctional East-end couple, Ray (Ray Winstone) and Valerie (Kathy Burke), Ray is abusive towards Valerie for imagined slights, violently beating her in one of the film's most shocking scenes.  Valerie's brother, Billy, possibly the most sympathetic character, is a drug addict driven to steal from his family to feed his addiction. It's a film about the destructive effects of violence, the cycle of abuse, the way that lives can be overtaken and torn apart by drugs, everything that can go wrong to people who in some cases never get the chance for a normal life. Winstone is magnificent in the lead, giving possibly his finest performance since Scum. Burke is a revelation to all those who only know her from her t.v. comedy work. Charlie Creed-Miles is touching as the hopeless Billy. The only false note is a ridiculously bad performance from Steve Sweeney, but that's a minor irritation in a film that breathes genuine heart and torment into the Eastenders cliches.
Rawlinson
 


< Message edited by elab49 -- 18/8/2010 5:39:35 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.


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(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 119
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 18/8/2010 5:31:46 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54674
Joined: 1/10/2005
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A Room With a View (Ivory, 1986)
 
A Room with a View is a film that's very easy to dismiss. The very words Merchant Ivory are enough to send chills down the spines of some viewers and it's a great shame to see the film treated this way, because instead of being the incredibly dull but beautiful and delicate piece of porcelain that some of its admirers and detractors would have you believe, it's a joyous hymn to the human spirit, to romance, to adventure, and to individuality. A film of great visual beauty, it starts with Lucy Honeychurch and her cousin/chaperone, Charlotte on holiday in Italy. Their typical, repressed sensibilities contrasting both with the country and with two Englishmen they meet, a father and son, The Emersons. The Emersons are free-thinkers and their forward ways shock Charlotte and intrigue Lucy. Lucy and the son, George, find themselves attracted and in a moment that's become iconic, George passionately kisses her in a barley-field. Any chance of a romance is thwarted by Charlotte, and on their return to England, Lucy becomes engaged to a respectable but dull man, Cecil. To her shock, George and his father become her neighbours, and she is forced to choose what she really wants in life. The plotline could have come out of any number of dreary romantic comedy-dramas, and with the wrong cast and crew A Room with a View could easily have been destroyed, think of the way the heart was torn out of the recent Brideshead Revisited remake. But the Merchant Ivory team capture the core messages of freedom and overcoming repression, helped in no small part by one of the finest casts ever assembled for a film. Maggie Smith and Denholm Elliott steal the film as Charlotte and Mr. Emerson, with Elliott's performance here challenging The Signalman and A Child's Christmas in Wales for the title of his finest performance, but everyone from Daniel Day-Lewis's uptight prig, to Simon Callow, Helena Bonham Carter and even Julian Sands are playing the height of their powers. A Room with a View is a film that isn't afraid to surprise its viewers (witness the naked bathing) and its inner beauty rivals those magnificent Italian locations. A true masterpiece.
Rawlinson
 
There aren't many screen romances that can touch A Room With a View. Tourist Helena Bonham Carter falls for brooding Julian Sands amidst the violets of Florence, but even as she warms up, she struggles to cast aside the constraints of class and propriety, slipping instead into an engagement with priggish Daniel Day-Lewis. Bonham Carter is a fine actress - one of the best Britain has produced in the past 30 years or so. Here that familiar cut-glass accent forms a perfect counterpoint to the passions simmering beneath the surface. This is literate and lushly romantic, with Bonham Carter's glorious performance backed up by turns from Denholm Elliot, Maggie Smith, Day-Lewis and Judi Dench that are both weighty and hilarious. And the Tuscan exteriors seem to glow.

Favourite bit: Bonham Carter's climactic wail of "Well what did you all think?", her voice cracking.

See also: Howards End, another of Bonham Carter's films with Merchant Ivory. It's among her best: a tale of love, skulduggery and social manoeuvring that doubles as a portrait of a nation in flux. As with A Room with a View, it's based on an E.M. Forster novel, with a script by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. The cast includes Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, Vanessa Redgrave and Samuel West, and though Bonham Carter doesn't dominate the screen time, once more it's she who leaves an indelible impression. The Remains of the Day, also featuring Hopkins and Thompson, is almost as good.

Rick 7
 


< Message edited by elab49 -- 18/8/2010 5:39:22 PM >


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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.


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