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RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 25/8/2010 11:43:10 AM   
elab49


Posts: 54597
Joined: 1/10/2005
28
 

 
The 39 Steps (Hitchcock, 1935)
 
A counterespionage agent, Annabella Smith (Lucie Mannheim), is killed in the flat of a complete stranger, Richard Hannay (Robert Donat). All that she was able to tell her new friend was that she needed to go to Scotland. Now, standing accused of the murder, he must both flee the police and stop a spy ring called 'the 39 steps' from stealing some top secret information. "The 39 Steps" is a wonderful little thriller, and certainly one of Hitch's best films (perhaps the best of his early stretch of British films). Considering it was made nearly three quarters of a century ago, this is way ahead of its time. There's black humour, fast pacing, sexual chemistry, tension, and tip top Hitchcockian sequences. A few missteps behind (Mr. Memory is a little bit lame, for one), it's mostly all good, with Hitchcock creating some great visuals (Hannay running dressed in black – on a white background - along the top of some hills, stopping when he sees the police) and impressive suspense. That's what he is renowned for, but never is the talent seen as raw as it is here. Sure, sometimes that leads to missteps (the scene in the Scottish couple's house seems a little pointless, and kind of stunts the suspense) but most of the type this is typically Hitchcockian in terms of thrills, tension, and technical proficiency. The performances are good, particularly that of Robert Donat, who is as witty as he is charismatic. The two female leads are solid, even if the better of the two (Mannheim) is killed off in the first half hour. There's nothing in the way of support, and the lack of a real, developed villain is another problem (I understand that the mystery is what makes the film, but a decent shady henchman wouldn't have gone amiss), but Donat, Manheim, and Madeleine Carroll are more than capable enough to hold this one together.
Piles.


< Message edited by elab49 -- 25/8/2010 11:44:07 AM >


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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 #: 151
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 25/8/2010 11:43:13 AM   
elab49


Posts: 54597
Joined: 1/10/2005
27
 

 
The Innocents (Clayton, 1961)
The Innocents brings to the screen one of the greatest ghost stories ever written, Henry James's magnificent, 'The Turn of the Screw'. Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr) finds herself a new post as a governess for two orphans at their uncle's country estate, Bly. Bly seems like Paradise at first, but Giddens soon begins to suspect evil there. Looking after Flora (Pamela Franklin), Miss Giddens thinks it's a perfect job. But when Miles (Martin Stephens) returns home things start to go wrong. Miles has been expelled for being a corrupting influence on the other boys at his boarding school and this coincides with Giddens hearing tales of her predecessor, Miss Jessel and the former valet, Peter Quint, Jessel's lover. There are rumours of an 'unnatural' relationship with the children and Giddens begins having visions of a mysterious man and woman she thinks are the ghosts of Quint and Jessel, come back to reclaim the children by possessing them.

From its oddly unsettling opening, where a child sings a song of sorrow while a woman prays, The Innocents marks itself out as unusual and memorable. But is it a ghost story? Some people claim its instead a psychological drama about a sexually repressed woman's overactive imagination. It's worth stating outright that Henry James himself considered it a ghost story, but there is a central ambiguity that fascinates nearly everyone who comes into contact with it and whichever way you interpret the story, it works.

The idea that Giddens is simply creating these phantoms from her imagination has some bearing in the fact that she has all the hallmarks of an unreliable narrator. She clearly is sexually repressed with a fixation on the children's uncle. Her obsession with the sexuality of the dead lovers, and of the belief that they somehow involved the children in their sex-games also appears to be largely of her own creation. This could easily be seen as a side effect of the way single women had to repress their sexual desires in Victorian Britain. She's even oddly attracted to Miles, despite his youth. Miles obviously learned his charm and his anger from Quint, and there's a disturbing sexual tension between the two. This leads her to begin to feel Miles is a contaminating force, just like Quint was.

The notion of innocence and of corruption of innocence are recurring themes. The title change from The Turn of the Screw to The Innocents is the most blatant example of this. At first glance it's an obvious reference to Miles and Flora. But Miss Giddens seems just as much of an innocent, in fact the children seem far more worldly than her at times. The opening sequence with Flora singing her favourite song, O Willow Waly, a heartbreaking ballad of an abandoned lover leads you to believe she has already seen more of the world than a child her age should. Giddens believes the children were corrupted by Quint and Jessel, and for certain they didn't have the finest role models in them. But one of the film's great strengths is we never know for certain exactly what went on between them and the children, and if it was more innocent than Giddens believes then her obsession with their sexuality is surely corrupting them.

The trio of lead performances are staggering, all the more so because two of them come from child actors. The children are remarkable, especially Franklin in what was a huge role for someone so young. Stephens, fresh off Village of the Damned, is chilling as young Miles. The stand-out performance however comes from Kerr, we are thrown into the mind of Giddens and we are left to decide for ourselves what the truth of the situation is. Kerr has to walk a fine line between playing a woman who could either be slowly going insane or just deeply perceptive and sensitive to the evil around her. If she pitches her performance even slightly too much in one direction the film falls apart. Luckily, Kerr turns in a riveting, note-perfect performance, in my opinion, her strongest screen work. Michael Redgrave also impresses in his brief role as the children's uncle and Peter Wyngarde creates a memorable figure of evil simply through his imposing presence.

What makes The Innocents such a powerful film and one of the few filmed ghost stories to actually capture the atmosphere of the original story is that it realises that the atmosphere is more important than blatant shocks. The eerie mood is aided by Freddie Francis' exceptional cinematography and Georges Auric's score. But most importantly of all, everyone involved takes this seriously and treats it with a respect that isn't often given to horror films. The Innocents isn't just one of the greatest horror films ever made, it's one of the greatest films ever made.

Rawlinson.
 
The Innocents is the story of a woman sent to be a governness of two orphan children whose uncle has no time for them, because he is unwilling to give up his bachelor lifestyle. The woman, Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr) is enchanted by everything at the country house she is sent to, especially the children. There is however something sinister going on. I think that the success of The Innocents rests on it's ambiguity. I, for one, was never sure whether the ghosts were real spirits or whether they were a figurative, representing the demons that Miss Giddens has uncovered since her arrival, or even a figment of Miss Gidden's imagination- she does stay at the start that is imaginative. Each of the leads is great. I especially liked Martin Stephens, who's performance as Miles was very adult without being annoyingly precocious. The cinematography also deserves praise, as it succeeds in giving a fantastically unsettling atmosphere. One of the best British films I've seen.
Paul_ie86
 


< Message edited by elab49 -- 25/8/2010 11:44:02 AM >


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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 #: 152
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 25/8/2010 11:43:17 AM   
elab49


Posts: 54597
Joined: 1/10/2005
26
 

 
In The Loop (Iannucci, 2009) (Some mild spoilers)

A cabinet minister at International Development vacilating over resigning over a war. Intelligence information plagiarised from an analysis document. Shenanigans at the UN. A powerless general who subjugates himself to the US administration. Mmm - sounds a tad familiar.

Keeping only Capaldi as Malcolm Tucker (and Jamie) the rest of The Thick of It crew turn up in new roles so familiarity with the TV show really isn't required. What you might get is over an hour and a half at the cinema with tears of laughter in your eyes. The complex, arcane cursing is a joy to listen to although god knows how the mainstream US audience would take it. Ours was certainly behind Malcolm's reaction to being called English.

The performances are generally superb. Capaldi is given more space and brings more depth to Malcolm - he isn't just scary and shouty but understands what he is being asked to do. He also takes his terror techniques into the bedroom as the minister who has dropped his foot in it tries to learn to keep quiet. This is a truly award-winning performance - Bafta at least should be watching. The Thick of It team acquit themselves very well with Addison and Smith in main roles. Of the newcomers Hollander is the standout in a character that does borrow heavily from Hugh Abbott, trapped in an office with his assistant having control of the blinds on the outside! McKee is excellent as someone who finally stands their ground round Malcolm (Angela Lansbury!) and Chlumsky, Kennedy and Rasche hold up the US end (along with very scary stalker Chad, the 9yo briefing Malcolm and James Gandolfini apparently channelling John Goodman).  Our ambassador to the UN - Baldemort - manages to make that org look a joke and Jamie stalks round Whitehall tracking down leaks and terrifying all and sundry on his way.

And a Coogan cameo - that looks like a nice minor sidestep with some very well done mad staring eyes until the minor constituency mess becomes central to getting us into war without argument.

Well-directed with lovely shots of tall lanky Brits running round Washington hither and thither with a great feel for visual comedy. A brilliant political comedy.

Oh, and opera is apparently all vowels listened to by people who aren't allowed to wear hats that say private school. Fuckity bye

Elab49


< Message edited by elab49 -- 25/8/2010 11:44:01 AM >


_____________________________

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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 #: 153
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 26/8/2010 9:32:53 AM   
elab49


Posts: 54597
Joined: 1/10/2005
25
 

 
The Long Good Friday (Mackenzie, 1980)
 
Another extraordinary British gangster film, this time with Bob Hoskins as fearsome crime boss, Harold Shand. Shand is an old school London gangster, looking to move into the 80s by becoming a businessman. He plans to get backing from the Mafia to renovate the London docklands to provide a venue for the Olympic Games. His plans are being torn apart by a series of murders on his organisation. The film focuses around Harold's desperation to stop his enemy and secure his new life as a legitimate businessman.

The film has an impressive cast, including a great performance from Helen Mirren, but the film belongs to Bob Hoskins. Hoskins has the face of a 30s gangster, he would have fit in easily with Cagney or Edward G. Robinson and it's easy to imagine him machine-gunning down his enemies with manic glee. Long Good Friday isn't his greatest performance, nothing can touch Pennies from Heaven, but it's his best cinema work, and the final scene, as the truth slowly dawns on a wordless Hoskins, is his greatest single moment of acting. He lifts what could have been a run-of-the-mill gangster drama into something nearly Shakespearean.  

Rawlinson


< Message edited by elab49 -- 26/8/2010 9:34:47 AM >


_____________________________

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 #: 154
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 26/8/2010 9:33:25 AM   
elab49


Posts: 54597
Joined: 1/10/2005
24
 

 
Shallow Grave (Boyle, 1994)
***spoilers***
An unexpected delight. My first Boyle, for the record, and utterly fantastic. This is like a Coen film on drugs. The characters are certainly unlikeable, but using that as a criticism as most who disliked the film did is utterly daft. The whole point of noir is that the flawed protagonist reveals his hidden side when tempted, corruption through power, etc. The fact that the characters are well-off doesn't mar the whole thing, as the money itself is pretty much a McGuffin. Like I said earlier, echoes of Coen Brothers are certainly present throughout the film, but Shallow Grave also reminded me of Pinter. The other frequently named major criticism of the film is that the plot is disjointed, particularly because the two gangsters set up as a threat through the gruesome torture sequences are promptly disposed of, but therein lies the brilliance of the film. A sense of uneasiness is present from the start, even before the flatmate ends up dead, and the menace creeps up as the external threat (here's when my Pinter analogy comes in) gets nearer, but once the thugs are dead and buried, we realise that what the characters really have to fear is each other. The ensuing paranoia is once again open to criticism as far as the plot goes, but the claustrophobic feel of the film at that point even transcends the brilliance of another paranoia-laden masterpiece I watched recently (The Thing in case you were wondering), so it really doesn't matter. While Shallow Grave isn't amazing visually (few debut features are in my experience anyway, although Badlands blah blah), the technical aspects of the film are hard to criticise, and the performances in particular are a delight, adding the necessary humour to the film. Overall, this might even surpass Blood Simple. Wow

MilesMesservy007


< Message edited by elab49 -- 26/8/2010 9:34:44 AM >


_____________________________

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 #: 155
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 26/8/2010 9:33:56 AM   
elab49


Posts: 54597
Joined: 1/10/2005
23
 

 
A Matter Of Life and Death (Powell/Pressburger,1946)
 
Two Line Synopsis: A fighter pilot destined to die lives, and falls in love. A heavenly trial follows.
There's a fair proportion of films in this list (both before and after this mid-way point) that have a decent dose of sentimentality. It's often seen as typical of the American film industry, and as with any emotion when concentrated on for long enough, can often descend into pastiche becoming mawkish and sickly sweet. However, when done well, sentimentality should not be seen as a pejorative term, but as a genuine ideal for a film. A Matter of Life and Death is not American, and perhaps that goes some way to explaining the balance - sentiment reined in by that most British reserve: Upper lips are suitably stiff throughout. It is, however, a wonderfully inventive, dazzlingly brilliant fantastical account of one man and his quest to allow him to continue his life.

Seven years prior to the release of A Matter of Life and Death a children's musical film had exploited the contrast between black& white and colour photography to great effect to show the difference between the real world, and that of Oz. Similarly, Earth is shown in glorious Technicolor, while Heaven - one might presume to be an even more glorious place - is shown in monochrome, a stark, almost sterile place. It shows Earth as being the preferred place, and makes Peter's quest all the more believable - even if it weren't for the love of Kim Hunter's June. This was a time when people fell in love immediately, especially given the stressful situation. As would be noted in a film 49 years later, it's a well known fact that relationships that begin under stressful situations rarely pan out. Here then is the exception. We have an English pilot and an American radio operator who meet under an incredibly stressful situation - imminent death - and through a foggy confusion are allowed the time to fall in love. Time that never should have been. Lost in the fog, the 'conductor' who is to transport Peter up to Heaven (the most fey incarnation of "Death" ever seen, I believe) misses Peter, creating a 'fatal' interval. The ensuing trial in Heaven is as curious as a Heavenly trial might be.

However, it is the design of the film that is its most remarkable feature. From the set designs in Heaven, to the effective use of Technicolor and monochromatic colour, and to the visionary techniques of freeze-framing and muted sounds we get a plethora of conduits for a host of concepts that enrich the world. Jack Cardiff deserves more than a mention for the cinematography, but Powell and Pressburger craft a startlingly original film that stays the right side of overly-sentimental, allowing the audience to enjoy the characters as much as the visual and aural aspects of the film. A triumph from start to finish, this is essential viewing.

HomerSimpsonEsq
 
Let me start this essay (about a film thats brilliance I can never overstate enough) with a massive understatement. I don't believe in Heaven. It's true! I don't believe in God or angels or any notion of an afterlife. We live, we die, the end. That's how I see the World. However, if I were to believe in such supernatural shenanigans, my idea of Heaven would be the one presented in A Matter Of Life And Death. So overwhelming is the beauty, warmth, wit and power of this Archers classic that even a grumpy old atheist like myself can find his soul stirred with spiritual flights of fancy for two hours. That alone should recommend this film to all that know me!

The story is simple. In the skies over war torn Europe, British airman Peter Carter (David Niven) chooses certain death by jumping from his doomed burning plane without a parachute... Only to survive! At first perplexed by this miracle, it soon turns out that he should indeed have died and that the Heavenly Conductor (a gloriously dandified Marius Goring) assigned to collect him, lost the pilot in Britains notorious fog. The conductor attempts to rectify his mistake, yet Peter refuses to follow him citing that his new found love for a young American radio operator, June (Kim Hunter) has given him new responsibilities. However, he agrees to stand trial at a Heavenly court and, with the help of a friend Dr. Reeves (the brilliant brilliant brilliant Roger Livesey in one of my favourite performances ever) he begins to build a case to help him stay on Earth.

Directed by the greatest of all British partnerships, Michael Powell and Emerich Pressburger, A Matter Of Life And Death is one of the most beautifully crafted films ever made. More than that, it is the movie which best represents the richness and fertility of imagination that the duo infused British cinema with in the 1940's. The invention that Powell & Pressburger employ in this movie is astonishing. Earth is portrayed in sumptuous technicolor, Heaven in stark monochrome. These two Worlds are bridged by a mind boggling stairway to Heaven that has rightly become a part of movie iconography whilst the Heavenly court beats any modern CGI spectacle for disbelief suspending grandeur. Time stopping, tears on rose petals, an opening that starts across the galaxy before honing in on a World in turmoil. A Matter Of Life and Death delights and inspires from start to finish.

Yet, like any truly great film, A Matter Of Life and Death doesn't just enliven the senses, it touches the heart too. It is charmingly philoophical, disarmingly witty, slyly satirical (about USA-UK relations in particular) and, above all else, this is one of cinemas great romances. The relationship between Peter and June is simple but all the more affecting for it. When June is told in cross examination that love is nonsense, she agrees... "There is no sense in love".

It's a line that sums up perfectly the essence of the whole film. Love may make no sense but life is all the more wondrous for it.

Harry Lime.


< Message edited by elab49 -- 26/8/2010 9:34:39 AM >


_____________________________

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 #: 156
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 26/8/2010 9:33:59 AM   
elab49


Posts: 54597
Joined: 1/10/2005
21=
 

 
If (Anderson, 1968)
 
"When do we get to live? That's what I want to know”   if…. is one of my favourite films. It is the story of a group of crusaders in their pursuit of freedom from the tyrannical controllers of their lives: the whips and some of the staff at the public school they attend.   This film is a feast both visually. Although the film is filled with great scenes, such as the finding of the foetus, the gymnastics display (any of the black and white scenes really), the image that always sticks out for me is the general giving his speech while the smoke is rising; it really shows how slow to react and how stuck in their ways the old guard is when the time for change is needed.   It's not just the visuals that are brilliant either. The story is also incredible. It creates a completely believable- and intimate- universe within the school (I was going to say up to the end, but with the number of shootings in schools in recent years, the last scene is strangely prescient.), making even the side characters believable. One of the things I admire most about the if….'s script is that nearly everything (with the exception of the brilliantly surreal scene of the headmaster pulling out the drawer to reveal that the priest) that happens feels organic from the disdain that the whips have for Travis and his friends, to the strongly hinted at gay relationship. Even the aforementioned scene with the foetus and possibly imagined climactic scene feel like everything has been leading up to them.   I honestly cannot think of anything that I don't like about this film. This belongs in the Hall of Fame because it is one of the best ever British films (and to my knowledge there is no British film in the Hall of Fame). I think that everyone should watch it at least once and this would give them the perfect reason.
PAUL_IE86
 
 

 
 
Withnail and I (Robinson, 1987)
 
The titular duo of failing actors, played by Richard E Grant and Paul McGann respectively, are living in squalor in the middle of London. Day has merged with night, and their lives have become an endless stream of drinking, drug-use, and cynicism. And so, they take to the country, thinking that a week away in Withnail's Uncle Monty's (Richard Griffiths) country cottage is the remedy they need. On the outset, "Withnail and I" seems like a comedy, and it is indeed a very funny film. Most of the humor comes from Richard E Grant in his greatest role, hamming it up to great effect as the cynical and aggressive (but actually quite cowardly) Withnail, who stalks around the screen with flailing arms and a permanent look of superiority on his face. Some of the things he comes out with are genius, and his devil-may-care attitude is both incredulous and amusing. However, it's not all laughs, and there is an air of tragedy to Bruce Robinson's film (and it is his film; as well as directing he takes up writing duties too), most notably in the film's closing scene. It's one of film's great finishing scenes, with a monologue from Hamlet, proving that – not only does he have an ounce of talent that is going unnoticed – he knows the problems with his own character (the monologue finishes with "what a piece of work is a man!"), yet purposefully does nothing to rectify these faults. All humor, at this point, is dried away from the film, leaving the viewer with a sad sense of melancholy and a burning question about their own faults. It's for these reasons - this depth and purpose - that "Withnail and I" has become a cult classic, and one which I dearly love. In fact, it's probably the best non-Ealing, non-Python British comedy.
Piles.
 


< Message edited by elab49 -- 26/8/2010 9:34:36 AM >


_____________________________

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 #: 157
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 27/8/2010 2:11:44 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54597
Joined: 1/10/2005
20
 

 
Bridge On The River Kwai (Lean, 1957)
 
I went to the cinema to see a movie once (yes, really). At one point, the morality in the story of the film became so hard to keep track of that a nearby patron shouted out, "I don't know who I am supposed to cheer for!" Admittedly, at the time, it didn't sound like the most intelligent remark, but in retrospect, I realized that it was actually smarter than what even the guy himself could have known when he uttered it. Moral ambiguity, you see, is rarely a flaw of a movie, but rather a fine asset. The world, as you probably know, is not inhabited by "good" and "bad" people, and it's only fair that cinema reflects that.

Though there are plenty of examples of films where good and bad are so separated it's basically apartheid all over, there are also many that are not so keen on playing that game. The Bridge on the River Kwai is a perfect example of that. Set in a Japanese prison camp during World War II, it stars Alec Guinnes as a Colonel named Nicholson, who is unwilling to bend for his new masters. His steadfastness will only grow throughout the film, to the point where one wonders if the British pride he so dearly holds close will end up making him work in favor for his captors. We cheer for him because he is the hero, but we sometimes wonder if perhaps, he has a screw or two loose.

Nicholson is ordered by the Japanese to build a bridge that will transport enemy trains over the river Kwai. But he refuses to do it unless he can do it his way, and his way is making sure that the bridge stands as a testament of British power, and not Japanese. His determination comes not only from pride, but also from an ability to see a future where the war is over, and the bridge still stands. He reckons it might stand as symbol of an alliance between his country and Japan when the war is over. Because of that, we too want the river to be built.

Meanwhile, American soldiers are approaching the camp. They are not as occupied with the future as they are of the here and now. To them, the bridge is not a symbol of anything, but a construction to be sabotaged to help win the war. It must be eliminated before the Japanese get the chance to use it, and that is something the audience too can understand. As the soldiers move closer to bridge, it slowly nears it completion. The climax, which unsurprisingly takes place at the bridge, is expertly crafted, as director David Lean uses all his power to make sure we always who is doing what at what time. There is no confusion. Except, of course, in the ethics department, as the lines between the good and bad are wiped out. As some guy once said, I don't know who to cheer for. That's the film's excellence in a nutshell, really.

Dantes Inferno.


< Message edited by elab49 -- 27/8/2010 2:13:30 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 #: 158
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 27/8/2010 2:11:48 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54597
Joined: 1/10/2005
19
 

 
Black Narcissus (Powell/Pressburger, 1947)
 
Powell and Pressburger made so many great films that it's often difficult to decide which one is best. I'd say that "the Life and Death of Colonel Blimp” is my favourite thanks to the humour and the epic scope of it, but there's a heap of other films sitting just below it on that list. There's "A Matter of Life and Death” and "Peeping Tom” (although the latter is, strictly speaking, just a Michael Powell film), but if you were probably to take an objective stance when commenting on which one was the greatest – not favourite, mind you, but greatest – the answer would probably be "Black Narcissus”. The film is set in the Himalayas, where a set of Anglican nuns, lead by the stern Sister Codlagh (Deborah Kerr), attempt to set up a religious community. "Black Narcissus” is brought to life, primarily, thanks to its incredible drama, which often verges on the 'melo-' but never oversteps the boundaries. Things are theatrical, yes, but that's part of the fun of a Powell and Pressburger film, and everything is perfectly balanced within the context of the film. Visually, as well, the film is spectacular, creating some wonderful shots (particularly those concerning the slopes of the mountains with the colony sticking out on them like a saw thumb) in a primarily studio-based shoot. The performances are brilliant, with everyone from Jean Simmons to Sabu doing great work, and Deborah Kerr raising the bar considerably with her nuanced, subtle, yet powerful turn as the stern and superior Sister Codlagh.
Piles


< Message edited by elab49 -- 27/8/2010 2:13:44 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 #: 159
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 27/8/2010 2:11:53 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54597
Joined: 1/10/2005
18
 

 
Moon (Jones, 2009)

Duncan Jones, formally known as Zowie Bowie, delivered his debut film last year in the form of "Moon”. The plot sees Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) working for a corporation that is mining Helium 3 from the moon, and who is almost at the end of his three year tenure. He is kept somewhat sane by Gerty (Kevin Spacey), a robotic presence on the ship, who can keep a conversation consciously going with his human ship-mate. There are a couple of flaws with Jones' debut. Firstly, the first half is certainly weaker than the second, and I feel that – maybe – the opening sequence (which shows the idea behind the company that Sam works for) is a little jarring against the rest of the film (although you can see why it was necessary). Worst of all, perhaps, are the distinct similarities between Jones' film and other, older, better sci-fi films, '2001: A Space Odyssey' being the obvious example. Not only are there aesthetic similarities between HAL and Gerty (even though their intentions to differ wildly), but the ship itself also bears a startling resemblance to that in Kubrick's film. I don't want to go on about this for too long, because Jones' film does manage to go on and carve its own identity and have its own ideas, but it's definitely the only major detracting factor. The main theme behind Jones's film is what it takes to be human, which he explores very well, and although this is a sci-fi film set on the dark side of the moon, anti-science fiction film fans shouldn't be put off because it's really a very human film at heart. And this is partly down to Rockwell, who delivers a fantastically nuanced and diverse performance as Sam, incredibly committed to a role that seems effortless when – if you think about it – must have been incredibly difficult. The film also looks impressive, which is incredible considering its comparatively meagre budget. Jones' film cost only a quarter of the budget for Danny Boyles' "Sunshine”, and is possibly even more impressive visually. The shots of the Moon, in and around the camp, Gerty's movements, and just about everything else in this film seem legitimate and almost hyper-real, which really adds to the film. And then there's the score, beautifully done by Clint Mansell, which ranks amongst the finest of the year, verging from the melodramatic to the enigmatic, without ever going overboard on sentiment or futuristic cliché. "Moon” is definitely a film you should see, even if it owes a lot of what's great about it to older, better ones.
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 #: 160
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 27/8/2010 2:11:59 PM   
elab49


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The Lady Vanishes (Hitchcock, 1938) 
 
There's a lie that's often mistaken for fact that Hitchcock's run of greatness didn't begin until he moved to America. While it's true that the majority of The Hitch's masterworks were made in America, there are several films that prove that he was making masterpieces while in Britain, including The Lady Vanishes.

The film opens in a crowded hotel in the Alps, on the brink of World War 2. A bunch of English citizens are stranded and anxious to get home. Among them is spoiled socialite Iris Henderson (Lockwood) Henderson is the priviliged abroad, she's on a ski holiday with friends, staying in the most elegant room, and she's willing to bribe the manager to have another guest thrown out of his room when he distubs her sleep. But far from being an irredeemable snob, she has her own sadness, she's preparing to return to London to marry a man she doesn't love. The guest she's had thrown out of his room is Gilbert (Redgrave), travelling Europe collecting ancient folk tunes (and practising them rather noisily) he's one of those loveable rogues that often turn up in Hitchcock films and when thrown out of his own room he decides to take over Iris's. That same night, a musician is murdered in the courtyard of the hotel. The next morning, as everyone prepares to board the train, Iris is struck by a falling flowerpot. Helped onto the train by Ms Froy, an eccentric governess, they have tea together before Iris falls asleep. When she awakes she can't find Froy again, and for various reasons everyone on the train say she was never there. The only one willing to help is Gilbert, and Iris has no choice but to team up with the most contemptible man she's ever met.

There's a freshness and lightness to Hitchcock's film that puts it into the same kind of territory as North by Northwest, but I'd rate the snappy dialogue and screwball comedy of The Lady Vanishes even higher than North... Michael Redgrave's performance is a wonder, he even manages to exude the same kind of charisma as Cary Grant as his finest. Lockwood does her best work outside of The Wicked Lady (It helps that she's the sexiest Hitchcock heroine) and Dame May Whitty is Oscar worthy as Ms. Froy There's also a whimsical and effortless charm to The Lady Vanishes that actually adds to the suspense, even as you feel fairly confident that nothing bad is going to happen to the characters you become more and more worried that it will. Iris and Gilbert are wonderful leads and Ms. Froy is a treat, but the true stars are Caldicott and Charters (Wayne and Radford), two typical middle-class Englishmen, desperate to get home for the Test Match.

The Lady Vanishes also works as both satire of and warning about Britain's blindness to the potential threat of Germany. If I wanted to I could make the case for The Lady Vanishes as a prescient piece of cinema. But it doesn't really need that kind of faux-depth. The Lady Vanishes works so well and is remembered so fondly because it's thrilling, suspensful, romantic, quirky, charming and it's part of a certain kind of cinema that Britain does so well. 7

Rawlinson.


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RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 27/8/2010 2:12:05 PM   
elab49


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A Close Shave (Park, 1995)
 
In the third outing for the dynamic duo, Wallace and Gromit have started a window cleaning business. One of their clients is a wool shop owned by Wendolene Ramsbottom. Wallace finds himself attracted to Wendolene but he's unaware that her wool comes from a sheep-rustling ring that's led by her malevolent dog, Preston. The short opens with one of the kidnapped sheep escaping from Preston's lorry into Wallace & Gromit's house. The sheep causes havoc in the house but is adopted and named Shaun. Wallace and Wendolene get closer and he finds out that her father was also an inventor. Preston, who is actually a robot invented by Wendolene's father frames Gromit for the sheep thefts, but with the aid of Wallace and the sheep, Gromit makes a jailbreak and sets out to stop Preston before he turns the stolen sheep into dog food.

With A Close Shave, Aardman expanded the world of Wallace & Gromit even further. They feel more integrated into their environment than in previous shorts, they introduced a more deadly villain and Wendolene became only the second speaking character in the series, with vocal duty going to Anne Reid. Of course the greatest addition to the W & G universe was little Shaun, he stole the show here and he would go on to his own hilarious television series. What's so wonderful about Nick Park's creations is that every second of the films feel like they're made with absolute love and respect both of the characters and of the audience.
Rawlinson

 


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RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 28/8/2010 11:14:55 AM   
elab49


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The Ladykillers (Mackendrick, 1955)
 
SPOILERS AHEAD

Synopsis: Five criminals pose as a string quartet in order to conduct a robbery.

This subversive, macabre comedy is rightly regarded as one of the finest achievements of the legendary Ealing Studio. Alec Guinness plays the leader of a gang of crooks. They rent a room owned by a dithering old woman, Mrs. Wilberforce, and pass themselves off as a string quartet in order to plan a robbery in which the landlady will unknowingly play a large role. All goes well until Mrs. Wilberforce discovers their plan, they then have to keep her quiet, by any means they can.

Guinness is mesmerising in the lead role. His performance, basically a tribute to Alastair Sim, shows exactly why Guinness was one of the most chameleon like of actors, it's not just that he's buried under a lot of make-up, he seems to change within to play the sinister, murderous Professor Marcus. He's backed by a fine cast, most notably Herbert Lom's ice-cold killer, Louis and Cecil Parker as the most gentlemanly of all the criminals. Danny Green and Peter Sellers round off the gang of criminals, but Sellers feels too restrained at times. Despite Guinness's incredible work, the film is stolen by Katie Johnson's dotty old Mrs Wilberforce, the annoying innocent caught up in the gang's plot.

It could be argued that the film is actually an examination of post-war Britain. Mrs Wilberforce lives in a house battered by war damage but she still retains the old-fashioned traditions of 'stiff upper-lip' Britain, remaining calm even when discovering the criminal activities that have taken place under her roof. Guinness et al represent moden Britain, the people who have lost their way in the post-war environment and are struggling to live within the rules of old Britain. Of course, the more subversive (and interesting) reading is that Mrs Wilberforce is conservative middle-England at its worst, dithering its way through life yet still managing to hold back the progress achieved by a younger generation. Of course in this case that progress just happens to be a robbery.

Whatever underlying plot elements you choose to spot, the simple fact is that The Ladykillers is a riot, a hilarious, twisted black comedy that ranks along the greatest comedy films the world has to offer. It also makes an interesting companion film to another dark Ealing classic, Kind Hearts And Coronets. In Coronets, a mild-mannered man murders his way to success, here five hardened criminals lose their fortune because they're unable to kill one old woman.

Rawlinson
 
One of my two very favourite Ealing comedies, the other being "Kind Hearts and Coronets, "the Ladykillers” is the story of five hardened criminals who plan a job in a small town and decide to hold their council in the house of a harmless old lady, where the ringleader – Professor Marcus (Guinness) – happens to be living. The cleverest bits are those at the start, when the gang tries to cover up their illegal activities by posing as a brass band or the heist itself (which is as close to perfection as movie heists go, and that's including more serious attempts like "the Asphalt Jungle” or "the Killing”). It's meticulous and realistic, and you begin to question whether or not this is actually a comedy. But it's the closing half an hour that earns "the Ladykillers” the right to be called a comedy, because it manages to exude to most raucous humour from some very dark situations. As the men argue over the loot and attempt to flee from the new wised-up old lady, they get knocked off one by one by each other as double crosses become triple crosses. It's similar to "Kind Hearts and Coronets” in that it draws humour from death, but different in that it's more spontaneous rather than planned out, and the surprise factor adds a lot of laughs to proceedings. "The Ladykillers” might not be the most outright funny film ever made, but it's certainly one of the cleverest comedies of the 20th century and one of the darkest, too.
Piles


< Message edited by elab49 -- 28/8/2010 11:20:25 AM >


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RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 28/8/2010 11:15:29 AM   
elab49


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Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (Powell/Pressburger, 1943)
 
Powell and Pressburger's epic, near-three hour classis is the story of Clive Candy, a military man quite literally for life. As we move through the Boer War, World War I, and World War II, Candy is a mainstay of the British army and we watch him move through the ranks from private to general, and then back down to a member of the home guard. But more than anything, "the Life and Death of Colonel Blimp" is the story of Candy's loves, all played by Deborah Kerr. I don't want to spoil it, but watching this man's heart break without him even realizing it until it's too late is, well, heartbreaking. But, amongst this tale of love lost, gained, and lost again, there's also an awful lot of wit and humour. Candy's main characteristic is his unashamed Britishness (is that even a word? Red squiggly line says no), and how he's never, ever willing to let his morals or his principles slip for anything or anyone. His stiff upper lip and his unwillingness to compromise are what makes him who he is, and if he can't win with a clean conscience he doesn't want to win at all. Roger Livesey's performance is somewhat astonishing. Spanning forty years and a huge change of appearance, his darkly comic delivery and impressive physical metamorphosis really make it a performance to remember. Kerr, too, is impressive playing three different roles (although the similarities between all three are noticeable, and her "Black Narcissus" performance more than trumps this one). But the true star is Anton Wallbrook, playing Candy's Garman friend Theo. Highly sympathetic in a role that could have been forgotten very easily, Wallbrook transforms a supporting character into the most memorable thing about a very memorable film. Powell and Pressburger's drama is a comment on war and its hypocrisies, whilst at the same time being a devilishly funny comedy about the idealistic and very British central character.
Piles.
 


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RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 28/8/2010 11:16:02 AM   
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Dead Man's Shoes (Meadows, 2004)

'God will forgive them. He'll forgive them and allow them into Heaven. I can't live with that.' And so begins the vengeance movie to end all vengeance movies, not that there's anything drastically original about Dead Man's Shoes. The simple tale of a man returning home to exact revenge on the bullies of his mentally impaired brother, complete with the typical slow-burning flashbacks to build up the extent of the crime, is little different to most other vengeance flicks. But where Dead Man's Shoes excels against its contemporaries is in the acting, cinematography and script departments.

Yes, who would have thought that Matlock, Derbyshire could be shot so beautifully? Whilst the likes of Old Boy glimmers with style, there's something a good deal more terrifying about the action being encapsulated in this small bubble of middle England. The normality of the situation, turning credibly more oppressive and stifling as Paddy Considine's utterly brilliant anti-hero begins to taunt and toy the rag-tag crew of petty criminals is masterful. More so because director Shane Meadows lets the audience sympathise with said criminals as Richard's brand of personal justice grows into something much more sinister. Staring into the abyss and seeing ones own reflection glance back at them has never been such compelling viewing.

On top of this, Tony Kebbell is brilliantly understated as the younger brother, there's some fine subtle humour (see the 'goonies' pimp my ride Citroen) juxtaposed against otherwise harrowing scenes and several stand out moments that seemingly kick sand in the face of Hollywood's finest. Considine's and Gary Stretch's meeting when each weighs the other up is tantalising, intense and to the point in everyway that Pacino and De Niro failed to manage in Heat. Sure, it's hellishly dark, but Dead Man's Shoes is perhaps the finest British film you're ever likely to see.


Clownfoot


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RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 28/8/2010 11:16:43 AM   
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Shaun of the Dead (Wright, 2004)
 
Shaun of the Dead's strengths lie in the casting and the writing, and the filmmakers know this, playing to them. Every actor is impeccably cast, with the only possible slip-up being Ashfield, who I'm not the biggest fan of in her role as Shaun's girlfriend-turned-ex Liz. Pegg makes a believable and likeable everyman, and his comic timing and delivery is impeccable. He's ably supported by Frost, who, while better in Hot Fuzz, is still great to watch as the obnoxious and uncouth Ed. The other supporting actors, too, are bang on, Moran, Nighy and Peter Serafinowicz standing out in particular as the self-righteous David, Shaun's amiable yet distant stepfather, and Shaun's short-tempered flatmate ("IT'S FOUR IN THE FUCKING MORNING!”) respectively. The writing, too, is fantastic, with brilliant dialogue and sharp set pieces aplenty (the scene where Ed tells Shaun the stories of everyone sitting in the pub is classic). And yet, when the script calls for emotion and drama, the actors and the script never overdo it – the scene where Shaun is faced with shooting his bitten mother is surprisingly hard to watch, and the actors involved, Pegg and Moran in particular, sell it perfectly. 

But then, it's hard to discuss comedy and expect everyone to agree; luckily, I am sure even the most hardened, nit-picking cynic can agree that Wright is a great director, and Shaun of the Dead is not just hilarious (or not, depending on your viewpoint), but technically accomplished as well. Wright knows exactly how to handle a camera and shoot a scene, and the cinematography is clever and interesting throughout. Shots such as the tracking shot where Shaun walks from his flat to the dairy and back again, which is repeated twice to outstanding effect, and the shot where Shaun, Ed and a zombie jam in the middle of a road, establish Wright as a visually intriguing director, and his work on Shaun of the Dead is simply outstanding. But then, the whole film is pretty much outstanding, a hilarious and fun film that may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it's certainly mine.

Pigeon Army.
 
 
 


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RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 28/8/2010 11:17:29 AM   
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Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Jones/Gilliam, 1975)
Sketch show comedians rarely transfer well to the big screen. Magicians wasn't great. For every Animal House SNL alumni produced 20 clunkers. Even the greatest flopped in That Riviera Touch. But the Monty Python team made 2 comedy classics that remain in many top 10 lists today.

After And Now For Something Completely Different flopped the Pythons made this last gasp attempt at film. Based more than a little loosely on the Grail romances, popular in the Middle Ages, it was filmed on a very small budget (hence coconuts not horses and the plain titles) to a very tight timescale (not helped by bad weather and breaking equipment) on a fairly calamitous shoot. The non-directing (sober) Pythons were worried about a concentration on visuals, not humour (and in Palin's case being stuck on his knees eating mud for days on end, and in Cleese's been left precariously on tall windy peaks). But somehow it all came together, necessity never being more obviously the mother of invention (thus the Swedish subtitles. And the mooses (?). And the llamas).

The film is very close to their TV roots – both visually (it look more like the show than the later Life of Brian) and it is not a million miles from a series of sketches with a reasonably coherent narrative built round (and, unusually for Python, women playing women). Hence we do get the Knights of the Round Table on their different quests (although I don't recall Lancelot slaughtering that particular wedding party), and the (remarkably stubborn) Black Knight. But we also get detailed discussions on varieties of swallow. And various flying cows. And stroppy Frenchmen. And, of course, a particularly homicidal bunny.

Full of quotable lines, memorable scenes (my favourite – "help! I'm being repressed!”) and still funnier than most films made since, it has also generated a hugely popular (and really not bad) musical.
elab49   

 
 
King Arthur of the Britons (Graham Chapman), along with his faithful knights or the round table (the rest of them), has been entrusted by God with the quest for the Holy Grail. It's a quest that will take them to the far reaches of Britain, to Tim the Enchanter and to the bridge of death, through talk of unladen swallows and silly Camelot. The first real Python feature film, "Holy Grail” is a great follow-up to Flying Circus in that it operates a similar stream of consciousness concept. Obviously, there's a narrative present here to tie it all together, but it's such a loose narrative that at times the thing can feel like a series of sketches featuring recurring characters. Obviously, the nature of this leads to the film being a little inconsistent (the scene in the Castle Anthrax is the weakest of the film, and the Pythons know it, asking us if we think it should have been cut), but when it's good it's really, really good. It's hard to talk about this film without it becoming a list of the funniest, most irreverent bits, and so I'll just conform to this whole heartedly; the opening credits, the encounter with the Black Knight, the Camelot song, the Knights Who Say 'Ni', the bloodbath courtesy of Lancelot, and so many more brilliantly Pythonesque moments sit amongst the funniest movie moments of all time, and the fact that it was done on such a shoe string budget makes it all-the-more impressive. The rickety aesthetics just add to it, giving the film a kitsch feel that, no doubt, directors Jones (who introduced the film at the showing I went to last night) and Gilliam fully intended. The genius of the rest of the film certainly outweigh the few out-of-place flat bits, but "Holy Grail” is still only the second best Python film. That's hardly an insult, though, is it?
HomerSimpson_Esq
 


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RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 29/8/2010 12:35:00 PM   
elab49


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The Wicker Man (Hardy, 1973)
 
"The Wicker Man" is the story of an island called Summerisle, and a missing person investigation conducted by Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward). A young girl named Rowan (Gerry Cowper) has been missing for weeks, but the locals claim she never existed. Whether this is a horror film or not escapes me, because the scares (or rather chills) stem from something much deeper than the gore that many of today's films resort too. It's more a suspense thriller with a creepy set of characters, headed up by Christopher Lee's wonderfully eccentric yet devilishly devious Lord Summerisle. Rituals are held on the island that have stemmed from pagan ones, and the townspeople have come to believe that their healthy crops are a gift from God. It handles the religion thing much better than something like "the Exorcist", and that's because it never lets religion overwhelm the battle between the two leading characters, Woodward's Howie and Lee's Summerisle. Instead, religion is only the source of the dispute, and the battle between these two men is what's on display here. Summerisle is about to lose the faith of the townspeople, and although they don't realize that, he already has. And Howie is the deciding factor. If Summerisle can complete his plot, the people will support him for another year. If not, Howie will convert the people back to a more socially acceptable – yet equally ridiculous – religion. All of this, capped off with the wonderfully realized and haunting finale, and what you have is a horror classic.
Piles.

On the Western Isles of Scotland lies Summerisle, a small island soon to be visited by a mainland police officer, Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward) Howie has received a letter claiming that a 12 year old girl is due to be sacrificed in a Pagan fertility rite by the islanders. He flies to the island to find the missing girl, Rowan, only to find the community deny all knowledge of her existence. The community is led by Lord Summerisle (Lee), a witty and charming man who just happens to be represent everything Howie despises. He has rejected Christianity in favour of the old ways and he encourages his islanders to follow his example. The clash of beliefs between Howie and Summerisle provides one of the key themes of The Wicker Man, the idea that any religion can be dangerous when taken to extremes. Howie finds his aircraft damaged and he is stuck on the island, caught in a mystery he can't comprehend with people he won't even try to understand.

The islanders believe in open sexuality, something that greatly offends Howie. The inn-keeper's daughter, Willow (Britt Ekland) is sexually available, initiating a teenage boy into sex, revelling in a bawdy song 'The Landlord's Daughter' that the men of the village sing for her. She even tries to seduce Howie in one of the film's most memorable scenes, where she dances naked, thrusting her body against the wall that separates them while singing the haunting 'Willow's Song'. Howie refuses because his religion forbids pre-marital sex. The school teacher devotes lessons to phallic symbols, people have sex in the open and young virgins leap naked through flames as part of a fertility dance.

Howie finds the islanders beliefs an insult to his Christian background and his disdain towards them leads him deeper into trouble. Howie is priggish and unsympathetic, but he's on the side of right, at least as far as trying to help a girl who may be in danger. He's both devout Christian and sexually repressed virgin and he thinks the practices of the island are Paganistic, causing him to look down on the islanders, he makes his disgust evident at every turn. Forgetting that while he may be the police, he is also the outsider. He isolates himself through religious attitude, social attitude, sexual repression and his own arrogance. One of the most memorable aspects of The Wicker Man is the way it blurs the lines between good and evil and turns the usual code of horror morality on its head. Here the person who refuses to have promiscuous sex is punished for doing so. In the world of The Wicker Man, virginity is not a virtue.

Anthony Shaffer's Chinese Box of a puzzle script mixes a mystery with Pagan rituals and a sense of creeping dread to create one of the most accomplished horror films of all time. For a long time The Wicker Man was an overlooked cult film, but in recent years it's started to get rehabilitated and accepted as a classic but the mainstream. Of course this has led to people who look down on horror rushing to tell you this isn't a horror film, it's a thriller or a 'gothic mystery'. Ignore them. It's horror through and through.

The Wicker Man has an incredible location, fantastic Celtic music, a superb ensemble cast that includes career-best performances from both Lee and Woodward and it's an intelligent and frightening piece of cinema. It also has the greatest and bleakest ending of all time. Most people with even the slightest familiarity with the film are aware of the ending and as such it could lose its power for some, but for me it still has a crushing, heartbreaking inevitability and it's a perfect example of the kind of power that cinema is capable of when it's at its very best.

Rawlinson.


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RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 29/8/2010 1:28:25 PM   
elab49


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Naked (Leigh, 1993)
 
The film opens with what's either a rape or rough sex gone wrong in a Manchester alley. Johnny (Thewlis) is chased off by the girl and he steals a car and heads for the house of his ex-girlfriend Louise (Sharp) in London. Johnny is intelligent and eloquent, but something has warped his view of the world and he confronts it with reckless and violent abandon. When he arrives at Louise's he first seduces her flatmate, Sophie (Cartlidge) before spending the day wandering among London's forgotten. Johnny spouts his nihilistic philosophy to anyone willing to listen, and even to those who aren't. Possibly the film's most memorable scene takes place during this trawl of the streets when he spends time with a lonely night watchman. All the while Louise's landlord, the psychotic upper-class Jeremy, spends the film raping and abusing those around him. Johnny receives a violent beating and heads back to Louise's flat, but after a confrontation with Jeremy he's left to wander in the world again.

Mike Leigh's fame had really come from bittersweet, often bleak, black comedies. At times, in something like Abigail's Party, they approached real darkness, but he'd never been more brutal or confrontational as he was here. This is a critique of Thatcher's Britain through the viewpoint of an isolated and alienated character raging at the society. Johnny has obviously some kind of behavioural problems or personality disorder, but he's also highly intelligent, something that feeds his despair about the world as he's smart enough to realise just how trapped he is. Johnny is a man who hates the culture around him but his reference-heavy speech shows he's incapable of escaping it. As much as some of Johnny's actions are repellent and as misanthropic (rather than misogynistic as he's often accused of) as he is, there's something attractive, even likable, about him. To Leigh's credit, he never condemns Johnny for any of his actions. Even the opening rape might not be a rape, Johnny approaches the consensual sex with Sophie in the same violent way as he does in the opening scene, so there's the possibility that it was a consensual sex session that got a lot rougher than the woman was expecting. Certainly Johnny does nothing to endear himself to women, but he doesn't endear himself to men either. He seems incapable of interacting with people other than through sarcasm and abuse and I think it does a great disservice to the film to reduce it simply to gender issues, there's far more to this film than sexism, and even if there is misogyny in the character that's something different from there being misogyny in the film's viewpoint. I don't think there was a character as complex and layered as this anywhere else in 90s cinema. And Thewlis gives the performance of his life, which makes it even more of a shame that he's never had another role on anywhere near the same level, even in his other work with Leigh. The film's real hate is saved for Jeremy, who is a loathsome sadist. We expect a big confrontation between Jeremy and Johnny, but instead we get something anti-climactic, as if this was never where Leigh was interested in taking us. Some people read the film as Jeremy being what Johnny would have been if Johnny was born into a different class, but I think Leigh is more interested in how they're different than in how they're similar.

Naked is also Leigh's most visually impressive film, filled with stark imagery on a level that Leigh hadn't captured before or since. It's also his most angry and passionate film. It's been noted that the characters here are without any kind of family unit, something rare in Leigh's work, and the sense of isolation and despair that comes from these people is palpable. The cast are excellent, but of course nobody can come close to Thewlis, and like so many of the truly great performances, Oscar completely ignored him. Never mind, because this is a performance of rare insight, courage and ferociousness. Naked is a difficult film, but so many of the best are.

Rawlinson


"Naked” is the story of protagonist Johnny (David Thewlis), who leaves London for Manchester to avoid a beating from the family of a girl he raped. Whilst there, he meets an ex-girlfriend, has sex with her flatmate, becomes homeless, and rants at people. More a series of interlinked segments than a film with one overarching narrative, "Naked” is more of a character study than anything else. Thewlis' Johnny is an uncompromisingly savage beast, one so self-loathing and alienated from the rest of society that he is forced to shout at it from the sidelines. Thewlis' cynical portrayal of the man is wonderful, making us both hate him and sympathize with him simultaneously, which is quite difficult to do considering how much of an arsehole he is. Many of the things he says and does are difficult to stomach, and Leigh's uncompromising direction makes it more than a little bit of a hard watch, but it's also a rewarding one. The commentary on urban alienation is certainly worthwhile, but at two hours long it's difficult to stay the cause simply because the vast majority of characters are so unlikeable and contrary. Indeed, Brian the security guard (Peter Wight) is the only 'normal' character here who is presented in anything but a harsh light, but these are the kind of people that Leigh is attacking (the London bourgeois, highlighted more by Greg Crutwell's Jeremy but present in almost every single character) in the first place. The uncompromising savageness of the film may be difficult to stomach, but it's also the film's crowning success in that it doesn't let filmic conventions (after all, there are no good guys and bad guys) get in the way of its point. Also look out for some fantastic supporting performances, primarily from Katrin Cartlidge, Greg Cruttwell, and Peter Wight, who all excel beneath the vast shadow of David Thewlis.

Piles


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RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 29/8/2010 2:48:38 PM   
elab49


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A Clockwork Orange (Kubrick, 1971)
 
Kubrick's classic 1971 futuristic thriller about identity and social conformity is as powerful and poignant now as it was almost forty years ago. What's more, it's still relevant, with droves and droves of similarly dressed groups of kid with one, conformist mentality and ideology still existing today. Plot-wise, it's the story of Alex de Large (Malcom MacDowell), a naughty young man who spends his days sleeping and his nights breaking the law. A fan of Beethoven, ultra-violence and a bit of the old in-out-in-out, Alex has become one of the cinema's most iconic characters. Decked out completely in white apart from a bowler hat, the lead character and his droogies all contribute to Kubrick's distinct visual style. This could be Kubrick's best effort in the director's chair, utilizing every technique he has in his arsenal to create an imposing, claustrophobic atmosphere. It's no secret that I'm a big fan of his, and "A Clockwork Orange" is one of the films that got me into him. It's flamboyant, yes, but it's grounded in a dark, sinister envisioning of our future, and this context amplifies the fright ten-fold. Malcom MacDowell, as our narrator and tour guide around the nightmarish future Britain, is wonderful, but it's the script that is most impressive. Adapted from Anthony Burgess' incredibly lyrical novel of the same name, Kubrick's script maintains the spirit of the book whilst at the same time making it more cinematic and, in some ways, better. The horribly tagged on ending, where Alex finally sees the error of his ways, is cut off, leading to a much more powerful, haunting, and ambiguous ending. The employment of "nadsat", Burgess' own dialect of English that incorporates hints of Russian and cochne rhyming slang, is a brave choice, but one that has paid off. The film was banned for years and years by Kubrick himself because off the copy cat murders that followed, but for anybody with even half a brain cell, this is a poignant study on social conformity and a totalitarian society
Piles.
 


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RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 29/8/2010 3:47:47 PM   
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Brazil (Gilliam, 1985)
 
Two Line Synopsis: In the undisclosed future a bureaucrat attempts to correct an administrative error. It is not as easy as it sounds.

From one 80s fantasy, to a very different 80s fantasy. Where The Princess Bride was a straight story in an castle and magic type world, Brazil is anything but a straight story, in a very realistically portrayed alternative retro-future. It has imagination coming out of its very pores, and is one of the most visually inventive films I've ever seen. This is Terry Gilliam at the very top
of a career that spans superb examples of film from the likes of Time Bandits, Twelve Monkeys and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. The inspired mix of fantasy, science fiction, top
cal commentary, and Gilliam's own unique brand of weird allow for this, his masterpiece, to come into being.

Of course, as with the best films, there was a troubled production. Originally released in a very different edit, an hour cut from it, and a happy ending tagged on (I think there was some other SciFi film from the 80s that had a happy ending tagged on...) audiences were initially denied the true vision. I still haven't brought myself to watch this version, despite owning the Criterion Collection of the film, simply because it would be so radically different from the film I love so much. Brazil is Gilliam channeling Orwell. 1984, released the previous year was the film of Orwell's classic novel that spawned such phrases as Room 101, Big Brother, and so forth (such a shame those associations are now utterly different). But it was Brazil that made the more effective commentary on future society, with its authoritarian state, and endless bureaucracy. The Ministry of Information is a morally empty place where rules are rules, and there is no deviation from them. Enter Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) as our protagonist, an employee of Ian Holm's, who dreams of flying free of the oppression of the state. However, when a fly lands on a sheet of paper in a typewriter, and makes "Tuttle" read as "Buttle", it starts a chain of events that spiral out of control, and include a host of high quality British acting talent, and a cameo turn by Robert De Niro (it would appear that British Fantasy films are always good for a De Niro cameo, as Stardust proved!).

As far as Dystopian visions of the future go, I can only think of one film that beats Brazil. Brazil however, is a constantly inventive, entertaining, frightening, funny, prophetic, depressing, wonderful film.

HomerSimpson_Esq

Ah, what a film. Currently sitting comfortably amongst both my twenty favourite films and my list of twenty greatest films, Brazil is a dystopian nightmare akin to 1984 or Alphaville in its portrayal of an ever-watching, totalitarian state. The observations may be rather obvious (receipts for receipts and laws on government plumbers only point at beurocracy as a crime), but there's no denying that this is a very entertaining film along the way and that it's messages - although telegraphed and punched home with a little too much veracity - are correct in their intentions. Gilliam, director of so many near-classics, has made his one true masterpiece here; a film about human control and beurocracy that centres around Sam Lowry (Jonathan Price in surely his greatest ever screen role), a records clerk who is only allowed to be free in his dreams. Brazil, despite being an infinitely clever and poignant film, is one that is very hard to write about, even more so when you are trying to write a spoiler-free appraisal, because the best moments come at the end. Particularly, the conclusion itself, which is a poignant, powerful and ultimately heartbreaking moment that both satirizes Hollywood convention and continues its trend of dreams being the only place where one can be free in a world plagued by oppression and control.  
Piles


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RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 29/8/2010 4:38:34 PM   
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Kind Hearts and Coronets (Hamer, 1949)
 
Dennis Price plays Louis Mazzini, a poor young man with ties to a noble family. His mother had once been part of the wealthy D'Ascoyne family, but she was snubbed and disinherited because she married for love rather than status. Following her death she is denied burial in the family plot, and Louis swears vengeance for her memory. Biding his time, Louis murders his way through the remaining members of the D'Ascoyne family, eliminating all the heirs that stand between him and the coveted Dukedom of Chalfont. Along the way he loses his childhood sweetheart, Sibella, but finds himself more suitably matched by Edith, a widow one of the murdered D'Ascoynes. But when Sibella's new husband commits suicide, she tries to get Louis back, and there's a high price to pay if he refuses.

How to talk about the dark-hearted wonder that is Kind Hearts and Coronets, well let's start with the performances. Alec Guinness usually gets most of the claim and it's difficult to deny that great man does do some of his best work here, brilliantly playing eight different members of the D'Ascoyne family and making each one of them distinct and memorable, even the ones that are little more than thumbnail sketches. I think the unfortunate result is that Dennis Price's performance is often overlooked, which is somewhat startling considering how he dominates the film. Price would never get a role this meaty again. Louis is one of cinema's great anti-heroes, murdering his way to a title, yet never really losing audience sympathy, if the family hadn't been so horrible to his mother he wouldn't need to kill them. So it's all their fault. Right? Price gets to spread his wings through various disguises without ever losing the deadpan charm and cool restraint that make Louis such a delight.

But beyond being a gleeful comedy of murder it's also a comedy of manners. Kind Hearts... examines the nature of privilege, birthright, the restraints that society imposes upon us, (one of the D'Ascoynes, the nicest one, wouldn't have died if his wife didn't insist he abstain from alcohol) and the lengths we will go to in order to achieve and maintain a certain status in life. There seems to be this rather idiotic opinion in certain section of the media that Ealing Films are synonymous with quirky little tales of middle-England. What films like The Ladykillers and Kind Hearts go to prove is that there was a black heart beating at the very core of Ealing, and that they made their most entertaining films when they decided to be wicked. Kind Hearts isn't just one of the great British films, it's one of cinema's great films. -- Rawlinson.


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RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 29/8/2010 5:30:20 PM   
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Trainspotting (Boyle, 1996)
 
"Choose life." This hollow mantra is oft-vocalised in Danny Boyle's sophomore film, a kinetic, confrontational tale of one man and his battle with drugs, crime, and his friends. It's a cunning way to open the film, equating "life" with the most dreary, ugly, bourgeois aspects of our everyday consumer existence, and it makes the life Mark Renton and his "so-called friends" live almost inviting. That invitation is extended for all of five seconds until Boyle snatches it away, revealing to us the hell he's spared us - because, despite the very real high one gets off heroin, that comes with a whole world of depravity, ugliness and pain. It's then that we realise that, while our life ain't to grand, our narrator, Renton, isn't one to talk, and by the end of the film, even he's come to realise this in the most unmissable of ways. Boyle and screenwriter John Hodge adapt Irvine Welsh's novel with an eye to present the reality of the junkie, but not in a kitchen sink drama kind of way. Boyle's direction and editing, combining with the slightly off-the-wall nature of the characters and the performances that bring them to life, makes the highs heavenly and the lows hellish; every emotion is heightened so that we can feel every curve and pockmark; Boyle's camera catches the depravity and darkness on screen and makes sure we don't forget it. Trainspotting is a cinematic rollercoaster ride in a very true sense - every dip and dive is felt, every climb uphill comes with the knowledge that just over the hill you will plummet at a much faster speed. It's an exhilarating and unforgettable ride, and its unflinching, honest (yet stylised) portrayal of drug use and drug addiction is probably one of the best arguments for "choosing life" to ever be put on film.
Pigeon Army.


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RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 29/8/2010 6:28:42 PM   
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Lawrence of Arabia (Lean, 1962)
 
David Lean's epic vision remains as marvellous as ever: a bold and brilliant film, at once grand and personal. In telling the story of T.E. Lawrence, a British researcher and traveller who aided the Arab Revolt of 1916 to '18, it marries character study and spectacle, drama and wonder like nothing before or since. Lean makes the most of the vast canvas, filling the wide screen with breathtaking imagery, including the oft-celebrated "mirage" sequence. As Lawrence, Peter O'Toole gives the performance of a lifetime: an intense, utterly human turn. He shakes with indignation, doubt, righteousness, rage and self-pity, as he turns from bold adventurer to callous, murderous wreck. Alec Guinness, Claude Rains, Omar Sharif and Anthony Quinn are all fine, but one can barely find time to watch them.

Favourite bit: O'Toole races across the plains on horseback to defy the fates. Returning to the group, he admonishes their philosophy, barking: "Nothing is written".

Rick_7
 
I saw this about 5 years ago for the first time. Given that I was about 10, the fact that I loved this 4-hour epic back then as well, it shows what an achievement the whole film is.

It's fair to say it defines epic. From O'Toole's performance (while I wouldn't go as far as Premiere in saying it's the best ever, it would probably make my top 10) to the score (you've probably heard parts of it even if you haven't seen the actual film), everything about it is extraordinary.

The desert serves as another character. It is a setting for death, friendship, bravery, and endurance.
The film certainly doesn't lack great characters, actors, or performances. The aforementioned O'Toole, Sharif's brilliant portrayal of Sheriff Ali, who's torn by his loyalty for Lawrence but also his distaste for what the latter has become, Quinn's ferocious Auda abu Tayi, Rains, Quayle, Guinness, I could go on.
The scope of the film allows for many brilliant scenes. In the unlikely case you haven't seen it, SPOILERS:
- The moment when Lawrence rescues Gasim in the desert, and the following scene where he has to kill him.
- Lawrence charging on the Turkish brigade.
- The sun rising in the desert.

The film is not very historically accurate and as a character in the film puts it, the Arab Revolt is a sideshow of a sideshow. That doesn't mean the film isn't significant. Lawrence is brilliantly written and acted, who cares about his height?

I won't bore you with any more superlatives, but Lawrence is indeed one of the greatest epics ever made, and even its running length doesn't detract from the experience. Few films can be described as absolutely timeless, but Lawrence is one. Gorgeously shot, brilliantly scored, excellently written and superbly acted.

MilesMesservy007


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RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 29/8/2010 8:58:53 PM   
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Wallace and Gromit in The Wrong Trousers (Park, 1993)
 
The film begins on Gromit's birthday. But because of the huge pile of unpaid bills, Gromit's presents consist of a new collar and a pair of robotic trousers. The trousers are big robotic creations and they're intended to be used to take Gromit for walks. Wallace decides the only way to make money is to rent out a room. Their lodger is a sinister penguin. The penguin first takes over Gromit's bedroom and then Wallace's attention. Feeling pushed out, Gromit leaves home. When Gromit leaves, the mysterious penguin begins to make some alterations on the robotic trousers. While looking for a place to stay, Gromit stumbles across the penguin's true identity, Feathers McGraw - wanted criminal. Meanwhile Feathers has trapped Wallace in the modified robotic trousers and has plans to steal a diamond. It's up to Gromit to save the day in a frantic and thrilling battle with Feathers that culminates in a hair-raising ride along a model train set.

The claymation animation is sharper than A Grand Day Out and the inventions seem more high-tech as well, from the trapdoor that drops Wallace out of his bed to the trousers themselves. The emotional depth of the characters is also improved from A Grand Day Out and the scene with Gromit leaving is actually quite moving. This was the short where Wallace and Gromit became national icons and it wasn't just the smoothing out of the rough edges that make this work so well, it's Park refining his characters and capturing the qualities and quirks that make them so beloved. It's difficult to imagine Wallace & Gromit being created in any other country because there's something about them that feels uniquely British. In many ways that eccentric Britishness makes them feel like refugees from an Ealing film and I think that's partly what's so appealing about them. They feel timeless, but not dated or antiquated. The Wrong Trousers is the peak of their glories, but that's not to say what came later was in any way bad. There's not a Wallace & Gromit outing that's anything less than a five star classic, but this is the one of the most exciting and funny animations ever created. -

Rawlinson.


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RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 29/8/2010 9:59:34 PM   
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Monty Python and the Life of Brian (Jones, 1979)
 
Two Line Synopsis: A baby is born in a neighbouring stable to the Son of God. His name is Brian, and (altogether now) he's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy.

When I posted my review for Holy Grail one or two people said that, while they enjoyed it, they thought Life of Brian was superior. I had a little laugh with myself, thinking, "a ha, me too! But they don't know that!". I'm easily amused. Which, incidentally, has more than a little to do with my love for this film. For when a comedy of this quality comes along, it's hard not to be amused. In the running for the title of My Favourite Comedy Ever, Life of Brian is a hysterical heretical (not blasphemous, as is often presumed) trip through an alternative biblical tale. Having grown up in a particularly Christian household, I am at least thankful for the biblical knowledge garnered during this time to further deepen my appreciation for this masterpiece.

So, why when Holy Grail has the bigger number of laughs, as I think I said in the review of said film, do I consider Life of Brian superior? The main reason is that these are to be considered as films, and as such need to work as films. Holy Grail, for all its multitude genius, comes across as a series of vignettes in much the same way as the series did. There is a very loose connection, as the picaresque adventures of King Arthur and his Knights unfold, but the film suffers from a lack of focus (which, thankfully, does not impact the humour, hence its deserving place in my list). Life of Brian however brings together a series of on-the-nose jokes into a very real, and very

topical story that is self-contained and referential, if not reverential. What we have is the story of a man who was born at the same time as Jesus, and the events of his life. He falls in with the People's Front of Judea (or the Judean People's Front, I always get the two confused so) and their chaotic terrorist activities against the establishment ("what have they ever done for us?"), gets an impromptu lesson in Latin (which still sends shivers down my spine at the memory of Latin lessons), and attends a gathering where cheesemakers are to be blesséd. Little vignettes pepper the film, such as Brian's attempt to buy a beard but, "won't 'aggle", the stoning itself, the ex-leper ("there's no pleasing some people", which is apparently just what Jesus said) the whole Welease Woderick scene, along with guest appearance by Biggus Dickus, and much, much more. What we get is a seriously funny film with some outlandish humour that digs not at God Himself, but at the organised religion that sadly surrounds Him. The scenes as the crowd ignore anything he says to the contrary with Catch-22-style arguments, worship his sandal, and start an alternative religion around Brian are absolutely stupendous in their frightening accuracy. And all the funnier for it.

In a sense it's sad that the Pythons had to grow up and do documentaries, travelogues, more straight acting, and such like. Indeed, Terry Gilliam, the least vocal Python on account of his non-British accent, is still truest to those roots, making films as crazy as anything he drew in his time with the Pythons. However, this is their legacy. Several excellent TV series, radio shows, and four films of varying quality of which Life of Brian is the pinnacle. If you have yet to see this, and (hopefully figuratively) pee your pants at the humour, then you're a lucky, lucky bastard. If you have seen this and loved it, then, well, I guess you're lucky too. You win either way - which is what happens when you always look on the bright side of life*.

*hands up who started whistling then? Eh?

 
HomerSimpson_Esq
 
 


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RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 29/8/2010 9:59:40 PM   
elab49


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The Third Man (Reed, 1949)
 
In the 1940s, Carol Reed made a series of good films. "Odd Man Out" and "the Stars Look Down" are the pick of the bunch, and there are a plethora of movies just below that level. However, it wouldn't be until his last film of the decade that he would make his best of his career. What's more, it could very well be the best film that has ever been made. The story begins with Holly Martins (Joseph Cotton) arriving in Vienna. Promised a job from his friend, Harry Lime (Orson Welles), he's shocked to find him dead upon his arrival. From here, we're treated to a winding trail of murder and deceit, all through the eyes of our humble tour guide. There really isn't a bad thing I can say about this film. Everything, for me, is absolutely perfect. The direction, for one, is sublime. Carol Reed shoots with his camera skewed to reflect the perspectives of his characters, as if they can never truly have a clean view of what's going on. Pre-conceived notions and loyalties to friends skew what they should be seeing, and instead we simply get what is their view of things. The score is brilliant. Anton Karas' zither music builds up along with the plot, framing the action wonderfully and heightening the tension. The writing, by noir alumni Graham Greene along with uncredited contributions from Alexander Korda, Welles, and Reed himself, is just as perfect as everything else. The story itself is incredible, with an elusive conclusion that always seems just out of grasp, and a witty banter runs through it that can be pretty much sourced from Welles. The performances are sublime, particularly those of Joseph Cotton and Orson Welles in two roles pretty much made for them. Alida Valli, who went on to iconic status and who has worked on over a hundred films, is brilliantly melancholic and equally alluring, portraying a woman who has lost everything in the form of love. But the icing on the cake is Terrence Howard, who is hardly ever mentioned in the same breath as Welles but who it just as good as the reflective, sardonic, and ultimately good-hearted Major Calloway.
Piles.

The Third Man is set in post WW2 Vienna, a city devastated by the war and split into zones, each one governed by an Allied Power. Into this world in turmoil comes Holly Martins (Cotten) an American western writer. He's looking for an old friend, Harry Lime (Welles) who's giving him a job opportunity. Martins soon discovers that Lime was recently killed when hit by a car while crossing the street. While attending the funeral he meets two British Army Policeman, Sgt Paine and Major Calloway (Howard) who think Lime was no good. Martins is contacted by a friend of Lime's and finds out the details about his death and that he had a girlfriend, Anna. Anna and Holly begin a friendship but she is arrested by the police for having a forged passport. Meanwhile, Martins slowly begins to be convinced that Lime faked his death, especially when he hears about a mysterious 'third man' who was present at Lime's accident, despite being told there were only two men. In one of cinema's great entrances, Harry makes his entrance, lurking in the shadows, smirking at Martins. They meet the next day and ride on Vienna's famed Ferries wheel, where Harry delivers the film's most iconic speech where he outlines his philosophy on life. Later, Calloway shows Martins the truth behind Lime's business in Vienna, he runs a black market operation in diluted penicillin. Disgusted by his friend's corruption and wanting to help Anna, Martins agrees to a deal to help capture Lime leading to a final confrontation in the sewers of Vienna.

The Third Man has become such a part of that film culture that surely everyone with even a passing interest in cinema is aware of some of the more iconic moments. From the surprisingly jaunty theme music to the incredible cinematography and that still impressive entrance for Welles, it's like they've become part of cinema folklore. But there's so much more to The Third Man than a few iconic moments, it's one of the great films of place. Vienna is a world-weary city, filled with people who feel trapped between the zones imposed on it by the Allies. As a result it feels like a place knocked out of time and it takes on a shadowy and sinister aspect, something reflected in the magnificent cinematography. Reed's decision to shoot the film with skewed camera angles reflects both the amoral nature of life in the city and the lack of certainty in both the characters and in Vienna itself.

A film this powerful needs great performances, and it gets them. Cotten is remarkable in the lead, rivalling his Uncle Charlie for the best performance of his career. Valli is heartbreaking and alluring. Welles is all sinister charm and charisma, you can't help liking the bastard even when you discover the pain he's caused. The often overlooked Trevor Howard does the best work of this part of his career, it'd take over 30 years, and the genius of Vivian Stanshall, before he'd be this good again.

The Third Man is a film that floats in and out of my top ten, and it was only the pre-Christmas rewatch that saw it slip a few positions. But this isn't a reflection on the quality of the film, more that a few others speak to me more at this point in time. The Third Man is a sublime film, one not frightened to take its characters into the darkness and leave a part of them there.

Rawlinson.
 
 


< Message edited by elab49 -- 29/8/2010 10:25:39 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 #: 177
RE: Top 250 British Films as chosen by Empire posters - 29/8/2010 9:59:44 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54597
Joined: 1/10/2005
Acknowledgements
 
First, thank you to everyone who took the time to put a list together. With well over 400 different films nominated we had an amazingly diverse range of British films to populate the list.
 
To Piles for the brilliant graphic which heads up the list, and for the large number of reviews he wrote and we stole.

Other offences to be taken into consideration (along with our thanks)

 
HomerSimpson_Esq
Rick_7
HughesRoss
MilesMesservy007
SwordsandSandals
Deviation
Pigeon Army
Gimli The Dwarf
Beetlejuice!
David Gillespie
Rhubarb
Impqueen
Directorscut
Dantes Inferno
TheDudeAbides
Epiphany Demon
Rinc
Paul_ie86
Harry Lime
Clownfoot


< Message edited by elab49 -- 29/8/2010 10:01:27 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 #: 178
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