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But the real credit lies with its writer David Rudkin. The edge-of-your-seat savagery of his performance, contrasted with the sweet-natured, bucolic nature of the central friendship, makes for a more honest and believable portrayal of the shift into adulthood than prim and polished pretenders.
The result is a genuinely unusual film: part political treatise, part social satire, even part science fiction, all building towards a magnificently unsettling climax of mob justice. If Fellini saw life as a circus, then Davies sees life as a cinema. Young Bud Leigh McCormack is his alter ego, and this is a rhapsodic scrapbook of memories from a working-class Liverpool childhood accompanied by dispatches from the wireless, popular songs and rousing classical standards.
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A fabulously entertaining family musical, then, but one that, I suspect, is on this list for nostalgic value alone. Director Alexander Mackendrick Cast Basil Radford, Joan Greenwood, Jean Cadell In the post-war years, a number of films were made on both sides of the Atlantic intended to extol national virtues, restore civic pride and celebrate those values which make us who we are. But while the Yanks were busily indulging their national tendency towards flag-waving, pie-making, gingham-sewing and casual racism, we Brits were more likely to sing the praises of pastimes such as authority-baiting, petty larceny and the simple pleasure of drinking to the verge of blindness.
Of course, you can titter at the gothic excess of the production design, how po-faced the whole enterprise is with its lithe hotties darting around in lace negligees and the cheapo effects, but the subtext of the story about the tragedy of addiction and the transmission of disease remains deadly serious. Naive teen Mike John Moulder-Brown is the new kid, and — amid much inappropriate bum-pinching and his near-rape by regular bather Diana Dors who else?! Bob Hoskins wandering in close-up through Heathrow!
The Docklands as the future! Of all the British filmmakers who, flush with the success of their first few homegrown efforts, decided to go and seek their fortunes across the pond, the tale of Bill Forsyth is the most cautionary. The dialogue is poetic but wholly believable, the cast is note-perfect, the characterisation is broad but distinctive and the photography is simple, unfussy and real.
The late Derek Jarman took the same anachronistic liberties in depicting the life of his subject — Italian, seventeenth-century painter Caravaggio — as the painter himself did with his subjects. Little-known actor Nigel Terry is great as the violently impulsive title character, and the film comprises flashbacks over his life as he lies dying.
But this is no cut-and-dried biopic, as Jarman frames the drama within ornate tableaux and honours the complexity of the emotions by reining in the melodrama and telling the story through the stresses of his camera and glances of the actors. A nominal plot — the strange death of a brother in Bristol — prompts a journey west from London into a place beyond narrative cinema. Static, wittily composed images vaguely reminiscent of the photography of Martin Parr of buildings and places of natural interest are harmonised with quotations, music and discourse.
Initially coming across like a documentary of your average Sealed Knot weekender, the film delivers a minutely detailed chronicle of the battle via the ingenious method of modern TV news reporting: only the rank odour of the battlefield itself is missing. Grunts from both sides sound off directly to camera, political intrigues are speculated upon by the anchor, and we even get to witness the hordes of malnourished Jacobite rebels being torn apart by the power of the English musket.
It all looks scarily familiar. The unique result is a work that is both formally radical and eminently accessible and entertaining. A talky, two-hander scene between Sands and a priest Liam Cunningham is all the more hard-hitting because it emerges suddenly in the middle of a film which foregrounds images over chat — but the entire film is full of such surprises. Yet, his film has a more cynical edge than only being about the sensations of a city.
The young Polish filmmaker Roman Polanski came to London to make his second film — and first in English — and cast year-old Catherine Deneuve as Carole, a fragile young Belgian woman living in South Kensington with her sister and working in a local hairdressing salon. Never repeated it! His film is a celebration of heroism, a lament for lives lost and a stoical expression of the necessary wartime maxim that life must go on.
That this near-wordless celebration of wartime Britain in all its music-hall, factory-floor, greenfield glory can still inspire a flush of patriotic pride seven decades on is testament to the extraordinary purity of vision and experimental nous of its director, Humphrey Jennings. While we can only imagine the pleasure of watching original choice Donald Pleasance as the sexually repressed misogynist Hopkins, Vincent Price makes a horribly effective substitute, lisping biblical lore to the screams of his victims on the rack and at the stake.
The pranks of monosyllabic scamp James William Eadie form the core of the film, and we eventually learn that James wants nothing more than to abandon the squalor of the city and move to a new housing project next to a cornfield in which he can frolic.
If you didn't know Patrick Keiller's smartly rambling, tricksy walking tour of our city from , you might think that his title was pompous or presumptive. What if, right, the Hun were on the cusp of clinching victory in Europe, and all that stood between your average, flat-capped English patriot and the swift introduction of sauerkraut to the national menu was the collective muscle of a close-knit countryside community?
The plot — a Bethnal Green mother and housewife Googie Withers hides an on-the-run con and ex-lover John McCallum in her busy home — allows us intimate access to a working-class home. Two films by the American exile Joseph Losey have made our list, and few would argue that this chilling domestic two-hander from is his most enduring. The actors are tremendous. It presents the wayward travails of Little Alex Malcolm McDowell a tearaway who likes nothing more than a bit of the old ultra violence.
The style of filmmaking is at once clinically precise and imaginatively loose. This is down to the multitude of tricks that Kubrick hoists in slo-mo, fast-forward, cartoon inserts, back projection to encapsulate the total autonomy these characters have and why they see their behaviour as thrilling. Does it stand up psychologically?
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Probably not. The story of an adopted, professional black British woman Marianne Jean-Baptiste who tracks down her white, working-class birth mother Brenda Blethyn came with its own themes and ideas. But it also allowed Leigh to refine interests he had been exploring for years, such as the relationships between parents and kids, the love and antagonism of siblings and our awkward relationships to material wealth.
Some argue that Hitchcock made his greatest works in the US, but the presence of four of his British films on our list suggests that not everybody holds that view — or at least that his earlier work is still held in very high regard. Small wonder this classic Ealing crime caper remains a mainstay of so many film polls. The casting and performances, for a start, are brilliantly sharp. It alienated much of his fanbase and put a full stop on his career in British film.
But nudge the lurid Technicolor brutality aside and what you have is a film which depicts the act of consuming the moving image as a way of psychologically participating in the acts of those on screen. In film, it was a different matter: what sane production company was likely to shell out thousands for tales of earth-worship and mystic rites, especially when the target audience was a notoriously cash-strapped and b largely confined to rambling country cottages miles from the nearest picture palace?
That its rediscovery continues to gather pace almost four decades later is testament to his skill as a filmmaker. These films capture a rare poetry in their depiction of wayward youth, the death of industry and the small, diligent ways in which the downtrodden are able to retain hope and ward off constant darkness. I want you to kiss me!
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Thank God for Universal Studios. What a pity Gary Oldman has never been able to fulfil his dream of following up this, his directorial debut! However fine many of his performances had been, both the writing and the direction of this deservedly acclaimed movie displayed considerably more than great promise. One of the strangest but most welcome side effects of great comedy is the way it crystallises ideas, bringing concepts previously vague and inexpressible into the public consciousness.
When talking about the impossibility of a successful military occupation, how long before someone mentions what the Romans did for us? I think Thackeray trades off the advantage of surprise to gain a greater sense of inevitability and a better integration of what might otherwise seem melodramatic or contrived. The story sees Miss Giddens Deborah Kerr become governess to two children who live in a sprawling country pile and are the wards of an absent uncle Michael Redgrave who lives in London.
Is Miss Giddens mad? Are there ghosts? Are both things true, even? Their hokey investigation to locate the scoundrel acts as the narrative through-line with which Powell and Pressburger hang a gorgeous, panoramic vision of an England steeped in history, tradition and eccentric, downhome custom. It also takes a comic look at the cultural divisions between America and Britain and the need to bridge that divide for the common good.
A heady, almost surreal climax in Canterbury, where the three pals part ways and find comfort in friends, music and memory, is tremendously moving, not least because we also discover the reason why they were all there in the first place. Period drama? Social satire? In , Total Film readers voted it the third best comedy of all time. At the time of its release at the height of war, it was also very bold in trying to counter some myths about history and give colour to black-and-white prejudices not least about Germany and Germans.
Many view the film as cold, heartless, too stiff-lipped to be truly moving check the current Time Out review by Dave Calhoun for evidence. And yet, of all the films in the higher echelons of this list, it might be the most flawed and difficult.
Certainly, at the time it marked a departure for Leigh into more mythical, less domestic territory, and in retrospect marked a new maturity in his filmmaking. In the film Morton plays the titular Morvern a supermarket worker in a small Scottish town who ends up under an assumed identity in Spain.
Friday 28 September, 6pm. The film centres on Walters' character's life after being released from prison for gang related activity, a gun he has, and how it affects his little brother. Saturday 6 October, 6.
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Before Bullet Boy there's a double header of events, both of which will interest those looking to break into the British film industry. Working Class Heroes: The Filmmakers , explains how to get projects completed without connections or money. Following on from that there's Doc Brown in Conversation , where the north-west London boy done good, discusses his career on screen and looks back at the city through cinema. Saturday 6 October, Us Brits do love crime thrillers.
See one of the finest examples of the genre, The Long Good Friday , which takes place against the backdrop of the redevelopment of the Docklands. Watch the tale of organised villainy with admirer of the film, writer-director Steven Knight.