Author Topic: "Fancy the pictures, me Duck?": The British Film Marathon  (Read 11870 times)

Offline Tom

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Re: "Fancy the pictures, me Duck?": The British Film Marathon
« Reply #15 on: February 12, 2011, 03:26:58 AM »
I did spot Tipping The Velvet. I know there is a healthy lesbian interest on here, so that might be of interest.

I think I am the only one left here who regularly watches lesbian themed movies. I can recommend Tipping the Velvet.



Offline Jimmy

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Re: "Fancy the pictures, me Duck?": The British Film Marathon
« Reply #16 on: February 13, 2011, 09:01:06 PM »
Unless you meant Carry On?  :whistle:
So Jon any chance for a review of Carry on Girls? Robin Askwith is in it and usually I like him in everything

Najemikon

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Re: "Fancy the pictures, me Duck?": The British Film Marathon
« Reply #17 on: February 14, 2011, 01:14:31 AM »
Unless you meant Carry On?  :whistle:
So Jon any chance for a review of Carry on Girls? Robin Askwith is in it and usually I like him in everything

Sorry, Jimmy, you have to pick an entry that's really The Carry On series way past prime? It's pretty awful really, except I suspect you would enjoy it. I don't mean that as a back-handed compliment; my real problem with the film is that it shows a series that had been so wonderful, was now dying.

Najemikon

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The Ghost ****
« Reply #18 on: February 14, 2011, 01:18:17 AM »
The Ghost *****

Year: 2010
Director: Roman Polanski
Rating: 15
Length: 128 Min.
Video: Widescreen 2.35:1
Audio: German: DTS-HD Master Audio: 5.1, English: DTS-HD Master Audio: 5.1
Subtitles: German

When a gifted ghostwriter (Ewan McGregor) is hired to write the memoirs of former British Prime Minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan), he quickly finds himself trapped in a web of political and sexual intrigue. Lang is implicated in a scandal over his administration's harsh tactics, and as the ghostwriter digs into the politician's past, he discovers secrets that threaten to jeopardize international relations forever. Co-starring Olivia Williams and Kim Cattrall, it's a taut and shocking thriller from acclaimed director Roman Polanski (The Pianist).

This was a pleasant surprise. I knew I would enjoy it, looking like a political thriller, starring Ewen McGregor as a writer hired to complete an ex-Prime Minister's autobiography (auto-ish) following the mysterious death of the previous ghost, and directed by Roman Polanski, but I underestimated its humour and Film Noir eccentricity. I wasn't expecting to include it in a collection of distinctly British films, but the film is brought to life precisely by it being an English twist on the classic American thrillers. It works as a stone cold thriller, but it has a wink at the audience every time it comes close to being too serious.

McGregor disappointed me at first, as he has abandoned his own Scottish accent for a London one, but I soon warmed to the choice, especially as his delivery hints at Marlowe ironic weariness. Inspired by money more than honour, a hint of a love for alcohol, a touch of casual flirting with both 'Femme Fatales' and we have our classic 40s detective reborn as the ghost writer of the title. In the course of the plot, which largely takes place on an isolated island with strange characters, he will discover evidence of murder, be haunted in a real sense of the word by the victim, visit a mysterious professor, get chased more than once, make deals with shady characters and sleep with inappropriate women, all with an air of not wanting to get involved. Apparently one draft of the screenplay even featured narration! Certainly it resembles little of political thrillers such as All The Presidents Men or even actioners like Patriot Games at the other end of the scale. Instead, it's relationship with the Double Indemnity's of this world make it feel unusually fresh.

The two ladies in the film, Kim Cattrall as Brosnan's assistant and Olivia Williams as his wife and probably the real political power, are both excellent, especially Williams ("for God's sake, if we come across a terrorist, I'll text you!", she yells at a security guard who won't leave her alone) though Cattrall impresses by finding a balance between intelligent, sultry and dizzy as her part demands. And Pierce Brosnan was yet another surprise because he represented my biggest reason to ignore this film and I'm happy to say how absolutely bloody wrong I was.

You see, from the trailer, and still after watching the film, you can't avoid the story's barbed relevance. An ex-Prime Minister fielding accusations of being a war criminal? It seemed so obvious as to be clunky and Brosnan's grinning assured confidence -this is Bond after all- had to be the biggest clunk of all. He's playing Tony Blair, isn't he? But he isn't, because he affects an awkwardness bordering on stupidity that is both very funny and makes him unpredictably dangerous, yet distances him from being an impression. Brosnan balances the character perfectly when he could have phoned in a Bond clone and as such, this is one of his best roles. There is one moment where he disembarks from a plane and at the top of the steps, he pauses, statesman-like, yet he is also clearly briefly confused as to where he might be! Of course, your opinion of Blair might mean I just strengthened the idea this is a sharp satire...

However, the eccentricity of choosing to use a Noir setup, naturally undoes the potential satire and that is very important because the film can exist on its own terms. While being interviewed for the job (by Jim Belushi, no less) McGregor comments that he knows nothing about politics, but that will allow him to understand Brosnan's character all the better. That works for the film too. It's like the film is happy to make Tony Blair sweat, but just as quick to nudge him in the ribs and yell "gotcha!". Thriller first, satire second. Polanski wrote the film with Robert Harris, developing Harris's own novel, which he assures us he had the idea for many years before, wanting to base it around a typically Hitchcockian everyday man trapped in a situation he can't control. Blair's situation and his accusers gave him the final piece to complete it, so it informs the film rather than becomes what it is about. Still, the sequence with the protesters including the grieving father of a solder is treated with enough respect to be substantial.

The irreverence and lightness of touch in the cast is Polanski's doing and it follows through in his direction, accompanied by an unusual score from Alexandre Desplat (Fantastic Mr Fox, and BAFTA winner for The Kings Speech). While meticulous, with stunning details in the setups (even the way he frames characters has a spark other directors miss), the film carries an easy charm. Little things like McGregor's awkwardness as he clambers into a car with a large case, or the way his honesty sometimes gets the better of him consistently grounds the film. The behaviour of the staff, from the relaxed security guards to the poor caretaker trying to fill his barrow with twigs in the wind, is very funny, yet still feels designed for a purpose (the way McGregor trips on a casual guards feet is humourous while demonstrating he is out of his depth and being watched constantly). The manuscript itself almost becomes a Maltese Falcon type object!

Like a proper Noir, the story is serious and exciting and Polanski executes a couple of action beats perfectly. It just never forgets to be fun and the very final moments underline that dual nature beautifully. I enjoyed it immensely and look forward to seeing it again.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2011, 06:05:00 PM by Jon »

kahless

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Re: "Fancy the pictures, me Duck?": The British Film Marathon
« Reply #19 on: February 14, 2011, 06:34:02 AM »
Great review, Jon!  :thumbup:

I was undecided whether I should by this movie. It's now on my wishlist!  :D

Offline Jimmy

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Re: "Fancy the pictures, me Duck?": The British Film Marathon
« Reply #20 on: February 14, 2011, 12:38:58 PM »
It's pretty awful really, except I suspect you would enjoy it.
Looks like you know me quite well :laugh:

Najemikon

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Re: "Fancy the pictures, me Duck?": The British Film Marathon
« Reply #21 on: February 14, 2011, 09:27:27 PM »
Great review, Jon!  :thumbup:

I was undecided whether I should by this movie. It's now on my wishlist!  :D

Thank you, sir! Glad to have snagged someone with it. I really think it may have been slightly taken for granted overall.

Najemikon

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24 7: Twenty Four Seven *****
« Reply #22 on: February 15, 2011, 12:58:07 AM »
24 7: Twenty Four Seven *****

Year: 1997
Director: Shane Meadows
Rating: 15
Length: 93 Min.
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Audio: English: Dolby Digital: 2-Channel Stereo, Commentary: Dolby Digital: 2-Channel Stereo
Subtitles:

GIVING IT, TAKING IT, LIVING IT, MAKING THE BEST OF WHAT YOU'VE GOT... TWENTY FOUR HOURS A DAY, SEVEN DAYS A WEEK. That's the philosophy Alan Darcy (Bob Hoskins) teaches the bored Nottingham youth he sees wasting their lives on rundown Council estates when he forms a local boxing club. As the club gets noticed with coverage in the papers and an important match against a rival outfit, Darcy gives the troubled teens something worth fighting for and a dream to believe in for the first time ever. Acclaimed as "The Best British Film of the Year", with Shane Meadows hailed as the most exciting young director of his generation, Twenty Four Seven is a life-affirming experience full of genuine humour, courage and hope in the human spirit.

This film is magic. That's the only real sensible explanation! It was made for next to nothing, in black and white, with a cast of largely unknowns (aside from one). It's rough around the edges and feels unassuming, yet it is in turns poetic, hilarious and moving. It has a sting in the tail but is an uplifting and emotional story. It's an astonishing piece of work that, to be honest, makes the star rating look silly.

It's the story of Darcy (Bob Hoskins), a lonely but enthusiastic man who starts a boxing club for the local teenagers to try and build up their self respect. He drags them up from nothing and gives them a reason to exist. Several of the young boxers have their demons and the various threads of their stories come together in that little club with Darcy's own little tale running through the middle. It's a great screenplay with loads of mileage, told in a flashback device that gives it a lyrical, melancholic air, yet feels so relaxed the humour and honesty just roll out. Bob Hoskins is marvelous and all credit to him for doing it in the first place. He is absolutely convincing as Darcy and he'll make you hope there are real people like him. I loved the scene where he drags one drug-addled loser (called Fagash!) to his court appearance, despite his protest he's rather go back to bed!

As for the rest of the cast, it's tough to single anyone out. They all seem real, like they walked straight off an estate and onto the set, with a comaraderie you just can't fake. They're actors, so I know how silly that statement is, so watch it if you don't believe me! English viewers will enjoy spotting a couple of well-known soap stars and even James Corden, now very well known as an exceptionally talented writer, comedian and actor makes his debut here. Gavin and Stacey is his big hit and I know a few of you enjoy British sitcoms, so I recommend you look it up. Actually, now I think about it, I wouldn't be surprised if Meadow's writing was a direct influence on Corden as I can think of some similarities, especially in the big family scenes.

If the film is magic then Shane Meadows is a magician. He's a Nottingham film-maker and 24-7 was his first feature film. His most recent is This Is England, which was followed by a brilliant TV series. He could surely have had his pick of projects, yet he has stayed committed to small budgets and fledgling casts from drama groups. Long may he continue because his is some of the most important work being done for British film. His secret might be in the way he composes any one scene, letting the actors play it out and choosing his focus carefully. A sequence in Wales is stunning. And this remember, is on cheap film with little definition, so no Blu-Ray vistas to enjoy! He just knows how to make something truly beautiful. That doesn't prepare you for how dynamic his brief action moments are, such as the scenes in the ring or an awful explosion of violence that will shake you to the core.

I hope to eventually include his other films here, but don't wait for my say so. Just start for yourself with 24-7 and don't be put off by it's cheap look. It's wonderful. This trailer is not a good representation of the actual quality, the film does have more clarity! But maybe you'll get a taste of what I'm trying to show you.

« Last Edit: March 15, 2011, 06:05:33 PM by Jon »

Offline Dragonfire

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Re: "Fancy the pictures, me Duck?": The British Film Marathon
« Reply #23 on: February 15, 2011, 02:34:38 AM »
I saw a trailer for The Ghost Writer once and thought it looked interesting..I just haven't had the chance to see it yet.

Alien Redrum

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Re: Harry Brown ***
« Reply #24 on: February 23, 2011, 06:35:24 PM »
Harry Brown
3 out of 5



In the UK we do have a real problem with anti-social behaviour from groups of teenagers who are allowed to congregate in public areas, where they can quickly become abusive, fuelled on cheap alcohol provided by any means. At the very least, their mere presence is a threat to regular people, but it can escalate to them roaming like gangs and even largely taking control of areas like council estates or parks. It leaves their neighbours scared to leave the house and tabloids use the images to portray “Broken Britain”. “Hoodies” is the catch-all term for these little bastards, be they full on villains with multiple ASBOs, or just mouthy thugs nicking Mars bars from the corner shop. Teenagers in general sadly get tarnished with the same brush and, in truth, it’s a small amount of troublemakers allowed to get out of control by a justice system that simply doesn’t account for their behaviour, and parents who defend their sweet children regardless of whether they believe them capable of knocking over Grannies or not.

Despite being a real threat, for many people, the Hoodie is an urban Bogey Man. It’s no fun walking through a crowd of youths late at night who are ready and willing to find any excuse for violence, but it’s the idea of what they can do that is scary. And the idea that someone could come along and sweep up the shit with vigilante justice is a welcome thought for many people. That’s where I thought Harry Brown came in and if it had stuck with that, I think it would be a better film.

It opens with a scene that perfectly demonstrates what I was saying above. A couple of thugs are using a mobile phone to film themselves racing around drunk in park on a bike. One of them has a gun and in their perverse idea of larking around, they accidentally shoot a young mother in the head and then get themselves splattered by a lorry. This is a perfect start. It exploits what we think these youths are capable of, while out of control and rendering a local park as a no-go area. Even if it’s rare, Dirty Harry style, it gets the viewer angry because we know it can happen and will if someone doesn’t sort it out.

We are soon introduced to that potential sorter outer, Harry Brown, played by Michael Caine, and the story unfolds with him keeping to himself, dealing with his wife’s hospitalisation and death. He lives a quiet life, visiting his friend, Leonard (David Bradley). Leonard is frightened because he is being terrorised by the local thugs and he finally rises to them. They beat him to death, but leave nothing for the coppers to go on. [understament]Harry, is not best pleased[/understatement].

The actor who played Jack Carter? A character who is an ex-Marine with a grudge? Going all Gran Torino on these sods? Settle in. This is going to be fun! All righteous, no nonsense, string-‘em-up retribution.

And for a while, it is. As Harry deflects the police to investigate for himself, it’s evocative stuff seeing him as an old man brought to life by targeting low-end drug dealers. There is a wonderful moment in Leonard’s burnt out flat where he peers out a crack in the window onto the local hang-out for the youths. Later, a set piece where he clears out a drug den and rescues a girl is fantastic. Caine is quite frankly awesome in this role. It’s a largely claustrophobic story and he is brilliant at portraying both the old man in a quiet routine and the sharp, skilled ex-soldier with catchphrases! OK, he can do it blind-folded, but he does round out the character with genuine emotion. This film has been called Britain’s Gran Torino by some, but that is very misleading. However, that’s not to say it doesn’t have similar depth.

Emily Mortimer is great as the loner police woman who starts to suspect Brown might be responsible for the recent killings, while her colleagues scoff, but here the problems start. There is a hint of a past that helps her sympathise with Brown and a suggestion she asked to be transferred to the worst area possible for some reason that is never fleshed out. That was annoying.

A much bigger problem is that the story expands to suggest the youths are organised foot-soldiers for a local drug-lord and willing to commit cold-blooded murder to get up the ranks. That might be the case in some areas, but it’s at odds with the premise that exploits the fact that their real-life counterparts are not organised. By giving them too much credit, the scary side of the plot is undermined because we can’t identify with the situation anymore. It also misses a fantastic opportunity to ask a difficult moral question: would Brown be an acceptable alternative to the police, considering half the problem is that the courts are dealing with fresh faced children? By making them low-level gangsters, it lets Brown off the hook and a very interesting film has suddenly pulled its punches and become silly. And that’s all before we find out who the local drug baron is (ridiculous!) and a full-scale riot on the estate is contrived out of seemingly nowhere.

Damn shame. Daniel Barber has directed a very good film that does brilliantly well to shake off the clichés of being a British thriller, while being violently relevant (it even says so on the cover!) :P. Having the iconic actor from Get Carter in the lead is an ace and the rest of the cast are excellent and also avoid stereotypes, especially Joe Cornish in a small role; I know him from soap-land and he is also great in This Is England, but this is the first time I’ve seen him as a completely different character. Rapper Plan B plays the lead thug and he too is very good, clearly putting a lot of work into the role. The writing is great and surprisingly subtle considering the premise (watch the sombre sequence of Leonard’s funeral and wake).

It just went so silly. But I can still recommend it as both a piece of solid entertainment and a sign that maybe British film is becoming more flexible that it can take a well-trod genre (if ‘Grimy British Northern Thriller’ is a genre!) and make it feel vibrant and fresh.

I really enjoyed this film and, as you said, Caine is excellent here.

I have to agree the riot seemed to come out of nowhere, and a bit of lazy writing to put the protagonists in the position they needed to be in for the film's finale. It should have been handled a little better.

Have you listened to the commentary yet? Caine is funny as hell. (Assuming there is a commentary on the version you have.)

Najemikon

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Re: Harry Brown ***
« Reply #25 on: February 23, 2011, 07:28:42 PM »
I really enjoyed this film and, as you said, Caine is excellent here.

I have to agree the riot seemed to come out of nowhere, and a bit of lazy writing to put the protagonists in the position they needed to be in for the film's finale. It should have been handled a little better.

Have you listened to the commentary yet? Caine is funny as hell. (Assuming there is a commentary on the version you have.)

I actually rented this one (I know! Sacrilege! ;)) so I didn't have time for the commentary, but I'm keeping an eye for it dropping in price. I might even pick up the DVD as it wasn't a film that exploited Blu-Ray really, for the sake of getting those extras for a couple of quid it might be worth it.

Glad to hear it seemed to travel well to the States. Makes me wish even more they'd have reined it in and not gone for that finale. We do occasionally have the rougher estates turn into a riot zone, but it is very rare indeed. It seems misplaced in the context of this story.

Alien Redrum

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Re: Harry Brown ***
« Reply #26 on: February 23, 2011, 11:16:12 PM »
It seems misplaced in the context of this story.

I agree wholeheartedly. The film is so...quiet up to that point. Caine's quiet anger. His wife's quiet passing, that sort of thing. And the riot is just so... loud. The movie works better on that quiet level.

Najemikon

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A Room for Romeo Brass ****
« Reply #27 on: March 15, 2011, 05:58:15 PM »
A Room for Romeo Brass ****

Year: 1999
Director: Shane Meadows
Rating: 15
Length: 87 Min.
Video: Widescreen 1.85:1
Audio: English: Dolby Digital: 2-Channel Stereo, Commentary: Dolby Digital: 2-Channel Stereo

12 year olds Romeo (Andrew Shim) and Gavin (Ben Marshall) live next door to each other. They're the best of mates with a shared sense of humour that helps them survive in a landscape of comic losers and broken dreams. But their friendship is put to the test by a chance encounter. After a stranger saves them from being beaten up, the boys are only too happy to help their new hero and pal in his quest to date Romeo's sister. Little do they realise they are being drawn into a world of dangerous obsession, violence and desperation; a world that threatens to tear the two friends apart. From acclaimed director Shane Meadows 'A Room For Romeo Brass' is a contemporary coming-of-age story that is as funny as it is frightening.

A Room For Romeo Brass, Shane Meadows’ second film, is a charming story of growing up that features several themes that can be seen throughout the directors career.

It’s a simple plot about two friends, Romeo and Gavin. One day they get involved in a typical scrap with some kids who picked on Gavin and they are rescued by Morell (Paddy Considine) who breaks up the fight. Morell is out of work and clearly a loner, but takes to the two boys. They spend a lot of time together, especially as Morell fancies Romeo’s older sister, Ladine, and they try to help him charm her, seeing as she probably wouldn’t look at him twice otherwise! Romeo is especially enamoured with him, because he doesn’t get on with his dad, who is trying to mend bridges with his family following what is implied to be a violent past. The story takes a sombre turn when Romeo starts ignoring Gavin in favour of the stranger.

The brilliance of 24-7 carries through to this film as the naturalistic cast have a wonderful, real banter with one another, which while being very funny with great dialogue, also feels genuine. That supports the story as it takes a more serious turn, then an even darker one, without ever losing its charm or the viewer’s confidence. Romeo and Gavin are very much the central characters and drive the narrative, even when things are happening to them, rather than them forcing it. That’s so important because what I mean is, this is just their life and it’s vitally important to them, not just some farcical caper they’re getting into; and they don’t even have Stand By Me’s built-in sense of nostalgia, which focuses on the idea that the kids will grow up… have grown up, even.
 
I can’t find a real fault with the film, except maybe I would have liked to have seen more of the storyline with Romeo’s dad, played by Frank Harper, especially in the scenes with his daughter, Ladine (Vicky McClure who along with Andrew Shim crops up in more of Meadows’ work). Harper was superb in this. You probably know him as Dog in Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels, plus he was in 24-7 as a rather similar character. Therefore I was surprised to see what a layered, delicate performance he gave here as a man trying to come to terms with his past and prove to his family he had changed. It gives the cathartic ending an edge of irony too and I really enjoyed that angle. Oh, and a note for Bob Hoskins. The man is a genius. He gets a couple of very brief moments, as one of Gavin’s teachers who visits him at home, and they amount to mere seconds, but he is wonderful in them.

Filmed in the East Midlands, near my area, the best compliment I can give this film is that I know these people and I know where they come from and I never questioned that, once. It never feels sensational or romanticised, which more well-known working class British comedies like The Full Monty rely on.

That does however mean that it doesn’t pander to any particular audience, so sadly it can easily fall through a crack between genres, never to be seen again! Kids would identify with Romeo and Gavin and get a lot more from this story than they would from most stuff aimed at them, but it does take a very violent and terrifying turn. I would implore you to see it and treat it as nostalgia for yourself if not the characters, like Meadows clearly does.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2011, 06:21:48 PM by Jon »

Najemikon

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Re: "Fancy the pictures, me Duck?": The British Film Marathon
« Reply #28 on: March 15, 2011, 06:00:15 PM »
You know, I'm sure I had a good reason for not using the HTML window Tom posted ages ago. Damned if I know what it is.  :bag: Isn't it so easy?  :-[ :hysterical:

Tom, I've also nicked some of your layout as I particularly like it. ;)

Offline Tom

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Re: "Fancy the pictures, me Duck?": The British Film Marathon
« Reply #29 on: March 15, 2011, 06:10:36 PM »
Tom, I've also nicked some of your layout as I particularly like it. ;)

No problem. Glad you like it :)