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Keeping Mum – the absurdities of the English Middle Class

Tweet Keeping Mum – Niall Johnson Not quite Ealing – but close. At times. Ealing comedies were all about tone: a kind of arch, insouciant darkness to relish not just enjoy. The logic of the English social class system followed through to its ultimate absurdity. All the fixed butts of Englishness that were affectionately ridiculed […]

Pride and Prejudice – Rach 2 or almost

Tweet Pride and Prejudice – Director Joe Wright Not quite Rachmaninov but close. Matthew MacFadayen’s Mr Darcy emerging from the early morning mist to open his passionate heart to Elizabeth Bennett runs neck and neck, or rather chest to chest, with Colin Firth’s wet shirt. It’s the surging sub-Rachmaninov score that perhaps gives it the […]

Layer Cake – an “‘ere guv sling us the swag” kinda movie

Tweet Layer Cake – Matthew Vaughan Layer Cake has all the warmth and depth of characterisation of the Tarantino films it emulates, but without their visual flair, imagination, style and wicked irony. Like Quentin, director Matthew Vaughn is irreducibly referential – Seven, Lock Stock of course and the quintessential British Gangster movie – Get Carter. […]

The Passenger – austere, implacable, fate, masterpiece

Tweet The Passenger – Michelangelo Antonioni Uncompromising and austere, Antonioni, like a painter, demands everything of his audience. He once described his actors as ‘living pigment’ – mere elements in his ‘picture’, not its raison d’être. His is not a hostile universe: worse – it is an absolutely indifferent one. Hostility might induce rebellion. Our […]

The Pervert’s Guide To The Cinema – great film, dumb title

Tweet The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema – Sophie Fiennes Great film. Dumb title. This is a tour de force of intellectual passion and sheer irrepressible enthusiasm displayed by Slavoj Žižek’s, Slovenian psychoanalyst, sociologist and philosopher. Žižek applies his psychoanalytic concepts to the interpretation of cinema as a serious and cathartic art form. His obvious love […]

Cock and Bull Story (Tristram Shandy) – anarchic, lusty, rambunctious

Tweet A Cock And Bull Story (Tristram Shandy) – Michael Winterbottom Eric Morecombe, Andre Previn’s lapels in hand, responding to the maestro’s accusation that he has just played all the wrong notes, famously replies with mock menace – “No, I played all the right notes….but not necessarily in the right order”. An apt metaphor for […]

Bride and Prejudice – a cultural mishmash. parodying itself

Tweet Bride and Prejudice – Gurinder Chadha For once I’m at a complete loss. I need guidance. Cinematically this film is a cross between Blue Hawaii and an execrable advert for my local Indian restaurant. I loved Bend It Like Beckham which really seemed to explore with humour and perceptiveness the boundaries of assimilated or […]

The Hero – oriental in tone, stunning visual style

Tweet The Hero – Zhang Yimou It is rare that one can recommend a film simply because of its stunning visual style. The cinematography (Christopher Doyle), editing and especially vibrant colour throughout create a movie that, irrespective of anything else, is always fascinating to watch. I have not seen a film before where a different […]

House Of Flying Daggers – martial arts, honour, heroism, China

Tweet House Of Flying Daggers – Director Zhang Yimou In a film with some extraordinary martial arts action scenes, the most exciting sequence in this absorbing film is a dance: the ethereally beautiful Ziyi Zhang as blind heroine Mei, performs the Echo dance with an elegance, style and riveting tension, that matches anything in HOFD’s […]

The Hidden Blade – duty, honour, love, courage

Tweet The Hidden Blade – Director Yoji Yamada Words can die. And the concepts they represent can die with them. Not overnight. Almost always it is of a long terminal disease characterised by neglect and misuse. Does it matter? Often not, but sometimes an important element in the way we think about ourselves and our […]