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12 items from 2012

The Forgotten: Shangri-La

28 November 2012 7:33 AM, PST | MUBI | See recent MUBI news »

After World War Two, just as the Us was getting hot under the collar about imaginary left-wing plots to seduce the nation via hidden messages in the movies, by a remarkable coincidence British cinema was infiltrated by a genuine socialist conspiracy.

Late in the war, as victory began to seem graspable, people started thinking about what kind of United Kingdom they wanted to live in: Winston Churchill may have led the nation through the conflict, but now something different was required. Sir Michael Balcon, head of Ealing Studios, was part of a group of filmmakers and creative types working behind the scenes to prepare the ground for a Labour government and the introduction of socialist programmes like the National Health Service.

Humphrey Jennings' eloquently understated propaganda short A Diary for Timothy looks at a new-born baby and wonders what kind of world he'll grow up in: as critic Raymond Durgnat observed, »

- David Cairns

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Blu-ray Review - It Always Rains on Sunday (1947)

12 November 2012 9:09 AM, PST | Flickeringmyth | See recent Flickeringmyth news »

It Always Rains on Sunday, 1947.

Directed by Robert Hamer.

Starring Googie Withers, Edward Chapman, Susan Shaw, Jack Warner, John McCallum, Patricia Plunkett, David Lines, Sydney Tafler and Betty Ann Davies.


An escaped convict tries to hide out at his former lover's house but she has since married and is far from keen on the idea.

It’s easy to get wistful about 1940s Britain. Just look at the re-emergence of Lindyhop dance classes, or those done-to-death ‘Keep Calm And Carry On’ poster variations that everybody suddenly has to have all over their tea-towels and t-shirts. True, Ealing Studios did its fair share of flirting with doe-eyed sentiment, but happily, director Robert Hamer was quite another kind of film-maker, showing a whole new side to the studio’s output.

This film is shifty, in every sense of the word. The pacing is perfect, hopping from one story arc to another, »

- flickeringmyth

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Trailer trash

27 October 2012 4:18 PM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

The Queen enjoys vintage royal footage, while Derek Jacobi's Sidney Turtlebaum character is set to ride again

Royal album

Trash was thrilled to witness the Queen visiting BFI Southbank last week as the old place celebrated its 60th birthday. The Queen appeared to enjoy the film presentation in the venerable National Film Theatre and, dressed in elegant purple coat and hat, flashed a satisfied smile at me – or so I like to think – as she walked along the aisle to the exit. She had just been treated to some lovely stuff from the BFI archive, including Scenes at Balmoral (1896), the first known filmed images of a British monarch, which depicted Queen Victoria and Tsar Nicholas II in the grounds of the Scottish castle.

Her Majesty – it's "Ma'am as in jam", according to the protocol instructions I received – must have then been very moved to see home cine footage from »

- Jason Solomons

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It Always Rains on Sunday – review

27 October 2012 4:03 PM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Ealing Studios' name is synonymous with comedy largely because of three films released on consecutive weeks in 1949: Passport to Pimlico, Whisky Galore! and Kind Hearts and Coronets. Before then it was associated with the form of realism created by the documentarists Alberto Cavalcanti and Harry Watt, brought in by Michael Balcon early in the second world war to give his studio a greater authenticity. The finest movie in this mode is It Always Rains on Sunday, made in 1947 in grimy, Blitz-scarred east London and being revived in a new print as an example of the darker side of Ealing in the BFI Southbank's Ealing retrospective. Superbly photographed by the great Douglas Slocombe in the Picture Post manner, a style radically different from the elegant Kind Hearts and Coronets, it's 24 hours in the life of Bethnal Green, cleverly dovetailing the lives of some 20 characters ranging from spivs, petty crooks »

- Philip French

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This week's new films

26 October 2012 4:09 PM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Skyfall (12A)

(Sam Mendes, 2012, UK/Us) Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, 143 mins

It starts with a bang, but ends with a poignant whimper. This is supposedly a smarter Bond, you see, giving you first-class action and breathtaking imagery, but also a Freudian look into the secret agent's psyche. A pity, then, that the plot is utter nonsense. Bardem's Joker-ish baddie isn't interested in world domination; he has a personal score to settle, and an unfeasibly cunning plan…

Elena (12A)

(Andrey Zvyagintsev, 2011, Rus) Nadezhda Markina, Andrey Smirnov. 109 mins

The Return director finds form with a penetrating look at class resentment in money-obsessed modern Russia, perfect conditions for a noir-ish drama. Markina is magnificent as a hard-up divorcee, who does what she has to when her wealthy partner begins to ail.

Room 237 (15)

(Rodney Ascher, 2012, Us) 102 mins

This investigation into the myriad interpretations of Kubrick's The Shining goes far deeper than anyone needed, »

- Steve Rose

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Film Review: 'It Always Rains on Sunday' (BFI rerelease)

26 October 2012 12:18 AM, PDT | CineVue | See recent CineVue news »

★★★★☆ A key part of the BFI's Ealing: Light and Dark season and rereleased this Friday, Robert Hamer's It Always Rains on Sunday (1947) is a much-underrated kitchen sink crime drama set over one dreary Sunday, telling a tale of working-class life set within London's East End. Based on the novel by Arthur La Bernby, the story concerns the family life of Rose Sandgate (Googie Withers), a typical East End housewife married to the much older George (Edward Chapman) and living with his two young daughter Vi (Susan Shaw) and Doris (Patricia Plunkett) and their own young son, Alfie (David Lines).

Read more » »

- CineVue UK

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It Always Rains on Sunday – review

25 October 2012 4:00 PM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Kind Hearts director Robert Hamer shows the same masterly ensemble control two years earlier in this East End melodrama

Robert Hamer's brilliant, brittle melodrama of London's East End, originally released in 1947, came out two years before his masterpiece Kind Hearts and Coronets. It shows the same masterly ensemble control. The film is in many ways a precursor to kitchen-sink movies like Saturday Night and Sunday Morning – and that huge, teeming market scene bears comparison with Carné's Les Enfants du Paradis. It follows a typical Sunday in a working-class neighbourhood. It's raining of course, but there's nothing dull and Sunday-ish about what's going to happen. Googie Withers is Rose, a former barmaid who has settled for marriage with a dull but steady widower with children. Handsome escaped convict Tommy Swann (John McCallum) turns up in their garden shed, pleading for help: she and Tommy were once sweethearts and his reappearance »

- Peter Bradshaw

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In praise of Robert Hamer

19 October 2012 4:00 PM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

It always rained for the Ealing Studios director, but with the reissue of a lost noir classic, it's time his talent was recognised

Robert Hamer was the odd man out at Ealing Studios. He wasn't the only falling-down drunk there, and I daresay he wasn't the only unhappily closeted homosexual, but his work as a writer and director has a sharpness and bite lacking in the genial comedies we associate with the studio.

The revival of Hamer's almost forgotten kitchen sink noir classic from 1947, It Always Rains On Sunday, may come as a shock to those who know Hamer only through his comic masterpiece Kind Hearts And Coronets. Kind Hearts lacks exactly that titular quality, being a spiritedly mean-minded account of multiple murder by a spurned minor aristocrat. Likewise Hamer's last film, School For Scoundrels, which was completed by others as Hamer was by then often battling terrifying Dt hallucinations. »

- John Patterson

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The Dead Boss guide to TV prison

8 June 2012 4:06 PM, PDT | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

Writers Sharon Horgan and Holly Walsh take Hannah Verdier into the telly clinks that inspired their new BBC3 sitcom

1 Good lawyers? Forget it

Ideally, you'd want someone like Julie Walters from The Jury as your QC, but most prison show lawyers are rubbish. Actually, they never showed the courtroom in Prisoner: Cell Block H; you just went straight into the scene where you're bundled out of the van at Wentworth and examined by the handsome doctor. The lawyer in Dead Boss is obviously an idiot, but he's family. He's got an air of Doc from Back To The Future about him. Basically, he's useless.

2 Aggressive lesbian cellmates? Go on then

Prisoner Cell Block H is the template here. There was this great scene where a new inmate arrived and was quite stoical, but it turned out she was sharing a cell with this brilliantly dungareed lesbian, who starts copping a feel. »

- Sharon Horgan, Holly Walsh, Hannah Verdier

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The Forgotten: Piscatorial Extremity

30 May 2012 8:17 PM, PDT | MUBI | See recent MUBI news »

1948 was a good year for mermaids.

In Britain, producer Betty E. Box presented Miranda, starring Glynis Johns as a Cornish water-nymph who goes on dry land disguised as an invalid, making merry with the menfolk. Six years later, a sequel, Mad About Men, continued the character's amorous adventures in Technicolor.

Meanwhile in America, William Powell romanced mute mermaid Ann Blyth, an apparent manifestation of his mid-life crisis, in Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid. (Tarzan and the Mermaids, the same year, did not supply any true amphbious ladies.)

What do these fish stories reveal about their respective countries of origin? None of the films' directors have much in the way of auteur credentials—Ken Annakin directed the first Miranda film, staying true to the tradition of innocuous entertainment which was the defining quality of his career, and Ralph Thomas directed the second: though his son Jeremy has produced major films for Bertolucci and Cronenberg, »

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Dominic West Wins BAFTA TV Award For Fred West Role

27 May 2012 6:36 PM, PDT | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Actor Dominic West was the toast of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) TV Awards on Sunday after scoring a top prize for his creepy portrayal of serial killer Fred West.

The Wire star landed the Best Actor prize for his role in U.K. series Appropriate Adult, a reconstruction of the police investigation into the notorious murderer, while his co-star Emily Watson won Best Actress for playing Janet Leach, who sat in on the interviews Fred West gave to cops.

As he collected his award, West said, "I hope she (Leach) has had some closure and I hope she feels we honoured the suffering she endured and the suffering of all of West's victims, living and dead."

Watson appeared emotional as she gave her winner's speech and told the BBC after the ceremony, "It was such a disturbing place to go. In my speech I was very overwhelmed I forgot to thank Janet Leach, she gave very generously to us.

"The public perception of the West case is a tabloid-driven view and then I read the script and it was a very intelligent piece full of integrity. It's a deep abyss right in the middle of our society."

Appropriate Adult enjoyed a triple win at the London ceremony - Monica Dolan won Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Rosemary West, Fred West's wife. Sherlock's Andrew Scott fought off competition from his co-star Martin Freeman to win Best Supporting Actor.

Beloved Australian entertainer Rolf Harris was awarded a BAFTA Fellowship in honour of his lengthy career, and as he was applauded he declared, "Thank you so much, that's very moving", before adding, "How nice to be presented with this... I can't begin to tell you just how humbled I am by being here in this distinguished company, so many previous recipients of this BAFTA Fellowship."

Other winners included Shane Meadows' This Is England 88, which took the Best Mini-Series prize, Doctor Who writer Stephen Moffat, who received a Special BAFTA for "outstanding creative writing contribution to television", and Absolutely Fabulous star Jennifer Saunders (Female Performance in a Comedy Programme).

The ceremony also featured a memorial segment, remembering the stars lost in the past 12 months, including Davy Jones, actresses Anna Massey, Googie Withers and Betty Driver, presenters Jimmy Savile and Bob Holness, actors Peter Falk, George Baker and Colin Tarrant, and comedian Frank Carson.

Presenters at the ceremony included West, actresses Helen McCrory, Melissa George and Emilia Fox, and actors Benedict Cumberbatch, Matt Smith, Sam Claflin and Timothy Spall. »

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Attention NYC: Win The Rialto DVD Box Set & Tickets To 15th Anniversary Screenings At Film Society Of Lincoln Center

19 March 2012 1:23 PM, PDT | The Playlist | See recent The Playlist news »

While New Yorkers have plenty of opportunity to see classic films on the big screen, you'll be hard pressed to find a lineup as front to back awesome as the Film Society Of Lincoln Center's "15 For 15: Celebrating Rialto Pictures."

The series honors the reknowned arthouse distribution shingle founded in 1997 that has brought some of the best known (and previously unknown) classics of cinema to American audiences. And the selection here by programmers Scott Foundas, Eric Di Bernardo and Adrienne Halpern represents the breadth and scope of the films Rialto has put their stamp on, ranging from the French New Wave ("Breathless") to film noir ("Rififi") to comedy ("Billy Liar") and more. There is something here for everybody and with the series kicking off tonight, we've got a special prize for some lucky readers.

Courtesy of Film Society Of Lincoln Center, we've got a copy of the excellent Rialto DVD »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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