7 items from 2013
At one time it was the game industry that wanted to emulate films. But now the movie industry is adopting the technology of video games
Amid the debate about television stealing the film industry's thunder, another entertainment form has crept up unnoticed, further threatening Hollywood's creative hegemony: video games. With a new, much more powerful generation of games consoles poised to arrive – Microsoft's Xbox One goes on sale on Friday, with Sony's PlayStation 4 due a week later – the games companies reckon they finally have the ammunition to shake off the perception that their digital epics are inferior to movies.
I'm in a place that could not reinforce that impression more emphatically: the historic Ealing studios, where classics such as The Lavender Hill Mob and The Ladykillers were filmed. But I'm here to experience the process of making a video game called Ryse: Son of Rome, an epic tale charting the Roman conquest of Britain, »
- Steve Boxer
Having worked on a total of 84 feature-length productions during his 47-year career as a cinematographer, including three Indiana Joneses, The Italian Job and Ealing comedies such as The Lavender Hill Mob, Douglas Slocombe photographed films for almost as long as Philip French has been reviewing them. French has described his camera work as "graceful", "versatile" and "superbly atmospheric".
I've long been an admirer of Philip French's way of writing, as well as his knowledge of films. He was one of the few critics to be aware, and make audiences aware, of the work of people on a film set other than the director. He would draw attention to the work of the cinematographer, or the editor, or the art director who, in the earlier days, were usually almost entirely ignored from the critics' point of view. He has been particularly kind to me, mentioning me so many times in his articles, »
Alec Guinness: Before Obi-Wan Kenobi, there were the eight D’Ascoyne family members (photo: Alec Guiness, Dennis Price in ‘Kind Hearts and Coronets’) (See previous post: “Alec Guinness Movies: Pre-Star Wars Career.”) TCM won’t be showing The Bridge on the River Kwai on Alec Guinness day, though obviously not because the cable network programmers believe that one four-hour David Lean epic per day should be enough. After all, prior to Lawrence of Arabia TCM will be presenting the three-and-a-half-hour-long Doctor Zhivago (1965), a great-looking but never-ending romantic drama in which Guinness — quite poorly — plays a Kgb official. He’s slightly less miscast as a mere Englishman — one much too young for the then 32-year-old actor — in Lean’s Great Expectations (1946), a movie that fully belongs to boy-loving (in a chaste, fatherly manner) fugitive Finlay Currie. And finally, make sure to watch Robert Hamer’s dark comedy Kind Hearts and Coronets »
- Andre Soares
(Charles Crichton, 1950; StudioCanal, PG)
Made during Ealing Studios's peak period from the early 40s to the mid-1950s, Dance Hall is virtually the only movie produced by that male-dominated studio that might be considered a feminist work. Co-scripted by Diana Morgan, the sole woman admitted by Ealing boss Michael Balcon to his elite creative team, it looks at the world from the point of view of four young working-class women (Natasha Parry, Petula Clark, Jane Hylton and Diana Dors). They live in council flats, work in the same west London factory, and find romance and an escape from their drab lives at the local dance hall. Except for the middle-class accents, the film presents an honest, down-to-earth portrait of Britain in the postwar age of austerity. Typically for its time, Parry (future wife of the director Peter Brook) is torn between glamorous sports car-driving spiv Bonar Colleano and dull, »
- Philip French
Sir Alec Guinness's personal diaries and letters are to be made available to the public in 2014.
The British Library has obtained the personal archive of the late Oscar-winning actor, known for his roles in Star Wars and the Ealing comedies.
The archive will include over 100 volumes of diaries and letters charting his long career as an actor from the late 1930s up to his death in 2000.
It also chronicles his experience at war and the death of Sir Laurence Olivier.
An extract from his diary on July 12, 1989, the day after Sir Laurence's death, reads: "His 'I defy you, stars' in Romeo was memorable. And so was his Poor naked wretches etc in Lear. But his famous howl in Oedipus I thought just tiresome.
"He knew every trick of the trade and used every one, including, when he made his first entrance the lights coming up a few points and »
★★★☆☆ Following the recent retrospective Ealing: Light and Dark at the BFI, which reintroduced cinemagoers to the lesser known body of work of the distinctly British studio, StudioCanal continue the task of dusting off and digitally remastering said underlings, giving them their first lease of life on DVD. The latest, Dance Hall (1950) - one of Ealing's most overlooked productions - is an early, somewhat lightweight venture for director Charles Crichton before his more celebrated and refined works such as The Lavender Hill Mob (1951), but offers as much insight into the inner workings of post-war frugality as its more distinguished peers.
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- CineVue UK
★★★★★ The Titfield Thunderbolt (1953), starring legends of British screen Stanley Holloway, Hugh Griffith and Sid James, is one of those rare things seldom found in cinema - a film which is virtually perfect in every respect. Made by the iconic Ealing Studios and directed by Charles Crichton (who'd been responsible for the studio's previous hits Dead of Night  and 1951's The Lavender Hill Mob), this story of a group of villagers who fight to save their local railway line when it's threatened with closure, is as fresh now as when it was released sixty years ago - which makes this new StudioCanal rerelease all the more enjoyable and satisfying.
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- CineVue UK
7 items from 2013
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