11 items from 2011
UK films in the 1950s and 60s led the way in suggesting the boys in blue are less than trustworthy
In these troubled times, when the phone-hacking scandal has heaped ignominy on the police, it is worth pointing out that British cinema has led the way in suggesting the boys in blue are less than trustworthy. In fact, so complete was the turnaround in the two decades between The Blue Lamp, in 1950, and The Offence, from 1972, it almost constitutes a social history in its own right.
Made partly to alleviate a recruitment crisis, and partly to acknowledge a wave of teen delinquency just after the war, The Blue Lamp was the first British film made with the full co-operation of the Metropolitan police. The Met lent the makers their stations, their patrol cars and even their own officers to play small roles. The plot – a neurotic young spiv, played by Dirk Bogarde, »
Actor turned teacher, he quit the screen at the height of his fame
There are some actors who, having disappeared from the public gaze early in their careers, always prompt the question, "Whatever happened to ... ?" The answer, in the case of Paul Massie, who has died of lung cancer aged 78, is that, at the height of his fame on films and television, he gave it up at the age of 40 to teach drama at the University of South Florida in Tampa.
The son of a Baptist minister, Massie was born Arthur Massé in the city of St Catharines, in the Niagara region of Ontario. Although he was brought up in Canada, almost his entire 16-year acting career was in Britain. In fact, the only film he made in Canada was his first, Philip Leacock's High Tide at Noon (1957), a Rank Organisation melodrama shot in Nova Scotia. Although it was a bit part, »
- Ronald Bergan
Tuesday, DVD roundup day, is a fine day for taking a look at the new Summer 2011 issue of Cineaste, particularly since, among the online samplings this time around, DVD reviews outnumber all other types of articles combined.
To begin, Darragh O'Donoghue on Harun Farocki's Still Life (1997): "Five aphoristic essays on 17th-century Dutch still-life painting, of about three minutes each, bracket four documentary sequences of photographers creating modern still lifes for magazine advertisements. These two levels, though defined by opposites — stasis/motion, tell/show — are linked by visual motifs and rhymes, just as the modern products echo the subjects of the paintings. The documentary sequences have no commentary, mostly last ten to fifteen minutes, and take their cue from Farocki's earlier An Image (Ein bild, 1983). In that short, he recorded the shooting of a German Playboy centerfold spread, from the building of sets and the arrangement of props (including »
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"The Halfway House is an enjoyable mystery tale of a group of strangers driven to take shelter at a remote Welsh Inn during a storm. Each has a personal problem to hide, but they are soon brought together by unsettling events perhaps precipitated by their hosts, the enigmatic innkeepers. Starring Mervyn Johns and real-life daughter Glynis, The Halfway House was written by Anghus McPhail (Whisky Galore!, It Always Rains on Sunday), Diana Morgan (Went the Day Well?, Pink String and Sealing Wax) and T.E.B. Clarke (Passport to Pimlico, The Titfield Thunderbolt) from the stage play by Denis Ogden."
To be in with a chance »
I just finished watching this jazz-infused 1962 psychodrama from British filmmaker Basil Dearden, titled All Night Long; it’s basically a retelling of Shakespeare’s Othello, set in a 1960s London jazz club, taking place over the course of one eventful evening.
As interracial couple, and band mates, Aurelius Rex (played by Paul Harris) and Delia Lane (played by Marti Stevens), celebrate their first wedding anniversary, jealous, ambitious drummer, Johnny Cousin (Patrick McGoohan), who wants Delia for himself to headline his own burgeoning band, works feverishly to tear the couple apart, with lies and deception. A familiar story of jealousy and treachery.
And by the time the night draws to a close, the previously-happily married Aurelius has been deceived into trying to murder his beloved wife, and her believed to be lover.
It’s provoking, especially for a film of its time. Not a film that I’d expect to be »
Last week this column featured a review from the most recent Eclipse Series release, Silent Naruse. Sharp-eyed, or perhaps somewhat obsessive-compulsive, readers may have taken note that I had not yet made any mention in this space of the Eclipse set that preceded Silent Naruse. There’s a simple reason for that: I was waiting for the late 50s/early 60s films included in Eclipse Series 25: Basil Dearden’s London Underground to come up in the meticulous chronological sequence I use in my main blog, Criterion Reflections, where I’ve just recently advanced to the movies of 1959. (And with that disclosure, those same sharp-eyed readers are now wondering just who I am to call anyone else “somewhat obsessive-compulsive.”) Well, since I’ve moved past the double feature of First Man Into Space and Corridors of Blood, that point in the timeline has been reached. This week, I’m buffing up and polishing Sapphire. »
- David Blakeslee
"The title of Basil Dearden's London Underground, a four-dvd Eclipse Series box set from Criterion Collection covering the late 50s and early 60s work of the British director, is a bit deceptive," finds Steve Erickson in Gay City News. "To be fair, Dearden's work was often prescient about the coming rebellions of the 1960s, depicting the beginnings of the black and gay civil rights movements. However, he did so from a well-intentioned but square outsider's perspective. There's a world of difference between Dearden's visions of interracial couples in Sapphire and All Night Long and the excoriations of Japanese director Nagisa Oshima, recently honored with his own Eclipse box set, aimed at his country's discrimination against Koreans. Dearden's noble politics are often expressed through plodding filmmaking. Still, he beat a seemingly more progressive director like Oshima to the punch in one respect. Dearden took on the subject of homosexuality when »
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Broadcast News (Criterion Collection) This arrived on Monday afternoon so I've only had the chance to remove the cellophane. However, this was my most anticipated title from Criterion this January as I've heard so much about this film from James Brooks but have never seen it. The disc comes with a brand new audio commentary with Brooks and film editor Richard Marks as well as deleted scenes and an alternate ending with commentary from Brooks. I should have a full review within the next week. Dogtooth I didn't know this one was coming out today until I was putting together this article and I'm sure Kino is half-excited and half-upset at the prospect it's landing the same day as the Oscar nominations are announced. On one hand it's nice to hit shelves the same day you could possibly be »
- Brad Brevet
Directed by Giorgos Lanthimos
Released by Kino
"Enter the Void" (2010)
Directed by Gaspar Noé
Released by Mpi Home Video
Somehow it's fitting that two of last year's most dangerous films will be hitting DVD shelves the same week, both being favorites of the IFC.com staff. "Dogtooth," Lanthimos' much-debated Un Certain Regard winner from Cannes, concerns the lives of three culturally isolated children -- two daughters and a son, who range from mid-teens to early 20s -- fenced in by their parents' country home, who receive a reeducation when their lone connection to the outside world, a female security guard for their parents' business, introduces them to the joys of sex and Sylvester Stallone films. Meanwhile, "Irreversible" provocateur Noé's latest is a wildly ambitious 155-minute extravaganza set inside the mind of a drug dealer told from the first-person perspective. Nathaniel Brown and "Boardwalk Empire" star Paz de la Huerta »
- Stephen Saito
DVD Playhouse: January 2011
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (20th Century Fox) Sequel to the seminal 1980s film catches up with a weathered, but still determined Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas, who seems to savor every syllable of Allan Loeb and Stephen Schiff’s screenplay) just out of jail and back on the comeback trail. In attempting to repair his relationship with his estranged daughter (Carey Mulligan), Gekko forges a reluctant alliance with her fiancé (Shia Labeouf), himself an ambitious young turk who finds himself seduced by Gekko’s silver tongue and promise of riches. Lifeless film is further evidence of director Oliver Stone’s decline. Once America’s most exciting filmmaker, Stone hasn’t delivered a film with any teeth since 1995’s Nixon. Labeouf and Mulligan generate no sparks on-screen, and the story feels forced from the protracted opening to the final, Disney-esque denouement. Only a brief cameo by Charlie Sheen, »
- The Hollywood Interview.com
I wrote about this British 1959 “doozy” of a film directed by Basil Dearden on S & A back in June Here and which deals with the murder investigation of a light skinned woman passing for white. I suggest anyone to go back and read that extensive piece about Sapphire which is truly a fascinating film with a truly skewed view of black life and people, though it was then, and still is by some, considered to be an important and (dare I say it) realistic and honest film.
I lamented that the film had never been available here on DVD (or even VHS for that matter) in the U.S., but I’ve just discovered that it will finally be available on DVD on Criterion’s lower priced Eclipse label on Jan 25. The catch however is that the DVD will is not available separately, but as part of Eclipse’s Basil Dearden »
11 items from 2011
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