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Top 10 musicals

Musicals have been tap dancing their way into moviegoers' hearts since the invention of cinema sound itself. From Oliver! to Singin' in the Rain, here are the Guardian and Observer critics' picks of the 10 best

• Top 10 documentaries

• Top 10 movie adaptations

• Top 10 animated movies

• Top 10 silent movies

• Top 10 sports movies

• Top 10 film noir

• More Guardian and Observer critics' top 10s

10. Oliver!

Historically, the British musical has been intertwined with British music, drawing on music hall in the 1940s and the pop charts in the 50s – low-budget films of provincial interest and nothing to trouble the bosses at MGM. In the late 60s, however, the genre enjoyed a brief, high-profile heyday, and between Tommy Steele in Half a Sixpence (1967) and Richard Attenborough's star-studded Oh! What A Lovely War (1969) came the biggest of them all: Oliver! (1968), Carol Reed's adaptation of Lionel Bart's 1960 stage hit and the recipient of six Academy awards.
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Philip French's classic DVD: The Devils

(Ken Russell, 1971, BFI, 18)

Ken Russell's best work was done by the early 1970s. First his poetic TV essays on Elgar and Delius. Then, for the big screen, his bravely flamboyant adaptation of Lawrence's Women in Love and this sensational adaptation of John Whiting's 1961 RSC play, based on The Devils of Loudun, Aldous Huxley's remarkable 1952 study of how the church and state conspired to exploit an apparent case of demonic possession in 17th-century France in order to destroy Father Urbain Grandier, a charismatic libertine who challenged their authority. The censors, the film's Hollywood producers and the tabloid press reacted to the film much the way the French authorities did to Grandier in 1634, and this excellent double-disc box contains the longest version yet released of this much cut movie, accompanied by a commentary (by Mark Kermode, Russell and others) and a documentary by Kermode and Paul Joyce that sets
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Festivals round-up: Ken Russell Forever, Rendez-Vous With French Cinema, BFI London Lgff, Annecy 2012

In a tribute to British filmmaker Ken Russell, who died in November 2011 at the age of 84, a selection of his work is being presented at several London cinemas this month.

Among his credits are 1971's X-rated The Devils starring Oliver Reed and Vanessa Redgrave; 1975's Tommy, a star-studded smash-hit film version of The Who's rock opera; the 1980 sci-fi film Altered States, adapted from Paddy Chayefsky's novel and providing the feature film debuts of William Hurt and Drew Barrymore; and the 1988 cult classic horror flick The Lair of The White Worm, based on Bram Stoker's novel and starring Hugh Grant.

The programme of the London season of screenings ranges from his earliest television documentaries through to his most acclaimed feature films, plus discussions and special events.

Ken Russell Forever, which began on March 10 and finishes on March 20, has already screened films including Gothic, Crimes of Passion, Whore, Tommy, Altered States,
See full article at The Geek Files »

Film clubs' show of strength

Underground cinema proves itself a force to be reckoned with as London film clubs unite to celebrate the late British film-maker

This month film clubs across the capital will unite in tribute to one of our greatest and most controversial film-makers, Ken Russell, who died in November 2011. Over 10 days and 10 venues, Ken Russell Forever promises to be a fittingly excessive, raucous and idiosyncratic tribute, with cinemagoers able to gorge themselves on films from a career that spanned biopic, horror, musicals, documentaries, thrillers, grindhouse and more. If eyes could get indigestion, you'll be rolling yours in crushed up Rennies by the end of this rich mix.

Bringing together this ragtag group of film clubs, independent cinemas and film blogs is no small feat – and it surely marks a "moment" in the evolution of the pop-up cinema movement that has been quietly gathering steam for some time. Outfits as varied as Strange
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Delius: beauty in the ear of the beholder

His life was as romantic and colourful as his exquisite music, yet his works are rarely performed today. Delius deserves better, writes Julian Lloyd Webber

No other composer polarises opinion like Delius. You either love or loathe his music. And it is rare to find someone who has grown to like it. Although this coming year – the 150th anniversary of his birth – will bring opportunities to reassess his work, that central fact will never change.

I feel as if I have known Delius's music forever. My father was a devotee and I must have heard all of his most famous works (On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring, The Walk to the Paradise Garden, La Calinda, et al) well before I started playing his cello music. I always felt instinctively attuned to Delius's unique musical language, which seemed akin to watching a painting that is slowly changing in a constantly moving canvas of sound.
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Ken Russell obituary

Formidable film director with an impish sense of humour and a talent to entertain and provoke

Ken Russell, who has died aged 84, was so often called rude names – the wild man of British cinema, the apostle of excess, the oldest angry young man in the business – that he gave up denying it all quite early in his career. Indeed, he often seemed to court the very publicity that emphasised only the crudest assessment of his work. He gave the impression that he cared not a damn. Those who knew him better, however, knew that he did. Underneath all the showbiz bluster, he was an old softie. Or, perhaps as accurately, a talented boy who never quite grew up.

It has, of course, to be said that he was capable of almost any enormity in the careless rapture he brought to making his films. He could be dreadfully cruel to his undoubted talent,
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Ken Russell celebrated his – and my – eccentric musical obsessions

Russell got inside the psychological and emotional realities of the composers he loved, for which we should be ever grateful

I had two surpassingly strange obsessions as a teenage music lover: Anton Bruckner and Arnold Bax. And so, it turned out, did Ken Russell. I could hardly believe it when, after making his Bruckner film in 1990, The Strange Affliction of Anton Bruckner – a study of the Austrian composer's obsessive compulsive disorders, monastic seclusion and infatuation with young girls – Russell made a TV film a couple of years later about Bax, The Secret Life of Arnold Bax, the biggest prime-time exposure this otherwise little-known English composer is probably ever going to get.

Russell himself played Bax, and Glenda Jackson took the role of one of Bax's lovers, the pianist Harriet Cohen (in fact one of her last acting jobs before devoting her life to politics). But the scene that's burned into
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Ken Russell 1927 – 2011: A Tribute To A Controversial British Maverick

It’s always sad when an actor or filmmaker dies, and in 2011 we have had to mourn the loss of many great stars of past and present. Pete Postlethwaite, John Barry, Maria Schneider, Jane Russell, Michael Gough, Elizabeth Taylor, Sidney Lumet, Peter Falk – all great losses, many of them at much too young an age. Only ten days ago John Neville, the delightfully charismatic star of Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, passed away peacefully aged 86.

But perhaps none of these deaths should be mourned more than that of Ken Russell, who died this week in his sleep at the ripe old age of 84. Aside from his short-lived and ill-advised appearance on Celebrity Big Brother, his name will be unfamiliar to the majority of young filmgoers – people who didn’t grow up with his biopics of Elgar and Mahler, people who didn’t spend their twenties listening to Who records,
See full article at Obsessed with Film »

Ken Russell, flamboyant wild man of British cinema, dies aged 84

Oscar-nominated maverick found inspiration for his work in music and literature

After a film career full of wild drama, gaudy conflagrations and operatic flourishes, the director Ken Russell died quietly in hospital on Sunday afternoon at the age of 84, after suffering a series of strokes. – effecting a quiet, discreet exit from the comfort of his hospital bed. "My father died peacefully," said his son Alex Verney-Elliott. "He died with a smile on his face."

Known for his flamboyant, often outrageous brand of film-making, Russell made movies that juggled high and low culture with glee and invariably courted controversy. His 1969 breakthrough, the Oscar-winning Women in Love, electrified audiences with its infamous nude wrestling scene, while 1971's The Devils – a torrid brew of sex, violence and Catholicism – found itself banned across Italy and was initially rejected by its backer, Warner Bros. His other notable films include Altered States, The Boy Friend and Tommy,
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

In praise of … Ken Russell at the BBC

Inevitably for someone whose creative life stretched more than half a century, Ken Russell's long career had its peaks and troughs

Inevitably for someone whose creative life stretched more than half a century, Ken Russell's long career had its peaks and troughs. But Russell's work for the BBC – in particular for Huw Wheldon's Monitor programme – from 1959 to 1970 was a whole mountain range, a before and after of the arts on television. The Russell who developed from the short early films about the likes of John Betjeman and Shelagh Delaney to the full-length and increasingly cinematic programmes on Delius and Richard Strauss was a director who was stretching his medium to the limit. But his BBC work had a heady mix of individuality, creativity and – until the Strauss film – a passionate seriousness that has never been surpassed in arts television. Russell's film on Elgar was not just a
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Ken Russell: his film career was one colossal, chaotic rhapsody

The defiant romantic of British cinema never lacked for critics but his prime inspiration was surely in music

Part glam rocker, part wild-haired conductor, Ken Russell was the populist maestro of the screen, the great defiant romantic of British cinema. Russell's films showed his great love for music and composers: Elgar, Tchaikovsky, Delius, Strauss, Liszt – and Sandy Wilson and Roger Daltrey. Other film-makers might have found their creative impetus in novels or plays; Russell's inspiration was surely primarily in music. His ideas, his images, his rows, his career itself were all one colossal, chaotic rhapsody.

His adventures were a rebuke to British parochialism, literalism and complacency, and he had something of Kubrick's flair for startling or mind-bending spectacle. Russell gave us the nude wrestling scene between Alan Bates and Oliver Reed in the Oscar-winning Women In Love (1969) in which each actor, with Russell's cheerful consent, was said to have taken
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Ken Russell: Sex, nuns and rock'n'roll

Naked wrestling, religious mania and The Who's Tommy: director Ken Russell transformed British cinema. His closest collaborators recall a fierce, funny and groundbreaking talent

Glenda Jackson

I worked with Ken on six films. Women in Love was the first time I'd worked with a director of that genius, and on a film of that size. What I remember most was the creative and productive atmosphere on set: he was open to ideas from everyone, from the clapperboard operator upwards. Like any great director, he knew what he didn't want – but was open to everything else.

As a director he never said anything very specific. He'd say, "It needs to be a bit more … urrrgh, or a bit less hmmm", and you knew exactly what he meant. I used to ask him why he never said "Cut", and he said, "Because it means you always do something different." They gave
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

R.I.P. Ken Russell (1927-2011)

Flamboyant British filmmaker Ken Russell has passed away in his sleep on Sunday evening, aged 84. Born in Southampton in 1927, Russell started his career in the industry as a photographer and independent documentary filmmaker after spells in the Merchant Navy and Royal Air Force. His attention turned to the small screen in 1959 when he secured a job at the BBC, where he produced a number of successful documentaries including Elgar (1962), Isadora Duncan, the Biggest Dancer in the World (1967) and Song of Summer (1968), which he later described as the best film of his career. He also began to try his hand at feature films, making his debut in 1963 with the comedy French Dressing and directing Billion Dollar Brain (1967) before his major breakthrough, the D.H. Lawrence adaptation Women in Love (1969). The film proved revolutionary due to a nude wrestling scene featuring stars Oliver Reed and Alan Bates, and it also earned a host of accolades,
See full article at Flickeringmyth »

A tribute to the work of Ken Russell

Following the sad death of director Ken Russell yesterday, James looks back at his sometimes stunning body of work...

While his best years were clearly long behind him, the passing of director Ken Russell, one of the undoubted titans of post-war British cinema, still feels like a huge loss for the world of film. Contrarian, provocateur and a lover of excess in all its forms, Russell was a filmmaker whose work was rarely restrained, seldom safe and almost always memorable, although not necessarily for the right reasons.

Despite a childhood desire to be a ballet dancer, it was as a photographer that Russell initially made his name, and it was through this route that he secured a job in 1959 within the BBC.

Working as an arts documentarian during the 1960s, Russell honed his craft, creating a series of artful, evocative films, mainly focusing on composers such as Debussy, Elgar and Strauss.
See full article at Den of Geek »

Obituary: Ken Russell

Obituary: Ken Russell
Ken Russell, who has died aged 84, was so often called rude names – the wild man of British cinema, the apostle of excess, the oldest angry young man in the business – that he gave up denying it all quite early in his career. Indeed, he often seemed to court the very publicity that emphasised only the crudest assessment of his work. He gave the impression that he cared not a damn. Those who knew him better, however, knew that he did. Underneath all the showbiz bluster, he was an old softie. Or, perhaps as accurately, a talented boy who never quite grew up.

It has, of course, to be said that he was capable of almost any enormity in the careless rapture he brought to making his films. He could be dreadfully cruel to his undoubted talent,
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Ken Russell, 1927 - 2011

  • MUBI
Ken Russell, 1927 - 2011
"Ken Russell, the British director whose daring and sometimes outrageous films often tested the patience of audiences and critics, has died," reports the AP. "He was 84."

"Known for a flamboyant style that was developed during his early career in television, Russell's films often courted controversy," writes Henry Barnes for the Guardian. "Women in Love, released in 1969, became notorious for its nude male wrestling scene between Alan Bates and Oliver Reed, while Tommy, his starry version of The Who's rock opera, was his biggest commercial success, beginning as a stage musical before being reimagined for the screen in 1976. But Russell fell out of the limelight in recent years, as some of his funding resources dried up and his proposed projects ever more eclectic. He returned to the public eye in 2007, when he appeared on the fifth edition of Celebrity Big Brother, before quitting the show after a disagreement with fellow contestant Jade Goody.
See full article at MUBI »

Ken Russell dies aged 84

Ken Russell, the veteran director of Women in Love, The Devils and Tommy, has died at the age of 84

Ken Russell: a career in photos

Ken Russell, the director behind the Oscar-winning Women in Love has died aged 84. Russell died on Sunday in his sleep, according to his friend, the arts writer Norman Lebrecht.

Known for a flamboyant style developed during his early career in television, Russell's films mixed high and low culture with rare deftness and often courted high controversy. The Devils … a religious drama that featured an infamous scene between Oliver Reed and Venessa Redgrave sexualising the crucifixion – was initially rejected by Warner Brothers. It will be released in its entirety in March next year, 42 years after it was made, when it will form part of the British Board of Film Classification's centenary celebrations.

Women in Love, released in 1969, became notorious for its nude male wrestling scene
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

The musical legacy of Ken Russell: composers' marble busts made flesh and blood

John Bridcut on Ken Russell, a film-maker who 'resisted the facts getting in the way of his visual imagination'

The wild visual imagination of Ken Russell brought classical music to a whole new audience, and made his name notorious in respectable musical circles. His feature films about composers went straight for the jugular – sometimes almost literally, as in his blood-soaked Mahler. He loved the music, but he also loved the sex. He sold the idea of The Music Lovers on the basis that it was a story about a nymphomaniac who fell in love with a homosexual, and sure enough the film opens in a bedroom, with an unbridled romp between Richard Chamberlain as Tchaikovsky and Christopher Gable as his lover.

His films on Liszt, Debussy, Richard Strauss and Wagner all involved sexual fantasy, to the dismay and outrage of people who took the music rather more seriously. Each one made headlines,
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Ken Russell: a career in clips

The director Ken Russell has died aged 84. We look back at his most memorable moments, from The Devils to Women in Love

Ken Russell: films in photographs

After early attempts at carving out a career as a photographer, Russell and his future wife Shirley-Ann began making short films with a fantasy/parable bent – in contrast with the socially engaged spirit of the then influential Free Cinema movement. Peep Show (1956) was a parody of silent cinema, while arguably the most striking of the shorts was Amelia and the Angel, part funded by the BFI, about a girl looking for angel's wings for a school play.

Russell's proficiency got him noticed by the BBC, and he was put to work on the arts documentary strand Monitor. He made a string of TV programmes with increasingly elaborate formats – on everything from pop art to brass bands, culminating with his epic film about Edward Elgar,
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Ken Russell: a career in clips

The director Ken Russell has died aged 84. We look back at his most memorable moments, from The Devils to Women in Love

Ken Russell: films in photographs

After early attempts at carving out a career as a photographer, Russell and his future wife Shirley-Ann began making short films with a fantasy/parable bent – in contrast with the socially engaged spirit of the then influential Free Cinema movement. Peep Show (1956) was a parody of silent cinema, while arguably the most striking of the shorts was Amelia and the Angel, part funded by the BFI, about a girl looking for angel's wings for a school play.

Russell's proficiency got him noticed by the BBC, and he was put to work on the arts documentary strand Monitor. He made a string of TV programmes with increasingly elaborate formats – on everything from pop art to brass bands, culminating with his epic film about Edward Elgar,
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

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