Award-winning actor/comedian Ricky Gervais' first-ever HBO stand-up special features his unique takes on such disparate issues as fund-raising, autism, fame, nursery rhymes, Nazis, moronic friends, obesity and more.
It's 1973 in Cemetery Junction, a Reading suburb. Three working class lads, best friends, are coming of age. Freddie wants to rise above his station, taking a job selling life insurance, wearing a suit and tie. Snork works at the railway station and wants a girlfriend some day. Bruce talks of leaving but seems on track to work at a factory, drink and fight, and become like his dad, in front of the telly with beer on hand; and he's trying the patience of the police officer who gets him out of jams. Freddie's job leads the lads toward a few small changes. He runs across a childhood friend, Julie, his boss's daughter who's engaged to the firm's top seller. Can the lads break out? Written by
During the live band scene a powered speaker appears on stage
(then disappears). It's a Mackie SRM450. These weren't invented until the 1990s. See more »
Frederick Taylor. Freddie Taylor. Welcome to Vigilant Life Assurance. I see you grew up in Cemetery Junction. Went to Stone Meade, the worst school in the south of England.
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Gervais brings big screen budget to small town Britain
Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's nostalgic comedy drama of 1970s Britain has its heart in the right place. OK, there is nothing strikingly original here think 'The Likely Lads' meets American buddy movie spliced with stock Gervais stand-up material but the craft of this movie lies not in breaking boundaries. Instead, it offers its audience a chance to feel the warm cosiness of familiarity.
The film charts the hopes and dreams of three friends as they seek to break out of a small, stagnating community before they end up trapped in the same dead-end lives of their parents. Their loyalty to each other forms the heart of the story, even as they come to realise that their aspirations will inevitably lead them in different directions. The motivation for their friendship relies on a genuine apprehension that there may be no escape from the stifling 50s attitude that pervades their community. This is, as they so wryly remark, a town that the Swinging Sixties passed by.
The characters work well together there's an engaging chemistry between the three relatively unknown actors. Christian Cooke plays Freddie Taylor, the boy with a job with an insurance company, hoping to leave behind the factory work of his father. Tom Hughes is excellent as the angry, rebellious Bruce, appalled by his dad's lack of spirit yet all too aware of his own grim prospects. The trio is completed by Jack Doolan as 'Snork', the hapless station announcer looking up to the flair of his closest friends. The three leads are ably supported by a cast that includes Ralph Fiennes and Emily Watson, as well as some familiar faces from the Gervais and Merchant back catalogue. A prize for anyone who spots Karl Pilkington's fetching moustache
Whilst there are moments where the dialogue appears more than a little stilted, for the most part the action fizzes nicely between the three characters. He may only have a small role within the actual film, but Gervais' voice is clearly audible whenever there is an intelligent put-down or a comic observation. At times this intrudes on the authenticity of the characters, but generally the dialogue allows for a neat separation between Gervais' inclination towards biting comic scrutiny, and his more tempered capacity for gentle human interaction.
Including a jukebox medley of a soundtrack that includes 70s classics from, among others, David Bowie and T-Rex, the film has that reflective rose-tinted-spectacle feel that has become so familiar to us in American films, but is far less common with the British cinema industry. Perhaps it's the weighty budget behind this film that sets it apart from other recent British period pieces. Perhaps it's the ability of the directors to throw off their typical British scepticism and capture that sense of breezy reminiscence.
Whatever the answer, this is, for me, far more of an "American" film than movies such as 'Trainspotting', 'The Full Monty', or 'This Is England'. However, there is enough self-conscious humour and knowing sideways glances to make us realise that this is still a British film by a pair of British writers who, in 'The Office', gave us the best portrayal of British society for the new millennium. Gervais and Merchant have confirmed in this film that they are just about capable of making that dangerous leap from television to cinema. There is hopefully more to come, but 'Cemetery Junction' shows that their tongue-in-cheek blend of laughter and tears isn't likely to end with 'The Office' and 'Extras'.
James Gill Twitter @jg8608 Find more reviews at http://web.me.com/gilljames/Single_Admission
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