Reviews written by registered user
|10 reviews in total|
As a youngster, I fondly remember seeing a Warner Bros B film in my home town of Coalville, Leicestershire, UK. This was Law Vs Gangster; although i'm going back 50 years when i was a regular at the Saturday afternoon matinées, I believe the star was Frank Gifford. I'd tried tracing this film previously without success but I've now discovered it was actually an episode from this Warner Bros TV series, - which I'd not heard of before. Looking at the cast lists, I would be delighted if Warners were to release a sampler DVD in their Television Favourites series. Not much hope of that I'm sure. I also recall seeing the Natalie Wood episode, Girl On The Subway on BBC Television as a youngster.
I saw this film, presumably in 1980, at the British seaside resort of Great Yarmouth, whilst on an idyllic camping holiday based at Lowestoft. What attracted me (and my lady friend at the time) to the cinema was not this magical little short but the fact that it was showing with the current screwball hit comedy, Airplane. I had no knowledge of Cry Wolf at all. The cinema was just about full to capacity, and on came the short B film. The cast is made up of lots of familiar names to British film and TV fans, but nothing could have prepared me for this little treat. The script is deliberately (I assume) as corny as possible with lots of obvious and overplayed comical nods to the old Universal horror classics, - and it's in traditional black and white. This is one weird short, great fun, and I'd love to see it again. One more thing, when the film finished, the audience burst out in spontaneous, loud applause!
As voluntary Cinema Manager at Coalville's Century Theatre, I'm always on the lookout for films of artistic quality which are not necessarily multiplex successes. I must confess I did read a couple of newspaper reviews when this film was first released in the UK, - they weren't particularly favourable but they did highlight the Robert Towne/Chinatown connection, - but I forgot all about it until I visited Italy for a weekend holiday in July. As I was passing a cinema in Verona, I was attracted by a couple of very attractive stills...for Ask The Dust. I decided to find out a bit more about the film when I returned home. After doing this, I felt it would be deserving of a screening at our little venue and I booked the film as soon as it was made available to the non-theatrical circuit. I eventually showed the film last night and I believe this was the first public showing in Leicestershire. I fully endorse the comments of others before me, - the lighting, sets, period sense and cinematography are absolutely marvellous, - just literally lovely to look at. I thought Colin Farrell was fine in the central role and am at a loss why he's come in for criticism from some quarters for this performance. Salma Hayek also scores in her sniping early scenes with Farrell and portrays well her character's fears and insecurities at a time when being Mexican was so obviously looked down upon (a very neat selection by Towne for the film excerpt in the cinema scene). Pity our own Eileen Atkins had such a tiny role. Although certainly not a commercial film, it does feature some memorable scenes such as the Long Beach earthquake and the moonlight swim among the crashing waves. And I really liked the idyllic seaside period enjoyed by the two (eventual!) lovers...with the little dog. A good sharp ending in true old-fashioned Hollywood style with a nod towards Camille, which apparently is not in the book, so I've read. After the film finished, I wasn't sure how my audience would react but comments were generally very favourable...and the fairly overt but well-handled sex scene had caused no offence...in fact I did get a couple of middle aged ladies offering glowing expressions with their references to Mr Farrell's appearance in that scene. A very good, quality film, lovingly made by Robert Towne...but one couldn't help thinking with a little more sharpness early on, it could have been even better. It's a piece that will linger in the memory though, in my opinion, and you can't say that about the majority of the modern day films.
I still fondly recall this excellent BBC classic serial which was shown in the days of regular classic children's serials in the Sunday teatime slot. I've always been quite a fan of Fenimore Cooper's heroic but quite complicated character Natty Bumpo, more commonly known as Hawkeye. Sadly, most US depictions of the character have been shallow, merely portraying Hawkeye as an action man of early American pioneer life, and most of the US feature films/TV films are disappointing. Although I enjoyed Daniel Day Lewis' interpretation of Hawkeye as a dramatic piece, this was still not the character I identify with. This BBC serial, however, remains faithful to Fenimore Cooper's original novel. It is therefore, naturally, a far more leisurely piece than the US adaptations and Pathfinder's idealistic personality is fully revealed as the courageous and fair-minded frontier scout as he protects Mabel, the young woman he loves. Paul Massie's portrayal of Hawkeye, to my mind, is the most memorable that I have come across, the definite depiction of Cooper's character on screen. Credit here is also due to Alistair Bell and Allan Prior's fine script, which fully captures the original feel of Cooper's Leatherstocking novels. One wonders if the serial is still languishing on tape in the vaults of the BBC...how wonderful it would be to see it once again!
I booked this independent little British film to show at Coalville's Century Theatre, on the Non-Theatrical circuit. Titled "Pierrepoint" here in the UK, this is a case of another quality British film being routinely ignored by the multiplexes in favour of the usual fodder presented for the masses. I was confident my regular audience would be interested by this true story of mass executioner Albert Pierrepont who really was 'a household name' in the 50s and 60s. In actual fact, Mr Pierrepoint was NOT 'the last hangman' in the UK. It really is a remarkably entertaining picture considering the obviously dour storyline, much aided by the portrayal of charismatic star Timothy Spall, who can be relied upon to always give an interesting and engrossing performance. Mr Spall is no matinée idol lead but not many would argue he is one of the most popular actors in Britain today. The film explains how Albert followed in the same 'career' of his father and Uncle Tom (who is briefly portrayed in the film), and interestingly reveals the technical side of his skillful and efficient methods for a successful result! Along the way, Albert is seen with Field Marshal Montgomery, who personally recommended Pierrepoint to carry out the Nuremburg executions, as well as other familiar people such as Timothy Evans, Derek Bentley and Ruth Ellis, all of whose cases fed the argument for the abolition of capital punishment. In the film, much dramatic use is made of Pierrepoint's execution of his friend, 'Tish', who often sang duets with Albert in the latter's pub. This really is true, very much a case of stranger than fiction. This film is strangely entertaining, never dull, although I noted some of the female members of my audience were regularly looking downwards whenever a hanging was shown. However, afterwards, there many favourable comments about this film and we were still talking about it at the post show drink in the pub afterwards! Obviously achieved on a very restricted budget, but a film to be recommended.
To be honest, being more or less given a free rein to book the films at Coalville's Century Theatre, I wasn't too keen to show this film as I had the impression it was artistically beautiful but very lightweight in plot for its considerable running time. Also, I usually only have two Century Cinema evenings per month and there appeared to be no advance notice of the film being released to the Non-Theatrical circuit. However, after a recent Friday film night, a lady approached me and politely enquired if I had plans to show Memoirs Of A Geisha. I said I thought not, as it looked like it wasn't going to be coming up for bookings on our circuit. The lady was obviously disappointed and I couldn't help wondering what had happened to this film, which was now available for public purchase or rental for home viewing. On the following Monday, I contacted the Non-Theatrical Distributors to enquire about this film and was told its release had been held up by a dispute over film rights, but this had now been cleared up and the film would be available within days. By now I'd 'tested the water' by asking Century regulars if they'd be interested in viewing the film and there was obviously significant interest, so I immediately fixed up a booking to show 'Geisha' at the next free date. I have to say I personally found the film very engrossing and not lightweight at all! A very engaging storyline (I've not read Arthur Golden's novel), brilliant set designs, and, to me, excellent acting performances/characterisations from the leading actresses, with a very appealing performance by Suzuka Ohga as the young Chiyo. At times I seemed to miss out on pieces of dialogue from these actresses and put it down to my state of hearing at 58 years, but I've since noted this has been a 'problem' to previous reviewers and it certainly didn't impair my following the storyline. Our local press film reviewer (who is actually very fair and informative) commented, "Disappointingly, the central love story never takes flight". But this was fundamentally pivotal to the plot development...Chiyo/Sayuri had only one love interest in her life, which she never gave up. I personally thought it was a delightful 'love story', with a very satisfying ending as Suriya finally understands the mysterious circumstances of Mameha's training of her to become such an elegant and accomplished geisha. I also felt the music soundtrack was perfect for the film and I loved the ongoing narrative, which added to the 'Japanese' feel. And yet almost all the film was shot around LA...nice work by director Rob Marshall, and a worthy winner of three Oscars. As our audience left, after the screening, everyone seemed to be in good spirits, and one gentleman of mature years commented (with a smile), "That was different". I agreed. The charming lady who'd set the ball rolling by first requesting the film, came up and added her personal thanks, she'd certainly enjoyed it. In turn, I thanked her...it's been our most successful film of the Summer so far. Incidentally, I can understand the problem of film rights as according to the opening credits there were five production companies involved in the making of this romantic epic.
I saw this film in a late night slot many years ago on BBC television and it left a lasting impression. It was obviously made on a very tight budget, with next to no location shooting, but included a very telling performance from George Montgomery, one of his best in my opinion. Reading Ms Lott's account/synopsis, however, has thrown me a bit, as it's not how I remember the film. However, I must stress it was a long time ago when I viewed it! The action was, as I recall, almost all set during the night hours when policeman Montgomery walked his beat, the so called Street Of Sinners. Persoff was the local badman at the heart of the troubled area. George was on friendly terms with the ladies of the night, whilst also striving to reform the local youngsters.I remember one great scene where our hero walked into a bar and slammed his night stick baton on the bar and closed down the joint. Sadly, this underrated little picture has never been shown again on UK television. I shall continue to hope that it will one day be released on DVD.
Another popular screening for a British picture at Coalville's Century Theatre. A well crafted, solid drama with an ever developing plot and ongoing 'twists in the tale'...as the lies piled up! A masterclass of acting by a flawless cast, well marshaled by first time director Julian Fellowes. Outstanding performance, as usual, by Tom Wilkinson but good turns by all concerned including supporting actors Linda Bassett and John Neville. Our audience was engrossed by this film, which includes a couple of shock incidents which really make you 'jump'. A good tight production at around only 80 minutes, probably produced on a very limited budget, but a success, which should see Fellowes directing again for the big screen. Some publicity for the film seemed to suggest it was set in the 50s (as per Nigel Balchin's novel)but obviously this is not the case. Recommended viewing.
I had to wait quite a while before I could show Keeping Mum at the Century Theatre in Coalville, Leicestershire. Being on the non-theatrical circuit, it's always a slow process obtaining films released by Entertainment Films. However, I had a feeling this British comedy would appeal to our mature audience (including myself!). I was right, a very popular choice...and it was worth the wait. To be honest, anything featuring Maggie Smith or Judi Dench can't fail at the Century and, as expected, Maggie steals the show as usual in this picture, with a very restrained but humorous portrayal of the mysterious new housekeeper to pastor Rowan Atkinson and his errant family. Atkinson also does well, underplaying nicely in his role, but typically funny in the village soccer match. Also, a very emotional scene when he delivers his speech at the conference. I certainly won't spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen this very dark comedy but I will say, don't miss the very start of the film, as this is obviously of great importance to what follows. Another Brit success!
I showed this film at our local theatre, where I voluntarily act as cinema manager, presenting two Friday night film shows per month. We had a good turnout and our mature, discerning audience really enjoyed this light comedy romance set in London's West End, immediately prior to the outbreak of World War Two. Zoe Tapper makes a lovely, charming heroine while Leo Bill does well as her 'reptile cousin', Garstin. Terence Stamp steals the show as a butler delivering a succession of witty/sarcastic comments (which had our audience laughing out loud). Debutant director Julia Taylor-Stanley has produced a commendable first effort, - a piece of glamorous, escapist, old-fashioned cinema with a terrific cast and an outstanding music soundtrack. Perfect for those Senior Screen film shows, in my opinion!