Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Screen Two: The Firm (1989)
Alan Clarke goes out in style!!!
His last masterpiece. Alan Clarke of Scum and Made in Britain fame tackles the subject of football hooliganism deftly and precisely exposing the unique structures of the hooligans while utterly scornful of it. If Made in Britain is Clarke's finest and Scum is Clarke's most famous, this has to be his most underrated. totally convincing, Clarke shows a true understanding of both his subject and of the medium in general. using the documentary style to a devastated effect, the film has a feeling of utter truth, Gary Oldman in particular conveys that as an actor giving an extraordinary performance of raw power as the chief hooligan. Sadly people regard The Firm only as a Tom Cruise vehicle where in fact hidden away is something far more powerful, far more exciting and far more real, as a result it seems that the film conveys more about the brutality of hooliganism than even news reports do as reports tends to cater for an audience, this obviously doesn't and is hard as nails and totally uncompromising.This knocks the similar I.D into a cocked hat. Undoubtedly one of the finest British films of the 80's. this is simply a must see and finally when Clarke died less than two years later, England lost one of it's finest, more realistic filmmakers.
a real harrowing hard as nails classic.
As brilliant as Alien and Apocalypse Now were, the most realistic, truthful film of 79 has to be Scum. Banned by the BBC and converted into a feature film, this has to be British Cinema's most brutal look at prison life. Making absolutely no concessions to the subject matter or the audience, this absorbing, entertaining, thought provoking look at borstal, a teenage prison, is totally convincing as a document about prison life.
Using a documentary style director Alan Clarke shows us that borstals only make teenagers far worse. By no means glorifing the behaviour carried out by the youths however, Clarke deftly attacks the government and their techinques showing them to be more cruel and violent than the inmates.
Fiercely intelligent, this perfectly depicts the classes that the inmates grow into, there's the bullies, the boys who are often let by the wardens to carry on with their dirty work if they keep everyone in order, then there's the weaklings who often suffer as a result and the ones who just muck in, shut up and defend themselves when necessary. The story is simple; Carlin played by avery young Ray Winstone ) a young trouble maker but not particularly brutal minded arrives at this borstal, certainly not his first and certainly not his last has to climb up the ladder from being a neutral as so to speak to being the Daddy, the leader of the gang. Simply the film points out that you have to be brutal but fair if you're to survive in this kind of environment,although this is the basis to nearly any prison/action drama, rarely has it been made with such clarity, never has it hit home quite so much as it does here.
This is a film you won't forget in a hurry, in a way it's a real horror movie which conveys a sense of not being able to escape a horror based and rooted in reality,twenty years later the BBC drama Care with Steven Mackintosh would explore the long term effects of such exposure with incredible realism and power which shows the legacy of something as groundbreaking and real as Scum.
When Scum was first made in 1977 for the BBC, it was actually banned, the reason for this is something much further than mere censorship, in fact the Home Office actually supported the BBC and the borstals at the time so when they were confronted with this piece of brutal anti establishment filmmaking, the natural response was to dump it. One person for the BBC said something on the lines of this " yes it's true violence and abuse does go on in borstals as you see in Scum but in real life it goes on over a period of months rather than the continous stream of violence in scum which is conducted over a much shorter period."
Make of that what you will but did he know exactly what went on behind those walls and how often, one doesn't think so. What Clarke and his crew did after the contract on the film expired was to refilm it and convert into a cinema feature, it was eventually shown on channel 4 in 1983 but the BBC didn't show it until 1991 one year after Clarke's death. Only now getting the proper appreciation that it deserves, this is a true classic, this makes The Shawshank Redemption look sentimental and twee in comparison, this film personifies the word hard,right from the ballsy hold no bars script to the harsh photography by Phil Meheux ( Goldeneye ) this is not only rock solid, this little number launched the careers of quite an few people. Phil Daniels ( Quadrophenia, Clarke's Made in Britain and the Firm, Mike Leigh's Meantime and the chirpy voiceover for Blur's Parklife ) PC Quinlan from the Bill and of course Ray Winstone who after a dull patch in the 80's came back fighting with Gary Oldman's Nil by Mouth.
In conclusion four scenes from this film will stay in your mind forever SPOILERS ALERT the brutal gang rape of Davis in the conservatory while the warden turns a blind eye, Carlin smacking a snooker ball in a sock into Phil Daniels face, Carlin smashing the Daddy's head into a basin and most frightening of all, Davis slashing his wrists and what follows.
A film that won't suit all tastes but a film everyone should see, you'll never watch another prison drama in quite the same way.
Barry Lyndon (1975)
the most underrated film ever made!!!
On release, Barry Lyndon was critically savaged for no real good reason, some even saying that the film was too beautiful. although critics are more correct then you would usually think in most cases, in this case however they couldn't have been more incorrect.
One certainly wonders why it was so picked upon, in fact I havent a clue why as this is simply one of cinema's finest achievements. After Dr strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey and A Clockwork Orange, three more of the finest by the man himself, Stanley Kubrick. You could be forgiven if you had doubts whether he could do it a fourth time, thanks to John Alcott's amazing, rich cinematography, Ken Adam's note perfect production design and of course Stanley Kubrick's exciting, brilliant, matchless direction, this is simply gripping and exhilarating to watch, every frame dripping with pure class, the screenplay finely honed, sensible, realistic and the performances surprisingly excellent, especially Ryan O Neal who in other films like Walter Hill's The Driver is rather bland, but here his potential is realised a hundred fold.
But Marisa Berenson also scores as his wife giving a subtle engaging performance giving justice to the story, the script and the direction.
Based on a minor Thackeray novel, the story under Kubrick's masterful touch becomes anything but minor which follows O Neal's adventurer Redmond Barry who as an army deserter rises to the top of high society by marrying Mrs Lyndon ( Berenson ) but due to his greed falls slowly to the bottom. Together with the Godfather Part 2, Barry Lyndon is perhaps the ultimate cinematic statement of how power and greed corrupt and thanks to Kubrick who also adapted the script meshes together this important theme with the visual splendor to achieve a perfectly balanced, atmospheric three dimensional effect that is often staggering and heart poundingly gripping to watch. Perhaps the best example of this is when the circumstances of Redmond's greed catch up with him and he takes part in a duel with his son in law, not only does the pure brilliance and the perfect co ordination of the scene blow you away, it's the sheer suspense of wanting to know what happens to Barry next as despite his greed is still an human and most of us would do the same if given the chance and we deep down know it. Winning oscars deservedly for it's photography, art direction, costumes and adapted score, there can be doubt of it's sheer brilliance, a film manages to be different from Kubrick's others, substituting his trademark icy intelligence for a more suitable emotional warmth, this is undoubtedly his most moving picture, together with A Clockwork Orange this is a great contender for the honour of his best picture but most importantly, ignore the critics, it's an utterly unmissable epic of the finest kind, in fact as Barry Norman said " it's the most beautiful film i can remember " too right.
Point Break (1991)
breathtakingly exciting, adrenaline soaked.
Surely one of the most exciting action movies of the 90's, although Terminator 2 beats it to film of the year, this comes close, with Cameron's former wife Kathryn Bigelow directing ( she directed Near Dark )you might be forgiven for thinking this may well be another action movie wannabe, however she adds a kind of searing energy and heart pounding adrenaline to the proceedings that makes an solid action film into something else and sends you to the repeat button over and over again. Well scripted by W Peter Iliff and remarkably well photographed, this like one of Cameron's movies is technically brilliant, featuring an enjoyably implausible plot and perfect pacing. Bigelow certainly knows how to make an movie. The story is fairly simple, FBI agent Johnny Utah ( Keanu Reeves )goes undercover to try and catch an gang of bank robbers led by Patrick Swayze who are also surfers and during raids wear masks of former presidents which adds an brilliantly satirical edge to otherwise just superior action movie. Lori petty ( pre Tank Girl )is the love interest and Gary Busey is the veteran cop who assists him and all give excellent performances including Reeves who's never been better since. SPOILERALERT. But the real reason to see this though is to see the final bank raid that goes spectacularly wrong and most of all to see Johnny Utah ( what a cool name!!! ) jump without an parachute. All in all, well worth seeing and an superb action fest.
as good as lock,stock
With the success of Lock,Stock under his belt, Expectations for Guy Ritchie's next one was going to be high and thank god, he succeeded, easily as good as Lock,Stock and while comparisons could be made with Pulp Fiction ( the beginning features the back of a bald head just like pulp ) and it might take a while to get your head round the plot but trust me this is as good a follow up to Lock,Stock as you could hope for. With excellent performances by Vinnie jones as Bullet Tooth Tony, Brad Pitt as boxer one punch mickey, Mike reid as an Jewish diamond dealer, Jason Staham as the main hero,Turkish, Stephen Graham as his mate,Tommy and Benicio del toro as Frankie four fingers, this is an dazzlingly scripted work which scores on all counts.
The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)
** Contains Spoilers ** Even better than Nicolas Roeg's previous masterpiece, Don't Look Now, The Man who fell to Earth is surely one of the forgotten classics of the 1970's. telling the story of Thomas Newton played to perfection by David Bowie, an alien who arrives on earth in order to get water for his dying planet, in america, he becomes an successful inventor and businessman but sadly he begins to fall prey to the vices of booze, sex and tellevision, exceptionally performed by an excellent cast, in particular Rip Torn as the scientist who helps him, Candy Clark as his lover, Mary Lou and best of all, Buck Henry as his lawyer and head of his company Oliver Farnsworth. haunting, beautiful and dazzlingly atmospheric, Nicolas Roeg's direction and Anthony Richmond's cinematography is spot on evoking perfectly, the world that Newton sees through his alien eyes, Roeg's Mosiac like approach, sex scenes cut like musical numbers and an devastating look at how America corrupts, how mankind corrupts, how it corrupts Newton creates a utterly disturbing atmosphere that it never loses and stays with long after the credits have finished and on repeated viewings. Also the film seems an collision of lost souls, Mary lou, Price the scientist and Farnsworth all seem to be lost before Newton comes into their lives, Price seems to be ageing, a derelict, a shadow of his former self trying to live out his youth with young girls, Mary Lou stuck in a horrible job, friendless, alone, Farnsworth who seems on the other hand to be bored, seeking change, unsatisified with his life. All this changes when Newton walks in, it takes someone from another planet to change them, he gives them an chance but SPOILER ALERT, it kills Farnsworth ( he gets killed by rivals )and Price turns Judas like as he betrays him as does Mary Lou who sadly leaves him.. The film ends with Newton crying into a glass of gin, left to die while Price and Mary Lou comfort one another, a true sign that mankind is doomed as well as Newton's home planet. SPOILER ALERT. The film contains some particularly brilliant sequences, the opening with Newton arriving on Earth, Newton staring into the gleaming skyscrapers of Los angeles and newton's dream of his project taking off and saving his home planet and family from death intercut with the sacrafice of which he has made to make who is of course, Mary Lou. and finally the death of Farnsworth who in a particularly disturbing sequence is after two tries is thrown out of his office window, the first try,they fail to break the glass and Farnsworth apologises, plain evidence that he has been defeated by the system just as Newton is at the same time as he is kidnapped by his own driver, Arthur. after he is thrown, you see him fall in slow motion, brilliantly shot and edited. All of this proves that this is a bleak, stark, disturbing film which must be seen just to see how vulnerable we all are, how innocence ( in the form of Newton ) is corrupted by everyone and everything but also to see what an brilliantly scripted, perfectly paced, exhilarating, awesomely directed science fiction movie this is.
The Last Emperor (1987)
From the director of the misunderstood and woefully underrated Last Tango in Paris, Bernardo Bertolucci comes his finest and most accomplished outing yet. Following the life of the last emperor in China, The fact that the film manages to fit an considerable amount of material into an relatively short space of time is an minor miracle, With excellent performances from John Lone as the emperor, Joan Chen as the empress and Peter o Toole as his english teacher. This is truly a work of art but what makes this particularly compelling is possibly the greatest example of cinematography to date by Italian genius Vittaro Storaro. The effect created by him is truly stunning and recreates the emperor's world perfectly, photography that hasn't quite been matched before or since by anyone. Bernardo Bertolucci directs with an sure artist's hand pacing the story and dazzling visuals to perfection. This is also an study of how noone is invulnerable and most importantly, how power corrupts.
Hands of the Ripper (1971)
the finest hammer film since dracula!
A masterpiece of suspense and terror. Hungarian Peter Sasdy who previously worked on Countess Dracula and Taste the blood of Dracula brings an strangely overwelming power to this original and masterful twist on the legend of Jack the ripper. Beautifully photographed and performed. this is sorely underrated and the last masterpiece made for hammer. carefully paced, geniunely frightening and heart-poundingly exciting, this is something that will live long in the memory. Eric porter and the beautiful Anagalad Rees provide vivid intense pefromances as the doctor trying cure the daughter of jack the ripper. With a lurid, vivid atmosphere all of it's own, it's a shame neither Hammer or Sasdy could match it, Sasdy for the rest of his short career was wasted on confused films such as I don't want to be born. But we can rest assure he has crafted one of the finest, most effective horror films made in britain.
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
an exhilarating experience!!!!
After 2001: a space odyssey, one could be forgiven of thinking that Kubrick had reached his peak, but of course he topped it with this extraordinary adaptation of Anthony Burgess's accomplished, dazzingly original novel. With perhaps the finest director ever ( after Scorsese ) behind the helm, This is sheer brilliance. Diluting Burgess's unique nadsat language for a more coherent effect. this is satisfyingly accessible yet dazzingly powerful, perfectly rendered, utterly memorable and highly exhilarating. combining careful, perfect pacing, an wicked sense of humour and a brilliant sense of politics. this is filmmaking at it's unparalleled best. The story is correctly simple yet epic and breathtaking in scope. a gang member being captured by the government, subjected to tests and put out into the world, a non violent person skillfully raises issues of freedom of will and corruption highlighted further by his love of Beethoven being taken away from him as well as his love of violence showing the blatant disregard of the government just wanting to please the people without caring what side effects it might have on such people as Alex. Malcolm McDowell is perfect as Alex de Large who's basically a thug but he also employs our sympathy and pity as he is paid back in full for all the bad things he has done which in the film are shown in brilliantly stylized but undeniably disturbing fashion. these feature the beating of an writer Mr Alexander( Patrick Magee,who is superb )and the horrifying rape of his wife to Singing in the rain, the ferocious beating of an old tramp, an attack on a rival gang, group sex and most memorably perhaps, the beating to death of an gymnast with an huge phallus like object. As you might of guessed, this is also an frightening and brilliantly disturbing experience. Often misconceived as a mere video nasty, this is so much more than that, it might be as shocking as it was but with the state of the world as it is today, it's dazzling, brilliantly flawless, impressive vision is coming closer to reality making it even more disturbing and even ahead of it's time today. Utterly unmissable and written and directed to perfection by cinema's most daring auteur to date, this is the finest film made in britain and one of the top 10 ever made. an bold statement perhaps but an true one.
the finest film ever made
where do i start, scorsese was in a bit of a dark period at the time after the undeserved failures of raging bull, king of comedy, after hours and the last temptation of christ, adapting from the true story of henry hill with the co writer of the book, nicholas phleggi. scorsese fashioned something incredibly brilliant out of it, with stunning, almost claustrophobic photography by michael ballhus, perfect paced editing from michael powell's widow ( he died the same year the film came out) thelma schoonmaker and an truly exhilarating mix of pithy, sharp, realistic dialogue, careful, amazingly spot on pacing and of course perhaps the finest example of direction ever to appear on screen all combine with jaw dropping peformances (especially from pesci who's " you think i'm funny speech " has to the most menacing speech of all time )to be the finest film ever made.