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The whole Craig-not-Bond farrago was a reminder that, back in the early '60s, even Connery wasn't everyone's first choice. That seemed to work out okay and so, emphatically, did this.
Sure, we'd probably have sacrificed all that product-placement ahead of gadget-fiend, Q, and we kinda missed the silly kiss-off lines, but the return of Bond matched all reasonable expectations and then blasted past them. From Craig's first ppearancea Bourne-like flashback ferocious enough to pin moviegoers back in their seats, every head-punch, put-down and swimming-trunk-clad step felt like a mission statement for the reborn franchise.
You can almost hear the remote-controlled car backing hurriedly into the garage. Behind all the chiffon and posing is a seriously smart premise that Brian De Palma would later borrow for his thriller Blow Out It has Hemmings' David Bailey-alike realising that he's unwittingly photographed a murderer lurking in the treeline of a deserted park.
Returning the next day, he stumbles upon the victim's body, only for it to vanish soon afterwards. Will the snapper tear himself away from the sexy romping long enough to solve the case and bring the killer to justice? Come on, this is Antonioni we're talking about. If you've seen L'Avventurayou'll know that he prefers his mysteries unsolved.
Far from the dyed-in-the-wool petrolhead you might expect, Asif Kapadia 's knowledge of Formula 1 was fairly scant when he set to work on his mesmerising character study of Brazilian superstar Ayrton Senna. Definitive proof that politics — or movies about politics, at least — can be side-clutchingly funny, In The Loop is an expletive-filled masterclass in modern political satire, saying fuckety-bye to New Labour with one last cinematic kick to the balls.
Cracking out one-liners like "Christ on a bendy-bus. Don't be such a fucking faff arse" and "Good morning, my little chicks and cocks" he's definitely the star of the show, but Chris Addison, James Gandolfini and Steve Coogan steal a good scene too. It's a documentary movie about an event so fantastic you couldn't script it. It's a heist movie without any attempt at theft. And yet Man On Wire not only works brilliantly, but grips like a vice as it tells the story of daredevil Philippe Petit and his distinctly unsanctioned mission to tightrope walk and dance, and spin, and sit on a rope strung stories up between the summits of the twin towers of the WTC.
Months in the planning and hours in the execution, this combination of contemporary video and partial reconstruction gives modern viewers the chance to share in the magical and clearly impossible for all rational people, at least feats of Petit, still an endlessly energetic figure and, we must assume, something of a magician. His debut feature, a stark meditation on political protest, largely sidelined the actual politics behind Bobby Sands' Fassbender hunger strike to zoom in on the man himself.
It's not an easy watch, by any means. Michael Fassbender's astonishing portrayal of the dying IRA man is disquieting viewing, while McQueen's Maze Prison, faeces-smeared walls, urine sloshing corridors and all, will haunt your dreams. The 33lbs Fassbender lost for the part, a Machinist -like plunge into emaciation, translates into a performance filled with heavy-lidded determination: the frailer Sands' body becomes the stronger he seems, a dichotomy the actor explores to the full.
His 17 minute exchange with Liam Cunningham's Catholic priest offers an electric centrepiece scene captured in one unobtrusive take by McQueen's camera. Okay, Hunger probably isn't a movie to settle down to with a pizza, but it's an essential piece of modern art from a director we'll be seeing a whole lot more from. Another sparkling prize jewel in the already-gleaming crown of Ealing Studios, The Lavender Hill Mob is a quaintly British, lightly-satirical comedy among their very best.
Produced in the middle of what many consider to be the studio's peak years the post-War period from -director Charles Crichton and Oscar-nabbing screenwriter T. Clark crafted a likeably amoral crime caper centred on Alec Guinness' meek bank clerk who decides to pull off a brilliant gold robbery. Though later scenes hint at a possibly darker direction the Eiffel Tower chase, for instance, has obvious shades of Hitchcockthis is a lighter affair than other Ealing masterpieces such as Kind Hearts And Coronets or The Ladykillers.
The cast sings not literallybut the most satisfying moments both belong to Guinness; first, when he realises that he's the eponymous mob's boss, and second when he endearingly admits that he'd like to be called "Dutch". Chariots Of Fire is, perhaps, the definition of a movie that became too successful for its own good. Twenty-first century newcomers to Hugh Hudson's classic sports drama have to dig through a steeplejump's worth of hype, a catchphrase that looms like stormcloud screenwriter Colin Welland may always regret whooping, "The British are coming" when picking up his Oscarand a small army of top-hat wearing, ever-so-snooty characters that are hard to not laugh at on occasion.
But if you can see through all that, there is a beautiful movie beneath, dealing with devotion and identity, religion and fame. It's a piece of music so magnificent it'd make Zookeeper watchable, and we don't say that lightly. With the London Olympics year fast approaching, expect the film to return to favour in a blaze of not-on-Sunday patriotism and slightly tuneless whistling. Like many of Mike Leigh's films, Secrets And Lies was only loosely scripted, with the cast then improvising the rest.
The central idea is all Leigh's - in this case, an adopted, middle-class black woman Jean-Baptiste as Hortense Cumberbatch discovers her real mother is white and working class Blethyn as Cynthia Purleythrowing both their lives into an emotional maelstrom - but for the most part, the lines are the actors' own. Leigh's unorthodox directing technique may not be Hollywood's way doing things, but when the result is as touching and hilarious as Secrets And Liesit doesn't much matter.
Sure, no golden bald men ended up in Leigh's hands, but plenty of BAFTAs did, as well as the Palme d'Or, making it comfortably the biggest critical success of his career. Cynics often carp that British cinema falls into two distinct categories: the glossy costume efforts and the grim-oop-north dramas. This one, however, manages to leaven the grimness still very much present in the constant shadow of economic meltdown with a sense of humour and quiet determination, as a gang of unemployed steel workers try to make a little money by, well, stripping completely naked for a horde of baying women.
It's a true underdog story, glued together by immensely sympathetic performances, particularly from Carlyle, Addy and Wilkinson, all of whom were launched into Hollywood after their turns here. Worth watching just for the Post Office queue dance scene, wherein each of the team quietly start shifting in time to the music as they await their dole cheques.
This is more than just a music promo. It's more than a pre-MTV attempt to market a band through film. It's an honest-to-god comedy with genuine wit and heart and also - not incidentally - some terrific tunes.
A day in the life of the Fab Four at the height of Beatlemania, rushed out before their inevitable decline so thought the executives it went a long way to establishing the popular perceptions of each of the group, with Lennon as the smartass, McCartney the sensible one, Harrison quiet and Starr a clown. Aside from the obvious comic elements, much of it was true to their lives at the time, screenwriter Alun Owen spending weeks with the band observing their reality before constructing his script.
Richard Lester's sure direction and more fantastical touches completed the picture, reinventing the music biopic and inspiring everything from spy movies to The Monkees. One half of Britain's greatest filmmaking double act, Michael Powell's darker side came out to play when his old pal Emeric Pressburger wasn't about.
Powell struck out on his own with this startling thriller about a serial-killing filmmaker Boehm who murders his subjects with a blade hidden in his tripod. Audiences and critics hated it, and the controversy that surrounded its release was so acrid it practically finished Powell's career. Strangely, it wasn't entirely alone in its boundary pushing: Hitchcock's Psycho was delivering similarly psycho-sexual shocks across the Pond at the same time.
The difference? Hitch grabbed four Oscars and enough box-office loot to fill the Bates Motel; Peeping Tom played to empty cinemas. Peeping Tom's startling ideas - especially its suggestion that the audience was complicit in Boehm's brutal murders — were just too much for contemporary viewers to chew on. As Martin Scorsese, one of the film's great champions, points out: "It shows how the camera violates and the aggression of filmmaking.
Happily, the passing of time has been a whole lot kinder, although it's still not a brilliant date movie. Whichever way you cut it, it's one big mantlepiece. Rewatching it now, it's easy to see why. Anthony Dod Mantle's gorgeous cinematography makes India its very own, and Jamal Patel and Latika Pinto deliver the sweetest romantic moments seen in cinemas this century — including that glorious dance sequence during the credits. Some critics proclaimed it "feel-good" but with the persistent darkness throughout child slavery, battery-aided interrogation, drug-dealing and violence, anyone?
Still, it remains a stunning, Capra-esque Hollywood melodrama that blew the world away, and reminded everyone what a fantastic director Danny Boyle can be — as if that were in doubt. Another Ken Loach slice of unflinchingly-real social examination, another masterpiece that the masses probably won't have seen. Again focusing on poverty-stricken individuals trapped in the system, My Name Is Joe follows Peter Mullan 's reformed, alcoholic nutter Joe who coaches the local football team in Glasgow's mean streets while trying to avoid the bottle and any bother.
Affable, haunted and more sympathetic than Rocky, it's a stunning tour-de-force from Scot-scene regular Mullan, completely deserving of the Best Actor award it won him at Cannes. Bleak and tragic yet somehow hopeful, many will wish for a less downbeat finale, but such is Loach's commitment to realism.
And you rarely see endings that brave in blockbuster territory. This was the film that beat Saving Private Ryan to the Best Picture Oscar, probably because it's fizzier and more frivolous than Spielberg's effort, which the Academy occasionally responds to. As biopics go, it's high on invention and low on fact, but it's also a delightfully witty literary in-joke, reimagining Shakespeare's life as, well, a Shakespearean comedy of errors.
Tom Stoppard's script doctoring left the screenplay littered with in-jokes and direct lifts from the Bard's work, while a game cast of RSC stalwarts like Judi Dench so good as Elizabeth I that her cameo landed her an Oscar and American upstarts like then-ingenue Paltrow and Ben Affleck threw themselves into the caper.
Mixing tragedy and comedy, it may not - quite - be high art, but it's immense fun. The movement towards social realism in British films of the s wasn't merely confined to the present day; this Tony Richardson effort showed that it could be applied to period films too, and bawdy literary adaptations at that. Albert Finney was at his cocky, charming best as the young rapscallion of the title, raised a bastard by a kindly nobleman but denied his true love by his low birth.
Instead, he embarks on a series of love affairs, dogged by a jealous rival, until everything finally comes together at the very last minute. It's meticulously researched and constructed, but all done with such a breezy insouciance and flair, the characters even interacting with the camera and riffing on film style that silent movie opening, for instancethat it feels both thoroughly modern even now and very '60s, winning a clutch of Academy Awards for its trouble.
John Schlesinger's follow-up to the Oscar-winning Midnight Cowboy is the most personal film of the filmmaker's career. The first film to depict a non judgemental portrait of a homosexual character in a lead role, Sunday Bloody Sunday is an exquisitely explored menage a trois between Peter Finch's gay Jewish doctor, Glenda Jackson's career counselor and the sculptor Murray Head — he of One Night In Bangkok fame whom the couple both love.
This isn't a film about sexuality although Finch and Head's affectionate kiss caused a stir at the time ; it's a film about the minutiae of complex relationships realised through a trio of great performances. Also keep your eyes peeled for a year-old Daniel Day-Lewis in the minor role as a vandal. The third and still the best of the Potter films, this was the one where things got magical.
He's also helped by the fact that this is maybe the best of the books, upping the stakes more significantly than any other single instalment, introducing a welcome element of ambiguity to Hogwarts' hallowed halls with the development that an escaped prisoner may be responsible for the deaths of Harry's parents or, then again, not and that the cool new teacher may hide dangerous secrets.
The films may get progressively darker, but this one had just the right mix of shadows and light. Before presided over Ealing Studios' golden age, Michael Balcon is best remembered for giving a talented East London filmmaker a leg-up in the tough-as-knuckles British film industry. That man? Alfred Hitchcock. He turned out early potboilers for Balcon's Gainsborough Pictures in the '20s before moving across London with Balcon to Lime Grove Studios, the home of this classic romp. The 39 Steps is a compendium of classic Hitchcock trademarks, from Robert Donat's 'wrong man' to a sinister MacGuffin and a Hitch cameo upset that'd make mortal enemies of the Keep Britain Tidy campaign.
Witness, too, the chemistry he sparks between his romantic leads — the feisty pairing of Donat and Carroll squabble their way across the Scottish Highlands and into each other's arms — and the ever-building paranoia as that spy ring does its nefarious work. The identity of those spies is never specified, but if they're not carrying travel editions of Mein Kampfyou can melt our faces.
We hoped and prayed that Aardman's stop-motion magicians could find a way to turn our claymation heroes into movie stars, Dont Look Back - Angela Kelly - Minty: Favourite Songs From The Hit TV Series (CD).
Could they really sustain the wit and vibrancy of Wigan's delightful duo for a whole hour and a half? Wouldn't Wallace overdose on cheese along the way? We needn't have worried. The sparkling Curse Of The Were-Rabbit positively brims with ideas and energy, dazzling movie fans with sly references to everything from Hammer horrors and The Incredible Hulk to King Kong and Top Gunand bounds along like a hound in a hurry.
The plot, the part we foolishly thought might let it down, pitches the famously taciturn Dogwarts' alumnus and his Wensleydale-chomping owner Sallis against the dastardly Victor Quartermaine Fiennestaking mutating bunnies, Dont Look Back - Angela Kelly - Minty: Favourite Songs From The Hit TV Series (CD) marrows and the posh-as-biscuits Lady Tottington Bonham Carter along for the ride.
In short, it's the most marvellously English animation there is. Doing for the buddy-cop actioner what they did for the zombie movie with Shaun Of The DeadSpaced 's creative trio of Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and director Edgar Wright made it two-for-two on the big screen. It's initially a tad jarring to see Pegg as the straight man, but his natural chemistry with long-time real-life pal Frost remains endearing as ever.
When he wasn't working his devilish charm on Elizabeth Taylor, hanging out in bars with Peter O'Toole and Richard Harris or hunting sharks with his bare hands, Richard Burton was also a magnificent actor.
Here's early proof. Burton is very near his best in Tony Richardson's melodrama as Jimmy Porter, a jazz man stuck down the kind of dead end that's filled with British New Wave rebels. When he seethes "I have no public school scruples about hitting girls" at the sly Helena Claire Bloomyou know it's no empty threat.
He's Steetcar 's Stanley Kowalski on three pints of bitter; the closest thing s Derby has to its own volcano.
As claustrophobic and uncomfortable as the John Osborne stage play on which it's based, it was the first salvo in British cinema's class war. Here's a Mike Leigh film even for people who don't like Mike Leigh films, the director's ultra-naturalistic style softened by the period setting and enhanced by the heightened emotions of its characters. There's not a kitchen sink in sight as Gilbert Broadbent and Sullivan Corduner collaborate to create their Japan-inspired comic opera The Mikado, surrounded by performers who each have their own neuroses and crises and who, incidentally, do their own singing to boot.
Broadbent and Corduner are a wonderfully mismatched but mutually admiring pair: one a solid family man, the other a whore-loving drug addict.
The Wicker Man isn't scary in a conventional manner and, arguably, is more of a Gothic mystery than a horror movie, but you'd be hard-pushed to find a more disturbing and horrific film experience. Certainly one of the most chilling British movies ever created, there's something indefinably unsettling about Robin Hardy's strangely seductive cult chiller from the moment Edward Woodward sets foot on the remote Scottish island.
While his buttoned-up Christian copper from the mainland searches for a supposedly missing girl, this strange place hauntingly evolves from a small town of eccentric locals to a paranoid-flavoured asylum with no way out. In the lead, Woodward has never been better except perhaps in The Equaliserwhile nobody does sinister menace quite like Christopher Lee and his burning eyes.
If Anthony Minghella's death robbed British cinema of one of its most dazzling voices, this heartrending wartime romance stands as a fitting testament to his talent.
A Best Picture winner, it's a perfectly judged adaptation of Michael Ondaatje's novel, filled with tenderness and longing. As the North African sun beats down on Ralph Fiennes' enigmatic Count Laszlo, hideously burnt in his crashed biplane, all other considerations strip away but one: his fierce passion for the woman he loves. Part of its success is down to the stellar crew the Oscar-winning Minghella assembled. Walter Murch's editing another Oscar winner switches from the drama from North Africa to Italy's shell-pocked byways, while John Seale's photography yup, you guessed it gives us one of the best adverts for Tuscany committed to celluloid.
If you can watch this film and not want to go straight there and start defusing bombs, you've been watching a different movie. The Archers' critically-acclaimed gothic melodrama sees Deborah Kerr play Sister Clodagh, a young nun sent with four other sisters to establish a convent in an abandoned Himalayan palace.
At this point, things start to go wrong. Very wrong. Like, nun-going-crazy-with-jealousy-and-putting-on-unnunly-amounts-of-eyeliner wrong. Essentially a psychological drama, Black Narcissus 's emotional resonance in a nun-deprived modern world may be somewhat lessened, but there's no denying its influence amongst modern directors. Scorsese, for one, cites it as one of his favourite films. Then there's the striking cinematography from Jack Cardiff, a true great of British cinema.
The gleaming photography is especially astonishing when you consider that, despite being set in Darjeeling, the film was almost entirely shot at Pinewood Studios. It's no wonder then that Cardiff and art director Alfred Junge both won Oscars for their work. It remains one of the finest Technicolor productions of all time. We're all familiar with Sir Ben Kingsley, right?
Small chap, played Gandhirather refined and well-spoken. Well, not anymore. In this twist on the gangster movie, he's the psychotic gang boss Don Logan calling the happily retired Gary Dove Ray Winstone back to London from one last job.
Creepily magnetic when he's still, absolutely bloody terrifying when he starts spitting out profanities and acting out, it's a performance that will convince you that this man could cow even the hulking Winstone into obedience.
Admittedly, the one-last-job hook has been done before, but the characterization is so fresh and surprising here — and the Costa del Sol setting such a nice change from the usual gloomy skies — that it feels very much like its own beast. The problem with adapting Charles Dickens novels for the screen is that he was, essentially, paid by the word.
The resulting sprawling epics don't make for the sort of lean, muscular narrative that lends itself naturally to film. But what's great about this version of his rags-to-riches fable is that Lean and his fellow scriptwriters managed to find a central story — Pip's Mills love of Estella Hobson — to hang the film around, while still leaving enough space for the more memorable supporting characters Hunt's Miss Havisham, Francis L.
The black-and-white photography is gorgeous, some of David Lean 's pre-colour best, and the story sufficiently engrossing that you'll be able to overlook the gigantic top hats. If you're a Bowie fan hunting for another film starring Ziggy Stardust, this is not the movie you're looking for.
Whereas Jim Henderson's puppet-filled spectacular had entertainment at its heart, Nicolas Roeg's uber-thinky masterpiece seeks only to make your brain do several thinks at once. Layers of references cover blankets of metaphor, making what might appear to be a simple "man out of time, man out of place" tale into a chin-scratching cult classic. But that's a very good thing. Giving Bowie's acting ability one hell of a workout, Roeg takes him through periods of ecstasy, agony, and everywhere in-between before leaving him broken, alcoholic and lonely, a million miles from home.
Practically the definition of the movie that demands repeat viewings, it's interesting to note that Bowie's seminal Low album contains music originally intended for the film's soundtrack, so next time you watch this, be sure to play it alongside. Most independent movies wouldn't even attempt to match the big studio pics in terms of production value.
And in most cases, they're right not to try. But British first-time director Gareth Edwards achieved something astonishing with Monsters. Not only did he direct, write, production-design and shoot the film himself on location in South and Central Americahe also did the visual effects, creating towering alien creatures as convincing and impressive as those you'd find in any Hollywood blockbuster.
Not that anyone should expect the film to be a full-on creature-feature; in a bold stroke, Edwards places the aliens-on-Earth action mostly in the background, concentrating instead on the couple Whitney Able and Scoot McNairy forced to travel through the alien-infested 'Infected Zone'.
A road movie love story with monsters? Why not? Turner is the performance of his illustrious career. His physical expression of the great painter's deep emotional hinterland does bring its share of snuffles, grunts and wheezes but they only add a strange roly-poly charm to his interactions, particularly with his dad Paul Jessonhis mistress and housekeeper Dorothy Atkinsonand painting wildcard Benjamin Haydon Martin Savage.
The first two he loves; the latter he tolerates benignly. Ask most film lovers what they remember most about The Italian Job and the words 'Turin traffic jam', Dont Look Back - Angela Kelly - Minty: Favourite Songs From The Hit TV Series (CD), 'Mini' and 'getaway' will feature prominently — and rightly so.
But a Boxing Day rewatch will remind any casual fan just what a camp comic triumph this movie is. Sure, it's also about the pride every Englishman feels when British pluck and derring-do win part of the day kind ofbut with characters like Benny Hill's Professor Simon Peach, with his penchant for extra-large ladies, and Noel Coward's not-quite-royally appointed crime boss Mr. Bridger, there's no denying The Italian Job 's chuckles are firmly rooted in saucy seaside postcards and all that carry on.
But it's because of that untouchable team of comic talent - Caine in particular — as well as the pacy robbery antics and the "England! He howled onto the scene with surprise werewolf hit, Dog Soldiersbut Neil Marshall surpassed himself with this claustrophobic follow-up that sees six female potholers trapped in the dark, deep underground.
Set in the US where these things more routinely seem to happen but shot at Pinewood and on location in Scotland, The Dont Look Back - Angela Kelly - Minty: Favourite Songs From The Hit TV Series (CD) takes an inherently creepy location and then layers scares on top of that to an near-unbearable degree.
So while you'll be wincing just at the everyday potholing scenes, you'll soon be nostalgic for those moments as you gibber in fright when it all goes wrong. Its achievement is unrelenting terror, not letting up until the final moments in the US edit or maybe not even then. Ultimately a simple concept, this is skillfully executed, with a well-balanced character dynamic underpinning Marshall's expert grasp of horror filmmaking. Whether we're going to technically class it as a zombie movie or call them "infected", there's no question that Danny Boyle's film juiced up British horror in particular and the horror genre in general.
Shot on a digital video that manages to look both gritty and gorgeous, combining moments of heart-stopping terror with stretches of quiet horror at the profoundly unnatural sight of an empty London, it's become the new benchmark, inspiring a wealth of imitators but few equals. Boyle's eye for talent pays off too: newcomers Cillian Murphy and Naomie Harris hold the attention even at the heart of the storm, however many of the monstrous horde pursue them, while Christopher Ecclestone's late appearance reminds us that people don't have to be infected to be seriously disturbing.
Still, it bears repeating: those infected are really fast and seriously scary. Malcolm McDowell, whose knack for putting the proverbial boot into Britain's moral Dont Look Back - Angela Kelly - Minty: Favourite Songs From The Hit TV Series (CD) was given full voice in A Clockwork Orangefound a kindred spirit in public school old boy and Brit New Wave-er Lindsay Anderson. Three years before that Kubrick collaboration, Anderson had McDowell up on the roof of Cheltenham College equipped with a Bren gun and some serious issues with the gowned tyranny of boarding-school life.
The title arguably suggests that the bullet-ridden finale — Another Country meets The Expendables — may be one giant cheese dream by McDowell's anarchic student, Mick Travis, but the film's impassioned cry of class rebellion was all in earnest.
The only question: how on Earth did Anderson persuade his alma mater to let him film there? If there's a worse advertisement for boarding school - corporal punishment, fagging, VD clinic and all - we definitely haven't seen Dont Look Back - Angela Kelly - Minty: Favourite Songs From The Hit TV Series (CD). Awards and box office haul aside, the fact remains: it's bloody hilarious. Coady's unfortunate death by heart attack and, of course, the steamroller to end all steamrollers, but it's the unified, bizarre, crazy whole that makes it a must-own for any British comedy fan.
What's more, it made possible Richard Curtis's later Brit-com oeuvre by establishing that British eccentricism can sell, revived the world's interest in Ealing comedies, and allowed a character with Cary Grant's real name — Cleese's bumbling lawyer Archie Leach — to live again on the big screen.
Not bad for one film, eh? Recent slanders in Hilary Martell's Wolf Hall notwithstanding, the Thomas More presented here by director Fred Zinneman, playwright and screenwriter Robert Bolt and actor Paul Scofield is the sort of bloke we can all get behind.
More is on top of the world, a friend and confidant to King Henry VIII, poised for power and riches - but he can't compromise his own conscience in pursuit of self-interest, so when the King pursues a divorce and breaks from the Church, More puts himself in harm's way. The structure, building so inevitably from the personalities involved and their intransigences, is the stuff of classic tragedy, and it's beautifully — and wittily — brought to life here.
Even after the heavily CG-assisted likes of or The Two TowersZulu remains the ultimate outnumbered, under-siege battle story. Following the real-life incident where odd Welsh infantrymen defended their isolated outpost against plus warriors during the Anglo-Zulu conflict, its impact depends directly on the scale of your viewing experience — so nothing less than a Juggernaut-sized flatscreen will do. For sure, the first hour or so requires patience, but when the swarming Zulus start attacking in endless waves, it's stirring stuff, despite the fact that director Cy Endfield is evidently more comfortable handling the character drama inbetween attacks.
Though deceptively known more as the breakthrough for a young Michael Caine who plays against type and goes — gasp! In Septemberthe BBC's now legendary six-episode adaptation of Pride And Prejudice began, firmly tattooing the image of a near-shirtless and utterly drenched Mr.
Darcy Colin Firth on the underside of every British woman's eyelids. Moviegoers were helpless in the face of this glitzkreig of Jane Austen mania, queuing up in their droves to experience the one-two punch Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman donning breeches and heading a-wooing.
Much of the praise should be sent in Thompson's direction, with her Oscar-winning script and gently perfect performance carrying the film wonderfully, but Lee's outsider's eye brought Austen to life with a verve and understanding that most English filmmakers could only marvel at. Austen would be proud. As well as one of Britain's greatest directors, Nic Roeg has a Simon Cowell-like gift for spotting acting ability in rock stars.
This was no small feat in Jagger's case: his Ned Kelly was more wooden than a koala's living room, but the Rolling Stone stepped up a gear in Roeg's debut feature. Okay, he's playing a rock star — there's that — but his gaunt, rubber-lipped cool lends a seriously subversive quality to Roeg's lysergic gangster flick. His sex scenes with Anita Pallenberg, the femme fatale holed up in Turner's London bolt hole, didn't go down brilliantly with his band mate, her then-boyfriend Keith Richards, but their on and off- screen chemistry brought electricity to an alt-gangster flick that's not exactly short of it to begin with.
James Fox's fraying hood, meanwhile, is a walking case-study of sexual repression and pent-up violence, while Roeg's visual flourishes lures us into a seedy late '60s world of hipsters and heroin that feels like an X-rated episode of Through The Keyhole. The film that raised the bar for little old ladies everywhere, The Ladykillers is one of the blackest comedies in Ealing's repertoire of delights keep reading.
It's not hard to see why, for all their version's flaws, the Coen brothers tried to hand at remaking it. How could they not be tickled by a comedy with a higher body count than Psycho? In retrospect, Tom Hanks, J. Simmons et al could never hope to match the gleeful hamming of Sellers, Guinness, Lom and their gang, an identity parade of vaudeville villainy with enough spot-on comic timing to reset the atomic clock.
Chuck in Katie Johnson's old dear — and at one point they try to do exactly that — and you've got a hilariously cynical skew on human nature. Still Ken Loach's best film, this beautifully etches the relationship between 15 year-old Barnsley school boy Billy Casper David Bradleybullied and beaten at home, ignored at school and the baby kestrel he nurtures and loves.
It's a fantastic mixture of the poetic — cinematographer Chris Menges beautifully lenses sequences of Billy with his bird on the moors — and the everyday — the boredom and rhythms of school life have rarely been captured. Everyone remembers Brian Glover as the sadistic sports teacher who runs away with a farcical football match, but this is a film full of great performances, especially Bradley as a vulnerable, believable hero.
After all, what major studio would produce a film about a racist, sexist, perverted pseudo-Kazakhstan journalist who runs around the US looking for his new wife — Pamela Anderson, of course — all the while embarrassing nearby Americans and generally being an arsehole?
The mankini alone would be reason enough to shun him, never mind the anti-Semitism and naked wrestling our eyes! Our eyes! Take that Ali G, you big corporate sell-out, you. Most films on this list are here primarily because of the person behind the camera. In this case, and with no disrespect to Shane Meadows' assured direction, it's the stunning turn by its star and co-writer, Paddy Considine, that's won it a place. He's the spine of the film, an ex-soldier who returns to his hometown and brings down a world of pain on the men who bullied his younger brother.
The result is a sort of Sympathy For Mr Derbyshire, a brutal but strangely compassionate look at a ruthless and violent figure, a sort of slasher movie in reverse. A showcase for a deserving actor, and a perfect example of the indie sector's ability to tackle storylines that studios would shy away from, this is one of the finest British films in years. A wave of hype bore this thriller, threatening to swamp it under proclamations that the British were coming, that Scotland was sexy, that this Ewan McGregor fella might do well for himself.
Well, that's all true except for Scotland being sexy, anywaybut there's more to Shallow Grave than a shot in the arm for British cinema.
Danny Boyle's immensely stylish tale of dead mains, a suitcase full of money and rampant paranoia is an inspired blend of pitch-black comedy and bloody violence, held together by career-making performances and scathing wit. Three central characters this flawed and nasty are a rare sight in American cinema — even in the independent sector — and they're surrounded by a heck of a supporting cast.
The lot benefit from Boyle's nascent directorial flair and winning partnership with writer John Hodge and producer Andrew MacDonald. The all-round alchemy, combined with the intelligence and sheer panache on show here, make it a must-see. Winston Churchill didn't like Colonel Blimp. Perhaps it was because his advisors dismissed it as unpatriotic, or maybe it was because he saw something of himself in the character of Clive Candy.
Whatever the reason, everyone's favourite stogie-chomping prime minister did his damndest to halt production before The Ministry of Information and War Office apparatchiks allowed it to go ahead anyway. It's just as well: Powell and Pressburger, founders of Britain's great production house, Archers Film Productions, consider it their greatest work.
It's certainly the film of which they were most proud. Dealing with the nature of patriotism, the essence of Britishness, the notion of honour and the horror of war through the career of one man, it's a grand, glorious film that's an object lesson in crafting the perfect - albeit fictional — biopic.
What's more, Winston needn't have bothered with the whole censorship farrago: this is probably the most patriotic film on any movie afficiando's DVD collection — and we're including The Italian Job here.
After enduring three Transformers movies, Battle Los Angeles and Green Lanternyou'd have been forgiven for thinking that sci-fi had been left for braindead. But then came Duncan Jones' Moona smart, stripped down brainteaser that builds suspense and handles complex philosophical and ethical issues with a few sets and a single central performance by Sam Rockwell. The set-up is a little High Noon High Moon? The film's crisp, clean look is pure'70s sci-fi, but there are clever inversions.
And the big 'twist' is actually revealed relatively early. It's not so much about flooring the audience with the mind-blowing revelation, more about watching how the character — or rather, characters — react. Technically, this was Alfred Hitchcock's first American film — but since it's set in England and stars a largely English line-up, we're allowing it despite the studio backing.
It is, after all, a soaring example of Hitch's ability with old-fashioned filmmaking long before he became known for suspense and shock tactics. Which is not to say there's no suspense here: as the second Mrs de Winter, meek Joan Fontaine tangles with a malevolent housekeeper who forever compares the newcomer — unfavourably — to her predecessor, Rebecca.
Her distant husband doesn't help much, and before you can say costume party there are suicide attempts, infidelities and murder charges to be dealt with. Gorgeously shot and beautifully performed, this is a worthy farewell to the early stage of Hitchcock's career. One of the key films of the '60s realist movement, this is the one with Albert Finney as the cocky factory worker "Don't let the bastards grind you down.
That's one thing you learn. It's difficult now to assess its rawness, but this is still superbly enacted and filled with a tangible yearning for better lives. Cast your mind back to Hugh Grant is still "the bloke from that weird Roman Polanski film"; Richard Curtis is best known as the man behind Blackadder's withering put-downs, people still greeted rain with a four-letter word rather than an opportunity to mock Andie MacDowell, and only the most literate could tell W.
Auden from WHSmith. Can't remember it? Us neither. Much of its longevity is down to Curtis's playful dialogue which gives Grant's bumbling romantic and Andie MacDowell's coy outsider, beguiled and baffled in equal measure, enough gold to charm even the most granite hearted.
It's a veritable Petri dish of British idiosyncrasies and humour "Are you telling me I don't know my own brother! If a space alien ever asks you to explain how the English middle classes see themselves, show them this. Then go for help. If you think about it, this is a very odd mix of topics.
A World War II pilot is shot down over the Channel on a foggy night — but in the mist his soul isn't collected at once, leading him to wash ashore and fall in love with the radio operator who had been his last contact, pre-crash. He's then, essentially, put on trial for his life, with heaven on one hand concerned that he was destined to die, but on the other forced to consider the new element that he has fallen in love.
So we've got romance, metaphysics, bureaucratic mix-ups and war, along with a dash of ping-pong for good measure — hardly your typical blockbuster. The two girls manage to share in each other's lives — both in England and Australia — by continuing to swap identities. In the final episode they finally switch places for good, Melanie starting a singing career while Minty enjoys the chance to have a real family.
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