Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Jun 19th   

(US 1955)                        

In the remote desert a scientist's experimental giant tarantula escapes the lab and kills most in its path.
Elementary 50s monster movie with the stock characters and plot getting through the necessary padded narrative so that the enjoyably overscaled shots of the tarantula (effectively silhouetted on desert horizons) and special effects can take over in a barnstorming finale.

Written by: Robert M. Fresco, Martin Berkeley.
Producer: William Alland.
Director: Jack Arnold.
Starring: Leo G. Carroll, John Agar, Mara Corday, Nestor Paiva, Ross Elliott, Raymond Bailey.
Photography: George Robinson, Clifford Stein.
Musical Direction: Joseph Gershenson.
Make-up: Bud Westmore.

+ a pre-stardom Clint Eastwood appears as a pilot at the film's finale

TARANTULA. A classic for 3-D and drive-ins, with a monster that was ideal material for a series of imaginative posters.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Jun 17th  
Frantz** (12A)        
(Regent Street Cinema)

(Fra/Ger/US 2016)

In 1919 a German girl falls in love with the French soldier who has killed her fiancee.
Compelling continuation of the plot of Lubitsch's Broken Lullaby, where the heroine journeys further into France to find out more. Gimmicky in its use of colour to emphasize the warmer emotional moments,but otherwise quite well held together and movingly played.

Written by: Francois Ozon, Philippe Piazzo.
Producers: Eric Altmayer, Nicholas Altmayer.
Director: Francois Ozon.
Starring: Paula Beer, Pierre Niney, Ernst Stotzner, Marie Gruber, Johann von Bulow, Antont Von Lucke (as Frantz).
Photography: Pascal Marti.
Music: Philippe Rombi.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Jun 13th   
Billy Liar***   

(GB 1963)                                  

A ne'er do well undertaker's assistant fantasizes and dreams of leaving his drab existence for London.
A sample of the British New Wave - as helmed by a seasoned director of semi-documentaries, brilliantly blending the Northern brashness with its character's fantasies, with an unsentimental ending (that Hollywood would never allow nowadays), although a little wanting when it comes to deeper characterisation.

Written by: Keith Waterhouse, Willis Hall, from their novel and play.
Producer: Joseph Janni.
Director: John Schlesinger.
Starring: Tom Courtenay, Julie Christie, Wilfred Pickles, Mona Washbourne, Rodney Bewes, Finlay Currie, Leonard Rossiter, Ethel Griffies, Helen Fraser, Gwendolyn Watts.
Photography: Denys Coop.
Music: Richard Rodney Bennett.

Preceded by:
(GB 2016. 2m.; w: Oscar Garth, Luke Davies; d: Oscar Garth; s: James Button, Luke Davies.)

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Jun 10th
My Cousin Rachel** (12A)        
(Empire Ipswich)                                      

(GB/US 2017)

A young Cornishman falls in love with his cousin's widow, even though he suspects she was responsible for his death.
Carefully ambiguous but beautifully adapted version of Daphne du Maurier's novel, commendably not feeling the need to conform to stuffy period drama conventions, whilst at the same time retaining a strong feel of the period.

Written and Directed by: Roger Michell, from the novel by Daphne du Maurier.
Producer: Kevin Loader.
Starring: Rachel Weisz, Sam Claflin, Holliday Grainger, Iain Glen, Andrew Knott, Pierfrancesco Favino, Simon Russell Beale.
Photography: Mike Eley.
Music: Rael Jones.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Jun 3rd   
Wonder Woman* (12A)
(Century Clacton)            

(US 2017)            

Diana, daughter of Hippolyta leaves her Amazonian secret island to end the carnage of WWI where Ares the God of War is wreaking havoc.
Deserved stand-alone film for Gal Gadot's beautiful and also convincingly warrior-like new revised version of the comic book character - adapted for some reason one war earlier than its original - about as average as DC's recent output (looking clumsier as soon as the men appear on screen),  and increasingly preposterous with a seemingly invulnerable heroine even on the trenches of the Western front, but she manages to pull it off in spite of all.

Written by: Allan Heinberg, based on the comic by William Moulton Marston.
Producers: Charles Rouen, Deborah Snyder, Zack Snyder, Richard Suckle.
Director: Patty Jenkins.
Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, Elena Anaya, David Thewlis, Lucy Davis, Said Taghmaoui, Ewen Bremner.
Photography: Matthew Jensen.
Music: Rupert Gregson-Williams.

Jun 2nd   
21 Days*

(GB 1937 - released 1940)

A man murders his girlfriend's blackmailing husband, but his influential brother helps to cover it up whilst another man takes the blame.
Curiously unworthy vehicle for two hot young stars of the time (a film shelved for 3 years in the hope of cashing-in after they had become Hollywood properties), a thriller melodrama heavily altered from its original, with the talent on offer only occasionally coming through.

Written by: Basil Dean, Graham Greene, based on the play "The First and the Last" by John Galsworthy.
Producer: Alexander Korda.
Director: Basil Dean.
Starring: Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh, Leslie Banks, Hey Petrie, Esme Percy, Robert Newton.
Photography: Jan Stallich.
Music: John Greenwood.

21 DAYS. The then young and slightly scandalous lovers Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh filming on Southend Kursaal's rollercoaster, as young and slightly scandalous lovers.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

May 31st   
Dracula Untold    

(US/Japan 2014)                      

In the the century Prince Vlad of Transylvania succumbs to the dark arts to save his people against the Turks.
CGI-laden action rather hurriedly edited together is the mainstay of this horror yarn, from a story far from untold, with some occasional suspenseful and decently characterised moments, but they are few and far between, and the film doesn't have the courage to make its hero turn into the Dracula he should be.

Written by: Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless.
Producer: Michael De Luca.
Director: Gary Shore.
Starring: Luke Evans, Charles Dance, Sarah Gadon, Dominic Cooper, Art Parkinson, William Houston, Paul Kaye.
Photography: John Schwartzman.
Music: Ramin Djawadi.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

May 29th  
The Battle of the Century**          
(Park Hill Hotel Ballroom, Southend-on-Sea)            

(US 1927. 20m. bw. silent; A trainer tries to claim insurance on his inept boxing client, but instead they trigger a custard pie riot.
The missing snippets are stitched together in a (mostly) complete restoration of one of Laurel and Hardy's most notable silent films, with its custard pie climax that inspired many imitators (witness The Great Race and Bugsy Malone) now given proper context with the remaining reels - an invaluable find.; w: H.M. Walker; d: Clyde Bruckman, Leo McCarey; s: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Noah Young, Eugene Pallette, Charlie Hall, Anita Garvin, Lou Costello (as a young extra).)

Preceded by:
Them Thar Hills***
(US 1934. 20m. bw; Stan and Ollie go to the country to help cure Ollie's bad foot, but they travel to an area formerly held by bootleggers who dispose of some of the loot in the nearby well.; w: Stan Laurel; d: Charles Rogers; s: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Mae Busch, Charlie Hall, Billy Gilbert.)

Scrappy in The Merry Mutineers*
(US 1936. Columbia. 7m.; Technicolor merry melodie of two boys' model boats with famous film stars of the period for crew - Charles Laughton, Laurel and Hardy, The Marx Brothers, etc. Quirky as ever and enjoyable.; p: Charles Mintz.)

Tit for Tat**
(US 1934. 20m. bw; Stan and Ollie open a new electrical store, only to find an old adversary in the shop next door. Sequel to Them Thar Hills.; w: Stan Laurel; d: Charles Rogers; s: OLiver Hardy, Stan laurel, Charlie Hall, Mae Busch.)

+ screened as "Laurel and Hardy: Let Battle Commence" by the Saps at Sea tent for the Southend Film Festival, before a bumper audience
THE BATTLE OF THE CENTURY. The much sought after lost footage of Eugene Pallette as an insurance salesman, from whom Ollie decides to try in injure Stan in order to claim the money, is still missing but remains in stills (above), whilst Mr. Pallette still briefly appears in the famous pie fight climax.