Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Jun 18th   
Marjorie Prime**   

(US 2016)             

In the near future an ageing widow copes with her remaining years with a computer hologram of her late husband from his younger days.
Coldly moving character drama (as most futuristic dramas have to be, it seems), quite well adapted from its stage origins without seeming too talky, relying on performances to sustain much of the sympathy, which they do successfully.

Written and Directed by: Michael Almereyeda, based on the play by Jordan Harrison.
Producers: Uri Singer, Daniel Turcan, Tal Vigderson.
Starring: Lois Smith, Geena Davis, Tim Robbins, Jon Hamm, Stephanie Andujar, Hannah Gross.
Photography: Sean Williams.
Music: Mica Levi, Richard Reed Parry, Bryce Dessner.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Jun 10th    
I Married a Monster from Outer Space*

(US 1958)   

A fiancee is abducted by aliens for what his wife gradually realises is a general alien invasion.
An initially tacky premise (exemplified by the title) actually gives way to an Invasion of the Body Snatchers paranoia scenario, of fairly minor intelligence, but focusing slightly more than usual on the perspective of the aliens.

Written by: Louis Vittes.
Producer/Director: Gene Fowler Jnr.
Starring: Gloria Talbott, Tom Tryon, Peter Baldwin, Robert Ives, John Eldredge, Ty Hardin.
Photography: Haskell Boggs.
Music: Various.
Special Photographic Effects: John P. Fulton.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

May 29th  
The Desert Fox**     

(US 1951)                       

The last years of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, from his days with the Afrika Corps to his enforced suicide at the orders of Hitler.
An elaborate 5 minute pre-credits commando action sequence is then followed by semi-flashback WWII drama with some untidy insertions of stock footage from other films (including the propaganda documentary Desert Victory) in between some good character scenes. The film was considered quite daring at the time for painting a "sympathetic" German image so soon after the war.

Written and Produced by: Nunnally Johnson, based on the book by Desmond Young.
Director: Henry Hathaway.
Starring: James Mason, Cedric Hardwicke, Leo G. Carroll, Jessica Tandy, Luther Adler (as Hitler), George Macready, Everett Sloane, Eduard Franz, John Hoyt, William Reynolds, Michael Rennie (narrator).
Photography: Norbert Brodine.
Music: Daniele Amfitheatrof.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

May 22nd
The Damned United*

(GB 2009)                                     

The forthright Brian Clough unwisely becomes manager of Leeds United FC, in the shadow of his arch rival Don Revie.
The historical details are all over the place in this otherwise nostalgically (and authentically) conveyed slice of the 70s with an excellent cast, even though the star is inevitably no match for the real Brian Clough (who appears in montage at the end.)

Written by: Peter Morgan, from the novel by David Peace.
Producers: Andy Harries, Grainne Marmion.
Director: Tom Hooper.
Starring: Michael Sheen, Colm Meaney (as Don Revie), Timothy Spall, Maurice Roeves, Jim Broadbent, Brian McCardie; voices of Tony Gubba, Michael Parkinson.
Photography: Ben Smithard.
Music: Rob Lane.

+ among the closing credits: "While this story is inspired by actual events, certain characters, incidents, locations and dialogue were fictionalized and/or intended for purposes of dramatization. As respects such characters, incidents, location and dialogue, any similarity to the name, character or history of any person, living or dead, or any product or entity or actual incident is entirely coincidental and unintentional and should not be understood to be historically accurate."

THE DAMNED UNITED. Bitter rivals Brian Clough and Don Revie in 1974, and (below) Michael Sheen and Colm Feore interpreting them 34 years later, in deed but not necessarily in word. 

Preceded by:
The Railrodder**
(Cabada 1965. National Film Board of Canada. 24m.; A stowaway travels from one coastline to the other on a runaway rail maintenance transport. Uneven but often delightful Keaton tribute, still displaying his comic energy. A rarely seen gem.; w,d: Gerald Potterton (and Buster Keaton); s: Buster Keaton; ph: Robert Humble; Eldon Rathburn.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

May 18th
Ghost Stories** (15) 
Firstsite, Colchester   

(GB/Ger 2017)           

A spiritual skeptic tries to debunk various ghost stories but also uncovers one of his own.
Emulation of the old Amicus Dead of Night-style horrors (right down to 1970s retro) together with added helpings of Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Slightly unconvincing in production but this adds to the strangeness, keeping its plot details vague and therefore also keeping its suspense.

Written and Directed by: Andy Nyman, Jeremy Dyson, based on their play.
Producers: Clair Jones, Robin Gutch.
Starring: Andy Nyman, Paul Whitehouse, Alex Lawther, Martin Freeman, Jake Davies.
Photography: Ole Bratt Birkeland.
Music: Haim Frank Ilfman.

+ filmed at various locations in and around Leeds and Harrogate, and also on the coast at Hornsea

Friday, May 18, 2018

May 16th      
Arsenic and Old Lace**    

(US 1944)                       

Two spinster aunts who benevolently murder old gentlemen and bury them in the cellar, find the unwelcome return of another relative with rather more obvious murder motives.
An eccentric black comedy for all concerned - based on a very successful stage play - affected somewhat in mid-production by the attack on Pearl Harbour (with Capra diverting to make the Why We Fight series), leaving some rather over-the-top acting in places, making the film not quite a clsssic but certainly an amusing oddity.

Written by: Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein, from the play by Joseph Kesselring.
Producer/Director: Frank Capra.
Starring: Cary Grant, Priscilla Lane, Josephine Hull, Jean Adair, Raymond Massey, Peter Lorre, John Alexander, Edward Everett Horton, Jack Carson, James Gleason.
Photography: Sol Polito.
Music: Max Steiner.

+ MORTIMER BREWSTER: "Insanity runs in my family. It practically gallops."

++ Bob Hope and Jack Benny were among those considered by Capra before Cary Grant was cast. Boris Karloff was unable to reprise his original stage role (played instead by Raymond Massey) at the insistence of the stage play's producers.

Monday, May 14, 2018

May 11th  
Fire Maidens from Outer Space 

(GB 1956)                       

Rocket explorers discover the 13th moon of Jupiter is inhabited mostly by females enslaved and terrorized by a vicious monster.
Leisurely sci-fi on the cheap, shot in leafy Hertfordshire without suspense or horror but a certain tacky charm. Britain's answer to Plan 9 from Outer Space (though released one year earlier), it is a fair contender for worst film ever made - and pretty well succeeds.

Written, Produced and Directed by: Cy Roth.
Starring: Anthony Dexter, Susan Shaw, Paul Carpenter, Sidney Tafler, Harry Fowler, Owen Berry.
Photography: Ian D. Struthers.
Music: Trevor Duncan, Borodin.