Sunday, November 29, 2015

Nov 28th  
Spectre** (12A)          

(Electric Palace, Harwich)

Bond tracks down the head of the global surveillance criminal organisation with the aid of the daughter of one of his ex-adversaries.
Fourth in the rather thuggish but thoughtful Daniel Craig cycle of adventures, with occasional moments of style and the occasional familiar gimmicks creeping back in - as well as the gadgets, but not too much. Similar to Quantum of Solace in content, but with a little more care and skill in the making.

d: Sam Mendes
s: Daniel Craig, Lea Seydoux, Christoph Waltz, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw, Monica Bellucci, Andrew Scott, Dave Bautista, Rory Kinnear, Jesper Christensen, Judi Dench.
m: Thomas Newman
Titles: Johnnie Frankel.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Nov 26th  
Guilty Conscience*  

(US TVM 1985)                    

A lawyer devises various means of killing his wife and then argues with himself how it will stand up in court.
Skilled, soulless murder puzzle of cross and double cross in the manner of Dial M for Murder and Sleuth, from the early days when Hopkins left the British stage for Hollywood. Routine TV stuff, but well enough acted as a three-hander.

w: Richard Levinson, William Link.
d: David Greene
s: Anthony Hopkins, Blythe Danner, Swoosie Kurtz.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Nov 25th
The Lady in the Van* (12A)    

(Odeon Colchester)

An elderly spinster parks her van in Alan Bennett's front garden, and remains there for 15 years.
Acceptable "opening out" of Bennett's semi-memoir, a typically eccentric work (although most of the story is true), keeping the stage play's tricksy device of two Alan Bennetts (although the real one narrating would have improved the cinematic verisimilitude), and therefore adding nothing new, beyond being a pleasant record of the original and of Maggie Smith's vintage performance.

Written by: Alan Bennett, from his play.
Producers: Kevin Loader, Nicholas Hytner, Damian Jones.
Director: Nicholas Hytner.
Starring: Maggie Smith, Alex Jennings, Jim Broadbent, Roger Allam, Deborah Findlay, Gwen Taylor (as Bennett's mother), Frances de la Tour, David Calder, Clare Hammond (as young Miss Shepherd), Stephen Campbell Moore, Dominic Cooper, James Corden.
Photography: Andrew Dunn.
Music: George Fenton.

+ the entire cast of The History Boys appear in guest cameos (the late Richard Griffiths appears in a still photograph).

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Nov 21st  
The Astonished Heart* (PG)    

(Regent Street Cinema, London)

(GB 1949)

A psychiatrist cheats on his wife, who allows him to carry on with the affair in order to see it through.
An intriguing premise for what actually becomes rather routine melodrama, one of Coward's "uncharacteristic" plays, in which unfortunately he miscasts himself. Nonetheless there are some interesting moments at the edges, from a director later famous for horror thrillers.

Written by: Noel Coward, from his play.
Producer: Anthony Darnborough.
Directors: Terence Fisher, Anthony Darnborough.
Starring: Noel Coward, Celia Johnson, Margaret Leighton, Joyce Carey, Graham Payn, Michael Hordern, Ralph Michael, Alan Webb.
Photography: Jack Asher.
Music: Noel Coward, William Blezard.

+ the title is based on a quote from Deuteronomy (28:28): "We are smitten with blindness and astonishment of heart."

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Nov 16th 
Far from the Madding Crowd** 

(GB 1967)                  

The headstrong Bathsheba Everdene inherits her uncle's farm and deals with a variety of male suitors.
Beautifully photographed in authentic country with good attention to the farming lifestyle and period, except for its main star looking anachronistically 1960s in Hardy's 1870s. More measured than usual from this director, but deliberately so, and no less interesting for it. Remade this year (qv), as much of a tribute to the original as a revision.

Written by: Frederic Raphael, from the novel by Thomas Hardy.
Producer: Joseph Janni.
Director: John Schlesinger.
Starring: Julie Christie, Alan Bates, Peter Finch, Terence Stamp, Prunella Ransome, Fiona Walker, John Barrett, Freddie Jones.
Photography: Nicolas Roeg.
Music: Richard Rodney Bennett.
Editing: Malcolm Cooke.

Roger Ebert review

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Nov 4th  
The Abominable Snowman**   

(GB 1957)

Explorers and hunters track through the Himalayas in search of the Yeti, who find novel ways of concealing their existence from the humans.
Talky Hammer chiller from just before their horror cycle, intelligently written and put together, despite plot short cuts and something of a cop-out ending.

Written by: Nigel Kneale, from his TV play "The Creature".
Producer: Aubrey Baring.
Director: Val Guest.
Starring: Peter Cushing, Forrest Tucker, Maureen Connell, Richard Wattis, Arnold Marle, Robert Brown, Michael Brill, Wolfe Morris.
Photography: Arthur Grant.
Music: Humphrey Searle.
Art Direction: Bernard Robinson.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Oct 31st  
Suffragette** (12A)  
(Ipswich Film Theatre)                          

(GB/Fra 2015)

A Bethnal Green laundry worker becomes implicated in the women's suffrage movement.
Quite affecting and powerful human rights drama, necessarily urgent and not pandering in style to period drama sedateness, although the period details are also good, and the (mostly female) all-star cast may be slightly underused but add strength to the drama.

Written by: Abi Morgan.
Producers: Faye Ward, Alison Owen.
Director: Sarah Gavron.
Starring: Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Ben Whishaw, Anne-Marie Duff, Brendan Gleeson, Romola Garai, Meryl Streep (as Emmeline Pankhurst), Finbar Lynch, Natalie Press, Samuel West, Adam Michael Dodd, Geoff Bell.
Photography: Edu Grau.
Music: Alexandre Desplat.