Sunday, November 23, 2014

Nov 21st 

(US 1978)                  

A fresh-faced girl at Rydell High School loosens up order to win over her conceited but dishy boyfriend about town.
A rare case of a smash-hit 1970s musical, mainly because of its trendy stars and general youthful exuberance which translates reasonably well from the stage show, as well as a certain nostalgia in the grimmer 70s for the previous generation of the 1950s.

Written by: Bronte Woodard, Allan Carr.
Producers: Robert Stigwood, Allan Carr.
Director: Randal Kleiser.
Starring: John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing. Jeff Conaway, Kelly Ward, Eve Arden, Sid Caesar, Frankie Avalon, Joan Blondell, Eddie Deezen.
Photography: Bill Butler.
Music: Michael Gibson.
Songs: Jim Jacobs, William Casey.

Preceded by:
Tom and Jerry in
Mice Follies**
(US 1954. 7m.; d: William Hanna, Joseph Barbera; p: Fred Quimby.)

GREASE. John Travolta was already an international star after the success of Saturday Night Fever(qv), but in Olivia Newton-John he found the perfect Ginger Rogers to his Fred Astaire – on strictly modern terms, of course.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Nov 19th  
Waterloo Road**   

(GB 1944)                            

A soldier goes AWOL to London to settle matters with his wife who is flirting with a local cad.
Well told wartime mini-melodrama in fairly light semi-comedic vein, not quite as suspenseful as the likes of Hitchcock would make it, but making vintage use of Waterloo station.

Written and Directed by: Sidney Gilliat, from a story by Val Valentine.
Producer: Edward Black.
Starring: John Mills, Stewart Granger, Joy Shelton, Alastair Sim, Beatrice Varley, George Carney, Leslie Bradley, Alison Leggatt, Wylie Watson, Jean Kent.
Photography: Jack Cox.
Musical Direction: Louis Levy.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Nov 18th 
The Imitation Game*** (12A)            
(Vue Romford)

(GB/US 2014)

Mathematics genius Alan Turing devises a code-breaking machine to crack the German Enigma code, and names the machine after his childhood lover Christopher.
Excellently compacted biopic, getting as much period and historical detail as can be compressed within an entertaining, well constructed screenplay that crosscuts skilfully between childhood, wartime and Turing's later prosecution for indecency, with largely excellent performances all round.

Written by: Graham Moore, based on the book "Alan Turing: The Enigma" by Andrew Hodges.
Producers: Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky, Teddy Schwarzman.
Director: Morten Tyldum.
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong, Charles Dance, Allen Leech, Rory Kinnear, Steven Waddington, Alex Lawther (as young Turing).
Photography: Oscar Faura.
Music: Alexandre Desplat.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Nov 16th 
The Black Hole*     

(US 1979)                    

In the year 2130 the USS explorer ship Palomino returning to Earth encounters a mysterious fellow vessel on the edge of a black hole, with its captain and sole remaining human crew member obsessed with entering through it.
Rather glum looking sci-fi (one of the many in the wake of Star Wars) which begins as a rather ponderous outer space re-working of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, with weak characterisation and variable special effects, which then switches into laser shoot-outs and an ending that tries to combine 2001-like awe with Disney-style morality.

Written by: Jeb Rosebrook, Jerry Day.
Producer: Ron Miller.
Director: Gary Nelson.
Starring: Maximilian Schell, Anthony Perkins, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Forster, Yvette Mimieux, Joseph Bottoms; voices of Roddy McDowall, Slim Pickens.
Photography: Frank Phillips.
Music: John Barry.
Production Design: Peter Ellenshaw.

THE BLACK  HOLE (1979). A black hole could be best described as where the Disney studio were inexorably headed towards at the time.

Preceded by:
Daffy Duck and Porky Pig in
Duck Dodgers in the 24th and a Half Century**
(US 1953. 7m. w: Michael Maltese; d: Chuck Jones; voices of Mel Blanc.)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Nov 12th 
Prospero's Books**  

(GB/Fra/Netherlands 1991)

Shakespeare's The Tempest as interpreted by Peter Greenaway with many of his opulent excesses, with a tour de force from Gielgud speaking most of the verse (including the other characters), and only partly coherent with the play itself, but never boring to look at.

Written and Directed by: Peter Greenaway.
Producers: Michel Seydoux, Philippe Carcasonne.
Starring: John Gielgud, Isabelle Pasco, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Cranham, Tom Bell, Michel Blanc, Erland Josephson.
Photography: Sacha Vierny.
Music: Michael Nyman.
Production Design: Ben Van Os, Jan Roelfs.

Preceded by:
(GB 2008. Frame On Frame. 15m. ws; Occasionally clunky but also ingenuous and quietly moving biopic of the world's first computer inventor, focusing on is inspirations that drove him in his solitary work.; w: Eamon Wyse, Claire Barker; d: Claire Barker; s: Steven Payne, Andrew Neil, Nicola Marsland, Heather Darcy.)

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Nov 6th  
Crimes and Misdemeanors**       
(US 1989)                      

Two separate stories, one humorous and the other tragic, of a guilt-ridden doctor driven to murder, and a neurotic documentary film maker, who meet at a wedding party.
Complex, slightly uneven character study with some funny moments combined with dark themes akin to Allen's obsession with Bergman, with the comedic story itself turning serious before the end; significantly this also takes precedence over the more interesting murder story.

Written and Directed by: Woody Allen.
Producer: Robert Greenhut.
Starring: Martin Landau, Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, Alan Alda, Anjelica Huston, Claire Bloom, Sam Waterston, Jerry Orbach, Joanna Gleason, Daryl Hannah.
Photography: Sven Nykvist.
Music: Various.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Oct 31st    
Curse of the Crimson Altar     

(GB 1968)

A young antiques dealer discovers that his brother has succumbed to the curse of a dead witch whose influence is still very much alive.
Clunky horror with striking moments, quite indicative of the Tony Tenser style with sex and even sub-James Bondian heroics in addition to the shoehorning in of horror stars who give the film a barely deserved credibility - including the arthritic Karloff in one of his last films.

Written by: Mervyn Haisman, Henry Lincoln.
Producer: Louis M. Heyward.
Director: Vernon Sewell.
Starring: Mark Eden, Boris Karloff, Christopher Lee, Barbara Steele, Michael Gough, Virginia Wetherell, Rupert Davies.
Photography: John Coquillon.
Music: Peter Knight.

CURSE OF THE CRIMSON ALTAR. Barbara Steele in one of her most provocative roles, just a pity we didn't get to see more of Lavinia.