Thursday, April 21, 2016

Apr 20th  
High-Rise** (15)            
(Ipswich Film Theatre)

(GB/Northern Ireland 2015)

An aspiring young doctor moves to the upper floors of a tower block where the social conditions soon degenerate into chaos.
The orgies of self-destruction and violence go on a bit too long, in what is still an interesting "retro-future" 70s sci-fi allegory based on the author's satire on modern consumerism, quite skilfully re-creating the 70s style, although perhaps not representative of that period, or of its future.

Written by: Amy Jump, from the novel by J.G. Ballard.
Producer: Jeremy Thomas.
Director: Ben Wheatley.
Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans, Elizabeth Moss, James Purefoy, Keeley Hawes, Reece Shearsmith, Bill Paterson.
Photography: Laurie Rose.
Music: Cling Mansell.
Production Design: Mark Tildesley.

HIGH RISE. A poster with obvious allusions to Kubrick's Clockwork Orange,  which depicted the future as designed in the 70s, whereas this imagines the future in retro 70s style.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Apr 12th   
A Boy and His Dog      

(US 1975)  

In post-apocalyptic 2024 an amoral teenager searches for sex with the assistance of his wisecracking psychic dog.
Fashionably cynical and almost totally bleak dystopian black comedy, frequently lacking narrative coherence or particularly sympathetic characters, with its occasional surprises.

Written by: L.Q. Jones, Alvy Moore, Wayne Cruseturner, from the novel by Harlan Ellison.
Producers: L.Q. Jones.
Starring: Don Johnson, Susanne Benton, Jason Robards, Tim McIntire (voice of the dog), Alvy Moore, Helene Winston, Charles McGraw.
Photography: John Arthur Morrill.
Music: Tim McIntire, Ray Manzarek, Jaime Mendoza-Nava.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Apr 6th  
The First of the Few**    

(GB 1943)

The last years of aircraft designer R.J. Mitchell leading to the construction of the Spitfire, in the shadow of the oncoming World War II.
Solidly made propagandistic drama with some lively moments, a benchmark for other stirring WWII dramas such as In Which We Serve, The Way to the Stars and The Dam Busters.

Written by: Anatole de Grunwald, Miles Malleson, Henry C. James, Katherine Strueby.
Producers: Leslie Howard, Phil C. Samuel, Adrian Brunel.
Director: Leslie Howard.
Starring: Leslie Howard, David Niven, Rosamund John, Roland Culver, Anne Firth, David Horne, Tonie Edgar Bruce.
Photography: Georges Perinal.
Music: William Walton.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Mar 26th
The Song of Bernadette***

(US 1943)

The asthmatic eldest daughter of an impoverished Lourdes family sees a vision of the Virgin Mary in a cave, and draws in the rest of the baffled townspeople towards the nearby water spring for its healing properties.
Long but almost perfectly paced religious drama which never allows the piety of its subject to take over and spoke very strongly to the secular worries of a wartime audience, made in a compellingly matter-of-fact style (akin to Schindler's List) and set in a perfectly realised French town, only occasionally spoilt by the occasional Hollywood accent and the visions of the Virgin herself, that look a little tacked on.

Written by: George Seaton, from the novel by Franz Werfel.
Producer: William Perlberg.
Director: Henry King.
Starring: Jennifer Jones, Charles Bickford, Gladys Cooper, Vincent Price, Lee J. Cobb, Anne Revere, Roman Bohnen, William Eythe, Sig Rumann, Aubrey Morris, Charles Dingle, Marcel Dalio.
Photography: Arthur C. Miller.
Music: Alfred Newman.
Art Direction: James Basevi, William Darling.

+ the Virgin Mary was played by an uncredited Linda Darnell

++ opening statement: "For those who believe in God, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not believe in God, no explanation is possible."

Friday, March 25, 2016

Mar 25th  
The Great St. Trinian's Train Robbery

(GB 1966)      

Train robbers stash their loot on the site of the new St. Trinian's school.
Broadly comic rehash of the original Belles of St. Trinian's with some lively initial moments but very few laughs, and increasing in silliness (and even racism) come the train chase finale.

Written by: Frank Launder, Ivor Herbert.
Producer: Leslie Gilliat.
Directors: Frank Launder. Sidney Gilliat.
Starring: Dora Bryan, Frankie Howerd, George Cole, Reg Varney, Raymond Huntley, Richard Wattis, Peter Gilmore, Stratford Johns (voice only).
Photography: Ken Hodges, Bert Mason.
Music: Malcolm Arnold.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Mar 18th
Murder by Death*   

(US 1976)                  

An eccentric millionaire invites the five most famous detectives to his house on a wager to decide who is the greatest crime solver of them all.
Variable all-star spoof mystery with only some decent comic moments from an author who is clearly enjoying himself too much in referencing all the famous detectives. A good deal of the rest of the entertainment comes from the skill of the performances.

Written by: Neil Simon.
Producer: Ray Stark.
Director: Robert Moore.
Starring (in no particular order): Peter Sellers (Charlie Chan), David Niven (The Thin Man), Maggie Smith, Alec Guinness, Peter Falk (Sam Spade), James Coco (Poirot), Elsa Lanchester (Miss Marple), Truman Capote, Eileen Brennan, Estelle Winwood, Richard Narita, James Cromwell, Nancy Walker.
Photography: David M. Walsh.
Music: Dave Grusin.

+ it was during the making of this film, on one of his rare filming sessions in Hollywood, that Alec Guinness was first offered the script of Star Wars

Preceded by:
Grandma's Reading Glass*
(GB 1900. 1m. bw. silent; Interesting early visual use of the extreme close-up.; d: G.A. Smith.)

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Mar 7th  

(US 2012)

A hitman is hired to assassinate victims sent back from the future, until he is required to kill his future self.
Intriguing but unattractive crime thriller set in the increasingly fashionable "gritty" near-future. It plays around with its scenario and paints a convincing world, but doesn't really satisfy with its characterisation.

Written and Directed by: Rian Johnson.
Producers: Ron Bergman, James D. Stern.
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Piper Perabo, Jeff Daniels, Paul Dano, Noah Segan, Summer Qing.
Photography: Steve Yedlin.
Music: Nathan Johnson.

Preceded by:
La Natation par Jean Taris*
(Swimming by Jean Taris)
(FRA 1931. 10m. bw; d: Jean Vigo; ph: Boris Kaufman.)