Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Feb 20th  
Way Down East**    

(US 1920)                            

A poor country girl is tricked into a fake marriage and loses her baby but finds refuge at a farm with a boy that she was destined to love.
"A story of simple folk" dubs this typical Griffith melodrama, although with very simplistic Griffith stereotypes and slight irrelevancies, but with his continuing skill and craftsmanship, and a tense finale on an ice flow.

Written by: Anthony Paul Kelly, Joseph R. Grismer, D.W. Griffith, from the play by Lottie Blair Parker.
Producer/Director: D.W. Griffith.
Starring: Lillian Gish, Richard Barthelmess, Lowell Sherman, Burr McIntosh, Emily Fitzroy, Mary Hay, Creighton Hale.
Photography:Billy Bitzer, Hendrik Sartov.

Music: Rodney Sauer.





Monday, February 13, 2017

Feb 12th   
The Poor Little Rich Girl**        

(US 1917)  

Bankruptcy comes to a wealthy businessman, but he rejects all that to look after his neglected daughter after she nearly dies at the hands of the long-suffering servants.
One of many endearing "little girl" roles that this adult star was able to essay with her petite frame quite successfully, a fairly obvious family melodrama for its time, but winning itself over mainly through Miss Pickford's charm, with some unusual hallucinogenic dream sequences towards the end.

Written by: Frances Marion, from the play by Eleanor Gates.
Producer: Adolph Zukor.
Director: Maurice Tourneur.
Starring: Mary Pickford, Charles Wellesley, Madlaine Traverse, Gladys Faribanks, Frank McGlynn, Herbert Prior.
Photography: Lucien Andriot, John van den Broek.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Feb 8th  
Jackie* (15)
(Odeon Leicester Square Studio)                            

(US/Fra/Chile 2016)

Widowed Jacqueline Kennedy invites a journalist to tell the true story as she wants her husband to be remembered.
Suffocating biopic of American's most glamorous First Lady (with only occasional recourse to President Kennedy himself), generally more Hello magazine than the incisive drama it cries out to be, although it has its moments. In spite of the star's usual poise and hard work, she is a little short for an authentic Jackie Kennedy.

Written by: Noah Oppenheimer.
Producers: Juan d Dios Larrain, Darren Aronofsky, Mickey Liddell, Scott Franklin, Ari Hindel.
Director: Pablo Larrain.
Starring: Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwid, Billy Crudup, John Hurt, Richard E. Grant, Caspar Phillipson (as Kennedy).
Photography: Stephane Fontaine.
Music: Mica Levi.


 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Jan 31st    
The Magic Sword  

(US 1961)                                  

A vengeful wizard kidnaps a princess, but the headstrong son of a rival witch sets out to rescue her.
Clunky and rather nasty fantasy, patterned barely after St. George and the Dragon, more Sorcery than Sword (and rather visually tacky at that), from a director whose oeuvre is usually associated with B-Movie monsters - see Empire of the Ants.

Written, Produced and Directed by: Bert I. Gordon.
Starring: Basil Rathbone, Gary Raymond, Estelle Winwood, Anne Helm, Liam Sullivan, Merritt Stone, Maila Nurmi.
Photography: Paul Vogel, Nicholas Vogel.
Music: Richard Markowitz.


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Jan 9th  
The Women              

(US 2008)          

A successfully married woman who learns her husband is having an affair becomes the local gossip.
Vogue magazine style filmmaking, a cosmeticized remake of a 1939 all-female star melodrama, with the occasional good scene or droll moment, but generally the girls are having more fun than the audience is.

Written and Directed by: Diane English, based on the play by Clare Boothe Luce.
Producers: Diane English, Mick Jagger, Bill Johnson, Victoria Permian.
Starring: Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett Smith, Eva Mendes, Cloris Leachman, Bette Midler, Carrie Fisher, Debi Mazar, India Ennenga.
Photography: Anastas N. Nichos.
Music: Mark Isham.

+ the only male seen in the entire film is a baby

Saturday, December 31, 2016

The blogpage - a 10 year missive

It's been, to my surprise and minor delight, 10 years since I started this page devoted to films - since then the whole term "film" has taken on a rather antiquated form, when so much of it is actually digital - in America, of course, they have always been called "movies". An astonishingly large number of those movies have been watched only mere inches from where I am blogging now - on a computer. Without YouTube or the like, we would without a few interesting cinematic gems or oddities.

Movies are still movies, thank goodness, for all their cliches and their flaws. In spite of certain popular notions that franchises and blockbusters rule everything, a look back over the last 10 years shows that there are still interesting films being made, at just the same ratio as they used to be made in relation to commercial studio product. The growth in the number of multiplexes and mass distribution are two key factors that make it look that the popcorn movies are taking over, when this may well be an illusion. The popcorn films still by and large get passed over for the more highbrow choices at awards' time.

Cinema is definitely becoming the minority interest, despite, we are told, increased cinema attendances. It proves that the appetite for movies is still there, but the diet is rather limited. Fast food cinema outweighs quality eating, although noticeably some of the arthouse circuits are trying to make cinemas boutique and leisurely experiences, almost akin to sitting in living rooms on sofas than gathering with a mass audience. And just sometimes, those big movies have a more than a crumb of intelligence behind them.

One heartening aspect of the last 10 years is to compare the number of new cinema venues (especially at a local and community level) that have outweighed by far the number of older venues visited in this blog that have since had to close:

OLD (now closed)                                           NEW

Empire Leicester Square (Screen 1)           Apollo West End/Vue 
Notting Hill Coronet                                                                    Piccadilly
Odeon West End                                                Hackney Picture House
Riverside Studios, Hammersmith                Headgate Theatre
                                                                                 Manifest Theatre
                                                                                Regent Street Cinema
                                                                                Rich Mix Centre, Bethnal 
                                                                                                                  Green
                                                                                Showcase De Lux
                                                                                South Hill Arts Centre, 
                                                                                                             Bracknell
                                                                                Wymondham Ex-
                                                                                Servicemen's Club (former 
                                                                                                                      ABC)

With hopes for the next 10 years, whilst the good ship cinema stills bravely on, in spite of its many competitors and secret enemies.

Odeon Leicester Square, just after seeing Rogue One

Friday, December 23, 2016

Dec 22nd  
Carry On At Your Convenience*   
(GB 1971)    

Sub-titles: Down the Spout, Ladies Please Be Seated, Up the Workers, Labour Relations are the People Who Love to See You When You're Having a Baby

The staff at W.C. Boggs and Son struggle to cope with new bidet production and constant strikes.
Surprisingly endearing semi-satirical series of toilet jokes from the Carry On team, which are actually more amusing than the familiar blue jokes, with the regulars giving their usual value for money and some pleasant interludes such as the psychic budgerigar and the outing to Brighton.

Written by: Talbot Rothwell.
Producer: Peter Rogers.
Director: Gerald Thomas.
Starring: Sidney James, Kenneth Williams, Kenneth Cope, Bernard Bresslaw, Richard O'Callaghan, Jacki Piper, Joan Sims, Hattie Jacques, Charles Hawtrey, Patsy Rowlands, Renee Houston, Bill Maynard.
Photography: Ernest Steward.
Music: Eric Rogers.