Saturday, December 13, 2014

Dec 13th  
Mr. Turner* (12A)        
(Electric Palace, Harwich)

(GB 2014)

Overlong, beautifully picturesque biopic of the later years of J.M.W. Turner with a warts-and-all central performance, who comes across as a rather unpleasant figure neglecting his daughters and devoted housekeeper for a succession of mistresses and female acquaintances whilst all the while pursuing his sketches and classic paintings, skirting through the years in several short scenes, but lacking a certain humanity, with touches of Leigh's flair for caricature.

Written and Directed by: Mike Leigh.
Producer: Georgina Lowe.
Starring: Timothy Spall, Paul Jesson, Dorothy Atkinson, Marion Bailey, Lesley Manville, Ruth Sheen, Martin Savage, James Fleet (as Constable), David Horowitch, Leo Bill.
Photography: Dick Pope.
Music: Gary Yershon.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Nov 30th  

(US 1979)                

The appearance shortly after Pearl Harbour of a Japanese submarine off the California coast sends most of Los Angeles into a panic.
Panic, in this case translated as chaotic slapstick, in an expensive misfire by Spielberg, made with a loving nostalgia for the period (as well as spoofing other films including his own), but unwisely allowing the so-called comedians of the time free reign with noise and scatological gay abandon, as if to prove that even Steven Spielberg can make a bad film.

Written by: Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale, from a story by themselves and John Milius.
Producer: Buzz Feitshans.
Director: Steven Spielberg.
Starring (in no particular order): John Belushi, Robert Stack, Dan Ackroyd, Toshiro Mifune, Christopher Lee, Ned Beatty, Lorraine Gary, Treat Williams, Tim Matheson, Nancy Allen, John Candy, Slim Pickens, Murray Hamilton, Eddie Deezen, Bobby Di Cicco, Elisha Cook Jnr, Lionel Stander, and others.
Photography: William A. Fraker.
Music: John Williams.
Production Design: Dean Edward Mitzner.

1941. Set in the 40s, made in the 70s, although its anarchic style owed a lot to the late 1960s.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Nov 30th  
Robin Hood: Spirit of Sherwood            

(GB TVM 2014)                        

The Sheriff of Nottingham goes incognito as Robin Hood in order to save the Magna Carta from a plot by King John to scuttle it.
Standard photographic record (using I-Pads) of Chameleon's Web's summer outdoor production (suffering from variable weather over two performances at The Minories, Colchester), quite an economical version of the legend, with some modern twists and good one-liners.

Written by: Stuart Robinson.
Director: Suzanne Bailey.
Starring: James Potter, Philippa Parks, Adam Duarte-Dias, Donna Francis (as Eleanor of Aquitaine), Joseph Sales (as King John), Jazz Ely, Scott Sophos, Liz Moss, Paul Reed, Duncan Wilson.
Music: Jonathan Turner.
Editing: James Potter.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Nov 29th  
Paddington** (PG)    
(Vue Wood Green)                            

(GB/Fra 2014)

A rare species of bear from darkest Peru is adopted by a London family who then help him avoid the attentions of a vengeful taxidermist.
Palatably enjoyable family-oriented transference of a beloved series of children's books and TV programmes, which like most big screen conversions seems to want to explain all of its character's sketchy background, thus threatening the air of general whimsy. Paddington himself is not the most perfect incarnation (Colin Firth was rejected because his voice was considered too "mature"), but a lot of its essential Britishness remains intact, as well as plenty of charm and humour as a result.

Written by: Paul King, Hamish McColl, based on the stories by Michael Bond (who plays a bit part).
Producer: David Heyman.
Director: Paul King.
Starring: Hugh Bonneville, Nicole Kidman, voice of Ben Wishaw (as Paddington), Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Peter Capaldi, Jim Broadbent, Matt Lucas, Tim Downie; voices of Imelda Staunton (as Aunt Lucy), Michael Gambon.
Photography: Erik Wilson.
Music: Nick Urata.

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.