Monday, May 16, 2016

May 14th   
Florence Foster Jenkins** (PG)
(Palace Cinema, Felixstowe)

(GB/Fra 2016)

In 1944 an elderly wealthy socialite pursues of her dream of singing at Carnegie Hall, unaware of her own inferior voice.
An (only slightly) exaggerated true story, as was the director's Mrs. Henderson Presents, also set in WWII, but so movingly played in this case, with Ms. Streep necessarily exaggerating Mrs. Foster-Jenkins'  real-life voice - in order to emphasize the "badness" of it - whilst the film skilfully re-creates 40s New York on the streets of Liverpool and Glasgow with CGI backgrounds coming in where necessary.

Written by: Nicholas Martin.
Producers: Michael Kuhn, Tracey Seaward.
Director: Stephen Frears.
Starring: Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant, Simon Helberg, Rebecca Ferguson, Nina Arianda, David Haig, Allan Corduner, John Sessions, Thelma Barlow, Christian McKay.
Photography: Danny Cohen.
Music: Alexandre Desplat.
Production Design: Alan MacDonald.

+ FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS (Streep): "People may say I can't sing, but no-one can ever say I didn't sing."

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

May 8th
The Fast Lady**  

(GB 1962)                          

A Scotsman woos a ruthless motorist's daughter by buying a vintage car from his smooth-talking housemate.
Agreeable knockabout Rank comedy without descending too much into innuendo, with a lively cast including several guests in the chase climax. A blueprint of sorts for the later, more lucrative Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines.

Written by: Henry Blyth, Jack Davies.
Producers: Leslie Parkyn, Julian Wintle.
Director: Ken Annakin.
Starring: Stanley Baxter, Leslie Phillips, James Robertson Justice, Julie Christie, Kathleen Harrison, Dick Emery, Eric Barker, Allan Cuthbertson, Oliver Johnston, Deryck Guyler, Terence Alexander, Clive Dunn, Frankie Howerd.
Photography: Reg Wyer.
Music: Norrie Paramor.

Preceded by:
Jack and the Beanstalk*
(US 1902. 10m. bw. silent; d: Edwin S. Porter; s: Thomas White (as Jack).)

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Apr 21st  
An Officer and a Gentleman**      

(US 1981)

A wanderer trains in harsh conditions to become a naval aviation officer in the working class district of Seattle, Washington.
Catchy and rough although slightly sentimental romantic drama about men (and one woman) becoming battle-hardened. artificial in some of its plot development but not too cliched, and with some strong acting.

Written by: Douglas Day Stewart.
Producer: Martin Elfland.
Director: Taylor Hackford.
Starring: Richard Gere, Debra Winger, Lou Gossett Jnr, David Keith, Lisa Blount, Lisa Eilbacher, Robert Loggia.
Photography: Donald Thorin.
Music: Jack Nitzsche.

Preceded by:
(GB 1901. 4m. bw. silent; d: James Williamson.)

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."