Archive for November 21st, 2010

(by Joel)

The Sunday Matinee is a series exploring various national cinemas of the 60s – Italian, British, Czech, and French. Usually, the approach is film by film but this week is an exception. This admittedly rather long essay takes a wide view, not just of the two films in question, but of the British New Wave as a whole, and how these particular movies relate to it. Both reviews contain spoilers.

This Sporting Life, UK, 1963, dir. Lindsay Anderson

Starring Richard Harris, Rachel Roberts

Story: Frank Machin, a working-class bloke made local hero in a rugby league, tries to establish a relationship with his widowed landlady, but neither of them can escape their past – she because of her suicidal first husband, he because the patriarchs owning his team never let him forget to whom he owes his success.

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Billy Liar, UK, 1963, dir. John Schlesinger

Starring Tom Courtenay, Julie Christie

Story: Billy Fisher uses imagination to get him through a life filled with boring dead-end jobs, multiple fiancées, and crushed hopes, but his active fantasy life is challenged by Liz, a free spirit who pushes him to live out his dreams in the real world, rather than in his mind.


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(USA 1918 12 min)

Director / Writer Winsor McCay

By Stephen Russell-Gebbett

At first glance the idea of depicting a human tragedy as awful as the sinking of the ocean liner RMS Lusitania in a cartoon may appear vulgar : this is the same medium that brought us Micky Mouse happily whistling to himself at the helm of a steamboat. Do the puffy bursts of fire and cloud, and the unavoidable stylisation of violence and death inevitably cheapen what they talk of? Watching Sinking of the Lusitania, the answer must be a resounding no.

War, and real tragedy, has passed into fiction there to become a trope and a genre like any other. This uncomfortable fact came to the public eye most graphically in recent times in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. By dramatising one instantly begins to fictionalise, accurately conveying emotions, perhaps, but placing them within a cursory package tour of history. We uproot the way we see things from the way they were or are.


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