Archive for July, 2012

by Allan Fish

(UK 2010 184m) DVD2

Countdown from 13…

p  Rebekah Wray Rogers, Mark Herbert, Derrin Schlesinger  d  Shane Meadows, Tom Harper  w  Shane Meadows, Jack Thorne  ph  Danny Cohen  ed  Mark Eckersley, Chris Wyatt  Ludovico Einaudi  art  Lisa Hall

Vicky McClure (Lol), Joseph Gilgun (Woody), Thomas Turgoose (Shaun Fields), Danielle Watson (Trev), George Newton (Banjo), Perry Benson (Meggy), Chanel Cresswell (Kelly), Andrew Shim (Milky), Andrew Ellis (Gadget), Rosamund Hanson (Smell), Joseph Dempsie (Higgy), Perry Fitzpatrick (Flip), Jo Hartley (Cynthia Fields), Katharine Dow Blyton (Chrissy), Johnny Harris (Mick), Kriss Dosanjh (Mr Sandhu), Hannah Walters (Trudy), Michael Socha (Harvey), Stephen Graham (Combo),

On its general release in 2007, This is England was receiving bouquets from just about everyone who saw it.  “This is British cinema” said Peter Bradshaw.  It is indeed, Peter, and very fine cinema at that, but after watching it I was left with a feeling that it could have been so much more, that it just petered out.  An excellent film, probably Meadows’ best, but dare I hope for more.  A symbolic sequence on a beach with Thomas Turgoose’s Shaun tossing the St George flag into the sea resounded with memories of Truffaut, and it’s perhaps not inappropriate, for just as Antoine Doinel was Truffaut by proxy, so Shaun Fields, the 12 year old at the heart of This is England, was Meadows.

Several years on Meadows returned to Shaun, as Truffaut did several times with Doinel, but not just to Shaun.  Unlike Antoine Doinel, the central character is only part of the canvas, just one of those characters leaning against the wall in the original film’s iconic poster.  And like another of Meadows’ idols, Alan Clarke, he would do so this time on TV, at a time of the 1986 World Cup and unemployment over three million.  (more…)


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Conrad Veidt and Mary Philbin in Universal’s 1928 masterpiece THE MAN WHO LAUGHS by Paul Leni, one of the greatest films in the history of the cinema

by Sam Juliano

Indian summer is just about upon us, though the more seasoned veterans would apply the term dog days of summer.  Either way we seem headed for outdoor steam baths in our respective locations, and many of us will be taking to the roads.  The 2012 summer Olympic games are officially underway in London, and many will be following the events intensely.   Here at WitD, our tempered smiles will soon be exploding in bouts of laughter as the comedy poll is just one week away from launch.  As stated on last week’s thread, the project will be underway with an essay on the No. 100 comedy choice on Monday, August 6th by Tony d’Ambra, and will continue well into December, up until the Number 1 placement is posted.  By sheer volume, and involvement this is expected to be the most auspicious project ever staged at the site.  The posts will run every Monday through Friday.  Writers are asked to send reviews to me by e mail, though between August 20 through the 24th I will be out of state, and Allan will handle the postings.  I will still comment from my out of state location at the site during those days.

Readers are urged to check out Jaimie Grijalba’s Top 100 ‘horror films’ countdown at Exodus 8:2.  Grijalba’s short film will soon be posted for viewers to access as well.

The past week’s insanity was one of the most cinematically blistering of 2012, as Lucille and several of the kids watched a slew of Universal films as part of the long-running Festival at the Film Forum.  We saw eleven (11) Universals, and one recent release, Killer Joe, on Saturday, our 17th wedding anniversary. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

Sunday coming round quicker each week…

Best Picture The Third Man, UK (18 votes)

Best Director Carol Reed, The Third Man (13 votes)

Best Short Bad Luck Blackie, Tex Avery, US (5 votes)

Best Actor James Cagney, White Heat (14 votes)

Best Actress Setsuko Hara, Late Spring (13 votes)

Best Supp Actor Orson Welles, The Third Man (14 votes)

Best Supp Actress Joan Greenwood, Kind Hearts and Coronets (10 votes)

Best Cinematography Robert Krasker, The Third Man (19 votes)

Best Score Anton Karas, The Third Man (17 votes) (more…)

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By Bob Clark

In one of those now perennial summer seasons during which the theaters suffer a surplus of big-budgeted movies derived from superhero stories and other narratives originating in the sequential arts, it seems an apt time to reevaluate and consider what most people really mean when they talk, usually with some matter of condescension, of the so-called “comic book movie”. Whenever one’s talking about something that’s literally based on a comic book, like any of the myriad of Marvel or DC properties that have found themselves transformed into blockbuster entertainment in the past few months (to say nothing of the film franchises that have spawned them over the past twenty or thirty years), the term feels correct, but mostly superficial. Yes, characters like Batman or the Avengers first made their debut in the pages of comics, but we don’t ordinarily define stories or characters from other sources by the medium they originated from– we don’t label Branagh’s or Olivier’s Shakespeare adaptations “theater movies” or Coppola’s Godfather trilogy “novels on film” (though he himself did label a chronological recut of them a “novel for television”). And there’s plenty more films that find themselves slapped with the “comic book movie” label despite being based on something from another source (the perfectly cast but horribly directed The Shadow, jumping to movie screens from the radio) or even being an original work altogether that merely shares the same genre elements (one could call the Flash Gordon film a “comic book” movie and almost be correct, but not so with other, more successful space operas).

For the most part, “comic book movie” is really nothing more than a term of shallow genre disparagement, looking only for the most base similarities between the stories and visual deliveries and sufficing to end the comparison there before deeper looks can even be attempted. And though that line of thinking very often results in the unjust writing off of great, unlikely seeming works both derived from comics (most could watch Road to Perdition and History of Violence and be none the wiser of their origins) and within the medium itself, I can’t help but wonder if the critics who rely upon treading water with that term may occasionally stumble on a more interesting truth that goes beyond the base genre similarities and further into the ways that the two mediums are linked, and more importantly separated. For as many have observed as the two art forms have developed over the course of the past century, both cinema and comics share a great deal in common as embodiments of visual storytelling. More than any other expressive forms, one is able to express the emotions and communicate the substance of a narrative above and beyond the boundaries of language to a larger audience in these mediums– it helps to be able to understand the language any given work is created in, or at the very least have a reliable translation provided, but even without that there’s something about the sheer visual language of comics and cinema that can allow one to follow any given sequence of moving or still imagery and keep up with it, somewhat. It’s that difference between moving and still imagery, however, that makes the creative opportunities offered by the two mediums so distinct, yet also what can create frustration when those opportunities aren’t taken full advantage of. In that regard, though it’s based on Junji Ito’s jaw-dropping manga, Takayuki Hirao’s animated film of Gyo is one of those comic-book inspired works that deserves better than to be called a mere “comic book movie”.


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by Allan Fish

(UK 2005 358m) DVD2

Looking for Ambrose Chapel

p  Sanne Wohlenberg  d  Dearbhla Walsh, Susan Tully, Brian Kirk  w  Simon Ashdown, Jeremy Dyson  ph  Lukas Strebel  ed  Emer Reynolds, Tony Cranstoun

Kris Marshall (Dudley Sutton), Ian Puleston Davies (Shirley Woolf), Daniel Mays (Carter Krantz), Roy Barraclough (Onan Van Kneck), Judy Parfitt (Mercy Woolf), Frances Barber (Connie), Sarah Smart (Lola Sutton), Emily Aston (Ruby Woolf), Philip Jackson (Leo Finch), Beth Cordingly (Vienna), Mark Gatiss (Ambrose Chapfel), Ron Cook,

It all begins with a man in a gorilla suit climbing up Blackpool Tower.  We see him fall.  We don’t see why or who he is.  Could be a she for all we know.  We are then told it’s several days earlier.  Each episode will begin the same way with the same gorilla-suited man plummeting to the pavement on the Golden Mile, and each time the clock ticks down.  This in essence is Funland’s Laura Palmer.  I evoke the comparison with David Lynch’s ubercult quite deliberately, for there’s more than a touch of Lynch about this sleeper hit for the then fledgling BBC3.

One wouldn’t necessarily have expected too much.  Dyson was one of the creators of the grotesque comedy series The League of Gentlemen, which had long since lost its original brilliance.  Ashdown was one of the main staff writers on EastEnders for many years.  It would not have been too hard to guess we could expect a darkly comic soap opera pastiche.  It came along just one year after an another excellent fantasy set in the old Northern entertainment capital, and the spirit of David Tennant’s copper from my home town and David Morrissey’s Ripley Holden can be felt everywhere.  It’s the same place as was seen in Blackpool, yet it’s like it’s being viewed not through the nostalgic lens of that series, but through a distorted lens, like the hall of mirrors at the old Pleasure Beach House of Horrors.  (more…)

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Copyright © 2012 by James Clark


        Robert Bresson’s Pickpocket and Diary of a Country Priest broach many compelling subjects, not the least of which being that humankind is faced with enormous hindrances against lucidity, dignity and joy. The crushing gravitational assaults we have witnessed there (that is to say, the enervation) hint that to come through this with any sense of gusto you had better be on your toes. An adjunct to that situation is the importance of assistance by wise and loving counsel. The activation of Cocteau’s La Belle et la Bête in those works insinuates a rich and necessary dream of mutual discovery and equilibrium in the presence of another whose rightness comes as a marvel. Implicit in that primal content of nature is the special vulnerability and neediness of children along those lines. If such a slippery dynamic proves a virtual killer for the fit and the bright, where does it leave those not yet fully equipped for the firestorm? A third film by Bresson, namely, Mouchette (1967), engages head-on this crisis of blighted regeneration in nature. Extra testimony to its compellingness is provided by Terrence Malick’s choosing it for the subject of his first film, Badlands, which we’ll tackle two weeks from now. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(UK 1995 152m) DVD1/2

A nation of babbling backseat cab drivers

p  Mike Bluett  d  Tony Palmer  w  John Osborne, Charles Wood  ph  Nic Knowland  m  Henry Purcell  md  John Eliot Gardiner  art  Nigel Talano  cos  John Gibbs

Michael Ball (Henry Purcell), Simon Callow (Charles II), Lucy Speed (Nell Gwyn), Robert Stephens (Sir John Dryden), John Shrapnel (Samuel Pepys), Rebecca Front (Mary II), Corin Redgrave (William III), Letitia Dean (Portsmouth), Terence Rigby (Capt Cooke), Murray Melvin (Shaftesbury), John Fortune (Edward Hyde),

When I first saw Tony Palmer’s film of Henry Purcell’s life it was in its maiden TV broadcast, Christmas Day 1995.  If nudged into thinking what Purcell meant to me then, it would have probably been as the composer of the piece reworked electronically for the opening to Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, a film I still was yet to see due to its withdrawal by the director.  But I’d seen clips, I’d got the CD score.  I was enamoured. 

            I could be forgiven for my ignorance, in part because of my youth but largely because so little is known of him, except that he wrote nearly a piece a week for the last fourteen years of his life and died at the same meagre age as Mozart a century later.  When John Osborne, the great playwright of the fifties and sixties, came to write his piece in Purcell he was approaching his own end, and what he created would amount to three requiems in one.  A requiem not only to himself and his first love, the theatre, not only to Purcell and his too long neglected genius, but to England itself. (more…)

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Burt Lancaster in Robert Siodmak’s masterpiece “Criss Cross,” one of the greatest film noirs of all-time

by Sam Juliano

The comedy countdown draws nearer, with an opening salvo scheduled for Monday, August 6th courtesy of Sydney native Tony d’Ambra, who also provided the fantastic sidebar banner.  Other site friends and visitors are urged to insert the banner at their own sites, if such a procedure is manageable.  It would of course be greatly appreciated.  The first week (Nos. 100 through 96) will also feature essays from “J.D.” of Radiator Heaven, Shubhajit Laheri of Cinemascope, and both Allan and I.  The second week, commencing on August 13th with Nos. 95 through 91, will feature two essays from our Chilean college student wunderkind Jaimie Grijalba, one from veteran Treadway, one from our own Jamie Uhler, and another by Allan.

The events in Colorado are sickening beyond words, and some of us have shared our feelings by e mail.  As movie-goers we can further connect with the utter senselessness and depravity of such barbaric acts, planned and hatched in one of our prime cultural havens.  The families must now undergo unconscionable grief and agony.  While temperatures have fallen to tolerable levels in the northeast, and some much-needed precipitation has consorted to cool things off further, reports from the mid-west continue to confirm some oppressive heed in some areas.

I have finally begun to take a look at some recent American television shows that have won the highest praise from the “inner circle” and have moved to acquire blu-ray sets of Deadwood, Breaking Bad and Rome, as well as DVD sets of Carnival and The Wire.  I have now watched the first half of the first season of The Wire, and will have much more to say on future Diarys.  I plan on watching the entire run before the summer is out, and will tackle some of the others purchased.  The one other show I will be moving to acquire (one that a number of people at the site have praised on Diary threads is Mad Men. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(UK 2012 520m) DVD2

Let this acceptance take

p  Rupert Ryle Hodges, Gareth Neame, Sam Mendes, Pippa Harris  d  Rupert Goold, Richard Eyre, Thea Sharrock  plays  William Shakespeare  ph  Danny Cohen, Ben Smithard, Michael McDonough  ed  Trevor Waite, Lesley Walker, John Wilson  m  Adam Cork, Stephen Warbeck, Adrian Johnston  art  Andrew McAlpine, Donal Woods, Max Berman  cos  Odile Dicks-Mireaux, Annie Symons

Tom Hiddleston (Hal/Henry V), Jeremy Irons (Henry IV), Simon Russell Beale (Sir John Falstaff), Ben Whishaw (Richard II), Rory Kinnear (Bolingbroke), Clemence Poésy (Queen Isabella), John Hurt (Chorus), David Morrissey (Northumberland), Alun Armstrong (older Northumberland), David Suchet (York), James Purefoy (Mowbray), Patrick Stewart (John of Gaunt), Lindsay Duncan (Duchess of York), Julie Walters (Mistress Quickly), Tom Georgeson (Bardolph), Joe Armstrong (Hotspur), Michelle Dockery (Kate Percy), Maxine Peake (Doll Tearsheet), David Dawson (Poins), Harry Lloyd (Mortimer), David Hayman (Worcester), Iain Glen (Warwick), David Bradley (gardener), David Bamber (Justice Shallow), Lambert Wilson (Charles VI), Melanie Thierry (Princess Katherine), Geoffrey Palmer (Lord Chief Justice), Paul Ritter (Pistol), Anton Lesser (Exeter), Owen Teale (Fluellen), Geraldine Chaplin (Alice),

2012 was always going to be a patriotic year for the British; Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, London Olympics and the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. The BBC prepared for this landmark and, though the summer of 2012, we had a host of programming, from a typically gripping documentary from Simon Schama to behind the scene documentaries with actors Derek Jacobi, Jeremy Irons and David Tennant.  Yet all paled beside the adaptations of four successive Shakespeare history plays, from Richard II through Henry IV Parts I & II to Henry V.  What we were given was, despite limitations of budget, a series to at least bear comparison to the legendary An Age of Kings(more…)

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by Allan Fish

A week already, doesn’t time fly when you’re rained in.

Best Picture Bicycle Thieves, Italy (9 votes)

Best Director John Huston, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (6 votes, by 1 from Michael Powell)

Best Short The Cat That Hated People, US, Tex Avery (5 votes)

Best Actor Humphrey Bogart, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (12 votes)

Best Actress Joan Fontaine, Letter from an Unknown Woman (9 votes)

Best Supp Actor Walter Huston, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (19 votes)

Best Supp Actress Jean Simmons, Hamlet (12 votes)

Best Cinematography Jack Cardiff, The Red Shoes (13 votes)

Best Score Brian Easdale, The Red Shoes (10 votes)

and my own choices…


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