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Directed by Leslie Norman. 1958
Starring John Mills, Richard Attenborough, Bernard Lee, Robert Urquhart, Ray Jackson, Maxine Audley. Black and White. 132 mins.
Special screenings on the beach at Camber Sands September 20th and 21st introduced by Hayley Mills. Available on Blu ray and DVD from Studiocanal from September 25th.
Secret Cinema has started a whole wave of gimmick screenings. Studiocanal are getting in on the act, premiering their restoration on this 1958 feature with two screenings out on Camber Sands, which plays the part of The Beach in the film. (If you go along, drop in on Rye, which doubles for the title character.) The event is produced in association with Luna Cinema and The Vintage Festival and is part of the Britain On Film: Coast and Sea collection. Door open at 5.30 and there will be themed entertainment, food, drink and dance classes prior to the film starting at 7.30. Visit http://www.scnl.co/DunkirkPremiere for information and to book tickets.
It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. (U.)
Directed by Stanley Kramer. 1963.
Starring Spencer Tracy, Jimmy Durante, Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Ethel Merman, Buddy Hackett, Mickey Rooney, Dick Shawn, Phil Silvers, Terry-Thomas and Jonathan Winters. Out on Blu-ray as part of the Criterion Collection. 163 mins/ 197 mins
The latest release from the Criterion Collection is one of cinema's greatest white elephants: an epic celebration of comedy, that is essentially humourless. In the 50s and 60s Stanley Kramer was the archetype of “liberal Hollywood,” making a series of worthy, Oscarpleading, issue pictures. In the early 60s he alighted upon a script by writing team, William and Tania Rose, (Willaim had written British comedy classics The Ladykillers and Genevieve.) It envisioned a sprawling comic romp on the theme Greed Corrupts, and Kramer decided that he would follow up Judgment At Nuremberg with the ultimate celebration of American screen comedy since the silent era, where every roles would be filled by a notable comedian. A man with no comedy background trying to do this was a recipe for disaster – the frantic and forced zaniness is there even in the title. If they are honest, I think even its most impassioned fans would accept that the film isn't as funny as it should be. And yet, and yet, when the review discs for this dropped through my letterbox I was more excited than for any other disc I have received this year, other than the Marx Brothers Box Set. It's a glorious, glorious, glorious, glorious folly.
Directed by Mohamed Diab
Starring Nelly Karim, Hani Adel, El Sebaii Mohamed, Ahmed Abdelhamid Hefny, Mahmoud Fares, Waleed Abdel Ghany. In Arabic with subtitles. 97 mins. Out on Blu-ray and DVD from Arrow films on 14th August.
Clash is a film set inside the back of a van; an Egyptian police van during a day of pro and anti protests and riots, after the military had overthrown the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013. It's one of those concepts that will either work brilliantly or flounder ridiculously, and whichever it is, it won't leave you wondering for long. Diab's film works brilliantly: indeed it already looks secure alike one of the films of the year.
The Sense of an Ending (15.)
Directed by Ritesh Batra.
Starring Jim Broadbent, Harriet Walter, Charlotte Rampling, Billy Howle, Freya Mavor, Joe Alwyn, Michelle Dockery, Matthew Goode and Emily Mortimer. 108 mins. Out on Blu-ray and DVD from Studiocanal on August 14th.
There are two reasons why this is getting reviewed. Firstly I have read, and liked, the Julian Barnes novel (or novella) that it is taken from, a spontaneous selection from the library prompted by not having read anything much of his previously and it being agreeably short. Secondly, I was supposed to review its theatrical release but went to the wrong cinema, and sat there on my own thinking its a bit quiet tonight and ended up seeing Paddy Considine's very fine boxing drama, Journeyman, which has since disappeared off the release schedule.
Death In The Garden (12A.)
Directed by Luis Bunuel. 1956.
Starring Simone Signoret, Charles Vanel, Georges Marchal, Michel Piccoli, Tito Junco, Raúl Ramírez and Michele Giradon. Released on Blu-ray by Eureka as part of their Masters Of Cinema series.
Luis Bunuel was without question a master of cinema, and his mastery popped up over vast chunks of the middle part of the Twentieth century, from the late twenties to the mid seventies. In amongst the classics though there were long periods of buckling down and making ends meet. So when a Bunuel film you've never heard of drops through the letterbox, I think it's reasonable to be a little sceptical about claims to it being “A surrealistic tour de force.”
The Sorry and The Pity (E.)
Directed by Max Ophuls. 1969. Black and White. 260 mins. Released on Blu-ray/ DVD by Arrow Academy.
Or to be more precise: The Talking and The Smoking. For nearly four and half hours a selection of French people, along with some Germans, and English, talk about life under German occupation, generally waving around some form of nicotine dispenser to emphasise their points. Along with Shoah, it is the definitive cinematic oral history of the Second World War; its landmark status, to some extent, confirmed by its use as a running gag in Woody Allen's Annie Hall. Shot for television after the revolutionary events of 1968, to challenge De Gaulle's more heroic and defiant version of history, it was banned from French TV until 1981. It comes in two instalments: Part 1 The Collapse, part 2 the Choice. It is a film about the French Resistance where you have to wait a long time for the resistance to arrive, and when it does, there is less of it than you'd expect.
One-Eyed Jacks. (PG.)
Directed by Marlon Brando. 1961
Starring Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Pina Pellicer, Katy Durado, Ben Johnson, Larry Duran, Sam Gilman and Slim Pickens. 142 mins. Fully restored version released on Dual Format Blu-ray/ DVD edition by Arrow Academy on June 12th.
One-Eyed Jacks isn't one of the really great movie titles, but it is a pretty good one and it has shown considerable staying power over the years; bobbing on down through the decades, being the name of the brothel in Twin Peaks, and managing to accrue a level of mystique and intrigue that Brando's western probably doesn't deserve. There is something about the idea of One-Eyed Jacks that transcends the actual film.
Journey To The Centre Of The Earth. (U.)
Directed by Henry Levin. 1959 mins
Starring James Mason, Pat Boone, Arlene Dahl, Peter Ronson, Diane Baker, Thayer David, Alan Napier. 129 mins. A 4K Restoration out on Blu-ray from Eureka Classic.
This is a journey back to a time when you had to work for you pleasures, when children looking for a fun fantastical romp were expected to wade through the stodgy prose of a Jules Verne translator, and even the movies made you sit and wait for the good bits. This Verne adaptation takes around 45 minutes to get its protagonists under the surface of the earth, and even then it doesn't allow itself to get carried away with all that adventure stuff. But, its straight face is always offering up at least a hint of a smirk. It's a bundle of fun, but with dignity.
Directed by Argyris Papadimitropoulos.
Starring Makis Papadimitriou, Eli Tringou, Dimi Hart, Hara Kotsali, Milou Van Groesen and Marcu Collen. Greek with subtitles. 104 mins. Out on Blu-ray and DVD from Eureka!
“You've got to get a little, get a little every day, you get a sunburn right away,” according to Graham Gouldman's title song to the much hyped and then instantly forgotten seventies Farrah Fawcett vehicle Sunburn. During the summer on a hedonistic Greek island, the new doctor Kostis (Papadimitriou) isn't getting any, or very little. When he manages to get an in with a group a young tourists he leaps desperately at the opportunity to be the short fat sore thumb among the lean, young, bronzed bodies on the nudist beaches.
The Graduate (12A.)
Directed by Mike Nichols. 1967.
Starring Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, Katharine Ross, William Daniels, Murray Hamilton, Elizabeth Wilson and Buck Henry. 101 mins. Released on Blu-ray for the 50th anniversary by Studiocanal.
It was 50 years ago today, or thereabouts, Dustin Hoffman said, “Awwww Mrs Robinson, you're trying to seduce me.” The result was a sensation, a film that has lodged itself in the western conscousness. It was a massive hit back then; inflation adjusted it is the 23rd biggest grossing film in American history, bigger than The Godfather and every superhero film ever made. It caught the mood, captured something in the air; though fifty years you may wonder what exactly.
The Hunt (15.)
Directed By Thomas Vinterberg.
Starring Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Annika Wedderkopp, Lasse Fogelstrøm, Susse Wold and Anne Louise Hassing. Danish with Subtitles. 114 mins. Out on Blu-ray and DVD from Arrow on August 7th.
The Hunt is a circle of hell constructed solely from good intentions and reasonableness. Lucas (Mikkelsen) is a divorced man working in a nursery in a small Danish village. Life seems to be ticking along well enough for him until one of the children makes an entirely false accusation of inappropriate sexual behaviour and his whole world falls apart.
Directed by Joon-ho Bong.
Starring An Seo Hyun, Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal, Shirley Henderson, Paul Dano and Giancarlo Esposito. In English and subtitled. Limited cinema release, available on Netflix from June 28th. 121 mins.
International co-operation, hands reaching out over the oceans, nation speaking unto nation, is all very well, but generally such operations result in the production of finely crafted, no expense spared, pig's ears. In the old days we used to get Euro-puddings, unhappy collaborations from different corners of the common market; now we have transcontinental streamed puddings. Okja is a Netflix production of a film by Korea's second most prestigious director (the one that didn't direct Oldboy, but did do The Host), of a script written with Jon Ronson. There's a high quality international cast, many of whom are giving performances that seem brave and interesting for approximately the first minute, before revealing themselves to be utterly cringeworthy*, in support of a teenage Korean girl and a giant CGI Super pig.
The 4 Marx Brothers At Paramount. 1929 - 1933 (U.)
Cocoanuts (1929)/ Animal Crackers (1930)/Monkey Business (1931)/ Horse Feathers (1932)/ Duck Soup (1933.)
Five films, four brothers, three discs. These are their first films; (most of) their best films; the films with the crap titles that would never be used for Queen albums; the titles that are so random you can never remember which film is which, or which has which good bit in it. Working your way through this set is to trace the sequence of them marching up to the top of the hill, culminating in the classic Duck Soup, without the marching back down again. In just five years they went from straightforward adaptations of their Broadway hit shows to a form of free flowing mayhem that is among cinema's greatest and purest comedic expressions.
The Autopsy of Jane Doe (15.)
Directed by André Øvredal.
Starring Emile Hirsch, Brian Cox, Ophelia Lovibond, Michael McElhatton and Olwen Kelly. 85 mins. On EST on June 19th, DVD, Blu-ray and OD from June 26th.
One of the more nauseating aspects of society's lurch into mainstream nihilism is the way that pathologists have become the new kings of light entertainment. When Agent Dale Cooper dug around under the fingernails of the corpses looking for clues in the original Twin Peaks it was excruciating and transgressive. Now autopsies are a light entertainment staple - get the granny and kids in, Silent Witness is cutting up a good'un. They are the modern day Judith Chalmers, reporting back from places you aren't able to go to.