Film Review – MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN (2019)

Motherless Brooklyn | FlixsterMOTHERLESS BROOKLYN (2019, USA) ****
Mystery, Drama, Crime
dist. Warner Bros.; pr co. Class 5 Films / MWM Studios / Warner Bros. Pictures; d. Edward Norton; w. Edward Norton (based on the novel by Jonathan Lethem); exec pr. Adrian Alperovich, Sue Kroll, Daniel Nadler, Brian Niranjan Sheth, Robert F. Smith; pr. Michael Bederman, Bill Migliore, Daniel Nadler, Edward Norton, Gigi Pritzker, Rachel Shane, Robert F. Smith; ass pr. Silvana Tropea; ph. Dick Pope (Colour. D-Cinema. ARRIRAW (3.4K) (source format), Digital Intermediate (2K) (master format). 1.85:1); m. Daniel Pemberton; m sup. Linda Cohen; ed. Joe Klotz; pd. Beth Mickle; ad. Michael Ahern; set d. Kara Zeigon; cos. Amy Roth; m/up. Louise McCarthy, Joanna McCarthy, Kerrie Smith, John Quaglia, Sincere Gilles; sd. Paul Hsu (Dolby Digital); sfx. Jimmy Hays; vfx. Matthew Fernandez, Steven Weigle, Rebecca Dunn, Artur Elson, Vance Miller, Mark Russell, Eran Dinur, David Lebensfeld, Grant Miller, Osvaldo Andreaus, John Bair, Stevie Ramone, Luke DiTommaso; st. Stephen A. Pope; rel. 30 August 2019 (USA), 6 December 2019 (UK); cert: 15; r/t. 144m.

cast: Edward Norton (Lionel Essrog), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Laura Rose), Alec Baldwin (Moses Randolph), Willem Dafoe (Paul Randolph), Bruce Willis (Frank Minna), Ethan Suplee (Gilbert Coney), Cherry Jones (Gabby Horowitz), Bobby Cannavale (Tony Vermonte), Dallas Roberts (Danny Fantl), Josh Pais (William Lieberman), Radu Spinghel (Giant Man), Fisher Stevens (Lou), Peter Gray Lewis (Mayor), Robert Wisdom (Billy Rose), Michael Kenneth Williams (Trumpet Man), Isaiah J. Thompson (King Rooster Piano Player), Russell Hall (King Rooster Bassist), Joe Farnsworth (King Rooster Drummer), Jerry Weldon (King Rooster Saxophonist), Eric Berryman (King Rooster Bartender).

Set against the backdrop of 1950s New York, the story follows Lionel Essrog (Norton), a lonely private detective afflicted with Tourette’s Syndrome, as he ventures to solve the murder of his mentor and only friend, Frank Minna (Willis). Armed only with a few clues and the powerful engine of his obsessive mind, Lionel unravels closely-guarded secrets that hold the fate of the whole city in the balance. In a mystery that carries him from gin-soaked jazz clubs in Harlem to the hard-edged slums of Brooklyn and, finally, into the gilded halls of New York’s power brokers, Lionel contends with thugs, corruption and the most dangerous man in the city to honour his friend and save the woman who might be his own salvation. Norton has delivered a movie from a bygone era with this noir-ish tale of murder and corruption. Norton himself is excellent as the afflicted detective, whilst a strong support cast includes Baldwin as the corrupt planning official and Dafoe as his embittered and estranged brother. The plot unfolds in traditional fashion and is laced with a wry sense of humour. Good creation of period setting is achieved through visual digital effects work, costume design, a brooding score and set dressing. It is a delight to see a film of this type that doesn’t feel the need to add Hollywood-style embellishments. It’s great entertainment, if a trifle overlong.

Film Review – ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL (1975)

BBC Two - All Creatures Great and SmallALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL (1975, UK/USA) ***½
Biography, Drama
dist. EMI Film Distributors ; pr co. EMI Film Distributors / Venedon Ltd.; d. Claude Whatham; w. Hugh Whitemore (based on the books by James Herriot); exec pr. Nat Cohen; pr. Duane Bogie, David Susskind; ass pr. Cecil F. Ford; ph. Peter Suschitzky (Colour. 35mm. Spherical. 1.66:1); m. Wilfred Josephs; ed. Ralph Sheldon; pd. Geoffrey Drake; set d. Fred Carter; cos. Yvonne Blake; m/up. Alan Brownie, Ronnie Cogan; sd. Ken Barker, Anthony Jackson, John Poyner, Clive Smith (Mono); rel. 4 February 1975 (USA), 8 May 1975 (UK); cert: PG; r/t. 92m.

cast: Simon Ward (James), Anthony Hopkins (Siegfried), Lisa Harrow (Helen), Brian Stirner (Tristan), Freddie Jones (Cranford), T.P. McKenna (Soames), Daphne Oxenford (Mrs. Pumphrey), Jane Collins (Connie), Glynne Geldart (Joyce), Brenda Bruce (Miss Harbottle), Christine Buckley (Mrs. Hall), John Collin (Mr. Alderson), Jane Solo (Brenda), Harold Goodwin (Dinsdale’s Uncle), Doreen Mantle (Mrs. Seaton), John Nettleton (Head Waiter), Bert Palmer (Mr. Dean (as Burt Palmer)), John Rees (Geoff Mallock), Jenny Runacre (Pamela), Fred Feast (Farmer in Cinema).

Charming pre-WWII story of a young vet (Ward) who joins the practice of the eccentric Hopkins in the Yorkshire Dales. There he meets and courts Harrow and encounters tight-fisted farmers as he comes to terms with life in the country. Whilst the film is largely episodic and inconsequential, the warmth of the characters, the often funny situations they find themselves in and the performances of an enthusiastic cast prove to be a winning mixture. Hopkins is splendid in a role tailor-made for him. There is also great use of the Yorkshire locations. Part-funded by and debuted on NBC TV in the USA as part of Hallmark Hall of Fame. Followed by IT SHOULDN’T HAPPEN TO A VET (1976) and a hugely popular TV series running for 90 episodes over 7 seasons from 1978-90 before resurfacing again as a remake in 2020.

TV Review – ALL CREATURES GREAT & SMALL: YOU’VE GOT TO DREAM (2020)

You've Got to Dream” : All Creatures Great and Small — Season 1, Episode 1  | Full Episodes | by All Creatures Great and Small 1x01 | Aug, 2020 | MediumALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL: YOU’VE GOT TO DREAM (2020, UK) ***½
Drama
net. Channel 5 UK; pr co. Playground Entertainment; d. Brian Percival; w. Ben Vanstone (based on the books by James Herriot); exec pr. Colin Callender, Melissa Gallant, Ben Vanstone, Louise Pedersen, Rebecca Eaton, Susanne Simpson, Caroline Cooper Charles, Hugo Heppell; pr. Richard Burrell; ph. Erik Molberg Hansen (Colour. 1.78:1); m. Alexandra Harwood; ed. John Wilson; pd. Jacqueline Smith; ad. Thomas Goodwin; set d. Kaye Kent; cos. Ros Little; m/up. Jackie Sweeney; sd. Jonathan Wyatt (Dolby Digital); sfx. Scott MacIntyre; vfx. Sam Biddle, Catriona Falla; tr. 1 September 2020; r/t. 50m.

cast: Nicholas Ralph (James Herriot), Samuel West (Siegfried Farnon), Rachel Shenton (Helen Alderson), Anna Madeley (Mrs. Hall), Drew Cain (James Herriot Senior), Gabriel Quigley (Hannah Herriot), Mark Noble (Henry Dinsdale), Imogen Clawson (Jenny Alderson), Alexis Platt (Dick Rudd), Steve Jackson (Jeremy Sharpe), Nigel Betts (Dennis Handshaw), Naomi Radcliffe (Mrs. Dinsdale), Laura Lindsay (Mrs. Rudd).

(s. 1 ep. 1) The numerous adventures of friendly staff at a country veterinarian practice in 1930s to 1940s Yorkshire. It is a remake of the 1978-1990 series and the 1974 feature film taken from the autobiographical books by James Herriot. In this debut episode, James (Ralph) travels from his home in Glasgow to start a career as an assistant vet with the eccentric Siegfried Farnon (West doing well following in the footsteps of Robert Hardy). Vanstone adapts the source material well drawing on the charm and humour of the books to create a feeling akin to that of the original classic series. This new version is aimed at creating a new generation of animal lovers and judging by this first episode it has successfully captured the essence that made the original series so enjoyable, whilst creating its own identity.

Film Review – DOWNHILL RACER (1969)

Downhill Racer (1969) | Nostalgia CentralDOWNHILL RACER (1969, USA) ***
Drama, Sport
dist. Paramount Pictures; pr co. Wildwood Enterprises; d. Michael Ritchie; w. James Salter (based on the novel “The Downhill Racers” by Oakley Hall); pr. Richard Gregson; ph. Brian Probyn (Technicolor. 35mm. Spherical. 1.85:1); m. Kenyon Hopkins; ed. Richard A. Harris; ad. Ian Whittaker; cos. Cynthia May, Edith Head (uncredited); m/up. Bill Lodge; sd. Elden Ruberg, Kevin Sutton (Mono); sfx. Roy L. Downey (uncredited); st. Stefan Zürcher, Joe Jay Jalbert (both uncredited); rel. 28 October 1969 (USA), 19 March 1970 (UK); cert: PG; r/t. 101m.

cast: Robert Redford (Chappellet), Gene Hackman (Claire), Camilla Sparv (Carole), Karl Michael Vogler (Machet), Jim McMullan (Creech), Kathleen Crowley (Reporter), Dabney Coleman (Mayo), Kenneth Kirk (D.K.), Oren Stevens (Kipsmith), Jerry Dexter (Engel), Walter Stroud (Mr. Chappellet), Carole Carle (Lena), Rip McManus (Devore), Joe Jay Jalbert (Tommy Erb), Tom J. Kirk (Stiles), Robin Hutton-Potts (Gabriel), Heini Schuler (Meier), Peter Rohr (Boyriven), Arnold Alpiger (Hinsch), Eddie Waldburger (Haas).

Redford stars as a single-minded downhill ski racer who is called up to the US team following an injury to another team member. He is a loner and does not bond well with his teammates or his coach (Hackman). When he begins to place and then win races he is seen as a major challenger for the Olympic title. Along the way he hooks up with Sparv who works for a ski manufacturer looking for a contract with the US team. Redford gives an excellent understated performance and is well supported by Hackman as the coach attempting to make a team out of different individuals. Their clashes are the best part of this sports drama, which otherwise adopts a pseudo-documentary approach to its subject, thereby remaining at a distance from his motivations. As a result, there is little to endear us to Redford’s character. Scenes with Stroud as his father, who shows little pride in his son’s achievements, fall short in offering any observations as to character make-up. Even the sporting drama is somehow lost in Ritchie’s clinical drive for authenticity. The film ends without offering any conclusions to the questions it raises and ultimately falls short leaving us just to admire the Alpine scenery, the excellent ski action and two very fine actors making the most of the material.

Film Review – AD ASTRA (2019)

Ad Astra (2019) — Contains Moderate PerilAD ASTRA (USA/Brazil/China, 2019) **
      Distributor: 20th Century Fox; Production Company: New Regency Pictures / Bona Film Group / Keep Your Head / MadRiver Pictures / Plan B Entertainment / RT Features / Regency Enterprises / Twentieth Century Fox; Release Date: 29 August 2019 (Italy), 18 September 2019 (USA/UK); Filming Dates: began August 2017; Running Time: 123m; Colour: Colour; Sound Mix: SDDS | Dolby Atmos | DTS (DTS: X) | IMAX 6-Track | Auro 11.1 | Datasat | 12-Track Digital Sound (IMAX version) | Dolby Surround 7.1; Film Format: D-Cinema; Film Process: ARRIRAW (3.4K) (source format) (some scenes), Digital Intermediate (2K) (master format); Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1; BBFC Cert: 12.
      Director: James Gray; Writer: James Gray, Ethan Gross; Executive Producer: Marc Butan, Jeffrey Chan, Paul Conway, Sophie Mas, Yariv Milchan, Anthony Mosawi, Michael Schaefer, Lourenço Sant’ Anna, Dong Yu; Producer: Dede Gardner, James Gray, Anthony Katagas, Jeremy Kleiner, Arnon Milchan, Yariv Milchan, Brad Pitt, Rodrigo Teixeira; Associate Producer: Christina Oh; Director of Photography: Hoyte Van Hoytema; Music Composer: Max Richter; Film Editor: John Axelrad, Lee Haugen; Casting Director: Douglas Aibel; Production Designer: Kevin Thompson; Art Director: Christa Munro; Set Decorator: Karen O’Hara; Costumes: Albert Wolsky; Make-up: Nana Fischer, Jaime Leigh McIntosh; Sound: Brad Semenoff; Special Effects: Scott R. Fisher; Visual Effects: Allen Maris.
      Cast: Brad Pitt (Roy McBride), Tommy Lee Jones (H. Clifford McBride), Ruth Negga (Helen Lantos), Donald Sutherland (Thomas Pruitt), Kimberly Elise (Lorraine Deavers), Loren Dean (Donald Stanford), Donnie Keshawarz (Captain Lawrence Tanner), Sean Blakemore (Willie Levant), Bobby Nish (Franklin Yoshida), LisaGay Hamilton (Adjutant General Vogel), John Finn (Brigadier General Stroud), John Ortiz (Lieutenant General Rivas), Freda Foh Shen (Captain Lu), Kayla Adams (Female Flight Attendant), Ravi Kapoor (Arjun Dhariwal), Liv Tyler (Eve), Elisa Perry (Woman in White Pants / Shirt), Daniel Sauli (Sal), Kimmy Shields (Sergeant Romano), Kunal Dudheker (Technician One).
      Synopsis: An astronaut undertakes a mission across an unforgiving solar system to uncover the truth about his missing father and his doomed expedition that now, 30 years later, threatens the universe.
      Comment: Whilst the film is a technical triumph it is also a dramatic failure. The mission for Pitt to seek out his father (Jones), who is perched in an experimental lab at the edge of the solar system, in order to prevent a life-threatening electrical pulse wave is fanciful and more than a little contrived. The space setting also ensures the story unfolds at a slow pace, with echoes of Kubrick’s 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY but actually working against the story here because in reality, it takes a long time to get to Saturn and then to Neptune. The story’s main theme of a father-son relationship turned sour is set against a canvass so broad it feels inconsequential and saps the film of any dramatic core it hoped it would provide. The performances are one-level and the script totally lacks any saving grace of humour. The result is a depressing and monotonous experience. Occasional glimpses of a more exciting movie emerge in two scenes. A buggy chase across the surface of Saturn and a bizarre encounter for Pitt, answering a distress call, with two apes aboard a Norwegian space vessel. These two set-pieces aside there is little else to connect the viewer to the characters and their plight. The visuals are outstanding and well shot but are wasted on such a shallow story. A great example of how to blend of visuals with dramatic tension can be seen in 2013’s GRAVITY.

Film Review – THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (2015)

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' Begins the New WFS SeasonTHE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (UK/USA, 2015) ***
      Distributor: 20th Century Fox (UK) / Fox Searchlight Pictures (USA); Production Company: Blueprint Pictures; Release Date: 26 February 2015 (UK), 6 March 2015 (USA); Filming Dates: began 10 January 2014; Running Time: 122m; Colour: Colour; Sound Mix: Dolby Digital; Film Format: 35 mm (anamorphic) (Kodak Vision 2383), D-Cinema; Film Process: Digital Intermediate (2K) (master format), F65 RAW (4K) (source format); Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1; BBFC Cert: PG.
      Director: John Madden; Writer: Ol Parker (based on a story by Ol Parker and John Madden); Executive Producer: Michael Dreyer, Jonathan King, John Madden, Jeff Skoll; Producer: Graham Broadbent, Peter Czernin; Associate Producer: Tabrez Noorani; Director of Photography: Ben Smithard; Music Composer: Thomas Newman; Film Editor: Victoria Boydell; Casting Director: Michelle Guish, Seher Latif; Production Designer: Martin Childs; Art Director: Dilip More; Set Decorator: Ed Turner; Costumes: Alison Lewis, Riyaz Ali Merchant; Make-up: Daniel Phillips; Sound: Ian Wilson; Visual Effects: Fay McConkey, Thomas Proctor, Emma Moffat.
      Cast: Judi Dench (Evelyn Greenslade), Maggie Smith (Muriel Donnelly), Bill Nighy (Douglas Ainslie), Dev Patel (Sonny Kapoor), Richard Gere (Guy Chambers), Celia Imrie (Madge Hardcastle), Ronald Pickup (Norman Cousins), Penelope Wilton (Jean Ainslie), Diana Hardcastle (Carol Parr), Tina Desai (Sunaina), Claire Price (Laura Ainslie), Lillete Dubey (Mrs. Kapoor), David Strathairn (Ty Burley), Tamsin Greig (Lavinia Beech), Shazad Latif (Kushal), Rajesh Tailang (Babul), Denzil Smith (Mr. Dharuna), Sid Makkar (Jay), Avijit Dutt (Nimish), Seema Azmi (Anokhi).
      Synopsis: As the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has only a single remaining vacancy – posing a rooming predicament for two fresh arrivals – Sonny pursues his expansionist dream of opening a second hotel.
      Comment: A more-of-the-same sequel, which coasts on the charm and skills of its excellent cast and vibrant locations. The plot lacks originality and veers too far toward a sit-com approach at the expense of depth in characterisation, but the vibe is good. Patel and Smith are looking to expand their hotel business and look for sponsorship from the US. When Gere arrives, Patel believes he is an inspector charged with assessing the business and he goes out of his way to charm him – echoes of Fawlty Towers. The cast is in good form again but has less to get their teeth into here and the film comes across as both unnecessary yet still entertaining.

Film Review – THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (2011)

The-best-exotic-marigold-hotel.jpgTHE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (UK/USA/UAE, 2011) ****
      Distributor: 20th Century Fox; Production Company: Blueprint Pictures; Release Date: 30 November 2011 (Italy), 17 February 2012 (UK), 25 May 2012 (USA); Filming Dates: began 10 October 2010; Running Time: 124m; Colour: DeLuxe; Sound Mix: Dolby | SDDS; Film Format: 35 mm (anamorphic) (Fuji Eterna-CP 3514DI), D-Cinema; Film Process: Digital Intermediate (2K) (master format), Super 35 (source format); Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1; BBFC Cert: PG-13/12.
      Director: John Madden; Writer: Ol Parker (based on the novel “These Foolish Things” by Deborah Moggach); Executive Producer: Jonathan King, Jeff Skoll, Ricky Strauss; Producer: Graham Broadbent, Peter Czernin; Director of Photography: Ben Davis; Music Composer: Thomas Newman; Film Editor: Chris Gill; Casting Director: Michelle Guish, Seher Latif; Production Designer: Alan Macdonald; Art Director: Peter Francis; Set Decorator: Tina Jones; Costumes: Louise Stjernsward; Make-up: Beverley Binda; Sound: Ian Wilson; Special Effects: Shiva Nanda; Visual Effects: Karen Clarke, Fay McConkey.
      Cast: Judi Dench (Evelyn Greenslade), Bill Nighy (Douglas Ainslie), Dev Patel (Sonny Kapoor), Tom Wilkinson (Graham Dashwood), Maggie Smith (Muriel Donnelly), Penelope Wilton (Jean Ainslie), Ronald Pickup (Norman Cousins), Celia Imrie (Madge Hardcastle), Tina Desai (Sunaina), Sid Makkar (Jay), Lillete Dubey (Mrs. Kapoor), Diana Hardcastle (Carol), Seema Azmi (Anokhi), Paul Bhattacharjee (Dr. Ghujarapartidar), Liza Tarbuck (Staff Nurse), Denzil Smith (Viceroy Club Secretary), Honey Chhaya (Young Wasim), Bhuvnesh Shetty (Muriel’s Physiotherapist), Rajendra Gupta (Manoj), Jay Villiers (Evelyn’s Son).
      Synopsis: British retirees travel to India to take up residence in what they believe is a newly restored hotel. Less luxurious than its advertisements, the Marigold Hotel nevertheless slowly begins to charm in unexpected ways.
      Comment: The top-notch cast is the big draw to this adaptation of Deborah Moggach’s novel “These Foolish Things”. They are helped by a witty script, which manages to navigate the more predictable and familiar elements of the story. A group of elderly Brits each have their own reason for the late-in-the-day change to their lives when they decide to stay at a residential hotel for the elderly in Jaipur, India. the hotel is run by Patel’s dreamer. Once there, each of the residents finds their own way to come to terms with what they had been looking for in the later years of their lives. It is a charming and winning film which coasts on the supremely talented cast and the exotic location. Those looking for more depth, will not find it in abundance here despite the occasional moment of poignancy, but what they will find is an entertainment that has more than enough attraction to win them over. Followed by THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (2015).

Film Review – WILD (2014)

Wild (2014) | The CinephiliacWILD (USA, 2014) ***½
      Distributor: 20th Century Fox; Production Company: Fox Searchlight Pictures / Pacific Standard; Release Date: 29 August 2014 (USA), 13 October 2014 (UK); Filming Dates: began 11 October 2013; Running Time: 115m; Colour: Colour; Sound Mix: Dolby Digital; Film Format: Codex; Film Process: ARRIRAW (2.8K) (source format), Digital Intermediate (2K) (master format); Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Jean-Marc Vallée; Writer: Nick Hornby (based on the memoir “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” by Cheryl Strayed); Executive Producer: Nathan Ross, Bergen Swanson; Producer: Bruna Papandrea, Bill Pohlad, Reese Witherspoon; Associate Producer: Jeffrey Harlacker, T.K. Knowles, Cheryl Strayed; Director of Photography: Yves Bélanger; Music Supervisor: Susan Jacobs; Film Editor: Martin Pensa, Jean-Marc Vallée (as John Mac McMurphy); Casting Director: David Rubin; Production Designer: John Paino; Art Director: Javiera Varas; Set Decorator: Robert Covelman; Costumes: Melissa Bruning; Make-up: Kymber Blake, Tanya Cookingham, Miia Kovero; Sound: Mildred Iatrou; Special Effects: Bob Riggs; Visual Effects: Julien Maisonneuve, Jean-François Ferland.
      Cast: Reese Witherspoon (Cheryl), Laura Dern (Bobbi), Thomas Sadoski (Paul), Keene McRae (Leif), Michiel Huisman (Jonathan), W. Earl Brown (Frank), Gaby Hoffmann (Aimee), Kevin Rankin (Greg), Brian Van Holt (Ranger), Cliff De Young (Ed), Mo McRae (Jimmy Carter), Will Cuddy (Josh), Leigh Parker (Rick), Nick Eversman (Richie), Ray Buckley (Joe (as Ray Mist)), Randy Schulman (Therapist), Cathryn de Prume (Stacey), Kurt Conroyd (Greg’s Friend), Ted deChatelet (Greg’s Friend), Jeffree Newman (Greg’s Friend).
      Synopsis: A chronicle of one woman’s one thousand one hundred mile solo hike undertaken as a way to recover from a recent personal tragedy.
      Comment: Story based on the memoirs of Cheryl Strayed who hiked across the Pacific Crest Trail in order to bring some sense to her life following the death of her mother and the breakup of her marriage. Witherspoon gives a wonderfully gritty performance as she comes to terms with the gruelling landscape and the challenges presented along her journey. We get to gradually understand her motivation through flashbacks of her life. We see her mother (Dern) leave an abusive relationship, taking her children with her and schooling them in how to embrace life. When her mother dies of cancer, Witherspoon’s life unravels and she goes off the rails. The experience of her adventure enables her to get her life back in perspective. It is a well-directed and acted movie, but the flashback scenes, whilst totally relevant to the story, are occasionally distracting and somehow detract from the portrayal of the ordeal of the hike. There are still touching and humorous moments along the way and the production team have managed to capture the beauty and danger of the wild.

Film Review – SATURDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY MORNING (1960)

Film - Saturday Night And Sunday Morning - Into FilmSATURDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY MORNING (UK, 1960) ****
      Distributor: British Lion Films (UK), Continental Distributing (USA); Production Company: Woodfall Film Productions; Release Date: 27 October 1960 (UK), 3 April 1961 (USA); Filming Dates: began 26 February 1960; Running Time: 89m; Colour: B&W; Sound Mix: Mono (Westrex Recording System); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1; BBFC Cert: PG.
      Director: Karel Reisz; Writer: Alan Sillitoe (based on the novel by Alan Sillitoe); Executive Producer: Harry Saltzman; Producer: Tony Richardson; Director of Photography: Freddie Francis; Music Composer: John Dankworth; Film Editor: Seth Holt; Art Director: Edward Marshall; Costumes: Sophie Devine, Barbara Gillett; Make-up: Harold Fletcher, Pearl Tipaldi; Sound: Chris Greenham, Peter Handford, Bob Jones.
      Cast: Albert Finney (Arthur Seaton), Shirley Anne Field (Doreen), Rachel Roberts (Brenda), Hylda Baker (Aunt Ada), Norman Rossington (Bert), Bryan Pringle (Jack), Robert Cawdron (Robboe), Edna Morris (Mrs. Bull), Elsie Wagstaff (Mrs. Seaton), Frank Pettitt (Mr. Seaton), Avis Bunnage (Blousy Woman), Colin Blakely (Loudmouth), Irene Richmond (Doreen’s Mother), Louise Dunn (Betty), Anne Blake (Civil Defence Officer), Peter Madden (Drunken Man), Cameron Hall (Mr. Bull), Alister Williamson (Policeman).
      Synopsis: A rebellious, hard-living factory worker juggles relationships with two women, one of whom is married to another man but pregnant with his child.
      Comment: Finney is an angry young factory worker rebelling against the conventions of life in post-war Britain. In doing so he indulges in an affair with Roberts, the wife of one of his work colleagues whilst being attracted to the young and naïve Field. Whilst a product of its time, spearheading the British New Wave in the early 1960s, it retains much of its power through Finney’s superb performance and those of a strong support cast including Roberts as the misled married woman. Sillitoe’s script is sharp, witty and socially aware and Reisz translates it well to the screen. Francis’ black and white cinematography wonderfully captures the industrial heart of Nottingham with its smoke billowing factories and terraced rows. The themes of generational gaps and the rebellious youth in post-war Britain are keenly observed in this ground-breaking drama right through to its ironic closing scene.

Film Review – DOWNTON ABBEY (2019)

Image result for downton abbey 2019DOWNTON ABBEY (UK, 2019) ***
      Distributor: Universal Pictures International (UPI) (UK), Focus Features (USA); Production Company: Carnival Film & Television / Focus Features / Perfect World Pictures; Release Date: 13 September 2019 (UK), 20 September 2019 (USA); Filming Dates: began 10 September 2018; Running Time: 122m; Colour: Colour; Sound Mix: Dolby Digital; Film Format: Digital (Digital Cinema Package DCP); Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1; BBFC Cert: PG – mild threat, language.
      Director: Michael Engler; Writer: Julian Fellowes (based on characters created by Julian Fellowes); Executive Producer: Nigel Marchant, Brian Percival; Producer: Julian Fellowes, Gareth Neame, Liz Trubridge; Director of Photography: Ben Smithard; Music Composer: John Lunn; Film Editor: Mark Day; Casting Director: Jill Trevellick; Production Designer: Donal Woods; Art Director: Mark Kebby; Set Decorator: Gina Cromwell; Costumes: Anna Robbins; Make-up: Elaine Browne; Sound: David Lascelles.
      Cast: Matthew Goode (Henry Talbot), Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary Talbot), Joanne Froggatt (Anna Bates), Maggie Smith (Violet Crawley), Tuppence Middleton (Lucy Smith), Elizabeth McGovern (Cora Crawley), Imelda Staunton (Maud Bagshaw), Stephen Campbell Moore (Captain Chetwode), Geraldine James (Queen Mary), Allen Leech (Tom Branson), Laura Carmichael (Lady Edith), Sophie McShera (Daisy Mason), Mark Addy (Mr. Bakewell), Kate Phillips (Princess Mary), Hugh Bonneville (Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham), Phyllis Logan (Mrs. Hughes), Raquel Cassidy (Miss Baxter), Susan Lynch (Miss Lawton), Robert James-Collier (Thomas Barrow), Jim Carter (Mr. Carson), Penelope Wilton (Isobel Merton), Brendan Coyle (Mr. Bates), Max Brown (Richard Ellis), Lesley Nicol (Mrs. Patmore), David Haig (Mr Wilson), Kevin Doyle (Mr. Molesley), Perry Fitzpatrick (Chris Webster), Harry Hadden-Paton (Bertie Hexham), Simon Jones (King George V), Michael Fox (Andy Parker), Philippe Spall (Monsieur Courbet), James Cartwright (Tony Sellick), Douglas Reith (Lord Merton).
      Synopsis: An aristocratic family and their staff have to prepare for an unexpected visit from the King and Queen.
      Comment: Fans of the TV series, which ran for six seasons, will no doubt love this big-screen adaptation. Casual viewers may get lost in the abundance of characters, well played by the ensemble cast, and their carry over backstories. The story itself is slight, based around the tensions caused by the Royal visit to the household. There are nods at the Irish hatred toward the crown and the underground gay movement, but these are not fully explored. Instead, the writer and director focus on the inter-relationships between the main characters. Sumptuously designed, it’s all very civilised and often witty, but the lack of substance means this will only really have any lasting legacy with its sizeable fan base.