The British independent film industry appears totally dependent on Film4 to get distribution and their films seen now that Blockbusters has closed down and online streaming is the only way to get your new movies. Not many people are streaming these low budget movies. Most online film watching is all about stolen movies or the big budget stuff, further damaging any chance of film fans finding time to watch films like Treacle JR.
This one cost just £30,000 to make and very much a show reel vehicle for the actors to get other film or TV work. It took four weeks to make in the mostly improv style and with four actors and four crew involved you can see they are not even on minimum wage. That is the future of intelligent British film. In fact we are reaching the point where the actors themselves have to bring money to a film to get it made, the way most of the Formula One drivers do. The days of Lottery funding money for films like Rancid Aluminum and The Potato Men are long since over.
Middle-class gentle giant Tom (Tom Fisher) needs space from his new baby and needy wife and runs away to London as his 40th birthday approaches. The contemplation of nappies, mother-in-laws and increasing mortgage payments from now on in doesn’t appeal, sleeping rough on his first night in the smoke. He is soon mugged in a London park, a capital city tradition, ending up meeting oddball Aidan (Aidan Gillen) in the casualty ward. Aidan isn’t the brightest and makes a living through all manner of somewhat pathetic scams, which usually result in a beating.
At first Tom just wants to shake him of so to sort out his personal issues with that space he sought but can’t help running into him. Aiden lives with the rather volatile Linda (Riann Steele), a streetwise hooker who also hustles with the best of them. Tom, a nice guy all the way, is drawn to the vulnerable Aiden and eventually strikes up a friendship of sorts. When Tom comes into Linda’s world she is not that happy but he has a post office account full of cash and no drug or alcohol issues and a kind manner so her next target. London’s streets are unforgiving and Tom is a husk of decency to be devoured. Maybe Tom has seen enough to know what he is missing back home.
Well, it’s not bad but not everyone’s cup of tea, low budget British film very much the Darjeeling of World Cinema. I like to sip not slurp my movies sometimes and taste those textures, the clink of fine bone here. Its themes of needy friendship developing in an inhuman environment does hold the attention, the London most people know, Notting Hill along way from the truth. Anyone who has really lived in London will have been mugged, knows a junkie or two and a friend who makes extra from extras. So in those gritty environments you need humor and hope to enjoy a movie and Treacle.Jr manages a little bit of that and little bit of the rough stuff.
The movie is Aiden Gillen’s loveable lispy street retard, his familiar Game of Thrones happy little face bouncing around the place like Robin Williams on coke. Remember kids, coke ant good for you. You end up dead, or a boring night out. Those teenage black boys being shot and stabbed on the next London borough are down to your bad habits folks.
Gillen's manic turn is the attention grabber, but Fisher's quietly wounded man-on-the verge is a solid anchor and you pull for both. What the films message delivered by these two remains vague but good fun all the same. Posh people do run away from their responsibilities and end up on skid row but this film doesn’t really try to explore the mental illness this film is really about. Pretty much all of you will suffer some sport of depression and despair in your lifetime and I think this film should have at least tried to ground itself on those themes.
Its comedy violence over graphic stuff and even the scenes not meant to be at all funny make you chuckle. As I say it’s well acted and races along as the two London’s collide, pricing smoke not sparks. A gentle indie melancholy soundtrack and plenty of extras playing the other roles to the three main characters lends it authenticity, the wobbly camera style made for these urban comedy dramas. But it lacked real story and meaning and simply became the two actors on screen improvising and showing off their acting talent. Saying that for the nothingness it is I did enjoy it for some reason and would recommend it, if you can find it.
Oh no you are going to think, not a 10 top British films list written by a French girl. What on earth will she be coming up with? Here is my full fat selection (not by order of preference but chronologically sorted). It has been quite hard to choose because I consider British cinema to be one of the most unique in its kind and able to offer such variety to the viewers and such pleasure and treasures of life. The headline stories, acting performances, directors, and quality of pictures…have helped me a lot through my choice. And I have to say some of them have been on my favourite list since I am very young. *****The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) by David Lean with Alec Guinness, William Holden, Jack Hawkins, Sessue Hayakawa…***** In 1943, English colonel Nicholson and his men are made prisoners by the Japanese army and led in a camp lost in the jungle. Colonel Saito, the officer in charge, wants to build a railway bridge on the Kwai River with the forced help of the prisoners and that will assist Japanese troops movements. The aim of British soldiers is to destroy it. More centred on the characters than on the action, the Bridge of the river Kwai nearly one and a half-century after its release hasn’t lost any of its powerful and psychological suspense (human dignity and pride is brought up to light mainly through the confrontation between the Japanese commander and the great Alec Guiness, representing so well the British phlegm), epic scenes of military conflicts, beautiful landscapes and outstanding play of the actors, unforgettable soundtrack, it is a superb spectacle defying the stereotypes of films about war. *****Lawrence of Arabia (1962) by David Lean with Peter O'Toole, Omar Sharif, Jack Hawkins, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn…***** Moving and memorable experience to watch the charismatic Peter O'Toole playing an enigmatic British officer, Lawrence who aided the Arabian against the Turks d
uring World War I. The story is the filmic retelling of T. E. Lawrence's heroic, autobiographical account of his own Arabian adventure, published in "The Seven Pillars of Wisdom" which I have intended to read for ages but never came round it. The landscapes play a most significant role in the movie, as it remains the metaphysical land for Lawrence's exploits. The tremendous pictures full of magic shots especially on the Arabian Desert makes of this film a real pearl to watch. *****A Clockwork Orange (1971) by Stanley Kubrick with Malcolm McDowell, Michael Bates, Adrienne Corri, Patrick Magee, Warren Clarke…***** Disturbing cinema, it traces the anti-social behaviours of Alex (the excellent Malcolm McDowell) and his gang as they make their violent way around the city. A Clockwork Orange is a harrowing and disturbing classic carried to the screen by the well-known Stanley Kubrick a genius director with a pessimist but futurist vision that nearly 30 years after is still under the light of the press. Based on a novel of Anthony Burgess written in 1962, the principal topic is the freedom to be able to choose between the good and the evil. The film was strongly criticized for its scenes of violence but overall so real and which contributed so much to its success, it is an aesthetic violence led by a powerful Beethoven. Clockwork Orange is not a film you like but simply to admire. *****The Elephant Man (1980) by David Lynch with Anthony Hopkins, John Gielguld, John Hurt, Anne Bancroft…***** Shot in black and white it is the true story of John Merrick, English man, deformed at birth and exposed as a freak in fairs. Of a shining classicism, this sober and modest film of an extreme sensitivity highlights the most traditional values of England and sticks exclusively to the character of the elephant man who can’t claim enough he is a man and not an animal. Wonderful and memorable acting. I sa
w that film when I was about 13 and it left its stigmata. It is of course a very depressing and sad film but it shows so well how people can be so intolerant and so harsh with others. A great lesson of humanity once again. *****The Madness of King George (1994) by Nicholas Hytner with Nigel Hawthorne, Helen Mirren, Ian Holm, Amanda Donohoe…***** The Parliament and the Court start intriguing George becoming ill and showing signs of mental instability but it is a great opportunity for his son to usurp the throne. Stunning version of Alan Bennett’s plays and beautifully acted it is also a delightful and appealing film to watch. Some very funny bits and good jokes especially the way Hawthorne plays the authoritative and capricious King and the way the plot is getting set. *****Secrets & Lies (1996) by Mike Leigh with Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Brenda Blethyn…***** Hortense a young, black professional woman decides to search out her birth mother who to her great surprise turns out to be white. Emotionally charged movie with excellent acting from Marianne Jean-Baptiste as Hortense, Brenda Blethyn the mother and without forgetting the very good performance of the supporting actors and actresses. It is a warm-hearted, funny and clever film. A great work from Mike Leigh who showed again his talents. There nothing again original to cover the story line but so simple and so moving it definitely deserves all the merit and the acclaim it gained by exploring the traditional avenues of a typical melodrama in real life. *****Trainspotting (1996) by Danny Boyle with Robert Carlyle, Ewan McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller, Kevin McKidd…***** What else to say about this dark and ironic film than outstanding style and amazingly directed and played. 5 hopeless drug addict friends try to make something of their life in the dull Britain witnessing social, demographical and financial clashes. The reflective reality with s
ome disturbing images (the toilet scene for example among many others) and seconded by a pulsating soundtrack gives you a very good blink on the awful life of junkies. The cast is absolutely fantastic and offers a wide variety of bad taste, jokes, violence and sex. *****Fever pitch (1997) by David Evans with Colin Firth, Lorraine Ashbourne, Rugh Gemmel…***** In 1988, Paul Ashworth, a thirty years old English professor, follows with passion the career of the football club of Arsenal. Bitten to the obsession, his entire life is placed under the sign of the round balloon, until the day he meets a colleague, Sarah who absolutely loathes the sport. And despite their differences they will build a relationship but quite tormented. Set at the end of the 1990’s it is a great laugh based on reality and the touchstones of British sport. I thoroughly enjoyed it to bits and the actors made a brilliant performance. *****Notting Hill (1998) by Roger Michell with Hugh Grant, Julia Roberts, Richard McCabe…***** Old fashioned romance story not really my type but the exciting fire and the magical chemistry reaction between Hugh Grant, British library owner from the Notting Hill area and Julia Roberts, very famous American superstar is just poignant. They simply will fall in love against the odds and will bring you a light comedy and good fun after all with remarkable dialogues, good lead and supporting actors, little explosion with a mild cruising but just enough to make it a likable story. *****Billy Elliot (1999) by Stephen Daldry with Jamie Bell, Gary Lewis, Jamie Draven, Julie Walters…***** In a small mining village of the North-East of England, Billy eleven years discovers with stupor a course of dance shares the same buildings as its boxing club. He becomes little by little fascinated by the magic of the ballet and by finally giving up the leather gloves to attend discreetly the lessons of dance professed b
y Mrs. Wilkinson but not of his father’s and brother’s taste, minors in strike. Shared between a family in crisis and a stubborn ballet professor, the young boy embarks in a voyage to discover himself. It's a truly touching story of how the boy fights with his father for his independence and his brother who is caught up in a miner's strike. The synopsis to me was pretty good and the time setting of the film was perfectly chosen: very interesting to see minors’ lives at this period and their fights against the system. *****The Bridget Jones diary (2001) by Sharon Maguire with Renee Zellweger, Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Jim Broadbent…***** Coming to her thirty-second year, Bridget Jones, employed in an advertising agency in London, decides to take again her life in hand and draws up a list of good resolutions: To hold a diary To find a boyfriend, and even the ideal man To lose weight To stop smoking Clumsy Bridget who is not afraid to say what she thinks and who is so determined not to see the ideal man she has been looking for is in front of her and making fun of her is the reason of us laughing so much during the film. A light, ironic and charming film blends with many hits of the 80’s music from a wild ex-spice girl to Sheryl crow….
As a total movie buff, owning well over 2000 movies on video, DVD and VCD, I am hoping that I don't miss out too many classic British movies here. Obviously I havn't watched every British movie that has ever been made, so I will stick to movies that I have watched, and most of all movies that I watch most often. Basically this top 10 list will feature my personal favourite films, and not neccessarily classic films. In no particular order: 1. Fever Pitch I have probably been more impressed with this movie than almost any other I have watched in recent years. Although I am a football fan I must admit that I wasn't expecting much from this film by Nick Hornby, although I had heard that the book was superb. This simple but very enjoyable film about one man's (Paul) view on football and love is very funny indeed. Colin Firth (Paul) plays the title role superbly as a teacher trying to juggle his love life with his love for football, and Arsenal in particular. The film itself is extremely funny, without really trying to be. In that, I mean that many of the characters put across some very funny lines and scenes whilst remaining in a generally straight role. There are some classic lines in this film and I would urge anybody who hasn't seen this film yet, football fan or not, to take a look at this. It is excellent. 2. The Full Monty Many of my male friends do not like this low budget movie at all, but I must admit that I love this film. Again, it is extremely funny throughout and Mark Addy as Dave steals the show for me. The story tells of a group of friends, Gary in particular, desperate to break away from their everyday boring lives at the local job centre. Gary is desperate to pay his ex wife maitanance for their son, and so pursuades a group of friends to put on a strip show at their local working men's club. Despite their first embarrasment at the idea,
the men soon warm to it, and what follows during the film is a delight to watch. Some extremely funny moments make this a feel good movie, and I would definatly recommend this. 3. I.D. Another low budget movie, which may not be very well known to many of you tells the story of an ambitous police officer (John), whose life begins to fall apart after working under cover to help catch a group of football hooligans. John and three other officers are given the task of getting to know some of the local thugs in the area, and thus earning their trust. They soon realise that this is easier than what they are used to, going to football matches, down the pub everynight, etc. Unfortunatly this changes John dramatically, and the others soon realise that he has become an even bigger thug than the football hooligans. The story of John's demise really is told well, and as his life falls apart he soon realises just how low he has sunk. A fantastic film. 4. Four Weddings and a Funeral Another movie which surprised me a lot. I didn't see this film until almost 2 years after it's release, but it has now become one of my favourites of all time. Not being a fan of Hugh Grant's, I never expected this to be at all funny. But was hugely surprised at just how humorous this film was. Four Weddings is jam packed with classic moments, including the very funny moment when Grant's character Charles finds himslef stuck in a bedroom after one of the weddings, and is forced to watch and listen to the new married couple making love on the bed. This movie highlights typical British comedy and although some may cringe at the humour, Four Weddings is still a delightful movie to watch. 5. The Krays I have read a lot of books on the Krays, and although this film is not highly accurate Martin and Gary Kemp are excellent as the two brothers. Many have criticised this film for glamour
ising the Kray's dealings during the 60's, but I think that the Kray's darker side is highlighted just as well. The Kray's has some brutal and violent scenes at times, although the film never goes as far as so many American movies you see nowadays, and the balance for me is just about right. Those who are interested in The Kray's ( If that is the right word ) will probably enjoy this film more than most, but I found this hugely entertaining to watch and instantly became a fan of both Martin and Gary Kemp after watching this. 6. Let Him Have it This tells the true story of Derek Bentley, A 19 year old man, with the mental age of an 8 year old. Who was hung for a murder he didn't commit during the 60's. After Bentley and his friend Christopher Craig failed to break into a local butchers, they proceeded to try and break into a local depertment store. Unfortunaty for the two boys ( Craig was only 16 ) they were seen climbing onto the roof of the building, and within minutes they realised they were trapped on top of the building by several police officers. Unable to enter the building via the front door, several officers took the same route as the boys onto the roof, climbing a drainpipe. Craig, angered by the recent imprisonment of his brother, and full of hatred for all police officer's began to open fire at anyone and anything in his path. The resulting chaos saw PC Miles shot in the head at point blank range. The story is centred on Bentley, played superbly by Christopher Eccelstone and the ensuing courtcase which centred on the words 'Let him have it Chris'. Apparently spoken by Bently before Craig started firing on the police. Bently, having such a low mental age was destroyed in the witness box and so was found guilty of murder, despite not actually having shot anyone. This is truelly a sad story, and judging by what I have read about the cas
e, is the most accurate true story movie I have ever seen. A must see for anybody who likes true stories. 7. Lock Stock and two smoking barrels This classic British film succeeded in putting British films truely on the map. And proved that good gangster movies can be made this side of the water. Guy Richie's truelly excellent film, sees the tale of 4 friends digging themselves out of trouble after one of them loses a fortune at cards. Although not immediatly apparent to some, this movie cleverly tells several different stories in one, and connects them all nicely come the end of the film. There are many young stars in this movie who shine throughout, but the star of the show for me is Vinny Jones, who plays his character Chris almost to perfection. Lock Stock, although a dark film is surprisingly funny in parts, and this only adds to the viewing pleasure. 8. Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory A surprise? I guess so to many of you, although this remains a classic film even after all this time. With two young kids, I have recently seen this film a couple of times after not watching it for a good 15 years or so, and although I am now into adulthood ( By some 10 years :o) ), this musical is still a joy to watch. Some of you may not strictly class this as a British movie, although I am including this as most of the story takes place in England ( Or at least I am guessing so on memory ). Gene Wilder is superb as the eccentric Willy Wonka and if ever you want to re-serface the child in you then I would recommend watching this movie again. 9. Morons From Outer Space This is by no means a classic. And I'm sure many of you will say that this is a dire movie. But as a big fan of the likes of Mel Smith, Jimmy Nail and Griff Rhys Jones i am going to include this film. This was realised when I was still at school, and although not one of my favourite films e
ver ( Not by a long shot ), I can still remember how good I thought this was when I first watched it. Despite the poor storyline and unrealistic aspect of the film there are still some laugh out loud moments in this film, and Mel Smith in particular is funny as the disowned alien. 10. The Commitments Another film that is not really amongst my very best, but certainly is a good film. Very funny at times and added to that a great soundtrack, this story about an up and coming Irish band is a nice film to watch. There are no big names in this movie, although this probably helps the film in a big way. Giving an even bigger impression that the Commitments are a group of unknowns. This movie was hugely successful on it's release, and although it has been surpassed since it's release, it is still a fine British movie in it's own right. Obviously a lot of you will not agree with my choices here. But as I have said these are just my opinions on a few of my favourite British movies. Afterall, this is what this site is all about.
And yes, it's yet another top ten list brought to you by your favourite Uncle knowledge, with kind sponsorship by Scenic Ridge Australian white wine, sold by my local corner shop! Anyway, British films- what a singularly unique type of thing they are! Every single year we hear exhortations from the media luvvie brigade that the British film industry is in crisis, and every year one film comes out that is hailed as the saviour of the aforementioned industry. But is it that easy to choose ten films that have been truly excellent that are British? Indeed, what constitutes a British film, as many of them have funding from the good ol' USA? Well, you make your own mind up if they are British or not. I think they are. Again they are in know particular order. FEVER PITCH Never has a film caused me to laugh so much, apart from one or two others. This is an excellent adaptation of the Nick Hornby book, with a brilliant performance by Colin Firth as a loutish, football loving English teacher. I am not sure if a teacher like him could actually survive, but I do admire his commitment to the kids and to football. I admit he supports Arsenal, but is that really a reason to condemn the man? The supporting cast are excellent, and the climax of the film, with its build-up and the growing tension in all the television spectators, is truly wonderful and uplifting. In fact the only thing that would have made it better would have been setting it in Southampton in 1976, when the Saints beat those dastardly Manchester United chaps to win the FA Cup! Now there is an idea for a sequel... THE LIFE OF BRIAN The only film where people do not mind if, whilst having a pint of milk of amnesia down the local pub, you start quoting lines from it. It was never sacreligious in my view, and the scenes with Michael Palin as Pilate are just priceless... (About Biggus Dickus) "He wanks as highly as any in Wome
" The passover release: "Welease Wodewick. He's a wobber" "And a wapist" "And a shoplifter" I won't go on or I'll run out of words! THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY A brilliant gangster film. It has palpable tension, and the performances of the cast, including Helen Mirren and Derek Thompson, are just incredible. It is the performance of Bob Hoskins, in his first feature film, as Harold Shand, that is so absorbing. Over the course of two hours we see one man lose all his power and influence. |His world crumbles around him and while he tries to control events, they end up controlling him, causing him eventually to lose those who are closest to him. If I had to keep just one film in my collection, this would be it. THE FULL MONTY I won't say too much about this film, as so much has been said already. It is just a heartwarming film. You watch it and just hope against hope that everything will turn out alright in the end. I first watched this when I lived down South. Now I live nearer the industrial north, I see it and it has added poignancy. BRASSED OFF One of the few films that has moved me to tears. A touching yet extremely funny film. The story is great, and the acting, in particular by Pete Postlethwaite and Stephen Tompkinson, is amazing. I'll say this. I never liked Arthur Scargill, or the tactics he used, but he ended up being right in what he said was being planned for the mining industry! MONA LISA Another gangster movie. This one has a seedier side, being the story of those who move in the Soho underworld, the prostitutes, and perhaps more worryingly those who control them and seek to exert influence over the clients. Bob Hoskins is very good, yet again. Robbie Coltrane is funny, but the real star is Michael 'You're only supposed to blow th
e bloody doors off!' Caine as the seedy Mortwell. If people like this character do exist, I never want to meet them. CARRY ON DOCTOR What selection of British films would be complete without one of this long-running series. The humour is telegraphed to the extreme, the gags are corny, but you just know that everyone enjoyed making this film. I think that is a good enough reason in itself to select this film, don't you? THE MAN IN THE WHITE SUIT A wonderful Ealing comedy. I won't give too much away, safe to say that it deals with the invention of a fabric that can never get dirty! THE GOOSE STEPS OUT A patriotic comedy from the 1930s. Will Hay stars as a professor who is sent into Nazi Germany as a spy. Witty humour and wonderful slapstick entails, with a pleasing cameo from a very young Peter Ustinov. And the final selection is coming after the Pearl & Dean's: EDUCATING RITA I never could get to grips with drama, or literary devices. This film adaptation of Willy Russell's play is just brillaint, with Michael Caine as the drunken English lecturer, and Julie Walters as the academic Eliza Doolittle. Simply magical. I won't give a lot away, safe to say that there are two things that stick in my mind: "Assonance means getting the rhyme wrong" "How would you overcome the problems inherent in staging a production of Ibsen's 'Peer Gynt'? Do it on the radio." With advice like that, what more could you ask for? I hope you like my selection. Of course it is personal, but I am sure that you will agree with some of the choices. If you haven't seen some of them, shame on you. Nip down to the video shop now!
by John100 on 20.07.2001 at 22:48 by jennifer3002 on 20.07.2001 at 22:47 go to bed now john that's a nice boy by aratherbadusername on 20.07.2001 at 22:47 LOL. That would make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside - to think, he would waste time for me awwwwwww. Does anyone remember when I_hate_dooyoo did opinions giving members names as the tiles - ahhhh thiose were the days. by jennifer3002 on 20.07.2001 at 22:46 yup me too tc by Slim Lee on 20.07.2001 at 22:46 No, as per usual it is SOMEONE ELSE'S OPINION. Moron. by Tcraze84 on 20.07.2001 at 22:45 Ooh. Let's hope we get to be used in a future opinion. by jo1l on 20.07.2001 at 22:44 You poor sad little boy. Get yer Mummy to put you to bed by aratherbadusername on 20.07.2001 at 22:44 The best opinion you have submitted so far, even if it was copied as per usual. But the sentance construction was superb, the content fabulicious and the suggestions were supreme. by triplecthegame on 20.07.2001 at 22:43 intelligence, its a word, look it up, you've obviously got none by jennifer3002 on 20.07.2001 at 22:42 sad sad boy that you are by aratherbadusername on 20.07.2001 at 22:42 AS you are highly skilled at the old cut and paste how about rearranging this following collection of words into order. life, get a. by jennifer3002 on 20.07.2001 at 22:47 go to bed now john that's a nice boy by aratherbadusername on 20.07.2001 at 22:47 LOL. That would make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside - to think, he would waste time for me awwwwwww. Does anyone remember when I_hate_dooyoo did opinions giving members names as the tiles - ahhhh thiose were the days. by jennifer3002 on 20.07.2001 at 22:46 yup me too tc by Slim Lee on 20.07.2001 at 22:46 N
o, as per usual it is SOMEONE ELSE'S OPINION. Moron. by Tcraze84 on 20.07.2001 at 22:45 Ooh. Let's hope we get to be used in a future opinion. by jo1l on 20.07.2001 at 22:44 You poor sad little boy. Get yer Mummy to put you to bed by aratherbadusername on 20.07.2001 at 22:44 The best opinion you have submitted so far, even if it was copied as per usual. But the sentance construction was superb, the content fabulicious and the suggestions were supreme. by triplecthegame on 20.07.2001 at 22:43 intelligence, its a word, look it up, you've obviously got none by jennifer3002 on 20.07.2001 at 22:42 sad sad boy that you are by aratherbadusername on 20.07.2001 at 22:42 AS you are highly skilled at the old cut and paste how about rearranging this following collection of words into order. life, get a.
Oooooh...a chance to blather on about 10 different movies in one category...is it my birthday?...lol. I watch a lot of movies...no, in fact I watch a HELL OF A LOT OF MOVIES, so the chance to ramble on about 10 of the best British movies around is just perfect. No doubt I'm going to miss off your personal faves here, but that's either because they fall outside of my top ten or simply because they escaped my memory at the time. Either way, I'm sure you'll forgive me... I am constantly told that British film-making is in a state of decline. Poor funding, decreasing numbers of features etc. would all appear to support that fact but one thing which is certain is that there may not be the quantity there...but its the QUALITY which must surely count. Hollywood churns out hoards of movies each year, around 5 are excellent 10 good and 20 average, whilst the rest are merely watchable - if that. Britain consistently produces classic movies, directorial talent taking over to replace the complacency generated by a big budget. Some of the best movies ever made have been produced on a pittance, their actors going on to hit the 'big time' and more than a fair number of these come from the UK. There is just something special about the gritty realism that British made films have which Hollywood movies can never seem to match no matter how hard they try. Everything is just far less sanitised and generally 'fresher' than the tired old re-workings of old ideas that seem to proliferate elsewhere. But that’s kind of a pet subject of mine and I could go on...and on for days - so on with the list... In no particular order... 1) Monty Python and The Life Of Brian The best of the Monty Python movies features Graham Chapman as a normal everyday guy who is mistaken at birth for the messiah. The movie follows his life as joins a terrorist group, gathers together a band of devoted followers and generally runs a life dr
awing parallels with the Bible fable(wonder if I'll get away with that one lol). This is an extremely funny movie, easily the most coherent of all the Monty Python movies by actually playing like a film rather than a collection of sketches. Graham Chapman is superb in the lead role, taken away from John Cleese much to his chagrin apparently because he desperately wanted to play a lead role in a movie - although this was to come later in his career of course. He is so brilliantly meek and humble and underplays the part to perfection. The jokes come thick and fast, in the usual brand of Monty Python humour, so there isn't a dull moment for one second here. I am not a fan of Monty Python in general, but nothing can take away from the sheer brilliance of this movie. Apparently its release was met with protests across this country in the form of petitions to local councils and in America the cinema's were picketed by nuns in some states. The Monty Python team loved this of course because its like one of their own sketches in itself and of course it raised the profile of the movie to enormous heights, far more than any marketing campaign could do, and the movie was an enormous hit on both sides of the Atlantic. It is a timeless classic, easily the funniest movie ever made in my opinion and yes...its British again. Completely unique. 2) Scum Ok so its not exactly pretty but its a perfect example of the hard, gritty, uncompromising standpoint that British film makers are willing to take in the production of their art. This is the complete opposite of the glossy approach taken by just about everywhere else when it comes to portraying what is and was a pretty damn evil system. Scum is about the British young offender institutions know as the borstal. It is the most shockingly violent movie I have ever seen on video, made more so by its closeness to reality and a masterful performance by its young cast. When Ray Winstone yells 'I'm
the daddy now!' nobody is going to argue with him, he is the hardest man on earth for these brief moments. It is an absolute masterpiece under the directing of Alan Clarke. Originally made for the BBC it was never shown at the time due to its uncompromising content. Suicide, gang rape, hand made coshes, plenty of 'claret' and the underlying message that there is no escape from the system once you fall foul of it meant it received an immediate ban from terrestrial television. It is a vicious condemnation of the penal system, made even more effective by the lack of music, and the documentary style camera-work. Scum is not a pleasant viewing experience, but nobody could argue with either its message or its quality. Superb. 3) A Clockwork Orange Stanley Kubrik completely under-estimated the effect of this movie when he released it to the paying public in 1971. On the surface its just another piece of uncompromising violence, but in reality it is much much deeper than that. It passes comment on various aspects of crime and punishment, free will and state intervention, morality, violence, voyeurism...the list is seemingly endless. However, no doubt Kubrik believed that its appeal would be to the intellectual and everyone else would have difficulty following it and just pass it by...but he was wrong. The cinemas were packed with those with the sort of mentality which his film was portraying in the lead 'droog' characters - taking notes and apparently re-enacting the movie's themes outside of the movie theatres. Kubrik withdrew it, but that of course did little to aid the situation but instead gained the movie more notoriety. Now that the director is gone and 30 years after its original release it has finally made it onto video - and despite its slightly dated look, the messages held within are as powerful as ever. Again, this is not easy viewing. On the surface, it is about a world of the future where mindless gang
s of youths roam the streets delighting in the excesses of 'ultra-violence' - basically beating the hell out of everything that moves. We follow Alex(Malcolm Macdowell) and his gang of 'droogs' through various scenes of excess and violence before Alex's inhumane(?) treatment at the hands of the British justice system where he is 'reprogrammed' so that violence is not an option for him. This movie offers up so many points of discussion that its difficult to know where to begin...so I won't...lol. Watch it and make up your own mind about the movie's multitudinous messages, the points of contest, what questions it is asking of you the viewer and society in general and then have a damn good argument over them afterwards...that’s what always happens here. I live with a criminology student...go figure. 4) Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels I figured it was time to come up with something that wasn't over 20 years old at last. Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels completely revived the British gangster movie genre which we are somewhat renowned for. It does however put a completely different spin on the old Michael Caine/Harry Palmer gangster which became one of most famous exports, but again features the same great characterisation, fantastic scripts and simply fantastic memorable scenes. Its not your typical gritty gangster drama, but rather an ingenious p*ss take on the whole genre. It features a host of unknown actors in the lead roles as four blokes lose a poker game to the local crime boss and have to come up with a rather large sum of money to be able to pay him off in a very short space of time. What follows in a glorious mix of backstabbing, hustling and dark comic humour as the boys race against time, all held together by the brilliant cinematic debut of Vinnie Jones. Lock Stock was never to everyone's tastes and to be fair, it is riddled with holes but it is certainly clever, fast and damn f
unny as well. Guy Ritchie received numerous unfair and blatantly pathetic slatings because of his family background after the release of this movie...because obviously you need to be from the East End to make a gangster movie...geez. If you haven't already then check it out. 5) Elizabeth This ranks as the best costume drama ever produced, telling the true(ish) story of the rise to power of Elizabeth I, Britain's most successful monarch. Catholic Britain conspires against its new Protestant ruler following the death of Queen Mary. Elizabeth is weak and reliant upon her manipulative advisors, who seek nothing more than either her downfall, or to marry her off(as only a woman of course) to a strong powerful European ally. However, Elizabeth is not to be manipulated and recalling Walsingham from exile, goes about the rule of Britain her way. The ultimate in grrrrl power movies? Well maybe, but definitely much more than a lavish costume drama or historical document. This movie simply oozes class. Yes there are the expected lavish sets, flickering candles and dark conspiratorial whispers in even darker more conspiratorial corners, but it is much more than this. The performances are simply stunning. Cate Blanchett is just perfect in the role of Elizabeth, filled with regal poise and grace. Her nobility however is tempered by the fact that she is still little more than a girl at the start but slowly this begins to fall away as she becomes hardened through the duties thrust upon her. Geoffrey Rush is also amazing as Walsingham, delivering a performance filled with quiet understated menace. His ruthlessness and cunning is almost a 'joy' to behold here and even the likes of Eric Cantona and Angus Deaton as the French ambassador do not fall completely flat. Arguably one of England's most fascinating women and despite its historical inaccuracy(don't ask me, I know nothing of history) also a damn fine movie. I have never
heard of Shekhar Kapoor before seeing Elizabeth but if this is an example of the quality of their movies, I expect to hear a lot more in the future. Absolutely stunning. 6) Four Weddings and A Funeral Yes, so I'll probably get slated for this, but its undeniably the most popular British comedy release in many years. Quintessentially English in its humour, it is the perfect antidote to the masses of American khazi-oriented comedies we are bludgeoned with year in year out. Of course, Four Weddings relies upon liberal use of such things as the 'F' word and bumbling, upper-middle class-ness for its humour instead which is sooooo English its almost painful, but there you go... Four Weddings and a Funeral, for those who somehow have managed not to stumble across it in the last 8 years, is quite literally based around four weddings and a funeral, following a group of friends and their exploits. Sounds dull, certainly isn't. Four Weddings is an inspired piece of scripting writing from Richard Curtis, previous known for his work on the absolutely incomparable Blackadder series. Later it spawned the rather less than brilliant Notting Hill, where Hugh Grant played pretty much the same role(but then doesn't he always) although this was strangely more successful...fickle people. As an example of what's great about British comedy then this can't be beaten, except by the Monty Python movies...but then they're form another planet surely... 7) Zulu I couldn't let a top ten list go pass without including at least one Michael Caine movie. It was a choice between this and Get Carter, but having already mentioned one gangster movie already I opted for Zulu instead. It documents the story of the defence of Rourke's Drift by a small group of Welsh soldiers defended the area against approximately 4000(?) Zulu warriors. The tension is fantastic as the Zulu's amass on the hilltops, chantin
g and doing a war dance, but cut like a knife by some biting Welsh stereotypes which are simply hilarious in their delivery. "They have a good bass section, but no decent tenors" says one member of the embattled soldiers as the chanting comes again from brow of the hill. Michael Caine is not exactly convincing in his upper-class role here(he never is unless he's a gangster) but he is at least endearing, with the show being stolen by Stanley Baker as Chard. There are some simply brilliant moments in this movie, none more so than the super stereotyping of the Welsh guards as they show the 'fuzzy-wuzzies' how to do it by joining in a stirring rendition of 'Men Of Harlech' in response to their war chants. I don't suppose it would win would win any awards today in terms of its political correctness but its certainly one of the best movies I've seen. 8) The Elephant Man Directed by David Lynch, this is a heartrending tale based upon a true story of a man with elephantiasis. John Merrick is the 'elephant man' as he is dubbed by a cruel circus owner who keeps him as an exhibit in his freakshow. Hideously deformed by his disease Merrick is kept as an animal and is treated far worse than that by his 'owner' until a doctor, played by Anthony Hopkins, takes him under his wing and tries to treat his affliction. This is an incredibly compelling movie, so sad and deeply shocking, made even more so by the reality of the story and Lynch's choice of shooting the movie in black and white. Filmed on London's cobbled streets it actually gives the impression of being filmed in the 19th century and as such becomes even more effective. The special effects used on John Hurt to portray his affliction are both superb and disgusting, and his performance is absolutely outstanding. You will never feel so much pity for a movie character ever, than you will here in this movie. I'm loath to say it again...but its
so sad :o( - check it out, but have a box of Kleenex ready when you do...unless you're a guy of course because we don't do that over movies...when being watched lol 9) Trainspotting Ohhhhh the adrenaline in this movie... From its opening sequence of Renton and his gang running through the streets of Edinburgh, to the drug fuelled highs and lows of heroin abuse and right through to its violent conclusion, Trainspotting is an absolutely superb mixture of adrenaline fuelled, drug abused lunacy. Its an explosion of talent, packed into a sweet 90 minutes and arguably the movie which single-handedly relaunched the British film industry...if it ever needed it. Directed to perfection by Danny Boyle, alongside John Hodge's acid script and adapted from Irvine Welsh's best-seller(which I thought stank), Transporting is like nothing you have ever seen before. It features some of the best movie characters seen for decades - if ever, in depicting a group of four friends who would just as likely screw each other over at the first opportunity than help. Ewan Mcgregor is fantastic as the Drug obsessed Renton, this his only decent performance since Shallow Grave, outdone only by Robert Carlyle as the Pub-psychopath Begbie. This movie delves deeply into uncharted waters. The unsanitised effects of drug abuse, squalor and decay, dead babies crawling on the ceiling and Renton sinking into the carpet during a period of cold turkey. Begbie's violent psychopathic outbursts are truly terrifying and there are some outrageously gross moments here which laugh horribly in the face of apparent US gross-out movies. They ain't seen nothing yet. The pace of this movie is electrifying, the 90 minutes passing in the blink of an eye, fuel poured on its already blazing inferno by an awesome soundtrack. This is one movie you should NOT miss. 10) The Bridge On The River Kwai Yes, its one of a long list of war film which I
could have included but this is one of my favourites. Getting on a little now in terms of its age, the story and performances however remain as fresh as ever. It details a prisoner of war camp in 2nd World War Japan, where Alec Guiness(as the commanding officer) and his men are ordered into rebuilding a bridge (over the river Kwai) which has been bombed out by allied troops. He instead uses the exercise as a means by which to build up his troop morale and create a rapport between his men and his Japanese captors for an easier life. BOTRK is perhaps most notable for its extreme bravery in showing the Japanese to be almost benevolent at times towards their prisoners so close after then end of the war. Director David Lean must have handled this part with extreme caution for fear of an understandable backlash. However, the brutality is also depicted on more than one occasion and perhaps it is the humanising of the captors which makes these actions seem all the more evil. Alec Guinness is masterful in the kind of role he was born to play as a stiff-upper lipped Colonel and the sumptuous visuals are an absolute joy to behold. Yes, its was filmed in 1957 and arguably there are better British movies around...but as an example of the kind of war movies Britain became so masterful in producing at the time, it is perhaps the finest. Well...that’s the ten. Yes, I had a much longer list and couldn't really separate them out, so I picked some which hopefully covered a few different genres. I wanted to include some sci-fi on there, but couldn't think of a single decent British sci-fi movie, but I suppose that involves a decent budget so go figure. I would have included something from the Hammer horror studios as well, but that would have been a pure piece of self indulgence so I refrained(just) from doing so. Hoped you liked it. So of those that didn't quite make it include: Withnail and I(For giving student
s a simply brilliant drinking game - email me...lol) Kes(For being made twice...sorry Billy Elliot fans but you know its true) The Italian Job(for giving Michael Caine impersonators a different line to use) The Crying Game(for offering the biggest shock in cinema history The Krays(for making the Kemp brothers look hard) The Full Monty(For being absolutely abysmal, and still packing them in) Gregory's Girl(For showing spotty, horny teenagers at their worst) and hoards more...
British cinema has always been blighted by a lack of resources. Usually financial resources: there aren't many British blockbusters because they cost too much to make. More recently there seems to be a worrying lack of imaginative resource too. It seems that Britain only churns out 4 types of film these days: terrible "Britcoms", terrible wannabe-trendy gangster or drug-related movies, terrible "we're unemployed but we're quirky and eccentric and heart-warmingly funny" movies and Merchant-Ivory-style picture-postcard adaptations of authors who'd be better off left alone. How did this happen? As my list of ten of my favourite British movies will hopefully show, Britain has been capable of producing imaginative and varied movies of quality. I'm not going to go too far into the past, either, as I found ten choices, all made since about 1968, that illustrate my point pretty well. (I'm not entirely sure that they all count as purely "British" movies, mind you - some of them may well have had American money behind them.) Withnail & I Almost feels unnecessary to say anything about this one as it's been reviewed extensively elsewhere. Hilarious, fantastic acting from all concerned (especially Richard Griffiths), very quotable, and surprisingly poignant. There's a lot more going on in this film than people tend to think. And the look of the thing is absolutely perfect, all the more surprising as it was director Bruce Robinson's first film (and his only good one so far). Performance Weird gangster movie from the late sixties. James Fox is the vicious gangster on the run from his angry colleagues (which must have seemed pretty relevant as the Krays and similar were presumably still around at the time). He ends up in the house of dissolute rock star Mick Jagger (who's very good here - makes you almost forget Freejack). Whereupon they play weird games with each
other, involving identity and sexuality and all that kind of stuff. What could end up being very pretentious isn't (or maybe is, but in a good way). Very violent in places, quite sexy too. Another first film by directors (Nic Roeg and Donald Cammell) who never did anything quite as good again. The Long Good Friday Puts Guy Ritchie to shame. Bob Hoskins is superb as the London gangster trying to turn part of the (pre-Thatcherised) London Docklands into a sports stadium. This film really reminds you what a great actor he can be when he isn't doing British Gas commercials. There's an especially good scene at the end of the film which focuses on his face as he tries to come to terms with what's just happened - more or less every emotion you can think of flits across his face at one point or another. Helen Mirren is also very good as his frustrated wife. Pierce Brosnan turns up as a member of the IRA. Get Carter Another example of gangster films being better in the old days. Michael Caine gives a good reminder of why he's one of the best film stars Britain has ever produced. He's a London gangster who has to travel up North to investigate his brother's death. As his attempts to gain revenge escalate, so does the level of violence in the film. As with The Long Good Friday, the violence is shocking, even today. It's rarely particularly visceral, but the casual way in which Caine will turn nasty and dole out punishment to his perceived enemies at the drop of a hat carries far more impact than something more gory would have done. The film is particularly amoral. The people Caine goes after (kind of) deserve it, but he's no angel himself, and the ending is not so much shocking as inevitable. The director later went on to make Flash Gordon, which is fantastic, but for rather different reasons. Secrets & Lies Mike Leigh's films are always worth watching. I'm not usually a big fan of realis
m, which I don't really see as a necessary feature of cinema (or any other art form), but Leigh manages to pull it off here and elsewhere. The story is one of a dysfunctional family and a young woman deciding to track down her natural mother. The cast, led by Timothy Spall and Brenda Blethyn, are excellent as they always are in Mike Leigh films, but the reason I rate this above Naked is because it has quite a happy ending. It's heart-warming without losing its intelligence or descending to crass sentimentalism. The Cook The Thief His Wife And Her Lover I like Peter Greenaway's films. I know he's really pretentious, but I still like the images he presents on screen. This films stands out over Propero's Books or The Draughtsman's Contract because of the performance of Michael Gambon as the revolting thief (think Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet but with a London accent). Aside from that it's the usual parade of sumptuous colours, allusions to art, and nudity. If you like it you like it, if you don't you don't. I haven't enjoyed any of Greenaway's films since he stopped collaborating with composer Michael Nyman, which either goes to show that Greenaway isn't as good as he thinks he is, or that film composers don't receive nearly enough credit for their contributions. Witchfinder General Britain used to make great horror films. Hammer are still, I believe, cited as the most successful British film company of all time. This isn't a Hammer film, it was made by American International Pictures. I'm still going to count it as a British film, though, as it has a British director and (apart from Vincent Price) cast. Hammer films, which dominated the horror scene in Britain, tended to make films with a rather old fashioned view of morality. The moral standpoint of the films was basically the same as that of the Universal horror movies of the Thrities, just with more gore and cleavage. Go
od always beats evil. They also have the disadvantage of being neither scary or horrifying. There are a few British horror films of the era that try to do something a bit different, and this is both the most famous and the best. It's the story of a cynical witch-hunter, Vincent Price, in civil war England who goes from village to village accusing women of withcraft for his own financial gain and his assistant's perverted pleasure. His ability to corrupt everything he touches is well-illustrated by the virtuous young soldier hero, who has effectively brought himself down to Price's level by the end of the film. Price gives his finest ever performance, for once playing it completely straight, and the film is beautifuly shot, which adds to the disturbing quality immensely. The Wicker Man This is a tremendous film. On the one hand it's a very intelligent take on the horror film which manages to be genuinely macabre and unsettling at times. On the other hand it's an insane romp full of nudity and folk singing. Something for everyone, then. Edward Woodward is the uptight Scottish policeman sent to investigate a missing child case in a remote island, only to find that things aren't quite as they seem. Oh, and it has Christopher Lee in drag. Classic. Richard III (1996) There are two ways of filming Shakespeare. The first is to stay faithful to the text, have all the actors wearing period costumes, and try to basically do a theatrical version of the play onscreen. This often works quite well, as some of Kenneth Branagh's films show. However, I greatly prefer the other way, where the plays are updated, liberties are taken with the verse, and the whole thing is spruced up a bit. Not that I have any problem with traditional Shakespeare, it's just that I feel that films like Romeo & Juliet or Titus make more interesting use of the fact that these are film versions. And my favourite example of this is Ian McKellan and Ric
hard Loncraine's version of Richard III. Based on a stage version that starred McKellan, the film sets the play in the Thirties. Queen Elizabeth is presented as a kind of Wallis Simpson character, having got her claws into the dying King Edward, the battles are fought with tanks and planes, and Richard is a Hitler-style fascist leader. It's a very entertaining version of the play, and McKellan is both funny and sinister, as all decent Richard IIIs need to be. Dr Jekyll & Sister Hyde Purely perverse choice, this one, as it possesses absolutely no merit whatsoever. I'm a big horror film fan, and had to restrain myself to keep it down to 3 out of a list of ten. This is a late Hammer horror, after their heyday was past. They weren't as popular as they used to be, and so started turning to predictable gimmicks (lesbian vampires, usually). However, in this film they really went crazy. When Dr Jekyll drinks his potion in this version, he turns into a foxy chick. She then becomes Jack the Ripper. Burke and Hare show up, too, despite having lived in Edinburgh almost 100 years before Jack the Ripper. In the face of such idiocy, you have to love the film. Well, I suppose you don't really. I do, though.
So what makes a British film different from 'other' films? For me a 'British' film is a film that captures the essence of British life and society. A true British film is one which would be impossible to imagine set in LA or Tokyo and where the characters and settings are very British in style and manner! Britain has produced some excellent films that fit into this category - the hard thing now is to reduce the list of good ones to a mere 10! But here goes.... 1. The Italian Job 1968 .. and what better place to start than with what I consider to be the quintessential British film. The film captures the British spirit in the days before the EU and foot & Mouth disease! Michael Caine, a cockney ducker and diver, hatches a plan to steal a cache of gold from underneath the mafia's noses in Turin, Italy. With the help of the wonderful Mr Bridger (Noel Coward), who holds court inside the nick, the plan starts to take shape.. The film has so many memorable lines and scenes as well as THE best car chase scene in cinema history, as a Red, a White and a Blue Mini outrace the Italian police, that it has become a true English classic. Quite definitely the best of British! 2. The Wrong Trousers 1993 From very British to parochial Britain. Set in a northern town, Wallace is a kindly inventor and Grommit is his much smarter dog! On Grommit's birthday, Wallace gives his dog a pair of mechanical trousers, designed to take Grommit out for walkies. Grommit hates the trousers but his life is further disturbed when a new lodger takes residence in his room. The lodger it seems has a dark secret and wants to use the trousers for his wicked purposes. This award winning clay-animation movie is remarkable in many ways. Each movement has to be painstakingly fixed and filmed and a 5 minute sequence takes hours to make. When you bear that in mind the amount of fine detail included is amazing. Although only a short film i
t is a pleasure to watch. 3. Made in Britain 1982 From 'fluffy bunnies' to a film definitely not for the faint-hearted. This film very much portrays the side of British society that most people would rather forget. It is included in this list for Tim Roth's unbelievably realistic performance as the teenage skinhead Trevor. Trevor is a rascist thug who has no regard for anyone in authority and is only out for number one. The film follows the attempts of care workers to guide Trevor back into society and make a 'good' citizen of him. The film is compelling viewing and offers a glimpse into the mind of a sociopath. 4. Trainspotting 1995 Another film concerned with the British 'underbelly'. Rents, Sickboy and Spud are a trio of hapless heroin addicts living in the rough end of Edinburgh. Along with their mates, the psycho Begbie and the 'nice-guy' Tommy, the film tracks their lives. It moves through cot deaths, overdoses, grand robbery to the eventual total break-up of their friendship. The characters have a total disregard for mainstream life and seem bent on a path of self-destruction. 'Choose Life..... but why would I want to do something like that' jokes Renton. The film is funny yet harrowing and in parts really sad and has become a British classic. 5. The Remains of Day 1993 This film deals with that very English of obsessions, Class. The film is set in a country manor house just prior to World War II. Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson play the butler Stephens, and the housekeeper Miss Kenton respectively. Lord Darlington, their employer, is a Nazi-sympathiser and is keenly interested in the developments within Germany and the pending war. The film tracks Stephens' and Miss Kenton's attitudes to their employer and the world around them as well as their growing affection for each other. The film looks at the idea of 'station' in life and how misguided certain loy
alties can be. The very British 'stiff upper lip' is also given a slight twist. The result is a thought provoking film 6. East is East 1999 Life in a mixed race family in the Salford of the 1970s. George Khan is a Pakistani who moved to England and is still attached to his cultural heritage and traditions. He marries an English woman Ella and fathers a family of essentially English kids. George finds it hard to accept that his children are more bacon than halal and definitely more fish and chips than curry and tries to rule his roost with an iron fist. These attempts are programmed to fail. The cultural and emotional collisions within this family are what make this film so special. 7. Cal 1984 Set against the back drop of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland, the film follows Cal, an Irish Catholic. Cal is walking a tightrope between survival and love. The problem is he has fallen in love with an older woman, an older protestant woman. The trails and tribulations they have to go through to be together are a testimony to life in Northern Ireland pre- Easter Agreements. The mood of the film is one of underlying violence and hopelessness. An extremely deep and thought provoking film. 8. Abigail's Party 1984 Oh the joys of life in middle-class suburbia. This film is almost a 'guide to Middle class values and manners' and extremely funny!. Alison Steadman plays the part of the bitchy, bored, pretentious hostess with the mostest to perfection. The film is hysterical and some of the food on the menu is enough to make you cringe! This film combines Middle Class snobbery with that great British wit perfectly... 9. Kes 1969 Well we've had Upper, Middle and Under class so I think it is only fair to include the most common of them all - the British Working Class. And Kes is probably the greatest film ever made to help you understand the Working classes, especially the Northern variety. Billy is a you
ng lad growing up in the mining town of Barnsley. His path is mapped out for him. When he leaves school, he will join his brother down the pit. He is apathetic and largely disinterested until one day when he finds a fledgling kestrel. He nicks a book on falconry and starts to train the kestrel. Not only does the kestrel come alive but it is the making of Billy. This film is very poignant and was compulsory viewing while I was at school. It is a very special and etraordinary film 10. The Full Monty 1997 I will also finish on the theme of the Working Class - but this time without work! A group of unemployed steelworkers led by Gaz (played by the excellent Robert Carlyle) decide to give stripping a go as a way to earn a bob or two! There are a few minor hitches in this particular venture though ... none of the lads can dance and none are exactly body beautiful! The film is hilarious as this miss-matched bunch prepare themselves for their big day when they will go 'the full monty!'. A great look at male bonding in the 90s.. Well 10 as usual wasn't enough. And there are hundreds of fantastic British films. I just hope that the quality remains high and not too 'Americanised!' Enjoy
Ten cool British films 1)Educating Rita..........Michael Caine is out classed in this one by Julie Walters excellent performance as a working class Liverpool girl trying to better herself at uni whilst having the baggage of most blue collar families,kids, beer drinking hubby and poor housing. Caine as her boozy lecturer inspires her through the degree and class discrimination to become a fine scholar whilst she slaves away as a domestic mum. Inevitably the education drives wedges between her husband and his simpleton ways and slowly changing Rita's(Walters) life as she confronts the power of the written word and knowledge. Caine is an excellent drunk and keeps you engaged all the way through this tale of working class girl makes good.The best moments are when Caine realizes that Rita is becoming educated and no longer his poor little simple girl and the intimidation it brings to their growing fondness to each other.Beautiful film. 2)Remains of the Day............Im not the biggest fan of Merchant Ivory type films but Anthony Hopkins is stunning in this as a loyal old fashioned correct butler to a questionable master who has fascist tendencies at the time of the coming World War Two where he entertains German dignitaries at his stately home deep in the heart of England.The staffs loyalty is tested as they get wind of the visits. Hopkins also gets wind of his house keeper, Miss Kensett's(Emma Thompson)growing in fatuation for him but is too stuffy and stuck in his ways and morals of no inter work relationships and cant return her feelings . The love affair is painful to see as you just want them to snog and go to it.But she leaves the stately home to work in a boarding house with a man who will give her company and their love may never be.... Sumptuous acting especially by Thompson and the period detail is superb,so even if your not a fan you just get drawn in.Great movie. 3)Italian Job.......71 percent of the money to ma
ke this film was British so it counts as one of hours. Michael Caine heads the cast of the movie about a daring plan to steal Italian god during Rome's rush hour using a swarm of Mini Coppers and budding criminals leading to some of the best car chase stunts in history and probably the most action packed British movie ever made. Caine is his usual Cockney self out shinning everyone in the movie . Famous for those memorable Caine one liners and stares to camera.Cool flick that never dates. 4)Raining Stones.........Most British films are either costume drama or set on council estates, as is the case with Mike Leigh's dark tale of woe on one such Northern estate. Based around a struggling Catholic family up to their eyeballs in debt who need some cash to buy their daughter a dress for conformation. Various lone sharks and friends help out including Ricky Tomlinson.Aas his best mate he decides that catching Sheep could solve the cash flow problems including a bizarre scene where they chase one around the back garden in the middle of a city housing estate. Its a dark and grim comedy that is hard to watch,the title perhaps explains it better.Raining stones meaning its always hard and painful in these places.British to a tee. 5)The Commitments......A Northern Ireland offering about a fictitious soul band who briefly make it big on the Belfast club scene to escape their boring life's and be someone if just for 15 minutes. Andrew Strong the powerful vocalist who can really sing briefly flirted with the charts for real after the movie but disappeared never to be seen again. The soundtrack is awesome and the acting superb.Its very funny to ,with some real side splitting gags and beautifully written leaving you wanting more when the final credits roll up. Even if your not a soul fan you end up humming the classic tunes and shaking them hips well after the movie has slipped of the reel.Fantastic. 6)Trainspotting.......
A highly original and cinema changing Scottish movie through Ch4 films that has set the shape of films the UK for the 19990s and beyond. Based on Irvine Welsh book it tells the tale of Glasgow's drug taking underclass who do what it takes to get the next hit.Often with tragic circumstances ,but told with a wonderful sense of crisp spiky humor and class.Very unusual camera angles and techniques make this film a breath of fresh air for all cinema goers. Ewan Macgregor who massacred the new Star Wars sagas is particularly good in this along with some new names of the British film renaissance,Danny Boyle and Robert Carlyle. Excellent and original two hours. 7)Long Good Friday......Unforgettable performance By Bob Hoskins who two years before was a jobbing taxi driver with no intention of being in cinema but was talked into when he dropped a thesp of for an audition. Ok he plays a cockney in every film,but in this one as a hard man he really enjoys himself with his shooter and heavies blasting every one who messes with him in this gang land London caper.Probably the best crime caper since Get Carter with im told is a Northern version of this flick. Everyone who was anyone in the 70s is tooled up in this film and its quite violent for a TV movie of the time including a very sexy Helen Mirren and a young Pierce Brosnan. With tons of the new f word o the big screen,became a cult movie even to this day. Tasty bit of violence geezer! 8)Shadowlands.......Again Anthony Hopkins puts in another stunning performance in a period mid century drama as the poet and writer C.S.Lewis . The Oxford don is living serenely in the bubble of the college and middle England when a brash American lady shakes up his life . Mrs. Gresham (Deborah Winger)not only comes all the way from the U.S.A for his writing skills but his heart to as she is romanced by his words through his books alone. Its a sad but beautifully romantic tale that sucks you in
as he starts a to fall in love with the feisty yank. There are tenuous child abuse hints in the film that it never really explains further,but the fact that he is drawn to the young son of Winger gives the movie a clever seedy edge. Hopkins is brilliant and Wingers involvement encouraged the arty crowd to view it on mass on the other side of the pond.Truly great British film. 9)Brassed Off.......Pete Postlethwiate is the star here of yet another council estate tale set in the North about a colliery brass band fighting to keep playing as Maggie Thatcher culled the Northern working class mining communities to a life of dole money and poverty. Postlethwaite is the proud band leader who tries to hold the guys together until the sexy Tara Fitzgerald rolls into town to join the band as their first women entrant. Ewan McGregor invites the obvious love story into the film ,but the real power of the flick is proud and strong Postlethwaite who slowly dying of emphysema(cold dust poisoning)drives the band on to the grand finals of the colliery orchestra of the year award. Fantastic look at the comrade of people fighting to keep their spirit as the world falls around them.Sad,touching,grim ,but uplifting at the grand finale.Keep fighting brothers! 10)Lock Stock and Smoking Barrels.............Ok its posh boy wanna be gangster Guy Ritchie's version of Pulp Fiction with daddies money but its still very well made and with cool new camera work and that London feel with everyone playing at gangsters it really works. The star is of course Vinnie(peanut brain)Jones as the hard man and his progidy young son who's learning the ropes of being a villain. The story line hops and jumps around like Pulp Fiction although the script is strong and most of the country loved it so i have to up tit in my list even though i thought it was ok and no more. Its the story of a young smart alec who thinks he can win a high stakes gambling matches but lose
s all his mates money,including borrowed cash he has to pay back to some nasty villains. Two expensive antique shotguns that fall into various peoples hands are the reason the movie plot twists and turns,but the film gets predictable at the end and you want it to end for being to ladish.Still a good original cool movie to see although a touch over rated.