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Flying the flag
Member Name: mancsoulsister
Date: 09/03/01, updated on 12/03/01 (130 review reads)
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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!'