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Member Name: pontecaille
Date: 25/02/02, updated on 25/02/02 (107 review reads)
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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….