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Best of British
Top Five British Films
Member Name: skittle
Top Five British Films
Advantages: Movie Gold
This is going to be such a toughie. Not thinking of five British films to fill this list with, but narrowing it down to only five. I have a real love for British Film, it’s a shame it’s so overshadowed by the big budget American film-churning machine. But still, what the Brits lack in budget they more than make up for in stories, acting and good old fashioned British humour. So hold on to your seats lads and ladies, whilst I load up the first of my top five British Films;
The Italian Job
If you had to sum up the Italian Job in a couple of words, you might come up with ‘gold thieves’, ‘Charlie Croker’ or even ‘Benny Hill’ but for me, the words that encapsulate this film the best are ‘Mini car-chase’. The legendary Italian Job car chase involved one red, one white and one blue Mini Cooper along with a couple of Jags and a bus, of all things. The Minis took to the streets, sewers, pavements, stairways and buildings of Turin to make a clean getaway with Millions of pounds of stolen gold.
The car stunts were fantastic, the casting was inspired and the acting was brilliant. Not only did this film spawn what is, for me the best film quote of all time ‘you were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off’. But it starred my childhood hero, Benny Hill, in a role that I’d like to think was written for him – and if it wasn’t, it should’ve been.
Still Crazy is a little known British film released in 1998 starring Billy Connolly, Jimmy Nail, Timothy Spall and the great Bill Nighy. It’s a film about a 1970’s rock band, Strange Fruit, who never quite made the big time.
Given the chance to reunite for a tour of Europe 20 years later, some of the band are keener than others. Ray’s fiery wife, Astrid forbids him to rejoin his old bandmates, and nobody knows where Brian is. Still, the band do get themselves in gear and back on the road, joined by their former manager Karen, roadie Hughie and young guitar God Luke – brought in to replace the missing, presumed dead, Brian and to add some ‘younger interest’ for the fans.
This is a film that always has me rolling on the floor laughing and shedding a quiet tear moments later. It’s a film for anybody who wanted to be the next Jim Morrison and failed, or knows somebody who did. It’s a film that clearly doesn’t have a huge budget, but more than makes up for the lack of funds with fantastic acting, a great storyline and incredible British humour mixed with really dark pathos that just makes Still Crazy a joy to watch. If you haven’t watched it already hunt it out, you won’t regret it.
Shaun of the Dead
Simon Pegg is a comedy genius. I will brook no argument.
I fell in love with Spaced, watched every minute of it several times over, and couldn’t wait for Shaun of the Dead to be released. I was seriously not disappointed. This is an absolute classic of British comedy/horror and I enjoyed every moment of it, and continue to do so on a regular basis when I get those pangs for a little zombie action and watch it again.
The film tells the story of Shaun, an amiable loser nearing thirty and working in an electrical shop who’s main aim in life is getting back with his ex-girlfriend, who dumped him when she got tired of his habitual visits to the local pub and rather intrusive flat mate. And then the dead arose…
Ok, this isn’t Pride and Prejudice, it’s basically a film about Zombie’s walking the earth whilst the remaining humans try to get away from them. But it’s also so much more than that. As always in anything Simon Pegg touches, the comedy is sublime (and often ridiculous). There’s plenty of slapstick, dark humour and witty one-liners, but there’s also a very human and real element to this film. There was a tear or two welling in the corner of my eye at times, I’m not ashamed to admit.
The Full Monty
I was at work one morning when my boss came in telling us all about the amazing film she’d seen at the cinema the night before, and urging us all to go and see it before it was taken off the bill. Well, I didn’t get around to watching it at the pictures, but much later on I spotted a copy on a car boot sale for a couple of pounds and snapped it up. I so wished I’d made the effort to watch it on the big screen, once I’d seen it.
Robert Carlyle is one of my favourite actors anyway, but he absolutely shone in this film. His character Gaz, along with friend Dave and ex-boss Gerald put together a troupe of working-class male strippers to go ‘the Full Monty’ in front of hundreds of local women. It was a desperate plan, but they were all unemployed and desperate for work, and Gaz needed to earn money fast to pay the back maintenance for Nathan, his son, so that he could get access again.
The Full Monty was the inspiration for a string of copy-cat acts in working mens clubs up and down the Country, after its release. It caused a huge sensation matched only in recent years by ladies getting their gubbins out and posing for tasteful pictures after the release of Calendar Girls.
There are so very many high points in this film that if I mentioned them all it’d take over the whole review. But the Full Monty manages to include a gay relationship, death, unemployment, bullying, parents separated from their children and a man whose warped image of his own body leaves him believing he’s too fat for his own wife to love. Yet I still laughed until I cried over and over again throughout this film. A true classic, there was no way that this one was going to be missed from my list.
Yes, I know, this is on just about every list that I’ve seen so far, but lets be honest, there’s a damn good reason for it. The release of Trainspotting did more for the British film industry than any other film for years before and afterwards.
The delectably down and dirty Renton, played by the delectably not so down and dirty Ewan McGregor began the film by stating; Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a starter home. Choose dental insurance, leisure wear and matching luggage. Choose your future. But why would anyone want to do a thing like that?
And that began the most amazing couple of hours of British cinema I’d seen in a long, long time.
Summing up this film would be pointless, if you have any sense you’ve already seen it, and if you haven’t seen it, then all I can say is I’m certainly not going to spoil it for you, get out there and watch it. You can buy it on dvd from Amazon for £15.99, but you can usually pick up a second hand copy for much less than that on ebay.
Oh, ok, I’ll take pity on you – Renton is a heroin addict who, after a near miss with prison, decides to go straight with the ‘help’ of his friends. But that's all you're getting.
If this had been my top ten British movies, I would’ve included the Rocky Horror Picture Show, About a Boy, Notting Hill, 51st State and Love Honour and Obey. Or maybe Hot Fuzz. Or one of the Bond movies. But then, I’d be leaving out Mean Machine, oh, and of course then there’s…
Summary: Many hours of pleasure