Royalty…

As a warm up for our forthcoming screening at the CMP Festival of The Prince and the Showgirl (ticket details at the end of the post!), I thought I’d share a few Royalty themed films (for those of you not already exhausted by all things regal, following certain big national occasions earlier this Spring that shall not be mentioned!).

Yes, yes, I know I missed off the King’s Speech… any of your favourites I’ve missed off, just let us know!

Madness of King George (1994)

So rather than ‘The King’s Speech’, I give you another much-lauded British film. Adapted for the screen by Alan Bennett from his own play, and starring Nigel Hawthorne who is at his finest as the ailing monarch. There are some wonderful strong performances, and fast paced, witty dialogue. Bennett took a wonderful play and turned it into a different, more focused animal for the screen.

 

Throne of Blood (Kumonosu Jô) (1957)

Macbeth, in feudal Japan – in the style of a Japanese noh play – by one of Japan’s greatest directors. Many Shakespeare adaptations could/ should have made it into this list, but this, although certainly not the most accurate, is certainly one of the most engaging. Visually stunning, and featuring Kurosawa’s favourite lead, Toshiro Mifune, it oozes atmosphere and menace. The sparse, simple settings suggest stage sets, and the ominous fog outside build on the sense of claustrophobia that pervades the film. A true screen adaptation, which doesn’t aim to merely put the play onto the screen, it is a re-imagining, taking Macbeth as its starting point, and fully exploring its themes.

Robin Hood (1973)

Of course Disney had to feature in this list, after all, what about all those Disney Princesses? I haven’t chosen a Disney princess this time, though – I’m going for the cowardly lion, Prince John (voiced by the fantastically campy Peter Ustinov).

This feature is, to me, Disney at their best – it’s a fun, stylish film with a great sound track, and solid animation. Created on a tight budget, the animators reused footage from earlier features in some of the scenes, notably pinching from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves’, ‘The Jungle Book’ and ‘The Aristocats’, so you could almost call it a greatest hits compendium!

Roman Holiday (1953)

Audrey Hepburn’s first American feature, ‘Roman Holiday’ is a delightful romantic comedy, co-starring the ever-charming Gregory Peck. Hepburn plays Princess Anne, from an unknown country, who is on an official tour of Europe. She is overwhelmed by her schedule of official duties, and escapes to experience ‘real’ Rome, where she meets Joe Bradley, an American journalist. When he discovers her true identity he decides to take her on a whirlwind tour of the city, after promising his editor an exclusive interview.

 The Princess Bride (1987)


This would have featured on the list anyway, but is here in honour of the great Peter Falk, who sadly passed away last week.

The Princess Brideneeds no introduction – it has a huge cult fan-base, who can undoubtedly quote huge portions of the film word for word. Based on William Goldman’s 1973 novel of the same name and directed by Rob Reiner (of ‘Spinal Tap’), it is a fairy story with a quirky and biting sense of humour. Although very of its time, the witty script lifts it, and it feels much fresher than the tongue in cheek fairy tales which have become in vogue since ‘Shrek’. Go and watch it now, and don’t forget to memorise all the quotable lines…

FILMSPOT SCREENING OF ‘The Prince and the Showgirl’ (1957)

Saturday 16th July, 4pm St Nicholas Church, Brighton

Tickets £7 (£5 concession)

Available from http://www.brightonticketshop.com/

Part of the CMP Festival http://www.cmpcaonline.org.uk/category_id__65.aspx

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Bicycles on film

As some of you may know, the Filmspot team were ‘pedalling to victory’ yesterday at the London to Brighton cycle ride (and are now nursing their achy bits!) so in their honour, here are five of the best films featuring bicycles. Let us know if we’ve missed your favourite:

1. Belleville Rendezvous (Les Triplettes de Belleville)

Sylvain Chomet‘s much acclaimed animation focuses on Tour de France hopeful, Champion, and his grandmother, Madame Souza. When Champion is kidnapped by the French mafia, Madam Souza sets off, with her trusty dog, Bruno, to find him.

There are so many quirky threads running through this near-wordless film, it warrants more than one viewing. The humour is heavily influenced by the great Jacques Tati (Chomet went on to animate ‘The Illusionist’ last year, based on a Tati script), and all the characters are wittily and beautifully observed. The finger-clicking soundtrack by Ben Charest relies heavily on gypsy jazz influences, and keeps the story chugging along.

2. Bicycle Thieves (Ladri di biciclette) 1948

Set in post-war Rome, this neorealist film centres on Antonio Ricci, an unemployed man, who is delighted when he finally gets a job, putting up posters. He is told he must have a bicycle to have the job, and so his wife pawns their bedsheets to redeem Antonio’s bicycle from the pawnbroker. On his first day, his bicycle is stolen, and he and his son Bruno have no option than to walk the streets of Rome, trying to find the thief and recover the bicycle. Vittorio de Sica‘s poignant film is as engaging as it is heartbreaking.

3. Bejing Bicycle (十七岁的单车) 2001

Beijing Bicycle takes more or less the same idea as Bicycle Thieves and puts it against a coming-of-age backdrop. Aged seventeen, Guei from the countryside comes to the city to find work. He gains employment with a courier company, who give him a bicycle. When his bicycle is stolen, he vows to find the culprit. He manages to track it down as now belonging to another seventeen year old boy, Jian, who has bought it from a secondhand market.

Directed by Wang Xiaoshuai, this sparkling drama examines the different social standings of the bicycle’s owners, through their relationship with the bicycle.

4. Jour de Fete 1949

A huge influence on Belleville Rendezvous (above), Jour de Fete was Jacques Tati’s first major feature. It centres on a happy and contented village postman, who visits the village fair and sees a documentary about America’s fast and efficient postal system. After being ridiculed by the villagers (and drinking too much wine), he decides to do his rounds the American way!

5. Breaking Away 1979

Another coming-of-age tale, this charming American film follows four high school graduates. Dave Stohler, a talented cyclist fantasises about joining the Italian elite of racers, and is thrilled to have the chance to compete against a professional Italian team, but things don’t quite go as planned… Peter Yate’s film is endearing and uplifting.

A cinematic childhood…

The Filmspot team had a great time at King’s Place in London on Friday night, when we went to see a tribute to Oliver Postgate and Small Films, including the North Sea Radio Orchestraperforming music by Vernon Elliott, and from Bagpuss.

It’s got us thinking about childhood memories of film. We are hoping to stage an event based on our thoughts into this at some point next year, so do let us know any films from your childhood that you’d like to see on the big screen, but in the meantime, we thought we’d put together some films about childhood… let us know your thoughts!

1. ET (1982)

This film cast a huge ET-shaped shadow over many children growing up int he 80s, but as well as being for (and frightening many) children, there are some brilliant splashes of 80s middle-class childhood in this classic.

2.The Innocents (1961)

OK, slightly daft trailer aside, this is a genuinely sinister film directed by Jack Clayton, with the supposed corruption of innocence at its centre. Lots of recent films have tread the same territory (see The Others or the Orphanage), but none have quite the same atmosphere.


3. I’m not Scared (Io Non Ho Paura) (2003)

Gabriele Salvatores’s slow-moving film is essentially a kidnap story, seen through the eyes of 10 year old Michele. The depiction of an almost endlessly-long summer holiday, and the small observations of childhood is what really brings this film to life. Certainly one of the most engaging films of its type, the acting is utterly convincing, and Salvatore’s direction is absolutely spot-on.

4. My Neighbour Totoro (Tonari No Totoro) (1988)

Studio Ghibli are absolute masters of capturing childhood through animation, and we could have picked any of a number of their features (see Graveyard of the Fireflies or Spirited Away), but this film is so refreshing in its simplicity. Unlike most western animations for children, this doesn’t feature any of the usual ‘baddie’ or ‘villian’ characters, the children in Totoro have to deal with very real problems, such as the illness of a parent. It features some of the most beautifully observed animation you will ever see, and really charming characters that you will wish were present in your own childhood.

5. Night of the Hunter (1955)

A childhood fable, seen through a Film Noir lens. Robert Mitchum is one of the most effective bogeymen in cinema history as Rev Harry Powell, a serial killer and self-appointed preacher. As he pursues two children through the mid-west, the film serves as a strong illustration that “children are man at his strongest. They abide”

There are of course, lots of films that we’ve missed out here (To Kill a Mockingbird, Life is Beautiful, Fanny and Alexander, etc…) – why not drop us a line and let us know your favourites?