A night at the opera with Filmspot

Hello Filmspotters!
We are getting tuned up and ready for our screening of Mike Leigh’s delightful ‘Topsy Turvy’ this Saturday at Isfield Village Hall (6.45pm for 7pm screening, tickets £6 on the door, including wine and nibbles!). Telling the story of Gilbert and Sullivan while they were creating ‘The Mikado’, it has got us in the mood for opera!

Here are a few of our favourite opera-related films
Tales of Hoffman (1951)

We are huge fans of Powell and Pressburger here at Filmspot HQ. In this sumptuous adaptation of Offenbach’s fantasy opera, they brought together many of the team who worked on ‘The Red Shoes’. Their audatious, theatrical style works beautifully. Celebrated director Cecil B Demille is said to have written ‘For the first time in my life, I was treated to Grand Oepra where the beauty, power and scope of the music was equally matched by the visual presentation’.

The Magic Flute (1975)

Considerably lightly than many of this director’s other works, Ingmar Bergman has created an adaptation of one of Mozart’s best-loved works that is undeniably his own: a celebration of love, forgiveness, and the brotherhood of man.
Rigoletto (1993)

A shortened telling of Verdi’s masterpiece – the only criticism of this exquisite rendering of the opera is that its 30 minute run time does not do it justice. That said, it is too beautiful to overlook – Barry Purves is the master of detailed stop motion animation, sadly less known than he should be outside the animation world.
Ruddigore (1964)

British studio Halas & Batchelor’s take on Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘Ruddigore’ is notably the first UK animated TV special, as well as being the first operetta to be animated. Made with the co-operation of the D’Oyle Carte Opera Company, who provide the voices, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, who provide the music, it tells the story of a line of British baronets are cursed to commit a crime every day…or die!
Night at the Opera (1935)

Ok, possibly not an ‘opera film’ as such, but we had to include the Marx Brothers hilarious farce, in which they sabotage an opening night of an opera. A box office smash, the film is also considered to be one of the Marx Brothers’ finest films, being selected for inclusion in the US National Film Registry in 1993.

We hope to see you at Isfield Village Hall this Saturday!

Filmspot gets slushy

So, here we go, Valentine’s Day – the day for half the population to go all lovey-dovey and the other half to huff about the former half and their lovey-dovey-ness.

Team Filmspot like any excuse to put together lists of films, though, so beware you cynics – here comes some of the Filmspot team’s favourite romantic films. We usually try to limit ourselves to 5 films, but we’ve come to realise that we’re hopeless romantics here in the Filmspot office, so please humour us!

In the Mood for Love (2000)

Bryan Ferry aside, Wong Kar Wai’s In the Mood for Love is an utterly spellbinding romantic melodrama. Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung play neighbours who both suspect their spouses are having an affair, only to find themselves infatuated with each other. It is gently paced, dreamy and enigmatic. Christopher Doyle’s cinematography gives a beautifully nostalgic atmosphere, which complements its 1960s setting. Cheung exudes Hepburn-eque elegance – which alone is surely reason enough to watch it!

Gregory’s Girl (1981)

America has a great many films about love-lorn teenagers, but none of them can quite come up to John Gordon Sinclair‘s gawkish Gregory. Bill Forsyth’s very funny romantic comedy, set in a Scottish comprehensive school, is refreshing in that the teenagers aren’t angst-ridden or brooding – they all seem to be pretty nice, well adjusted (although somewhat quirky) kids. Gregory has an incredibly appealing, upbeat approach to life – a nice antidote to the current popular view of teenagers!

A Matter of Life & Death (1946)

One of Powell & Pressburger’s many masterpieces, A Matter of Life & Death is not only one of the great romantic films, but one of the most vivid screen fantasies. David Niven and Kim Hunter’s first scene together (above) is utterly heartbreaking. Niven plays Squadron Leader Peter Carter, who should have died when his Lancaster Bomber went down after a mission in 1945, but his ‘guide’ to the ‘other world’ (Marius Goring) cannot find him because of thick fog. Before his ‘guide’ catches up with him, Carter meets and falls in love with June (Hunter), and has to battle with ‘the powers that be’ to remain on earth with her. Unlikely though it sounds, this is a film that manages to reach its own ambitions!

Chico & Rita (2010)

This animated film, directed by  Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal, is a vibrant slice of sunshine, music and romance. Set in the 1940s and 50s, it follows the fate of two promising musicians, Chico, a pianist, and Rita, a singer. The stylish animation and beautiful music make up for the fact that this is a plot line you will have seen before – and by the last scene, there won’t be a dry eye in the house!

Bringing up Baby (1938)

Howard Hawk’s hilarious comedy starring Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn is pure cinematic genius. If you don’t fall for the nervous, bookish museum paleontologist  Dr Huxley (Grant) or the irritating and eccentric heiress Susan Vance (Hepburn), you surely have a heart of stone! It’s difficult to believe that it received poor reviews on its release, but Bringing up Baby has certainly stood the test of time, and is now justly seen as one of the great screwball classics.

Brief Encounter (1945)

Surely any list of romantic films worth its mettle must include David Lean’s masterpiece? Timeless in theme, but very much of its time, Brief Encounter is an essentially British love story. Everything about this film is pitch-perfect: it will leave even the least emotional amongst us struggling with ‘itchy eyes’.

NB – apologies to those of you waiting to hear of our upcoming Filmspot events. We promised you an update in this blog post, but sadly we are still awaiting confirmation of a couple of dates! We can let you know that there are a number of events planned for the coming months – with our first Filmspot of the year planned for April. More news is forthcoming!