Friday, 30 November 2012

Beer and Bond

All that fuss over Daniel Craig supping on a bottle of Dutch lager, specifically Heineken, in Skyfall eh?

Lazenby was there before him with Kronenbourg...

Frosty Morning!

Sheesh but it's cold out there today! And all the gold and red leaves on the ground dusted with frost, it put me in mind of this classic 1960 photo from Bailey of Paulene Stone

And of course it's the last day of November, which put me in mind of Thomas Hood's poem

No sun, no moon
No morn, no noon
No dawn, no dusk, no proper time of day
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease
No comfortable feel in any member
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds

December here we come

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The Buttercup Chain

I watched a rather forgotten old movie today, The Buttercup Chain, starring two favourites of mine Jane Asher and Hywel Bennett alongside Leigh Taylor-Young and Sven Bertil Taube.

It's a beautiful cast isn't it?

The film itself (from 1970) is a bit of a curio. A soap opera detailing the lives of four middle class bright young things and their bohemian lifestyle as they swan around from London, Spain, Rome and Sweden forging an inevitable incestuous love quadrangle. 

Hywel and Jane plays France and Margaret, cousins who have been inseparable since birth. They're clearly deeply attracted to one another yet refuse to face up to that truth. When Margaret returns from her schooling, France decides that she must take a lover (perhaps to distract his own feelings towards her) and immediately stumble upon Swedish student Fred (Sven-Bertil Taube) who declares his undying love for her. Next France must find a lover for himself and, equally straightforward, Manny (Taylor-Young) comes along.

Then Manny starts to have feelings for Fred, and before you know it, Manny's pregnant (the father is inconclusive; it could be France, it could be Fred, it could even be George, Manny's kind hearted successful businessman lover played by Clive Revill, whose driver is played by a young Michael Elphick) and she and Fred marry. 

There are no recriminations however, this foursome are so close, entwined and to steal a quote from Keith Richards 'not concerned with your petty morals' that falling out would be simply too trivial. This is the free love era after all, or rather the fag (joint?) end of it. 

Leigh and Jane playing at being twins with director Robert Ellis Miller

The Buttercup Chain would be quite insufferable were it not for its capable and talented cast who imbibe it with a real flair and seriousness that perhaps it doesn't always deserve. There's something of the Britt Ekland about Leigh Taylor-Young, an actress I am ashamed to admit I know little of. She deserved bigger film roles. Sven-Bertil Taube struggles a little with the more carefree aspects of his role yet totally nails the more dramatic requirements that come later in the film, a huge turn in the last half hour that totally grips. Bennett is the same Bennett he had been and will continue to be in the films he co starred alongside Hayley Mills; handsome (though he doesn't suit the dark hair and facial fuzz he's forced to wear here) aloof, jovial but with a dangerous air about him, there's always something hard to pin down about the best of Bennett's characters, a sense of an undercurrent beneath the smooth silky facade. And then of course there is the beautiful Jane Asher. It's not Jane's best role (that would be Deep End) but there's a fragility and empathy here that is a delight for the viewer, even though sometimes you do want to shake her and get her to face up to what's going on around her.

Stamp and Shrimp

Because you need beauty in life

World Of Leather

Gemma Arterton (gorgeous) and Jeremy Renner in the fun sounding forthcoming Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

Out On Blue Six : Nouvelle Vague

Went in search of this Depeche Mode cover again because I rewatched The Servant. Brilliant movie with a treacle black dark heady brew of sinister brooding.

And what a cast too - Dirk Bogarde, James Fox and Sarah Miles. Here's the latter two in some lovely shots...

End Transmission

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

The Parallax View

Cinema Verity

Today marks the birthday of legendary TV producer Verity Lambert, who sadly passed away in 2007.

Amongst her many great credits, Verity was the original producer of Doctor Who back in 1963, at a time when successful professional women in television, or indeed, in any field, was all too rare. I think the gorgeous Romola Garai's Bel Rowley in The Hour is channelling and paying tribute to her to a certain extent. 

Next year marks the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who and the BBC are producing a drama documenting the behind the scenes endeavours to get the show to screen, written by fan and Who scriptwriter Mark Gatiss. There's much buzz surrounding who may play all the key roles involved, but one name keeps appearing linked to Lambert and that's the divine Claire Foy

Which would be perfect casting if you ask me.

Happy Birthday Verity Lambert!

If It's Tuesday, This Must Be McShane

Monday, 26 November 2012

Helen's Outta There

Helen Flanagan was surprisingly voted off I'm A Celebrity tonight, but she'd left male fans with something good...

Yup, her 'gazungas' as camp mate Ashley Roberts called them, in a very uplifting bra!

General camp consensus was that the bra made her boobs look gigantic and ridiculously big so she changed (boo!) Personally, I could live with it!

In fact, if I were there this would be my reaction

Black Pond

Black Pond tells the story of an ordinary family, The Thompsons. When a stranger dies at their dinner table they dispose of the body in the woods near the local pond. Six months later, family friend Tim seeks help from a freelance therapist Dr Eric Sacks and their secret finds its way to the press. The facts are bent and details spun as the course of justice commences on the family the media and public now call 'The Family of Killers'

Firstly Chris Langham, welcome back.

It's a very quirky and talented debut from former Casualty actor Will Sharpe and Tom Kingsley. The movie is small and low budget (a reported £25,000) but it belies such roots by stylish imaginative direction and theme with a lot of heart and existential meditation. 

The story itself is intriguing and to be honest quite believable and is played out in a mixture of documentary film 'talking heads' account and non linear storytelling. Langham plays and reflects the media's reaction to his own plight in a very brave way (To cut a long story short for those not in the know the former star of The Thick Of It was convicted for downloading child pornography in 2007 for, he claimed, research for a script he was writing, but won an appeal to cut his sentence and was told by the courts that he was not a paedophile. He is regardless something of a pariah in entertainment still) whilst proving he has lost none of his comedic skills when providing some genuine laugh out loud moments, or the ability to engage the audience when playing the more serious and fragile emotions. 

Naturally he brings a lot to the film (including the actual photo outside of court at his own trial in the newspaper cutting above) but it would be unfair to say he steals it, because that honour is shared primarily between him, Amanda Hadingue as his wife and Colin Hurley as the hapless Blake. That's not to say that the others in the cast are in any way poor - Anna O'Grady and Helen Cripps give truly great accounts of themselves as their daughters - it's just that when the story moves away from the central trio the audience can be forgiven for their attention wandering. Indeed, Will Sharpe's role as Tim in front of the camera seems equally listless, and only handy for the plot rather than actually contributing anything to the film as a whole dimensional person. It can also be argued that Simon Amstell as Dr Sacks is equally surplus and seems a little too large and comedic for such a small reflective piece. But I imagine fans of his comedy persona (of which I'm not alas) may enjoy it nonetheless. 

Colin Hurley - brilliant

Simon Amstell - less so

Although I like this very much, I do feel a tighter script and the merciless excising of some characters and moments reducing the film to an hour long 'short' may have created a minor masterpiece. But overall it is certainly an excellent and satisfying piece of entertainment.

Happy Bumday!