There is a defining shot in Lewis Gilbert’s Educating Rita – a film based on Willy Russell’s stage play – that is both visually striking and thematically moving. For reasons I won’t spoil, we find a Chekov book burning in a fire. In a film thematically rich with ideas of freedom, it is a visual allusion to an all too real lack thereof.
Now, it’s surprising that I’d not yet seen Mark Herman’s 1996 comedy-drama, Brassed Off; a film telling the story of coal-mine closures in the early 90s – as it does – through the eyes of the Colliery’s brass band. Surprising, because my girlfriend of the time performed in a brass band, playing euphonium, and from memory seemed to love this film. To my shame I dismissed it as a romantic comedy, something it very much is not.
A Saturday evening’s rest was desperately needed after an exhausting day of planning and scheming for a 2017 full of movement and activity. Instead of music at BarKa, I opted for number 86 on the BFI 100 list, the charming 1953 comedy, Genevieve.
Returning after such a long break has been difficult, especially as it was Women in Love (87) that knocked me off course, a year ago. My first response to this film was how utterly dull it was. I suspect I wasn’t in the right frame of mind. I will admit I didn’t love it, but I did certainly enjoy it a lot more than I a) remembered enjoying the first 15 minutes last year, and b) expected to this time.
My next film is one that begins with one of the most recognisable chords then introduces 4 of the most recognisable faces in the history of popular music, The Beatles’: A Hard Day’s Night (88). Full disclosure, I’ve seen this film so many times I’ve lost count and it’s been one of my favourite movies since I was a child coming out of primary school.
We continue our second world war theme into film number 89 with Humphrey Jennings pseudo-documentary on the war-time fire services across the United Kingdom; Fires Were Started. While this is a fiction, it tells the story of a sub-fire station and its officers not with actors but rather using the firemen themselves and this lends the film a veracity and immediacy it may not have achieved otherwise.
As charming a film as John Boorman’s Hope and Glory (90) is, I must admit I couldn’t connect with it. It’s a light comedy set in London during the blitz of the second world war and as endearing as it is, for reasons I can’t articulate well, it didn’t particularly grab me.
I’ve been looking forward to number 91 since I started this a couple of weeks ago. My Name is Joe is the first of the films so far that I’ve previously seen, the first Ken Loach film in the list and the first to star one of my favourite actors, Peter Mullan…
’ve never been someone who often watches war movies. To my eternal shame, I’ve never seen Platoon or Apocalypse Now. It’s odd because I do enjoy a good mindless military TV show – my guiltiest of guilty pleasures was the “guns, girls and grrrr” nonsense of Strike Back. I came to number 92 on the list – Noël Coward and David Lean’s In Which We Serve – with some degree of ambivalence but that was knocked out of me quick-smart.
Having previously been introduced to the paintings of Michelangelo da Caravaggio through R.E.M.’s Losing my Religion video and later through the excellent Simon Schama series, “The Power of Art”, his work has always been my favourite of the baroque and renaissance periods, so I was looking forward to number 93 – Caravaggio, the phenomenal Derek Jarman’s take on the artist’s life.