Category Archives: MF Recommends
Laura Morgan watches the 50th-anniversary reissue of John Schlesinger’s Billy Liar
There are lots of good things about going to the cinema alone. You can go and see anything you like without justifying your choice to someone else, and you don’t have to tell anyone what you thought of the film afterwards. You don’t have to share your snacks, or miss parts of a trailer – or, worse, the movie itself – because someone wants to have a conversation with you. Going to the cinema alone is a selfish and glorious way to spend a couple of hours. The only downside to it is that when a film makes you laugh until you weep – not the silent shoulder-shaking kind of laughter that you could just about get away with, but the hooting, spluttering kind that marks you out as a genuine lunatic – when that happens, being by yourself only makes matters worse. Fortunately for me I have only done this once: the first time I saw Billy Liar.
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Ah, Easter! Who among us does not, at this time of year, find their mind turning to thoughts of resurrection? To things which are lost and which, one day, might see the light of day once more? Inspired by such musings, several MostlyFilm contributors have, as they have time and again, written about those forgotten films and telly programmes which, having once been crucified on the crucifix of obscurity, we would like to see rise once more from the cave of time. Come with us now, as we roll back the stone of memory and share with you, our disciples, these cinematic and televisual miracles.
Moviedrome! You either remember it or you don’t, but if you do you’ll never forget it and if you never forget it, it will stay with you forever, which is how memory works. Late on BBC2, Alex Cox’s gnarled knuckle of a head would loom out at you and introduce a film so mind-blowingly obscure or spine-tinglingly brilliant it would impress itself into your unconscious brain and lodge there like a bit of popcorn in a tender gum. In later years it would be Mark Cousins on loomy head duty, but there’s little doubt that Cox is the classic loom-monger for most. It was fertile ground for our writers, and here we present some memories of both the films and their unique, treasurable presentation…
Hello. We sometimes mention that MostlyFilm is built on a forum, and every so often that forum’s bones poke above the smooth, silky skin of the blog. Since the year 2000, we’ve voted for our favourite films released January-December in the UK, and this year we thought we would share the results with you. Why are we doing this in February? Because we give people a sensible amount of time to catch up on possible contenders and vote with consideration. So up yours, everyone who published their best of results in January.
After the jump are the results, some comments from the forum and, eh why not, the results from previous years. All of this data is compiled and collated by one dedicated forum user, nac1. We applaud his effort.
The BFI’s Screwball! season has been running throughout January, and continues to the end of the month. Our writers have picked some gems from the genre for your enjoyment.
The Awful Truth (1937)
by Phil Concannon
When Leo McCarey won the Best Director Oscar in 1938 he argued that he had been awarded it for the wrong film, having also made Make Way for Tomorrow in the previous 12 months. While it’s true that his heartbreaking family drama deserved more acclaim (it remained largely overlooked up until a few years ago), that statement shouldn’t be taken as a slight against film McCarey did win for, The Awful Truth, which still stands as one of the great American comedies. Not many of those involved thought that would be the case as it was being made – Cary Grant frequently took issue with McCarey’s reliance on improvisation and even tried to leave the production – but the finished product works like a charm.
Some days all you want is a little comfort. Some days are worse than others, and a familiar film can be the perfect tonic. Some days you don’t want to be challenged by a film, you want it to lean over, give you a hug and call you ‘Champ’. We asked our contributors to tell us about films that do just that for them.
by Spank The Monkey
Type the name of Jan Švankmajer into YouTube during a dull afternoon at work, and you’ll be rewarded with hours of visually inventive, intellectually playful entertainment. But you’ll probably be rewarded with a P45 as well: the world of Švankmajer is – let’s emphasise this up front – quite definitively Not Safe For Work. Unless you work in a mental institution. Or an abattoir.
Czech surrealist/animator Švankmajer has been making films for close on five decades now, but for the most part they’ve been shorts: in those fifty years, he’s directed only six full-length features. Three of them have just been released on DVD by New Wave Films, and between them they provide a convenient snapshot of his strengths and weaknesses.
As Euro 2012 fever GRIPS THE NATION, various MostlyFilm writers take an entirely random look at football on film.
Fever Pitch (1997)
by Philip Concannon
Even though it comes complete with a climactic twist that trumps anything a screenwriter could invent, the story of Arsenal’s 1988/89 title-winning season isn’t natural material for a film with broad audience appeal. With this in mind, it’s not surprising that Nick Hornby’s adaptation of his own book Fever Pitch attempts to yoke his own memories of that season to a standard-issue romantic comedy structure, with mixed results. Colin Firth plays likeable teacher and Arsenal fanatic Colin Paul, who gets romantically involved with his colleague Sarah (Ruth Gemmell), portrayed as an uptight shrew who views Paul’s obsession as nothing more than an adolescent interest he has failed to grow out of.
About a year ago – give or take – we ran a piece on beloved minor characters – those bit parts that somehow build a film into something more; that give colour, or background, or just plain WTF moments. Well, we’re back for more…
The Cowboy, Mulholland Dr.
Many, many words have been placed on the internet concerning Mulholland Dr. The meaning, the point, even the story, have been puzzled over to little effect at great length. What’s with the guy who doesn’t like the coffee? What’s in the box? Who’s the guy behind the burger bar? Do they do snacks in Club Silencio, or do you think you have to bring your own? Would sweet wrappers be too noisy, do you think? Well, I’m not here to answer, or even ask, any of those questions. I’m interested, primarily, in The Cowboy.