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Freud’s Last Session

Director – Matthew Brown – 2023 – UK – Cert. 12a – 108m

****

Celebrated psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud is visited in the last month of his life, living in Britain, by young Oxford don and Christian apologist CS Lewis – out in UK cinemas on Friday, June 14th

September 1939. Chamberlain has issued his ultimatum to Hitler, and Britain waits to find out whether it will shortly be at war with Germany. Celebrated psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud (Anthony Hopkins), recently moved to Britain from Vienna to escape the Nazis, keeps turning the radio on and off in the hope of an update from the BBC. He is also expecting a visit from a young Oxford don, CS Lewis (Matthew Goode), “the Christian apologist”, with whose views he profoundly disagrees. 

Lewis has written books including a parody of Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress called The Pilgrim’s Regress, which is mentioned here, and the first book in his science fiction trilogy Out of the Silent Planet, which isn’t. He has however yet to either give his BBC broadcasts about the Christian faith, which will later form the basis of his most celebrated apologetic work Mere Christianity, or write his Narnia children’s fantasy novels.… Read the rest

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Documentary Features Live Action Movies Music

Getting It Back:
The Story of Cymande

Director – Tim MacKenzie-Smith – 2022 – UK – Cert. 12a – 90m

****

How a promising, innovative black 1970s band failed to crack the UK music business, only for their music to take on a life of its own through various later, popular musical movements – out in UK cinemas on Friday, February 16th and out on BFI Blu-ray, BFI Player Subscription, iTunes and Amazon Prime on Monday, 26 February

Film critics have their blind spots (there are films you’d assume I’ve seen which I never have) and so too do serious music listeners, among whom I number myself. Prior to this film, I had never heard of Cymande. That’s surprising to me, actually, because I started seriously listening to music in the 1970s and have never stopped (although, significantly, rap and hip-hop, which came later, never really did it for me). And Cymande, it turns out, were a band of the early 1970s. It’s not mentioned in this film, but they played a couple of sessions for legendary UK Radio One DJ John Peel where it’s likely I would have heard them, had I started listening regularly to his show earlier than 1974, after they recorded a session.

The narrative in MacKenzie-Smith’s documentary runs something like this: in the 1950s and 60s, Britain invited numerous Commonwealth citizens from Caribbean islands like Jamaica, St.… Read the rest

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The Red Shoes

Producers-Writers-Directors – The Archers (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger) – 1948 – UK – Cert. PG – 135m

*****

A young dancer gives her all to the art of ballet, symbolised by the story’s centrepiece of the Ballet of the Red Shoes, in which the heroine is danced to death by the eponymous footwear – out in UK cinemas on Friday, December 8th; major season Cinema Unbound: The Creative Worlds Of Powell + Pressburger continues at BFI Southbank and on BFI Player until the end of December with a free exhibition The Red Shoes: Beyond The Mirror (booking essential) running until Sunday, January 7th 2024

The second movie by the Archers not to deal with wartime issues in any way, shape or form (the first being Black Narcissus, 1947) deals with art in the story of a young dancer torn between love and her chosen art form. Student Julian Craster (Marius Goring) is outraged to discover, during its debut performance, that his music tutor Professor Palmer (Austin Trevor) has lifted several passages of Craster’s college work to pass them off as part of his latest dance score Heart of Fire. His subsequent interview with ballet company head and creative genius Boris Lermontov (Anton Walbrook, who appeared in four Productions of the Archers and later in The Queen Of Spades, Thorold Dickinson, 1949) secures him a lowly job as music arranger for the prestigious Ballet Lermontov.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

One Of Our Aircraft
Is Missing

Producers-Writers-Directors – The Archers (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger) – 1942 – UK – Cert. PG – 103m

*****

Forced to bail out following an otherwise successful mission in which one engine is disabled, a British bomber crew must find their way across occupied Holland to return to the safety of Britain – part of major season Cinema Unbound: The Creative Worlds Of Powell + Pressburger from Monday, October 16th at BFI Southbank, also on BFI Blu-ray; other films in the season can be found on BFI Player

Made at the height of World War II, the first Powell and Pressburger / The Archers movie to deploy that verbal credit as such – but without their later trademark opening shot of an arrow striking its target – is in essence a propaganda exercise in the guise of a narrative feature film made to bolster wartime morale at home. However, the pair pull the whole thing off with such verve and inventiveness that it feels less an exercise in propaganda and more a rattling good yarn (without compromising either way).

It opens like a bizarre ghost story (as bizarre as the curse upon the Lairds of Kiloran in the castle ruins of “i know where I’m going!”Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

“i know
where i’m going!”
(IKWIG)

Producers-Writers-Directors – The Archers (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger) – 1945 – UK – Cert. PG – 92m

*****

A London banker’s daughter’s determined to marry her wealthy fiancé on an Hebridean island has reckoned without the weather and other local factors preventing her from doing so – engaging romantic drama is out in UK cinemas on Friday, October 20th while major season Cinema Unbound: The Creative Worlds Of Powell + Pressburger opens Monday, October 16th at BFI Southbank and on BFI Player

You wouldn’t expect a film which is essentially a romantic comedy to open with its leading lady at age one, but that’s exactly what The Archers do here. Joan crawls, going (as the male voice over would have it) neither right nor left but straight on. By age five the male voice has her asking Santa for silk stockings (real, not artificial, a request that will have chimed with austerity-pressed, British audiences in 1945 after six years of war), by 12 she’s the one schoolgirl getting a lift home in the milk van. She’s accustomed to getting her own way and by her mid-twenties Joan (Wendy Hiller) is surprising her banker father, who she has wrapped around her little finger, with the news that she is going to marry the lucrative Consolidated Chemical Industries, specifically their ageing owner Sir Robert Bellinger.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

And Then Come
the Nightjars

Director – Paul Robinson – 2023 – UK – Cert. 15 – 81m

***1/2

The deep friendship of a Devon farmer and a local vet is tested by the UK government’s culling of herds in the 2001 Foot And Mouth outbreak – out in UK cinemas on Friday, September 1st

Michael (David Fielder) is a Devon farmer. Everyone knows everyone else in his local, rural community, and he is often visited by the vet Jeffrey (Nigel Hastings), first glimpsed in an uncharacteristic, bright red cowboy hat he won at a local village do when he turns up to help with the delivery of a calf. He’s previously tested Michael’s cows for Foot and Mouth disease, and all the results have been negative.

Later in 2001, Jeffrey visits Michael again, but this time with three other white-protective-suited colleagues and some bad news. With the Foot and Mouth outbreak reaching epidemic proportions, the government has decided to cull all cattle within a three-mile radius of any infection, regardless of whether they test negative or positive for the disease. Michael, shotgun at the ready, thinks there’s a mistake because, as Jeffrey knows, Michael’s herd has tested negative. But, as Jeffrey attempts to explain, government policy doesn’t work like that…

There are further scenes in December 2001, eight years later in 2009 and four years later still in 2013.… Read the rest

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The Courier

Director – Dominic Cooke – 2020 – UK – Cert. 12a – 112m

*****

The real life story of businessman Greville Wynne who smuggled secrets out of Moscow and helped avert the Cuban missile crisis – out on premium digital Monday, September 27th

The early 1960s. The cold war. High up Kremlin bureaucrat Oleg Penkovsky (Merab Ninidze) is convinced Kruschev wants to start a nuclear war. He has information about this he wants to leak to the West, for which the Soviet state is likely to punish him should they find out, possibly with death. However he has no easy route through which to send the information. He accosts American tourists and tells them to take packages straight to their embassy and then leave the country immediately.

Impressed with the calibre of his leaks, MI6 and the CIA, represented respectively by London operatives Dickie Franks (Angus Wright) and Emily Donovan (Rachel Brosnahan), set about finding the perfect person to to bring his packages back to the West. They meet businessman Greville Wynne (Benedict Cumberbatch) under the aliases James Dobbin from the Board of Trade and his associate Helen Talbot.

Greville does business by talking to (and drinking with) clients to find out what their businesses need and putting them in touch with other businesses who might be able to work with them, the classic networker.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Dunkirk

Director – Christopher Nolan – 2017 – UK – Cert. 12a – 106m

*****

Review originally published in DMovies.org. On Amazon Prime from Thursday, April 1st.

British filmmaker Christopher Nolan – now one of the highest-grossing film directors in history, with the Dark Knight trilogy under his belt – has created a complex and multilayered film that cleverly interweaves three separate narrative strands: 1) on land over a week a young soldier (Fionn Whitehead) after he arrives alone at Dunkirk beach and falls in with others (including the music superstar and heartthrob Harry Styles); 2) on sea over a day a small, requisitioned, civilian boat (crew: three) go to bring home trapped combatants; and 3) in the air over an hour three Spitfires fly a sortie.

Nolan is fascinated by time and runs these in parallel so that an incident partly revealed in one strand is later retold in another revealing more. There’s a constant sense of the clock ticking differently in the three time frames: mind-bending and exhilarating stuff.

Full review at DMovies.org.

On Amazon Prime from Thursday, April 1st.

Trailers:

Original UK theatrical release: Friday, July 21st 2017.

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Features Live Action Movies

Days of the Bagnold Summer

Director – Simon Bird – 2019 – UK – Cert. 12 – 86m

**1/2

Currently streaming on VoD

Librarian Sue Bagnold’s (Monica Dolan) husband Bob left her for another woman several years ago. Her teenage son Daniel (Earl Cave) is supposed to be going over to Florida to visit his dad this summer and meet his dad’s new baby, but then the phone call comes through that it’ll have to happen at a later time. This means Daniel will instead have to spend summer at home with his mum. He was looking forward to Florida, so he’s not too happy about this new development.

What follows is a very English deadpan comedy of manners. It’s all very charming and at times mildly amusing, likeable in an unchallenging fashion. The script gives Dolan and Cave great scope to milk the mother-son relationship for all it’s worth. She does a nice line in that English national female tendency to be very prim and proper as a compensation for being painstakingly shy. He is the archetypal Metallica T-shirt and black clad, grumpy teenager.


One day she tells him to do his CV in the morning and pass it round places of potential employment in the afternoon to get himself a Summer job, which he does – but wearing the same clothes and wondering why she complains that that would probably undermine his efforts.… Read the rest

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Hurricane

Director – David Blair – 2018 – Poland, UK – Cert. 15 – 107m

****

In cinemas from Friday 7th September

Review originally published in DMovies.org

It’s too easy to take most British WW2 movies (e.g. Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan, 2017) and claim they bolster the idea of Brexit – Britain alone against the world, defeating the dastardly Germans and so on. Hurricane is different. Its Royal Air Force (RAF) pilots are refugees from the Polish Air Force, wiped out by the Luftwaffe in a mere three days and kept on ice by Britain’s xenophobic War Office following their arrival in England.

When they’re finally allowed into the air, these Poles turn out to be much better fighter pilots than the majority of Brits who are being slaughtered by the enemy at an alarming rate. Indeed, it’s the Polish pilots that turn the Battle of Britain around.

Hurricane is named after the RAF’s most widely used fighter aircraft…

Full review at DMovies.org.

Trailer: