Tag Archives: England

The Long Good Friday

If you know me, you know that if Morrissey mentions something, even in passing, I’ll most likely look it up.  That’s what happened with The Long Good Friday.  This is the statement in which our boy Mozza drops a mention of the film in question if you are interested… http://true-to-you.net/morrissey_news_071203_02

At any rate, I had actually heard of the film through BBC America.  From time to time they show an edited version.  I absolutely LOVE this movie.  It is a masterful piece of film making, and is equal parts British gangster movie, artistic film exploration and discussion of England on the cusp of the 1980s. 

This 1979 film is set over about 36 hours from the morning of Good Friday until the following evening.  Bob Hoskins creates a masterpiece of his role as a London racketeer who witnesses his firm falling down around him.  It is his intention to keep it together at any cost.  Hellen Mirren plays his wife.  She is brilliant as well.

Hoskins plays the London small time gangster made  big…the last of the famous international playboys, one might say.  Truly, the romance of crime is laced in this film, but it goes far beyond that.  The East London // South London crime syndicates are featured.  Hoskins delivers a wit and charm that simply SHOULD NOT be there.  His character should not have the appeal that he does.  It’s wonderful.  In addition, the film is gripping from the outset, as the rather complex story unfolds in such a manner that the viewer is only half a step ahead of Hoskin’s character.  It is quite fascinating.  I’ve never seen pacing used so effectively in a film.  I must say, however, as an American, the American accents of the two New York gangsters are hilarious.  The one sounds straight up Canadian, and the other is half John Wayne, half Frank Sinatra.  It’s pretty hilarious. 

The social and political realities of a changing Britian are a subtext to this film making it so much more than it could have been.  Masterful film making and superb acting do the rest.   Go see this film.  It’s brilliant.

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Tennis anyone? // What’s on the BBC?

About a month ago, Q and I started playing tennis again.  I say “again” because we used to play with at least a little frequency back in the bad old days at York College of Pennsylvania.  In addition to the other stuff I’ve been doing (footy, running, boxing training) this has been a welcome addition.  For the first few weeks it was ROUGH on the legs.  The kind of running that one does on a tennis court is intense.  There is a lot of back and forth and short bursts of running.  It’s quite good for the footy!

I’ve gotten back into listening to BBC radio comedy and chat on the computer.  Specifically I’m listening to The News Quiz.  For those of you who don’t know anything about Jeremy Hardy (who is one of the panelists), do yourself a favor and check him out.  He’s definitely a radical.  He has red leanings and no doubt he has a history of leftist ideology and culture.  The thing is, unlike most so-called “progressive” folks who attempt to be funny, Hardy is AMAZINGLY funny.  He is possibly the funniest man I’ve ever heard.  He used to have a show called Jeremy Hardy Speaks to the Nation, which was a comedy lecture.  Amazing.

My other all time favorite BBC show would have to be Lenin of the Rovers, which was this INSANE and AMAZING comedy about “Britain’s first communist football team.”  This was an Alexi Sayles production (if you remember Sayles from The Young Ones, as the Russian landlord (Mike the Bastard, I believe.)  Lenin of the Rovers hasn’t been on for a while, but it should come around again. 

Old Harry’s Game is another good time.  It’s a radio comedy set in hell between Satan and an atheist who doesn’t believe he’s there.  Brilliant. 

Tennis and the Beeb.  Geeze. 

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So, THIS IS ENGLAND…

 

I recently saw the Shane Meadows film THIS IS ENGLAND. 

 http://www.thisisenglandmovie.co.uk/

 Indeed, this is one of the best films I have seen in YEARS.  I got a few good reviews of this from friends, but they always went something like “You’ll LOVE it…it’s so depressing, but you will LOVE it.”  Alas, my friends know my tastes, and they are right.  I do love it and it is depressing.

Meadows tells a “semi-autobiographical” tale of young Shaun, a 12 year old lad (played deftly by Thomas Turgoose) who is struggling with growing up in the wake of his fathers death in the Falklands War.  Through a few rather random events, Shaun becomes involved with a group of Skinheads.  The top boy of this firm, Woody, takes Shaun under his wing and becomes a kind of father figure to the lad.  When Combo, Woody’s friend from the past gets out of jail and comes back to the old neighborhood with some new friends and some new ideas, things change radically. 

This movie possesses all of the intensity of The Deer Hunter for me.  So many similar themes run through both.  THIS IS ENGLAND moves much quicker, however, and has much less violence in it.  That’s not to say that this film has no violence in it.  It does.  That violence is portrayed in a different way.  The themes and inclusion of the youth subcultures of British popular society in the 1980s is very close to my heart.  Indeed, the depiction of these things is done in a fantasically interesting way.  Meadows includes the difficult hypocracy that exists in most subcultures.  He rather embraces them in his depiction of the Skinhead life during the early ’80s revival.  In addition he also does well to historicize the content of the subcultre.  Well done.

Meadows does well to intersperse shots form the Falklands War with the story line he tells.  This makes for some very powerful visual experiences.  Likewise, the film is shot beautifully.   It was shot on location around Nottingham and Grimsby.  The scenes near the water are some of the most evocative.  The visual imagery of the desolation encompassing a young persons life is palpable. 

Aside from being visually amazing, having an interesting, riveting story line and generally being crushing to watch, there are also amazingly funny bits in here as well.  Meadows does well to include scenes that illustrate the tension of certain social and familial situation that often result in awkward silences or stilted dialogue.  This gives the film a realism that is noteworthy. 

I LOVE this film.  See it at all costs.

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