After a run of 75 weeks, it's John Gore's last picture show!
JOHN GORE, founder of StokeScreen Film Club, with his 75th and last round-up of the best films coming to TV (from Sat, Sept 18). He signs off from elementarywhatson.com because StokeScreen is about to re-start the season that was so rudely interrupted by covid. The club's first screening, Official Secrets, is on Thursday, Sept 23, 7.30pm, at Coventry & North Warwickshire Sports Club, Binley Road. Club details are below.
My splendid and loyal readers, this will be my last column as I am going to meditate in a Tibetan monastery in the hope of finding the light switch/enlightenment. Thank you for your attention and supportive comments. I shall doubtless be back scribbling stream of consciousness drivel but in more of an editorial form, I think.
The world is reawakening. StokeScreen resumes on Thursday 23 September and I am breathless with anticipation both to see Official Secrets and to see your delightful smiling faces. Coincidentally, it is the same night that my old shop, Warwick Arts Centre, resumes business with a highly enticing programme of ‘things you have missed while we have been away’. It is well worth checking out the Arts Centre website. I visited the new auditoria earlier this week and was relieved to discover that they had listened to what I advised before I left: There are three very handsome new screens in which to enjoy the best of contemporary film. So I hope that that is what they programme.
I have had to rummage through the bottom drawer of films on TV this week but have come up with some rather interesting ones. For example, I have been looking for a Blu Ray copy of The Nile Hilton Incident 2017 (Film4 01.30 Fri 24 Sep), pictured above.This is Scandi noir in Cairo. It is directed by Tarek Saleh and stars Fares Fares (Department Q) both of whom are Swedes of Arab heritage. It is set at the time that the Green Revolution was stirring and revolves around a maid who witnesses a murder in a high class hotel. It soon becomes clear that there is a web of corruption surrounding this and the powers that be do not want the case solved. OK, so this makes it sound more like Italian noir. Anyway, this is brilliant if bloody thriller and I would encourage you to record it and watch it while the world is awake.
I caught Charlie Says 2018 (Film4 23.25 Tue 21 Sep) the last time it was on Channel4 . It is a portrait of Charlie Manson and the Family at the time of the killing of Sharon Tate and the aftermath. It goes some way to explaining the magnetism of the man and how completely he controlled his followers. What is interesting is that, for an essentially American story, Charlie and Lulu are played by Brits: Matt Smith (Dr Who) and Hannah Murray (Skins). It is directed by Mary Harron who has made a number of portraits of modern American icons: American Psycho, The Notorious Betty Page, I Shot Andy Warhol, Anna Nicole etc. Hannah Murray also shows up in Detroit 2017 (BBC2 23.15 Sat 18 Sep), Kathryn Bigelow’s account of racist policing in Detroit and the riots that ensued. It aired last in March when it had an even greater sense of immediacy.
Whiplash 2014 (BBC2 23.15 Wed 22 Sep) was the debut feature by Damien Chazelle, who went on to make La La Land. Only occasionally does a first feature leap out at you to say, ‘here is an outstanding talent’. The story is of an aspiring jazz drummer (Miles Teller) and his martinet of a tutor, J K Simmons, in fierce and terrifying form. Here is a film that understands jazz, full of obsession and arrogance but is such a display of directing and editing virtuosity that it risks upstaging the action. It does not but....wow!
In this the 150th anniversary year of the publication of the novel, there is a screening of Tim Burton’s Alice Through the Looking Glass 2016 (BBC1 14.50 Sun 19 Sep) with Mia Wasikowska reprising the role that she created in Alice in Wonderland a few years earlier. This is a vivid, prime coloured account of Carroll’s creations which suggests that someone on the design team had been sharing the caterpillar’s hookah! Wasikowska just about gets away with the girl/woman figure but she is always compelling viewing and slightly other worldly.
Back in the 1980s I encountered an eager student who said he wanted to be a film maker. I resisted the temptation to reply a la Tommy Cooper and say, ‘Well, I’m not stopping you’! He later went on to make an indie feature called Shopping in his native Newcastle. What amazed me was that, three years later, he appeared in Hollywood making Event Horizon 1997 (5* 00.45 Sat 25 Sep) with Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, Joely Richardson, Jason Isaacs, Sean Pertwee etc. Somebody was risking a big budget on him and he turned in a post-Alien space thriller. He can’t have done too badly as they let him out again to make several Resident Evil films, Mortal Kombat, The Three Musketeers and produce a hatful of others. He even sent us a best wishes email at the time of our Blink! short film festival in 2001.
I wrote recently of Michael Caine as the iconic representation of the new England in the 1960s who then developed into a representative of the nation, albeit flawed and eccentric. The American equivalent might well be Dustin Hoffman, who features in The Graduate 1967 (BBC4 21.00 Thu 23 Sep), Mike Nicholls’ era-defining tale of the summer of post graduation Benjamin Braddock and the extracurricular education he received at the hands of Mrs Robinson (Ann Bancroft). The soundtrack by Simon and Garfunkel added to the visibility of the film which spoke of the times a’changing. The film has the coveted BBC4 Classic Thursday night slot but I am afraid you are going to have to record this as your presence will be required at Coventry and North Warwickshire Sports Club to welcome StokeScreen out of hibernation.
Dustin Hoffman’s quirky but fundamentally OK Mr America was succeeded by Tom Hanks in the late 1980s. You can compare and contrast if you watch Captain Phillips 2013 (ITV4 21.00 Mon 20 Sep) in which he plays the ordinary guy responding exceptionally in great adversity as captain of a ship hijacked by pirates of the Horn of Africa.
I have not seen Moneyball 2011 (GMC 18.20 Wed 22 Sep) but will rectify that omission this week. Brad Pitt plays the manager of a baseball team who manages his limited transfer budget by engaging the services of a socially awkward IT wizard, Jonah Hill. This is more about psychology and data analysis than it is about sport and is written by Steve Zaillian (Schindler’s List) and Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing, A Few Good Men, Molly’s Game). Expect wit, intelligence and a lot of words spoken very rapidly.
Serving as a health warning, it is posted that Great Movie Classics (Sony) is now off air until 5th January 2022 to be replaced, yes, this is September, by Great Movies Christmas. What will they find to programme?!!
Thank you for your time and attention over the last 75 editions. I am sure that I shall be compelled to write more in the future but for now, let’s get back to the big screen and watch stuff together. It is still good to hear back from you, so please put your thoughts down and send them to us at Stokescreenfilmclub@aol.com Faceboook: StokeScreen at CNWSC and www.StokeScreen.uk
Thanks John - from elementarywhatson.com!