You won't need persuasion to enjoy Sense and Sensibility
JOHN GORE, founder of StokeScreen Film Club, with his pick of the films coming to TV (from Saturday, July 24).
Be sure to wear wild flowers in what remains of your hair.
This is a week in which to catch up on or review some landmark movies and those of interest that never quite made it to the top of the ‘must see’ list.
Coming hot on the heels of Andrew Davies’ blockbuster adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, it was announced that Ang Lee would make an adaptation of Sense and Sensibility 1995 (Drama (Channel 20)
17.10 Sat 24 July). One of my eyebrows went into an involuntary arch but upon reflection, the choice could not have been better. Though Lee is known for large-scale films from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Ride with the Devil, to The Hulk and Brokeback Mountain, it would be a mistake to overlook the beautiful movies he made in Taiwan before moving to Hollywood: Eat Drink Man Woman and The Wedding Banquet. These display such a profound understanding of the dynamics of family life and relationships – a trope which repeats itself throughout even his most action-led movies. Add to this a script by Emma Thompson, in which she appears to have got the choicest role with the best lines; a cast that includes Kate Winslett (pictured above), Hugh Grant, Hugh Laurie, Harriet Walter and Imelda Staunton; and you find that there is a harmonious fusion of classic British costume drama and acute Asian sense of family. It also looks pretty.
ET (Ms Thompson) reappears later in the week as matriarch in Andrew Davies’ adaptation of Brideshead Revisited 2008 (BBC4 20.00 Thu 29 July) alongside Matthew Goode and Ben Wishaw. Unfairly compared to the 1980s' TV adaptation, Julian Jarrold and Davies succeeded in condensing TV's 11 hours into a lithe and nimble 120 minutes. This is a tale of love and longing in the postwar generation in the 1920s, as created by Evelyn Waugh.
Later that same night, there is a further nostalgic adaptation, I Capture the Castle 2002 (BBC4 22.35 Thu 29 July) in which 17-year-old Cassandra (Romola Garai) discovers the charms of the opposite sex while trying to escape the impediment of her eccentric family (Bill Nighy et al.) and the crumbling castle that they inhabit in the England of the 1930s. This is ‘the other work’ by Dodie Smith, author of 101 Dalmatians. It is a tale of love and pain and rising damp.
In complete contrast a very different view of British society is illustrated in This is England 2006 (Channel4 00.00 Mon 26 July), one of the most important British movies of the first decade of this century. Directed by Shane Meadows around his home town of Nottingham, it tells of a young lad, memorably played by Thomas Turgoose, whose father has just been killed in the Falklands war, finding acceptance and inclusion in a gang of skinheads. It is far gentler that it might sound, giving a sympathetic representation of a frequently maligned part of youth culture. It also introduces us to a group of young actors from Meadows’ repertory company that were unknown at the time, Stephen Graham (Time), Vicky McClure (Line of Duty), Jack O’Connell (Skins, ’71) and explores class, racism and economic pressure in Thatcher’s Britain. Meadows went on to make a series of sequels for TV, This is England ’86, ’88 and ’90 which are also worth the effort: engaging and illuminating.
Made the year before Stephen Frears made Florence Foster Jenkins, Marguerite 2015 (BBC2 00.55 Sun 25 July) is the French equivalent of the affluent wife who dreams of being an opera singer and has the means to make it happen. Unfortunately, her dreams are everyone else’s nightmare as she has a voice to peel paint, yet plenty of enthusiasm. It has a warmth and charm that deserves better programming than the insomniac’s slot.
The Square 2017 (Film4 00.50 Mon 26 July) suffers a similar programming fate. This is a mischievous Swedish satire on the contemporary art world with a cast that includes Elizabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale) and Dominic West (Pride).
Your Laurel and Hardy prescription for this week is Way Out West 1937 (Talking Pictures TV 16.00 Sat 24 July), one of their very best, featuring The Trail of the Lonesome Pine, followed by The Private Life of Oliver the Eighth 1937 (Talking Pictures TV 17.15 Sat 24 July), Swiss Miss 1938 (Talking Pictures TV 16.00 Sun 25 July) reportedly rather less memorable, and Do Detectives Think 1927 (Talking Pictures TV 17.35 Sun 25 July), which finds our heroes sent to protect a judge from a dissatisfied customer.
Steven Soderberg burst onto the scene with his radical film Sex, Lies and Videotape in 1989 and went on to make Erin Brockovich and Traffic before announcing that he was giving up film making in 2009, since when he has gone on to make a further 15 features and produce many more. One of his later post-retirement films is Unsane 2018 (Film4 21.00 Mon 26 July), a disturbing story of a young woman who seeks help for the anxiety she experiences from being pursued by a stalker. Her consultation with a psychiatrist rapidly develops into internment in a psychiatric hospital from which she cannot escape. Is this an evil conspiracy or the creation of her own paranoia? Clare Foy, far removed from her role as Her Majesty, is captivating as the unfortunate victim.
Richard Linklater is a director for whom I have a lot of appreciation. The Before trilogy is a marvellously perceptive chronicle of how a relationship starts, falters, resumes and has a family. Before Sunrise is probably one of the most romantic films I know. Boyhood is an extraordinary achievement, charting the growth of a boy over a 10-year period and shot over the equivalent period. He is probably best known, however, for School of Rock 2003 (ITV2 18.45 Sat 24 July) in which an out of work rock musician takes a job as music teacher in a junior school. It has a larger than life performance by Jack Black, who proves himself no more mature than the kids he teaches but finds a means of drawing out the wallflowers and banishing a few demons along the way. I shall revisit this.
There is another outing for StokeScreen favourite, Lady Bird 2017 (BBC1 22.30 Sat 24 July) in which Saoirse Ronan hankers for more than life in Sacramento and seeks the culture and bright lights of New York. Written and directed by Greta Gerwig, there is more than a hint of the autobiography in this and it captures the fractiousness and impatience of wanting to get on with life at the end of high school.
The end of high school is celebrated in a notorious and iconic fashion in Brian De Palma’s Carrie 1976 (Film4 01.20 Fri 30 July) an early Stephen King adaptation in which Sissy Spacek discovers her kinetic powers and very bad temper.
It is always good to hear back from you, so please put your thoughts down and send them to us at Stokescreenfilmclub@aol.com, Fb StokeScreen at CNWSC and www.StokeScreen.uk.