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#1 David Sweetman

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Posted 17 October 2006 - 01:43 PM

I've recently been getting into classic foriegn cinema, and I've found the French have some great films, the Italians have some great films, the Russians, the Swedes, etc. ...the Britts have "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," which I love, don't get me wrong. I've recently seen "Gangster no. 1" and "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead," and while both are decent (contemporary) films, neither went really right. My friend submits that the only great British film is "Monty Python" because they're just ridiculous by nature. I think there's enough of the Brittish around here to set the record straight - have great films come out of Britain?
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#2 Matt Serrins

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Posted 17 October 2006 - 02:13 PM

For starters, just go by directors. Michael Powell, Ken Loach, Terry Gilliam, David Lean.

I don't really wanna get into what defines a british filmmaker. Hitchcock and Ridley Scott are british by nationality, but work/ed in hollywood. Kubrick is the reverse, an american who lived and mostly worked in Britain. Is Clockwork Orange a british film? Barry Lyndon, which is great?

Anyway, I would add Terence Davies, Ken Russell, Stephen Frears, Peter Greenaway, and Neil Jordan.

Off the top of my head, I would say Brazil qualifies, though maybe you can call that monty python. My Beautiful Laundrette. Performance or Don't Look Now by Roeg. The Long Good Friday by ?(I forget). The Third Man. There are tons more.
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#3 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 17 October 2006 - 02:48 PM

Oh my God, you can't mean that. I'd say the complete opposite in fact, arguing that the majority of all classic great films were actually made in Britain. All the Lean's, Star Wars, Aliens, Conan's, Kubrick's, Bond's, War movies and whatnot. The list is absolutely endless. Without taking away from America's great body of work, obviously.

And that's without having even mentioned the mega-classic Whitnail & I (and I'm glad to hear that director Bruce Robinson is finally directing again).
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#4 Andy_Alderslade

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Posted 17 October 2006 - 02:58 PM

I've recently been getting into classic foriegn cinema, and I've found the French have some great films, the Italians have some great films, the Russians, the Swedes, etc. ...the Britts have "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," which I love, don't get me wrong. I've recently seen "Gangster no. 1" and "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead," and while both are decent (contemporary) films, neither went really right. My friend submits that the only great British film is "Monty Python" because they're just ridiculous by nature. I think there's enough of the Brittish around here to set the record straight - have great films come out of Britain?


Though there are certanly good Bristish films, Britian doen't quite have such a firm cultural identitiy as say the French or Italian national cinemas - which is largely caused by sharing the same language with the US and also Autralia/New Zealend etc.

Plus Britian in its nature is very absorbing of other cultures too, for intance if you go to London - you will find there are hundreds of Italian, French, Indian, Chinese, US Burger Bars and not a single English restaurant.

So there for its actually very hard to classify what is a british film.

For example Director Alfonso Curan is Mexican yet his two last films (Children of Men and Harry Potter 3) have been based and shot in Britian, with extensively British casts and crews yet financed by US studios. Culturaly they are both faithful to British 'issues' and 'ideas' and relevent to a the national identity but they are still international products.

And largely film production in the UK has always been like that. Even in the 60s James Bond films and many of the auful kitchen-sink dramas were in fact produced by American producers. Actually it becomes even more confusing when looking at James Bond because only a small portion of the films are ever set in Britian.

Infact one of the best British animated feature films - Animal Farm - was secretly funded by the CIA.


But anyway here's my recomendation for a number of really good 'British films' are:

The Black Narcissus
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
A Matter of Life and Death
The Servent
Alfie
If...
The Innocents
The Lady Vanishes
Don't Look Now
Trainspotting
Great Expectations (Lean version)
The Man in the White Suit
Kind Hearts and Coronets
The Lavender Hill Mob

Though i have to admit I almost failed the British Cinema module on my Film Studies degree out of bordom (though none of the above films were covered by the course).

Edited by Andy_Alderslade, 17 October 2006 - 03:01 PM.

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#5 Douglas Hunter

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Posted 17 October 2006 - 03:24 PM

I think a few films and directors from the English Empire have done important work in the past few years.

Michael Winterbottom's last two films 9 songs and road to Guantanimo

Lynne Ramsay (Scottish) Her Film Ratcatcher was stunning, so well done. I was green with Envy when I saw someone doing the kind of work I aspire to with such apparent ease.

Simon Langton's adaptation of Pride and Prejudice is pretty much considered the best film version (TV mini series) of Austin out there.

Jim Sheridan's (Irelan) film In America was a very well done film and the kind of films that Americans can't or won't make about our country. Its also a fine aesthetic work.

James Ivory is American born, but noting in his methodology and story telling define him as American, its easy to assume that he is an Englishman. how about giving him an honorable mention.
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#6 Sam Wells

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Posted 17 October 2006 - 04:36 PM

Lynne Ramsay (Scottish) Her Film Ratcatcher was stunning, so well done. I was green with Envy when I saw someone doing the kind of work I aspire to with such apparent ease.


You should see "Movern Caller" also !

-Sam
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#7 David Sweetman

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Posted 17 October 2006 - 04:40 PM

(All the Lean's,) Star Wars, Aliens, Conan's, Kubrick's, Bond's, War movies and whatnot.

I would definitely agree with the director David Lean. The rest, although filmed in Britain, had American directors, actors, and whatnot; I don't really consider the Bond's good cinema...

I don't "mean" anything, I figured a Monty Python jest was the best way to exhibit my ignorance. I'm just trying to become educated in things besides American cinema. My only idea was since this film "Gangster No. 1" seems exclusively British in production, there must have always been an element of cinema like this.

Thanks Andy, I'll definitely check out some of those films, especially The Black Narcissus. And I forgot about The Innocents, that movie was amazing.
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#8 Jason Debus

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Posted 17 October 2006 - 11:56 PM

But Britain just wants to tell the world how we only produce "topically" minded "directors", like Alan Parker, Ken Loach and Stephen Frears, middle class buffoons who wouldn't know a camera if they themselves were being filmed- half assed pretend theatre directors who like to be recognised for molding performances.

Alan Parker is one of my favorite directors, I'm not sure I understand where the hate comes from. But I'm not from England.

What about Adrian Lyne? I don't think he's made a film I didn't like. He's just got a really good nose for worthwhile projects and I like his instincts.

First thing that popped into my head when I saw this thread title was Shawn of the Dead. And David Lean.

The film Naked is worthwhile, although I haven't seen any other of Mike Leigh's films
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#9 Douglas Hunter

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Posted 18 October 2006 - 12:21 PM

The film Naked is worthwhile, although I haven't seen any other of Mike Leigh's films


Leigh is the master of getting a performance, I can't think of any director working today who has a film that is the equal of Secrets and Lies, for how well the performances work. Can't believe that I didn't put him on my first list.
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#10 Andy_Alderslade

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Posted 18 October 2006 - 12:51 PM

I would definitely agree with the director David Lean. The rest, although filmed in Britain, had American directors, actors, and whatnot; I don't really consider the Bond's good cinema...


See this is now when it gets confusing....

If the directors and actors make a film's nationality then it changes things considerably.

For example North by Northwest is directed by a British director and 2 of the 3 principle leads (Cary Grant + James Mason) were british, however nobody would ever regard that film as being British - its regarded as an American Classic. Charlie Chaplin never even took US citizenship and he directed and acted in all his films - which are rightfully regarded as American.

Billy Wilder, Fritz Lang, etc were all Europeans yet they were pioneers in one of America's greatest genres - the film Noir.

Also if you look at films; Alien (director, crew, production base, majority of the cast were british) and Return of the Jedi ( director, crew, production base and all but a few principles of the cast were British) yet these films have been regarded as American films, and part of American franchises (I hate that word).

Well you could say a films setting dictates its nationality - but that would make an American film like the African Queen not an American film which it blatently is. Black Narcisuss wouldn't be British though the production never left Britian.

On the other hand Lolita - was set in America, and about Americans, and directed by an American - however it was shot and crewed in Britian and featured two British stars.

So to be honest the whole thing is perhaps not worth getting too pinictiy on.

Alan Parker is one of my favorite directors, I'm not sure I understand where the hate comes from. But I'm not from England.


I must admit i'm not a fan of Alan Parker, in my eyes he takes great source material, uses one of the worlds best Director of Photography, uses a great cast and often produces a decent film or often less, of which rarely pushes the boundries of cinema or even quality.

I think the hatred comes from the fact the man publicy has a searing acid tongue, which is often used on other and sometimes less experienced filmmakers. Now he's head of the UK Film Council which uses lottery money to fund industry develepment, education and also invest in new films from up and coming talent - he's probably hatted more now than before. Infact in the last few years there has been no revelations in fresh faces in terms of directors, writers and producers. Which is hardly supprising considering he's so inpatient with the less experienced or simply differenlty minded filmmakers, its also hypocritical since much of his initial breakthrough can be contributed to wonder-producer David Puttnum.

I know, let's close down MOMI while we're at it!!


Calm thee!! it will re-open soon enough. Though it was crime they closed it in the first place and when for no good reason.
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#11 John Holland

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Posted 19 October 2006 - 10:47 AM

Tim , all i have to say is to bloody right , Ken Russell and David Watkin , thats proper British cinema , even though Warner Bros paid for it and made the profit ,if there was any . Sorry talking The Devils ,here . John Holland ,London.
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#12 Jon Kukla

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Posted 19 October 2006 - 03:35 PM

Tim , all i have to say is to bloody right , Ken Russell and David Watkin , thats proper British cinema , even though Warner Bros paid for it and made the profit ,if there was any . Sorry talking The Devils ,here . John Holland ,London.


I will drink myself into a stupor on that! The Devils is one of my all-time favorite films. (And with Derek Jarman heading up the art department too.)
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