Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Five of the Best: Films for a rainy day

Films to watch on a winter’s day


With flooding battering Britain and snow in New York, now’s the time to stay indoors. What could be better than a film fest? Here, in no particular order, are five of my favourites:


Kind Hearts and Coronets

Kind Hearts and CoronetsAlec Guinness pulls off a blinder in playing eight roles in this 1949 black comedy. Based around Edwardian manners and morals, this 106 minute film centres upon a young man’s quest for vengeance against the aristocratic relatives who disowned his mother for marrying beneath her.


Wall Street

Wall Street

Starring Michael Douglas, Charlie Sheen and Daryl Hannah, this film immortalised the phrase “greed is good”. Gordon Gekko’s story is as relevant today as it was in 1987 and though many criticise its sequel Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, I’m a great fan of that also.


Remains of the Day

Remains of the DayA 1993 Merchant Ivory film based on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, this universally praised film includes impeccable performances by Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. Exploring the inability of a butler to express his true feelings and the follies of an aristocrat who blindly falls into the trap of appeasement, here is one to watch again and again.


Coffee and Cigarettes

Coffee and CigarettesJim Jaramusch tells eleven short stories in this 2003 feature film. All share coffee and cigarettes as a common theme and feature a cast that includes Cate Blanchett, Steve Coogan Bill Murray, Iggy Pop and the RZA. The visual use of black and white successfully exposes interpersonal contrasts.


Whistle Down the Wind

Whistle Down the WindRichard Attenborough showed pure genius in casting Alan Bates and Hayley Mills in this 1961 classic in which three Lancashire farm children mistake a fugitive for Jesus. This 99 minute film is both heart warming and comically dark.



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    1. “The Gods must Be Crazy” was the most bizarre and hilarious political incorrect comedy ever. This comedy gem was set and produced in Botswana. The film begins in the Kalahari Desert. A pilot in a private plane throws his empty Coke bottle out of the window. It lands near a Bushman who is on a hunting expedition. He has never seen anything like it before. He takes it back to his tribe, where it is put to dozens of uses: It becomes a musical instrument, a patternmaker, a fire starter, a cooking utensil, and, most of all, an object of bitter controversy. Everybody in the tribe ends up fighting over the bottle, and so the Bushman, played by the Xhosa actor N!xau (the exclamation point represents a click), decides there is only one thing to do: He must return the bottle to the Gods. This decision sends him on a long odyssey toward more settled lands on the edges of the desert, where the movie develops into a somewhat more conventional comedy. Gods Must Be Crazy was picked up by 20th Century Fox for national release in America, “word by mouth”, transformed the film into the biggest box-office hit for a foreign film in the States. I highly recommend this one.

    2. There was nothing nicer over Christmas and New Year with their cold, short, dark days than cocooning to watch the classics both the BBC and Ch5 to their credit showed over the period. Most were black and white – like Kind Hearts and Coronets, as well as Jimmy Stewart’s whimsical Harvey, and the all-the-more-moving-for-being-so-understated Dambusters – and many more. I hope they do it again, this time putting other gems like Now, Voyager and noir masterpieces like Beyond Reasonable Doubt on the list. I was lucky that as a child these were still being shown on TV, but a new generation had missed out a lot by not experiencing some of the best acting and directing talent of the silver screen era.

    3. Bruce Oldfield has always been my hero, I have always admired the panache and creativity he includes in the design of his frocks. I dedicate my all time favourite film to him. Bravo, Bravo.
      I hope Netflix will have the foresight to include all these titles in their programme line up for the benefit of us classic film freaks. It also gives us the choice of procuring our own popcorn and drinks at reasonable prices at the Superstores.

      The Owl and the Pussycat (1970) directed by Herbert Ross and Screenplay by Buck Henry. Undoubtedly Barbra Streisand’s most notable film, and my all time favourite.
      Barbra Streisand displayed in her early films a genuine talent and flair for comedy. The most well-known examples are “What’s up Doc” (1972) and “Funny Girl” (1968) Streisand portrays Doris a compulsive talking insomniac hooker in Owl and the Pussycat.
      The film centres on the repressed pretentious writer Felix played by George Segal who fails to get any of his work published , and model/hooker Doris. Segal’s character is obnoxious and pitiable at the same time, but transforms from dull and serious to a disturbed and manic person who needs Doris despite his disdain for her. In a course of one night, Doris and Felix is evicted from their Apartment Block, despite natural antagonism it results in a romantic relationship.
      The chemistry between Streisand and Segal as the bantering couple is brilliant, and creates interesting characters. The impeccable comedy timing of Streisand and Segal makes this film an all time comedy great. It was the ultimate comedy dialogue film of its time.
      Barbra Streisand received the Golden Globe award for best actress. Streisand is still alive and well, and working.

      Bruce Oldfield deserves his OBE

    4. Dingaka was the most interesting film, I have ever seen. African witchcraft is focused on the idea of magic and spells. Witch doctors in Africa believe they can, through various potions and practices, impact the future of a person’s life either for good or evil. “Dingaka,” was a movie that explored the subject of African tribal witchdoctors, a fiercely proud Masai warrior defies a tribal taboo and pursues his daughter’s murderer to the big city ( naively collides with the white man’s legal machinery and finally learns the wisdom of simple truth. The Masai warrior must come to terms with the 1st world’s justice. It is a culture shock. I highly recommend this movie for those interested in building trans- cultural bridges.


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