Film Four & Film Four +1 20-06-08.
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(1955) David Farrar is a police officer desperately trying to uncover the whereabouts of the kidnapped baby of American diplomat David Knight.An American couple search frantically for their baby who has mysteriously disappeared in London. Thriller starring David Farrar, David Knight and Julia Arnall, and directed by Guy Green
Fans of invisible monsters, mysterious islands and stray polar bears may find themselves a little confused and put-off should they sit down and watch Lost. However, lovers of quality British thrillers from the 1950s are in for a treat should they spend time with this forgotten gem from the golden age of British cinema. Directed by Guy Green (who had previously won an Academy Award for his cinematography on David Lean's Great Expectations), Lost is a striking film that deals with the universal fear of a parent becoming separated from their child.
Set against the backdrop of 1950s London, Lost focuses on US Embassy worker Lee Cochrane (Knight) and his wife Sue (Arnall), a couple stationed in the British capital with their 18-month-old son Simon. The intrigue kicks off when the couple's nanny takes young Simon for a stroll in his pram. Pausing to grab something from the chemist, the nanny returns to discover that the toddler has vanished. Even more disturbingly, no one remembers seeing Simon or anyone attempting to abduct the baby.
The Spanish Gardener
(1956) The story of a minor diplomat who becomes increasingly jealous of the relationship that develops between his son and his gardener.Adapted from AJ Cronin's novel, The Spanish Gardener is the story of a minor diplomat, played by Michael Hordern, who becomes increasingly jealous of the relationship that develops between his son (Jon Whiteley) and the Spanish gardener (Dirk Bogarde) hired for the estate. With acclaimed music from composer John Veale and fine supporting roles for Cyril Cusack and Maureen Swanson.
M Night Shyamalan on 'the Happening'
Director/writer M Night Shyamalan talks about his latest eerie thriller, starring Mark Wahlberg.Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel star as a couple caught up in the chaos when a suicide-inducing toxin wreaks havoc on the East Coast of the US. From M Night Shyamalan
There's no doubt, M Night Shyamalan is a great ideas man. From the "I see dead people" hook of The Sixth Sense to the crop circle mysteries of Signs, he has an innate ability to plug into alluring concepts. While Lady In The Water sunk without trace in 2006, it's back to business with The Happening. Sadly, while this eco-thriller will have audiences drooling at the outset, its execution adds further weight to the argument that Shyamalan should pitch his great ideas to screenwriters more able to flesh them out.
The Madness of King George
(1994) Deservedly acclaimed film adaptation of Alan Bennett's play about the 18th century royal who lost his marbles.Deservedly acclaimed film adaptation of Alan Bennett's play about the 18th century royal who lost his marbles.
England in the 1780s. King George III (Hawthorne) has gone gaga. His family and his courtiers have different ideas about what to do for the best. Queen Charlotte (Mirren) remains loyal and supportive. Her lady in waiting (Donohoe) is embarrassed, particularly by the King's desire for her, which his illness has unleashed. The Prime Minister, Pitt (Wadham) tries to pretend that there is nothing wrong. Meanwhile, the conniving, disaffected Prince of Wales (Everett) joins forces with Fox (Carter), the leader of the opposition in an attempt to claim the throne. While the court doctors squabble over the most effective course of action, loyal equerry Greville (Graves) brings in unconventional doctor Willis (Holm), whose methods prove harsh but potentially effective.
This is terrific stuff from Bennett, who wrote the original hit play. There is much to admire: the relationship between king and queen is touching and believable; the medical practices are bizarre and the political intrigue is palpable. All these are conveyed with some priceless dialogue ("To be Prince of Wales is not a position - it is a predicament") and fine acting all round, from Hawthorne's leaps between a raving and a lucid king, to Everett's desperate and duplicitous prince, to Holm's frightening disciplinarian Willis. A great among costume dramas and among British films.
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
(2004) The world is under threat from giant robots that arrive from the air, crushing anything in their path.Gwyneth Paltrow stars as a journalist investigating the disappearance of scientists in a retro-futuristic 1930s world, with Jude Law as an aerial ace. Innovative CGI movie from debut director Kerry Conran
Somewhere between a masterpiece and a folly, Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow has met with a mixed reception. It's no wonder, as it's genuinely something different and new - in technological terms. However, its story is old and familiar - namely a pulp action adventure that plays earnest homage to older films and serials. As such it has a whiff of Lucas' original Star Wars, which thrilled 1970s children with its invoking of 1930s and 1940s Saturday matinee thrills. Given that almost the entire film was created with computer animation, the actors shot against blue screens and minimal sets, it connects with Lucas' less innocent, less endearing modern trilogy, which many feel is an airless, soulless exercise in exploiting new technologies. Conran's work has a similar danger of placing its human elements in a cold vacuum of technological gimmickry. Unlike Lucas, however, he avoids this thanks to the sheer stylish aplomb of his on-screen world, a magnificent evocation of an era that was expected to come about by the early 20th century imagination, but was instead thrown out by the realities of unviable technologies and World War II. Conran encapsulates this world-that-never-was with his compelling opening sequence involving the Hindenberg III airship mooring on the mast on top of the Empire State Building, its smart, be-hatted passengers disembarking into a world of wood-panelled interiors, nouveau fittings and bakelite hardware.
One of the residents of Conran's NYC, evocatively created using CI-augmented old photographs, is Polly Perkins (Paltrow), a reporter in the Lois Lane mode - she's independent, she's sassy, she's determined. When she receives a cryptic note and meets Dr Walter Jennings (Baxter) she starts investigating the disappearances of top scientists from around the world. All of them were connected with a "secret facility outside of Berlin before World War I" where they did "terrible things", according to Jennings. The most enigmatic clue he gives Perkins is a name: "Totenkopf".
Mr & Mrs Smith
(2005) Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie star as John and Jane Smith, a typical suburban couple who happen to be highly skilled assassins.Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie star as a bored suburban couple who discover they're rival assassins. Action-comedy directed by Doug Liman
Mr And Mrs Smith Mr. And Mrs. Smith is a quintessential star vehicle. With an underdeveloped story and some surprisingly weak direction and editing, it's down to the charisma of its leads to carry the film. Certainly, Pitt and Jolie are a gorgeous pair but it's not enough. In fact, there's something decidedly irritating about just how smug the film is, with its absolute confidence in the groomed gorgeousness of its stars. It seems to blind all involved to the film's flaws, the biggest of which is that it's dull.The pitch for Mr. And Mrs. Smith was presumably something along the lines of The War Of The Roses with bulletproof vests, or Prizzi's Honor minus the mobsters, or even the square root of True Lies.
John (Pitt) and Jane (Jolie) Smith are a wealthy thirtysomething couple, seemingly enervated by their joyless marriage and stultifying suburban lifestyle. The real core of their problems, however, is the fact that their relationship is a lie, their lives mere cover for their real work as assassins. Unawares, the couple work for competing agencies - his a less formal affair involving his wisecracking slobbish buddy Eddie (Vaughn, who's typically good value), hers a slick, all-women set-up that's like Victoria's Secret with ultra hi-tech office paraphernalia.
When husband and wife get the same contract and take pot-shots at each other, they rumble what's going on. "You're home early," says Jane, making dinner as John walks into their swanky kitchen. "I missed you," he says. "I missed you too." That's about the level of the humour here. It's not offensive, but it's hardly inspired. That's perhaps not surprising though, as the screenplay was written by Simon Kinberg, whose previous credits include script doctoring Charlie's Angels Full Throttle and Elektra and scripting xXx2 The Next Level. Furthermore, his work was championed by the film's producer Akiva Goldsman, a man who can't really bring credibility to any project when he bears the monumental shame of having written Batman Returns and Batman And Robin.
(1999) Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie are among the delicate residents of a 1960s mental institution in this Oscar-winning drama.Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie are among the delicate residents of a 1960s mental institution in this Oscar-winning drama
Girl, Interrupted Having made his name in 1995 with weighty character piece Heavy, director James Mangold went on to present a lightweight take on mental illness in the form of Girl, Interrupted. Though it would like to be compared with One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, it never quite takes flight.Chasing aspirins down with vodka, Susanna (Ryder) is the over-sensitive teenage girl who wonders whether she's crazy or "it's just the sixties". As it happens it's the latter but that doesn't prevent her from being wrongly institutionalised in a New England psychiatric hospital. There she's confronted with real mental illness: addicts, self-harmers and the extraordinary sociopath Lisa (Jolie).
Kissing Jessica Stein
(2001) After a string of dates with the men from hell, Jessica Stein answers a lonely hearts ad placed by a woman who shares her interests.A New York journalist tries lesbianism for size in this fresh twist on the romantic comedy formula. Charming, for gays and straights alike
This film has been begging to be made for years. Lesbianism hits mainstream US romantic comedy not as an erotic distraction or a one-joke wonder, but as the whole focus of the film. Jessica Stein (Westfeldt) is a quirky, slightly neurotic and ostensibly straight Jewish thirtysomething who, in a mix of curiosity, desperation and adventurousness, answers an alluring small ad from another woman. Her date with Helen (Juergensen), a funky artist, is an unexpected success, but the path of their romance is hindered by Jessica's fear of Sapphic intimacy. What she - and we - have to work out is whether or not this fear is socially imposed.
Blending sharp sitcom humour (think 'Seinfeld' meets 'Friends' with a dose of 'Ellen') with romantic comedy staples and an arthouse twist, this movie manages to retread familiar territory while still feeling fresh. The two leads (also, interestingly, the writers and co-producers of the film) are attractive without being lipstick lesbians. They are also convincing and likeable, helped by a consistently amusing and observant script.