Kes inspired me to smash Oxbridge ivory towers


Christopher Eccleston says Ken Loach’s film changed his view on “art for working class people”.

Christopher Eccleston has said Ken Loach’s Kes changed his view of “art and culture for working class people” and inspired him to take up acting to smash Oxbridge’s “ivory towers”.

The 59-year-old star recently read A Kestrel for a Knave, the book that inspired the 1969 film, for BBC Four.

He said Loach’s film of a boy who bonds with a kestrel had been the “most important cultural event” of his life.

The Salford-born actor added that it was the “greatest British film ever”.

The film, which was released a year after Barry Hines’s novel, won several awards when it was first released and was later ranked seventh in the British Film Institute’s list of the 100 greatest British films of the 20th Century.

The former Doctor Who star, whose career has taken in films, television and the stage, told BBC North West Tonight that seeing it as a child inspired him to “smash down the ivory towers built by Oxbridge and public school and get into the arts world”.

“It changed my entire view of myself, of art and culture for working class people,” he said.

“It was an absolutely transformative experience.”

The film tells the story of Billy Casper, a working class boy who finds hope and fulfilment when he adopts a young kestrel and begins training it.

Eccleston said he was “completely and utterly beguiled by the idea that a working class individual like myself and my brothers and my mother and father could have a wonderful skill and could have a dream to be lifted from the pit, as in Billy’s case, or the factories in my mum and dad’s and my case”.

“I saw the film before I read the book and it changed my life entirely,” he said.

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Source: Christopher Eccleston: Kes inspired me to smash Oxbridge ivory towers

Why I Hate … Richard Curtis

By Ali

If Arnold Schwarzenegger personifies American cinema – powerful, symbolic and domineering – then British cinema would have to be Hugh Grant – bumbling, unsure and frankly, a pain in the arse to watch. There’s one person more than any other to blame for this, and funnily enough, it’s not Hugh Grant himself. No, the person mainly responsible for the current image of British cinema is Richard Curtis, the softly spoken, bespectacled ginge behind some of our country’s most financially successful movies. However, that doesn’t mean they’re not the most deathly boring, stereotypical, chuckle-free movies you’ll see produced this side of the Atlantic. Frankly, I’d rather watch old people fucking.

Fair enough, he’s got a fairly good pedigree, and you can’t ignore the fantastic TV series like Blackadder and Spitting Image on his resume. There’s no resting on your laurels in this business however, and despite the sterling work he’s done on the telly, his recent movies are absolutely atrocious portrayals of Great Britain, painting the British as incompetent but lovable oafs; well-meaning fools that are constantly misunderstood and always fall frightfully in love with the wrong people. After watching a Richard Curtis movie, you may feel a sudden desire to introduce a shotgun to the roof of your mouth to try and shoot the memories out.

Four Weddings and a Funeral. Absolutely one of the most overrated British movies in history, which is also responsible for bringing Hugh Grant to the attention of bean-flicking housewives the world over. Hugh’s bungling character falls in love with a girl he shouldn’t, runs around like the posh, overpaid twat he is and swears a lot. There’s a character in it called Fuckface! Ahahahaha! See, look how edgy British cinema is now we’re in the nineties! Awful.

Notting Hill. Only a Richard Curtis film could have a movie set in Notting Hill – that’s the most diverse, multi-cultural area in the whole of London – and not have it feature a single black person. Instead, we’re introduced to Hugh Grant’s bungling bookstore owner, who – gasp – falls in love with someone he shouldn’t and pratfalls his way through 2+ hours of tedium in the desperate attempt to get a whiff of Julia Roberts. It’s an uncanny representation of British life today (if you’re white, rich and annoying).

Bridget Jones’s Diary. A mind-numbing movie that should have stayed a book, aimed solely at fat old spinsters that sit at home on a Friday night in their pyjamas, gorging on chocolate and sobbing tears of woe down their porky cheeks. It also features Hugh Grant, but – get this – this time, he’s the cad! What genius playing against type! If you like this movie, you are a woman or a homosexual, it’s been proved in labs. Scores high on the shit-o-meter for featuring Colin Firth, another black hole of talent.

Love Actually. Stars Hugh Grant, as a bungling… oh for fuck’s sake, aren’t you sick of this yet? All you need to know is that he falls for someone he shouldn’t (lower class this time – daring) and rather than have one irritating storyline to follow, there’s ten, with each character ten times more plummy and a hundred types more bland than the last. Another back-slapping luvvie-fest that’s about as accurate about British life as a Blackpool postcard.

It’s not enough that his films are dire, but the man himself is an absolute excitement vacuum who has about as much charisma as glass of water. Enjoy some of his trivia from IMDB: “When he was in college, his girlfriend left him for a man named Bernard. In each of his screenplays, there is a fairly unpopular character named Bernard.” Whoah, steady on Richard! He might even figure out you’re talking about him! “I didn’t decide to be a writer. I wanted to be an actor and I turned out to be very bland, so I would always get cast as a character from Twelfth Night called Fabian, who hides behind the hedge and doesn’t have any funny lines.” You know why they put you behind that hedge? Because just to look at you makes peoples’ teeth fall out of their mouths from sheer boredom. It’s a scientific fact that time goes twice as slow when Richard Curtis is in the room.

You can’t blame Americans for ridiculing us Brits when they see the kind of films that Curtis writes. Between him and Guy Ritchie, we’ve become known throughout the world as either floppy-haired halfwits or gun-toting cockney wideboys who’d slam your head in a car door if you so much as looked at us. Jesus, we’ve got enough problem shaking off our ancient snooty image as it is without Richard casting Hugh fucking Grant as prime minister in his movie. Compare Curtis’ movies with the work of someone like Shane Meadows and see just how big the gulf is between the two – one is making low budget, genuinely funny and true-to-life British movies, the other is living in a dream world, hiring his posh friends to appear in his multi-million pound endeavours before driving home in his Rolls, listening to Ronan Keating and thinking to himself how wonderful life is. “You won’t find many people who’ve had an easier ride in movies than I,” he says. No fucking disagreement here, pal.

And don’t even get me started on The Vicar of cunting Dibley.

Source: Why I Hate… Richard Curtis | Movie Feature

Watch the 1968 horror story “Whistle and I’ll Come To You”

Whistle and I’ll Come to You. is a classic 1904 M.R James ghost story adapted for TV by Jonathan Miller. It tells of an eccentric and distracted professor who happens upon a strange whistle while exploring a Knights Templar cemetery on the East Anglian coast. When blown, the whistle unleashes a frightening supernatural force.

This version is highly regarded amongst television ghost story adaptations and described by Mark Duguid of the British Film Institute as “A masterpiece of economical horror that remains every bit as chilling as the day it was first broadcast”.

A BBC Press Release for its repeat showing in 1969 stated that it was an “unconventional adaptation…remarkable, both for its uncanny sense of period and atmosphere, and for the quality of the actors’ performances”.

The performance of Michael Hordern is especially acclaimed, with his hushed mutterings and repetition of other characters’ words, coupled with a discernible lack of social skills, turning the professor from an academic caricature into a more rounded character, described by horror aficionado David Kerekes as “especially daring for its day”.

The stage journal Plays and Players suggests that Hordern’s performance hints that the professor suffers from a neurological condition called the “idea of a presence”. The production starred Michael Hordern and was directed by Jonathan Miller.

It was broadcast as part of the BBC arts programme Omnibus and inspired a new yearly strand of M.R. James television adaptations known as A Ghost Story for Christmas. First broadcast 7 May 1968

Irish Talent and Film Recognised in BAFTA Longlists

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) today announced the full set of longlists of films and talent that have gone through to Round Two of voting for the 2023 EE BAFTA Film Awards. We are delighted to see that several Irish films and story makers were featured in the 24 categories, including three Screen Ireland-supported films.

An Cailín Ciúin (The Quiet Girl) has recently made history as the first Irish language film to be shortlisted for the Oscars, and continues to confirm its hit status with audiences and critics alike this awards season after an exceptional year rich in festival and cinema screenings. An intricate, deeply felt coming-of-age drama that delves into the meaning of family through the eyes of a neglected young girl, the film is longlisted in three categories, including Best Director (Colm Bairéad), Adapted Screenplay and Film Not In The English Language.

Two Screen Ireland-supported documentaries are also featured on today’s longlists. Nothing Compares, Kathryn Ferguson’s richly cinematic portrait of Sinéad OʼConnorʼs phenomenal rise to worldwide fame and exile from the pop mainstream, is shortlisted in the Oustanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer category. The documentary and An Cailín Ciúin are both currently screening in select cinemas across Ireland showcasing the best of 2022 Irish film, including the Irish Film Institute and Light House Cinema.

A fascinating look at the life and legend of an iconic Irish actor, Adrian Sibley’s The Ghost of Richard Harris is a feature documentary which recalls the life of the legendary actor, poet, and singer with the help of his sons, his friends and exclusive footage and interviews. The film is longlisted in the Documentary category. After a World Premiere at the Venice Film Festival this summer, the film was released in a limited theatrical run, followed by a streaming release on Sky Arts.

We are also delighted to see Irish talent recognised with the inclusion of multiple films featuring Irish cast, crew and locations, including The WonderGood Luck To You, Leo GrandeRoald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical and The Banshees of Inisherin. Congratulations to all longlisted films, and wishing them the best for the second round of voting.

Final nominations in all categories will be announced on Thursday 19th January, a month before the EE BAFTA Films Awards ceremony on 19th February at the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall. The full list of longlisted films can be found here.


Source: Irish Talent and Film Recognised in BAFTA Longlists

“You Are Not My Mother” – An unholy marriage of Irish folklore and familial dysfunction

Film review: Impressive debut blurs line between friction, bipolar disorder and the supernatural

By Tara Brady

Kate Dolan’s promising debut feature opens with an indelible sequence in which a baby in a buggy is parked in the middle of a suburban Dublin street. A woman walks from her house and pushes the infant into nearby woods only to assemble and light a strange, ritualistic fire around the crying child.

Thus begins an unholy marriage of Irish folklore and familial dysfunction. At its best, You Are Not My Mother’s intergenerational portrait of women and strange goings-on recalls the slow-burning Alzheimer’s horror of Natalie Erika James’s Relic.

Hazel Doupe (Float like a Butterfly) stars as a reticent, bullied teenager named Char, who lives with her depressed mum Angela (Carolyn Bracken) and increasingly odd grandmother Rita (Ingrid Craigie). As the film opens, Angela, a mere husk of a woman, is scarcely able to perform such basic maternal responsibilities as grocery shopping, driving her daughter to school, or getting out of bed.

When Angela’s car is found abandoned, with the doors flung wide open, Char and her uncle Aaron (Paul Reid) are inclined to assume the worst, even if it is indicated that this is not an isolated incident.

Angela returns, however, in weirdly irrepressible form, cooking and performing unhinged dancing around the kitchen. Granny keeps pace with her daughter’s strangeness, muttering and fashioning strange amulets.

For much of its impressive duration, Dolan’s film blurs the line between family friction, bipolar disorder and the supernatural. Mother’s lithium dose doubles as a magical sleeping elixir and as a poison. Mysterious mutterings among neighbours mark the family out as outsiders without any particular substance.

Meanwhile, away from Char’s drab home, malevolent peers await. As Halloween approaches, their tricks turn nastier. Thin spaces may await. Die Hexen’s score adds to the post-Carpenter seasonal menace, as does Narayan Van Maele’s lurking camera.

Dolan skilfully escalates her heroine’s predicament even if the final muddled mythological explanation concerning doppelgangers and changelings and fire punctures the effect during the final act. There’s enough here, however, to mark Dolan out as a film-maker.

Source: You Are Not My Mother: An unholy marriage of Irish folklore and familial dysfunction