Terence Davies on classic British films

In this film the director Terence Davies, a long-time Ealing fan and a former student of the studio’s most celebrated director, Alexander Mackendrick, talks about his love for two Ealing comedy greats – Mackendrick’s The Ladykillers (1955) and Robert Hamer’s Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949).

Terence Davies is one of Britain’s most accomplished and respected film directors. His debut feature, Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988), was named one of the 100 greatest British films of the 20th century in the BFI’s 1999 poll. His critically-acclaimed later films include The Long Day Closes (1992), The House of Mirth (2000) and The Deep Blue Sea (2011).

The Terence Davies Trilogy

The autobiographical films of Terence Davies are not simply nostalgic journeys into the director’s past; they are piercing insights into the filmmaker’s turbulent early life. While Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988), The Long Day Closes (1992) and Of Time and the City (2008) are feature-length depictions of the people and places he knew growing up, the three short films that comprise The Terence Davies Trilogy  – Children (1976), Madonna and Child (1980) and Death and Transfiguration (1983) –are the earliest looks at the filmmaker’s life, focusing on the solitary figure of Robert Tucker. Just as François Truffaut showcased the adventures of Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud), his surrogate self, across five films, the character of Tucker (played by a range of actors across the three films) is a stand-in for Davies. Continue reading

Mark Kermode: 50 films every film fan should watch

A Matter of Life and Death (1946)

The UK’s best-known film critic, Mark Kermode offers up 50 personal viewing recommendations, from great classics to overlooked gems.

The Arbor (2010)

Director Clio Barnard

The Arbor (2010)

Artist Clio Barnard’s moving film about the late Bradford playwright Andrea Dunbar (Rita, Sue and Bob Too) is no ordinary documentary. Mixing interviews with Dunbar’s family and friends (seen lip-synched by actors), scenes from her plays performed on the estate where she lived, and TV footage of her in the 1980s, the film makes intriguing, inventive play with fact, fiction and reminiscence.

Mark Kermode says: “Somehow the disparate elements form a strikingly cohesive whole, conjuring a portrait of the artist and her offspring that is both emotionally engaging, stylistically radical and utterly unforgettable.”

Bad Timing (1980)

Director Nicolas Roeg

Bad Timing (1980)

Seen in flashback through the prism of a woman’s attempted suicide, this fragmented portrait of a love affair expands into a labyrinthine enquiry into memory and guilt. One of director Nic Roeg’s finest films, starring Art Garfunkel, Theresa Russell and Harvey Keitel.

Mark Kermode says: “Roeg himself reported that a friend refused to talk to him for three years after seeing the film. Today, Bad Timing still divides audiences: monstrosity or masterpiece? Well, watch it and decide for yourself.”

La Belle et la Bête (1946)

Director Jean Cocteau

La Belle et la Bête (1946)

With its enchanted castle, home to fantastic living statuary, and director Jean Cocteau’s lover Jean Marais starring as a Beast who is at once brutal and gentle, rapacious and vulnerable, shamed and repelled by his own bloodlust, this remains a high point of the cinematic gothic imagination.

Mark Kermode says: “Personally I think Mexican filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro, the maestro of the modern screen fairytale, said it best when he declared La Belle et la Bête simply to be the most perfect cinematic fable ever told.”

Continue reading