Glasgow Film Festival Review: Terence Davis “Benediction”

Benediction, 2022. Directed by Terence Davies. Starring Jack Lowden, Peter Capaldi, Jeremy Irvine, Kate Phillips, Gemma Jones, Simon Russell Beale, and Ben Daniels. SYNOPSIS: The story of English poet, writer and soldier Siegfried Sassoon.

By Chris Connor

Terence Davies has left an indelible mark on the landscape of British cinema over the past four decades with numerous acclaimed films including Deep Blue SeaDistant VoicesStill Lives and The Long Day Closes. Davies’ films are noted for being semi-biographical and often referencing cinema with a focus on post-war Britain. His latest is Benediction, a biopic of the war poet Siegfried Sassoon chronicling his years in the First World War and his life and social circle post-war with a younger Sassoon played by Jack Lowden and an aging Siegfried played by Peter Capaldi .

One of the challenges facing Benediction is perhaps that there is greater awareness around his war exploits and friendship with the renowned war poet Wilfred Owen.  The friendship of the pair is touched upon but perhaps doesn’t play as much of a part as one might expect although it is responsible for some of the film’s most hard hitting moments revolving around Owen’s poem Disabled. 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.”

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First Look at Terence Davies’ Benediction Starring Jack Lowden

One of our greatest working directors has wrapped production on his latest film. Following 2011’s The Deep Blue Sea, 2015’s Sunset Song, and 2016’s A Quiet Passion, British director Terence Davies was set to begin shooting Benediction, about World War I poet Siegfried Sassoon, earlier this year, but the pandemic halted plans. He was able to recently resume and now the film has wrapped. Continue reading

The brilliant “Tammy” sequence from Terence Davies’ “The Long Day Closes”

Thanks to Terence Davies’s distinctive filmmaking style, The Long Day Closes doesn’t quite feel like any other motion picture. This intensely moving, ethereal reverie on a brief happy period of the director’s often sad childhood in Liverpool during the fifties moves in and out of different moods and sensations, rather than laying out a straightforward narrative. His films may come across as stream-of-consciousness, but Davies actually meticulously sets up every shot and music cue in the first draft of his scripts. Often, his plans are ambitious, as is clear from the following magnificently realized scene. Set to Debbie Reynolds’s 1957 hit song ”Tammy,” it is a virtuosic cinematic symphony, composed of incredible high-angle shots of a movie theater, church, and schoolroom, graphically matched to express the importance of those three locations in Davies’s youth.

Source: Criterion Collection

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).