The Innocents

Starring Deborah Kerr, Michael Redgrave, Peter Wyngarde and Megs Jenkins
Screenplay by William Archibald, Truman Capote and John Mortimer.
Based on the novella by Henry James
Directed by Jack Clayton
Running time 100 minutes
UK 1961

  Henry James' intriguing, ambiguous short novel 'The Turn Of The Screw' is the basis for this eerie and chilling British supernatural tale. Miss Giddens, a governess, is engaged by the uncle of two orphans who live at Bly - his country estate. The man's coldness and lack of interest in the children is clear and Miss Giddens is hired on the understanding that she does not trouble him with any type of communication about her charges.

  Once at Bly she quickly forms a relationship with the girl Flora and with Mrs Grose the kindly housekeeper. But when Flora’s brother Miles returns home after being expelled from boarding school the atmosphere changes and the governess begins to believe that the children are behaving strangely. She uncovers sinister secrets about the death of her predecessor a year beforehand and becomes convinced that something truly evil is present… Freddie Francis' exquisite black and white cinemascope photography uses deep focus and bold lighting to give this gothic tale a strange and disturbing beauty while the performances - particularly Deborah Kerr as the fragile Miss Giddens are excellent.

  The script is layered and ambiguous - creating unnerving moments in broad daylight and drawing us in to the mind of the increasingly disturbed heroine. Prepare to be afraid….very afraid

The Man Whose Mind Exploded

In Christopher Nolan’s ingenious reverse - time thriller ‘Memento' the hero has lost his short term memory and has to remind himself each day, through a series of notes and tattoos, just who he is and what he is doing  in order to continue looking for his wife’s killer. 

  The subject of this unique and extraordinary documentary employs similar techniques to maintain his identity and to enable him to make sense of the present and the past. The film’s director Toby Amies began by setting out to document the life of an eccentric Brighton resident who calls himself Drako Zarharzar. As filming goes on Toby finds himself drawn further and further into Drako’s strange world and their relationship changes and develops...  

  Born Tony Banwell, Drako worked for Salvador Dali and hung out with the Stones until a serious head injury caused him to lose his ability to remember new things - as he puts it ‘the recording machine in my head doesn’t work’. He lives in a tiny, cluttered apartment full of photographs, mottos and objects that each represent some memory or aspect of his psyche. This rich and chaotic environment is at once his home and a form of three dimensional metaphor for his mind. Drako’s zest for life and outrageous personality mean that he lives by his own uncompromising rules - the most important of which is 'Trust Absolute Unconditional’ - a phrase that came to him during a coma.

This fascinating film is by turns funny, touching and profound and will stay with you long after it is over.

The Third Man

Starring Joseph Cotten, Orson Welles, 
Trevor Howard and Alida Valli
Screenplay by Graham Greene
Directed by Carol Reed
Running time 104 minutes
UK 1949

  One of the most iconic of all British movies this film noir set in post-war Vienna has a wonderful twisting screenplay by Graham Greene and an unforgettable central performance by Orson Welles as the film’s charismatic antihero Harry Lime. Combine those elements with Anton Karas’ theme music played on the zither and the extraordinary angles of Robert Krasker's black and white expressionist cinemaphotography and you have an undoubted masterpiece which perfectly captures  the dangerous and ambiguous atmosphere of pre-Cold War Europe.
  Holly Martins , a pulp novelist, arrives in Vienna to meet his childhood friend Harry Lime who has offered him a job. However when he gets there Holly finds that Lime has been killed by a speeding car and then discovers that he may have had criminal connections. But is Harry really dead and what was the nature of his business?
  Joseph Cotten plays Holly, a man struggling to hold on to his friendship as he sinks deeper into the mystery. Alida Valli is Lime’s lover - the beautiful and enigmatic Anna. A host of great British actors are in attendance but the real star of this film is the cityscape of Vienna - ravaged by war and full of unlit doorways and dark corners. The climax to the picture takes place in the elaborate underground tunnels and caverns of the sewer system and provides us with one of the most famous chase sequences in cinema.

  If you have only ever watched The Third Man on television don’t miss this opportunity to see it projected - it will be a very different experience!

Before Sunrise

Starring Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke
Screenplay by Richard Linklater
and Kim Krizan 
Directed by Richard Linklater
Running time 101 minutes
USA/Austria/Switzerland 1994

Perhaps the most extraordinary, ambitious and risk-taking film of 2014 has been Boyhood - Richard Linklater’s 3 hour chronicle of an American boy and his family shot over 12 years, in which the child actors involved grow up in front of our eyes.

  Born in Houston Texas, Linklater is a cinematic experimenter - he has worked in both animation and live action, his pictures have ranged from low budget slacker films to rotoscoped science fiction and broad comedies like School Of Rock. Many of his movies are set in the course of a single day.

  Twenty years ago Linklater made Before Sunrise - the first in a trilogy of films that in a similar way to Boyhood would be shot over two decades and see the two protagonists ageing and changing in each successive movie. This first episode introduces us to Celine and Jesse - two young people who meet by chance on a train journey and on impulse decide to get off and spend 12 hours together in Vienna before one of them flies home. In effect the narrative is one long conversation between them as the two walk all over the city, gradually revealing themselves to each other and falling in love in the process. Intimate, funny and intensely romantic Before Sunrise is a very modern love story which succeeds in touching  on some big questions about fulfilment and self-discovery. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy are perfectly matched Jesse and Celine - their chemistry feels very real and their performances are nuanced and truthful. 

  They have since reprised their roles in Before Sunset and Before Midnight - each of which takes us through a day with them at different stages in their lives. The three films together make for that rarest of things in cinema - a trilogy in which each new part is as good as the last...


Starring Jenny Agutter, Luc Roeg and David Gulpilil
Screenplay by Edward Bond
Directed by Nicolas Roeg
Running time 100 minutes
Australia/UK 1971

Sharing the theme of survival in a hostile environment with our last film The Warriors, this visually dazzling drama is the second feature by director Nicolas Roeg. One of the most mercurial and gifted British filmmakers of his generation, Roeg began his career as a cameraman working on 'Lawrence Of Arabia' and 'Dr Zhivago'.

His debut as a director - ‘Performance’ - remains one of the most original and extraordinary British movies of modern times. Walkabout, made a year later, tells the story of two children who find themselves abandoned in the Australian outback after their father goes berserk. They meet and befriend a young aborigine boy with whom they travel on foot through the barren landscape. Although they cannot communicate with him he teaches them how to find water and forage for food.

The three become unlikely companions until civilisation intrudes on the odd family group that they have formed…

Roeg photographs the outback and its wildlife to highlight its strange and vivid beauty with almost hallucinogenic intensity. These images are cross cut in a way that was to become his trademark - often playing with time, space and narrative to fascinating effect.

The screenplay, by playwright Edward Bond, has a simple, fable-like quality which is both poetic and mysterious. The young cast are excellent - Jenny Agutter, who plays the nameless girl of the tale, is still best known for her role in 'The Railway Children' on TV and film. David Gulpilil, who plays the Aborigine boy, has appeared in many successful Australian films since Walkabout including 'Crocodile Dundee'.

The Warriors

Starring Michael Beck, James Remar, Dorsey Wright and Brian Tyler
Screenplay by David Shaber and Walter Hill
Directed by Walter Hill
Running time 93 minutes
USA 1979

Walter Hill’s cult thriller was made in the same year as our last regular film Quadrophenia and shares its theme of rival gangs at war with each other.

The Warriors is taken from a 1965 novel by Sol Yurick and like Yurick's book borrows sections from 'The Anabasis’ written in the fifth century BC by Xenophon. The original Greek text tells of a group of 10,000 soldiers trapped deep in enemy territory fighting their way to safety. In this film The Warriors of the title are a Coney Island gang who find themselves in deadly peril after attending a midnight meeting of all the gangs of New York and subsequently being framed for the murder of gang leader Cyrus.

With their rivals hunting them they must make their way back to the safety of their own neighbourhood through the streets and subways of the city. Walter Hill is one of the most interesting writer directors of his era. He began with screenplays for such movies as Sam Peckinpah’s action thriller The Getaway and Ridley Scott’s Alien and then quickly began directing his own projects. His films are often taut, spare dramas and thrillers characterised by minimal dialogue and explosive action sequences.

His debut was The Streetfighter with James Coburn and Charles Bronson followed by a long career that includes The Driver, Southern Comfort, and 48 Hrs. He has directed several westerns such as The Long Riders, Wild Bill and Last Man Standing and has said:

'Every film I've done has been a Western - the Western is ultimately a stripped down moral universe that is, whatever the dramatic problems are, beyond the normal avenues of social control and social alleviation of the problem, and I like to do that even within contemporary stories.’


Starring Phil Daniels, Leslie Ash, Philip Davis and Sting
Screenplay by Franc Roddam, 
Pete Townsend, Dave Humphries and Martin Stellman
Directed by Franc Roddam
Running time 114 minutes
United Kingdom 1979

  Our last film, the WW1 satire Oh! What A Lovely War, was shot in and around Brighton and it is the iconic seaside town that links that film to this one. Based on the 1973 rock opera by The Who Quadrophenia is not a rock musical like the earlier Tommy but rather a drama with music inspired by Pete Townsend’s  libretto.

  It tells the story of Jimmy Cooper, a London Mod who works in the post room of an advertising agency but gets his kicks riding his scooter and popping pills with his mates. When they go to Brighton for a bank holiday ride they find themselves involved in a running battle with the motorcycle-riding Rockers. In the midst of  the fighting Jimmy finds himself alone with Steph - the girl he has admired from afar and the two have sex. When the weekend is over Jimmy finds he cannot return to everyday life and trouble begins...

Franc Roddam, whose feature debut this is started out in commercials and graduated to movies like his contemporaries Ridley Scott, Alan Parker and Hugh Hudson. Unlike them however he has also been prolific in British TV and is the creator of a number of highly successful formats - most notably the long-running Masterchef.  Roddam directs with infectious energy and a nice eye for period detail getting excellent performances from his young cast - in particular Phil Daniels. 

  The Who all hailed from Acton (with the exception of Keith Moon) and were educated at Acton High. There are several local streets to be seen in the movie - in particular Wells House Road in North Acton which is  the location for Jimmy’s family home.

  Quadrophenia boasts a great rock soundtrack which features not only tracks by The Who but also James Brown, Booker T, The Chiffons and The Ronettes.

Look out for Sting in a small acting role as the Ace Face.

Oh! What a Lovely War

Starring  Dirk Bogarde, John Gielgud, Michael Redgrave, Maggie Smith and Susannah York
Screenplay by Len Deighton based on the radio play by Charles Chilton
Directed by Richard Attenborough
Running time 138 minutes
United Kingdom 1969


The First World War began almost exactly  century ago on the 28th July 1914 - the culmination of a series of events beginning with the assassination of  Archduke Ferdinand  in Sarajevo.

It was a new and terrible kind of war in which tens of millions were killed, wounded or missing in action. Although known as 'The War To End All Wars' only 21 years after the armistice was signed in 1918 the world was once again at war…

Richard Attenborough’s extraordinary film uses the music and songs of the period to summarise and comment on the conflict. Ironic, funny,  tragic and acute - this vivid and often savage satire features a host of British acting legends and Brighton’s famous West Pier as a setting for the action.

OWALW originated as a radio play by Charles Chilton which was subsequently transformed  for the stage by Joan Littlewood - the brilliant left-wing theatre director whose workshop in Stratford was responsible for revolutionising theatre in Britain after the war.

Although commenting on the events of 1914-18 both the play and the film clearly spring from the anti-war movement so prevalent during the 1960s.

This was Attenborough’s first film as director and remains perhaps his finest  - a uniquely British picture which is daring, uncompromising and without doubt one of the finest anti-war movies in all cinema.

The Night Porter

Starring Charlotte Rampling and Dirk Bogarde
Written and directed by Liliana Cavani
Running time 112 minutes
Italy 1974

The 1970s is remembered as  the decade of controversy in cinema. A Clockwork Orange, The Exorcist, The Devils,  Last Tango In Paris, Straw Dogs, La Grande Bouffe - the list goes on.
Among the titles that generated the most division and outrage was this one - 
The Night Porter.

Directed by the Italian filmmaker Liliana Cavani, the film describes the ambiguous sado-masochistic relationship between a former SS officer played by Dirk Bogarde and Lucia - a  prisoner in his camp. The two meet by chance many years after the war  in the Vienna hotel  where he is working as a porter and their relationship is rekindled. 

Cavani’s bold, some would say sensational, attempt to depict a transgressive relationship in the context of wartime and post-war events in Europe divided critics and audiences alike. Rampling and Bogarde deliver intense performances as two people  inextricably bound together and locked in a compulsive repetition of the past. The film is also an exploration of what has become known as Stockholm Syndrome - when captives experience and express both sympathy and empathy for their captors.

The Night Porter deals with dark and disturbing themes and is certainly not for everyone but this is a rare opportunity to see the film with an audience and to decide for yourself whether it is art or exploitation.

Swimming Pool

Starring Charlotte Rampling, Ludivine Sagnier and Charles Dance
Written by Francois Ozon and Emmanuele Bernheim
Directed by Francois Ozon
France 2003
Running time 103 minutes

Sarah Morton is a successful English detective author suffering from writers block. When John Bosload her publisher suggests she stay in his house in France Sarah takes him up on the offer. Once there she meets Julie, who claims to be John’s daughter and finds herself caught up in the younger woman’s promiscuous love life. A competition of personalities develops between the two and then one night things appear to go terribly wrong…

This mystery thriller is a sexy, intriguing whodunnit with shades of Hitchcock and a subtle and ambiguous script. Its director Francois Ozon often displays a sharp satirical edge and his films frequently reveal a freewheeling view of human relationships. Playing Sarah is Charlotte Rampling, one of the most unusual and enigmatic of British actresses. She first achieved fame (and some considerable notoriety) playing opposite Dirk Bogarde in The Night Porter. In that film she portrayed a former concentration camp inmate who years later revisits a relationship with one of her captors.

After her cinema career declined in the 1990s Rampling credits Ozon with reviving her fortunes when he cast her in his film Sous Le Sable in 2000. Since then she has appeared in a number of his movies including his most recent - Jeune et Jolie.

Good Vibrations

Starring Richard Dormer, Jodie Whittaker, Adrian Dunbar and Dylan Moran
Written by Colin Carberry and Glen Patterson
Directed by Lisa Barros D’sa and Glenn Leyburn
Production Year 2013
Running time 102 minutes

  ‘When it comes to Punk Rock New York has the haircuts, London has the trousers but Belfast has the reason’ said Terri Hooley - the so-called Godfather of Punk in Northern Ireland

  In the early 70s Hooley founded a record shop on the most bombed half mile in Europe and called it 'Good Vibrations'. He went on to form a label under the same name and discovered bands like The Outcasts and The Undertones - whose debut single 'Teenage Kicks' is one of the most iconic songs of that decade and the late John Peel’s favourite track.

  Hooley was a visionary who transformed the music scene in war-torn Belfast but his lousy business sense and good-natured idealism meant that he never achieved the fame and fortune of his English counterpart Malcolm McLaren.

  This high-tempo biography captures the radical mood of the times and Hooley’s single-minded determination to create a new alternative Ulster in the midst of the ‘Troubles’. The performances by Richard Dormer and the others in the cast are excellent and the film has an infectious energy channelled through a great soundtrack featuring music by Stiff Little Fingers, David Bowie, The Small Faces and The Shangri-Las.


Starring Antonio Gades, Laura Del Sol and Paco de Lucia
Written and directed by Carlos Saura based on the novel by Prosper Merimee
Production year 1983
Running time 102 minutes

  Based on the book by Prosper Merimee this dazzling and passionate drama tells the story of a flamenco group who are rehearsing Bizet’s opera Carmen. As time goes on their lives begin to resemble those of the characters in the opera. When the actress playing Carmen begins an affair with the choreographer Antonio - their involvement, like those of the lovers in the opera, seems set to lead to a lethal climax.
  Carlos Saura is one of Spain’s finest and most idiosyncratic directors - his ‘Flamenco Trilogy’ consisting of Blood Wedding, Carmen and Love The Magician is uniquely Spanish in flavour - with dance at its very heart. Antonio Gades, who plays the choreographer Antonio in this film, arranged the brilliant flamenco sequences which punctuate the three movies.
  In Carmen these dance numbers are set alongside scenes from the opera as well as the dramatic scenes in the 'real world’. The virtuoso guitarist Paco de Lucia, who died just last month, plays a musician in the film. Carmen won the BAFTA for best foreign language film as well as the Technical Grand Prize and a prize for Best Artistic Contribution at Cannes. Saura, now in his 80s, continues to direct films often with classical music or dance as an integral part.

Groundhog Day

Starring Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell and Chris Elliott
Screenplay by Danny Rubin and Harold Ramis
Directed by Harold Ramis
Production Year 1993
Running time 101 minutes

  Harold Ramis, the co-writer and director of this sublime romantic comedy, died this week at the untimely age of 69. His career began in the early 1970s with the legendary Second City First comedy troupe in Chicago where he worked with John Belushi among others. He moved on to work with the National Lampoon team and in 1978 co-wrote Animal House - one of the most successful and anarchic comedies of the decade. Ramis then penned the screenplay for Meatballs starring Bill Murray - with whom he would collaborate on six occasions in the years that followed. In 1984 they made Ghostbusters together - another huge worldwide hit.

  Ramis directed a dozen films in his career - almost all workmanlike but forgettable comedies - with the single exception of Groundhog Day - his undoubted masterpiece. Like It’s A Wonderful Life before it, Groundhog Day deals with profound themes of time, individual destiny and fate through the framework of romantic comedy. The film tells the story of a cynical TV weather man who inexplicably becomes caught in a time loop in which he is trapped in a small town and experiences the same day over and over - forcing him to examine himself and his attitudes to others through the repetition of certain key events.

  Bill Murray gives a characteristically eccentric and layered performance while Andie MacDowell is the perfect foil to his curmudgeonly central character. The script is sharp and extremely funny and the plotting elegant and satisfying. The phrase Groundhog Day has entered into the language - a rare achievement for any film title and repeated viewings reveal this to be one of the most perfectly-crafted comedies of modern cinema. You may have seen it before - but can you be sure it will turn out the way you expect?

The Last Detail

The Last Detail


Starring Jack Nicholson, Randy Quaid and Otis Young
Directed by Hal Ashby
Screenplay by Robert Towne from the novel by Darryl Ponicsan
Production Year 1973
Running Time 103 minutes

  Hal Ashby is one of the finest American directors of the 1970s. His films Harold and Maude, Shampoo, Coming Home and Being There represent the best of that decade in cinema. His movies were quirky, funny and truthful. They exposed and satirised American society and featured standout performances from some of the best actors of that decade.
  The Last Detail is penned by Robert Towne, one of Hollywood’s most celebrated writers - famous for his screenplays for Bonnie and Clyde, Chinatown and Marathon Man among many others. The film follows a few days in the lives of a group of sailors - two of them petty officers escorting a young rating to a long jail sentence in a naval prison.
  The two older men, feeling sorry for the younger man, decide to show their inexperienced charge a good time during his last few days of freedom and embark with him on a series of adventures. Jack Nicholson plays Badass Buddusky - the hilarious and foul-mouthed leader of the shore patrol.
  His extraordinary performance won him awards from BAFTA and the Cannes Festival. Randy Quaid is heartbreaking as the innocent young prisoner. The film, set in the freezing cold of winter in the Eastern United States, is shot in grainy, icy tones by Michael Chapman who was cinematographer on Taxi Driver and Raging Bull.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Starring Mathieu Almaric, Emmanuelle Seigner, Marie-Josee Croze and Max Von Sydow

Directed by Julian Schnabel
Screenplay by Ronald Harwood 
based on the book by Jean-Dominique Bauby
Production Year 2007
Running time 112 minutes


This extraordinary film, based on the memoir by Jean-Dominique Bauby, is a tour-de-force of acting and direction. Mathieu Almaric plays the main character, a magazine editor who suffers a massive stroke and is left in a locked-in state. His performance, restricted for much of the film to the tiniest movements of one eye, is remarkable - eloquent, affecting and subtle. The film brilliantly visualises  the real world both past and present alongside the imaginative fantasies of the hero in his imprisoned state.

The Diving Bell And The Butterfly  is based on   the bestselling book - which Bauby succeeded in writing through the incredibly laborious method of spelling out words by blinking after the stroke hit him. However it fictionalises some of his actual relationships - a fact that caused some controversy at the time but does not diminish the vivid strength of the movie. Director Julian Schnabel was an artist before he turned to filmmaking and the dynamic cinematography by Janusz Kaminski (Spielberg’s DP of choice) is frequently abstract and stylised. 

Although the subject matter of Diving Bell might superficially appear gloomy and depressing the film is never sentimental, often funny and frequently surprising. The effect stays with you and proves that even in the most terrible circumstances art can have a wonderful and redemptive power.

Black Narcissus

Starring Deborah Kerr, Kathleen Byron, David Farrar Jean Simmons and Flora Robson
Written and directed by
Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
Based on the novel by Rumer Godden
Production year 1947
Running time 100 minutes


  Based on the bestselling book by Rumer Godden this extraordinary melodrama about a group of nuns in a remote valley in the Himalayas is one of the most remarkable British films of the postwar period. It comes from the producer/director duo of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger whose films include A Matter Of Life And Death, The Red Shoes and Peeping Tom.

  The plot concerns a group of Anglican nuns who are in India to set up a hospital and school but find themselves affected by the sensuality of their surroundings. A local British agent played by David Farrar causes a rift among the group and violent tensions, sexual and otherwise begin to subvert their mission. One of the nuns,  Sister Ruth, is driven to extreme behaviour by the situation...

  Black Narcissus has an exotic and highly unusual look for a British film of this period. The cinematographer Jack Cardiff won an Academy Award of his work on the film as did  Alfred Junge for his production design. The colours in the movie are vivid and vibrant and the lighting intense. The result is a stylised and unforgettable experience which shocked audiences at the time and still astonishes us with its visual power.