24 August 2015-08-24

Carey Mulligan and Matthias Schoenaerts

 

Out The Week

 

 

Far from the Madding Crowd (Fox, cert 12)

A remake of the 1967 film, rather than another version of the novel. Well that’s what it looks like, and considering how closely so many of the scenes mirror – in length, composition, camera angles even – scenes from John Schlesinger’s original film, the temptation has to be to compare like with like. It’s a fairly fruitless endeavour – is Carey Mulligan more beautiful than Julie Christie? Is Tom Sturridge more dashing than Terence Stamp in his prime? Can Michael Sheen outshine the first film’s finest performance, Peter Finch as landowning nob Mr Boldwood? The answer is no on every count. However, however. The Hardy story remains a robust one, a series of powerplays of men over women, high status over low, decent over rotten, convention over rebellion and duty over licence, with Bathsheba Everdene (a Katniss in petticoats – close to the same surname, of course) able to cross boundary after boundary thanks to her beauty (she thinks it’s iron in the soul, or fate, or being a natural leader – the conceit of the ruling class, nailed by Hardy). As the three men in her life, Matthias Schoenaerts is a fine Gabriel Oak, believable as both a man of the soil and as someone a fine lady might fancy; Sturridge is charmless as the rotter Sergeant Troy; and Michael Sheen struggles as Mr Boldwood, the landowning neighbour suddenly gifted this young, fine beauty – and she’s rich! It all hangs on Carey Mulligan, who shakes off the shadow of Julie Christie and welds the entire thing together, aided by David Nicholls’s tinkering adaptation, which positions Bathsheba as a romantic traveller across the Freudian superego/ego/id boundaries, and Charlotte Bruus Christensen’s cinematography, deliberately less elemental than Nicolas Roeg’s in 67, though no less beautiful. In short, the whole thing works.

Far from the Madding Crowd – Watch it/buy it at Amazon

 

 

 

Fast & Furious 7 (Universal, cert 12)

Another film that invites comparison with others. This time it’s new director James Wan with the director of Fast and Furious numbers three to six, Justin Lin. Lin somehow, by an effort of sheer will, it seemed, turned himself into one of the best action directors on the planet, and also showed himself a dab hand at holding together a large cast (just about, often). Wan is a horror director, and a new boy, and doesn’t get control of the F&F beast. Let’s take Jason Statham. No, hang on, the plot: the F&F team are pulled back together after it turns out someone is going round picking them off. That one. So, back to Statham – who feels bolted on and simply appears once per act like a baddie from a horror movie – only the chainsaw, big blade and mask missing – to monster the cast. It’s a nice big showcase for the Stath, but not so good for the film. Dwayne Johnson is pretty much written out completely, and shows up only at the beginning and end. Possibly this is less a slight against Johnson, more an attempt to re-integrate Paul Walker into the story. Walker died while this film was in production, though the story of the F&F franchise has been a painful one of watching his character have less and less reason to be in it – once he stopped being the antagonist cop and became part of the team (end of F&F1) what was he there for? Vin Diesel was always top dog, and once he returned (F&F4), Walker was entirely superfluous. And once Johnson turned up… game over. This meta mess to one side, the mystery of why Jordana Brewster is even in the films, since she’s not got into a car for three films now continues to be almost intriguing. Then there’s Michelle Rodriguez’s “I have amnesia” storyline, which is less than fascinating. And the fact that the use of Tyrese/Ludacris as comedy stooges is beginning to look like racism, in a franchise that more than any other has been colour blind (and the more successful for it, Hollywood being generations behind its audience). And so on. But never mind all those concerns, or the lack of Sang Kang or Gal Gadot or Gina Carano, who really contributed flavour and chutzpah in earlier outings. What about the stunts? Well, they are awesome in conception, but enjoyable though they are, they never entirely escape the CG stockade of various “tool” effects – airbrush here, shadow there and so on (clearly, I’m no expert, but I have eyes). Cars freefalling out of a plane is what I mean. The daredevil jump out of one high rise block and then across a huge void into another. And then the same thing again into the next. I’d watch it again for those bits. They would account for why this film’s imdb page has a list of credits that scrolls on and on and on. Yes, this is a bit of a bitty review, but then it’s a bitty film. F&F6 was better. You could skip this one entirely and just watch the trailer – it’s all there.

Fast and Furious 7 – Watch it/buy it at Amazon

 

 

 

Eyes without a Face (BFI, cert 15)

1960 was a big year for horror – Hitchcock’s Psycho, Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom and this French classic by Georges Franju, about a surgeon cutting the face off various young women, hoping one of them will not be rejected by the blasted raw skull on which his daughter’s face used to sit. Not too bothered about the clanks of establishing scenes early on, Franju puts all his effort into driving the story forward, and in short order we are introduced to the professor (Pierre Brasseur) and his skillset, his assistant (a creepy Alida Valli), and the strange big house where the prof seems to do a bit of specialised private work. Swift though Franju is, he’s withholding the entire time. And once we do understand what’s going on in the big house, he delays with a provocative tease before introducing the benighted daughter, Christiane (Edith Scob). And once we’ve met Christiane, he plays with us some more, denying us a view of her flayed face – when Christiane flips towards the camera, the camera flops the other way. Franju’s brazen theatrics are on a par here with Clouzot, another master of theatrical suspense. Meanwhile, in the bowels of the mysterious Professor Génessier’s building a cavernous cellar is filled with dogs howling in cages, a faint echo of the wolves in a vampire movie. The whole thing drips with foreboding, and I’m going to say no more about it, except that Franju’s skill is to lead one way and then the other. So just when you think this is a masterpiece of symbolism and classical allusion – that mask that Christiane wears – Franju ducks left. Just when you think he’s aiming for horror at a psychological level, he ducks left again, into something more visceral. As for the restoration of this intense exercise, it’s a beautiful job, lush blacks, bright whites and all the greys in between. They’re necessary.

Eyes without a Face – Watch it/buy it at Amazon

 

 

 

The Falling (Metrodome, cert 15)

Writer/director Carol Morley last film, Dreams of a Life, was a fabulous documentary work of social excavation, the everyday story of a city (London in this case) and how it robbed an attractive, gregarious girl of her social network and then her life. The Falling is similarly ambitious, a drama this time, taking the most derided of cultural forms – the picture story for teenage girls – and restyling it as a kitchen sink drama, with a few nutty twists of magic realism, for those allergic to grit. It’s set in the sort of girls school Morley herself might have attended in the early 1970s, and follows a group of girls as they are affected by a strange falling sickness, an outbreak of hysteria that is soon sweeping the school. Where Morley goes with this is interesting, because I’d expected her to be on the side of the girls. She is… but not entirely. At one point senior teacher Miss Mantel (Greta Scacchi) refers to hysteria as “the wandering womb”, echoing the diagnosis of tutting Victorian male doctors. Not for nothing, they would have pointed out, do the words “hysteria” and “uterus” have the same origin. It’s an unlikely, unfashionable position, which makes the film all the more welcome, though Miss Mantel’s “silly girls” diagnosis seems deliberately provocative, rather than a consequence of the drama. I wondered if Morley had seen Lucile Hadzihalilovic’s remarkable girls school film Innocence and fancied a bit of something similar. As for the acting, well it’s astonishingly good – Florence Pugh as the sex minx covered in love bites is a find, but Greta Scacchi as Miss Mantel, a world of disappointment and closeted sexuality reflected in her face, is leagues ahead. And Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams does the most extraordinary things too – when she is required to tell her mother that something terrible has happened to her best friend, for example, she giggles, as the nervous often do. The mother is played by Maxine Peake, and it’s a rare film that has her in it and she isn’t the best thing on show. But here is that film. But much as I enjoyed it, I wondered if a less-is-more approach mightn’t have yielded more real drama – the shading into melodrama towards the end as the otherwise sidelined Peake came into the spotlight felt like Morley had set off on the making of her next film. Which probably will be a belter.

The Falling – Watch it/buy it at Amazon

 

 

 

Still (Verve, cert 15)

As with The Good Man and Mister John, another small film made better by a big Aidan Gillen performance. Here he’s a grieving London dad who can’t get over the death of his son in a car accident a year before. Wobbling towards a crisis, he befriends a local kid whose brother has just been murdered – grief being the link. It looks like that’s what the film is going to be about – Gillen and the kid, plus a bit of Gillen and his estranged wife, whose relationship seems to have fallen apart as a consequence of their child’s death. But then the local feral youth – straight out of a 1950s “dangerous teenagers” movie arrive. And while they do spice things up, the question does start to form in the air – as they push shit through Gillen’s letterbox, deliver a mutilated cat, before getting really ugly – what, dramatically, does this gang have to do with Gillen? And while it’s forming, Gillen and his journalist mate (old school – the sort who prowls the streets and isn’t paid by the square metre, the way modern journalists are) are variously getting drunk and doing drugs and having a brain-frying nice time. You’ll probably have worked out the shocking reveal before the film gets round to telling you it, but you probably won’t have worked out how it’s going to make Gillen react. It’s big, man, big. Though the film never quite shakes off the 1970s British TV drama aura. Gillen probably needs to go and do a Pirates of the Caribbean. He’d make a great pirate.

Still – Watch it/buy it at Amazon

 

 

 

Futuro Beach (Peccadillo, cert 15)

A tale of a couple of gay guys who meet under tragic circumstance – one’s Brazilian, the other’s German. First they meet on Futuro Beach in Brazil. They form an intimate relationship after visitor Konrad’s friend gets into trouble in the sea, and local lifeguard Donato tries to save him. In the second act the action shifts to Berlin, where Donato has travelled to be with Konrad. Then shifts focus again for the third, when Ayrton, Donato’s younger brother, arrives some years later to find out what’s happened to Donato. Not much, is the answer. Donato is alive, but he’s a fish out of water in this foreign country, and the loss of all his affiliations of family and friendship has diminished him. As for Konrad, we’re not sure what he’s about, since the film isn’t about him. What a mournful film this is, like the opposite of a can-do 1960s drama full of youthful optimism, liberation and adaptability. Writer/director Karim Aïnouz does most of it in lock-shot, the camera as static as its chief character, who does move, but at tectonic speed. Composing on the thirds, like a stills photographer, Aïnouz has an eye for beauty. And if his story is never quite gripping, it’s not dull either. Like the scene towards the end, where Doni and Konrad dance together in a club, and while it’s clearly a Hi-NRG beat they’re dancing to, Aïnouz has replaced the live sound with sad, slow music on the soundtrack. Things can die fast, in a riptide, or they can die slowly… in a faraway foreign city, of neglect. Save this one for a day when you’re feeling perky.

Futuro Beach – Watch it/buy it at Amazon

 

 

 

Cinderella (Disney, cert U)

It’s traditional, it’s lavish, it’s rubbish – this is by far the worst Cinderella I’ve ever seen, its strict adherence to the original story planting the seed of suspicion within my dark heart that what Disney are really up to is a copyright grab. So Cinders does go to the ball, gets a glass slipper, mice become footmen and pumpkins turn into coaches, there’s a wicked stepmother and a fairy godmother, a handsome prince and so on. But like an enchanting story that’s been turned bad by impure impulses, this Cinderella stinks from head to tail. Kenneth Branagh, for it is he directing, manages (with cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos) a couple of moments of Girl with a Pearl Earring Vermeer-style image-making, but for the most part this is a string of missed dramatic opportunities – the entrance to the ball (muffed), the dance with the prince (badly choreographed), the prince himself (charmless, and named Kit to indicate his flatpack character), the “whomsoever this shall fit” resolution (again, bodged), Cinderella herself (thin-lipped), the wicked stepmother (a backstory explaining her badness – madness!), the ugly stepsisters (wasted, unfunny), the prince’s refusal to marry for realpolitik (come on). And on it goes. Yuk yuk yuk. When it’s not boring, it’s sickening, when it’s not sickening it’s mendacious. Only the CG work on Lily James’s waist is impressive. And I know that makes me sound like a bitch, so I’d better stop. No, hang on, Stellan Skarsgård emerges unscathed, as the essentially decent grand duke, though he’s only got a handful of lines. And Helena Bonham Carter manages to be a dotty, charming Fairy Godmother. No, I will stop.

Cinderella – Watch it/buy it at Amazon

 

 

 

© Steve Morrissey 2015

 

 

1 June 2015-06-01

David Oyelowo in Selma

 

Out This Week

 

 

Selma (Pathe, cert 12)

Martin Luther King’s life done as a triumph, not the usual tragedy, the focus being the series of marches King led from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. These effectively rode a coach and horses through the prevailing practice of disenfranchising Negros by making registering to vote all but impossible. Up in Washington DC are two tricky customers – the conniving though not entirely venal President Johnson (Tom Wilkinson, not over-reaching himself) and his homunculus, FBI boss J Edgar Hoover (another eel-like turn by Dylan Baker), while down in Alabama operates the strategically astute, tactically sharp King. Like last year’s Dallas Buyers Club, the success of the film comes down to good old fashioned Hollywood screenwriting, Paul Webb’s tight script sketching in background, putting just enough flesh on characters, running us through the events at a pace that never feels rushed. Oddly ignored by the Oscars, David Oleyowo has somehow become meatier, bulkier, looks like a man who likes his grits and gravy. He’s remarkable as King – smart, focused, proud. It’s a black film, Wilkinson and Baker notwithstanding, not a white film pretending to be black (see The Help), and inevitably tends to hagiographise King and his retinue. It’s also a simple film, low in budget (maybe that’s why Oscar wasn’t interested), lacking special effects, almost a TV movie in looks. But it works. What more is necessary?

Selma – Watch it/buy it at Amazon

 

 

 

Shaun the Sheep Movie (StudioCanal, cert U)

A movie about the sheep who was first introduced in the Wallace and Gromit film The Wrong Trousers, which I have seen a thousand times, as an result of having a young son at the time it came out. It’s the Babe: Pig in the City plot (defenceless animal goes to town to bring back the farmer) and it’s done without voiceover or any speech at all. So no, there’s no actual explanation as to why animals want to hasten the return of the man whose job is to send them off to the abattoir. Sound effects and music and voiced grunts do most of the work of missing dialogue, the meticulously realised mis-en-scene of the animation doing the rest – this is urban Britain as most of us city-dwellers live it, of car parks and bus stations, traffic gridlock and a multiplicity of ethnicities. And very pointedly multi-ethnic too, directors Mark Burton and Richard Starzak nailing their colours to the mast there. The question for me, as I started watching, was “who is this for” – the music choices (Elton John, Primal Scream etc) seemed to be those of a man in his 50s, the cultural allusions (Silence of the Lambs, Taxi Driver and a lot more) ditto. By the end, having been genuinely delighted by its wit, and reassured that it hadn’t lost that Wrong Trousers whimsicality and inventiveness, the question had become “who is this not for?”.

Shaun the Sheep Movie – Watch it/buy it at Amazon

 

 

 

I Am Big Bird (Spectrum, cert E)

Caroll Spinney is the now-81-year-old who has been playing Sesame Street’s Big Bird since the 1960s, and this is his story. It’s a very sweet one, and for some stretches of Spinney’s tale – interested in puppets as a kid, a spell in the forces, early TV work in Bozo the Clown, then spotted by Jim Henson, followed by wobbles in his early days as a Muppeteer, until Big Bird takes off – I was asking myself, so what? And after a few more minutes of Spinney’s story, I stopped carping and started enjoying the way the documentary cross-sectioned recent history from an entirely refreshing angle – whether it was a reminder of Sesame Street’s transracial casting, Big Bird being in China with Bob Hope, to the offer of an orbit of the Earth on the Space Shuttle (the one that exploded, Big Bird being replaced by doomed teacher Christa McAuliffe at the last minute). On top of that it’s a story of a genuinely nice man, his home life with his kids, the bungee jumps and the waterskiing and the puppet shows. Spinney talks a lot about his life, his love for his wife and his hippie-ish philosophy, and his colleagues say so often that he is in fact also Big Bird in real life that you start to believe them (Spinney is also Oscar the Grouch, about whom less is said). He has no plans to retire, even though, you sense, some of those around him wish he would. His understudy, Matt Vogel, retains a poker face throughout.

I Am Big Bird – Watch it/buy it at Amazon

 

 

 

Inherent Vice (Warner, cert 15)

Having been compared to Robert Altman on numerous occasions, Paul Thomas Anderson finally jumps in with both feet in something approaching a homage to Altman’s 1973 Philip Marlowe thriller, The Long Goodbye. Here, Joaquin Phoenix is the stoner PI in search of weed and answers and running into the hangover from 1960s hippiedom – astrology and spiritual coaches, ouija boards, Neil Young songs, zipless fucks and walking around in bare feet. If you’re in the mood for a takedown of that sort of thing, it’s a good one. If you’re like me you might think Anderson is decades late, as was Thomas Pynchon in his original novel. Pynchon’s Dickensian names – Agent Flatweed, Puck Beaverton, Petunia Leeway, Sauncho Smilax Esq – remain, as do the similarly large characters (Josh Brolin as a cop with a fondness for popsicles resembling black cock, Martin Short as the cocaine doctor, Benicio Del Toro as a fairly useless lawyer). Phoenix is again very good as the button smart dude trying to function against an overhead of cannabis, and ace cinematographer Robert Elswit loads up the visuals with that bright, bright light that characterised films of the era (Chinatown is another strong reference). The individual elements of this stoned soul picnic are unimpeachable. Dickens would have stitched them together with a stronger throughline.

Inherent Vice – Watch it/buy it at Amazon

 

 

 

Lost River (E One, cert 15)

So, Ryan Gosling directs a movie and the world stands back, sort of hoping he’s going to disgrace himself. He doesn’t. But by the end, the question asked at the beginning – is this a stylish, left-field film by someone trying something different, or an exercise in pastiche by someone taking a short cut to auteur glory? – has been answered. “A film by Ryan Gosling” it says at the outset, rather than the wankier “A Ryan Gosling film”, because in all honesty this is Benoit Debie’s film, the cinematographer who gave Gaspar Noë’s Enter the Void its remarkable, trippy kaleidoscopic looks and who, I’m guessing, also persuaded Harmony Korine that the girls in Spring Breakers would look extra special in hot neon bikinis. Debie does love his neon and his trademark colours are all over this very Lynchian tale of a mother (Christina Hendricks) and her son (Iain De Caestecker) in crumbling Detroit – he’s running wild and daily runs the risk of being taken down by the gang which has declared that it and it alone has scavenging rights in the dilapidated city. She, meanwhile, fearful of losing her house, is taking a job in a bizarro cabaret, on the recommendation of her bank manager (Ben Mendelsohn) – who seems also to own the club. It’s this club that’s the site of most of the Lynchian goings-on, where sexual and aggressive underbellies are exposed and a popular song is sung in ironic fashion by someone you wouldn’t expect to sing a song. Eva Mendes also dons a basque for a bit of gory burlesque (“Look who I’m married to!” Gosling appears to be boasting. Don’t hate him). Blue Velvet’s power came from the fact that Lynch was making ironic comment on the standard ironic critique of America – pointing out that America’s moment had passed, though no one had yet noticed. What is Gosling doing? A “what he said”, I think. Visually, it’s an impressive exercise in sepulchral, crepuscular style, with lots to enjoy in the performances – Mendes and Mendelsohn, an unrecognisable and excellent Matt Smith as the local gang boss. Gosling has got all his artschool gothic out in one big go, and made a pretty picture while doing so. It’s his next film that will be the real test.

Lost River – Watch it/buy it at Amazon

 

 

 

Far from the Madding Crowd (StudioCanal, cert U)

The bad things in John Schlesinger’s 1967 adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s novel are only minor – Julie Christie is, at 26, too old and too knowing to play Bathsheba, the rural temptress whose beauty and wilfulness are a weapon that she can’t quite control, viz the three stunned/maimed men who trail in her wake. Alan Bates has a wandering accent and isn’t quite yokelish enough, as Gabriel Oak the shepherd. Terence Stamp’s Sergeant Troy seems to have his roots in the East End rather than the West Country, and lacks the crisp deportment you expect of a military man. Peter Finch is, however, practically perfect as the local squire hoping class and cash will work on Bathsheba where devotion (Gabriel) and sheer animal magnetism (Troy) have not quite. Which brings us to the great things – Schlesinger’s direction and Nicolas Roeg’s cinematography constantly situating the characters in nature, reminding us they are all subjects of a power beyond comprehension. Richard Rodney Bennett’s score, which also stirs dissonances into the bucolic rapture, a foreshadowing of The Wicker Man maybe. Frederic Raphael’s script, a marvel of concision, its episodic structure also suggesting something like the Stations of the Cross – except here all characters are tested and chastened. Derided for its trendy casting when it first came out (Stamp and Christie were thought to be the “Terry and Julie” of the Kinks single Waterloo Sunset), it is the film’s archaicisms that let it down the most – the post-dubbed dialogue knocking the life out of many scenes, especially earlier in the film; and the appalling use of soft on Christie’s face. The restored version I watched was beautiful to behold, but Christie is so besmeared with Vaseline effects that I wondered if it was an artefact introduced by the software.

Far from the Madding Crowd – Watch it/buy it at Amazon

 

 

 

The Interview (Sony, cert 15)

TV guys Seth Rogen and James Franco go to North Korea to interview Kim Jong-Un in the comedy notorious for getting caught up in the whole Sony hacking debacle around Christmas. It’s a terrible film, the unfunniest comedy about dictatorship since Sacha Baron Cohen’s The Dictator. But let’s not forget that Baron Cohen’s character was fictional, Kim Jong-un actually exists, and as well as being a butt of jokes for the free world’s media is also responsible for the deaths of thousands, if not millions, of his fellow countrymen. A fuller review of the film is here.

The Interview – Watch it/buy it at Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

© Steve Morrissey 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

Far from the Madding Crowd

Terence Stamp and Julie Christie in Far from the Madding Crowd

 

A movie for every day of the year – a good one

 

 

11 January

 

 

Thomas Hardy dies, 1928

On this day in 1928, the novelist and poet Thomas Hardy died. He was 87 and this Victorian writer had survived into and almost through the age of the formal modernist, such as Joyce, with whom he had little in common, though he was an informing influence on writers with a more earthy, carnal and rural inclination, such as DH Lawrence.

Hardy had trained as an architect in the 1860s but didn’t enjoy life in London and as soon as he became established enough he moved back to the West Country (Somerset, then Dorset) where he remained till he died.

After four early books written while he was an architect, two of which he published anonymously because he was embarrassed at their naked commercial intent, Hardy published Far from the Madding Crowd in 1874. It was a hit and it allowed him to devote himself full time to writing. The books that followed it were, like Far from the Madding Crowd and much of Hardy’s most popular work, set in the fictional Wessex – the Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire area of south west England.

When Hardy’s much loved wife of 38 years died in 1912 he got married again, to his secretary, who was 39 years younger than him. Now often seen as a whiskery paragon of Victorian virtue, Hardy was often criticised in his lifetime for his frank treatment of sex, particularly in 1895’s Jude the Obscure, whose portrait of a man driven by “erotolepsy” (ie his dick) shocked Victorians, who bought it in huge numbers (in plain covers).

Let’s also not forget Hardy’s lubricious portraits of his female protagonists – Tess in Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Bathsheba in Far from the Madding Crowd. But it’s fate, and fatalism, that drives many of his best books, with sex merely a carnal manifestation of the disruptive power of a universe with no benign creator at the helm.

 

 

 

Far from the Madding Crowd (1967, dir: John Schlesinger)

Whether you go a bundle on this adaptation of Hardy or not – and not everyone does – it is probably the film to turn to if you want to see Julie Christie, the epitome of the smart, free, upwardly mobile 1960s young woman, at her most beautiful. And Terence Stamp too, come to that. In films where naked lust is the driver of the plot, it really helps if you can get behind the notion that the people being portrayed really would make you lose your head.

And there is a lot of that going on here. At the centre of it all is Christie’s Bathsheba, a “headstrong” woman (ie borderline bitch) who employs poor shepherd/former suitor/torch-bearer Gabriel (Alan Bates) to help on her farm, makes flirtatious eyes at local man-of-means William Boldwood (Peter Finch), only to run off and marry the dashing Sergeant Troy (Stamp), who has, unbeknown to her, already got a local girl in the family way.

Bathsheba is then tossed back and forth by her own choices, her lust and uncaring fate, in a story that pits her against three archetypes of male suitor – Stamp is the sexually exciting rotter, Finch the decent would-be provider, Bates the quietly devoted servant.

It is true that Christie might be just a touch too much the 1960s girl – the posters describe the film as being about “a wilful passionate girl and… the three men who want her!”, which makes her sound like a version of Marianne Faithfull. But, its two leads apart – Sixties faces par excellence – this is in many senses a 1950s film, a big-budget studio-driven affair packed with talent: screenplay by Frederic Raphael, cinematography by Nicolas Roeg, score by Richard Rodney Bennett. And watched in that light, as almost the last of a dying breed, its three hours are well worth plumping up the sofa for.

 

 

Why Watch?

 

  • Stamp and Christie at their best
  • Nicolas Roeg’s lyrical, beautiful Panavision cinematography
  • Frederic Raphael’s intelligent script
  • Anyone for a film with an Intermission?

 

 

 

Far from the Madding Crowd – watch it/buy it at Amazon

 

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© Steve Morrissey 2014