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February 23, 2024, 01:58:54 PM

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Powell & Pressburger

Started by lauraxsynthesis, February 10, 2023, 10:55:17 AM

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Mobbd

Watched The Red Shoes last night on the strength of this thread. Beautiful. Some really impressive images. Plot makes no fucking sense though, mind.

Fancy Black Narcissus next.

Edit:New page cuuuuuuunt! Wahoo! Wahoo!

lauraxsynthesis

Tickets for the BFI season go on sale 21 September. Particularly looking forward to the restored IKWIG and seeing Blimp on the big screen.
https://whatson.bfi.org.uk/Online/default.asp?BOparam::WScontent::loadArticle::permalink=powellandpressburger

lauraxsynthesis

And there are screenings all over the UK and NI!
https://www.bfi.org.uk/news/uk-wide-programme-cinema-unbound-films-michael-powell-emeric-pressburger

Including aroma-focused immersive screenings of Black Narcissus (1947) in Chester, Brighton and Glasgow!

Small Man Big Horse

I was reading about Richard Williams The Thief And The Cobbler last night and disappeared down a wiki wormhole that led to 1940's The Thief Of Bagdad, and that Powell was one of six directors who had apparently worked on it, which I hadn't known before. It's a very beautiful film, the actors are all fantastic and it features some impressive effects for the time period, and I liked the script in general a lot. Towards the end it gets a little action heavy, but that's not really an issue, and I love how the film has Abu
Spoiler alert
fuck off at the end, saying he wants to have fun rather than being sent off to school and then having to hang around and watch the Princess and Ahmed make out all the time.
[close]
I couldn't tell you which scenes Powell filmed, but it's lavishly made, and I would have rated it even higher but
Spoiler alert
they killed off the mechanical horse at the end which I'm absolutely furious about.
[close]
8.0/10

lauraxsynthesis

Quote from: Small Man Big Horse on September 26, 2023, 09:48:38 AMI was reading about Richard Williams The Thief And The Cobbler last night and disappeared down a wiki wormhole that led to 1940's The Thief Of Bagdad, and that Powell was one of six directors who had apparently worked on it

A few months back there was an amazing art film/installation depicting an uprising by the cast of Thief of Bagdad against Michael Powell. There's a trailer that gives a flavour: 

https://www.southlondongallery.org/exhibitions/michelle-williams-gamaker/


Small Man Big Horse

Quote from: lauraxsynthesis on September 26, 2023, 01:28:22 PMA few months back there was an amazing art film/installation depicting an uprising by the cast of Thief of Bagdad against Michael Powell. There's a trailer that gives a flavour: 

https://www.southlondongallery.org/exhibitions/michelle-williams-gamaker/

Oh wow, that sounds fascinating, I'd love to have seen that.


dissolute ocelot

Quote from: daf on August 14, 2023, 09:16:23 AMShowing of 'The Small Back Room' on Talking Pictures TV at 3:15pm.

As well as being a pre-Black Narcissus team up of Byron (swoon!) and Farrar, it features a young Sid James (as 'Knucksie' the barman) in what must be one of his first film appearances (though he still looks like an old pickled walnut!)

Do not miss!

I just watched The Small Black Room (on DVD). I don't like to say a film is ahead of its time or surprisingly modern, because then someone will show you a silent from the 1920s that does exactly the same thing. But it is basically The Hurt Locker with middle-class Englishpeople. The rawness of David Farrar's character's depression, addiction, and self-loathing is quite something, and it's a brilliant performance. He's not always at all likable, but you definitely feel for his situation. It's nicely underplayed with a lot of stiff-upper-lip reserve barely suppressing his agony, and the way it doesn't give him a long tragic backstory is also refreshing - he's just another guy fucked up by the war and his injuries. And you don't really need to be told what happened to his other foot.

But there's so many amazing scenes, and so much everyday detail. I loved the fancy coffee-making contraption that looked like it came from a chemistry lab. And the wartime meeting with loud building work happening outside as they try to make critical decisions with men's lives at stake. The alcoholic craving montage might be a bit de trop to some but it's undeniably visually impressive and expresses the character's mental state.

Plus Sid James is very good and very un-Carry-On (although a bit Moe Szyslak, but I guess the beat-up ex-boxer turned barman is a classic character and probably not uncommon). But the cast is amazing; Powell and Pressburger always seemed to choose the right person.

daf

Glad you liked it - I caught it on Talking Pictures TV before knowing it was a Powell & Pressburger - and could instantly tell that it was a cut above the usual Gainsborough or "Nettlefold Studios" B-pictures (which I also love) that they usually show.

Small Man Big Horse

49th Parallel (1941) - The Incredible Journey but with Nazis, this was another Powell and Pressburger film I'd not seen before and I couldn't say why given how much I admire their other work. I've seen a fair bit of wartime propaganda though and this is by far the most nuanced, and okay, some of the big speeches aren't subtle but the way it humanises the Germans feels innovative, and I don't think I've seen a film from this period that has dealt with the ideas present here in such an interesting way. My only minor issue is that Laurence Olivier's Johnny feels a bit hammy, but the rest of the cast are pretty superb. 8.3/10

daf

Haven't seen that one, but it sounds like one to check out.

I think 'hammy' is a pretty good description of Laurence Olivier's style in general to be honest. He's a charismatic performer who, possibly due to doing Shakespeare on stage a lot, seems to be be operating around 20% above reality at all times.

Avery Brooks (Sisko) in Deep Space Nine had a similar acting style - which appears a bit 'heightened' when compared to the rest of the cast - but would probably work better on stage due to having to project to reach the back of the theatre.

Small Man Big Horse

Quote from: daf on October 11, 2023, 07:17:15 AMHaven't seen that one, but it sounds like one to check out.

I'd seen their most famous work years ago but never sought out  some of their lesser known films, so I've made it in to a bit of a project and plan to watch at least two each month, and I was definitely surprised by the film.

QuoteI think 'hammy' is a pretty good description of Laurence Olivier's style in general to be honest. He's a charismatic performer who, possibly due to doing Shakespeare on stage a lot, seems to be be operating around 20% above reality at all times.

Avery Brooks (Sisko) in Deep Space Nine had a similar acting style - which appears a bit 'heightened' when compared to the rest of the cast - but would probably work better on stage due to having to project to reach the back of the theatre.

I think the problem with Olivier here is partly a dodgy accent, but the rest of the cast feel believable and real, where he's just a little too over the top for my liking.

Small Man Big Horse

I Know Where I'm Going! (1945) - A really enjoyable rom-com where Wendy Hiller's due to marry some rich old man but can't get to the island where he's staying, and she starts to panic because she meets Roger Livesey and he's so goddamn sexy. The central couple have great chemistry and the dialogue between them is never less than entertaining, but it's the eccentric supporting cast that make this such a great watch, and I may be a little bit in love with both Catriona and Colonel Barnstaple. 8.2/10

I've decided to make watching a P&P film a week something of a winter project as it suddenly seems mad that I haven't seen them all, and thanks to the BFI project I'll be seeing Gone To Earth on the big screen in a couple of weeks time which I'm really looking forward to.

Blinder Data

sorely tempted to attend this Glasgow screening of colonel blimp (introduced by pressburger's grandchildren and respected filmmakers themselves, kevin and andrew macdonald!): https://www.glasgowfilm.org/movie/the-life-and-death-of-colonel-blimp-introduction

sadly i doubt i'll be able to make it happen. hopeful of catching some of the season on the big screen at some point though

lauraxsynthesis

Went to the official opening at the BFI last night. I hope they put a video out of the intro from Thelma Schoonmaker (Scorsese's editor and Powell's widow) and Kevin Macdonald (one of Pressburger's two filmmaker grandsons). I don't think I can remember well enough how they said what they said to do it justice but it was super interesting and moving af. TS said of the outer space sequence at the beginning of AMOLAD that she can't figure out how they made that without digital effects.

The restored A Matter of Life and Death was beautiful. Amazing to see it in a big room with lots of audience appreciation for the various funny bits. 

Well excited this is going on. Back on Sunday to see One of Our Aircraft Is Missing!.

gabrielconroy

Quote from: lauraxsynthesis on October 17, 2023, 10:38:58 PMWent to the official opening at the BFI last night. I hope they put a video out of the intro from Thelma Schoonmaker (Scorsese's editor and Powell's widow) and Kevin Macdonald (one of Pressburger's two filmmaker grandsons). I don't think I can remember well enough how they said what they said to do it justice but it was super interesting and moving af. TS said of the outer space sequence at the beginning of AMOLAD that she can't figure out how they made that without digital effects.

The restored A Matter of Life and Death was beautiful. Amazing to see it in a big room with lots of audience appreciation for the various funny bits. 

Well excited this is going on. Back on Sunday to see One of Our Aircraft Is Missing!.

Wow, jealous! I'm out of the country at the moment, but very much hoping to catch one of these when I'm back early next week.

El Unicornio, mang

That's reminded me of this nice extra from the AMOLAD Criterion release


And similarly


Small Man Big Horse

#76
This took place in my home on Tuesday:

The Small Back Room (1949) - Tense drama set in the second world war where a mysterious German weapon is causing an enormous amount of concern, and Sammy (David Farrar) is a scientist who is  asked to investigate it but who struggles with pain as for unexplained reasons he's missing a foot. This deals with the political insanity between different departments while examining the character's private lives and the toll war takes as they desperately try to prevent more deaths, and it felt quite daring to me, especially as it came so soon after the war ended, and the script, direction and performances are uniformly superb. I'm slightly in two minds as to one feverish moment where Sammy imagines himself near to a giant whiskey bottle, but that's the only part I wasn't convinced by, and this for me is right up there with Powell and Pressburger's best. It's a gripping, fiendishly intelligent affair with some stand out moments (the nightclub scene where he calls her a cunt* is especially shocking) and the ending was incredibly nerve-wracking, I really didn't know how it would play out. 8.7/10

*Fine, bitch then, have it your way.

And this took place at the National Film Theatre, yesterday.

Gone to Earth (1950) - My first Powell & Pressburger at the cinema and now I only want to watch them that way, the trailer for the restored version of I Know Where I'm Going! beforehand looked absolutely stunning, and this technicolour melodrama was quite beautiful too. I went in knowing nothing about it and for the first hour plus I thought it was a quite odd, gentle romantic comedy, or at least a romantic comedy drama, as there's some quite funny scenes (initially with George Cole's cousin and his "Jam!" comments, but then mostly involving David Farrar's Squire Jack Reddin) and Jennifer Jones' very offbeat sort of gypsy Hazel, who is far more in touch with nature than she is with humanity. Very early on
Spoiler alert
"Chekhov's big gaping well" is set up and in the final thirty minutes it becomes much more serious as Hazel is dragged off by the squire and her poor old baptist minister husband Edward (Cyril Cusack) doesn't know what to do with himself, and then the ending is an appalling tragedy. There weren't even any credits either, it just ended and the lights came up and I found myself exclaiming "fucking hell". Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed the film, but I'm not sure what P&P are saying about adulterous women and I hope I'm not being charitable when I say it's "Don't trust rich men they're bloody awful".
[close]
I'm also not certain that everything I (and the rest of the audience) laughed at was meant to be funny, at least not when it came to the Squire's melodramatic nature, and
Spoiler alert
the burning flames that frame a scene towards the end
[close]
aren't exactly subtle. Still, I could be very wrong about how I responded to the ending, and either way this is a quite unique film, and one I'm very glad I got to see on the big screen. 8.3/10

My local cinema is showing Peeping Tom tomorrow. For some reason, it's on at 3 in the afternoon, so hopefully I won't be too busy with work to pop along and see it. I missed a screening of A Matter of Life and Death at a more far flung cinema a few weeks ago.

I should really seek out more of their work. Colonel Blimp is one of my favourite films. Roger Livesy is magnificent in it.

Small Man Big Horse

Quote from: Claude the Racecar Driving Rockstar Super Sleuth on October 29, 2023, 04:09:59 PMMy local cinema is showing Peeping Tom tomorrow. For some reason, it's on at 3 in the afternoon, so hopefully I won't be too busy with work to pop along and see it. I missed a screening of A Matter of Life and Death at a more far flung cinema a few weeks ago.

I should really seek out more of their work. Colonel Blimp is one of my favourite films. Roger Livesy is magnificent in it.

Colonel Blimp was my first P&P as I had a class on it when I was at university (despite doing an English literature degree, one of my professors found an excuse to get us all to watch it) and I really loved it, and that led to The Red Shoes, Black Narcissus and A Matter Of Life Or Death, but then I never got round to watching the rest.

But this year I've seen The Canterbury Tale, The 49th Parallel, The Small Back Room, Gone To Earth and I Know Where I'm Going! (plus The Thief Of Bagdad, which Powell directed some of) and really enjoyed each and every one of them a huge amount. Now I find myself wanting to go a huge spree and watch one a day (or at least three a week), but I figure it'll be better if I spread them out more, if only because it's a project which should last me a long old time, as until recently I wasn't aware of quite how many films they'd made.

holyzombiejesus

I'm in London on Thursday night with nothing to do so may go to the screening of IKWIG! That's interesting, isn't it?

Small Man Big Horse

Quote from: holyzombiejesus on October 29, 2023, 10:58:35 PMI'm in London on Thursday night with nothing to do so may go to the screening of IKWIG! That's interesting, isn't it?

You absolutely should, I think it's a fantastic film, and the trailer for it on Saturday showed that the restoration job they've done on it is stunning!

holyzombiejesus

Quote from: Small Man Big Horse on October 30, 2023, 09:00:39 AMYou absolutely should, I think it's a fantastic film, and the trailer for it on Saturday showed that the restoration job they've done on it is stunning!

Yeah, think I'll buy a ticket later. Might even have tea there la-di-da

Small Man Big Horse

Contraband (1940) - This starts off in a very dry manner as in November 1939 the Danish Captain Andersen (Conrad Veidt) is stopped by the British to make sure he doesn't have anything illegal in his ship, only for two of his passengers to suspiciously steal a boat and head to London. Once it gets aboard the train to Victoria it becomes a lot more inspired, I'm not convinced that Conrad Leith is right for the role of a romantic lead but the rest of the cast are great, and the film becomes a lot more playful once we're in the blackout and the truth about the passengers is revealed. I can't remember seeing the London blackouts being used as a plot device before but it feels crazy that they haven't as it really increases the tension, and this is a cracking little film, and it's a shame the beginning is so dull as otherwise I'd suggest it deserved to be seen as one of Powell and Pressburger's best. 7.7/10

I have deliberately not mentioned one element though, and, well, unfortunately Emeric, Michael, you're both now cancelled:





What's that? You were deliberately highlighting an element of British culture that you were deeply troubled by, and only included footage so that it could be debated across the land? Hmmmm, guys, I'm really not sure I'm buying that...

gabrielconroy

It does say right there that they were executed by Hedley Briggs for their crimes, so justice was served on this occasion.

lauraxsynthesis

Quote from: Small Man Big Horse on October 29, 2023, 01:40:41 PMGone to Earth (1950)

I think this bit would be worth the price of admission alone.


I see what happens to her as similar to the end of The Red Shoes. She's not able to resolve her competing passions
Spoiler alert
so it all goes tragic.
[close]

Small Man Big Horse

Quote from: gabrielconroy on November 02, 2023, 09:41:11 AMIt does say right there that they were executed by Hedley Briggs for their crimes, so justice was served on this occasion.

A white woman murdering black males is justice? Good lord man, have you gone quite insane?

Quote from: lauraxsynthesis on November 02, 2023, 04:12:41 PMI think this bit would be worth the price of admission alone.


It absolutely is, and there's another moment between the two which is also quite beautiful.

QuoteI see what happens to her as similar to the end of The Red Shoes. She's not able to resolve her competing passions
Spoiler alert
so it all goes tragic.
[close]

I think you're absolutely right, and it was initially signposted, but the broad nature of the first half
Spoiler alert
made me think it wouldn't end in such a bleak way. And not even a "The End!" to give the audience a chance to let it sink in, and it's a rare occasion I wish someone had added such a thing even if
[close]
the idea of dabbling with a Powell and Pressburger film seems like heresy.

Minami Minegishi

I really like the way both A Canterbury Tale and I Know Where I'm Going have this weird Wake in Fright style town entrapment theme. I'm sure there are other films that play with this theme too, but those three films do it so well.

I Know Where I'm Going has really stayed with me after seeing it a couple of months ago for the first time. Just magnificent.

But why isn't he trying to be with the awesome Pamela Brown character with the dogs instead of the awful main character? Subtext? 

Small Man Big Horse

One Of Our Aircraft Is Missing (1942) - Almost the exact opposite of The 49th Parallel, here Brits are trapped behind enemy lines and must do their best to escape while always being very polite and friendly. The cast are pretty decent and the dialogue feels realistic, but its lacking in flair and it's only towards the end when events become tense. 7.1/10

Small Man Big Horse

They're A Weird Mob (1966) - Italian Nino arrives in Australia expecting to be the sports editor for his cousin's magazine, but said relative has done a runner and so Nino doesn't know what to do. However he quickly gets a job on a building site and if you enjoy watching sweaty men digging holes or making up concrete, this sure is the film for you as there's way too much footage of it. We also get to see him annoy lifeguards by swimming in the sea, living in an empty office and hanging out with his workmates, while there's an awful lot of casual racism and I think this film might have set the record for the amount of times the term "Eyetie" is used. Pacing wise it's all over the place, it vaguely decides to become a romantic comedy towards the end, but there's lots of plain dull or weird scenes (the Chinese neighbour randomly turning up, a scene where Nino walks around the house on a wet afternoon) that make this one of the most inexplicably odd films I've ever seen. When I first heard about Michael Powell I remember reading that Peeping Tom had killed his career and the work he did afterwards was best ignored, and while I don't know if that's always true or not it definitely applies to this odd slab of idiocy. 4.2/10

studpuppet

Well, it seems that thanks to a combination of unforeseen family commitments and general apathy, I have four (count 'em, FOUR) tickets to go and see A Matter Of Life & Death tomorrow (Sun 19th, 6.30pm) at BFI Southbank.

First DM gets them (and the PDF tickets can be split up so if you want less than four); I'd rather they got used, so renumeration isn't essential, but if you fancy contributing to the Criterion DVD I now have to buy instead, then I'd be grateful...