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  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
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    Hello group,

    My enquiry is one of general discussion really. I recently found myself watching quite a few recent British films; Brigette Jones..., Bend It..., Lock Stock..., Snatch, Morven Callar, Rat Catcher; and found myself to be utterly struck by the sheer conservatism of the new British cinema.

    While on the continent we see Baise-Moi, Irreversible, Aimée et Jaguar, Run Lola Run and so on here I find myself disheartened by our own output.

    Now don't get me wrong -- I am a stalwart fan of the good british cinematic tradition, but we seem to have lost our internal dialogue that fuel such progressions. The old polemic of the 'tableau' film makers (Jarman, Russell, Greenaway) set against the 'Grierson-ites' (Parker, Loach, Leigh)seems to have vanished.

    What do we have now?

    From the heady finale of Jarman's 'The Garden' we have slumped into imitating the methods of a market in ways we cannot sustain -- namely America. Regional film councils, who commission in an increasingly 'gimmick' genre-oriented manner, (from personal experience I know that the 'screen gems' 3 min short programme in wales was looking for 'sci-fi' and 'fantasy' inpsired pieces) seem unable to support those with a vision broader that the rubric of the american aesthetic dictatorship.

    Brigette Jones -- we seem to laugh at ourselves till our sides bleed, the same jokes culled from television even i am too young to remember -- and of course we cant forget the staple desexualised gay friend. Such conservatism must have Thatcher giggling her hair pins out, it seems the bright blue banner of the 80s heritage bill is here to stay, even in our so called 'contemporary' fiction.

    It seems the spirit of experimentation stays in the classroom in the UK -- god forbid we invest in a risk, pumping life into our cinematic imaginations.

    I would have divided the money from Brigette and given half to Russell, for posterities sake.

    You know when he dies the BFI will have a retrospective, having strung him out whilst he was alive for being a 'high risk' investment.

    How can we combat the inherent conservatism in Brit Cinema? In Alan Parkers Keynote speech to the Film Council there are seeds of hope...

    Let's hope that we see a real expressive and democratic cinema appear, before we are simply jettisoned from the cinematic landscape.

    Dave Surman

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    0 times
    The reason that we fail to make films of quality and stature is because we seem to have forgotten what films are. Pure entertainment. Everybody sees the classics because they represent a level of quality, a level of filmmaking and art, a craft that reflected the conscious culture of our time. Our spiritual and cultural identity have been lost with our loss of distribution rights.

    We make one successful film in england then we immediately decide to clone on the success and we are given more films of an inferior non-quality with virtually the same plit, rehased and recycled, given to us on a plate with out any seasonings. No frills, no trims, no side order of quality or stroyline. Fast films like fast food are what we are faced with when we go to the cinemas. I hardly ever go anymore unless to watch re-releases of classic films.

    There's literally nothing worth watching. There are no good stories, no new stories being told in entertaining and creative ways. We are fed repitition of the lowest calibre. The english classics are just that because that is exactly what they are. They havent become classics, they were classics to begin with. Time and attention was spent on these films, not money!. The script was perfected to an art form. The english set design was of the highest order. We were the original envy of Hollywood. It's a tragedy that the proposed studios of Balcon & Korda were never constructed.

    What do we have now? A film history to feel nostalgia, and an industry to make us feel saddened and low. We were england, we made films to challenge the world, we used to own most of it! lol, what do we have now? Not much. Our films are dieing in the vaults, the archives are being ignore. The 'critic's classics' are being re-re-released. That's not a bad thing, but I would like to see more diverse classic films being re-released. We've seen The Third Man until we feel like Harry Lime himself!. I tried to sell penecilin on the black market the other day until I realised that it was Nottingham, not Vienna :)

    What about Carol Reed's other films? What about a nice new print of his forgotten and neglected 'The Running Man'. Laurence Harvey and Alan Bates go head to head in a pursuit. Hell, Harvey even goes blonde and dons a fake australian accent which puts it into classic status in my book.

    Imagination is a great thing to have if a director can tell a good story worth telling. But what we get is the same old nonsense. Ken Russell is literally being ignored and is reduced to making films on camcorders. Good for him, at least he's doing something that matters. And as I told you originally Davey, the BFI will continue to ignore Russell until he dies, then they'll have a retrospective on his career.

    How can we stop 'the inherent conservatism in Brit Cinema?'. It's easy Davey, we get mad, we kick up a fuss like the angry young men in the films we adore. We shouldn't settle for less, so why are we doing exactly that?

    The BFI's list of 100 greatest british films left off far too many titles, and acredited far too many modern british films to the 'best'. We have a history of classic films that need to be unleashed again and they are being held back in archives. The BFI should listen to the public, after all, it's the public that keeps the industry alive.

    We should make our own list of 100 Classic British Films and see what Sight & Sound thinks of that.

    If they're ignoring the public's views. What film heritage we have left will become a lost cause and they will lose the public.

  3. #3
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    0 times
    Film at its best is artfully crafted and wholly entertaining (even if that entertainment is chilling, uncomfortable -- Roeg's 'Don't Look Now'). If it engages you, draws you in, entranced -- or at the least makes you think deeply -- then it's got something.

    Britain has forgotten that cinema is a culture factory of a sort. That it has the capacity to reconstruct an imagined sense of who we are. The kinds of British person in the New Brit Cinema are not revolutionists, anarchists, even mildly at an adjunct to the norm. They are parodies, pastiches, imitations -- ceaseless rehearsals of something we knew, once, somewhere, that worked.

    We need to look to our real issues and find the pressure points -- creativity outside of the comfort zone. This is not a call to arms on behalf of the filmmaking milleu. We simply need to rise above the culture of projected earnings, weekend Box Office income, and return-of-investment reasoning.

    As we know it is rarely the earners that hold in the imagination -- as you told me once Steven, we gotta think big, work cheap.

    Dave S

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