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Author: Paul Newland

British Films of the 1970s offers fresh critical insights into a diverse range of films including Carry On Girls, O Lucky Man!, Radio On, Winstanley, Cromwell, Akenfield, Requiem for a Village, That’ll Be the Day, Pressure, The Shout, The Long Good Fridayand The Offence. The book sets out to obtain a clearer understanding of two things – the fragmentary state of the filmmaking culture of the period, and the fragmentary nature of the nation that these films represent.

This book shows us that British films of the period – often hybridised in terms of genre - mediate an increasingly diverse and contested culture. It argues that there is no singular narrative to be drawn about British cinema of the 1970s, other than the fact that films of the period offer evidence of a Britain (and ideas of Britishness) characterised by vicissitudes. But the book demonstrates that while the 1970s in British filmmaking (but also in British culture and society) was a period of struggle and instability, it was also a period of openings, of experiment, of new ideas, and, as such, of profound change.

The book will be of interest to scholars working on British film history but also British socio-cultural history and geography. It will appeal to academics, postgraduate and undergraduate students. But it has also been written in a style that will make it accessible to the general reader.

A celebration

This book offers a startling re-evaluation of what has until now been seen as the most critically lacklustre period of the British film history. It includes fresh assessment of maverick directors; Pat Jackson, Robert Hamer and Joseph Losey, and even of a maverick critic Raymond Durgnat. The book features personal insights from those inidividually implicated in 1950s cinema; Corin Redgrave on Michael Redgrave, Isabel Quigly on film reviewing, and Bryony Dixon of the BFI on archiving and preservation. A classic image from 1950s British cinema would be Jack Hawkins in The Cruel Sea, the epitome of quiet English integrity. Raymond Durgnat's A Mirror for England: British Movies from Austerity to Affluence, which deals extensively with British films of the 1950s, was written in the mid-1960s and was published in 1970. In a 1947 article called 'Angles of Approach' Lindsay Anderson delivered a fierce attack on contemporary British film culture, outlining a model for a devoted politics of creation, well in line with what we would later understand as auteurism and art cinema aesthetics . The war films of the 1950s together constitute the assented-to record of the emotions and moral judgments called upon to set in order those disorderly events. The book also talks about the Festival of Britain, White Corridors, and four Hamer's post-Ealing films: The Spider and the Fly, The Long Memory, Father Brown and The Scapegoat. A number of factors have contributed to the relative neglect of the 1950s as a decade in British cinema history.

Vic Reeves, Bob Mortimer and the cultification of light entertainment
Leon Hunt

3885 Cult British TV Comedy:Layout 1 14/12/12 07:52 Page 36 2 Britain’s top light entertainer and singer: Vic Reeves, Bob Mortimer and the cultification of light entertainment We want to be treated as mainstream comics doing bog standard entertainment. (Bob Mortimer, quoted by Viner 1995: 5) Personally I think of it as family fun. It should be liked by everyone, from the very young to the very old. (Harry Hill on his Channel 4 series, quoted by Williams 1997: 29) Whatever constitutes ‘post-alternative comedy’ is widely taken to begin with Vic Reeves and

in Cult British TV comedy
Creativity, experimentation and innovation
Paul Newland and Brian Hoyle

and artists painted pictures’ and that films ‘could be personal creative statements […] by Bergman, by Fellini’. 11 Secondly, art films tend to be structured around psychological problems and intellectual themes, or what Neale called ‘the interiorisation of dramatic conflict’, 12 as opposed to classical Hollywood’s preference for following the actions of goal-orientated characters. The third related characteristic is art cinema’s approach to narrative. As Peter Greenaway, one of the doyens of contemporary British and European art cinema, provocatively put it

in British art cinema
From Reeves and Mortimer to Psychoville
Author: Leon Hunt

The TV debut of Vic Reeves Big Night Out on Channel 4 in 1990 is often seen as marking a turning point for British TV Comedy, ushering in what is often characterised as the ‘post-alternative’ era. The 1990s would produce acclaimed series such as Father Ted, The League of Gentlemen and The Fast Show, while the new century would produce such notable shows as The Mighty Boosh, The Office and Psychoville. However, while these shows enjoy the status of ‘cult classics’, comparatively few of them have received scholarly attention. This book is the first sustained critical analysis of the ‘post-alternative’ era, from 1990 to the present day. It examines post-alternative comedy as a form of both ‘Cult’ and ‘Quality’ TV, programmes that mostly target niche audiences and possess a subcultural aura – in the early 90s, comedy was famously declared ‘the new rock’n’roll’. It places these developments within a variety of cultural and institutional contexts and examines a range of comic forms, from sitcom to sketch shows and ‘mock TV’ formats. It includes case studies of Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer and the sitcom writer Graham LInehan. It examines developments in sketch shows and the emergence of ‘dark’ and ‘cringe’ comedy, and considers the politics of ‘offence’ during a period in which Brass Eye, ‘Sachsgate’ and Frankie Boyle provoked different kinds of media outrage. Cult British TV Comedy will be of interest to both students and fans of modern TV comedy.

A certain tendency?
Author: B. F. Taylor

This book offers an opportunity to reconsider the films of the British New Wave in the light of forty years of heated debate. By eschewing the usual tendency to view films such as A Kind of Loving and The Entertainer collectively and include them in broader debates about class, gender and ideology, it presents a new look at this famous cycle of British films. Refuting the long-standing view that films such as Billy Liar and Look Back in Anger are flawed and therefore indicative of an under-achieving national cinema, the book also challenges the widely held belief in the continued importance of the relationship between the British New Wave and questions of realism. Drawing upon existing sources and returning to unchallenged assumptions about British cinema, this book allows the reader to return to the films and consider them anew. In order to achieve this, the book also offers a practical demonstration of the activity of film interpretation. This is essential, because the usual tendency is to consider such a process unnecessary when it comes to writing about British films. The book demonstrates that close readings of films need not be reserved for films from other cinemas.

Editor: Laura Mulvey
Author: Jamie Sexton

This book addresses the aesthetics of British television programmes, charting some key examples of experiment and formal or stylistic innovation, drawing mostly on arts documentaries and drama productions. It turns to the work of the little known Langham Group. In contrast to the populism of Armchair Theatre, the group emerged from a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) initiative to consider 'the problem of experimental television programmes'. The book discusses very varied examples of experimental television that flourished during the 1960s. It also introduces Channel 4 with an insider's account of a world of utopian hopes and the snares of the schedule. The book then looks at two series that attempted to experiment with the presentation of art to British television viewers: New Tempo and Who Is?. It explores the relationship between the series and Troy Kennedy Martin's 'Nats Go Home' manifesto, a polemic against naturalism in television drama which provided a theoretical rationale for the experimentalism of Diary of a Young Man. The book further examines the product of that experiment, placing it in the context of John McGrath's other work and his own 1979 'manifesto' for progressive television. It argues that Dennis Potter's drama, and particularly The Singing Detective, contributes to experimental television through systematic comment on, and elaboration of, the medium's inherent polysemic nature. Finally, the book focuses on the presentation of pop music on television, specifically the pop promo, rather than the dedicated music television programme.

Abstract only
Robert Murphy

Critical enthusiasm for realism in British cinema, from Grierson to Ken Loach, has obscured the fact that the majority of British films pay little regard to a realist ethos. Melodramas and crime films have traditionally made up a significant and substantial part of British cinema and a section of these films can be related to film noir. As film noir is a critical category constructed to deal with a

in European film noir
Abstract only
Andrew Spicer

Because of the powerful and well-established tradition of crime films in British cinema, the vast majority of British neo-noirs are variations of the crime thriller, differentiated from more conventional films by their highly wrought visual style, an emphasis on moral ambiguity and psychological complexity, and an often deliberate blurring of the boundaries between reality and fantasy, subjectivity

in European film noir
A certain tendency?
B. F. Taylor

The British New Wave 1 The British New Wave: a certain tendency? The terrible thing about the cinema is the way it uses up everything. It exhausts ideas, stories, brands of stories, and suddenly finds itself faced with a kind of gulf, a ditch across which it must leap to capture some new and absolutely unforeseen territory. We’re not talking, obviously, about eternal masterpieces: clearly Shakespeare always had something to say, and he didn’t have to jump any ditch. But it’s a situation ordinary film production is likely to run into every five years or so. In

in The British New Wave