Richard Attenborough – Oh! What a Lovely War [+Extras] (1969)

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Quote:
The film, a thoroughly enjoyable ‘odd duck’, with a typical quasi-political artistic stance on the follies of war. Highly entertaining and, at times, touching.

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WHEN Joan Littlewood’s London improvisation, “Oh! What a Lovely War,” opened on Broadway five years ago, it had a cast of 18 men and women dressed as Pierrots and Columbines. In the pit was an orchestra that managed to recreate the nostalgic musical sounds of World War I and to comment on them—sometimes simultaneously.

The show itself, described as “a musical entertainment,” was a jolly satire on the madness of the First World War, done mostly in period songs and sketches in which the Pierrots and Columbines slipped in and out of almost invisible disguises as emperors, generals, nurses, music hall stars, Tommies, wives, nurses and spectators, some appalled, some bored. Continue reading

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Julien Temple – Never Mind the Baubles Xmas ’77 With The Sex Pistols (2013)

The Sex Pistols’ last UK gig – a benefit for the children of striking firefighters at Ivanhoe’s nightclub in Huddersfield on Christmas Day 1977 – remains their most implausible.

“It’s footage I filmed on a big old crappy U-matic low-band camera,” explains director Julien Temple, who dodged flying cake and pogoing punks to record the two performances (an afternoon children’s matinee and an adult evening show) from 25 December 1977. “But it’s right in their face. I’m right up there with them. It’s probably the best footage of the Pistols on film but it’s never been seen.”

This aired on the BBC on Boxing Day 2013 – more at the guardian. Done in the Temple style, with lots of wacky old footage from the 70’s. Continue reading

Anna Brownfield – The Band (2009)

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When lead singer Jimmy Taranto dumps his girlfriend Candy then his rock band Gutter Filth, Candy decides to take his place in the band. Together with anal bass player GB, cross-dressing drummer Dee and Jennifer their loyal manager, they begin a journey to stardom. While their success eclipses Jimmy’s, Candy still can’t find the true love she is looking for. But sometimes the things you want are right in front of you. Continue reading

Vincente Minnelli – Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

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synopsis – AMG:
Sally Benson’s short stories about the turn-of-the-century Smith family of St. Louis were tackled by a battalion of MGM screenwriters, who hoped to find a throughline to connect the anecdotal tales. After several false starts (one of which proposed that the eldest Smith daughter be kidnapped and held for ransom), the result was the charming valentine-card musical Meet Me in St. Louis. The plot hinges on the possibility that Alonzo Smith (Leon Ames), the family’s banker father, might uproot the Smiths to New York, scuttling his daughter Esther (Judy Garland)’s romance with boy-next-door John Truett (Tom Drake) and causing similar emotional trauma for the rest of the household. In a cast that includes Mary Astor as Ames’ wife, Lucille Bremer as another Ames daughter, and Marjorie Main as the housekeeper, the most fascinating character is played by 6-year-old Margaret O’Brien. As kid sister Tootie, O’Brien seems morbidly obsessed with death and murder, burying her dolls, “killing” a neighbor at Halloween (she throws flour in the flustered man’s face on a dare), and maniacally bludgeoning her snowmen when Papa announces his plans to move to New York. Continue reading

Michael Curtiz – White Christmas [+Extras] (1954)

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The Charge
Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye in a song and dance extravaganza.

Opening Statement
The 1954 musical White Christmas had the advantage of the biggest selling song of the time for its title, and adding the huge fame of stars like Bing Crosby made it one of the biggest films of the year and a Christmas tradition in many households ever since. The thin romantic comedy plot is overshadowed by the numerous song and dance numbers, making for a sentimental spectacle. Paramount has done an excellent job of bringing this classic to DVD in time for Christmas, and fans of the big Hollywood musicals can rejoice. Continue reading

Vincente Minnelli – The Band Wagon (1953)

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“In Sight and Sound’s 2002 poll of the ten best films ever made, one musical made the list: Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly’s Singin’ in the Rain (1952). Without denying that film’s considerable charm, a musical released a year later (which failed to receive a single vote in Sight and Sound’s survey) may be worthier of similar hyperbolic citations: The Band Wagon. The films share several points of contact: both are backstage musicals built around songbook catalogues and produced for MGM by Arthur Freed; both have witty screenplays by Betty Comden and Adolph Green; and both feature important roles for Cyd Charisse. One may also see both films as primary examples of what André Bazin called the “genius” of the Hollywood system, in which great films are produced less through a single auteur than through a group of talented individuals working collectively with the sophisticated technical resources of a major studio while simultaneously drawing upon the rich traditions and forms of American popular culture.” Continue reading

David Butler – My Wild Irish Rose (1947)

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The life of Irish tenor Chauncey Olcott is chronicled from his childhood to his days as the toast of New York. In between, his rise to the top is complicated by romances with two women: his true love Rose Donovan and stage star Lillian Russell, who wants to make him a star. Continue reading

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