British Cinema

The Queen, 2006

The Queen transforms the morbid spectacle surrounding Diana’s tragic death in the summer of 1997 into a trenchant, elegant, and compelling exposition into the nefarious role of the media as both creator (and self-generator) of news and manipulator of public sentiment. By juxtaposing Diana’s death within the framework of Tony Blair’s recent election to the… read more »

Kes, 1969

In the poor, working class coal mining town of Barnsley, an adolescent boy named Billy (David Bradley) sharing a cramped bed with his older brother Jud (Freddie Fletcher) is jarred awake by the sound of his Jud’s alarm clock. Prodding his soporific brother to rise, he seizes the opportunity to comfortably stretch out on the… read more »

Vera Drake, 2004

The opening sequence of the film shows the titular heroine (in an exquisitely complex performance by Imelda Staunton), a cheerful and diligent middle-aged woman working as a maid for several affluent homes in postwar London, visiting an invalid man at a tenement complex in order to help with household chores, reposition his feet onto his… read more »

Secrets and Lies, 1996

Secrets and Lies is a funny, compelling, and affectionate story of family and reconciliation. At the heart of the film is the profoundly simple idea: that human suffering is universal, and that the only comfort lies in our ability to share the pain with those we love. The story opens with Hortense (Marianne Jean-Baptiste), a… read more »

Naked, 1993

Naked is a harrowing portrait of self-destruction and victimization. It is the story of a drifter named Johnny (David Thewlis) who, fleeing from certain retaliation over a violent tryst, runs away from Manchester to find his ex-girlfriend, Louise (Lynda Steadman). Instead, he meets her roommate, Sophie (Katrin Cartlidge), an attractive, spaced-out, and unemployed woman, and… read more »

The Charge of the Light Brigade, 1968

Filmed in 1968 at the height of the counterculture movement, as the escalation of the Cold War and a seemingly interminable Vietnam War pervaded the collective consciousness of the entire international community, Tony Richardson’s sumptuous, confrontational, and acutely rendered magnum opus, The Charge of the Light Brigade is a scathing indictment, not only of the… read more »

Tom Jones, 1963

A silent film-inspired, quick edit, slapstick prologue punctuated by explicative intertitles and a sprightly harpsichord accompaniment sets the irreverent, whimsical tone for Tony Richardson’s freeverse adaptation of Henry Fielding’s beloved eighteenth century novel, Tom Jones, transforming the beloved comedy of manners satire as a giddy fusion of burlesque and Keystone Kops epic adventure. Unfolding as… read more »

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, 1962

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner opens to the shot of an expressionless, lone runner named Colin Smith (Tom Courtenay) traversing a long, wooded trail as he explains in inner monologue the thoughts and abstractions that occupy a runner’s mind on these vast, empty stretches of road – during these quiet, uninterrupted moments of… read more »

A Taste of Honey, 1961

In some ways, Tony Richardson’s adaptation of Shelagh Delaney debut play, A Taste of Honey anticipates the impassive, world-weary gamin of Robert Bresson’s Mouchette in the way it captures the awkward desperation and inarticulate longing of its foundering, working class heroes. In an early episode in the film, an overly made up, harried, middle-aged woman,… read more »

The Entertainer, 1960

On the surface, The Entertainer is something of a cross between Charles Chaplin’s late period film, Limelight in its evocation of an aging, down and out vaudevillian performer seeking to recapture the glory days of his professional career by putting on one last career-defining show, and a prefiguration of Xavier Giannoli’s understatedly rendered The Singer… read more »