Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Currently Listening: Love Makes Monsters by My First Tooth (2013)

...lovely, happy, jaunty...they're a lively little bunch...

My First Tooth are a Northampton, UK based band that play uplifting folk-pop. Taking influence from modern indie heroes such as Eels, Okkervil River and Neutral Milk Hotel, they have crafted ambitious and beautiful songs aching with subtle heartbroken soul and unwittingly touching melody. Yes that is promotional speak from the awesome indie label Alcopop! Records but it pretty much sums up how I feel about them. But then this isn't an audition piece to find work with NME, this is merely an attempt to raise awareness of a great band who deserve success.

Love Makes Monsters is the followup to the quite wonderful Territories, their debut album which featured so many beautiful songs it would be a crime to name drop any single track but how about taking a listen to the sublime Cutty Sark as an introduction? 

Whilst not as immediately arresting this sophomore effort is equally as rewarding of repeat visits. With a blend of brass and strings, sing along choruses, haunting vocals and toe-tapping melodies this is the kind of music to appeal to fans of folk-pop who actively dislikes such trendy garbage as Mumford & Sons. Although comprising only four members playing quietly beautiful songs there is a deceptively big sound contained within these thirteen tracks, the kind of noise that could soundtrack your Summer, or in my case Autumn.

I'm not one to break down albums on a track by track basis, I'll just point you in the direction of the entire album instead. Buy it direct from the label for only 8 Pounds and whilst you're at it be sure to buy yourself a Clever Girl sweater, they're aces.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Book Review: Fierce Bitches by Jedidiah Ayres (2013)

Fierce BitchesFierce Bitches by Jedidiah Ayres

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Blurb: Across the border lies Politioburg: hell on Earth, home to putas, punks and psychos.

Escape is not in the stars, redemption is not in the cards, but reckoning might just be on the menu.

Stand back. The pit is about to spit something back out.

Thoughts: All you gringos listen up, Marias are some fierce bitches and they're gonna have their revenge for all the times you mistreated them. You had better hope they haven't read this call to arms from Jedidiah Ayres before you spit on them, slap them, cut them, and rape them or you may not have a face left for next time. Or any flesh for that matter.

Existing as some kind of awful halfway house between life and death, America and Mexico, heaven and hell, Politoburg is a shanty town created by a crime lord to house/contain/dispose of (delete as appropriate) you and your fellow low level underworld brethren. Populated by Ramon the bartender, a parade of Marias (hispanic hookers) and a revolving cast of degenerates, if you end up in Politoburg you'll soon learn that you've reached the place that, sooner or later, you will die in. And die people do, horrible violent deaths for the most part.

Jedidiah Ayres' prose is sparse and his tale is bleak as fuck, mirroring the carefully constructed locale and the unforgiving sun baked desert that surrounds it. This appears to be his first novella but its written with the skill and voice of a much more experienced man to the point that I wouldn't be surprised if this was Jim Thompson still writing after faking his death back in '77. Most impressive is his use of the second person narration, a device that can horribly backfire in the wrong hands but in this case was so perfectly done that I hardly noticed it until the chapter was over. Jedidiah Ayres where have you been all my life? This is the work of true master of the genre and I for one will be unsatisfied until there is an entire shelf filled with the man's work.

Jedidiah Ayres and Warren Oates, never seen in the same place at the same time.

This is another class release from Crime Factory Melbourne, a new specialist publisher who has recently entered my consciousness with a "buy whatever they put out" kind of statement. This one is a particularly beautiful classic looking publication and pretty much fits in the palm of my hand (for a mere $7 this is an essential paperback purchase people) but feel free to check out the recently loved Hard Labour and Lee, an anthology of stories inspired by the life of iconic actor Lee Marvin. All titles are now available for only $2.99 on Kindle from the Crime Factory Amazon store.

A Fuckload of Shorts is a collection of short stories by Jedidiah Ayres and published by Snubnose Press, one of which was adapted in to the micro budget film Fuckload of Scotch Tape.

View all my book reviews

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Movie Review: Peacock (2010) Dir. Michael Lander

If he only knew what she was doing.

Peacock by Michael Lander
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Blurb: In small town Nebraska, in an unspecified but presumably 1950s-ish past, John, a socially awkward bank clerk, lives with Emma, a shy and unassuming housewife, a wife that the rest of the town didn't know existed. She just happens to be the other side of his fractured personality. (I assure you this is not a spoiler.) One morning a train crashes in to their backyard and Emma is revealed to the townsfolk. John's carefully constructed life slowly begins to unravel as Emma's starts to bloom.

Thoughts: Quite scandalously released straight to DVD without any fanfare, Peacock is a fantastic example of Midwestern Gothic, a small piece of American cinema that deserves wider attention. On the surface sharing several similarities to that other awkward guy with unusual sexual tendencies in small town America movie, Lars and the Real Girl, this is a much more serious film and doesn't deliberately tug at your heartstrings. For all you fans of psychological thriller fiction, Peacock is the kind of movie Margaret Millar would have been proud to write.

Cillian Murphy is phenomenal as John and Emma, two parts of a split personality, and that reason alone makes the film worth seeing and certainly made it worth a cinematic release. I can't see how any other actor could have put in a better performance in 2010 and yet the unforgivable decision to skip even the festival circuit has robbed him of any industry recognition. He really is a beautiful woman too. It's quite unfair.

Michael Lander directs with restraint to create a slow moving psychological drama filled with superb cinematography thanks to the wonderful Philipe Rousselot and a pervasive creepiness through interesting use of the mise-en-scene and subtle musical cues. Throughout the 90 minute runtime I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn't watching a Todd Haynes movie, it is that beautiful and meticulously crafted.

Questions are not answered, the viewer is challenged, brain cells are forced to engage. The plot unfolds with hints and clues, nods and tips of the hat, and still you do not really know which way anything will go, what is a subtle red herring, what you are imagining and what is intended. It's quite the marvel indeed and will almost certainly reward repeat viewings, unlike other more gimmicky split personality/psychotic break movies.

I cannot recommend this movie enough, however if you like your narrative cinema to be "normal" you may find yourself getting frustrated and angry with the content, as Peacock is most definitely not the kind of film you would describe as normal.

It is as good as this kind of movie can possibly get in my opinion and I only wish I hadn't waited 2 years to watch my copy.

Anyone actually seen this one? Who won the Best Actor Oscar in 2011? I bet they weren't as good as Murphy whoever they were. Comments anyone?

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Blahblahblah Family DVD Guide: Part 4 War Movies

The Blahblahblah Family DVD Guide is a sporadic, long running feature here on the blog, with three chapters so far completed: Science Fiction, Westerns and Horror. A full explanation can be found on the Guide Contents Page but it is essentially a response to an Australian DVD guide filled with terrible recommendations.

I was watching the reconstructed version of Samuel Fuller's The Big Red One when the urge to write another chapter of the DVD guide overtook me. It turns out that the original guide that I am mocking didn't even have a chapter dedicated to one of the most popular and prevalent styles of film making. Instead there is a brief subsection of the classics chapter featuring 9 movies and 7 quick picks that include 5 of the main 9 movies. It makes no sense.

The few rules I have placed on this feature:
1. Movies that have become a part of the public consciousness will not be included. If you need a guide to tell you whether to watch these movies then you've been living under a rock.
2. Movies that are primarily another genre such as comedy or romance will not be included. If you flip to this section chances are you aren't looking for a comedy or a romance.
3. Must have been released at the cinema longer than 2 years ago, otherwise you'd just hit up the new release section of your local video store. I shall use 1 June 2009 as the cutoff date.
4. Animation and films not in English will be discounted for pretty much the same reason as other genre. And they have their own chapter.
5. Anything with less than a 4 star rating isn't good enough to be in a guide to the best movies available and will be cut.

In deciding that War movies warranted a full chapter I replaced the superfluous "When You Can't Rent Indiana Jones" chapter and boosted the quota to 20 films to make it comparable to other chapter. Rob Lowing's selections were all 4 or 5 stars for once but equally unusual for Rob Lowing he included a non-English film (Battle of Algiers) in his chapter, which if I remove so as to be within my own rules leaves me a nice healthy 12 films to recommend.

The original 9:
All Quiet on the Western Front ****
Coming Home ****
Dr Strangelove *****
Gallipoli *****
Platoon *****
Saving Private Ryan ****
The Battle of Algiers *****
The Longest Day ****
The Red Badge of Courage ****

I'm not typically a man who heads to the War section of Starland, my local video store, but I can appreciate that the best ones are not about the violence but about the frailties of men and the absurdity of it all. In recent times there have been some truly great pieces of cinema, almost the complete opposite of the epic movie filled with explosions and gun fire that you might typically expect from a Hollywood war picture.

Starland Video Beaconsfield Without Stopping The Car

The Hurt Locker and Beneath Hill 60 are good English language examples of that, released too late to be included under the rules set out almost 2 years ago. Downfall, The Counterfeiters and Black Book are three powerful pieces of cinema from outside of Hollywood that should be considered 'must watch' classics, whilst Clint Eastwood made Letters From Iwo Jima, a fine WWII picture, entirely in Japanese and was a much better film than its companion Flags of our Fathers.

Other films not included primarily for rule number 1 (public consciousness) are Apocalypse Now, Lawrence of Arabia and The Great Escape, whilst I was initially going to include the post-WWII movie The Good German as I love any excuse to include a Steven Soderbergh movie on a list of recommendations, but left it out as it felt like cheating.

The first three were quite easy choices considering one of them was the inspiration behind the post and the other two also feature Lee Marvin, star of the recent BBBG book review Lee by Crime Factory Publishing. Samuel Fuller's The Big Red One was flawed due to studio cutting upon original release but was reconstructed in to an R-rated semi-autobiographical meditation on the horrors of war which also features Lee Marvin re-enacting the moment he was wounded during WWII. The Dirty Dozen plays like a WWII version of The Expendables whilst Hell in the Pacific is a fascinating drama featuring Toshiro Mifune.

Stanley Kubrick is next, his Kirk Douglas starring Paths of Glory is a powerful retelling of events in France during WWI that stands as a statement on the absurdity of war. Another of the great yet reclusive directors, Terence Malick made a fine war movie the same year as the bearded hack Spielberg released his own award hogging film and subsequently got overlooked I feel. The Thin Red Line has been called a hauntingly realistic view of military and moral chaos in the Pacific during World War II. Who am I to argue with that?

I thought I should at least include one film each from the UK and Australia, the country I was born in and the country I live in. Went The Day Well? was filmed during WWII and was based on a Graham Greene story that doubles as propaganda, a tiny English village is invaded by German troops posing as Royal Engineers. Kokoda is an Australian film from 2006 about the battle between Australian and Japanese soldiers on New Guinea during WWII.

David Lean made more than one movie featuring war; The Bridge on the River Kwai, adapted from the Pierre Boulle novel, is the multiple Oscar winning story of some British PoW's in Japan during WWII. A Bridge Too Far, directed by Richard Attenborough and featuring an all star cast is one of those tales of failure that the British can do so much better than America and captures perfectly the futility of war. Make of that what you will. Yet another master director, Billy Wilder, also turned their hand to the genre, his Five Graves To Cairo was only his second directorial effort but demonstrates his talent throughout, unfairly criticised on release it still managed to earn three Oscar nominations.

The last two choices offer slightly different views of war. David O. Russell's Three Kings set during the first Gulf War is filled with great performances, humour and action. Robert Altman's M*A*S*H is very nearly discounted for being part of the social consciousness but I have a feeling that this is owed to the TV series more than anything else. Personally I think Donald Sutherland and Elliot Gould in this Korean War comedy doubling as a critique of the pointlessness of the Vietnam War is one the best films about war that I've ever seen.

12 war films of differing styles and content, it doesn't capture the entire history of film but it's a fairly great overview of War pictures in the English language. It's not all viscera and American heroics but if you like that kind of thing there's still hundreds more to choose from.

Here's the final chapter recommendations:
All Quiet on the Western Front (****)
Coming Home (****)
Dr Strangelove (*****)
Gallipoli (*****)
Platoon (*****)
Saving Private Ryan (****)
The Longest Day (****)
The Red Badge of Courage (****)
The Big Red One (****)
The Dirty Dozen (*****)
Hell in the Pacific (****)
Paths of Glory (*****)
The Thin Red Line (*****)
Went The Day Well? (****)
Kokoda (****)
The Bridge On the River Kwai (*****)
A Bridge Too Far (*****)
Five Graves To Cairo (****)
Three Kings (****)
M*A*S*H (*****)

Agree or disagree with the choices I've made? Which, if any, of the original nine would you get rid of? Any preferences for war movies hat I haven't mentioned? Leave me a comment, let me know.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Movie Review: Slam Dance (1987) Dir. Wayne Wang

Hot kiss. Cold sweat. Last chance. Slamdance.

Slam Dance by Wayne Wang
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Blurb: A married cartoonist, C.C. Drood, becomes involved in the cover up of a political sex scandal after his lover, Yolanda, a call girl, is found murdered. An obvious case of arrested development Drood is unable to take care of himself let alone his estranged wife and daughter. Bodies pile up and a strange hit man appears at random intervals; crossing paths with good cop/bad cop combo Smiley and Gilbert, Drood is a million miles from his comfort zone and must find a way to survive.

Thoughts: If you take the subversion of the noir genre of Altman's The Long Goodbye, disconnect it by a further 45 degrees and set it in the late 80s then you're somewhere near approaching Wayne Wang's Slam Dance from the right angle.

There's no way this could ever have a wide appeal but I congratulate the producers for their bravery in persevering with what must have been a truly peculiar script. It's not at David Lynch levels of surreal but I imagine the outcome of him directing it wouldn't be too dissimilar to Mulholland Drive.

Having said that, I did read that the producers interfered with the director's creativity so perhaps this actually is just a mess rather than a deliberate study of the decay of Hollywoodland? Essentially I could well be talking out of my arse but I could go in to great detail about the use of light and mirrors as metaphors of the underlying meaning of the film in true film noir style if I were so inclined. Wayne Wang really did a good job with that aspect.

Wayne Wang and DoP Amir Mokri craft incredibly beautiful shots one after another; they really studied the greats of the genre and created the perfect visual experience, it's just let down by a plot that seems to be lacking any real cause or effect to make much sense, that, and a near constant soft porn saxophone soundtrack.

The acting is surprisingly great, almost uniformly so, and the cast is packed with interesting people worth watching - Harry Dean Stanton almost looks young, Adam Ant doesn't look like a new wave singer turned actor, Virginia Madsen is stunning and Tom Hulce an unusual choice for the protagonist but putting in a good shift as a cross between 80s Rob Lowe and 80s Mickey Rourke, dealing with both lighter moments and existentialist scenes punctuated with violence with ease.

For fans of noir and neo-noir this one deserves to be seen but not necessarily understood.

Did you see this? Do you think that synopsis even sounds vaguely interesting? Would you like to see Rob Lowe star opposite Mickey Rourke in a movie? Perhaps a Farrelly Brothers comedy? Can anyone explain Wayne Wang's career trajectory? Leave me some comments.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Top 10: Lee Marvin Films

Lee Marvin was always fun to watch, with that look on his face like he knew he could fuck you up if he had to but he'd rather not.

Lee Marvin with his hardboiled attitude, voice described as the sound of a gurgling drain pipe and prematurely grey hair is an icon of late 20th century American cinema, comparable perhaps even to Humphrey Bogart in the early part of the century.

Naturally even Quentin Tarantino mentions him in one of his movies.

To celebrate the arrival of Crime Factory Publishers collection of short stories about Lee Marvin arriving in my mailbox this week (reviewed yesterday) I thought I'd select a few favourite moments from his career.

A two and a half hour western musical featuring a singing Marvin, Clint Eastwood and Jean Seberg. Novelty value only.

9.  The Delta Force (1986) Dir. Menahem Golan

Again, I'm not saying that this is a good movie, but Lee Marvin the total badass opposite Chuck Norris the Chuck Norris in what is essentially a free for all shoot em up and exhibition of badassery? Of course it's worth watching once.

8. Cat Ballou (1965) Dir. Elliot Silverstein

His Academy Award winning role as a drunken gunfighter in a comedy western. Who'd have ever thought it of him?

7. Prime Cut (1972) Dir. Michael Ritchie

Marvin as an Irish mob enforcer tries to bust up Gene Hackman's rural Kansas sex slave farm abetted by a frequently nude Sissy Spacek. Yep, another classic American crime film from the 70s.

6. The Killers (1964) Dir. Don Siegel

When Marvin isn't on screen in this there's an energy missing, the perfect example of what he brings to a picture.

5. Bad Day at Black Rock (1955) Dir. John Sturges

A minor role in what is a classic film, opposite a one armed Spencer Tracey; Lee Marvin takes one for the team as he gets knocked out in a bad way and still manages to keep his "black" hat on.

4. Hell in the Pacific (1968) Dir. John Boorman

A commercial failure but a critical success this was one of Marvin's favourite pictures; he starred opposite Toshiro Mifune as a shot-down American pilot and a marooned Japanese navy captain find themselves stranded on the same small uninhabited island in the Pacific Ocean.

3. The Big Heat (1953) Dir. Fritz Lang

Classic film noir from Lang featuring Marvin as a crazed bad guy with a penchant for smashing hot coffee pots on the faces of dames.

2. The Dirty Dozen (1967) Dir. Robert Aldrich

You've got Lee Marvin, 12 dirty badasses, an awesome training camp and a non-stop, bullets-flying-everywhere-attack on a Nazi castle in France.

1. Point Blank (1967) Dir. John Boorman

Marvin as the iconic Walker out for revenge in Boorman's stylish adaptation of Richard Stark's Hunter.

What's your favourite Lee Marvin moment? Perhaps you're yet to discover the power that is Lee? Let me know in the comments. And don;t forget you can buy LEE, the new collection of short stories from Crime Factory now.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Book Review: Lee by Crime Factory Publishing (2013)

LeeLee by Crime Factory Publishing
(featuring stories by Scott Phillips, Heath Lowrance, Johnny Shaw, Jenna Bass, Adrian McKinty, Jake Hinkson, Ray Banks, James Hopwood, Erik Lundy, Eric Beetner, Luke Preston, Nigel Bird, Ryan K. Lindsay, Andrew Nette, Cameron Ashley and Jimmy Callaway)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"I bet you're a big Lee Marvin fan aren't you? Yeah, me too; I love that guy." - Mr Blonde to Mr White in Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs.

I was watching Reservoir Dogs the other night and the second I heard that throwaway line again I knew that it was going to open my review to this collection of short stories about Lee Marvin. Sadly on opening the book I discovered that Mike White (not the actor/screenwriter but a different Mike White) had used the same idea for his introduction. Instead I shall quote the character Stillwell from the concluding story by Jimmy Calloway:
"Lee Marvin was always fun to watch, with that look on his face like he knew he could fuck you up if he had to but he'd rather not."

Lee Marvin at the Point Blank Wrap Party

As a prominent figure from recent pop culture history, everyone has their own image of Lee Marvin that is immediately brought to mind when his name is mentioned and it is his iconic status that the wonderful people at Crime Factory Publications (you may remember them from my recent gushing review of Fierce Bitches) have taken advantage of in commissioning this series of stories featuring the larger than life personality himself.

I don't know how much of each of these stories was based on hearsay, extrapolated from minor fact or just plain flights of imagination but the combined effect is that of the telling of fireside tales, of making Marvin in to a mythical being who lived hard, fought hard, drank hard and fucked hard and accepted nothing less from those around him.

All 17 stories are written by a different individual, in a different style and from differing points of view, they combine to tell of a full and crazy life, from 1944 on a hospital ship to 1987 as news of his untimely death by heart attack is heard by a young fan via many interesting, entertaining, bizarre and hardboiled events along the way. As his biographer, Dwayne Epstein, is quoted as saying on the cover, Lee Marvin is smack dab in the centre of the action where he belongs.

There's the time he turned down Jaws, the time he took a bullet for John Ford, the time Andy Warhol gave him PCP laced cigarettes, the time he needed a really big gun for shooting Point Blank, the time he hit someone, the other time he hit someone, the building he burned to the ground, the time he was arrested, the other time he was arrested, the time at the Oscars, the thing with Warren Beatty, the time with the boiling hot coffee, the time when he stole a car, but sadly no moment when Warren Oates could turn up and out crazy him.

It seems like every individual involved with creating this collection has a real affection for Marvin and that transfers to the stories told even when he's a painted as a total bastard. I had a blast from start to finish, making the decision not to get out of bed until the book was read, there goes Tuesday, and would highly recommend this collection to fans of film noir, noir fiction, Lee Marvin and jokes about Englishman, Welshman and Americans waiting to use a toilet. So get on over to Crime Factory and order your own copy of this excellent short story collection without hesitation.

Need more Marvin? Here's a Top 10 List to keep the fun coming.

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

It's Grim Up North - British New Wave in 10 Films

The British New Wave is typified by two key phrases, It's Grim Up North and Angry Young Men. Taking, what for the time was, a revolutionary documentary-like approach towards cinematography the filmic movement captured what it was like for young people in a post war society that had lost its way.

The Angry Young Men were a group of playwrights and novelists loosely and lazily grouped together under the one banner to signify a new shift in the style and content of British letters towards the gritty realism of what it meant to be a member of the working classes, the conflicts and frustrations of everyday existence and their disillusionment with traditional British society.

These works struck a chord with a group of filmmakers practising under the banner of the Free Cinema Movement taking their cues from the pre-war work of documentary filmmaker John Grierson. Much like Lars von Trier would do 40+ years later with Dogme '95 they launched their movement with a new anti-establishment manifesto:

As filmmakers we believe that:
      No film can be too personal.
      The image speaks. Sound amplifies and comments.
      Size is irrelevant. Perfection is not an aim.
      An attitude means a style. A style means an attitude.

It was only a matter of time before the two movements came together and in the space of a few short years these artists changed British cinema forever before naturally moving on to Hollywood productions. From 1958 with the release of the "shocking" Look Back in Anger until 1964 and the release of the Oscar winning farce, Tom Jones, from two of the major players in the movement there came a stream of powerful films that remain some of the best ever produced in Great Britain.

Here in chronological order are a selection of ten of the best:

Look Back in Anger (1958)

Based on an autobiographical play by John Osborne and directed by Tony Richardson, Look Back in Anger tells the story of Jimmy Porter (Richard Burton) a loud, obnoxious, educated working class man who physically and verbally abuses almost everyone he comes in to contact with but especially his middle class wife who he detests for a perceived lack of emotion. The film is almost an anti-Brief Encounter with a role perfect for Burton to display his trademark acting style and shocked audiences for its class portrayal rather than the spousal abuse.

Room at the Top (1959)

Based on a novel by John Braine and directed by Jack Clayton, this was the first British film to openly depict adultery and make reference to the fact that sex can be pleasurable and the first X certified movie to get a mainstream cinema release. It is the story of Joe Lampton (Laurence Harvey,) a working class boy who schemes to climb the social ladder by marrying the bosses daughter whilst attempting to keep a mistress on the side. (Winner of two Oscars)

The Entertainer (1960)

The Entertainer features Laurence Olivier as Archie Rice, a music hall comic who manipulates those around him in a selfish attempt to regain success however unlikely. He drinks, makes crude philosophical jokes about sex and politics and humiliates his wife. Written by John Osborne as a play at Olivier's request in an attempt to stay relevant and then adapted in to this movie directed by Tony Richardson, Olivier won a Tony and followed it up with an Oscar nomination for this performance.

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960)

The adaptation of Alan Sillitoe's debut novel about Arthur Seaton, a young factory worker in the north of England. It's a warts and all, kitchen sink drama; unflinching in its depiction of a time and place that at once is quite alien to yet completely the same as working class England in the 21st century. Arthur drinks, Arthur smokes, Arthur fights, Arthur fucks, Arthur rails against society, without Arthur there could be no Alfie or Trainspotting. Sillitoe and director Karel Reisz turned a fantastic novel of postwar Britain in to a complex and interesting screenplay and a film heavily influenced by Truffaut. And then of course there's Albert Finney to come along and put in the performance of a lifetime.

A Taste of Honey (1961)

A Taste of Honey pretty much has it all. Teenage pregnancy, interracial relationships, living in sin with a gay boy, neglectful parents, poverty, regional accents and all of it told in an upbeat manner. Based on Sheelagh Delaney's play written when she was only 18 years old and adapted together with director Tony Richardson this is a slightly lighter film than those that came before but would surely have been even more shocking to 60s audiences because of it.

A Kind of Loving (1962)

A Kind of Loving was directed by John Schlesinger, from a novel by Stan Barstow and a script from Keith Waterhouse, it starred Alan Bates. A story of frustrated youth, all about love, lust, and loneliness in working class Yorkshire. It's especially claustrophobic and typical of the sexual experimentation/revolution found throughout the film career of Schlesinger.

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962)

Another Tony Richardson directed film, adapted by Alan Sillitoe from one of his short stories and starring a young Tom Courtenay, it recounts the story of a reform school cross-country runner who seizes the perfect opportunity to defy the authority that governs his life. This time highlighting the lack of options for the youth in post war Britain and youth reformatory conditions thanks to groundbreaking direction from Richardson and a strong performance from Courtenay.
The L-Shaped Room (1962)

Based on a novel by Lynne Reid Banks, directed by Bryan Forbes and starring the French actress Leslie Caron already famous for her roles in Hollywood productions. L-Shaped Room is the story of the unmarried but pregnant Jane and her encounters with a group of outcasts from society in a British boarding house. Touching on the taboos of sex and abortion this is one of the lesser known films to come out of the British New Wave.

Billy Liar (1963)

Another British New Wave dream team combination with Tom Courtenay starring in a John Schlesinger film based on a Keith Waterhouse novel, play and script. Billy Liar is a lazy, irresponsible, dreamer living in a dreary Northern English town. Less angry than Arthur Seaton but just as frustrated, he substitutes the aggression of other British New Wave films with a rich and varied fantasy life which causes him just as much harm as the lack of hope and chance seen to be available to him.

This Sporting Life (1963)

Lindsay Anderson's first foray in to narrative film making is an adaptation of a David Storey novel which stars Richard Harris as possibly the angriest young man of the lot. A man driven to succeed but never satisfied, Frank Machin is a whirlwind of repressed anger and hostility that bursts out of him at the strangest of times. Sure his rage and desire drive him on to better things but it hangs over him just waiting to destroy him. Anderson's direction is a no holds barred grim vision of the reality of working class life in Northern England.

Out of the movement British cinema became more open to depicting the reality of everyday life, Alfie in 1966 at one stylish end of the spectrum and Poor Cow in 1967 at the other more bleak end and opened the door for Mike Leigh's unique brand of film making when he created his debut, Bleak Moments, in 1971.

Other notable films if you feel like exploring further might include If..., Kes, Hell is a City, The Knack...And How To Get It, A Place To Go, The Leather Boys, Up The Junction and Darling.

Anderson would go on to direct Malcolm MacDowell in a notable late period New Wave film If... Tony Richardson and John Osborne would win Oscars for directing Albert Finney in Tom Jones. Jack Clayton would make a mess of The Great Gatsby. Karel Reisz made the almost forgotten Night Must Fall featuring a psychotic Albert Finney and then only made 7 films over a 30 year period. Alan Sillitoe wrote one more screenplay for 1972's The Ragman's Daughter. Tom Courtenay was nominated for two acting Oscars nearly 20 years apart and was recently seen in Quartet. I originally knew Lynne Reid Banks from her Indian in the Cupboard books/movie so seeing where she started was an eye opener. Bryan Forbes gave us the criminally underseen Richard Attenborough film Seance on a Wet Afternoon. John Schlesinger was perhaps the most successful of the bunch, not least for his Oscar for Midnight Cowboy whilst Albert Finney garnered five nominations throughout his career but didn't win once.

And so ends today's history lesson. How many have you seen? Kitchen sink drama not your thing? Anything I've missed that should have been included? Leave it all in the comments.