Dirk Bogarde
BFI events

December 2021 at the BFI, including Jack Clayton and Dirk Bogarde at 100

Yay! Details of the BFI’s showings in December! Here’s the press release.

December at BFI Southbank – featuring BFI JAPAN, the work of JACK CLAYTON, screenings of classic Christmas films, BUSTING THE BIAS, Dirk Bogarde at 100 and much more

With special guests including director Mark Gatiss (THE MEZZOTINT), the cast and crew of GHOSTS (guests TBC), actors Jamie Dornan, Danielle Macdonald and Shalom Brune-Franklin (THE TOURIST), director Sharon Maguire (BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY), singer and performer Patti Boulaye, broadcaster and critic Mark Kermode, directors Markus Hansen and Jean-Marie Boulet (BILLY BANG LUCKY MAN)

The BFI today announces the programme for December at BFI Southbank including the culmination of BFI JAPAN 2021: 100 YEARS OF JAPANESE CINEMA, the BFI’s major UK-wide celebration of Japanese film. This month’s programme features work by radical independent directors like Seijun Suzuki and Nagisa Ōshima, as well as more recent popular and art house Japanese cinema by filmmakers such as Shunji Iwai, Hirokazu Kore-eda and Naomi Kawase. Also in December, BFI Southbank mark the centenary year of one of the most intriguing voices in post-war British cinema, JACK CLAYTON, with a full retrospective including THE INNOCENTS (1961), ROOM AT THE TOP (1959) and THE PUMPKIN EATER (1964). The season will be accompanied by a free display in BFI Southbank’s Mezzanine Gallery of material draw from the extensive collection held by the BFI National Archive of Clayton’s scripts, stills, posters and letters. Also drawing on material from the BFI National Archive, our TV season for December, THE PRECIOUS THINGS, will be a feast of weird and wonderful curios from the archives that feature a host of famous faces, from Vincent Price and Basil Brush to Terry Jones and Tina Turner – brilliant, baffling, idiosyncratic footage often unseen since its original transmission.  

It wouldn’t be December at BFI Southbank without a feast of Christmas entertainment, led this year by a BFI re-release of one of the most charming romantic comedies of all time, Ernst Lubitsch’s THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER (1940), in selected cinemas UK-wide on 3 December. In the hectic run-up to Christmas, two ambitious rivals on the gossip-ridden sales floor of a Budapest emporium – played by James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan – are conducting an anonymous romance with each other by letter. This classic comedy has been often remade, including into the Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan comedy YOU’VE GOT MAIL, but the original film remains unsurpassed, and perfect seasonal fare. BFI Southbank’s ongoing BIG SCREEN CLASSICS series – where we screen great films daily for the special price of £8 – will this month focus on CHRISTMAS ON SCREEN. Titles include MEET ME IN ST LOUIS (Vincente Minnelli, 1944), IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (Frank Capra, 1946), MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (George Seaton, 1947), GREMLINS (Joe Dante, 1984), THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL (Brian Henson, 1992), TOKYO GODFATHERS (Satoshi Kon, 2003), A CHRISTMAS TALE (Arnaud Desplechin, 2008), CAROL (Todd Haynes, 2015) and more. In addition to our £8 ticket offer for BIG SCREEN CLASSICS, audience members aged 25 & under are able to buy tickets for BFI Southbank screenings in advance, and special events on the day, for just £3, through our ongoing ticket scheme for young audiences. 

For those wanting to get a preview of some hotly anticipated Christmas specials for 2021, BFI Southbank will have TV Previews of THE MEZZOTINT (BBC, 2021), the GHOSTS CHRISTMAS SPECIAL (BBC, 2021) and TERRY PRATCHETT’S THE ABOMINABLE SNOW BABY (Channel 4, 2021). Laced with MR James’ trademark terror, THE MEZZOTINT, starring Rory Kinnear, is the latest ghost story for Christmas directed by Mark Gatiss, who will take part in a post-screening Q&A on 7 December. On 9 December, BFI Southbank will welcome members of the cast and crew of GHOSTS for a Q&A following a screening of this year’s Christmas Special. This hugely popular comedy from the makers of HORRIBLE HISTORIES has become a firm favourite since it premiered in 2019 and this event will also feature a screening of an episode voted for by fans of the show. There will be a FUNDAY PREVIEW of the wonderfully festive animation, TERRY PRATCHETT’S THE ABOMINABLE SNOW BABY on 4 December; prior to the screening, ticket holders will also be able to join a family workshop in the main foyer to design their own member of the Abominable Snow Baby family. 

To mark the 20th anniversary of BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY (Sharon Maguire, 2001) Woman with a Movie Camera powered by Jaguar will present a special screening of the film on 16 December, followed by a Q&A with director Sharon Maguire. After a painful festive party 30-something Bridget Jones, played to perfection by Renée Zellweger, decides to set some New Year’s resolutions: she’s going to lose weight, cut out the cigarettes and keep well clear from all the wrong men. Co-starring Colin Firth, Hugh Grant and a who’s who of British acting talent, BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY is one of the best-loved romantic comedies of the last 20 years, and this anniversary screening offers audiences a chance to hear from director Sharon Maguire about bring this iconic character to the big screen. 

Also in December will be BUSTING THE BIAS, a series of screenings, talks and presentations taking place from 3-5 December, showcasing disabled practitioners’ work while creating ongoing discourse for improved access for disabled talent to work in the screen industries, and advocating for authentic on-screen representation and leadership off-screen (the full programme will be announced soon). There will also be a TV preview of THE TOURIST (BBC, 2021) starring Jamie Dornan as a British man who finds himself in the Australian outback being pursued by a vast tank-truck trying to drive him off the road. The screening of the first episode of the series, written by Harry and Jack Williams (THE MISSING, LIAR) on 7 Decemberwill be followed by a Q&A with actors Jamie DornanDanielle Macdonald and Shalom Brune-Franklinalongside other members of the creative team. 

Other highlights this month will include a special screening on 5 December of the Tom Baker-era story DOCTOR WHO: CITY OF DEATH, which was co-written by the great Douglas Adams; monthly star-studded event MARK KERMODE LIVE IN 3D AT THE BFI on 6 December; and Patti Boulaye in Conversation on 12 December, during which the singer and performer will talk about her life and television career on the occasion of the publication of her memoirs. Completing the events programme will be new regular programme strand, THIS KIND OF THING, in which we explore video games and beyond at BFI Southbank – from consoles and VR to AI and wearables. The first event on 10 December will be a unique live event where audiences talk, listen, eat, drink and play their way through the evening, exploring just what a video game is in 2021, and beyond. This month’s event complements BFI JAPAN, exploring the country as one of the engine rooms of the past, present and future of video game culture, creativity and play.

Finally, to mark the centenary year of DIRK BOGARDE, we screen a selection of work featuring the British star who shook off the mantle of the matinee idol to gain respect, not just as an accomplished actor but also as a writer of considerable talent. Screenings will include HUNTED (Charles Crichton, 1952), in which a boy finds a corpse in a bombed-out building and is taken hostage by the killer; I COULD GO ON SINGING(Ronald Neame, 1963) about a stage star (Judy Garland, in her final film) who is reunited with her estranged son; the darkly comic tale of a nightmarish butler who exploits the weakness of his lazy, entitled employer THE SERVANT (Joseph Losey, 1963), screening in a recent 4K remaster; and SO LONG AT THE FAIR (Terence Fisher, Anthony Darnborough, 1950), a perfectly formed period mystery. 

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Film

Review: Venom – Let There Be Carnage (2021)

Director: Andy Serkis
Writers: Kelly Marcel (screenplay by), Tom Hardy (story by), Todd McFarlane(Marvel’s Venom character created by)

On general release

Eddie Brock attempts to reignite his career by interviewing serial killer Cletus Kasady, who becomes the host of the symbiote Carnage and escapes prison after a failed execution.

Nat says: ‘Can someone translate this into girl for me?’

Venom: Let There Be Carnage follows on almost immediately from the end credits scene of Venom (2018), which was a movie I was surprised to find I really liked. I was expecting a sort of superhero Real Housewives bitch fight.

But what I got was something that while a bit silly – and, yes, a bit Real Housewives – was also funny. I also do enjoy Tom Hardy in most things and he really seemed to be enjoying himself, too. The man jumped into a tank in a restaurant and ate a live lobster! It was hard not to love it as a result. Honest!

Importantly, I also could follow what was going on. It wasn’t hard. Aliens from outer space are brought to Earth. To survive, they need to achieve a symbiosis with a human host. Most humans don’t make good hosts, but Tom Hardy’s failed journalist Eddie Brock proves to be a great host for one alien called Venom.

At first, Venom seems to be evil and wanting purely to eat humans. However, over time, it becomes clear that Venom may give Hardy superstrength, speed, indestructibility and a really, really bad make-over, but he’s actually a bit of a loser on his own world and a terrible coward when faced by the alphas of his own kind.

That seemed quite fresh to me, after countless sci-fi movies with indestructible, motiveless nasty aliens that like to kill everyone with their sharp, pointy bits. Yuck.

By the end, Hardy and Venom have their own physical and emotional “odd couple” symbiosis, with Venom wanting to roam the city stopping bad guys – principally by eating their heads – and Hardy doing his best to keep Venom in check.

Unfortunately, Venom: Let There Be Carnage would have needed translating into girl for me to like it more than I did. I’ll explain what I mean in a moment…

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US TV

What have you been watching? Including Guilty Party

It’s “What have you been watching?”, your chance to recommend to fellow TMINE readers anything you’ve been watching this week

It’s mid-October and I’m still reviewing things! How amazing is that. But I’m not watching so much, it seems, since I’m getting through an episode of something then giving up, for the most part.

I’m going to have to work on that, aren’t I?

I have at least made it to the end of Only Murders in the Building (US: Hulu; UK: Disney+), which ended pretty well, but inconclusively and only proved that the US really needs stronger libel laws, if people are just going to go around willy nilly accusing people of murder. There’s a cliffhanger, too – two in fact – which actually made me less likely to want to watch season two. But the ending was amusingly meta at least, with our true-crime podcast fans having now acquired fans of their true-crime podcast and uniting with them to try to solve the mystery.

I might be back for season two, since the cast were amiable enough, there were some good jokes and the occasional very good episode indeed. But crime dramas, particularly intricate ones that require you to pay attention to what happened to person x and what they were holding in episode 2 of 8 just don’t really fit into my ‘one and done’ viewing pattern, so it’s a tough fit.

Episode 2 of CSI: Vegas sits ready to be watched, as do the next few episodes of Ghosts; I just have to find the time to watch them, which given that next week is half-term, isn’t impossible, even if my writing about them is.

I’ve also got the first episode of Hulu (US)’s Dopesick to watch, which given that’s going to be hitting Disney+ in about a month seems a reasonably important task, even if it’s a quasi-true-story drama starring Michael Keaton about the opioid crisis in the US. That sounds hard and harrowing. Goddamn it.

Still, I hope to review that properly this week, but that’s going to be another tricky proposition…

All of which left me with one new show to watch…

Guilty Party (US: Paramount+)

A discredited journalist is desperate to save her career by latching on to the story of a young mother, Toni Plimpton, who has been sentenced to life in prison for killing her husband.

Rob says: ‘It’s a crime’

Apparently, this show has already been hailed as “genre-bending”, combining drama, true crime, thriller and social commentary. TBH, it also sounds a lot like Truth Be Told (Apple TV+), but let’s look further.

Creator Rebecca Addelman says: “It was very intentional decision-making on the show’s part to go at the idea of white saviour-ism and to present what may seem like stereotypes initially and take those stereotypes and develop very real and very dimensional characters that evolve to truly unexpected boundary-breaking places.”

My problem with that is that honestly, based on the first episode, I don’t trust the writers to do that. Stereotypes in abundance yes. Total lack of reality? That, too.

It was dreadful.

Not 100% dreadful. I got to the end of the episode and saw the credits. “Kate Beckinsale” starred in it. This was genuinely a revelation to me. Not for one second did I realise it was her – and in a good way. She didn’t look like herself or sound like herself. Not one mannerism or gesture of hers reminded me of any of her previous roles.

Even when I skipped back to look at her performance, I really had to work at it to spot that yes, this was the same Kate Beckinsale who’d done Emma (UK: ITV) and Underworld (2003). Absolute kudos to her on that. If you were to watch Guilty Party for her and her alone, that would understandable.

The trouble with the show is that it’s about a discredited journalist trying to solve a true crime. You see her on the verge of winning an award at the start of the episode, only – 10 minutes afterwards – for her newspaper boss to come up to her at the party, introduce the company lawyer, say “You’ve probably not met before” (an award-winning investigative journalist who hadn’t met the company lawyer? Sure. That’s plausible), and for that lawyer to say “We have reason to belief you may have fabricated a quote so we’re going to have dismiss you.”

You fired someone for maybe fabricating a quote? You are so going to get sued.

Except she doesn’t. She then goes to work for some online gossip mag and is surprised that the gossip mag doesn’t want to do things in which she sleeps with homeless people. Children: every journalist knows exactly what kind of title they’re going to work for and part of the job is knowing what sort of stories to pitch to meet that title’s aims. You are not a good journalist if you cannot do that. You are definitely not an award-winning journalist.

Anyway, she then goes to meet with a random woman in prison who writes she hasn’t committed the crime and needs help. But doesn’t prep, doesn’t do any research, knows nothing about the person she’s about to talk to. Not even the absolute basics of journalism, from a once award-winning journalist who wants to camp out with homeless people to get important stories. This is despite a supposed year of hating her job/life/etc and wanting to do anything to hit the big time again.

Dealing with “white saviour-ism”? You can’t even deal with journalism, let alone properly create a character who could represent white saviour-ism that wouldn’t be stupidly easy to knock over. If you want to tackle an issue well, at least have some knowledge of your subject matter yourselves. Then you might be taken seriously and you might even be able to generate some nuance, something for the audience to digest, rather than spit out as soon as it hits the mouth.

Which is what I’m going to be doing. Beckinsale is great, the show is dreadful.

But what did you watch?

Film

The TMINE multiplex: Footsteps On The Wind and Green Lantern

In which Nat talks briefly about the movies she’s been watching this week for no particular reason and that probably don’t warrant proper reviews, but hey? Wouldn’t it be nice if we all chatted about them anyway?

Just like at any other multiplex, the screens of the TMINE multiplex are themed. The first is usually the main attraction, a big new film that you can see in the cinema or on a streaming service. The second is likely to be a smaller film, perhaps one with fewer explosions or more dialogue.

Meanwhile, the other screens are going to be something more niche: something arthouse, something classic, something there just for the joy of it.

Guess what? Next week, I’m hoping to start a Russian cinema strand – for obvious reasons. See! Where else are you going to get that from?

Russia. The answer’s Russia, isn’t it? But you’ll probably need to have had Putin’s Sputnik to go back there – Боже мой! – and the visa process is a nightmare anyway, so the chances are you’re not going to get to return for a while. Soz!

So here is where it’s at!

At least, as the manageress of this cinema, that’s my plan. The TMINE Multiplex – and TMINE itself, as far as I can see – is really a non-profit operation, though, so as long as you’re all happy and you’re all entertained, that’s all I could ever hope and plan for, anyway.

That was the plan. However, this week, I was a little bit sabotaged. Oopsy. Scatty Natty.

You’ve already seen the main attraction this week, Dune (2021), so I can’t talk about it again here.

Another screen is out of order: Movie Night with my friend didn’t happen – life! Why are you so cruel?!

Another screen was probably a bit too warm and dark after a particularly carb-tastic tea: I was going to watch Green Lantern (2011) with my husband, but we both fell asleep while we were watching it. At the same point. Like a minute apart. I saw his eyes close and then felt mine go, too. It was so spooky!

Plus it turns out Rob reviewed it when it came out (if you can call that a review 🤣).

Pfft.

This has basically robbed me of a chance to talk about and post pictures of Ryan Reynolds in his underwear.

Pfft again.

(For what it’s worth, for the life of me, based on those scenes of Ryan Reynolds in his underwear, I have no idea why my identical twin sister chose to divorce Ryan Reynolds at this time. I don’t think even Green Lantern can be blamed for that.)

Maybe it’s for the best. It’s a really mean-spirited superhero movie, as well as very stupid. It’s so bad, Ryan Reynolds regularly disowns it, even in other movies.

He and Taika Waititi both try to disown it in fact.

But it does have one of the best ever scenes in a superhero movie, so it’s not totally awful, even if it can send two people to sleep simultaneously.

So this week, I’m only doing one movie and it’s showing in screen eight, which is that really small door down by the gents that you only ever see used by the ghost who runs the projection equipment – and only when the rest of his Legion are marching down the old Roman road.

It doesn’t really count as a movie, since it’s only seven minutes long. You also might never get to see it. It’s been shown at various film festivals and you can currently see it at the Free Speech Film Festival, but the movie’s PR people say it’s “too soon to say” if it’ll be available to view online.

But let’s talk about Footsteps on the Wind (2021) and Sting after the jump. I’ll get the wine from the bar. Do you think we can drink a whole bottle in seven minutes? I know I can, but how about you?

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Film

Preview: Dune (2021)

Directed by: Denis Villeneuve
Writers: Jon Spaihts (screenplay), Denis Villeneuve (screenplay), Eric Roth (screenplay)
On general release in the UK from 22 October

Feature adaptation of Frank Herbert’s science fiction novel, about the son of a noble family entrusted with the protection of the most valuable asset and most vital element in the galaxy.

Nat says: ‘Wow’

How do I love thee, Dune? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach, when feeling out of sight for the ends of being and ideal grace.

I love Dune (1984) almost as much, I really do. I’ve loved it almost all my life. But I feel my head being turned by a young, good-looking new arrival who has made my heart soar.

It is Dune (2021), directed by Denis Villeneuve, and it is a love letter to both Dune and me that I cannot ignore. It is a wonderful, dazzingly beautiful piece of work that’s almost too true to the original book for its own good, but whose power and vision is undeniable.

I’m going to really tie myself up in knots trying to explain the plot. So instead, I’ll let Princess Irulan tell you what Dune is all about rather than try to explain it myself.

The biggest difference between Dune (2021) and Dune (1984) is that this is Dune – Part One. Only half the novel has been adapted, as Villeneuve couldn’t compress the whole book into two and half hours. There’s a cliffhanger both in the story and IRL, here, since as of yet, part two hasn’t been filmed. If you don’t go and watch this, there won’t be a part two.

Just between you and me, let me tell you something – there needs to be a part two.

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