Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A feast of the Brit New Wave

I have temporary access to the wonderful  TV network Turner Classic Movies (TCM). And I've lucked out this month because every Monday in March TCM features the films of the so-called British New Wave. These films kind of mirror the French New Wave (Nouvelle Vague) of the time and established many famous Brit directors' careers such as Tony Richardson and John Schlesinger. These "kitchen sink dramas" often feature characters in working class situations - often involving romance and questions of identity among their hardscrabble lives. These movies have been some of my favourite cinema and now I can luxuriate in watching most of them through the duration of March.....The other night I caught Room at the Top, Jack Clayton's 1959 take on the John Braine novel starring Laurence Harvey as Joe Lampton, an upwardly mobile office worker caught between his love for local theatre actress Alice Aisgill (Simone Signoret) and the daughter of the richest man in town Susan Brown (Heather Sears).....The film is full of class conflict, which is also a defining trait of the Brit New Wave, but there is less of the ruthless social climber in the Lampton character than I expected, until the very end that is. His is more nuanced. If there's one defining trait about him it's that he's psychologically conflicted in terms of his own class status and striving.....Next week I might have to stay up all night because there's four classics in a row: A Kind of Loving (Richardson 1962), The L-Shaped Room (Bryan Forbes 1962), The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (Richardson 1962) and A Taste of Honey (Richardson 1962) starring the exquisite Rita Tushingham.....

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