Mostly British Film Festival Preview

With the Mostly British Film Festival opening Thursday night, I thought I’d tell you what I think is worth catching. I have not, unfortunately, had time to screen any of the new films at the festival, so I’ll still with the older ones.

All screenings are at the Vogue.

An Evening with Anne V. Coates / Murder On the Orient Express, Tuesday, 7:30

Aside from child actors who became adult actors, I’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who has had a longer career in films than British film editor Anne V. Coates. She worked as an Assistant Editor on The Red Shoes (1948). Her first film as a full-fledged editor was 1952’s The Pickwick Papers. Her last, so far, is Fifty Shades of Grey. In between she cut The Horse’s Mouth, Beckett, and Erin Brokovich. She won an Oscar for Lawrence of Arabia. Altogether, she cut 54 films, including Murder on the Orient Express, which will be screened after David Thomson interviews Coates Tuesday night.

A Nowhere Boy, Saturday, 3:00

A teenage boy in 1950s Liverpool, highly intelligent but rebellious and occasionally violent, feels pulled between his irresponsible but fun-loving mother and the strict aunt who raised him. He’s also learning to love rock and roll. Only the audience knows that in a few short years, John Lennon will be rich, famous, and idolized, and that the fame will eventually kill him. I thought I knew a lot about Lennon before I saw this film. I came out knowing a lot more. Read my full review.

A A Hard Day’s Night, Saturday, 7:30

When United Artists agreed to finance a movie around a new British rock group, they wanted something fast and cheap. After all, the band’s popularity was limited to Europe, and could die before the film got into theaters. Fifty years later, The Beatles are still popular all over the world. What’s more, Richard Lester’s A Hard Day’s Night still burns with outrageous camerawork and editing, subversive humor, and a sense of the joy of life and especially of rock and roll.

A Underground, Sunday, 3:00

This silent and fun melodrama takes us into the world of the London subway system. Which is not to say that it follows Aristotle’s unity of place; it opens and closes in the subway, and two main characters work there, but it’s set all around working-class London. It’s about a cad, a nice guy, a nice girl, and a mentally unhinged young woman. A great deal of it was shot on location, with a real sense of London in the late 20s. The festival website doesn’t mention live accompaniment, so I must assume we’ll get a recorded score.

Mona Lisa, Friday, 7:00

I haven’t seen this 1986 thriller since it was new (which is why I’m not giving it a grade), but I remember liking it. Bob Hoskins stars as low-level crook assigned to chauffer a high-priced hooker. The two become friendly, and set up a plan to do some dirt on a very dangerous character (Michael Caine).